A/N: Sorry for the delay on this. Things have been crazy. We had our first football game of the season on Saturday and my folks came down for it. I'm going to try to make them with it being my last semester and all. We won, so yay! Go bears! lol. Also, my apologies if I've gotten distance/hours/time to get to places off. I'm not overly familiar with the East Coast and the length of time it would take to get from point A to point B. =(

Chapter Seven.

The sun beat down on them as Ben Mercer leaned back, cradling a glass of scotch in his hands. His eyes were trained on something unseen. He's spent the last couple of hours telling his life story to a woman that, by all accounts, should have known it. He was the eldest of two children, though his parents and younger sister had died in a car accident while he was away at college. His education and language skills had targeted him for the Agency and they'd eventually set him up with a cover as an ESL teacher abroad. He'd enjoyed it for several years as teaching had, originally, been his end goal. He had felt he was doing something for his country.

It was his mission in Sri Lanka that had set him to thinking. The man that they had been after was a security threat of some kind, and Ben was sure that he would be put away for life. This had been his biggest mission to date and the most dangerous, so when he'd received orders that the man was to be taken alive at all costs, not for imprisonment but to be turned into an asset, he'd had a few words with the operative at the other end of the line. Even so, orders were still orders and he fulfilled them. He had left to protect Annie. If they'd known about her they could have used her.

Either side.

"It went downhill from there," Mercer murmured and tipped back the last of his drink. "I didn't last much more than a month or so past it. I couldn't make myself believe that it was okay to simply turn these people loose. You've seen it already, I know."

Annie frowned. "So you went rogue and decided to play judge, jury, and executioner."

Her statement was met with a shrug. "If you see it that way."

Annie directed her light brown eyes towards the ocean again. She was sure that the spot that she'd occasionally been glancing at had expanded into a stretch. Land. She turned back to Ben with a sigh. "You still haven't told me about Auggie."

Mercer's expression darkened considerably. "What about him?"

"Why you hate him so much. I mean, seriously, if you had said anyone else I might have understood. Even Jai, but Auggie?"

Her ex snorted. "Anyone can spot Jai from a mile away. It's not his fault. It was bred into him, but August Anderson is a different story all together." He paused thoughtfully. "I spoke to him, briefly, just before he shipped off to Iraq. It was after I met you and I'd come back to the States in one last-ditch effort to get things set right. Found out what had happened to Natasha Petrovna."

"Are you holding that against him?" Annie asked, wrinkling her nose. "You're the one trying to kill her."

"Because the Agency won't do their job. I guess I had more faith in Auggie than I should have."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean that neither of us had quite learned our lessons yet. It's a lesson that makes you or breaks you in the CIA: they're in charge. They own every part of you if you want to stay there. I guess I just thought Auggie had more integrity than he showed that day."

If Mercer were going to explain any further his words were paused and diverted as the ship's captain approached and spoke very lowly into his ear. The blue-eyed man nodded and thanked him in French for all of his work and that he was truly in the captain's debt. Finally, Ben turned back to Annie. "Get ready and stay close to me. We're going to shore."

Upon coming back from Iraq Auggie had many injuries to deal with. Obviously, the loss of his sight had taken up most of his time, but shrapnel certainly hadn't avoided him when the bomb had gone off. His right hand had been injured and still bandaged even by the time that he'd started rehab and learning to use a Braille system with his computer. He was, by nature, right-handed, but he'd learned to become very ambidextrous in those days. The problem was that he'd forgotten just how much time it consumed to use only one hand. He'd been slow to begin with, not having a full grasp of the systems, so his mind had never equated the time consumption to one useless hand.

Auggie let out a frustrated growl at his computer screen as it came up with another dead end. As much as he hated to admit it, Barber had run most of the preliminary traces the night before when he'd been fading in and out of consciousness and trying to devise a way out of the med wing. Annie's cell phone had been dumped into the harbor. That was the tech team's best guess, anyway, as the signal faded out and went dead there. Upon hearing that Auggie had searched the surrounding areas for a car rental, ticket purchases of any kind in cash or Annie's credit card, or anything else that might leap up and out at him.

A knock came at his half opened office door and Auggie looked up. The steady clicking of expensive shoes met his ears, but they were slower and less sure than usual. Jai Wilcox let out a tired sigh. "Just talked to Joan and I thought I'd fill you in."

"Yeah. Sure," Auggie answered as he pulled his Grado RS 2's from his ears and looked in Jai's general direction.

"A team of men and I have been up and down the coast where her trail leads off. We found what seems to be Mercer's car parked behind a convenience store and a couple people think they might have seen a man matching his description half-carrying what they thought was a drunk girlfriend. Looks like he hopped on over to Delaware and might have caught a small cargo ship out."

"So we've lost them to the ocean?" Auggie asked tiredly. He'd lost track of how many hours they'd been working now. Joan hadn't even tried to tell him to go home and rest.

"Maybe. I've alerted some people up and down the coast and we've got eyes and ears at any point they would land."

Auggie's left hand flew across they keyboard as he started imputing the data that they knew. "Any visual on the cargo ship itself?"

Jai gave an unusual snort. "No. This all happened in the middle of the night and very early morning."

"I have cargo ships leaving out towards Canada in those hours this morning."

"Right. I'll let Joan know."

Auggie nodded and listened to him click tiredly off. An other knock came at his door and he perked again. "Yes?"

"I never thought you would have pulled it off. He's slow, but he's not that slow."

The tech agent's tired brain put the voice to a name in a much more sluggish manner than it usually would. "Hey Doc. Thought you were working at the hospital today."

"I was. I just got off my shift and came to check on my favorite patient. Do you know what I found?" Easom asked and Auggie could hear him padding closer and knew that he was shooting him an accusing glare.

"Listen, Doc, I don't have time for games today. Annie's out there and I've got to find her. What if Mercer decides that she's a liability? What if he hurts her?"

"Isn't she a trained agent?"

"She is, but… They have a past. When you have a past with someone you tend to trust who you thought they were. I can't live with myself if something happens to her."

Easom gave a short grunt of understanding. "How are you holding up?"

"I'll last until it's over."

"Then will you come back to the med wing without a fight over it?"

A small smile tugged at Auggie's lips. "Doc, if we find Annie in one piece and okay, I'll do anything you ask me to."

The sun was setting again as Ben and Annie exited the boat. His arm was tight around her waist and they both had ball caps pulled down to shield their features from any potential onlookers.

"Can I trust you, Annie?" he asked lowly.

She looked up into his clear eyes and felt something tug on her heart. She schooled her best, most trustworthy expression. "Yeah. I guess."

"Stay right here. Don't talk to anyone if you can help it. I'll be right back."

Annie watched him leave, wondering who she would speak to in his absence. The docks were empty with the exception of a few men loading and unloading supplies. She glanced around, hoping to find something of use. The only thing she spotted was a pay phone and she made her way to it after a quick glance towards where Ben had disappeared to. When she saw that he was busy in his work she reached up and slipped a few spare coins into it. As the phone began to ring she only prayed that she would hear a familiar voice on the other end. She hoped beyond hope that Auggie would pick up.

A/N: So, my boyfriend and I had dinner last night and he wanted to watch the pilot episode that I have on my computer for CA, being that that ep is the only one that he hadn't seen yet. Somewhere in there we were discussing the skankiness of Liza Hearn and he wanted to know why I didn't put the same term on Auggie for sleeping with her for information. After some chatter about it he got a really funny look and says 'Well, that gives a whole new meaning for "doing it for your country."' O.o I died laughing and thought I would share.

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