Title: Fidelis

Warnings: 1x07 spoilers, Auggie angst, and the presence of Liza Hearn

Disclaimer: Covert Affairs doesn't belong to me. This saddens me greatly, but it's true.

Notes: I wrote this for a challenge on the Covert Fiction LJ comm. The user who issued the challenge wanted a fic that addressed the end scenes of 1x07. This is what I came up with. And, to my readers, thanks always for your awesome support! I really do appreciate it.

It's past the point of late when Auggie returns to his apartment. The force of the door sliding shut is jarring enough that his body aches in protest, and he has to stand still to let it pass. He's got enough painkillers coursing through his system that it doesn't take long. It's just a breath, and then he keeps walking.

He drops his bag on the kitchen counter and leans against the solid surface. He closes his eyes and lets his head fall forward because, goddamn, he's tired. The sleep he got during the flight back to DC hasn't made a difference, and he knows the way he's feeling has nothing to do with the long hours in the day. It's the drain that comes with loss; he's mourning a relationship that just died of its wounds, and he doesn't know how to stop himself.

He picks his head up when a slim-fingered hand rubs across his back. He wants to believe it's Tash, but he can't do it, and Liza can't ever hold a candle to her.

He lets her cuddle up behind him anyhow.

He knows she likes the way her head fits right between his shoulder blades, and somehow he keeps from flinching when she inadvertently puts pressure on the deep bruises the Russians left him with. She'll worry if he doesn't hold still, and she'll want to know what happened.

He'll lie to her if he can't avoid it, but chances are she'll assume he was hurt on the job no matter what he says- or how good he is when he says it- and the last thing he wants is for her to develop a misguided protective streak. It would only give her more motivation for her crusade against the agency, and he won't be responsible for that.

Her hands snake down to his waist, and he catches them before they can go further, rubbing his thumbs over her knuckles. She stands on tiptoe and whispers suggestive remarks in his ear, but he just shakes his head. That knocks her back a step because she's so rarely refused- by him, and probably by anyone.

He tells her it's been a long day. Days, in fact.

"Let's just go to bed, then," she says, soft now, understanding.

He thinks of her curling up in his arms and his stomach tightens. He can't do it, not tonight, not with his mind full of Tash and the scent of her still on his shirt. But a refusal would risk blowing this all-important op, and it is all about the op, isn't it? He owes this to everyone he works with, especially Joan, so he's got to suck it up.

"Auggie?" Liza says.

He doesn't know what to say in return.