Author's Note: So, last chapter! I hope everyone enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'm not big on long hospital scenes; I don't know enough about medicine to keep the doctors who read these stories happy, and my only experience with hospitals has been waiting for family members to recover while watching Bonanza marathons on TV land. I thought I'd end it simply; if you think it needs more, let me know and I may write an epilogue. Otherwise... please read and review, and thanks so much for reading!
Disclaimer: I don't own Covert Affairs or its characters.
"Annie?" called a very familiar and somewhat frightened voice. "Annie, what's wrong? Are you okay? Wake up!"
Annie jolted awake, feeling as though the world were upside down and backwards. The first thing she noticed were the incessant bleating of the heart monitors; beeping with a steady, regular rhythm. She blinked in confusion; Auggie's monitors had been turned off! Then, as the rest of her body slowly shuddered to life, Annie noticed that Auggie's hand was still warm (though wet from tears) and he was still breathing. Darkness lurked at the edge of the hospital window; Annie had slept much longer than she had planned.
Danielle was the other person in the room; a plate of food had been deposited on the small bedside table. Her arms were around her sister, and as Annie's slow-to-register mind finally came on-line, Danielle was catching her up to speed.
"You had a nightmare, sis. A bad one! I'm surprised the nurses didn't come in and kick you out; they must have not heard you. You were yelling and crying..."
Annie frowned, feeling embarrassed. "I dreamed that Auggie died," Annie said after a moment. "Danielle, it was so realistic! First, his monitors went off, and this room was crowded with people. They must have worked on him for fifteen minutes at least; more doctors and nurses kept crowding in! But he died anyway, and one by one they all filed out. My, it was terrible!" The already painful memory of the dream hit Annie like a wave, and she began sobbing again (this time silently though).
Danielle leaned over and wrapped her little sister in a huge hug. "Shh, it'll be okay," she whispered as Annie wept. "Look, Auggie'll heal. He's the bravest and strongest person I know!"
Annie smiled as she calmed down, resolving not to go to sleep again until Auggie woke up for fear of bad dreams. She let her sister comfort her a while, but Annie barely heard anything she said; she was focusing all her attention on one single prayer: "Please God, please make him well."
Danielle left after Annie had tried to eat dinner, and now it was getting late. Still, the nurses didn't kick Annie out; there must have been some unspoken agreement between them and the doctors. Annie was quietly pondering what she would do if Auggie died, the nightmare spurring an entire parade of thoughts Annie had never wanted to entertain. Annie thought she had cried herself out, but tears still came, and in moments Annie was yet again sobbing. She didn't want anyone to see her like this, and so she folded her arms on the side of Auggie's mattress and cried into them.
She almost didn't feel the hand brush her head. When at last the touch did register, Annie wondered if she were dreaming again. The last dream had felt so real, she was sure it was reality at the time. But then, Danielle's visiting was hardly a dream, and Annie had been crying ever since (so it seemed to her). So, using Annie-logic, she should still be awake.
Annie lifted her head off her arms and looked at the still form in front of her. Auggie's eyes were still closed, but his hand had moved! Auggie had lifted up his arm and put his hand on Annie's head; Annie suddenly realized that if Auggie was awake he would have heard her sobbing. When Annie sat up, Auggie moved his hand to the side of her face, and Annie knew that instant Auggie was awake because he began moving her tears away with his thumb.
He opened his eyes then; more to show Annie he was awake than for his own benefit. He couldn't talk because of the tube down his throat, nor did he remember how to smile with his eyes, so he communicated the only way he could by wiping Annie's tears away. And Annie reciprocated by squeezing his hand tight and whispering "I'm here, Auggie."
A few moments after this, Annie had called in the nurse. In seconds, Annie was rushed out, and a doctor came in and did a whole host of tests on Auggie. Annie waited anxiously outside, and when the doctor finally emerged again, she fairly pounced on him.
"Well," she demanded as the doctor regarded her with infuriating professional calmness.
"He'll be okay," the doctor answered. "He'll need the chest tube in for another day, and he'll have to spend a week here at least, but I see no reason to why he won't fully recover."
"Thank you, oh thank you so much!" Annie turned to go back inside.
"Um, Miss Walker," the doctor said as he stepped in front of the door. "Miss Walker, he needs rest right now. I'd advise you to go home and get a good night's sleep; visiting hours are over. You can see him again in the morning, okay?"
Annie thought about arguing, but she could see that it wouldn't do any good. Besides, a shower and her own bed sounded very alluring.
"Alright," Annie finally consented. "But as soon as visiting hours begin tomorrow, I will be here."
"I don't doubt it," the doctor replied as Annie headed for the main lobby.
Auggie recovered very quickly because he was in such good shape. His chest tube was taken out the night after he woke up, and his lung had stabilized. He was sent home only a week and a half after the stabbing (Annie came to visit with him for a couple of weeks so that she could take care of him). The hospital days went by in a boring blur; they were broken only by visits from Annie, the other agents of the DPD (including Joan), and doctors. Suffice to say, Annie was his favorite visitor. She often came in knowing the exact thing to say to make him smile.
Joan had to deal with a huge mess on her hands. The only good thing that came from the endeavor was their department's acquisition of a weapons cache. This became a very useful bartering chip when the Pentagon began pointing fingers; no department wanted to admit they lost track of an analyst for several weeks.
The real John Freeman was never found; Julius had been an expert in covering his tracks. "Ben" had been prosecuted for assisting the crime, but since he was under duress the judges were lenient. He and his family were relocated elsewhere, just in case Julius had hired a backup contract killer to tie up any loose ends he might have missed. It was better that they were out of town, anyway; if Auggie ran into "Ben" on the street, there wouldn't be much of him left when Auggie was through.
Four weeks later, Annie and Auggie were walking through their park again, taking the exercise very slow for Auggie's sake. It was cold and misty, and the breeze had the sharp chill of winter. The leaves had long ago blown away in a brilliance of colors; the last of the leaves on the trees were a dry, crackled brown. The grass underfoot was yellow and brown, and the world around them seemed to struggle to stay awake even though winter loomed on their doorstep. It was a week away from Thanksgiving, and Annie felt happier than she had felt in many, many months. She had plenty to be thankful for.
"Let's rest here a moment," Annie suggested, curling her legs under her in the dry grass. "You're starting to breathe hard."
"Arg," Auggie complained. "How am I supposed to remain active and yet not put a strain on my lungs?"
"You have to be very talented," Annie replied in amusement. "Come on, for just a moment."
Auggie sighed good naturedly and sat down beside Annie. They were both bundled in coats and scarves from head to foot, so sitting was actually quite comfortable and the cold didn't really seem to matter.
They sat in silence for a very long time, enjoying just the presence of each other's company. Though Annie still hadn't told Auggie how she felt about him (although Auggie seemed to remember having a conversation sometime with her about the subject; perhaps in a dream), her actions since the hospital had left no doubt in Auggie's mind that she loved him. After all, she took off work so that she could stay with him and help him recuperate. During this time, she had been an amazing caregiver. Annie had never nagged Auggie, just reminded him when things needed to be done. And she always put everything back in the exact place she found it; she was amazingly sensitive and adaptive toward his blindness.
Auggie reflected on this as they sat there, enjoying the changing world around them. Without really meaning to, Auggie said softly, "I love you, Annie."
He felt a tense wave of panic grip him as he realized what he had said out loud, and he waited for Annie to sound panicked or cold or... uncaring. But his heart almost stopped when she replied, with the same amount of quiet certainty that was in Auggie's voice, "I love you too, Auggie."
Time seemed to stop then, and suddenly, to Auggie's immense surprise, Annie kissed him. The kiss was long and deep, and when Annie pulled away, Auggie felt her hand on his face. "You look surprised," Annie said happily yet expectantly.
Auggie felt his face break out into a gigantic smile. "Very, happily surprised!" he responded. And with that, the couple kissed again and held each other tight against the cold.