A/N: Final chapter to my "behind closed doors" take on this story arc for Auggie and Joan. These two scenes take place during and after episode 2.05 "Around the Sun." Joan finds herself dealing with Arthur's investigation and aftermath while Auggie digests his refusal of his overt promotion.
Chapter 3 – Sinker
Auggie was waiting for Joan when she came back into her office when she got back from questioning Will. It wasn't difficult to imagine the look of surprise on her face.
"You don't need to explain yourself to me." She took the chair beside him and waited.
He sighed and rubbed a hand through his hair. "I was there behind the curtain, and I knew if I walked out there, everything would change. Again." He paused. "Just couldn't do it."
"I think they call that explaining." She stood and retrieved a bottle of water for both of them. "What did Arthur say?"
Auggie took a drink and placed his bottle on the desk in front of him. "You sure you don't want to save it for pillow talk?"
Joan swallowed silently. "He's got a lot on his mind."
"Things not working out as expected?"
"Well, you were supposed to be the feel-good hit of the summer. Apparently now he's really going to have to rely on his own charms. That's a disturbing thought."
He shrugged. "I didn't mean to upset the apple cart."
"You know you're welcome back here. I can rearrange things."
"Reva did a good job, I hear."
Joan nodded. "She did. It will be noted as she moves on. They think highly of her in DST, and I got the impression she won't mind going back."
"Debriefing. Where's Jai?"
Auggie shook his head. "Not on the seventh floor."
"How do you want me to handle things here?"
"I'll make some calls, but it's your show." She was already moving around the desk.
Auggie stood. "I should have thought it through, but it was the offer of a lifetime."
Joan stopped and reversed directions, coming back to lay her hand on his arm. "Auggie,"
"No, Joan. We've discussed it. This was my shot, and I didn't take it. I couldn't take it."
"Well, I've learned by now that when you've made up your mind about something, there's little chance that I'm going to change it."
Auggie cleared his throat. "Come on. Would you have walked out into all that light?"
"I don't know." She stood. "I have to meet up with Arthur. Reva's at her desk now, I think. I'll have her read you in." Joan moved toward the door.
Auggie stood to follow her. "Sure. Now's as good a time as any."
"We can talk later."
"No, it's fine. I'm fine." He realized he said that a lot.
Hours later, the others were gone. He hadn't thought about a ride. It felt late. His fingers brushed the watch's face. It was. He pushed back his chair to stand. Underestimating his blood alcohol level, he stumbled forward, his left knee hitting what had been Annie's chair as his right hip caught the edge of the table.
"Whoa, there Sailor," her arm took his and he steadied himself. "You'll need your land legs."
Despite his sorry state, or maybe because of it, a grin tugged at the corner of his mouth and he chuckled. "You don't sound like my regular car service. And you don't smell like a cab. And I was a Soldier, anyway."
Her hand traced a trail from his elbow to his palm. He took her in his and squeezed gently. "The service is a little more personal tonight."
"What are you doing here?"
"I thought you could use a ride."
"How did you know the others would be gone?"
"I knew you had more to drink about than they did tonight." Almost absently, his free hand reached for his glass. She moved it into his reach, and he finished the amber liquid. "Can I take you somewhere?"
He nodded toward their hands, still entwined. "You sure that's a good idea? I've been drinking. A lot."
It took all her self-control to keep her hand from brushing a stray lock of hair from his forehead. "Sure. Why not? I've given you rides before. Even on days like this before."
"There haven't really been days like this before, Joan." Auggie released her hand and shoved his in his pockets. "Did you need to talk or did you think I did?"
"Both, maybe. He called Geena."
Auggie nodded. "Ah, I see."
"No, I don't thik you do."
"Well, I don't. But I do." He reached beside him and found Annie's chair. As he sat, he motioned for her to take what had been his. "You think he should have kept it between the two of you."
"I guess it really doesn't matter now, because it's over."
Auggie's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"
"We met with Chet this evening. It's done. The committee won't call for hearings or further investigation. Arthur's in the clear. And while he needed saving, I was useful; now I'm less so."
"Me too." Auggie whispered as a relieved afterthought.
"And so I thought you might want a ride."
"Just a ride?"
"Just a ride." Joan's voice sounded slightly authoritative, almost normal for the first time all night.
He blew out a quick breath. "Good. Because anything other than that might get us both in trouble."
"I think we're past that Auggie, aren't we?" Her voice wavered again.
"Sometimes I don't know Joan." He sighed in exasperation, hoping honesty really was the best policy here.
Joan stood and placed her hand firmly on his shoulder. In that movement, she was back in control of herself and the situation. "I'll go home to my bed and you'll go home to yours and in the morning we'll start all over."
He nodded and stood beside her. "Right. Same Bat time same Bat channel."
"Something like that."
He placed his hand on her elbow and they started toward the door. "You know I really wanted that, in theory."
He heard her hair rustle as she nodded, not breaking stride or looking back. "But there's a part of you that thinks, just maybe…"
He kept his gait steady and eyes straight ahead. "Yeah. There is."