Phase One

Auggie Anderson knew that his world was forever changed the day he met Annie Walker. He could tell by the way the other men reacted to her that she was drop dead gorgeous. He, however, relished in pleasure that he realized that fact about Annie Walker before any other man inside Langley.

He saw her beauty in the way she walked beside him, in how she spoke to him, and how she treated him like he was no different than anyone else. She was smooth, quick, and witty.

To the casual observer, she was the epitome of confidence. August Anderson was not a casual observer by any means. He quickly learned how to read and recognize Annie's feelings and moods in how she moved and spoke. Despite the same training his fellow agents received, he just got her. Because he understood her so well, he could tell that her confidence was a mask. He knew the art of survival and "faking it til you make it" better than anyone. He slapped on a smile every day- whether he felt like smiling or not. Behind the mask of the seemingly confident Anne Catherine Walker was a woman who was heartbroken and full of self doubt.

When he "accidentally" walked into the women's restroom that fateful afternoon and heard her gut wrenching sobs, he vowed to himself that he would help Annie find herself again. If anyone deserved to know how incredible they were, it was Annie Walker.

Phase Two

Joan Campbell- director of the DPD, Auggie's boss, oldest friend, and mentor within the CIA- constantly tried to tell him that Annie was determined to find every possible way to go against her orders. Her warnings were warranted. He knew that Annie needed to reign in her "adventurous" personality. He also knew that it was the adventurous, free spirit within her that made her the agent she was. Her soul was imprinted with a sense of justice and honor. If she believed someone were slighted or their life to be in danger, Annie Walker would go to hell and back to avenge them.

It didn't matter how many times she went against protocol. It didn't matter if he had known Joan longer. He knew that Joan saw herself in Annie. He knew she was secretly in Annie's corner. He also knew that he saw himself in Annie Walker. That realization terrified him. That realization also made him see that he couldn't BE with Annie the way he fantasized. He vowed to help her see how incredible she was. Part of that vow entailed he keep her safe so she would never have to be hurt again the way Mercer had broken her. He was determined to protect her... especially her heart. He could never let her know how much he loved her.

Phase Three

He tried to distract himself with Parker. He thought he could convince himself that the love he had for Annie could be transferred to her. They had a connection. They had chemistry. Still, she would never be Annie. She couldn't even try. He finally stopped lying to himself when Parker left was one of the moments he truly felt blind. He didn't have a chance to go after her.

Even when Annie had been mad at him in the past, she never used his blindness to her advantage. She wouldn't leave him in the nothingness flailing after her. She always remained beside him. She was his tether to solid reality. She was an anchor that brought freedom rather than weighing him down.

People say that when a traumatic experience is shared by two people it creates a bond that is almost impossible to break. Being kidnapped by pirates definitely counted for a traumatic experience. He shared that experience with Parker. They'd even been engaged when they experienced it.

Parker left him. Annie had found him. She had alerted Joan and Lena. They worked tirelessly until he came home. Annie never left his side through his recovery.

Then Lena showed her true colors. Annie paid the price. Not only was she in the hospital fighting for her life, she was being accused of treason. Now, it was his turn to fight to stand up for her.

Annie was proven innocent. Proof of Lena's treachery leaked throughout the CIA. He dreamed of wrapping his hand around the wench's neck for what she put his Annie through. Unfortunately, all he could do was dream about it. The double agent dashed away to Russia. She was, at least, far away from Annie.

As Annie had laid in the hospital bed, the monitor indicating her slow, weak heartbeat, was the only thing that gave him a hint of her being alive. He verbally admitted that he needed her. It took everything he had to speak it aloud. He just prayed she could somehow hear it. There was no going back. He would have to eventually tell her when she was comprehensive.

He stayed by her side through her recovery. He helped her regain her strength during their sparring sessions. Annie's focus was off. Her breathing and speech were stilted- as though she were in pain. He asked if she was okay. She said she was fine. He knew she'd lied. He knew she didn't want him to worry. She definitely WASN'T fine. The metallic smell of fresh blood assaulted his nostrils. Her stitches had ripped. He allowed her to think that her answer satisfied him. He knew how irritating it was to have people hover over you after a life changing injury.

A few more weeks went by since their unnerving sparring session. He could feel Annie changing. He could practically hear her obsessive thoughts on how she was going to bring Lena down echo in her head. She hadn't told him her plans. He just knew her. He prayed and hoped that just as he left the matter of her bursted stitches alone, she would leave Lena alone.

His heart sank when she told him she was going to Russia. He wanted to laugh it off like she had just cracked the worst joke. They say that if you love someone you let them go. So, he let her go.

Auggie was going crazy. He hadn't heard from her for too long. Something had to be wrong. Annie told him before he lost connection with her that Lena was finished. He was sure that the FSB had taken her hostage. He pulled a bunch of strings to orchestrate a rescue mission. He wasn't sure if Arthur would back him up or not. Then again, Arthur was too preoccupied with seventh floor bureaucracy. Arthur didn't truly know Annie's value. But HE did.

He knew there was another man who also understood how valuable Annie Walker was. As much as he hated to ask him to go after Annie, he had no other option. He would go himself if circumstances were different. However, they weren't... contacting Eyal Levin was his only hope. If Levin was as good as Annie swore he was, Auggie knew the Israeli would have her home soon.

Auggie took a deep breath. Annie was safe. Now, Levin was taken by Khalid. All he wanted to do was take her home, tell her how he felt, and forever hold her in his arms. Yet, Annie was right- Eyal risked his life to save her. They had to help him. Still, he had to know. He asked her if she had feelings for Eyal. She promised she didn't and wanted to know why he cared so much. He wasn't ready to tell her why.

Finally, they were on the airplane back to D.C. He knew something else would inevitably occur that would impede him from revealing his heart to her. He asked her out to get drinks on Friday at 8:00 with him at some place nicer than Allen's. He had a feeling she knew that it was a real date. She nestled her head on his shoulder. Again, she anchored him to reality in his sea of black nothingness. She would never know how much he truly appreciated her. He didn't have the words to tell her. So, he gently planted a kiss on her head.

They got back home safely. It had been just a few hours since he had last seen her. He couldn't wait til Friday to tell her. He stood nervously outside her guest- house. He silently rebuked himself for feeling like a high schooler. He was about to reveal his most precious secret he'd carefully guarded for three years. (At least he thought it was a secret. Everyone who knew him knew he was in love with Annie.)

He took a deep breath, gathered his thoughts, and knocked on her door. A few seconds later, she opened. Jokingly, she reminded him that they weren't supposed to get drinks until Friday night. He couldn't help but smirk at her quick wit.

He walked into her guesthouse. She approached him as he explained why he couldn't wait to talk to her any longer. He told her that timing was everything. For people like them, nothing was ever certain.

She asked him what he wanted to talk about. His answer was a tender kiss. He was surprised by how she responded to his touch. She melded perfectly into his body as their kiss grew deeper with three years' worth of built up tension, passion, and longing. Although their lives within the CIA were never certain, he was certain their timing tonight was perfect.

Phase Four

So much had happened- all being a tidal wave that Auggie was sure would drown him in its ferocious fury. He and Annie had gotten closer than he'd ever dreamed. They'd made real progress, especially after his promotion, when they promised to not keep secrets between themselves. He came clean and told her everything. He felt like he owed it to her, anyway. She'd been honest about that bloody file from Wilcox. How he hated the man. He felt bad he'd lost his son, Jai, in that awful explosion. Still, it didn't give him the right to drag HIS sweet Annie through the hell fire he lit everywhere he and his minions traveled. Annie was NOT one of his minions. Part of him wanted to ask the man if he even had a heart to see what he was asking Annie to do after all she'd been through. Pointless-of course Henry Wilcox had no heart to see anything with. Life was cruel sometimes. It made men with perfect eyes blind by moral depravity; it gave men who'd gone blind the ability to see through their hearts.

Annie dug deeper. There was no going back. She knew too much. She proposed a solution, but it killed him when he heard it. She was going to fake her death...go dark. She was going to track Wilcox, his players, and take them all down one by one. She even dragged Calder and Eyal into it.

Calder proved to be a good man and friend once he was convinced that Auggie, Annie, and the Campbells were the good guys. He wanted to help take down the same man he'd unknowingly helped to propagate his evil agenda. Eyal wanted to keep Annie safe. If that meant helping her to fake her death so she could kill Wilcox before Wilcox killed her, so be it. Auggie knew there was no other way out. It wasn't just Annie, Joan, Arthur, and himself at stake; it was Danielle, Michael, Chloe, Katia, and the Campbells' soon-to-be-baby.

He heard from her off and on while she was dark. However, it still felt like he had experienced a real loss and attended a real funeral. He had to tell Danielle that her sister was "dead." He had to hear her ear-splitting, heartbreaking scream over the phone. He was the one whose face was unceremoniously slapped because Danielle wanted to know why he didn't keep her baby sister safe. Danielle's parents were gone. Aside from her own little family, Annie was all she had. Annie was her link to their parents and childhood. He felt like he'd really failed Annie...Danielle too.

Annie was back home. Wilcox and all his players were dead. He'd had a weak moment...he gave in to Helen. Annie figured it out. She also told him that she was with him on the bus when he was on his way to see Helen. He wasn't sure who the message was from. He was so lonely- he didn't really care. He hoped against hope that it was Annie, but knew that was unlikely at the time because she wasn't supposed to be Stateside. So, he wrote off the familiar presence that he sensed was beside him.

Annie was the one person whom he never would have suspected to take advantage of his blindness. He understood why she couldn't bring herself to speak to him. It would have put him in serious danger. Henry had moles stationed everywhere. If he caught word Annie was alive and made contact with him, he would have been as good as dead. Still, it didn't make the realization that she was there without telling him any less painful. He forgave her. He knew it had never happened before. He knew it would never happen again.

Auggie tried to reconnect with her. She pushed him away. She told him she didn't want any emotional attachments. After all he'd done for her, after all they'd been through, she didn't want any emotional attachments to anyone...including him. That stung, but he took the blow in stride. He told her it was fine because he was over her anyway.

He left- unknowing of the deep depression that overtook her as he walked away with the last piece of her heart she still possessed.

Phase Five

The tear that had been their relationship since Wilcox's bloody file had grown into a treacherous chasm. They maintained a friendly, professional cadence of behavior and dialogue.

Slowly, he sensed that their friendship might be able to be resurrected. It wasn't the same as when they were together...and Auggie wasn't sure if it ever would be.

Annie busied herself in getting to know some fancy, military contractor guy named Ryan McQuaid. Arthur had known him for a long time and hired him. The guy fell hard for Annie. Auggie couldn't blame him for falling for her. He'd be a fool if he hadn't. He still couldn't bear the thought of her with another man. He distracted himself with Hayley. After a few weeks, he stopped spending time with her. The woman was a crazy, vengeful stalker.

Annie had come clean to him about having a heart condition. He knew he shouldn't, but he complied with her request. He changed her medical records so she could stay in the field. She still had a shot at being able to be an active field operative after her injury. He wished there would have been someway, someone to make it possible for him to have been able to remain in the field after his injury. He could be the way and the someone for Annie to have that chance. He knew he could possibly lose his job if it ever was leaked what he had done for her. He didn't really care though. Nothing was worth anything without him having at least a small, metaphorical glimpse of Annie. He hardly ever saw her outside Langley. He was willing to do anything to keep her in his life.

Hayley discovered Annie's secret. She saw how much he still loved Annie. She plotted her revenge. Now, Annie's secret was out. He wasn't sure what Joan was going to do to him. He also didn't care. He just wanted Annie.

He got to keep his job and so did Annie. Joan paired them up for a new op. He was so excited. Joan was giving him- them- another chance to work together. He told Annie he missed her. He hoped that she would understand just exactly how he missed her. Her response was that they couldn't allow their emotions to get in the way of the mission. The mission. That's what it always came down to with Annie. No matter how many times he looked out for her, put his life at stake for her, sacrificed his job for her, it always came back to the mission. Wilcox really had done a number on her. She used to care about the people involved in the mission- not the mission itself. She went behind his back without consulting him on the most vital part of their mission. She'd really broken his trust and hope this time. Maybe Annie Walker really was dead.

Things were much rockier now. Annie was supposedly engaged to McQuaid. He knew he wouldn't be able to go on muffling his feelings much longer. He pressed on anyway.

A few weeks later he found himself tortured, feeling half dead, hanging by two big chains cuffed on his hands. After hours of being beaten, he heard his captors drag in another victim.

Belenko wanted justice for his brother. He thought Auggie had something to do with his brother's death. His brother had been a good friend of his. He had nothing to do with his brother's death. He also couldn't reveal what truly happened because the information was highly classified. He felt much of that resolve fade away when he heard the voice of the other victim. It was Natasha. He didn't love her the same way he loved Annie, but a part of him would always care deeply for her.

Then the maniac dared electrocute her. Auggie felt his heart rip in half as he heard her pain filled cries of agony. All he ever accomplished for the women in his life was pain. He had been forced to leave Tash without explanation for her to be arrested without warning by the F.B.I. two days later.

Because his life was in danger due to the top secret ops he'd performed in the past, Annie felt obligated to go after Wilcox. Now, she was hardly in his life.

She had successfully accomplished the mission they'd shared. He had been too hard on her.

After satisfying his sick fascination of watching people writhe in hellish pain, Belenko left. Auggie could tell it hurt Tash to just breathe. Her breaths came out thick, raspy, and labored. He didn't want to ask her to describe the scenery around them because he knew it would hurt to talk. He asked her to give him a description anyway. He had to have an idea of where they were to get them out of there.

When she finished describing the area, a plan rooted in his head. With all of the strength he had left in his body, he swung himself up and over. He got his feet back on the ground and managed to free his hands of the shackles. He then helped Tash get free.

He was so sore. He could feel the swollen, bruised, ripped skin on his face and torso. The pain in his muscles screamed as an orchestra of sirens calling him to his doom. He was amazed that Tash was able to help support his larger frame considering the amount of electricity that Belenko had shocked her with. He'd forgotten how strong she whispered to him and told him that they had about fifty more feet to go before they were in the clear. He started counting his steps. Not that if would be of any actual help...but because it helped him to stay conscious. With all the pounding Belenko had delivered to his head, he knew visiting his subconscious would be a bad idea.

He heard a wail of such hopelessness and angst. He thought the person was about to be killed. It was more painful than the screams Tash had bellowed earlier. His thoughts were interrupted by an enormous BOOM! Surging heat and smothering smoke surrounded him and Tash. He was in awe at the fact they were still alive. A few seconds later, he realized that Annie and Ryan were there. That sorrowful, fear-laced voice he'd heard was Annie's. She'd screamed his name. She had thought he died in the explosion. The way she sounded when she called his name wasn't what you'd expect from a former lover and slighted friend- it was what one expected to hear from a soul-mate whose side you never left. In that moment, he knew she was still inlove with him.

She again stayed by his side throughout his recovery. As much as he wanted to tell her that he wanted to try again, his wounded pride kept his mouth shut. She had McQuaid after all...and Tash was back. Maybe things with Tash would work out. He let his mind muse over that for awhile.

He finally talked himself into going through with his harebrained idea. In the farthest part of his mind, he knew it would fail...but it was all he could think about. He turned in his resignation to Joan. He never knew for sure, but thought he could hear hurt in his boss and friend's voice as she commented that she understood and would always be there for him if he ever needed anything.

Later, he went to go and tell Annie good bye. He couldn't leave without hearing her sweet voice once more.

"I am going to travel the world with Natasha," he explained to her, "be together."

"I'm happy for you. I'm stunned, but still happy for you." he thought she sounded like she was forcing herself to keep an even tone.

"Thanks." he replied.

"That's a bold choice." she commented.

"Yeah...," he sighed, "I am gonna miss you, Walker."

"I am going to miss you too." she stated.

He didn't miss the slight apprehension and sadness in her voice. "Something else going on?"

"I'm fine." she said a little too quickly. She'd always been a horrible liar- at least around him.

He prodded a little bit deeper, "You sure?"

"I've just got a lot of big decisions to make." she answered.

That took him by surprise. "Since when have you ever had trouble making decisions?"

She chuckled. He really missed her laugh."Yeah, I am the first one out of the plane." She sighed before continuing, "...Mission decisions-life and death- I can make those in a split second...but these are more difficult."

He replied, "Close your eyes."

That wasn't the answer she was expecting. "Close my eyes?" she repeated.

Despite the tension he felt, he couldn't help but make one of his trademarked blind jokes. "Wisdom of the blind."

She smiled as she complied to his instructions. He always tried to make himself sound philosophical. It was one of the many things about him she'd never stop loving.

"Closed." she told him.

Now he sounded super philosophical:

"I want you to look inside of yourself. I want you to try and feel your instincts talking to you. Your intuition has never let you down before. It won't now. So trust it. Trust your heart."

"Got it." she replied.

"What is it?" he asked, surprised at the desperation in his own voice to know her answer.

"You." she whispered.

He didn't know whether to laugh, scream, or cry. He didn't know whether he was happy, angry, or terrified. He just knew he was shocked. "Me?" he asked.

"Yes, you. I know that I'll be making the biggest mistake of my life if I let you leave with another woman unless I tell you how I feel, August Anderson. People say that if love someone, you have to let them go. You did that for me, let me go to Russia; you let me go after Wilcox. I love you for it, but there's a large part of me that wishes you would've tied me down and not let me go. This past year has been so hard without you in my life. I think that another part of loving someone is also telling them the truth... especially when they're about to make an awful mistake. You already know Tash is know she will never want to settle down -amongst other things.

I want you, Auggie...I always have. I just wish I would have told you sooner. You have given me chance after chance. I am so sorry I pushed you away. It's your choice on if you go or not, but if you decide to stay- I promise you will always come first for me." she finished her nervous rambling.

His phone started to ring. He didn't have it connected to his Bluetooth earpiece, so Annie was able to hear the robotic voice announce the name of the caller. It was Tash. He didn't answer.

"Annie?" he asked...unsure of where she was. She had gone silent when Tash's name was announced by the phone.

"I'm here." she answered.

"Come here." he whispered.

She came and stood in front of him. He wrapped his arms around her. Leaning his forehead against hers, he told her, "Part of me will always care for Natasha. But, she is not who I am in love with.. or the woman I want. I thought since you were with Ryan I didn't have a chance with you ever again."

"Anderson, sometimes, you really are blind." she joked.

That was one of the many things he loved about her. She was able to joke with him and about him like it was no big deal. Tash couldn't -wouldn't do that.

"So they tell me." he commented.

"I broke it off with Ryan." she told him.

"Oh? Why?" he wondered.

"Because...he's just not you." she whispered into his ear.

At that, he leaned in and kissed her long and deep. It was better than their first kiss. This kiss was the result of a love that hadn't given up. This kiss was the one that led to his next statement.

"Walker, I am ready to start calling you 'Anderson.'"

"You suck at proposals."

"Am I still too much of a dork for you to say 'yes'?" he asked in reference to one of their previous missions' inside jokes.

"Lucky for you...I get turned on by your dorkiness."

"Is that a 'yes'?"

"Yes, you dork."

Phase Six

"So, Anderson, do you like being married." August Anderson asked his new wife.

"I think so. Especially since I am now stuck with this amazing, albeit dorky guy." she answered.

"I don't think he has one, single problem with that." he whispered as he walked her out to the center of the dance floor.

Holding her close, he relished the last verse of the song that the band had been playing. He thought if fit their story perfectly.