Disclaimer: I do not own Covert Affairs. If did we'd definitely have episodes far sooner than next summer...
A/N: So this is my first published CA story...I may or may not continue it, it depends on what you lovely people think and whether or not my muse cooperates...Hopefully people don't think Annie and Auggie aren't too OOC (I'm personally more worried about the short bit of Joan you'll see), but let me know if they are...
Also, I'm assuming they killed Ben off. I base this off of how badly he appeared to be hurt (several gunshots to the back-not always fatal, but very, very likely) and the teaser for next season (Of course Annie has value to the Agency even if Ben is out of the picture!)...I've taken the title from the Beatles' song "Let It Be".
Please read and review-let me know how I did!
In My Hour of Darkness
August Anderson only rarely wished he could still see anymore. He'd made peace with his loss of sight, he'd adjusted, even begun to thrive again. Today? Today was an exception. He could hear her breathing, but she was still, not fidgeting, not talking. Jai had said she'd cried in the chopper. By the time she got back to Langley, though, there was nothing there but cold professionalism. Her voice had been clinical, clipped and even. Dead. He couldn't read her as he usually could. He wanted to be able to see her expression, to be able to figure out how best to help her. Finally he sat next to her, "I'm not going to offer you useless words about loved and lost or fate or apologies. I will say, I'm your friend and whatever you need, I'll be here. Whenever you're ready."
The room was silent except for the buzzing of the fluorescent lighting for a long moment until there was a rustling of fabric. Auggie felt a warm body press against his side and automatically wrapped his arm around her. She was trembling. He felt tears drip onto his shoulder and squeezed a little tighter. As much as he hadn't wanted Annie anywhere near Ben Mercer, he knew she still cared for him, still loved him and his death hurt her deeply—possibly as deeply as his betrayal in Sri Lanka.
The silent tears made her breath hitch and come in soft, shuddering lengths as she tried to regulate her physical responses like she'd been trained to do, but Auggie knew that only got you so far. It didn't actually resolve the underlying issue. It wasn't meant to be a permanent coping tactic, just one to get you home alive where it would be safe to break down and be human.
Finally, Annie's breathing evened out. He untangled them and stood, keeping her hand in his, "Let me take you home. You can crash at my place if you don't want to face your sister. I've got plenty of t-shirts and sweatpants, extra toothbrush, we can pick up anything else you need or want…"
His concern deepened. Her voice was so quiet. It was tired now, at least, instead of sterile. He nodded and they walked to his office. He sat her in his chair, "Wait here. I'm gonna let Joan know we're leaving."
She made a small noise of understanding and he walked as quickly as he could to Joan's office, "I'm taking Annie home."
He could hear Joan look up from whatever it was she had been doing, "Good…Let her know she's got a few days off and she'll need to schedule sessions with the Agency's psychiatrist before she can do fieldwork again…" Auggie nodded and turned to go when Joan's voice made him pause, "And tell her I'm sorry."
Auggie nodded again and walked out, back to his office. Annie stood and he let her lead. She stopped at her desk and got her keys and ID and they went up and met the car service. The ride to his apartment was silent and depressed. He opened his apartment and gestured, "Have a seat, I'll grab something for you to wear, food in the fridge, beer…just…get comfortable."
"Okay…" She sat on the couch, setting her keys and ID on the low table. Auggie came back and held out a comfortably worn t-shirt and sweatpants. She looked over, "I'm on the couch."
He walked over and held out the clothing. She took it, but didn't move to stand. "You don't have to do this, Auggie…"
He shook his head a little, "Yes, I do. You're my friend and you're hurting. If I can make that even the tiniest bit easier, I want to. I set out an extra toothbrush and towels in case you want to shower…If not, have you eaten, yet?"
She shook her head then quietly responded verbally, "No…Not since…"
"Okay, let's fix that. We can go get your things later, if you want."
He heard her stand and then she brushed her lips against his temple before walking toward the bathroom. He heard the water running and the shower, but it didn't completely cover the sound of her tears. Auggie decided to make something to eat—she'd said she hadn't eaten since before the mess with Ben which had been at least twenty-four hours. He opened the cupboard and removed several items then set about carefully washing, peeling and dicing the potatoes. He had some left-over pan drippings and made gravy while the potatoes boiled. Simple, but it was comfort food. He pulled out the beef stew he had left from a few days before and spread it in the bottom of a casserole dish. When the potatoes were soft he drained them , mashed them with a little butter and milk and spread them over the casserole, putting it in the oven. He heard Annie leave the bathroom and turned in her direction, "Food will be ready in about half an hour…"
"Okay…Why are you doing this, Auggie? You didn't even like Ben…" she murmured.
"Whether or not I liked him is irrelevant. You cared about him, I care about you…"
"God, I can only imagine what everybody at the office thinks of me. I mean, I know now I was pulled from the Farm early, partly because of Stauss, but after that they kept me around because of Ben…Now what, Auggie? Have I filled my purpose? Am I disposable? I mean, I'd guess there's no way I can get authorized for field work—I'm a mess! They're probably writing up my dismissal now!"
Auggie waited for her to pause then said evenly, "No, they're not looking to get rid of you. You still have plenty you can do for the Agency, if you choose. Some people…after something like this…they decide they can't handle it, they leave. You're not going to be fired for being human, Annie. You cared about Ben. His death is affecting you—but I know you and I know you won't let it destroy you. It will hurt. Maybe for the rest of your life, it will ache at random moments. But you won't let it consume you. Joan wanted you to know some time off is fine. When you get back you get to attend sessions with the company shrink—it's standard protocol for agents involved in something like this, I had to go for months before they authorized me to do more than basic coding after my accident. And she wanted you to know she's sorry."
Auggie could almost feel her flare of indignation and disbelief, "Sorry? That doesn't sound like Joan. She actually apologized?"
"She did...I know she just wants you to be okay."
"And what if I'm not? What if I choose to leave?" Annie asked sharply.
Auggie was silent for a long moment before saying, very quietly, "That is, of course, your decision…but I'd miss you very much, Annie. A lot of people would, including Joan…You remind her of herself, you know."
"No way. There is no way…" Annie murmured.
Auggie offered a small smile, "It's true. It's part of why she likes you so much. From what I've heard she was just as reckless and crazy as you are…Of course, you're much better at languages, but you two are alike in a lot of ways…" he sobered a little, "Do you really think you want to leave?"
Annie sighed heavily, "Right now, at this minute? Yes. Tomorrow or the day after that or after that? I don't know…but not really…I joined the Agency to escape personal entanglements, to have a reason to build walls and keep people out. But what we do…it's important and I don't know if I can give that part of it up. When we'd move when I was a kid, because of my dad, I'd take the pictures and phone numbers and little mementoes of all the friends I'd made and bury them in a shoebox in the backyard of wherever we were leaving…I didn't do that with Ben. I don't know why, but I couldn't let him go. I should've. I know that. I should've let him go a long time ago. He betrayed me. I get that he was Agency, that it would've been breaking protocol, but on some level even being with me for those three weeks was breaking protocol. It's why I saw Jai argue with Ben twice. Once in the market, once on the beach the night he left."
Auggie stayed silent. There was no response he could make to that. He just held her. Finally the timer went off for the food and Auggie stood, keeping hold of Annie's wrist, "C'mon. You have to eat…I know you probably don't feel hungry right now, but you'll make yourself sick if you don't eat."
Annie just allowed him to settle her at the table and then was quickly served a plate of food and a beer, "Leftover beef stew casserole. Not exactly five-star cuisine, but it shouldn't taste too bad."
Annie squeezed his hand, "Thanks…"
The silence was broken only by the sounds of cutlery against the plates and then Annie silently cleared the dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher, careful to return the soap to its proper spot. Auggie led her back to the couch once he'd put the leftovers in the refrigerator. Annie was quiet for a long moment before asking, very quietly, "How do I stop the hurt?"
Auggie considered the question carefully before answering, just as softly, "I don't think you can completely…Something like this, it changes you. When I had to leave Tash, it was the hardest thing I'd done up to then. I knew I was betraying her, that I had to and I knew it would hurt her…I never wanted it that way. Until recently, it still hurt—a lot."
"How did you make it better?" she asked, "What made it less?"
"Closure," he replied honestly, "I'd left her without a word, without explanation, just…left. It was bad for her and it wasn't so great for me either…Talking to her again, that whole mess…We'd both changed, some obvious, some not as much…but I like to think at the end we both got closure. We'd been falling apart slowly before—I wanted to move closer to DC, she wanted nothing to do with it…I think, even without the Agency, without the FBI…we would've eventually grown apart. But until I spent time with her again, part of me still wondered. If we could've made it work, if I left the Agency if we could've been happy together…So many 'ifs' and I can put them to rest now. I'm not saying that's the only way or that it makes everything better…but it…helped."
"Closure. Talking to her. I talked to him. And despite knowing how much he'd hurt me…I started to lose myself again…I started to slip back into who I'd been and what I'd felt back then and then I woke up the next morning and he was gone. Again. The next time I saw him all hell broke loose and then he got killed. So you tell me how I'm supposed to get closure now."
Auggie held back a sigh, "You can't, not the same way…This will sound absolutely awful, but, Annie…that ritual you had when you were a kid and had to move? You need to try it. Or accept that the pain is gonna start eating you alive and live with it. I let what happened between me and Tash affect me for three years. You once told me James Bond was a lonely, sad old man…and I was headed straight there. You called me on it. I'd let what happened with Tash dictate all of my relationships after it until I saw her again. It's part of why I was so easily able to accept what I was doing with Liza—to do what I did to her. I refused to let people in and while that can be an asset sometimes…in the end it leaves you alone and bitter. You saw that and you stopped me from going there. I will always remember Tash, she affected me, changed me in a lot of ways, but I don't have to let it be the be-all-end-all. I won't let it be anymore. You have to make the same decision. Not now, not even tomorrow or the day after or for a long while yet, but the longer you wait to choose…the harder it will be. Choosing…only lets you start grieving, if that's what you want. You don't have to forget him…but if you don't want to lose yourself…you have to find a way to let him go."
Annie slumped, utterly drained, "I don't know if I can…"
He slowly pulled her close, "You'll figure it out. It will take time, but you'll figure it out. For now, just…let go. Don't try to force anything or fix anything…Just let it be…Just let it be."
Please review and let me know how I did!