a/n: I know, I know. It's been almost a year since I updated this story. Don't shoot me, please. I'm not dead, I'm in college (which is basically the same thing). I'll try to make an effort to update for frequently. I have a couple more ideas for this story that I've been roughly writing down. I'll try and clean those up and post them soon. Until then, please enjoy this addition. It's one of the longer one-shots (over 2,000 words!) so I hope that makes you all happy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Covert Affairs. I do, however, own Ari and Ally.
Only Seven Hours Away
Packing tape and cardboard boxes littered the home's living room. Bubble wrap and tufts of half crumpled newspaper snaked through the box-towers, a little river of packing material. In the middle of it sat a curly-haired teenager, nose deep in a thick textbook whose title read Practical Bomb Scene Investigation, Second Edition.
"Ally, are you sure you have everything?" Annie called from somewhere down the hall.
"I'm sure," Ally called back. Her eyes still scanned the page.
"Got it," Ally replied. She held up the backpack filled with new school supplies when Annie's blonde head rounded the corner.
"What about your books?" Auggie asked. His head appeared from the kitchen just as Annie's vanished back down the hall.
"Right here," Ally pointed, without looking, at the box labeled 'course textbooks.'
Auggie continued, "Do you have all your books? Even the ones you wanted to buy even though they're not related in any way to your classes? Like that silly bomb one you're reading right now. Or the one on making your own art supplies. Or the one on tree house building."
Ally rolled her eyes, "They're not silly, they're interesting. And, hey, one day it could be useful."
"She get's it from your side of the family!" Annie shouted from somewhere down the hall.
"Do you have all your bedding?" Auggie asked next.
"In the same box it was yesterday," Ally answered. She hid a smile in her book as she jerked a thumb at the pair of large boxes sitting against the couch.
Annie reentered the living room, "And your—?"
"Toothbrush?" Ally finished for her, "Yeah, got it."
When Ally heard the sound of boxes being shuffled, she finally looked up from her book, only to spot her mother shift one of the larger boxes and eye its tape seal uncertainly.
"Mom, don't," Ally sighed before her mother can start trying to break into the box, "Trust me, we've double checked everything. Twice. I'm sure it's all here."
"I know," Annie nodded, and reluctantly she moved away from the box, "But you're going to be so far away, and I would feel terrible if we left you all alone at that school without things you needed." Annie's expression shifted with the thought, and the next thing she knew, Ally was being pulled into a hug. It's got to be the tenth one she's received today.
"I won't be that far away," Ally said patiently. She hugged her mother in return, "Only seven hours. Catie went to college farther away than I am going. You had to fly her there, remember? I'll be back soon for the holidays. And you can always mail me things I need."
"She's right," Auggie added and he placed a hand on his wife's shoulder. Annie tried her best to look convinced, but was failing miserably.
"It's just a lot for a mother to take in," Annie said, wrinkling her nose at her husband and youngest daughter, "After all, my little girl moving away to college."
"I'll still come home a lot," Ally assured her. She grinned and ducked when her mother's statement created a renewed sense of pride in Auggie, which was expressed in an attempted ruffling of his daughter's sandy brown hair.
"I know you will," Annie told Ally, "But that doesn't mean we won't miss you all the time. We're going to be empty-nesters!"
Ally whined playfully in response and Annie rolled her eyes and pressed a kiss to her daughter's forehead.
"Now that we know we've got everything…" Auggie said, letting his sentence hang in the air as he shot a pointed look in his wife's direction.
"Oh, right," she said, "We still need to get you to your school, don't we?"
"Sooner rather than later," Ally agreed, excitement glowing in her bright green eyes.
"Alright," Annie said, a mischievous smile tugging at her lips, "We'll get going then. But first, we need to load these boxes into the car."
Thankfully, Auggie and Annie kept in very good shape, so loading the heavy boxes was easy for them. And Ally, who is tall but lean, was able to move the boxes on sheer excitement, rather than strength. But eventually the boxes were all loaded up, split between their two cars, and then Ally was leading the charge on her very first ever drive to college.
Seven hours and one apartment hunt later, Ally's many boxes had once again found their way out and onto the floor of a half furnished college apartment. And they'd found friends.
"Do you think we remembered everything?" Jai asked his friends wryly as they stood in the middle of the living room, eyeing the ungodly number of boxes scattered around them. Somewhere down the hall their offspring were bouncing through bedrooms, engaged in the delicate art of claiming rooms—a delicate art that involved a lot of screamed 'I call this one's and quite a bit of wrestling from both the boys and girls. Ari and Ally, since they both decided they wanted to go to Harvard, thought it would be practical to live together, along with a pair of fraternal twins and good friends from high school who also happened to go to Harvard.
"Do you think letting them live together is a good idea?" Auggie asked. He shot a worried look in his wife's direction. She was sitting on the apartment's worn brown leather sofa.
"It's cheaper for the four of them to share an apartment than it is for them to separately get dorm rooms," Annie shrugged, "They have their own bedrooms. Besides, even if we made them live separately, they would still spend nights together."
Standing beside Jai, wringing her hands, Reva looked like she shared Auggie's concern.
"Rev, there's nothing to worry about," Jai said, noticing his wife's distressed look, "They'll be fine here. They are living with two other friends. They technically have separate bedrooms. They snuck out practically every night in high school, remember?"
"That's true," Reva admitted. She smiled at her husband, "I just can't help but worry. He's my only baby."
"Jai is right," Ally appears at her father's side and places a comforting hand on his shoulder, "Everything is fine. We spent plenty of nights together in high school. This is no different. And you know Ari; he's a nice guy."
"I know," Auggie said as he turned to his daughter.
"Who's a nice guy?" Ari walked into the living room from down the hallway to join in the conversation.
"You are, silly," Ally laughs, "My dad is just being his normal, over-protective self."
Auggie shrugged, "It just takes some getting used to. My little girl is moving in with her boyfriend."
"And two other friends," Ally adds quickly, placing her hands on her hips.
Ari looks concerned, "Look, Auggie, if you're not comfortable with this—"
"I'm okay with it," Auggie interrupts, "It's just hard. She's my baby girl."
"We trust you," Reva smiles at her son, although she frowned when she got a good look at him, "You've only been here twenty minutes," she sighed. She tries to paw Ari's messy black hair back into place and wipe a smudge from his cheek. Ari dodged her ministrations playfully.
"Come on, Mom," he laughs and grabs her hand, "Mom, Dad. Let me show you my new room!"
The gathered parents and teenagers spent the rest of the afternoon unloading boxes and decorating rooms. Annie and Auggie were forced to admit that maybe they over packed. But at least they didn't under-pack, like one of Ari and Ally's new roommates, who seemed to keep finding things he'd forgotten ("How do you forget your toothbrush?" an exasperated mother asked her son, before his twin sister answered with a quick, "It's not forgetting if he's never used one in the first place!").
Eventually they found themselves standing in an unpacked apartment, surrounded by piles of crushed boxes that the assembled parents had universally agreed should be dealt with by their newly-adult, responsible children.
Goodbyes soon followed, and suddenly kids who'd been razzing their parents to leave for hours were suddenly thinking of last minute things to talk about and 'can you just check this one thing for me's. The parents took it in stride, even less willing to begin their separation from their children, but all too soon there was nothing left to talk about or look at our any other reasons to stay. With barely restrained tears from their mothers and strong-armed hugs from their fathers, Ari and Ally were finally left to fend for themselves in their four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.
And then the parents were parting ways too. Annie and Auggie and Reva and Jai exchanged promises to see each other more outside of work, come visit their children for dinners, and to get together for whatever other activities suddenly kid-free parents indulged in. Then, with a final assurance from Auggie that their children's apartment wouldn't likely still be standing in a week, they parted ways and all began their seven-hour car rides home.
"Do you think she'll be okay?" Annie asked after they'd been driving in silence for a while.
"I'm sure she will," Auggie smiled. He could sense the uncertainty radiating off of his wife, and he reached over and placed a reassuring hand on her knee as she drove. Her knee was tense, but her husband's touch instantly helped her relax.
"You know Ally," Auggie said, "She's spunky and strong and creative and smart. She has a lot of friends. She has Ari with her. She's friendly and polite. She'll get along with her classmates. And you know she'll email or call almost every day."
"I know," Annie sighed, "I just can't help but worry. She's very energetic…and I worry that might get her into trouble. She loves danger and creativity. She's borrowed every power tool in our garage at one point or another. Sneaking off with Ari at all hours of the night on adventures."
"She's a dreamer," Auggie nods, "But Ari is very level-headed. He can keep her out of too much trouble."
"I still worry."
"And she'll be home for Christmas."
Annie smiled. Auggie always knew how to make her calm down. Being with family, even if it was a family cobbled together by friends, had become incredibly important to Annie. More than once she'd told Auggie just how glad she was Ally hadn't accepted the school offers she'd been getting from other countries—even other continents—and had chosen to stay within a long drive's distance. Local enough for holidays with her family.
"She will be home for Christmas," Annie agreed. Auggie noticed his wife's knee was no longer tense. Now if only he could distract her just a little more…
"And you know, with Ally being gone, and Catie living with her boyfriend James for her senior year of college, we'll be able to do more with just the two of us," Auggie whispered huskily. He felt Annie perk up under the hand on her knee.
"What kind of more?" the tone of her voice danced playfully.
"Oh, you know," Auggie felt mischievous, "I might have a surprise planned for us."
"Really?" Annie gasped and smiled wide. Auggie loved it when his wife was happy, and he could do nothing to hide the grin on his face.
"Oh honey, thank you!" Annie grinned. She placed her own hand on top of his and squeezed it, "Thank you," she whispered.
"You're welcome," Auggie whispered back. In reality, he didn't have a plan at all. He was going to have to scramble when they got home to pull something together that was worthy of his wife's excitement. But he wouldn't mind the effort, and he would never regret putting himself in a position where he had to do it.
The happiness in his wife's voice was worth it all to Auggie, and he'd do anything for Annie, if only it meant getting to hear her voice smile just one more time.