A/N: Hi there! So sorry for the late post - gotta love uni life. Hope you're liking the story so far! I promise the Annie/Auggie romance is coming soon, I just wanted to make sure Xena was established in the story first. Please please review! xo laptopheroine

Annie marches into Auggie's office and slams her palms on his desk. "I did something bad."

"What? You didn't try out a new hairstyle, did you? Annie, you know bangs don't suit you."

"Little worse than bangs."

"Nothing's worse than bangs."

"I read Xena in."

"Oh. Yeah, that's definitely worse than bangs." He pushes his chair away from his desk, looking up at the direction of her voice. "How'd she take it?"

She tilts her head. "She took off. Running."

"Hey, coulda been worse."

"How? How could it have been worse?"

"She could've blown your cover."

"She still might." Annie flops into the seat next to him. "But I couldn't lie to her, Auggie. I just- I looked at her, and I saw- and I felt-"

"Everything."

"Everything. She's my daughter. I wanted us to start on even footing."

He reaches out and squeezes her arm. "I understand."

"Thank you for being on my side."

"No place I'd rather be. But I do not wanna be on your side when you tell Joan."

"I figured. I'm gonna do it now, might as well get it over with."

Annie knocks on Joan's door before entering.

"Annie," Joan gives her a curt nod. "What can I do for you?"

"I have to tell you something."

"Oh no."

"I read in Xena."

"Xena? Xena, as in the fifteen year old girl you met yesterday?"

"Andi as in my daughter. Her entire life has been full of lies, I didn't wanna be another person deceiving her. What's the CIA's protocol on reading in operatives' children?"

Joan sighs and begins rummaging around her desk. "You ask this now. Uh, the good news is you technically didn't break any protocols because we don't have any. Children are a messy grey area in the handbook. Of course you want your children to know who you are and what you do but if they're too young they could let it slip by accident, and teenagers have been known to leverage it against their parents."

"Waitwaitwait, holdon. We've had teenagers sell out their parents because they're grounded?"

"No, but we've had teenagers tell their friends, or family members that aren't or can't be read in, and sometimes that leads to dangerous consequences. We typically recommend an Agency therapist for after or sometimes during the read-in of the child so these things don't happen. We also recommend that foster children aren't told until they're a permanent part of the family and that the agents have known them for at least two years and have all their background information to prevent possible leaks."

"Okay, so what you're saying is, even though there's no protocol I did everything wrong."
"Well, when you put it that way. . ."

"Ugh. Is there anything I can do to fix it?"

"No. If you chase her down and push her to sign an NDA it could ruin her trust in you and any relationship you hope to have with her."

"Wait, I thought this was all about protocol."

"There are more important things than protocol." For the first time in the whole conversation, Joan stops rummaging and looks at Annie. "I know it cost you everything to give her up. I don't want you to lose your chance at actually having a relationship with her."

"Thank you, Joan."

She smiles weakly. "Of course."

Annie spends the rest of the day writing up reports and trying not to think about Xena. When she gets home, she flops in front of the TV, trying and failing to keep a particular teenage girl out of her mind. The next day, she dives into the latest case, returning home just before midnight.

There's another letter, this one with a phone number at the bottom and a drawing of a little stick figure girl in the top right corner.

The first thing she does is call Auggie. "Hey, Walker, everything okay?"

"Xena wrote me another note. She wants to meet with me tomorrow morning."

"That's great! I'll cover for you with Joan if you're late."

"Thank you."

"Tell me how it goes," he says before she hangs up.

Annie meets Xena at the same bridge where they first met. Xena is nervous; Annie can tell by the way she fiddles with her hair. It's the same thing she used to do when she got nervous, before the Farm trained it out of her.

"Hi," Annie says.

"Hi," Xena replies.

"How are you?"

"I'm, uh. . ."

"Me too." She offers an awkward smile.

"So, I've been thinking. What you told me was crazy. Like, craziest thing I've ever heard. It made me kind of terrified for a while." She pauses. "I spent the past two years trying to figure out who you were. I combed through birth records, hospital cases, the foster system. . . I pushed and I pushed and I pushed and now you're in front of me, and I still don't know who you are."

"I know. I'm so sorry, Xena, for all of this."

"I want you to be a part of my life."

"What?" Annie has to admit, this is not where she saw this going.

"I wanna know more about you. I want you to know more about me. I want us to have a real relationship. That is- if that's what you want, too?"

"Hell, yes." Annie laughs and Xena does too. Suddenly, impulsively, Xena reaches out and hugs Annie. Annie hugs back, tighter, and lets tears run down her face as she smiles.

She doesn't think she's ever been so happy.

Two weeks later, after seeing Xena twice and talking to her every day, Annie comes to a decision.

"I want you to meet Xena," she announces one evening.

"Really? You're sure?"
"You're my best friend, of course I want you to meet her. Besides, I'm trying not to keep anything from her. I've got permission from Joan to bring her to the DPD."

"Seriously? That's huge. What'd you do to get her to say yes?"

"Nothing, actually. Turns out she's a sucker for a family reunion."

"I wonder why. So when's Xena coming?"

"Friday."

"I'll wear my nice blazer."

She laughs. "Thanks, Auggie."

When Wednesday comes around, Xena spends about an hour being polygraphed and signing twenty different confidentiality forms before she's allowed to enter the DPD. Annie meets her outside the polygraph room and ceremoniously walks her into the DPD.

Of course, the first person Xena meets is Auggie.

"Annie Walker," he says. "No perfume today? And we're in flats. The last time I saw you wearing flats in the office was when you broke your leg in Nigeria."

"I'm over here, Auggie," Annie says from a foot to his right. "That's Xena right in front of you."

"Baby Walker! My apologies. My vision isn't quite what it used to be." Auggie extends a hand and Xena shakes it nervously. "August Anderson, at your service."

"Hi."

"Wow, Annie, you were right. She does look just like you."

Xena scoffs, hiding a smirk. Auggie notices it's the same thing Annie does when she tries to pretend that she doesn't find his jokes funny.

"As you can tell, Auggie is not known around the office for his shyness," Annie says. "Or his subtlety."

"Hey, I can be subtle."

"Sure you can, Patron-in-my-desk-drawer."

The three are interrupted by Joan. "What's this about Patron?"

"Nothing," Annie says quickly. "Joan, this is my daughter Xena."

"Joan Campbell," she says with a smile, efficient as always. "Annie's boss and head of the DPD."

"Oh, you're Joan."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing! Annie just talks about you a lot, that's all."

"I'm afraid to ask."

"She says you're half the reason she's not in an international prison right now."

"Oh." Joan gets a funny little smile on her face.
"I'm the other half," Auggie pipes up.
"Hey, don't I get any credit?" Annie asks.

"If we left you to your own devices you'd be in a Siberian blacksite twenty times over."

"If you'll excuse me," Joan says before the bickering can get any worse, "I have a department to run. It was wonderful to meet you, Xena."

"So what'd you think of the office?" Annie says on the drive back to her house.

"It's nice. Can't imagine you spend much time there."

"No, I don't. Always feels like coming home, though. Did you like Auggie?"

"I love Auggie. He's great. You guys are cute together."

"What? No, we're not together."

"Come on, course you are. You practically finish each other's sentences."

"Yeah, he's my best friend. He has been for twelve years. Of course we're in sync."

"Whatever you say," Xena replies, but she has a funny little half-smile on her face for the rest of the drive.