Chapter 2: Some Things Just Can't Be Won
A/N: Here's the final installment. Hope you enjoy! Oh and THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the story favourites/alerts, author favourite/alerts and of course wonderful reviews. As a newbie to the Covert Affairs fan fiction world, I greatly appreciate it!
Oh and thanks to Takada Saiko for encouraging to write a little something to explain the vague mentioning of Auggie being in an accident in the first chapter, it really helped shape the final part to the story.
"Color me confused here boy wonder, but what the hell are meth-oxy-flur-anes?" Annie asked slowly, her eyes squinting in confusion as she unsteadily read out his most recent word.
The two friends currently sat side by side on Annie's floor, Scrabble board sprawled out in front of them. It had been their ritual this last year, a tournament of some sort - whether it be in Scrabble, Chess, or various other games they could think of, always played on a Friday night in one of their homes. Along with the game, the two were also accompanied by a vast amount of booze, snacks and all the Mingus any growing CIA operative needs.
Auggie smirked in her direction, a cheeky grin plastering across his face as he took a sip from his beer before brandishing it at her pointedly.
"Well, girl wonder, let the wiz kid enlighten you. Methoxyflurane is a chemical that has proven to be a powerful pain reliever but has been largely disbanded in human medicine as it can cause detrimental effects on the liver and kidneys that can result in death."
Annie gaped at him as he rattled this fact off the top of his head. He merely sat there, his smug grin growing ever bigger, taking another sip of his beer. She couldn't help but scoff as she angled her body towards him.
"Auggie! That sounds like something off a Wikipedia page. How do I know for sure that you didn't just make that all up?"
Auggie threw her a look of mock-offence as he too altered his angle in her direction.
"Anne Catherine Walker! I am appalled that you would accuse me of such a thing! I'm beginning to think that you are just a sore loser-"
"-Hey the game isn't over yet. I have not lost," she interrupted, folding her arms across her chest, her eyes narrowing at him.
"Walker, I just scored a 99. You scored a 27. I think it's safe to say I got you beat."
Just as Annie was about to fire off another witty retort a thought occurred to her.
"Wait…a 99? How…hey you can't just add an 'S' at the end so you can get the triple word score," she exclaimed loudly as she glanced down at Auggie's Braille edition of Scrabble in horror. He laughed heartily at her tone. He was enjoying this far too much for her liking.
"Au contraire mon cher, I think you will find that adding an 'S' is perfectly acceptable. So, that's another win for me," he finished looking more jovial than Annie ever thought possible. She felt a scowl coming on.
"Wait, so you're seriously telling me that the plural of Methoxyflurane is Methoxyfluranes? Shouldn't it be something like Methoxyfluri? Or have no plural at all?"
Auggie flashed her his signature brightening smile. He was clearly teasing her over her deductive reasoning skills but she found that she didn't mind. Half of what she lov-liked about her friend was that no matter how ridiculous a situation got he never 'rose above it' so to speak. He was down with being as immature as possible to the very end. She admired that from a man of thirty something who served in a war and dealt with everything he dealt with over the last couple of years. It gave her hope for humanity.
"Aww Annie, don't pout. I'm sure you'll win the next time," he cooed in his baby-talk voice before mock-condescendingly patting her lightly on the head.
Rolling her eyes but not managing to muffle the laugh that escaped her lips, she swatted his hand away before playfully punching him on the shoulder.
"Hey, you promised no bragging if you won," she reminded him, trying her best to sound irritated but knew she sounded more amused than anything else.
He rubbed his shoulder dramatically where she hit him.
"Okay, first of all, ow! And second of all, I promised no such thing, you should know by now Walker that bragging in such a fashion is the Anderson way."
Annie rolled her eyes again, for her own benefit rather than his. Shaking her head, she reached over and got another beer.
Looked like she'd have to wait until next week to try and steal The Scrabble King's glorious title.
Those eyes, a chocolate brown, gleaming with mischief in her direction. Those eyes that were non-seeing but never dull and not used for observing but more for emotion both good and bad. Those eyes that held a darkness she knows she has yet to truly witness but determines is there, underneath the tomfoolery and laughter and kindness. They really are something, she decides.
"Annie, I know I'm devilishly handsome and all but, really, there's no need to stare."
His voice shakes her out of her reverie. A blush tints her cheeks.
"How did you-"
"- My spidey senses were tingling."
It had been an hour or so since Annie was plummeted in their recent Scrabble match and the two found themselves now seated comfortably on her couch, the soft humming of Mingus lingering in the air. They had been sitting in comfortable silence for a few the last few minutes and that is when Annie found herself glancing over at the man seated beside her.
However, her glance soon turned into a stare - a long, lingering stare that raked across every inch of his face and explored each contour of his body that was visible through his Super Mario T-shirt that he wore under his sensible work sweater which now lay discarded on her floor. It was not how one friend should look at another, she knew. But sometimes she just couldn't help herself. Only thing was, she didn't think she'd get caught.
"Penny for your thoughts?" he murmured, leaning toward her ever so slightly so that their shoulders brushed against one another. Annie fought the goaded shiver that threatened her spine.
"Keep your money, Aug, we're both over-worked and underpaid as it is," she smirked back, shaking her head with a new found wariness that came with the job, nudging his shoulder with hers and nibbling on a carrot stick.
As intuitive as ever, Auggie didn't fail in noticing the dejected hint in her voice.
"Annie…what happened today-"
"-Not my fault, I know," she interrupted reaching forward and discarding her empty bottle on the table with a somewhat loud thump. Auggie's mouth twisted wryly as he realized the extent of her self-berating. It was typical Annie behaviour, blaming herself for things that were out of her control, always trying to right some wrong that she didn't cause.
"You didn't know that his Intel would be bad, Annie, you didn't know he was being tailed," Auggie half-whispered as he felt her shoulders sag as she opened another beer.
He could feel her shaking her head, a small sigh audible on her lips. He hated hearing her like this, so…down in herself, doubting her abilities, it was a far cry from her usually upbeat, subtlety-confident nature. Suddenly, feeling compelled to do something, anything to get her out of her funk; Auggie reached out to his left where he knew she was sitting and danced his fingers across the skin of her arm, clasping her wrist gently. Turning his head, he leaned in closer to her.
He could feel her breath quicken and abruptly still as if she stopped breathing. He felt her pulse pick up a little speed too. He tried not to think of his own body's reactions to such proximity with her. He was in best friend mode now. Everything else was to be healthily ignored - like always.
"Annie….you did everything you could and then come. But, some things are just out of our hands, no matter what you do or say. I know it's hard but…it's something that we all just gotta accept sooner or later…"
He felt her relax slightly as he clasped her hand in his and gave it a soft squeeze. He knew that the mission had gotten to her today, he could tell it from the very moment she came back. Her walk, her voice, hell, even her scent was just…off. And he knew why too.
A little over a year after Annie joined the Agency, Auggie had been in a car accident on the way home from work. The cab he had gotten that night had been ploughed into by an SUV and was damn near crushed. Unfortunately, the back seat had taken the brunt of the blow so Auggie was soon whisked off to hospital after a pretty serious head injury, a dislocated shoulder and a few fractured ribs. Thankfully, no one else had been hurt in the accident but Auggie's condition was enough to set Annie on red alert. It had been a rough few weeks for them both to say the least. Auggie made a full recovery of course (with Annie's help), but he knew that between Ben dying only a couple of months earlier and him being injured Annie could not take much more.
So they never spoke about that night again. The night when she thought Auggie might never wake up.
But today's events had brought back the memory to each of them tenfold.
"Annie, you couldn't stop him being run off the road. You were too far away and risked getting caught in the cross fire. You did the smart thing by hanging back-"
"-And letting an innocent young man die…" she whispered and he could hear the tears in her voice, the tears he knew were bound to come some time tonight.
"You did not let him die, Annie. You did everything you could. You warned him. You offered him protection. You followed him and nearly ended up in an accident yourself. There was nothing else you could have done to prevent it, trust me," Auggie finished determinedly, his fingers trailing up her arm - being careful of her injured shoulder and finally settled on cupping her cheeks.
He felt the hot, salty tears trail down her cheeks and his thumb reached up to wipe them away. It was at moments like this when Auggie wondered if it was a good thing that he couldn't see. He didn't think he'd ever witness a more heart-breaking sight than that of Annie Walker crying.
He knew she was biting back a sob as he felt her tense up. Gently, he pulled her towards him and enveloped her into a hug. It was here that she let the sob out, muffled into the nape of his neck. Reaching up he slowly rubbed the back of her head and wrapped his other arm around her waist.
He knew that this was a rarity for Annie. Letting someone see her (so to speak) in such a vulnerable state and Auggie did not take that lightly. He knew that he had effectively broke down some of her walls that were firmly planted by Ben Mercer and he intended to keep them down. Annie deserved someone she could be vulnerable with and he hoped that the last two years had helped him become that person, because she was his.
She had been there for him in some of his darkest times. And now, he would be there for her.
Resting his chin on the top of her head, Auggie just sat quietly and waited as Annie calmed down. After a few minutes, she pulled back a little in his arms and let out a tiny snort that made him grin a little.
"I got your Mario shirt all wet," she half-laughed, reaching up and wiping at the damp fabric with her fingers.
He just shrugged, his hand coming up to cup her cheek once more.
"Are you okay?" he murmured, tilting his head down and trying as best he could to direct his gaze where he thought her face to be.
He felt her cheeks raise slightly and he knew she was throwing him a small, beautiful smile that was so uniquely her. Before he could comment on it however, she leaned forward, wrapping her arms around his neck and brushing her lips against his cheek - dangerously close to his lips.
"I will be," she breathed softly, before clasping his hand free hand in hers.
Auggie smiled back, truly glad.
Another hour passed and Auggie decided it was best he head home.
As Annie pulled up to his apartment and stopped, Auggie turned his head toward her and murmured a soft "good night Annie" along with a smile. Before he could step out of the car however, Annie's hand reached over and clasped his.
"Auggie I just wanna say…thanks for…" she trailed off and looked away.
As if sensing her discomfort, Auggie merely gave her hand a squeeze and offered her a reassuring grin before silently replying "you're welcome" and stepping out of the car.
He had barely made it to the entrance to his apartment block when he heard the familiar voice call after him.
"Oh and by the way, you better be ready for next week, Anderson. 'Cause The Scrabble King is gonna get his ass kicked by a brand new reigning champion, just you wait!"
A/N: Okay that ended up being longer than I intended. Oh well. I'm not 100 per cent happy with it - especially towards the end but meh it'll do.
I fear for Annie's characterization but in my defense I see her as still recovering from Ben dying and Auggie's accident so the emotional wounds are still fresh and she does feel responsible for the death of a young innocent man. So, yeah, hopefully that part was up to par.
I'd love to hear what you guys thought =]