Title: Down to the River
Author: Elizabeth Breeze (Muse Dae on , SomeAssemblingRequired on Tumblr)
Word Count: 2728
Pairing: Annie Walker / Eyal Lavin
Post Date: July 26th, 2012
Disclaimer: I do not own Annie Walker (Anne Catherine Walker), Eyal Lavin, or the rights to Covert Affairs. If I did, Eyal would be a season regular and he and Annie would be in a smokin', very passionate relationship already.

The Agency is quieter than usual when a star is added to the wall. Whether the silence is from shock, or out of respect for a fallen colleague, has never been discussed. It is an unspoken agreement, an unacknowledged understanding, that words are superfluous, unnecessary.

When two stars are added, in the same ceremony, on the same day, the air at Langley is thick with grief, disbelief, shock; it's weighed down heavily by respect. The Agency isn't silent on Friday; there are choked sobs, sniffs in the crowd, rustling tissues, and breaths that sound heavy, forced, hard to take in.

Protocol dictates that when a covert operative is killed, the Director of the Clandestine Service hands out the awards. He (or, in this case, she) thanks the spouse for the contributions of their lost loved one, hands them an award and a letter of commendation.

At this particular ceremony, protocol has no place.

Because you can't hand a star an award.

x . x . x

The best part of marrying someone in your trade is being able to work together seamlessly. They've had that symmetry, that chemistry, that singular ability to move in response to one another, since the moment they met. They adjust to one another, compensate for every move. Everything they do is in tandem, they compliment each other. She plays good cop, he plays bad cop. She will pull him back when he's getting a little too rough, and he'll keep her from losing herself in her work, from getting too cocky, too involved.

While he prefers guns, she's always favored hand-to-hand. She uses her surroundings to her advantage, and he fondly remembers every instance in which she'd picked up a pipe, or a plate, or a vase. He isn't averse to that, remembering one occasion when a certain little lady had zip tied him to a bed board and he'd used the splintered frame to knock out at least two armed men. He liked to omit the fact he'd been shot during that particular encounter. "It doesn't sound half as impressive," he would mutter, while she would simply look smug.

That was why they went into the field together. Some argued that being partnered with someone you loved was a bad idea, that it caused distractions in the field, lessened effectiveness, and that martial conflicts could feed over into operational failings. They had never experienced that. Working as a team, as husband and wife, created a cohesiveness that meant a greater degree of success, at least for them.

Sooner or later, though, their luck had to run out.

x . x . x

When stars are put up, there's no need for names. They are so few, and so infrequent, that the name of every operative who has a star on that wall is burned into the minds of those who are still alive. At this particular ceremony, the entire Agency knows who they are there for.

"We've gathered today for our most solemn occasion. Adding a new star to our Wall of Honor is, by far, the hardest part of being a part of the CIA. Adding two…is unheard of. These two new stars mark the end of two distinguished careers, marked with countless successes. But the biggest success, I find, is that their careers brought these two operatives together."

In the front row, an older woman and her two daughters, around 16 and 18, all blonde and delicate, look half way between absolutely crushed, and interested. For so long, they'd simply been told, "That's classified," by the couple, who would end the statement with matching smirks and little laughs.

"Their drive to complete a mission brought them together. Three years and hundreds of missions later, we were sent a friend, an olive branch, a new colleague, a good man. Six months later, I received two requests for Close and Continuing's. Dating within the Agency isn't unheard of, but these two operatives functioned better together than any team I have ever seen." Her lips are quivering as she speaks, slim fingers gripping the polished wood in front of her. It's all thats holding her up now.

These two were more than stars to her. They were more than just her operatives. They were her friends.

x . x . x

It was a short-term, deep cover operation. They'd spent the last three months in Berlin, tracking an arms dealer and infiltrating his inner circle, posing as a pair of married bomb makers who'd spent their entire lives dedicate to the cause. Ultimately, they were going to deliver the dealer and any of his plans right into the hands of the CIA, with the intention of turning him and sending him back out with faulty arms and a promise that the names of anyone who approached him were sent to the CIA.

It should have been simple. Spend a few months getting into the good graces of the inner circle, infiltrating, turning. They had both done it a hundred times before; it was a run of the mill op. But they had gotten ahead, in both of their careers, by following their instincts,

They should have listened to their guts.

When he first voiced his concern about the op, they had discussed it. He had been in the business longer than her, and she trusted his judgment. But in the end, they had boarded the plane to Berlin, alibis firmly in place.

When she found herself questioning their safety after the first month, they discussed it. Her instincts had put a lot of wins in her corner over her years at the agency. They stayed, and went to their next scheduled check in with the alleged terrorists, trying to win their trust.

They wavered throughout the entire op, both of them questioning their judgment. But in the end, they knew they couldn't just leave; if they succeeded, an entire terrorist organization would crumble. They knew it was worth it. The protection of the people they loved, of the country they both loved and worked to defend…was worth ignoring their gut instincts, just this once.

"We'll talk about it when we get home," he whispered against her knuckles, brushing a kiss over them. "I trust our instincts. We can dissect it in the mission report."

They had always done their own thing. Protocol had never been much of a barrier for either of them. But loyalty?

Loyalty would drive them to their graves.

x . x . x

"…Despite initially belonging to another organization, there is no doubt that he was as much a CIA operative as any of us, and dedicated seven years to the service and the protection of the United States. The indefinite transfer that brought him to us will always be regarded as more than a simple olive branch between two intelligence agencies; it will be regarded as the appearance of a friend, a colleague, and an incredible operative."

Joan knows that her voice is shaking slightly as she looks out over the crowd. She knows all of these faces; she trained many of them into the agents they are today. She takes a breath to compose herself, allowing her eyes to flit through the faces, naming each as she does. Her eyes land on Auggie, looking older than his years, in his slim black suit, two black ribbons affixed to his lapel. Beside him, Parker has tear tracks, visible even from the podium, marring her cheeks, as her fingers entwine with her husbands. Sarah, their daughter, and Billy, their son, are too young to be here today, to see their godmother immortalized in a star on the wall.

As she starts speaking again, her eyes shift to Arthur, wearing the visitor's pass proudly even five years after his retirement. Her husband is normally strong, powerful, and dependable. Today, he looks as she feels; lost, hurt, shocked. "…In her ten years with the agency, she cultivated many assets, gathered information that saved lives, and forged bonds between our agency and many others. Her skills as an operative were unrivaled, and, had she…made it home, it would have been to the appointment of Director of the DPD. We are all incredibly sorry that she never got that chance."

That letter would remain unopened on her desk until someone gathered up the nerve to clear it out. In the three days since news of their deaths spread through the agency, their desks had remained untouched, despite protocol stating that desks should be cleaned out and assessed within twenty-four hours. Their house remained empty. Assessment would be too painful for anyone involved just yet. She'd give it a few more days before she ordered the clean up.

"These two…were two of our best operatives," her voice cracked. She saw the ripple in the crowd, and knew that the crack in her usually cool mask was a comfort to her people; they knew this hurt her just as much as it hurt them.

x . x . x

When she woke up wrapped in his arms, just like almost every night for the past seven years, her throat was dry. His fingers were running through her hair, his chin resting gently on the top of her skull, as if he thought she would vanish if he let her go. "Finally awake? Took you long enough." He never stopped teasing though. She nipped at his neck, giggling as he flipped her over and buried his face right beside her ear.

"Feisty. I like that in a girl." His breath was hot on her ear and she squirmed beneath her husband. Her fingers curled over his shoulders, and she marveled for a moment at how pale she was compared to him. Where he was like wet sand, she was almost porcelain. Her fingers tightened on his shoulder as she tried to push him away.

"We…have a meet," her words were breathy, and he could tell it took all of her considerable focus to form the argument. He could generally have her melt at his touch, so different from the powerful woman he had first admired. She turned into the almost shy young woman he fell in love with. Had she been a weaker woman, he probably could have convinced her to stay in bed with him all day, to skip the meet. Everyone missed one once in a while. "We're so close," she mumbled, turning her head to brush her lips against his. "A few more days and we can go home."

Promises, promises.

He groaned and rolled off of his wife, immediately missing the heat that she afforded him. She rolled her eyes before scooting off the bed, walking to the bathroom in just her shorts and his shirt. When she reached the door, she glanced momentarily over her shoulder and smiled gently at him. His head fell back against the pillows. "You'll be the death of me, woman!"

x . x . x

"Protocol dictates that, in the event of an operatives death, awards be given to the next of kin, generally the spouse."

There is a choking noise in the front row, and Joan feels tightness in her throat. She feels tears pricking her eyes. But she has to hold it together. She has two awards to present.

"But these two operatives…were next of kin. One of our few husband and wife teams," she earns a few chuckles at that. "As such…" She trails off as she picks up the two hard cases in her hands and walks over to the older blonde woman.

Danielle Brooks' face is stained with tears and her eyes are red and puffy as she accepts the Exceptional Service Medallions from Joan. Her brother in law had no family except for his wife, her sister, and so Danielle holds his award as well as her sisters. They feel heavy in hands.

These awards, she thinks, are not enough. Joan rests a gentle hand on Danielle's shoulder, and the brief eye contact is enough to let Danielle know that Joan agrees. Nothing is enough, not for these two. Not after what they sacrificed.

She moves back to the podium. Her heart is heavy in her chest. "A joint, public service will be held on Sunday. Please speak to Danielle Brooks or Auggie Anderson if you would like directions. I ask you now to join me in a moment of silence, to remember the two operatives we lost, and to reflect on their time here, with us."

And there is only silence.

x . x . x

They stood back-to-back, guns out and ready. They should have known, she thought, that something was off about this entire set up. They were stupid, he chastised himself, to ignore their instincts.

"Ready?" He counted eight in his immediate line of sight. Judging by the way she pressed up against his back just a little bit harder, she probably saw that many, or more. Her voice trembles only slightly when she says, "As I'll ever be."

No one would ever know who fired the first shot. The mission report would laundry list their successes. Not only did they take down 12 of 17 trained mercenaries, one of them put a bullet right through the skull of Carlos de Marino, and his terrorist cell had fallen apart when weaponry was no longer readily available.

She cries out as a bullet pierces her left arm, forcing her to drop her second gun. She doesn't look, knows that looking, that seeing the blood, will make it hurt more, and she can't do that right now. So she lets her body fade into shock, powers through the pain with the adrenaline pumping in her system. Her left hand makes its way behind her, pressed between them, and she feels his fingers entwine with hers. His left gun ran out of bullets moments before she was shot.

They stand back-to-back, hands linked behind them, as they dodge bullets and make impossible shots. The bullet that hits his hip tears straight through him and into her lower back. They both slip down, blood trickling from their wounds and intermingling on the ground, forming one large pool. Whose blood is whose no longer matters.

They were one long before that anyway.

She hears the chilling sound of her gun chamber clicking empty and closes her eyes. "Ani ohevet ot'cha, Eyal," she whispers. She feels his hand tighten around hers, and seconds later she is on the floor, incredible pain blossoming in her stomach. She can feel the blood pumping out of the wound, dampening the fabric, and all she can think is that her shirt is completely ruined.

Moments later, she hears the thump beside her, and his anguished groan.

It hurts, but she turns her head and finds him right beside her. Foreheads pressed together, hands still linked; he smiles groggily at his wife. "Gam ani ohev otach, Annie."

Her mind begins to fog, and she finds that it's a struggle to understand what he said. But as darkness begins to cloud her vision, and his face swims in and out of sight, she understands.

I love you.

With what's left of her energy, she squeezes his hand, pressing their wedding rings together out of pure habit. He squeezes back, weaker than he ever has, and she knows she is babbling nonsense as she feels a small flame inside of her flicker out. Her vision fades. Her world is swimming, and all she knows is numbness and maybe just a little bit of fear.

Directly beside her, he is not doing much better. He feels a foot connect with his side, but he doesn't have the energy to wince or cry out. It is better that they think him dead already. Apparently they do, because he distantly hears footsteps walking away from him through the fog of his mind. And as he feels the smooth metal of his ring pressing against hers, he knows that this is it. Holding her hand as tightly as he can, forehead still pressed against hers, he lets himself drift off; proud to die for the country he now calls home, to die with the woman that he respects above all others, the woman he loves.

This is where the current has taken them. This is where the river ends for both of them.