A Face in the Darkness
Author's Note: Ah ha, I am back! I had so much fun with my other story (and all my readers were so awesome with reviews) that I have another story for you! This is going to be kind of a creepy story, in expectation of Halloween. Sorry about the first chapter being so expository; I needed to explain where we are in the show. Hopefully, this brings everything up to speed and the story will pick up in the next chapter. Think of this as a prologue. This story is a sequel to my other story, Bring Her Home, but you can still read and understand this story without reading the other. It certainly helps, though. Hope you all enjoy, and as always, please review!
Disclaimer: I do not own Covert Affairs, or the characters within. I don't own Langley either (what a horrid mess that would be!).
Auggie was at work before Annie. Which was normal, because Auggie was always at work before anyone else (even the baristas). Auggie was around so much, though, it was as if he was a permanent part of the office furnishings, and no one ever accused him of working extra time in order to "suck up" to Joan. Auggie liked the early morning before everyone arrived; it was calm and peaceful. He got most of his paperwork done during this time; communication was sometimes more taxing for him than writing out reports. But lately, his early morning time had been rather unproductive, for a certain agent kept monopolizing his thoughts.
Ever since Annie and Auggie had returned from Brazil, life had turned upside down and inside out. Immediately after her recovery, there was the incident where Annie was once again picked up by the FBI, for a murder she didn't commit. A mandatory vacation followed, where Annie was busy trying to help a political defector. This was followed by crazily planned trips to the UK and Sri Lanka, where Annie yet again met up with Ben. During all this time, Auggie and Annie's budding relationship had been shifted to the back burner. Jai saved Annie's life in the UK, earning more of Annie's admiration, only to fall from grace during Annie's encounter with Ben. Again, the love for Ben in Annie's heart had been rekindled.
Auggie felt a pang of jealousy go through his heart, but he didn't hold it against Annie. When Arthur put Annie in that terribly dangerous mission, Auggie had acted like the concerned older brother, not the concerned lover. Truth be told, he had damaged his already precarious position in the ranks of Annie admirers, and yet again Annie slipped through his fingers.
Then, the impossible occurred. Ben was shot at the end of the mission and died (rather dramatically) in Annie's arms. Though the event was terrible and Auggie would never wish death on anyone, he was secretly relieved. Now Annie would be free of Ben, and she would never be "used" like she was so much before. Whenever Ben needed something from the CIA, he would manipulate Annie (and put her in danger) until he got what he wanted, and now that would never happen again.
Yet, the whole drama-ridden mission had been an emotional roller coaster for poor Annie, and when she came back from the hospital she barely said a word for days. Auggie knew he should have been more attentive to her, but Auggie gave her space instead, feeling that some distance might clue Annie in to the hurt her actions in Sri Lanka had caused. Then again, Annie never seemed to notice; her grief sent her into a downward spiral. She came back to work determined to do well, and though she still completed missions in an exemplary fashion, she never smiled (Auggie could always hear it in her voice when she smiled) or talked to anyone (besides work related chatter).
Auggie then set about the "healing Annie" project. He brought her coffee every morning, and made sure that she spent at least her lunch break (and once a week-night) talking to someone (usually him). More often, it was Auggie talking to her, but as the summer faded and the leaves began to show the signs of fall, Annie was beginning to come out of her shell again. There were days when she actually instigated talking, and they began to take walks after work in the park. The walks became longer and longer, and Auggie found out many little things about Annie that made him love her all the more. (Things like: she loved pumpkin pancakes in the fall, hated white hot chocolate, and liked snowflake printed scarves.) These were stupid, little things that no one ever thinks about, but Auggie loved learning them and he never forgot them.
Three months had gone by since Ben's death, and October had set into the world with its crisp, breezy breath. Annie and Auggie had gotten much closer in a "I'll be there for you," fashion, and Auggie smiled as he contemplated on how their relationship was progressing. There had been a change lately; a spark, as it were.
"She'll fall in love with me yet," thought Auggie with a smile as he jolted himself back to the paperwork in hand. "It's just a matter of time."
Annie walked into Langley right on time, happy to be coming to work for the first time in months. Though she had diligently continued with her work in the DPD, she hadn't really enjoyed coming to work at all. Then again, Annie hadn't enjoyed much of anything; food had no taste, the colors in the world around her seemed dull, and her heart had been so heavy it was an effort just to talk. The scene of Ben dying in her arms had played over and over again in her mind, plaguing her with guilt during her waking hours and terrible nightmares while she slept. In Annie's mind, she knew there was nothing she could have done for Ben, but she felt guilty just the same. She and Jai should have trusted that Ben knew what he was doing; not have followed him into that building and blown his cover. Sure, Ben had broken protocol. But he was also a rogue agent; when had he not broken protocol? And now, because of her blunder, Ben was dead.
The feelings of loss, guilt, and shame had been so intense at first that Annie felt as if she were dying on the inside, though she put up a brave front on the outside. At least she didn't have to keep the front at home; she told her sister Ben had died in a car crash, after contacting her and wanting to meet up with her again. Her sister understood how much Annie had been in love, and was very understanding and supportive.
The people at the DPD were also supportive, in their own way. Everyone was very careful about what was discussed regarding the mission; they spoke of it as little as possible. Jai was very civil to Annie, though he now kept his distance; it was in part his mistrust of Ben that had caused his death, and he thought Annie in some way held him responsible. Joan even put Annie on much easier assignments, and though she did not address Annie any differently, Joan did offer a shoulder to cry on outside of work. Annie didn't take her up on it, though, because by then Auggie and his lunch breaks had become sacred time.
Annie found herself looking forward to the lunch hour every day. When she was getting ready in the morning, an unexpected thread of happiness would slip through her heart when she thought of their meetings. During lunch, Auggie would often talk about his family, and often highlight the misadventures of his four older brothers. Auggie had such an amazing way of "seeing" the world; though life had dealt him a tough card, he had an indomitable spirit that was determined to enjoy everything around him. He found humor in almost everything, and often tried so hard to make Annie laugh that that in itself was comical. He listened to all of Annie's sad monologues without reproach, and he always offered a comforting hug when she needed to sob her eyes out. But there was something else that had happened lately; there was a change in their comfortable more-than-friends-but-not-quite-dating relationship. It was a small change, but it came so gently that Annie hardly noticed it. She really was happy when she was with Auggie.
Annie stopped her lengthy musings to get a latté, only to be informed by the Barista that her coffee was already ready and paid for. Annie gripped the warm cup in her hands and walked down the hall, searching for Auggie. She found him seated by his desk, invariably listening to some form of chatter.
Auggie snapped his head up as Annie stepped into his small office. It always amazed Annie how Auggie could listen to chatter while filing reports and keeping an ear on his surroundings all at the same time. "Good morning, Annie," Auggie said with a lopsided grin. "Sleep well?"
The truth? No, she didn't sleep well. But what Annie actually said was, "Mm, pretty good. You?"
Auggie caught the deception right away, but let it be for the time. He couldn't resist teasing her back a little, though. "Mm, I slept 'pretty good' as well."
Annie laughed and took a sip of her latte. "You know, I know we have this conversation every day now, but Auggie, you don't have to buy me my coffee every morning."
Auggie grinned mischievously. "It falls on deaf ears," he replied.
Annie rolled her eyes; Auggie had the sharpest hearing of anyone she had ever met. "What are we doing today?" Annie asked, masking her amused annoyance.
"We're doing research for Joan; apparently, a certain arms dealer we both ran into in Brazil had a weapons cache in America. We're digging through Valmor's old records; it'll probably be a dusty day." Auggie's voice turned serious then. "Annie, it won't bug you to go through some of Valmor's old files will it?"
Annie smiled; Auggie could hear it in her voice! "How could I forget our first date?" she asked teasingly.
"It wasn't a very romantic date, as I recall," Auggie played along. "The food was bad, the service; terrible, and the souvenirs worthless."
Annie sighed. "I don't think that cane of yours was worthless. I'll be saving that forever."
Auggie chuckled, though his heart rose a little with pride. "She still remembers what we went through," Auggie thought with a grin. Though it would be hard to forget a time when someone tried to kill you, Annie had been unconscious most of the time. However, Annie had an exceedingly good memory and could remember every semi-conscious moment she had in that place.
"The cane isn't worth much; I should have been more prepared," sighed Auggie.
Annie guffawed. "You sure packed enough to constitute being prepared," she answered.
"Next time, I'll pack a couple of Marines and a doctor just in case," Auggie answered.
Annie chuckled, and Auggie's heart soared with happiness. He had so missed the sound of her laughter.
The two continued their playful banter, oblivious to a pair of eyes watching them from across the hall. They eyes narrowed into slits as they observed the agents, and suddenly, a slow, unnerving smile crept across a shadowed face.