Warnings, disclaimers and the like in chapter 1
Hi all! Thanks everyone for the warm welcome. I guess I wasn't the only person that was dissatisfied and I'm so glad you liked my take. I didn't know if I would continue this so I had marked it in progress so here is one last chapter to tie the two pieces together. Also I want to note that my Auggie here is the same one that would sleep across three plastic chairs in Georgetown Hospital waiting on Annie after she'd been exposed to radiation poisoning. Oh show runners, where is that Auggie? We miss him… and now, to the story.
Auggie had his car service at the front doors of the Agency in minutes, directing them to get him back to his flat. There he told them to wait, knowing he didn't have all that much time and it would be easier to just pack and get back in the car.
Making his way to his front door he rushed through the locks by touch and slid open the door. Being blind made one be meticulous so everything was in its place and he methodically, albeit quickly pulled clothing, grooming kit and passport from their respective locations. Packing everything into a carry-on he noted briefly Annie's fichus on the kitchen counter and mused that he'd rather buy her a new plant than delay any longer.
Just as he was ready to head out his phone rang, the speaker announcing the caller…Parker.
A sudden spike of guilt hit him as he listened to the announcement. He could let it go to voice mail, apologize later, but he felt the need to do the right thing. He moved across the room and picked up the phone.
"Hey Parker… how are you?"
He listened half heartedly, his mind in a different continent on another woman that he'd simply come to realize how much she means to him…
"Look, I know the last time we talked I said… look, you were right… we really can't do this. You're there and I'm here and things… change. I'm not going to be coming… I hope you understand."
He could hear the disappointment in her voice, but along with that was the resignation. She had been right and he had been too… stubborn, too needy, too stupid to not realize it. With a quick goodbye he hung up and placed the phone back in the cradle before he turned and picked up his bag and headed to the car to take him to Dulles.
After Auggie's driver handed him off to an airport aid who helped him get his boarding pass and directed him through to security, where the TSA quickly passed him through and directed him towards his gate. Once he'd gotten to the gate he sat down sat and waited for the announcement they were boarding the flight. He placed his carry on the floor and folded his cane so he could pull out his phone and start making the calls he needed to. He started with his boss.
It only rang once and he got the immediate impression that Joan had already gotten a sit rep and had just been waiting for his call.
"Joan, I'm at the airport. I don't know how much you've heard already but Annie's extract fell apart when Croft showed up in Stockholm. She ended up shooting and killing him, but she was shot as well. Annie's sister is there with her and I'm on my way there now."
Auggie frowned as he listened to Joan, the gist of her comments being that the situation was a mess… which he was well aware of.
"Look, I know this is not going to go smoothly but Danielle's been read in on Annie and with the shooting and a dead international assassin there will be a lot of questions that she's going to need help answering. Which is where I can come in…" he explained logically even as his hand curled around his folded cane tighter as he imagined the shooting once more. "I'll take care of helping Danielle create a cover story when I get there…"
He grimaced this time as Joan answered, not one hundred percent behind his plan, but if Auggie could fix it, she was willing to let him do it… and she seemed to understand his need to be there in person, "yes Joan, I know… you know I need to be there…Thank you."
Hanging up he listened again for the announcement for boarding, and hearing only silence he moved on to his next call… Danielle.
After four rings he was afraid he was going to get her voice mail but she finally picked up…
"Danielle… I was afraid I wasn't going to reach you. How's Annie?"
Auggie hears the fear and exhaustion in her voice as she relays to him that Annie's is in surgery.
"I'm sure that she's in good hands…" he says, doing his best to reassure her as well as himself, and he briefly checks his watch with his free hand before continuing, "I'm getting on a plane for Stockholm in… ten minutes… I'll be there in eight hours. Just sit tight and don't say anything about what happened until I get there."
Danielle agreed just as Auggie heard his flight being called over the loudspeaker. He stood, disconnecting the line and putting the phone away so he could put his cane back together and after throwing his bag over his shoulder he made his way to the counter and had a flight attendant help him to his seat, his hands anxiously gripping his cane as he waited to get off the ground, in the air and to Annie.
The instant the flight landed one of the attendants moved to help Auggie exit and handed him off to an airport aide who escorted him to a cart to drive him to the taxis, having been told that he had an emergency and needed to get to Karolinska University hospital as soon as possible. Before he knows it he's in a cab and on his way across town.
Once at the hospital his goal is simple; find Annie Walker. Cane in hand he got through the front doors and kept going until he heard the person at the information desk call out, guiding him to the station.
"I'm looking for Annie Walker. She was brought in about… eight hours ago?"
After a few minutes the man at the desk located the information, stating, "she's in the ICU. I can call a volunteer to take you there?"
"Thank you… that would be greatly appreciated."
Auggie stood there, hands folder over the end of his cane as he waited impatiently. Times like now he hated being blind, helpless… but there's nothing to be helped on that regard. His last chance is gone and he's still dealing with that. Right now though he needed to focus on Annie, and along with that his complicated emotions regarding his best friend…
Finally the volunteer arrived and helped direct him through the hospital to the ICU. The closer they got the more worried he became; he had no idea what to expect. When the volunteer announced that they'd arrived he nodded his thanks and moved to the door of Annie's room, the worry now turned to fear as he immediately heard the sounds of medical equipment. Those simple electronic noises finally make it real for him and he drew in a shuttering breath before he took the few steps to enter the room.
"Auggie!" cried Danielle as she saw her sister's best friend and the man who she credited for saving her life, even if Auggie doesn't know it yet.
"Danielle… how are you holding up? How is Annie?" he said as he swept his cane through the space before Danielle stood and held out a hand to him which he gratefully took.
"She was awake for a while after she came out of recovery. But she was running a fever and the doctors were saying the bacteria from her digestive tract might have caused an infection before they got her into surgery, so they have her on heavy antibiotics but they think she'll be fine," Danielle said, her mind trying to remember everything the doctors had told her.
Auggie nodded, Danielle's words registering that Annie was expected to be okay but he was still a bit concerned. Gut shots were always tricky and it was the one thing that had scared him most when he'd been in DC listening to Danielle's description of Annie's wound. Yet she was in a good medical facility and they were treating the infection. He was certain they were right and that she'd be fine in no time… as any other outcome was not acceptable.
"But Auggie, the police have been here and at Little Magnus's place asking me all kinds of questions I can't answer."
He sighed at her announcement, but it was what he was expecting and part of why he'd insisted Joan let him go. Danielle had been witness to a double shooting and without compromising the agency she needed to tell them something…
"I understand. We're working on that…"
"They want a statement…" she noted with a tremor of apprehension in her voice.
"And you can give them one," he said calmly, releasing her hand to move it to her upper arm in a move intended to be comforting. "Annie said the guy mistook you for her at the gala event?"
Danielle nodded and then remembered he couldn't see her do that and answered verbally, "yes."
"Then we can say he was stalking you, took your rejection personally and when he came to find you at the house with another man you can say he threatened to shoot you and Annie defended you…"
"That's not too far from the truth," Danielle said simply, her eyes widening at the memory of the pushy man asking her to coffee at the gala before she found out that he'd been a spy too.
"That's why we're using it. It's always best to keep it closer to what really happened. Your emotions will be real that way."
"Okay… the police asked me to call them as soon as I felt Annie was stable enough to give a statement. I can call them now… and if they need me to go to the police station you'll be here…"
"Of course…" he replied, knowing that the DPD had already been calling in markers with the State Department to smooth things over as much as possible, but Danielle was still key to shutting down the local investigation. Still, as much as matters of state and the Agency were important, he needed to 'see' the person he came for, "Danielle… can I see Annie… please?"
Danielle nearly gasped at the sentiment in Auggie's voice as he asked to see her sister. Annie had called him a friend but it wasn't until she'd pointed out to her how she… changed when she spoke to or about him that she'd seen that the emotions her sister had ran deeper than she knew. And when she'd listened to Auggie asking her to assess Annie's condition, and now the way he stood there, anxiety and caring in his face and voice, the way his voice softened when he said her sister's name… she realized that it wasn't just a one sided thing between them.
"She's right here," she said, reaching over and taking his upper arm and leading him to the bed. "There's a chair right here by her side and her hand is right on the bed next to it. Why don't you sit down and I'll go let the nurses know that they can call the police to come back and I can give them that statement now that you're here to watch over her."
Without waiting for him to reply Danielle walked away, leaving Auggie with his hand on the back of the chair. Fear spiked through him again as he realized that he was there, alone with Annie. He listened to the heart monitor beeping and the sound of her breathing. He worked up his courage to reach out and found her hand, the warm skin under his hand making him breathe a bit easier. He followed that up to her shoulder and then to her face, his fingers shaking a bit as reality finally crashed in on him once again.
He had almost lost her today…
"You do not get to do that to me again," Auggie said softly as he eased his fingers from her cheek before he moved back to sit in the chair at her bedside.
Once he sat he quickly folded his cane, laying it in his lap as his hand moved to take hers, wrapping his fingers around her slight digits. He closed his eyes, thinking what she might look like in the bed. For someone with such a big personality, so alive he had a hard time picturing it. As it was, he really didn't know how to picture her. He had descriptions and heard others speak of her, but he had never seen her…
The fact that he wouldn't ever see her still bothered him, but if he had been asked to choose between her life and his sight, he would have chosen her. Every time.
Besides their work, she was his friend, his best friend. The one he trusted and the one that never judged him. He was… better with her. And she took him for whom and what he was: capable, funny, caring, inventive, smart, and blind, and she saw all of those traits as positive ones. He had been there for her when she needed him, and she had always been there for him… it was just that simple.
Somewhere over the time they'd been friends and co-workers the line between friendship and relationship had… blurred. He'd thought that the place he'd been contemplating, the one where they might be able to have more was one he couldn't go….
So, Parker had happened…
Now though… he didn't want to avoid it anymore. He could man up and tell her how he felt. If she just wanted to be friends, he could deal with that. But he couldn't go through this kind of thing again without knowing if maybe…
"I can't recall ever being as afraid as I was when I realized you'd been shot. Even in Afghanistan, and when I found I'd lost my sight. The idea of losing you…" he said aloud, his head moving towards their joined hands where he brushed the lightest of kisses against her knuckles. "You really scared me…"
"I did?" Annie replied softly, making Auggie's eyes open even if he couldn't see, and he focused his attention on where his senses told him she was.
"You're awake… how are you feeling?" he asked, the joy at her being awake evident in his voice.
"Tired… like I got shot," she replied dead pan, her voice rising just a little as she watched Auggie's face, the play of emotions ghosting across his features making her recall Danielle's words… and the tender brush of his lips on her hand, which along with his voice had woken her up… it made her curious…
He laughed aloud at that, his smile expanding at the sound of her voice and her ability to joke with him. Just being with her always made things better… how could he have almost lost this…
"It's not as fun as they make it out in the movies Auggie," she complained with a smile evident in her voice that he immediately picked up on.
"That is true. But you're going to be okay from the sounds of it."
She laid there, her hand wrapped up in his and she looked at him again. She was still in Sweden… she knew that just from the décor of the hospital. Yet here Auggie was, at her side, half way around the world in what had to have been less than twelve hours. He'd come all this way to be there with her… it made her throat constrict and her chest ache as she realized that maybe her sister had been on to something before.
"I wouldn't have made it if you hadn't been there on the phone for me," she said seriously, her eyes watching his face, looking for any kind of clue.
"You know me… " he answered, playing off his role of rescuer, but she wasn't willing to let it go that easily.
"No Auggie, I'm serious. I could have died out there and besides having to have Danielle watch that, my only regret would have been…"
Auggie felt the emotions in the room… shift, and he moved to lace his fingers with hers. Immediately she tightened her grip and he felt his heart… stutter.
"No, let me say this…" she said, her voice cracking briefly. "You mean so much to me August Anderson… I don't know what I would do if you weren't in my life. You're always there for me when I need you… and I'm starting to realize just how much I need you…and why I need you… with me…"
Her honest confession, while not a direct admission gave Auggie what he needed to take a chance as well. He set his cane on the bed as he pushed himself up from the chair and leaned closer to Annie, her eyes widening as she saw the fear and hope in his face and she swallowed loudly. His hands came up and framed her face, his mind wondering what she looked like even as he forced down the lump that had found its way into his throat.
"I'll always be here when you need me Annie… however you need me… you know that… you know… why, right?" he said, his voice was thick with emotion as he tried to convey what she meant to him, how much he needed her.
"I think so… and you know I feel the same way, right?"
He smiled and nodded, realizing that they'd both been slowly getting to the same place, and with everything that had happened they'd both finally gotten there at the same time. Now it was just a matter of taking it slowly and making it work…
"So Ms. Walker, how about we get you well and home and then we can see about maybe… having dinner and drinks someplace other than Allen's?"
She immediately recognized the intentions of a date in his words and she nodded into his hands as she watched him smile brilliantly at her, making her cheeks move under his touch as he felt her smile back at him.
Maybe getting shot wasn't such a bad thing after all, she thought.
Okay, that's it. Thanks for reading everyone! Ms. J.