DISCLAIMER: Covert Affairs and its characters are the property of USA Network, Chris Ord, and Matt Corman. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for bcharmer23. Her recent Twitter request validated exactly what I'd been thinking about these two characters. Thanks to the wonderful Debbie for taking time out to beta.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To darandkerry[at]yahoo.com
Behind Closed Doors
Joan Campbell strode purposely toward a bank of elevators, her high heels clicking loudly on a freshly polished floor. She kept her head down as she poured over the contents of a file and never looked up when the elevator dinged softly, announcing its arrival to the engrossed head of the CIA's Domestic Protection Division. Slipping inside, she turned back around to face the closing doors, her attention never wavering from the important document she held tightly in her hands.
"7," she said aloud to the outline of the person she'd noted with her peripheral vision. She continued to read the dossier, effectively dismissing her fellow elevator travel-mate.
"Yes, Ma'am," Lena Smith said with a chuckle and pressed the button for the requested floor. She was rather amused that Joan was just as curt to everyone in the building but was pretty sure it wasn't for the same reasons she was so cold to her.
Joan instantly froze and gripped her file hard enough to crinkle its edges. She shot out a hand, aimed for the button that had two symmetric triangles facing each other, and pressed hard. Or, at least, she thought she had hit the button that would reopen the doors, but the elevator suddenly lurched upward and then stopped just as abruptly. A rather obnoxious sounding alarm began to fill the car.
"Shit," she cursed as she hurried to correct the problem. She jabbed the button again to no avail, pressed it several more times, and then pushed button after button, but none responded to her touch. Nothing lit up and even the '7' that Lena had successfully requested from the panel moments earlier was no longer lit. The elevator panel was, for all intents and purpose, dead. Joan kept pressing buttons long after the alarm had stopped.
"I'm pretty sure that's not going to help," Lena said, her tone light and filled with amusement. Stuck in an elevator with Joan, she thought to herself, this is going to be fun.
Joan closed the file and slipped it under her arm. She kept up her button-pressing without missing a beat and now she had two free hands to attack the panel. "One of these goddamned buttons has to work," she growled in frustration. She had to get out of here!
Lena's humor instantly vanished at the drastic change in Joan's demeanor, and she searched her memories for every detail about Joan that she could remember. Some of her memories were a little fuzzy and some were downright vivid. None of them, however, involved a panic-sounding Joan.
"Hey, you're not claustrophobic, are you?" she gentled her tone and slowly moved toward the other woman. She lightly touched Joan on the shoulder.
Meanwhile on the 7th floor
"You got a minute?" Auggie Anderson asked as he stuck his head around Arthur Campbell's door. One of the few perks about being blind was that he could walk unannounced into the director of the Clandestine Service Department of the CIA, and Arthur never thought anything about it.
"Sure, Auggie, c'mon in," Arthur said cheerily. "I've got a meeting with Joan, but she seems to be running late."
"Um, yeah, about that," Auggie said as he moved further into the room. "Annie called and said that she just saw Joan going into an elevator and the alarm went off immediately afterward."
Arthur glanced up sharply from his reading material. "Is everything alright?"
"Mostly," Auggie answered cryptically, moving his cane in front of him. He'd need to tread lightly. "Annie called maintenance right away. They said an electrical short knocked out the elevator's panel, the service phone, and also the closed circuit television."
"I take it that Joan is inside?" Arthur asked knowingly and watched Auggie nod. His wife was going to be in a helluva bad mood when she finally made their meeting. "Okay, thanks for filling me in Auggie," he said gratefully as he readied to return to his research. He watched as Auggie just stood there, and he leaned back in his chair. "Something else?"
"They said it would take about 30 minutes or so to get the car running again," Auggie relayed more of his message and shifted his weight. Maybe he should've had Annie come with him to tell Arthur about the elevator fiasco.
Arthur studied his new protégé and realized the problem. He smiled. "Don't worry, Auggie. Joan's not claustrophobic," he said reassuringly. Now that would be a problem, he thought, grateful that Joan would come out of the situation mad as a hornet, but relatively unscathed.
"Yes, that is a relief," Auggie replied, although claustrophobia hadn't even entered his mind. He started to walk away but stopped. Arthur needed to know all the details, and it was his job to tell him. "Annie also said that she saw someone else in the elevator."
"Oh, who?" Arthur asked curiously, wondering what poor sap would have to endure the wrath of a pissed off Joan.
"Um," Auggie said, clearing his throat. "Lena Smith."
Arthur's eyes grew to the size of saucers in a child's tea set. "Let me get this straight," he started as he pushed to his feet. "Joan is stuck in an elevator with Lena Smith? An elevator that is stuck between floors? An elevator without closed circuit television or sound?" His voice rose with each question and Auggie swallowed hard.
"Yes, sir, that would be correct."
"Auggie," Arthur said quietly, too quietly in Auggie's estimation. He waited just as quietly for further instructions.
"Get them out of there NOW!!!" Arthur's tone reached a whole new level.
Back in the elevator...
Joan jerked back as if she'd been burned, and she was fairly certain that if she glanced down at her shoulder, it would be shooting flames. No one's touch, not even Arthur's, had ever felt so hot.
"Closed spaces don't bother me," she said truthfully, although being in a closed space with Lena Smith was causing some major problems with her head. Since Auggie's kidnapping, she'd purposely gone out of her way to avoid up close and personal space with Lena and now this? She turned her attention back to the panel but kept from aimlessly pressing its buttons. She prayed Lena wouldn't press hers.
"I see," Lena replied, taking a step back. She kept a close eye on Joan just in case the other woman was lying to her. Joan was as hard-headed as Lena was and would never admit to a weakness of any kind. "Then did I miss some kind of emergency training or something?"
"What?" Joan asked and dared to turn toward the other woman. She immediately noted a smirk growing on the clearly amused section chief's face. "What's so funny?" She folded her arms and glared. She never understood how Lena could joke about things so easily.
Lena pointed at the blank panel. "Just wondered if there was some kind of tactical or strategic reason for pressing a broken elevator panel," she said with a touch of sarcasm. She shrugged not-so-innocently. "I thought I might have missed that tactic in one of those building security meetings."
Joan wasn't in the mood for humor or sarcasm, and she was just angry enough to take advantage of their one-on-one alone time. "Why'd you take Annie?" she asked point blank the question that had been lying dormant on her tongue ever since Annie had been removed from her team and placed on Lena's. Everyone knew that Annie was Joan's special project. Lena should've found some excuse not to take the talented, young agent.
Lena did what she always did when confronted on why she did something; she went on the defensive. "Hey, I didn't ask for her," she started and lifted a hand to stop Joan from jumping in and accusing her of stealing Annie away from DPD. "But if you think for one minute that I'd turn her away out of some loyalty to you, you're crazier than that time you tried to jump across that ravine chasing that gun runner."
"Loyalty?" Joan shot back, zeroing in on a trait she held in high regard and ignoring the stunt that could very well have killed her, and the daring young woman who went to great lengths to save her, when Joan fell short of the other side. "What would you know about loyalty?"
The barb hit its mark, but Lena refused to flinch. Joan had always confused loyalty with disagreements over procedural strategies. To Lena, their problems had usually stemmed from differing style of leadership, not a sense of who was loyal to whom. Joan still saw things differently, but that didn't mean that Lena was going to sit back and take it. She loaded her own gun and fired back with both barrels. She knew just where to aim, too. "Speaking of loyalty, wasn't it Arthur who transferred Annie and Auggie out of your department?"
Joan's breath caught in her throat and her expression went blank. It was a reflexive defense mechanism for her, usually followed by an intense glare, a swift pivot, and her walking away with posture straight and head held high. She glanced at the closed steel doors. Walking away was not an option, so she just glared instead.
"Can't run away this time," Lena pointed out the obvious. She'd lost count of the number of times she'd wished for this very situation where Joan couldn't just walk away from her, where the other woman would have to stand there and listen, where Joan would be forced to talk things out. She briefly wondered if things would have turned out differently between the two of them had there been more of these times. "Joan," Lena gentled her tone, "if I hadn't taken Annie, some other department would have. Would you have preferred that?"
"I'd have preferred she not leave my team, period," Joan managed to reply semi-calmly. This was a question she could answer, an easy question to acknowledge. Any queries concerning Arthur and his decision to break up her team were off limits. One simply did not question management's decisions in front of another colleague, even if one just happened to be married to the person making the obviously incorrect decision.
"So, you understand that it wasn't anything personal; that I simply agreed to a situation that would benefit my team?" Lena continued her line of questioning. If Joan was going to agree to anything, she'd have to be carefully led down the right path. Pissing her off would only complicate matters further. Lena waited patiently until Joan nodded. "And if Annie was going to continue to grow as an agent, I was the best choice to teach her?"
Joan opened her mouth to disagree but was cut off when Lena hurried to clarify her question. "Since she would no longer be under your tutelage, that is." Lena had no problem offering an olive branch if it would ease the tension between the two of them.
"Yes, well," Joan said, clearly thrown by Lena's generous remark. It was the first time in a very long time that the other woman had said anything positive about Joan's abilities. Somewhere along the way, a line had been drawn in the sand and neither woman made any effort to cross it, rather they each dug in and defended their side with whatever means was necessary.
Lena knew better than to give Joan time to think. "And what is it about Annie that makes her so special to you?" Yes, Annie was a raw talent with loads of potential, but it wasn't like Joan to play favorites with anyone.
Joan broke eye contact and looked up at the camera in the corner of the elevator. Biting down on her lip, she just shook her head.
"C'mon, Joan, what is it?" Lena prodded, stepping closer to the other woman. She hadn't seen Joan this vulnerable since the two of them first broke into the business. "If you're worried about the closed circuit television, don't. The red light went off on the camera at the same time the panel lights went out." She'd have steered their conversation to a different ground had the camera still worked. It was none of Arthur Campbell's business what went on between her and Joan, past or present.
Joan glanced up at the camera again and stared at the area that should be glowing a steady red. The unlit sensor just blended in with the rest of the equipment. "Because," she said softly and cleared the lump that was growing in her throat. "Because she reminds me of you," she finally whispered.
"Oh, Joan," Lena said as she closed the distance between them. She cupped the other woman's face and leaned in until their lips met in a gentle kiss. It felt electric, just like it had the first time they'd kissed all those years ago.
*Ding, Ding, Ding*
Joan jumped back just as the panel lit up and the car began to move. She nervously swept a hand through her hair and watched the sensor light on the corner camera turn a bright red.
"Joan," Lena whispered, desperately needing reassurance that Joan felt the same about the kiss as she had. She only had seconds before the doors would open and the moment would be lost forever.
"We can't," Joan replied softly as the steel doors began to slide back. She ducked her head and once again gripped her file tightly. "I can't," she added, watching as a polished floor came into view. She quickly stepped out of the elevator and almost collided with Annie.
"Hey, you okay?" the young agent asked in concern. Joan looked completely out of sorts.
"Yes, just thankful to get out of there," Joan said with a forced smile. Turning on her heel, she lifted her head high and walked away, her posture perfectly erect.
From inside the elevator, Lena watched her ex-lover walk away from her yet again. And once again, she let her go.
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