It is just too much fun to imagine what Annie and Auggie are up to when Covert Affairs is on hiatus. After I finished Flight 642 (which ended the day after Thanksgiving 2010), I couldn't help but imagine what our favorite CIA officers were doing during the winter and early spring. This story takes them from shortly after the holidays to the Friday after Memorial Day. Just in time for the June 7 premier of the show. I hope you enjoy the story and have as much fun reading it as I have had writing it. I own nothing associated with Covert Affairs except my imagination and gratitude to the show's cast and crew for giving life and such interesting personalities to the characters.
Chapter 1 – Christmas is Over
Annie struggled carrying a stack of empty boxes into the guesthouse. It was already the second weekend of January, and she still had not put away her Christmas decorations. She wondered aloud, "Why did I drag all this stuff out, when I was barely here to enjoy it?" And now it was long past Epiphany, so the lights, ornaments and Christmas nick-knacks needed to be stashed.
A little wave of sadness washed over Annie as she put away the decorations and with them some of her favorite childhood memories. There was the Christmas planter glazed in red and cream of Santa standing beside a chimney that had been a gift from her grandfather to her mother when she was a child. Annie had always loved the piece so much that her mother had given it to her, so that it would always be loved and displayed. Annie remembered how every holiday season her mother would plant a sprig of fresh holly in the chimney planter. This year Annie did well to put a small silk poinsettia in the planter.
Before she wrapped the figurine in tissue paper, she traced its contours with her fingers trying to imagine what Auggie "saw" when she showed it to him. She remembered how Auggie had teased her about her extensive decorating of her small living space as she took him on a tactile tour of the decorations. "You drag it out, and you're just going to have to put it away. Making double work for yourself, Walker," he had teased.
"You were right, Auggie," she whispered to no one as she wrapped and packed away Christmas of 2010. Annie's land line rang, bringing her thoughts back to reality. She smiled when she checked the caller id, answered, "Hey, Augs."
"You finally putting away those Christmas decorations?"
"Yep … I'm about half done. What have you got going today?"
"Not too busy. The cleaning service came yesterday, so the apartment is in good shape; and Tom will be here after lunch to help me go through the mail."
"How long's that going to take?"
"No more than a couple of hours, unless he's having trouble in geometry again and I have to include a tutoring session with his twenty dollars. Are you angling for an invitation to Chez Anderson?" Auggie whispered seductively.
"Aren't I always?"
"And why won't you believe me when I say you are always welcome …. Any time … any day … under any circumstance?"
"Hrummm … maybe I don't want to run into any awkward situations?"
"And, I keep telling you, there won't be any awkward situations here. Annie Walker, you are the only woman in my life."
Annie smiled and sighed, "I know, Auggie. I suppose I just want to take this … us … cautiously so that we both have the chance to know each other and to be sure this is what you really want. I guess I don't want to wear out my welcome."
Auggie laughed heartily. "That's not possible, Annie."
"And I want to keep it that way? What would be a good time for me to come over when I finish de-Christmasing this place?"
"I'll be here waiting for you. There's a new little café in the neighborhood several people in the building have been raving about. I thought we could try that out tonight."
"Dressy or casual?"
"Pretty casual, from what I gather … it's just a great neighborhood hangout with great food, booze and occasionally some live music."
"Christmas is over," Annie said emphatically as she stashed her last box of decorations in Danni's basement storage room. Now she could look forward to the rest of her weekend … with Auggie … she felt warm to her fingertips and toes just at the thought of being with him.
She showered, dried her hair and put on just a touch of makeup. She pulled out a pair of black dress jeans, a tailored shirt and a pastel cashmere cardigan. Since it was cold and snow was still on the ground, she slipped her feet into her short, black Ugg boots. Annie pulled out the bright print quilted Vera Bradley overnight bag that her nieces had given her for Christmas, and packed it with a change of clothes for tomorrow - casual shoes, a night shirt and her condensed weekend makeup kit. She'd left a terry robe at Auggie's along with bottles of her favorite shampoo and conditioner.
On her way to the car, Annie stepped into the kitchen to let Danni know she was leaving and wouldn't be back until Sunday evening. Danni smiled. "You two lovebirds have a nice weekend."
"Danni! The girls might hear you."
"If you don't think they've got some things figured out, you've got another thing a comin', Sis. Seriously, do you have anything fun planned?"
"Auggie says there's a new fun café in the neighborhood, so that's where we're going for dinner. Then, we're probably going to hang and relax."
Danni looked up at Annie with a far-away expression. "I seem to recall a time when I could relax … yes … it was before we had the girls. It was nice. Have fun relaxing."
"We will!" Annie giggled as she left the kitchen.
Annie could hear voices coming from Auggie's apartment as she tapped on the door. Tom was still there. She heard footsteps coming toward the door and Auggie opened the door. Annie whispered, "Hi," and kissed him on the lips lightly. Auggie gave her a half hug and patted her back. "You know … if you'd take the key I keep trying to give you, you'd save me a lot of extra steps and interruptions," Auggie whispered to her while she was still standing in the door.
"I know, you're just being selfish," she said as she walked past him into the living area. "Hi, Tom," she greeted the young man sitting beside Auggie's desk. Tom nodded to her and smiled. The teenager who Auggie had hired to read his mail was a nice kid, but was still painfully shy. Annie had offered to help Auggie with his mail; but he declined, explaining the job description for "girlfriend/soul mate" did not include the mundane task of helping him sort junk mail and pay bills.
Annie stashed her overnight bag on the foot of the bed, hung up her change of clothes and then put it in the out-of-the-way corner at the end of the dresser. It was an area where Auggie rarely ventured, and he knew that if Annie were around, her bag and purse would be there. Auggie and Tom had gone back to work, so Annie pulled out her Kindle and wandered back into the living room to curl up on the sofa to read.
After about ten minutes, Auggie turned 180 degrees in his desk chair to face Annie. "Well, Walker … how are you enjoying that Kindle?"
"I love it … how'd you know I was reading on the Kindle?"
"I could hear the little click as you turned the pages."
"Am I disturbing you? I'll stop, if I am."
"No, Silly. I was just enjoying being able to hear how much you're enjoying what I got you for Christmas."
"Well … thank you, again."
Tom smiled and felt a little uncomfortable being on the sidelines of the couple's teasing exchange that seemed to have an undertone he had not identified. Annie smiled back at Tom and he blushed.
"Mr. Anderson, that finishes up the mail. Is there anything else you'd like for me to take a look at?"
"I think that's it for today, Tom, and please call me Auggie or I'm going to start calling you Mr. Livingstone. Ok?"
"Ok … Mr. … Uh … Auggie."
"That's better," Auggie smiled and patted Tom's arm. "Here's your paycheck," Auggie said as he handed Tom two ten dollar bills that had been carefully folded lengthwise.
"Uhh … Auggie … that's twenty dollars, and I was barely here an hour today."
"Well, maybe there'll be more to do next week," Auggie assured him. "Besides, I appreciate your help."
Tom smiled and took the money. "Well, thank you, Auggie. I'll be here next week, unless you tell me not to come," he said as he left the apartment.
As Tom closed the door behind him, Auggie turned to Annie and started toward the sofa with a huge smile spreading across his face. Annie giggled and bounced to the other end of the sofa. "Annie Walker, were you sitting on my end of the sofa?"
"I was just warming it up for you," she laughed.
Auggie plopped down on his end of the leather couch and held his arms open for Annie who all but tackled him with a loving hug and kiss. Between kisses, Auggie asked Annie again, "Why won't you take the blasted door key?"
"Promise you won't laugh at me."
"Annie, I won't laugh. I just need to know what's going on in that head of yours …. I'm trying to understand you … like you try to understand me. This being in touch with each other goes both ways, and it's time you open up a little more with me."
"The key and what it symbolizes frightens me. I'm afraid something will change between us if I take the key. I don't want you to take me for granted, and I don't want to take our relationship for granted."
Auggie pulled her in close to him and rubbed her back as he considered what to say. "It is impossible for me to take you for granted. Every time I hear your voice or smell your perfume or feel your touch, I am so thankful that our paths crossed and we both had enough sense to realize we should be together. Annie Walker, I will never take your for granted."
"I suppose I'm afraid of being hurt … really hurt again."
"Annie, I will not run off and go rouge … either from you or the CIA. I couldn't …. Even if I wanted to," he said with a joking tone.
"Well, for one thing, Amanda Anderson and her sources and resources would probably find me quicker than Joan and Arthur would." They both laughed.
Auggie reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out a key attached to a leather key fob that was embellished with a brass "A."
"Give me your hand," he said authoritatively. Annie shifted on the sofa to where she was sitting next to Auggie, not facing him. She laid her hand on his leg and opened it with the palm up. Auggie picked up her hand and kissed it. Then he placed the key in it and curled her fingers around it. "You've told me that you trust me. Annie, you can trust that I will always be here for you, and I trust that you're here for me."
Annie leaned against him and sighed. Auggie wrapped his arm around her and squeezed her shoulder. "Yes, Auggie, I'm here … but I'm still frightened."
"Well that makes two of us, but we're going to work through this together and it will make us stronger."
Annie traced the brass A with her finger until the cool metal was warm to her touch. They sat in silence contemplating their future together until Annie's stomach made a rumbling noise that alerted Auggie they'd better start thinking about dinner at the new café.
"I feel like walking to dinner," Auggie called out to Annie, who was in the bathroom refreshing her lip gloss, "Do you feel like walking to dinner? Did you bring a warm coat with you?"
"I did wear my warm coat, and I'm wearing my Uggs, so we can walk darn near anywhere you want," Annie answered. "How far is this new place?"
"Two blocks down and one block over."
"Piece of cake. And, I noticed driving in that the sidewalks are fairly clear. But we'll still need to be careful," she said, wanting to warn Auggie there may be patches of ice.
"We'll take it easy, and it'll be fine. I think the fresh air will do us both good."
When they stepped out on the sidewalk, Auggie opened his cane, even though he was holding Annie's arm. Knowing she would question his action, Auggie explained, "Belt and suspenders … just being cautious. I might detect a hazard before you see it." Annie didn't say anything. She just reached up and kissed him on the cheek.
On the way to dinner they talked about Annie's next trip to Norway, how important the mission was becoming and, in spite of its importance, how much they were going to miss each other while she was gone. "But you'll still be in my ear on the other end of my encrypted phone and ear piece," she reminded him.
"Yes, but remember all those calls and transmissions are recorded and transcribed for permanent files. Don't forget people are listening and will be reading our conversations for years to come."
"It's hard to forget."
They turned the corner and Annie saw the café sign. "Wow, I can smell the food cooking from out here."
"Me, too," Auggie answered.
After dinner was served, and they'd each eaten a few bites; Annie gathered up the nerve to ask Auggie what she was afraid might be considered too personal a question … even between lovers. "Auggie, I have a question."
"Ask away," he said with a slight smile because he could tell from the tone of her voice it would be an interesting question.
"Well, I'm going to be gone for several weeks. Our phone conversations will be monitored, Tom reads your mail and I'm not sure about email on the encrypted laptop, even if we use our personal email accounts. We just don't have much privacy here."
"Agreed," said Auggie, "but where's your question?"
"I was wondering," she said haltingly, "… if you could teach me how to write you notes in Braille."
Auggie smiled and started to answer but had to take a deep breath because of a rare, unexpected lump in his throat. He tried to shake off the emotions. After another deep breath, he reached across the table toward Annie and held his hand open. Annie studied his expression to try to gauge his emotions as she laid her hand in his. Auggie gently squeezed her hand and was quiet for a time before he spoke.
"Annie, your wanting to learn Braille just so you can send me a private note I can read myself is amazing. You would do that for me?" he asked.
When she saw how he was touched he was by her request, Annie was taken aback. Even when he was trying to be serious, Auggie always found a way to lighten the atmosphere with his brand of self- deprecating humor. This reaction was a surprise, and she could feel herself becoming emotional. Annie cleared her throat and smiled, "Yes, I want to do that for you … for us, if you have time to teach me. Then I can write you mushy notes and not have to worry about embarrassing shy little Tom."
They both laughed nervously.
Auggie said he had an extra small slate and stylus for writing the Braille cells and a cheater card with the alphabet shown as it's read and as written in reverse. "It won't be that hard for you … just remember what you write is the reverse of what is read."
"I guess being able to read Braille by sight is sort of cheating, isn't it," Annie said.
Auggie smiled, "Ya think?"
When they returned to his apartment, Auggie collected the Braille writing supplies Annie would need and laid them out on the island. He pulled two beers out of the fridge, opened them and sat them on the island. And finally, he pulled several sheets of heavy paper out of a desk drawer that he added to the supplies on the island. Annie walked back into the room from hanging up her coat, and Auggie patted the stool at the island and said, "Take a seat for your first Braille lesson."
Annie climbed up on the stool and Auggie stood close beside her to explain and demonstrate how to use the slate and stubby-handled stylus. Annie watched and listened intently, but couldn't help but lean into Auggie's side as he explained the alphabet. When he finished, he handed the stylus, the slate and a piece of paper to Annie. "Want to give it a try and write something? Just remember you're working right to left so it can be read left to right and pay attention to each dot's position and angle in the cell. There's no backspace delete."
Annie placed the paper in the slate and closed it securely. She picked up the stylus, studied the alphabet card and started to punch out a message. Auggie took a long sip on his beer and smiled as he heard Annie writing her first line of Braille. The sound of the punching was magnified on the marble island top. Annie would punch out a few letters and stop for a sip of beer. Auggie smiled at the rhythm she was developing and teased her about it.
"There," she said proudly, "I think I've just written my first sentence of Braille." She took the paper out of the slate and handed it to Auggie. "What do you think?"
Auggie laid the sheet on the counter and slid his hand over its surface to locate the Braille. He smiled and with the index finger of his right hand began reading the sentence … the secret message to Auggie … "I will miss you when I am in Norway."
Annie watched his index finger move deliberately across the raised lettering, and in her mind she spelled out each word of her message. He came to the end of the sentence, turned to Annie, wrapped her in a hug and said, "I'm going to miss you, too."