Annie confronts Auggie about his frustrations as their vacation comes to an end. Annie and Auggie are getting ready to head back to Washington as this story concludes in time for the real Covert Affairs second season premiere on June 7 in the states. Let's see how their trip wraps up …

… oh, yes, the disclaimer … I don't own anything associated with Covert Affairs except the Season One DVD set and a great appreciation for the cast and production executives who bring the story to life on USA Network. Those guys can rock a spy story.

Thank you for making time to read my story.

Chapter 33 – Control Freak

Annie hurried up the stairs to the bedroom. When she opened the door, the room was dark; and she knew it wasn't because Auggie was exhausted or had too much to drink and forgot to turn on the light for her. She flipped the light switch and saw Auggie sitting at the desk with his head cradled in his left hand and his right hand in a fist bouncing on the desk.

"Oh, geez," she thought to herself, "this is not the way this trip should end." She walked across the room quietly to the desk and whispered, "Auggie." He raised his head toward her and sighed. He stood up, took a deep breath and said, "Annie, I'm sorry. I should not be acting this way."

"What way? Human … frustrated …" Annie asked as she took a step toward him to wrap her arms around him in a hug. He did not pull back from her hug and wrapped his arms around her.

"August Anderson," Annie whispered. "You are a control freak."

Auggie placed his hands on Annie's shoulders and moved his body a few inches away, so he could try to meet her face-to-face. "I am not a control freak."

"Yes, you are. And, tonight, you had to relinquish control of our well-being to those FBI agents … and you are beyond frustrated … you're just flat-out mad about it. Aren't you?"

Auggie measured his thoughts before he responded. Before he could voice a defense, Annie spoke again.

"Auggie, you are not going to deflect this conversation with a witty comment or a self-deprecating blind joke."

"I'm not?" Auggie asked.

"No. I have your number, Soldier Boy. I understand that you don't want anyone feeling sorry for you. I don't."

"Good," Auggie replied. "That's the way I want it … always."

"But, Auggie, you are so used to controlling your emotions and hiding behind your smile and jokes that you surprise yourself when you can't suppress or hide how you are really feeling."

A sly smile spread across Auggie's face. "You think you've figured me out?"

"Well that's how I've explained it to myself," Annie said. "There's no need to totally hide from your emotions. I'm afraid one day you will implode or explode, and I don't want to be there for either. I know it won't be pretty."

"Yeah, I'm frustrated, all right. I was so frustrated tonight when I wasn't able to help with the search around and through the house. You've told me so many times how safe you feel when we're together, and I realized tonight that I'd be hard pressed to keep you safe. Annie, you've half-teased me about not being near as well adjusted as I want people to believe," Auggie said in his most controlled voice. "And, one reason I don't argue with you about it is that it's true. But, in spite of that, I know I can still be a good field officer. Then, I start to have second thoughts again when something happens like tonight."

"You keep me safe every time I go in the field. You're always looking out for me at the office, and without your fight training, I could have really gotten hurt in Norway," Annie whispered. "No one does more than you do to keep me safe … physically and emotionally … and we both know you are still great in the field."

"Thank you for that vote of confidence," Auggie said, gently patting Annie's cheek.


Friday morning Auggie's cell phone alarm buzzed at seven o'clock. Annie moaned when Auggie reached for the phone to stop the annoying buzz. "I guess we need finish packing and head back to DC," Annie groaned. "Vacation's just about over."

Auggie laughed, "We sure know how to take a vacation, don't we?"

"You want to use the bathroom before I shower?" Annie asked.

"Yep. Then, I'll pack while you shower."

Auggie pulled his roller bag out from under the bed, lifted it onto the bench at the foot of the bed and unzipped it. His hands were met by his crumpled uniform that he'd so hastily stuffed in it more than a week ago. "Oh, geez," he thought to himself. "Now I have to deal with this." He stood motionless for a few seconds … thinking … then he walked purposefully to his dresser and pulled out the shallow top center drawer. Auggie felt through the drawer's contents until his fingertips touched his old keepsake box that held many of his high school and university awards.

"OK, Anderson," he started a pep talk to himself, "You will do this without becoming over emotional." He then laid the jacket out on the bed with the open box beside it. His fingers started at the color points unfastening the military insignia and moving down to the shoulders and breast pockets to take off the other insignia and medals. The patches on the sleeves were sewn on too securely, so he was going to have to ask Annie for help removing them.

He was proud of serving his country in the CIA, and he was unspeakably proud of the work he and his unit had accomplished in Iraq. In the days since he'd argued with Annie about the uniform, he'd begun to understand why she wanted him to save the ribbons and medals. Some day in the not-too-distant future, the insignia would begin to represent more of that good work and less of the pain of coming home a disabled veteran. With a half-smile he daydreamed for a moment that he one day might have children who would admire these tangible symbols of his service.

Annie came out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel and carrying her shampoo and conditioner bottles to pack. Several steps into the bedroom she stopped and looked wide eyed at the uniform splayed across the bed. Auggie was standing in front of the bench holding the open box. "See, Annie. I did it. I saved the insignia, medals and ribbons like you asked. Do you have scissors with you? The patches won't come off."

"Thank you, Auggie," Annie said softly before rising up on her toes to kiss his cheek and taking the box. "I think this is important."

Annie pulled out a pair of manicure scissors and snipped the treads holding on Auggie's patches. She placed them in the box with the other insignia. "Do you want to take this with you or leave it here?" she asked.

"Leave it here, for now," he replied solemnly.

She returned the box to him and he placed it back in the dresser drawer. He took a deep breath and said, "My turn to shower."


When they had both showered, dressed and packed, they went downstairs in search of coffee where they were greeted by both Fred and Amanda, who were sipping leisurely on their coffee. "Are you two ready for breakfast, before you leave?" Amanda asked. "I thought I'd make omelets for your going away breakfast."

Fred handed Annie the news section of the paper. "Here Annie, you and Auggie will be interested in this."

"Dad?" Auggie asked, "what are you doing home on a Friday morning?"

"Having breakfast with my son and his lovely lady, before they escape the Midwest for their exciting lives in DC," Fred answered. "I cleared my calendar for the morning, Auggie, so we can have breakfast together. You enjoy your coffee and the paper, while I help your mother with breakfast."

Annie opened the paper and read the headline splayed across the top of the front page, "Businessman Faces Terrorism Charges." Annie read aloud the article that detailed the federal charges that had been filed against the Zhukovs and their accomplices. While Amanda cooked breakfast the phone rang a couple of times. Fred answered and told the callers that Amanda was busy and would call back. Annie recognized both names as member of the Bunco group, no doubt wanting to discuss the news about Irina and Dimitre.

After breakfast, Auggie carried the large suitcases downstairs to the foyer and Annie toted the smaller bags. When Auggie brought down Annie's over-packed luggage, Annie patted his shoulder and said, "See, you do plenty to keep me safe."

Fred helped Auggie pack the suitcases into the trunk while Annie and Amanda tucked the smaller bags around the larger bags. Amanda handed Annie the small cooler repacked with bottled water, soda and snacks, which she stashed behind the seats.

Fred and Amanda took turns hugging Annie and Auggie. When Amanda hugged Auggie he held onto her a few seconds longer than normal before whispering to her that the uniform was on the bed, and she could donate it to the local theatre group or throw it away or … at the very least … hang it where he wouldn't be finding it again.

When Amanda hugged Annie she said, "You're already a part of this family. I hope you can come back with Auggie every chance you get."

"Oh, thank you, for making me so welcome this week."

Fred reminded Auggie to call him more often. "Remember, Auggie, I answer my office phone, too. Unless I'm in court, I'll always take your call."

"I know, Dad … it's just that …"

"Just stay closer in touch … check in with me … with us. Not every conversation needs to be filled with sparkling wit and intellect. We just want to know how you … and Annie are. OK?" Fred explained.

Auggie folded his cane and climbed into the passenger seat while Annie tossed her purse behind the driver's seat and started the car. Since it was beginning to cloud over she decided to keep the top up rather than have to stop on the highway to put it up in case it began to sprinkle.

Fred leaned in to the passenger window and patted Auggie on the shoulder. "You two take it easy on the way back east. There's no need to create any more news for the next two days," he teased.

As Annie backed out of the driveway, Fred and Amanda waved goodbye. Annie whispered to Auggie, "They're in front of the garage doors, and they're waving."

"Thanks," Auggie said as he smiled and waved goodbye to his parents. "By the way, did you remember to pack our running aid?"

"Sure did," Annie said. "I stuffed it into the outside pocket of your big bag."

When Annie merged on to the highway to make her way down to Interstate 70, she reached over and turned on the radio which was playing rap music. "Auggie, will you try to find something else to listen to?"

Auggie fiddled with the tuning knob when he passed a news report and stopped so they could listen to: "Dimitre Zhukov and seven others were arrested on Thursday morning and charged late Thursday with money laundering and supporting terrorism activities."

"Auggie, we're officially headed back to DC … we just pulled onto I-70."

"Yep, Slugger … seems like vacation's almost over." His encrypted phone rang. "Hi, Joan."

"Where are you?" she asked.

"We're on vacation … or did you forget?" he teased his boss. "Actually, Annie just told me we've pulled onto I-70. Why?"

"I just want to be sure you are on target to be back in the office Monday morning," Joan said.

"We sure are," Auggie said. "Why?"

"There's going to be a staff meeting for the entire DPD in The Bubble early Monday. I'm just giving you a heads up," Joan said.

"OK," Auggie said, "we'll be there."

"Where will we be?" Annie asked when Auggie ended the call.

"Meeting in The Bubble … first thing Monday … Do you think we could pop in the CD of that Silva book to listen to?"

THE END


Epilog:

When Annie and Auggie arrived in at the bubble for the staff meeting Monday, they were greeted by their fellow CIA officers who gave them a standing ovation as Joan met them to lead them to be seated in the front. The Director presented them with the Medal of Merit for exemplary performance in being a major part of finding nuclear tactical weapons that were in the U.S.

Irina and Dimitre Zhukov had one more contact with Fred Anderson Sr., asking for help in finding legal representation to defend them. Fred gave them the names of four law firms, two in Chicago and two in New York. Neither of the Chicago firms wanted anything to do with the case, but they convinced one of the New York firms to represent them. After a lengthy trial, they were found guilty on all counts of money laundering and terrorism and were each sentenced to 50 years without parole in the federal prison system.

Aaron and Cynthia were married on the second Saturday in August with Auggie as the best man and Annie as the maid of honor. As part of her duties, Annie hosted the bridal luncheon at the Country Club for the sisters-in-law. Amanda helped her with the arrangements, but Annie was as gracious a hostess as Amanda herself would have been. Auggie, with Tom's help, planned the bachelor party in one of the suites at Wrigley Field. Since he knew none of the men in the family would volunteer to be the designated driver, he arranged for a car service to take them to the game and home safely.

Holly decided she and Tom needed to visit a marriage counselor. They are working on developing a more loving relationship.

J.D. promised Auggie he would never bring up the subject of medical research again. He's trying to keep his promise.

The Bunco club invited a friend from Dorothy's book club to join their group, and the parties continued without missing a roll of the dice. After a few months, Irina wasn't even mentioned.

A couple of months after Auggie returned to Washington, he called his high school friend, Rick, to apologize for the way he'd reacted when Rick visited him in rehab. After a long visit, he and Rick decided they would get together the next time Auggie was in Illinois … maybe even have a mini reunion with the guys who ran cross country together.


Note: The Zhukov Connection is now complete! Thank you so much for reading and sharing my fiction writing journey with me. I hope you had half as much fun reading as I did in creating the story. Covert Affairs fiction fans are the best!