A/N: I've been toying with this idea for a while, but as usual the idea grew until it took me over and I couldn't focus on anything else until I got this out. This is the result of not enough Simon/Annie fanfiction. Or really, season 3 fanfiction. Also, I found this in one of my writing folders after 4 years and forgot I wrote this, so enjoy!

Summary: Not quite a character study, but a (ridiculously long) one-shot detailing Annie's relationship with the men in her life, particularly Simon Fischer. Major spoilers for pretty much all of season 3 and minor spoilers for seasons 1 and 2, so read at your own risk! Annie-centric, Annie/Simon, Annie/Auggie. Mostly canon-compliant, with some wish-fulfillment scenarios thrown in for fun.

Disclaimer: I don't own Covert Affairs.

Like a River Golden

I. Simon

"It's a coincidence, us both craving a burger at this hour."

"Worked up quite an appetite this evening trying to manufacture another ruse to get you to come see me again."

"Oh yeah? What'd you come up with?"

"Nothing. At least, nothing I could say with a straight face. I want to resort to something I don't traffic into often: the truth. I like you. Quite a bit more than you might believe, actually. I'm tired of playing games. I'm hoping you feel the same way."

–Annie Walker and Simon Fischer, S3E04 Speed of Life

He receives the warning from his men shortly before he meets her: watch his back, because an assassin has been sent after him.

He's suspected Annie Walker of being a spy since he accidentally rear-ended her car in Marrakech. It's a clever ruse, he'll admit, and no one else would probably have suspected it of being anything other than intentional, but he's not just anyone. The timing is too coincidental despite her otherwise flawless acting.

His first impression of her is: she's the epitome of a typical American woman – blonde hair, hazel eyes, sunny personality. Well, at first she's angry and then slightly concussed from the crash (and possibly dehydrated, given the country they're in), but the part of him that was raised by his mother and grew up with a baby sister who looked up to him (and still looks up to him) persists and he feels obligated to make sure she's okay, even if he suspects a hidden agenda.

And later, after he convinces her to go with him so he can get some water into her, they end up sitting in a café and sipping tea and chatting, and her smile peeks out at him, and he finds himself smiling back and offering to make up for ruining her vacation.

"I'll find you." He tells her instead.

And he does. He doesn't bother keeping tabs on her whereabouts, but it turns out that he won't have to – shortly afterwards, his men report seeing a blonde woman being pursued by two German 'tourists' wielding guns through a marketplace. He instructs his men to take out the 'tourists' before making his way over to the southern end of Jemaa el-Fnaa to find her. He's a little late, and it takes him a while to find her, but he quite enjoys the wide-eyed surprise of her eyes as he presents to her a small bunch of desert wildflowers.

He makes sure she sees the gun in his glove compartment. It's actually nothing unusual – most residents own several handguns for protection. The second amendment doesn't exist in other countries like it does in the United States, and regulations are pretty lax.

He makes a bullshit comment about Moroccan style pits and she calls him out on it, laughing as she does so, revealing her affinity for languages – he's not sure of her fluency, but she's comfortable with her words, and it's telling. He's impressed, and he lets her know so.

His men later go over her rental car and report their suspicions that someone tampered with the taillights. They don't have evidence that Annie did it, but they do manage to find eyewitnesses who claim they saw the American messing or working (bystanders used both words since they couldn't really tell what she was doing) with her car. So there's a very good chance that she actually did tamper with the rental car herself.

The idea of killing her briefly crosses his mind as he takes her out into the desert, and part of him revels at seeing her hesitation as he drives right past the sign to the Ourika Valley, but then he sees the way surprise crosses her features – the way her lips form an 'o' – when he reveals the picnic he had planned at the oasis, and joy lights up her features as she takes in the breathtaking desert scenery around them, and it makes him hesitate.

When she asks what he plans to do with the land, it makes him pause for a moment before he thoughtfully responds that he's not planning to do anything with the land except leaving it the way it is, as a wildlife reserve.

Amused curiosity crosses her features as she asks, "Does this really work on women?"

He is perplexed as he asks, "What?"

She smiles as she answers playfully, "This 'I'm rich but it's okay 'cause I have a heart of gold' angle?"

He laughs. "It's working on you, isn't it?"

She doesn't respond, but she smiles, and that in itself is enough.

When they get caught in the sandstorm, he contemplates killing her again, but it wouldn't do them much good if the both of them don't make it out alive. She impresses him again, though, by proving that she's not the typical blonde American princess she looks like, when she takes his sunglasses and demands he hand over his scarf. He complies, watching as she wraps another scarf around her face and rips his scarf in half before braving the storm to stuff both halves of his scarf into the exhaust pipes of his car before climbing back in. She's out of breath and covered in sand, and he's impressed.

It is then that Simon realizes that there are more layers to Annie Walker, and he is curious to discover them all. It is also then that Simon is willing to entertain the thought that she really was given a crappy rental vehicle she was trying to fix. This, of course, is also based on the fact that some of the bystander witnesses mentioned a look of frustration as Annie was working on her car.

Even if the timing itself is still suspicious.

Annie is charming in a way that effortlessly disarms him, and he isn't sure what to think about it except that Annie Walker is dangerous, and if he's smart he'll cut her loose immediately. But at the same time, he's curious to find out what agency she works for. He suspects CIA, but it could also be any number of intelligence agencies from around the world.

Still, he can't help but admire her, reaching out to gently brush sand off her skin. She doesn't resist when he draws her into a kiss. Her eyes flutter shut as she sweetly kisses him back, and then they're lost in their own little world, with the sandstorm being their only audience.

When the sandstorm is over, he drives them to his hotel room. It's the place he always stays in, and he has no qualms showing her his safe.

Before he goes to take a shower to wash the sand off his body, he purposely leaves the passport of the German 'tourists' on the table for her to find, wondering if it'll be enough of a subtle warning to scare her off. He also gives her time to plant whatever listening device she probably has, on his safe.

He doesn't expect her to step into the shower with him. It's a risky move, even for seasoned spies.

They don't sleep together immediately – even if he hadn't been suspicious, his suspicions would have definitely been aroused if she did sleep with him immediately – but they do a lot of flirting and kissing, and some more kissing and flirting.

He buys her Smithsonian cover – it obviously works, so there's no point in digging. But curiosity is a dangerous thing, so he has her file pulled anyways. It doesn't really tell him anything she wouldn't tell him eventually – Anne Catherine Walker, 28 years old. Army brat. Works for the Smithsonian. His men leave notes on the file – nothing overly suspicious, everything seemingly normal and otherwise in order.

When she sleeps with him, he knows something's changed between them. The lines have shifted, and their realities become a little more blurred. And he finds that it doesn't bother him nearly as much as it should.

He purposely lets her take his phone charger, so that he will have an excuse to call her to rendezvous at a later point in time. He knows she'll probably have it bugged, but he's got nothing to hide.

He calls the number to her Smithsonian office to ask about his charger. When Annie confirms she has it, he asks for it back.

"Tell you what," he suggests. "Why don't you do this: I'm in Paris. Fly to Paris and you can bring it back to me."

She laughs in incredulity. "You want me to buy a $2,000 plane ticket to return a $20 charger?"

He smiles. "No, the ticket's on me."

She's quiet for a moment, before she says quietly, "Buy a new one, Simon."

That would be the practical thing to do, but where's the fun in that? Besides, it's not like he can't afford the plane ticket. "Come on, Annie. Where's your sense of adventure?"

She laughs and gives him a nonresponse and hangs up on him.

But she eventually does join him in Paris, and they race each other around the city for a morning workout before taking an afternoon stroll later that same day, walking hand-in-hand as he points out his favorite parts of the city to her, while she rests her head against his shoulder to enjoy the scenery.

After their morning run, they're breathless from laughter and the adrenaline, and Annie flashes him a wide grin before she spontaneously jumps onto his back, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. The momentum temporarily knocks them off balance before he adjusts accordingly.

He starts responding instinctively, courtesy of a lifetime of training – arms tightening, ready to throw the attacker off of him and calculating the quickest way to cause maximum pain – before his brain catches up to him and he ends up resting his arms on her legs instead, adjusting her hold on him and making her comfortable.

Annie's laughter rings in his ears long afterwards, and he's not going to forget the way she brushes her lips against the curve of his ear anytime soon.

It doesn't hit him until afterwards, how much trust she has in him to catch her. And then he realizes that he doesn't ever want to let her fall.

She goes to him three times before he finally goes to her, both to throw her off and to see how elaborate her cover is.

When he stops by Washington, D.C., he's surprised by her apartment. It doesn't shout Annie to him, and when he points it out, hesitation crosses her features as she tries to distract him. He doesn't care – he figured it would be a cover residence. He actually has her real address of residence – it was pulled from her files by his men some time back.

When she tries to stop him from going to his meeting by giving him an ultimatum, he stops for a moment to think over the situation. Annie's risking her cover – and she knows it – by doing this. But his people have fed information through the proper channels to mislead the authorities. He's got his bases covered, and he really does need to make this meeting.

So he apologizes and walks away, ignoring the hurt expression that flitters across her features, ignoring the way his own heart seems to clench at the sight of her hurting because of him.

He makes the meeting just fine, no problems encountered. He later receives word that the feds fell for his diversion perfectly. He also receives a memo that a blonde woman was spotted at the scene, interfering with the investigation.

He appreciates Annie looking out for him, courtesy of her agency, but he's also sure they've got an ulterior motive. Mainly, something to do with keeping him out of prison for their benefit.

Still, he finds that he can't bring himself to let her go. Not yet.

So he finds her on the streets at night and confesses his feelings to her. Her expression is guarded at first, wary, like she should have been from the beginning, and he finds that he doesn't want to see that expression on her face. Not ever around him, and especially not because of him.

He wants to see her smile, to her the sound of her laughter. He wants to wrap her up in his arms, to nuzzle her, to cuddle her. And they do, eventually. Sometime after she gets into the passenger seat of the car, after they go out for dinner, after they wind up back at her apartment and slide into bed together.

Simon finds himself smiling more often whenever he thinks about Annie. His sister, Zarkya, comments on the phone that she can hear the happiness in his voice, and he blinks in surprise before he realizes that yes, he's happy.

His biggest mistake: he brings her with him to Cuba.

When he kills his handler for her, he knows he's in deep. He's falling for her, and some part of him acknowledges that he loves her, but he also knows that in their world, love is dangerous.

So he gives her an out. He intentionally locks her in a storage room, knowing she'll look out the peephole in time to watch him kill Hector, hoping it'll scare her away but at the same time also selfishly hoping that she'll stay.

She ends up staying, and he's surprised.

When she finally reveals herself and her organization, he isn't surprised. He's known, suspected, since the beginning.

At first, he turns down her offer.

But later, he reconsiders.

Simon Fischer doesn't believe in happily-ever-afters, but with Annie, he's willing to give it a shot. He'll give up everything if it means living with her off the grid on an island paradise off the Maldives, seeing her every day and bathing in her blissful smile.

So he invites himself into her home – her real home – and waits for her. Instead of accepting her offer, he extends to her his offer. The paperwork's all good and ready to go, been good and ready to go for some time now, since Cuba, actually. Now he just needs Annie to agree to it.

She does, at first.

But after she goes to her room to pack and comes back to the kitchen emptyhanded, he can read the hesitation on her face.

And he knows.

He cannot expect her to drop her entire world for him. Annie Walker is sunshine, and she cannot live hidden away. She needs to share her light with the people in her life.

He gives her a soft smile, hoping she'll realize that he understands, when Lena Smith arrives on scene.

When he realizes who's played them both, he's furious and dismayed, although not with Annie. With himself. He allowed himself to be so distracted by Annie he forgot to focus on the assassin.

He should have figured out it was Lena Smith.

But the past is the past, and there's no time for regret, and his first instinct is still to protect Annie.

So he pushes her behind him, barely feeling the bullets as they tear through his skin.

He falls to the floor, numb, and the world goes blank when he hears the sound of more gunshots.

He hears the thud of another body hitting the ground – he sees a flash of blonde from his peripheral vision and knows without a doubt that it's Annie – and wonders if he made any difference at all.

He also wonders if they'll meet off the grid in another life.

His last thoughts are of her.

II. Annie

"Didn't you fall in love with Simon Fischer?"

"You asked me if I did anything wrong."

"Did you love him?"

"Yes. I loved him."

"So you were unable to separate your professional life from your personal one."

"The CIA has asked me that question before. Both then and now it feels like an indictment. The truth is, the CIA needs me to blur those lines, and I am very good at it."

–Annie Walker at the CIA Bluebonnet farm interview, S3E12 Wishful Beginnings

It's such a cliché that even she shakes her head at it.

But it's also fact, and she's caught right in the middle of it.

Falling for her mark. It's just not something that's done, but in her line of work… she's not surprised to discover that she's fallen in love with her mark.

But she doesn't regret it.

When she thinks about the circumstances that led to this, it always leads back to one thing: getting burned by all the people in her life.

It started with her dad.

She falls for all the men in her life in various ways, and classifies them accordingly so: should've, could've, would've.

Annie and Ben could've been amazing. But then he left her after three amazing weeks of talks of dreams and travel (and mindblowing sex) in Sri Lanka, and then she later discovered she was recruited into the CIA because of her language professor and also as bait to bring in Ben Mercer.

Annie and Jai could've been great partners. Maybe more. Sure, he was a womanizing player, and sometimes he was shady as hell. But above all, his loyalty to his friends was unwavering and he always came through for them, come hell or high water. Until he was blown up, and the agency was left scrambling to pick up the pieces and to continue where he left off.

Annie and Eyal would've a frickin' awesome team. They were, once upon a time.

Annie and Simon should've been. They almost were. Annie loved Ben, but she eventually realized it was nothing more than a summer fling when compared her love for Simon. Simon was the real deal, even if he started out as a mark. They never confessed their love for one another, but they didn't have to. But she wishes that she'd told him how she felt, even once, before Lena killed him. Annie sometimes dreams of whispered confessions, but she's not sure if they're distant memories or if they're dreams, and she thinks they could be both.

That leaves Auggie.

Annie and Auggie could've been. They are best friends, yes, but they have also betrayed one another in various ways – they weren't there when they needed each other the most. Auggie, when Annie came back from Sweden. And Annie, when Auggie needed her and she was caught up in Simon Fischer.

And then there's Lena Smith, the worst of all.

"Get intimate enough with the man and he'll tell you everything."

Lena, who she looked up to. Lena, who she trusted.

Lena, who ultimately betrayed her.

"Annie, you want to climb up the ladder at the Agency, right? To do that, you need a storied biography. Joan is one chapter in that story, I will be another, and someone else after me will be your next. Then one day, it will be you. You will be that story. Simon's calling you on your NOC line, not bad."
"I didn't give him the number. He must've gotten it off my NOC profile online."
"Even better."
"I took his cell phone charger. I'm having S&T wire it up. GPS tracker. Data mining. Then I'll return it to him in Paris."
"Adding to your story already."

She and Lena could've been an amazing team.

If Lena Smith hadn't turned out to be a double-crossing traitor who set her up as a traitor after she killed Simon, and then came back to finish the job.

Lena, who she respected and admired. Lena, who she trusted.

Lena, who expected her to fall for Simon, but didn't expect Simon to fall for her.

First Ben, then Jai, then Eyal, and now Lena.

Betrayal hits hard, and it hurts so much, and she's not sure how much more of this she can take.

The only person who could never disappoint her is Zarkya Fischer. Simon's sister.

"You're my family."

Annie and Zarkya should've been family. They practically are, bound by Simon and the key necklace.

Annie closes her eyes and leans back in her chair, absently reaching up to finger the key charm, hoping that wherever she is, Zarkya is safe.

She also hopes that they'll be able to meet again one day, when the world is a better place.

One day.

III. Auggie

"Do you love him, Annie?"


"Do you love him?"

–Auggie Anderson and Annie Walker, S3E08 Glass Spider

He doesn't know whether to be concerned or furious, so he settles for both.

Some days, Auggie thinks Annie Walker isn't fit to be a spy. Not that her spy craft is terrible or anything – in fact, it's the exact opposite.

And despite his training and legendary status quo, he's pretty sure that even if he had his sight and was a field operative, he'd still fall for her charm.

Not that he hasn't already, but that's not the point.

Annie's just so innocent – she's not pure, but there's something about her that makes her stand out. She's not tainted like the rest of them. No matter how south things go on her assignments, she still manages to maintain her empathy – Eyal was right, not that he'd admit it – and stay unjaded by the darkness of the world's seedy underbelly.

But he can also see – metaphorically speaking, of course – the way the dark days linger at the edges of her soul, trying to crawl towards her heart and harden it, and the way she struggles to keep that darkness at bay.

When she admits that she's been handling Simon and that he might be in love with her because he killed his handler in order to protect her, he closes his eyes, struggling to keep the emotions off his face. It's like an invisible fist to his gut, because he's pretty sure that Simon Fischer has fallen in love with Annie.

Not because he knows Simon Fischer or anything, other than the fact that espionage is literally in his blood and he pretty much grew up on whatever was the Russian equivalent of 'the Farm', but because that's exactly the sort of thing that Annie would do, unknowingly, effortlessly, without trying.

And later, when he asks her if she loves Simon, her hesitation is all the response he needs.

She's in love with Simon. She loved Simon.

And Lena, the traitorous bitch, killed him right in front of her, and then tried to kill Annie – twice, and he and Joan were almost too late to stop it – and if that wasn't bad enough, Lena then framed Annie for treason, and lastly, after pretty much tempting/teasing a vengeful Annie into go to Russia, tried to persuade her to defect (for real).

Leave it to Annie to kill Lena and get herself arrested and thrown into a Russian prison shortly afterwards.

Auggie knows he screwed up majorly – he should've been there for her when she got back from Sweden, but then he left to chase after Parker. And then after Jai's death, they're both reassigned to different divisions and their friendship grows distant.

He also knows he and Parker wouldn't have lasted – four months isn't enough time to get to know someone. He and Parker worked in the way that they both kept Billy's memory alive. Billy defined their relationship. Without Billy, there is no relationship. There is only ever Auggie and Parker and Billy's ghost, and he wishes he'd come to his senses sooner.

But then he discovers that Annie's in deep undercover with none other than Simon Fischer, and worse still, somewhere along the line, she's fallen for him.

Ever since Annie is reassigned to Lena Smith, she's been distant, but he knows it's not her fault. It starts with Marrakech. The only reason he knows is because it's a habit for him to automatically keep tabs on her.

When they're thrown undercover in Barcelona as Mr. and Mrs. Quinn, he's both thrilled and nervous.

He can practically see – and hear – the smirk on Joan's face as she declares, "You both have always campaigned to go out in the field together, well, here's your chance. Congratulations Mrs. Quinn, Mr. Quinn, for the next 36 hours, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Let's go get you up to speed."

And so they play the part of the married couple. Auggie finds that he enjoys himself. A little too much, Annie points out.

After they get the code and he finally gets the chance to look at it, he can't help himself as he babbles to her about the beauty and sophistication of the code, and when he's done he can feel Annie staring at him in some combination of bemusement and bewilderment, but she eventually responds affectionately, "You shoulda told me you were such a dork when you proposed. I might've said no." He can practically hear her smile.

He simply smiles in response as he slides his headphones back over his ears. "Whatever you say, dear."

When he confesses that he's planning on proposing to Parker, Annie becomes distant, and the tension between them becomes palpable. He justifies himself – after Jai's death, which hit much too close to home, they're all living on borrowed time, and he wants to make the most of it. She doesn't respond, and he's left wondering if he's thrown a strain in their friendship that can't be brought back.

When they lose the package, he finds himself furious with her when her first instincts are to go to him instead of after the package. They briefly separate, but they eventually reunite and complete the mission.

Annie gets a phone call, and for once curiosity doesn't stall him.

When they part ways at the airport, he heads straight to Eritrea. (He finds out later that Annie went straight to Munich.)

"I promise I won't contest the divorce." She tells him, her voice trembling the least bit.

When she asks if he wants her to check out the engagement ring, he shyly offers it to her. Her breath catches, and he can't tell what she's thinking, but he wishes he could see the look on her face. She finally says, her voice wavering, "It's beautiful. If she doesn't like it, she's not the right girl."

They part ways, and that's the last of Annie and Auggie for a while.

He's thrilled when Parker says yes – both times – and equally torn when she leaves him. But when he comes to his senses, he knows they just weren't meant to be. He does love Parker, and she does love him, but they realize later that it's not romantically.

After the whole escaping-from-being-kidnapped-by-pirates incident, Auggie later learns that it was Annie and Lena and Joan who coordinated together to bring him home, but it was ultimately Annie who mediated between them.

When Annie gets captured in Russia after taking down Lena Smith – and he's damn proud of her for doing it, although he's worried out of his mind for weeks until he finally contacts Eyal – he doesn't sleep well until she comes home.

He doesn't give a damn about how many agency protocols he has to break in order to bring her home. He means the words he said to her way back when, every single one of them.

"My problem is, I like you . . . Which I now see is going to lead me straight to potential treason."

When he receives word from Eyal that she's safe, he's so overwhelmed with relief he can barely break the news to Joan and Arthur. They're displeased, naturally, but he doesn't receive even a slap on the wrist because Joan is also equally relieved that Annie is out of that blasted Russian prison.

He begs her to come home.

"I need you, Annie. I never need anyone, but I need you."

She does.

And he finally, finally closes the distance between them.