Annie tells Auggie about her daughter after three years of working with him. It's her daughter's birthday, a day that always brings a lot of emotions with it, and all Annie wants is five minutes with the daughter she never got the chance to know. Auggie watches her all day, with her eyes out of focus and her mind clearly somewhere else, and instead of inviting her to Allen's, like he would do normally, he invites her to his place, where he has Patron and privacy. They get to his house, sit on the couch in silence for a minute. "So what's up, Walker?" Auggie asks in a quiet voice.
"Nothing's up, Aug."
"Nice try. I've known you for five years now, you think I can't tell when my best friend's upset? Come on."
And that's all it takes. Annie starts to sob, and as she does she tells Auggie a story. Of how she met Ben Mercer on a beach when she was nineteen, found out she was pregnant a month after he abandoned her and had to give the baby up, as her father, a general, was currently being targeted and her own acceptance into CIA training made it dangerous. She tells him how her child is six now, adopted by a lovely couple, probably has a wonderful life. "I just wish she could've had a wonderful life with me, you know?" she murmurs sadly.
Auggie wraps an arm around her shoulders and she leans her head on his. "I know, Walker. I know."
And they leave it at that. For nine years, not much is said about Baby Walker (a nickname Auggie gives her) except on her birthday, when the two go to Auggie's or Annie's apartment and speculate.
"Maybe she's a dancer," Auggie will say.
"Or a soccer player," Annie will reply.
"I bet she's had her first date by now," Auggie says on her thirteenth birthday.
"I'll kill him," Annie replies.
It's. . . nice. Not perfect, but nice. Annie likes it that someone else knows. She never told her parents. Danielle was angry that she'd given her daughter up and hasn't brought it up since. The CIA knows, obviously, but that's not the same as Auggie knowing. With him, she doesn't have to feel ashamed, either that she'd gotten pregnant or given Baby Walker up. She feels safe, talking about it with him. She knows he won't judge.
Everything changes the day she gets the letter. She's just gotten home from a long and eventful trip in Africa involving the Indian Ocean, some Somali pirates, and a very precocious heiress that had been taken hostage. She's tired, beaten down, and she's really not sure what she can handle right now. But she picks up the letter, not knowing what it contains. There is no return address, no writing on the envelope aside from her full name and her address. She opens the envelope and pulls out the letter. It's handwritten on a sheet of refill paper, the blue ink smudged and the handwriting a little scrawly.
To Anne Walker,
I'm not really sure how to say this, but I've been sitting here staring at this piece of paper for the past hour and a half so I figured I should just go with it. My name's Xena. I'm your daughter. I've been looking for you for a couple of years now, and I just found your address. I want to meet you, if you do too.
If you're ready to meet, I'll be on the Arlington Memorial Bridge at noon on Friday, wearing a red windbreaker. If you're not, I'll accept that.
"And she didn't leave a return address, a phone number?" Auggie asks through the phone.
Annie shakes her head before realising he can't see it. "Nothing. She just gave me that ultimatum."
"You know, I can probably get you her contact details. There are perks to being a CIA agent."
"I don't want them like that. I'm gonna meet her on Friday."
"You sure about this?"
"I've never been so sure of anything in my entire life. I wanna meet her."
"Okay, if this is what you wanna do, I'll back your play."
Annie hangs up and returns to staring at the letter. She's read it probably twenty times in the last ten minutes, running her fingers over the ink. She notices that Xena has drawn a bunch of tiny flowers in the top left corner.
Annie smiles to herself. My daughter likes to doodle, she thinks.
Friday doesn't come fast enough. Auggie makes sure that the only case they have that day is the case of the killer paperwork, so at eleven thirty sharp Annie bolts out of her chair and makes her way, as fast as she can, to the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
She scans the bridge immediately, looking for the telltale red windbreaker. Finally, at twelve oh two, she sees it out of the corner of her eye.
Xena's shorter than she would've guessed, considering Ben's height and Annie's own. She has caramel-coloured hair, in the middle of blonde and brown, falling in waves just past her shoulders. Her eyes are the same Carribean blue as Ben's.
Annie lifts a hand in an awkward wave, smiles. Xena looks behind her before slowly walking towards her, meeting her at the railing.
"Hi," Annie says.
"Hi," she replies, voice a little shaky. She's nervous, but she's still here, so Annie counts it as a win. "Are you Anne?"
"Annie, yeah. Xena?"
"My mom picked it."
Silence falls. Annie has never wanted to leave a place so much. She's also never had such a desire to stay.
So this is what nervous feels like, Annie thinks. Thirteen years of being CIA and I've never felt like this.
Annie decides to start the conversation. "So how was growing up with the Handovers? I vetted them like four times so I hope they're good parents."
"They were, until Mom died in a car accident when I was five and Dad followed her four months later."
Pain twists in Annie's stomach, tightening when she sees the look on Xena's face. "I'm so sorry. Did you at least have family?"
"Dad's parents died before I was born and Mom's disowned her when she married Dad. I've been in the foster system."
Annie knows what the foster system does to people. She never wanted it to happen to her daughter, but here they are. "I'm sorry. I never- I never wanted your life to turn out like that."
Xena shrugs, in the casual, unassuming way a person does when they care deeply about something but are pretending not to. "You didn't screw up the foster system. It's why I reached out, actually. I age out in three years; been trying to come up with a backup plan."
"In case what?"
"In case my plan of being adopted by Daddy Warbucks doesn't work out."
Xena's face lights up when Annie bursts out laughing. "Well, don't get your hopes up there. I hear the world ran out of Daddy Warbuckses right after Annie left Broadway," she replies.
"Well, crap." Xena smiles at Annie, and good lord she would give that child the world right now if she could.
They talk for another minute before the inevitable question comes up. "So, what do you do?" Xena asks.
"I work for the Smithsonian, in their acquisitions department." Annie shakes her head, looks around, before impulsively blurting out, "That's not true. I just lied; the Smithsonian's only a cover. I'm a covert CIA operative. It's why I had to give you up."
Honestly, "What the hell?" is the first thing that comes to Xena's mind, and out of her mouth. "What the hell?" She takes a step back, and another, and another. "I can't deal with this. I have to- I can't- I gotta go."
And so, Annie's first meeting with her daughter ends with said daughter bolting away in a dead sprint.