Please see first chapter for disclaimer, rating, warnings, pairings, etc.
Author's Note: Firstly, thank you all so much for the response to the first half of this fic! I was so wowed by all the reviews, alerts, and faves. Secondly, this part takes place about eight months before Annie's part. Thirdly, thanks again for checking out my story, and I hope you enjoy the second half!
-Behind the Masks-
*~Part II: Auggie~*
I knew the moment I heard kitten heels and smelled Jo Malone grapefruit perfume that I was in big trouble. I just had not, at the time, realized how monumental that trouble would be.
My coworkers had made it more than clear to me how good-looking Annie Walker was, but I couldn't help but want to discover it for myself. I wanted to be able to see her features, her eyes, her hair. I had longed for even a brief glimpse of her since she had clicked into my life on those trademark heels of hers. Ever since then we had started a dangerous dance with each other - or, at least, I had been dancing. I wasn't quite sure about her. We each professed to being best friends with the other, but to be honest, there was a part of me that wanted more.
It hadn't always been that way, though. At the beginning I had been willing enough to be her friend and guide in the CIA, since I knew a little more about the ins and outs than she. I remembered a little too clearly what it was like being the newbie, and I wanted to help her circumvent that awkward adjustment period. Perhaps I had thrown a bit of a flirtatious comment or look into our banter every now and then, because I didn't have to see her to know she was a beautiful woman. I saw what some others couldn't see past her good looks - the beautiful personality inside.
Then, one day, it all inexplicably and irrevocably changed.
My first clue that everything was not going as planned was the sound of an explosion, accompanied by the shattering of glass and whizzing of flying shrapnel. The second was the gunshots that closely followed, punctuated by screams.
I was out of my seat in an instant, one hand braced against my desk as the other pressed against my earpiece. I pushed it so hard into my ear it was painful, desperate to hear some clue that Annie was all right. I strained to hear the slightest whisper, a breath, anything.
Since I'd lost my sight my other four senses had trained themselves to make up for the loss, but even my extra-sensitive hearing was doing me no good. I heard nothing but the screams and the gunfire.
"Annie!" My voice was just lower than a scream, vibrating with tension. I heard footsteps behind me, felt Joan Campbell's hand on my shoulder. I shook her off, my eyes closing out of instinct, as if that could help me better concentrate on the sounds coming through my headset, and the one I was praying to hear instead.
Everything inside me was burning: with bitterness, that I wasn't allowed to go in the field anymore; with anger, at whoever it was who had messed up the mission so badly; with hopelessness, that there was nothing I could do to help but wait. I had never been torn in as many emotional directions as I had at that moment.
Then the gunfire stopped at last, and the calls for medical teams began. None of the voices were Annie's.
And then the panic set in.
Once more I became aware of Joan behind me as she reached for my headset and pulled it away. I had to fight back the urge to reach out and snatch it back from her. "Go," she said quietly, her voice heavy with concern.
I did not need to ask what she meant, or wait for her to repeat the command. Snatching up my laser cane, I took off for the medical wing as fast as I could. I would definitely beat the medical teams there, but the question was by how long.
The shouts of the medical teams were just becoming audible as I entered the med wing. We had our own staff of doctors and nurses since it typically wasn't the greatest idea to send our agents to regular hospitals for security purposes, and I had never been so grateful until right then that we had hired the best. With one hand on my cane and the other the wall, I tried to keep to the side of the hall so I wouldn't be in the way of the med teams.
Fortunately for my sanity, I did not have long to wait until the medical teams came bursting in. I heard the sounds of portable heart monitors, the rhythmic sound of oxygen being applied to some one, the squeak of gurney wheels, and doctors shouting things and receiving positive or negative responses from the attending nurses.
My open hand flexed into a fist against the wall. I was surprised the tile had not cracked.
An intrusively loud monotone broke through the other myriad sounds. "She's flat-lining!"
She. That was the first word my brain locked on to. Flat-lining. That, and the meaning of that, was the next, before my mind hovered somewhere between the two. I felt myself start to shake.
The ker-thud of them trying to restart their heart sounded just before, right as, and two more just after they passed me. I turned my head to follow their process, ears straining to hear even the slightest change in rhythm of that droning tone.
"Call it. Time of death seventeen-twenty-three hours."
Annie. My knees could no longer support my trembling body, so I set my back against the wall and slowly sank down until I was sitting. Propping my elbows on my knees, I threaded my fingers through my hair, hearing my laser cane clatter to the floor. I didn't care.
Annie. I breathed an epithet that was half a prayer. Annie…
I heard the rustle of a skirt as someone knelt next to me. Turning my head, I splayed one hand over my face. "I'm sorry, Joan, I just want to be alone right now."
A hand took mine, then sender fingers placed something in my palm before curling my fingers around it. "You dropped your cane. Auggie, what - what's wrong? Are you okay?"
I snatched at the hands before their owner could withdraw them. With shaking hands I lifted them to my face, holding them there for a moment before I reached out to place mine on the woman's face. "Annie?"
She sounded confused when she spoke. "Auggie, what-?"
Not giving her a chance to finish, I moved my hands from her face to her shoulders and drew her to me in a crushing hug. "You're alive!" I garbled into her neck. Just then I realized that she smelled of sweat, soot, and blood, and those scents had overwhelmed her usual grapefruit perfume. I wondered why I hadn't heard her shoes.
"I lost my headset in the attack," Annie said. Finally her body, which had tensed when I grabbed her, relaxed, and her arms wound around me in a return of my gesture. "I didn't realize it until it was all over, and then I was just so intent on getting back here…"
Something at the back of my mind was prompting me that I was hanging on to Annie way longer than was proper, but I couldn't make my muscles relax so I could let go of her. "A second ago, I heard the med team - and they said she's flat-lining, and they announced the time of death. And you hadn't answered me, and all I could think-" I stopped talking before I could make an even bigger fool of myself than I already had.
"You thought I was dead," Annie finished. Her head came to rest on my shoulder, and I realized that she seemed unlikely to let go of me any time soon, either. "I'm sorry, Auggie. I never even thought…"
Right then, I was too happy to find out she was alive to be upset that I had (even if it was inadvertently) been tricked. She wasn't dead. I knew, deep inside me, that her being alive meant another female agent - a coworker of mine - was dead, but (I was later ashamed to say) right then that fact hardly mattered. Annie was alive!
It was at that moment, sitting there on the cold floor in the medical wing with our arms wrapped around each other and my face buried in her neck, I realized something very important.
I was in love with Annie Walker. I knew she wasn't in love with me - I was still her best friend. I was safe, there was no chance her best friend would hurt her in love as she had been hurt before.
However, I was willing to wait until she was ready. She was worth it.
And so ends part two. Thank you all so much for checking out my story, and I really hope you enjoyed it!