"You... shouldn't really be drinking on painkillers, Aug."
"I haven't taken what they gave me," he promised. He dug into his pocket and fished out his cell phone, feeling the Braille indents for the numbers.
"Sure, Auggie. Whatever you need. I'll make some coffee, okay?" her heels clicked away from him, finding her way through the kitchen. As she rifled through cabinets looking for mugs, she was content to find her own way and memorize where things were as opposed to asking, she thought of Joan and wondered how if she knew what she was getting into when she fell in love with Arthur. Or if she'd hoped it would be different once they were married. Annie was almost positive Joan thought it was worth it. Annie turned and looked back at Auggie. Falling in love hadn't worked so well for her before. And if she let this happen, let herself go there again, it didn't seem like it was going to get any easier.
Auggie held the phone up to his ear until a male voice answered, "Campbell."
"Liza called," Auggie answered, his voice sounding tired even to himself. "She sounds pissed."
"You think she contacted her source?"
"There's a good possibility. I'm meeting her at Allen's tonight."
"I'll send Jai along with you."
"For what? Protection? She couldn't do anything to me." Auggie said.
"There are lots of things she could do to you. Many of them worse than death. Jai's going, that's final."
Auggie sighed. He was doomed to a life filled of Jai where he didn't want him. "Great. My hero."
"Meet Jai there at 9. Don't be late." The phone clicked in his ear, signifying that the man on the other end had hung up.
Auggie let out a frustrated sound. "Sure, Arthur, totally up to this tonight," he grumbled aloud, tossing his phone to the other end of the couch and sinking down against it. "It looks like we'll be headed to Allen's tonight after all."
"Should I come?"
"You have to. If you don't it will be me and Jai alone and no one will believe me when I tell them I slayed him with my wit alone." Annie laughed.
"You know, you could give each other a chance. You're both grown men who happen to both be good at their jobs."
"He also has to be a grown ass that can't fess up to his own mistakes," Auggie grumble. The pain was making him irritable, but he thought that beer and painkillers might make for a cocktail he wasn't ready for that night. With a sigh he reached out, grasping around for her hand. Finally it touched his, very lightly, and he took hold of it, brushing his lips very lightly over this skin on the back of it. "I'm sorry," he murmured earnestly. "
"I'm exhausted and really did expect to spend the rest of the day and night in bed. This... is probably pretty close to the last thing I'd like to have on my list of things to do."
Annie sat next to him on the couch, half listening for the sound of the coffee maker to be finished. "I know. It would be pretty low on my list too. If it doesn't go well, I'll spill a beer on her for you." she offered.
Auggie grinned. "Don't piss her off too much. I still have some of my stuff at her place." He paused as soon as the words were out of his mouth, realizing that that as probably not the best thing to say. Annie had been more understanding than he probably deserved for this particular op, but she was tired and probably a bit sore herself. He felt her hand pull from his. "Annie..."
"The coffee is finished." Annie said. Her voice sounded pinched, but not angry. Auggie knew that angry was sometimes the better option, between that and hurt. Either that, she was hurt and angry, and hiding the anger. Auggie wondered if he should check the coffee for poison.
"Annie, I'm sorry." He stood to follow her.
"Sit," she ordered briskly. "I'll bring the coffee over here. We have a couple hours until we'll have to go." She hadn't asked why Arthur would have known, how Jai had found out, or any of the obvious question. Just accepted it as it came. Auggie shook his head and frowned to himself. He'd really never met anyone quite like her. After a moment he heard the sound of a mug being set down on the coffee table and felt a warm one pressed into his hands. "I know Liza was an op. I know Liza and you slept together. Okay. I just..." She sank down to the couch. "A girl just doesn't need to be reminded all the time, you know?"
"You aren't asking questions." Auggie said.
Annie sighed. "Would you tell me?"
"If I could." Auggie said.
"But most of it you couldn't. At least not yet. And what you could, I'm not sure I'm ready to hear. I'm a big girl, Auggie, but I am a girl."
"I'm very aware of that fact," Auggie swore. He took a sip from his coffee and nearly spit it back out. "Hot."
"No kidding," Annie murmured, a smile obvious in her voice.
He leaned up against her and she finally let out a small, surpressed giggle escape when his head lulled on her shoulder and his hair tickled her nose. Annie inhaled deeply, closed her eyes, and savored the moment. She knew that in a couple hours she'd have to take him to see Madame Skank.
From the moment she met him, Annie had known he was something special. After a while, she'd known where it was going...at least part of her had hoped so. Now she wasn't sure what they were doing, or thinking, going there. Liza pissed her off, but it was temporary and served a purpose. She didn't have to like it, but she understood it. And then there was Natasha. She knew Auggie still loved her, one didn't have to be a CIA agent to spot that. Annie thought about the shells next to her bed; she didn't exactly have a clean slate herself. But Auggie was...Auggie. She kissed his temple.
He gave a quiet moan and she reached over to take the coffee mug from his loosening fingers. She smiled down at him. "Sleep well, Auggie," she whispered.
A couple hours later he was roused and they were out the door. Allen's was buzzing with its usual crowd mix andJai was there and waiting for them. He took one look at Auggie and frowned. "You up for this?"
"I'm up for anything that's thrown at me," the tech op answered.
"Good." Jai glanced at Annie and then did a sweeping glance over the crowd. "Annie, could I have a sec with Auggie?"
She frowned but nodded. "I'll get the beers."
"I'm so flattered you want me alone I don't know what to say." Auggie said.
"Please, don't make me naseous." Jai said wryly. "I haven't even had a drink yet."
Auggie grinned. "Are worried about me, Jai? Or are you planning on moving in on Liza if things don't go well?"
"Now I'm definitely naseous." Jai grumbled. "No, that's not what I'm here for."
"I know. You're here to make sure that I don't screw it up."
"Listen, Auggie, if we're going to work together we need to put some of this crap behind us. I know we've never gotten along, I know bits and pieces of why you dislike me, I know that I think you rely on the fact that you don't lean on your injury to get by day-to-day and look better than you are. I know that you think you say you care about Annie."
"I do care about Annie," Auggie bit out, eyes narrowed in at least somewhat the right direction.
"As do I." Jai said firmly. "But do you care for her enough to give her up?"
"What makes you think..." Auggie protested.
"This isn't about me, Auggie. It's about the job we all love so much. If they ask you to give her up like they've asked everyone to give something up, can you do it? It may not seem like you have to think about that now, but you do. Before the ties get too tight."
"And there winds up being another broken family with crazy parents and confused children like yours?" Jai didn't answer and Auggie sighed. "You're right. I don't like you. I don't believe you aren't like your father. But I can acknowledge your logic."
"Gotta go. Good luck." Jai said suddenly, and his presence was gone
Auggie felt Annie's hand on his shoulder briefly. "Liza's at the door. I'm going to go get us some beers. You want one?"
"Yeah." She moved away and Auggie felt something tug at him as she left, as if part of him were following her. He wanted to be with Annie tonight as the soreness and stiffness of his injuries set in. He wanted to curl up next to her and feel her arms around him, not Liza's.After the would-be meeting was finished, Auggie was sure that it wasn't Liza's arms he'd ever have to worry about. As he heard her storm away, angry that he'd given her false intel, he felt a sudden rush of guilt. It was a feeling that he hadn't felt in a good while and as Annie sat down and asked him if he wanted to talk about it, he waved her off with an understanding that it would be discussed later, when CIA protocol allowed.
Annie sat down and stared across the bar. She spotted Jai and she smiled. He was a good man, she thought, if he would get out of his own way. Maybe in another lifetime, in another career she could have fallen for him. He was smart, funny, handsome...but he was the sort of man she would have introduced to her sister, if her sister hadn't been married, of course. He turned and caught her eye and smiled. She smiled back automattically, but there was something different about him. He turned back and the silloutte of him wearing that baseball hat made her heart stop. She'd seen him before, indeed in another lifetime. It wasn't possible, she told herself, even thought she knew that it was. "Auggie?" she asked softly. "Do you want to go?" She wanted nothing more than to be very far away.
"Yeah, if you're ready," he murmured, looking perfectly miserable where sat. Jai approached the table, grinning and picking up a beer. "Just knocked down all the 19's and the 20's. I'm on fire!" he announced, sipping at his beer. He turned to see Annie's somewhat haunted look as she stared at him. In her mind, all she saw was a man from years ago. She hand't known his name, but she'd seen him in Sri Lanka, hassling Ben for something or the other. He'd worn a baseball cap and also, now, Jai's face. "What's the matter? Looks like you just saw a ghost," Jai continued with another one of his charming smiles.
"I think we're going to head out," Annie answered as she stood.
"Everything okay?" Jai asked, glancing between them.
"Yeah, I'm just really wiped out and he probably needs to be on some pain killers now that the mandatory beer is gone."
Jai nodded slowly. "Sure. If you need anything," he hesitated, "either of you need anything, let me know."
Auggie stood and unfolded his cane. He reached out and his fingers brushed against Jai's arm before finding it properly and squeezing. "Hey. Thanks." Annie came around the table and took his arm.
She led him to her car, mind racing all along that perhaps she hadn't stretched the truth to Jai after all.
Auggie's usually color-filled face had gone pale, leaving his eyes looking darker than usual and strange against the pallor. He hung on tightly to her arm as if he worried that me might miss his footing at some point or another and risk having to explain it in words. Their wordless actions that allowed the other to know what was happening was one of the many qualities of their relationship that Annie marveled at. She eased him into the passenger's side of the car before circling and climbing in herself.
"You okay?" she asked once the motor was running.
Auggie took a deep breath. "No. No, I have reached the point where I am not okay. I was okay, I will be okay in the near future, but right now I am very far from that shore." Annie stared at him. "Obnoxiously long answer to yes or no question. Noted. Sorry. Are you okay?"
"About the same." she said quietly. She reached over and took Auggie's hand
He leaned his head back against the seat and took several long, deep breaths, all the while keeping a tight grip around her fingers. He felt the car move back out of the parking slot and start down the road. It was a quiet trip all the way back to his apartment in which neither of them spoke and their hands never left the other's. As they pulled into the back parking lot and Annie wrapped an arm around him in a steadying motion to make it to the elevator and then to his apartment Auggie realized just how lucky he was.
As they walked through the door and she murmured something about getting his meds he fell down to the couch and a small smile crossed his lips. He felt a glass of water pressed into his hands then the pills. "What?" she asked quietly, sounding very tired.
He grinned and pulled her down to join him. "I've come to a conclusion," he said as she shifted her weight into a more comfortable position.
"Yeah? What's that?"
"Two things. One: I am a very, very lucky man."
She chuckled lightly at this. "And two?"
"Two: every last second is going to be worth it."
A/N: The end!