Title: Four (AKA Four Things Auggie Did After Iraq)
Warnings: Swearing, angst, Scent of a Woman references, a tiny 1x07 spoiler (there's a delicious vid floating around the net to thank for this)
Disclaimer: I didn't make the 'verse. I'm just playing in it for a while.
Notes: Thank you, everyone who read my last fic, especially those of you who took time to leave me such sweet reviews. I really appreciate it. I hope you enjoy this one, too! I know I enjoyed writing about Auggie!
1. Hit on women
Okay, really, he'd been hitting on women ever since he'd passed the voice-cracking stage of puberty, but he'd had to make a few tactical adjustments after he got wounded.
He could've stuck to the girls who just wanted to comfort him with a little sexual healing- and he did for a while because he'd damn well earned the right to indulge in some meaningless American pleasure- but it stopped being fun once he got over his own pity party. He didn't need anyone who wanted to keep throwing him one.
The kind of female company he really wanted responded best to charm and humor, so he learned both. His agency-ingrained good manners helped, too. It was actually pretty amazing how far he could get by doing things he considered common courtesies: standing whenever a woman stood, letting her order first in restaurants, thanking her after they shared a dance.
He danced a lot more, too, and he definitely owed Al Pacino one for that.
Guys who could dance could always find a night's company. He'd even managed to steal one of Conrad's women once, and even though she hadn't turned out to be his type- and hadn't been Conrad's, either, or he might've had some trouble there- he really couldn't complain. If ladies loved the blind guy, he could find a way to deal.
2. Put sugar in his coffee
Every meeting in Tikrit had been conducted over cups of impossibly sweet, borderline addictive chai. If it wasn't listed somewhere as the Iraqi National Beverage, it absolutely should have been.
Sugared coffee was a lousy substitute, but it was usually the best he could do on a hectic day at Langley, and, really, he only indulged when he needed the extra jolt of energy. Or if he had to swallow some of the ibuprofen in his desk, since he was supposed to take that with food. Sugar was kind of like food.
Sometimes he still took his coffee black like a good, predictable company man.
Sometimes, no matter how he took it or how much he drank, it didn't do a thing to dull the fatigue clawing at his senses. Sometimes the ibuprofen didn't help his headaches either. Those were just two more facts of post-war life that he had to deal with.
He trained himself to ignore both, run on adrenaline and grit if he had to. That was what they all did, and he'd be damned if anyone ever knew how much harder it was for him now. There were still people who questioned his presence in the DPD, and he wasn't going to give them anything they could use against him.
After all, he'd promised Joan he wouldn't literally or figuratively kick their asses; it would've been a hard promise to keep if he basically invited them to deserve it.
3. Wore different clothes
It was ridiculous that sudden chills could be a side effect of a close encounter with explosives in the desert, but they were, and they ensured that he was usually wearing a layer or two more than anyone else in his vicinity. According to one of the docs at Walter Reed, it was his body's way of asking for more protection; the clothes made him feel safe.
He'd thought it was a load of bullshit when he first heard it, but his jackets, vests, and sweaters were comfortable, and he wasn't spiteful enough stop wearing them just because he thought it might prove something.
And, anyway, he'd been told he looked good. Especially in the vests.
Getting dressed in layers could be a bitch sometimes, but he'd had a sweet girl who'd sewn Braille knots on the tags of his clothes so he could tell which things matched. The knots had lasted even though she hadn't, so he was still able to show up to work every day looking sharp. Which was good since being able to dress well was practically a prerequisite for men in the CIA.
Annie had made a remark about that once, about how they seemed to be locked in a bizarre style contest all the time, and he'd airily reminded her that it wasn't just women whose looks could be useful in the field.
Or in the office, if the way she spoke to Jai Wilcox was any indication.
It made him wish for the end of whatever game was being played with the DPD so Arthur would take his well-tailored watchdog back to the seventh floor.
4. Stopped speaking like a soldier
They'd let him keep the tattoo between his shoulder blades because Joan had deemed it 'potentially useful,' which gave him hope that she'd eventually get him back into the field.
They'd let him keep his badges and ribbons, too, boxed away and barely thought of.
It was the military's mannerisms and speech patterns that he'd been expected to shed, and he'd had a long period of recuperation to do it. By the time he was back at work, he was a nondescript civilian, and the man who'd spent his adult life in uniform didn't exist anymore. Never had. Wasn't him.
He'd gotten rid of his accent first; the faint southern drawl picked up by anyone who'd ever called cadence was just too identifiable. Next he'd edited all the slang he'd learned at Bragg and in OIF out of his conversations. Sometimes he still thought in those terms, but he never voiced them.
So it threw him when Annie burst into his office, saying something about how ate-up Jai was being- like she just assumed he'd understand her. If she'd been anyone else he'd have thought she was trying to draw clues about his past out of him, testing his reaction to what she'd said.
It took longer than it should have for him to remember that she was an army brat and probably didn't even notice when she switched from standard civilian insults to the GI variety.
He'd have to train her to correct that like he had.
But, at that point, she was still talking, apparently unaware that her vocabulary had temporarily tossed his mind back into the desert, so he took a breath and listened.
He laughed when she said that Jai was all over protocols like a frat boy on a beer keg because it was probably true, and an analogy like that didn't remind him of oh-dark-thirty patrols and lewd remarks scrawled on garrison walls.
That was all gone for him. He didn't know about those things anymore.
Never had. Wasn't him.