there's three ways off a burning bridge

you pray for rain, or you learn how to swim

there's thee ways off every burning bridge

but it you can't find strength then you quit

And you can just burn up and sink

and you'll drift away, real slow

down into the ground

Auggie had, in many ways, grown used to being blind. But he'd never felt so terrifyingly paralyzed as he did right now. He'd tried to grab her as she rolled off of him, but he didn't move fast enough.

Something was going horribly wrong. Had he misread her? For a blissful few minutes, she'd seemed to return his needy passion, giving as good as she got. But now she was quickly moving away from him, and why had her breath turned ragged before she'd stood up? Panic set in as he heard the rustle of her picking up something made of fabric, from the direction of the chair where she'd left her coat a few hours before.

"No," he said. He stood up too, taking a step toward her, feeling his heart beating erratically. "Annie, wait, stay." Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck, he thought. What have I just done?

"Auggie, I can't, we can't," she said. Her voice was thick, like she had teared up, and muffled, like she was facing away from him. He heard her soft footfalls moving further away from him, and without thinking, he tried to follow as quickly as possible.

Crash. Flailing wildly, Auggie barely managed to regain his balance as he fought not to fall into the coffee table, which he'd somehow forgotten about long enough to slam not one, but both of shins into. A stack of books and a couple of dishes, lined up neatly on the far edge, had fallen off, and his legs were still smarting, but not as much as his pride, and not only because he'd just run into a piece of furniture in his own damn apartment.

God, I'm a loser, he thought, the pain radiating through both his bones and heart making his face tighten into a mask of agony.

Suddenly, he felt a cool touch on his elbow, guiding him back down to sit on the couch. "I'm sorry," Annie whispered, sounding contrite, commiserating but never pitying, as only she could. "That looked like it hurt, it's probably going to bruise, you should sit down, I'll go get some ice."

But Auggie seized his opportunity, and her upper arm, pulled her down too. "It did hurt," he said, trying to look directly at her, wanting her to see the emotion in his eyes. "Annie, why are you running out on me?"

He heard her mouth open, and she made a subdued noise low in her chest, like she was about to start a sentence, but no words came out of her mouth. Auggie realized that this was exactly what had jumpstarted all of this, the very thing that had triggerered all of his irrational behavior from the beginning - she wasn't talking to him, wouldn't tell him what was going on, how she was feeling.

Well, she might not be talking, but he certainly could. Before he'd kissed her, he'd dreaded vocalizing his feelings for her, terrified of how she'd react. But now he had nothing left to lose, and the words started pouring out of him.

"I'm sorry," he said first, trying to think of everything she would need to hear to fix this, to make it go away. "If that was - not what you wanted, I'm sorry. I thought - Annie, it's just that we have - this connection, this amazing friendship, and I thought - there could be more..." he trailed off, at a loss for words for a moment.

"Auggie," Annie started, her voice low and strained. He shook his head, cutting her off.

"No, I know, it's okay, you don't have to explain," Auggie said, trying to sound calm, balanced. "I get it. You just see me as, like, your gay best friend. Right? It's true, we minorities are so interchangable," there was something resembling a snort, that was a good sign, and he smiled, "and you just don't think of me that way."

"I'm just that guy you've worked with for a couple years who keeps saving your ass," he continued, giving a small but cocky smirk, knowing she'd get at least halfway to rolling her eyes at that. "And I get it, if that's all you want me to be."

For a minute, Auggie's words hung heavily in the air between them, and he felt like they pressed up against his head, smothering his ears so that he had to strain just to hear any other sound. Her breathing had slowed down, but still sounded shallow, not relaxed.

"Auggie," she said finally said, her voice wavering. "It's just...I really need you to be that guy, the guy who always save my ass. Auggie," she whispered his name again, and his heart broke into even smaller pieces at how tense and worried she sounded. "In the last few years, my life has been turned upside down. My days are crazy, my family hates me, and I couldn't tell my friends about it even if I had friends, which I don't, because you're it right now," she said. "I can't, we can't, do more, because I need you, to be my best friend, to always be there for me," and her voice broke just as full understanding finally broke over him.

"Annie," he said, finally letting go of her arm. "I'm not going anywhere," he said, gently but firmly. "We can live happily ever after, you can dump me two months or two years from now, or you can reject me right now, if that's what you want." He paused, hoping like hell that wasn't what she wanted.

"Either way, I wouldn't be going anywhere, I'm going to be right here. I know that...with Ben, and now your sister, it must seem like everyone in your life goes away, but I will stay." He knew he was probably staring just past her face, so he lifted his hand again, found her shoulder, and lightly ran his fingers upwards until he could cup her jaw in his palm, direct his eyes at her more squarely as he said simply, "I will always be right here for you."

"Auggie," she whispered, and though his ears were primed to pick up any inflection, any indication of whether she would stay or run again, he couldn't quite pinpoint what emotion her voice was so strained with. He felt her cool fingertips on his wrist, and then her small hand covered his larger one, dragging it down and away from her face. And a few seconds went by, and she certainly wasn't promising the same back to him.

A wave of disappointment hit him, and he almost let himself sink under it, already feeling an ache in his lungs. But then he felt her hand moving over his chest, and movement rippled through the couch cushions, and she was sliding a leg over his lap to straddle him, and he took in a ragged, relieved breath.

"Annie," he said, looking upward, praying she would hear the need in his low voice, see the plea in his eyes. Because for the life of him he couldn't think of any more words to say, just her name, but he needed some kind of reassurance, some vocal expression of whatever was on her face that he couldn't see...

Maybe she couldn't think of any words either, because instead of telling him anything he needed to hear, she simply bent forward and let her lips melt into his. Auggie's breath caught, and then her tongue pushed tentatively against his, as her hands gripped his shoulders more tightly, and he found he suddenly didn't need to hear anything after all. He could be blind and deaf, and he would still have understood that he didn't need to be worried about how Annie was feeling about him.

****AN: This story is complete for now, sorry the ending is kinda lame and cheesy. I may or may not write a smut sequel for it later. If you liked it or have any constructive criticism, please let me know by reviewing, it would mean a lot. :) ****