Note from me at the bottom.
Covert Affairs is not mine.
11. In Which The Game Changes
It had been barely twelve hours since Auggie had hung up the phone with Carver, but he felt as though he had lived through the years in Iraq all over again. The horrifyingly familiar scent of the hospital surrounded him, the noises he had come to loathe echoing endlessly. The whisper of rubber soles on tile, the heavy stomp of soldiers' boots, the beeping of machinery, it all combined into a deafening cacophony of noise.
Getting to Germany had thankfully been less of a nightmare than he had imagined. All it took was Joan's well-placed phone call to land Auggie a seat on the morning's first flight to the base directly. He had been in military hands the entire way, no busy airports to navigate. She had made him promise to keep her updated on Annie's condition, but so far, he had nothing to go on. Annie was in surgery, where she had been for more than three hours. Auggie wasn't a doctor, and he only barely understood what little the nurses would tell him, but he was getting tired of waiting around.
And though he would never admit it, he was also getting scared. Three hours in surgery was a long time. The explosion that had taken his sight should have killed him, and he knew he had been in surgery after surgery following the accident, but Auggie's survival had been unexpected to say the least. He didn't want to apply those odds to Annie.
"Auggie Anderson, man, you look like shit!" Out of nowhere, a booming voice was right in front of him, a hand clapping him on the shoulder. Auggie couldn't help but smile at Danny Carver, worried over Annie or not.
"Nice to see you too, Danny."
"See me? Those spooks manage to fix up your eyes without you telling anyone?"
"Very funny." Auggie held out the red and white cane clutched in his right hand. "Still as blind as ever. But you're the only guy I know who walks around a hospital telling people they look like shit."
Carver threw his head back and laughed. Auggie smiled, momentarily going back to his days as a wounded soldier with a chip on his shoulder. Carver had been in some of Auggie's physical therapy groups, having taken a knife to the back during a raid on an Iraqi compound about the time Auggie had been getting blown up in Tikrit. The doctors had made grim predictions about Carver's chances at walking normally ever again, never mind getting well enough to go back on active duty. But those doctors hadn't known the man. Danny Carver shared a stubborn streak with Auggie that ran a mile wide. The two men had become friends, and when it had come time to pick the Special Forces team to back up Annie, Auggie had gone to the man he knew he could trust.
But as the laughter quieted, both men grew sober. Auggie felt the cushions move next to him on the rock hard couch he had been occupying. "She's a fighter, that one."
"Yeah." Auggie couldn't say anything else. Talking about Annie made his throat feel tight and his eyes burn. He needed her to come out of surgery and be fine.
"Have they told you anything?"
"She's still in surgery."
"She's going to pull through."
Auggie didn't say anything, bending his head and resting his elbows on his knees again as he struggled to hold it together. This couldn't be happening. He couldn't lose Annie now, not when things between them seemed to have finally gotten to a good place. After the months of fighting and tension, they were supposed to be celebrating their new relationship on a tropical beach. Instead, Auggie was sitting in a waiting room inside an overly air-conditioned hospital. It was cold enough to be a morgue.
The typical man in Auggie's position would only grow more despondent as his thoughts drifted to the morgue, but Auggie couldn't help grinning at the memory. He had only just met Annie, but he had helped her break into the morgue all the same. Damn, that floor had been cold.
"What're you grinning at?"
"Memories," Auggie said simply, leaning back on the hard couch and closing his eyes. "Annie got me to break into a morgue her first week on the job. She lifted a fingerprint with a Listerine strip to get us in. I remember thinking to myself that she was going to be an amazing agent."
"Just an agent?"
"I got it, Auggie. It's written all over your face. She's a lucky girl."
"No, I'm the lucky one. Annie is...Annie is more than I could have ever even dreamed up."
"I'll pray for her. For both of you." Carver clapped him on the shoulder once more, his meaty hand a surprising comfort. Auggie listened to the sound of his boots fade away into the rest of the hospital rush, his eyes closed. He was exhausted and going on day three without sleep. He had been too keyed up to sleep on the plane, and now the anxiety of waiting was only making it worse. Rationally, he knew he needed to at least catch a few hours, but the thought of being asleep when Annie woke up was unacceptable.
Thankfully, it wasn't much longer before a nurse came to talk to him. Annie was out of surgery and recovering in post-op. The doctor would be out to speak to him shortly, and he would be able to see Annie once they moved her into her room. Auggie didn't like that answer much – he wanted to be with her right away, but he knew better than to fight. The military loved their protocols almost as much as the agency. Besides, Annie wasn't even awake yet.
He sent a quick text to Joan to let her know that Annie was at least out of surgery and then resumed his anxious wait. Somewhere in that god forsaken hospital, Annie was lying alone in a bed, broken. It was killing him to sit in the waiting room, disoriented, lost in the vast hospital. He had spent time there following the accident, but he had been so new to his suddenly dark world that he couldn't remember really anything about the place. Not for the first time since Annie had boarded her flight for Istanbul, a crushing sense of helplessness invaded his soul.
If he'd had his sight, he would already be with her, the doctors and nurses be damned. If only he could see, Auggie knew he would find Annie.
Already been down that path, he told himself, tapping his foot anxiously on the floor as people continued to shuffle by him without a word on Annie. If you could see, you wouldn't have Annie. Be grateful for what you do have and stop wishing for what you don't. It was a familiar refrain in his mind, a constant mantra required to survive the bitterness and anger that came along with recovering.
The next thing he knew, there was a soft touch on his shoulder and a woman's voice repeating his name over and over again. Auggie's eyes flew open by habit, blinking away the sleep from his unseeing eyes. "Auggie Anderson?" the voice asked again, close, too close.
"Yes, that's me." He reached for his cane, snapping it open and forcing himself to stand. He hadn't meant to fall asleep and fumbled for his watch. How long had he been out?
"Annie Walker is asking to see you."
"She's awake? Why didn't anyone get me!" Auggie wanted to push past the nurse, to tear down the hall and find Annie. But he still didn't know where she was, and terrifying the nurse wasn't going to get him to her any faster. Screwing up the last bit of patience he could muster, Auggie took a deep breath. "Where is she?"
"Would you like me to take you there?" The nurse grabbed his arm before he could answer, and Auggie again shoved down the building frustration. He wanted Annie, Annie who never presumed, who let him do things on his own time, who treated him like he wasn't somehow less of a man without his sight. But he needed the nurse, so he simply nodded and let her pull him down the hall like a child.
The steady beeping of the heart monitor told Auggie they had arrived right before his knees bumped into a chair. "She's asleep again," the nurse whispered to Auggie as he took a seat. "The morphine..."
"Thank you," Auggie cut in, not wanting to hear about the drugs they were pumping her full of or the pain she was sure to be in upon waking. He wanted to nurse to go away so he could find Annie's hand and hold it.
"There's an IV in her hand. Be careful you don't..."
"I've been in a hospital before," he snapped before he could help himself. Being treated like an invalid was nothing new, but when all he wanted was to be strong for Annie, it was the last thing he could tolerate. "I know."
That seemed to shut her up, and Auggie listened as her footsteps hurried away. The click of the door shutting cut off the noise of the hallway, and Auggie thankfully let out the breath he had been holding.
The chair beside Annie's bed was a good deal more comfortable than the waiting room had been, and her room was warmer. Auggie thankfully shrugged off his jacket, neatly folding up the cane and tucking it inside. Reaching out tentatively, he located the rails of the hospital bed, tracing the cool metal until he felt the rough sheets of the bed. Careful of knocking any of the monitors or IV lines, Auggie scooted closer, his hand falling on Annie's lightly. Her skin was cool, but Auggie could feel her pulse beating in her wrist. The heart monitor beeping told the same story, but somehow, Auggie hadn't really believed it until he could feel the beat of her heart for himself.
Keeping one hand on the rail to keep his bearings, Auggie stood, gently running his hand up Annie's arm. The hospital gown felt harsh under his fingers, but not as harsh as the gauze bandages he kept finding. Her neck was swollen, and Auggie's exploration found a bump behind her left temple. For perhaps the first time, Auggie found himself truly grateful he couldn't see her. It would break his heart, he was certain of it, to see her bruised and beaten.
Auggie didn't consider himself an emotional man. Long years in the military, and longer years spent forcing himself to deal with his new lot in life, those had taught him to push down emotions that would do him no good. It was how he had stayed away from Annie all those months since Stockholm, not wanting to admit that even with the burn of Parker's rejection, he still wanted Annie Walker. But sitting beside her bed, gently twisting his fingers through hers, it was a struggle to keep all the emotions he was feeling in check. He told himself that it was the lack of sleep, the stress of the last day, but the truth was, Auggie was trying very hard not to cry out of sheer relief that Annie was alive.
Annie's fingers moving jolted him out of his thoughts, and he pulled the chair closer to the bed. Her voice sounded awful as she muttered his name, but her fingertips brushing his cheek felt like heaven.
"I'm here, Annie," he murmured, turning his head to lightly kiss her fingers. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Where are we?"
"Germany. You needed surgery. I'll talk to Joan in a bit, find out when you can fly home."
"Danielle is going to kill me."
"We haven't told her yet," Auggie admitted, tightening his grip on Annie's hand. He wanted to tell her it had been a purposeful effort to keep her from getting upset when they didn't know anything, but the fact of the matter was that Auggie simply hadn't thought about it. He had been far too wrapped up in getting to Annie's side. Maybe Joan had talked to Danielle. Auggie added that on to his list of questions for his boss.
"Probably for the best."
"I can call her, too, if you want."
"Yeah...later. When we know when we're going back. The girls...she couldn't come here, anyway."
"You know we could make it happen if you wanted it to."
Annie's touch traced his cheek again, and his eyes slid closed as he felt her fingers trace the bags under his eyes. "How long have you been up this time?"
"About twenty minutes. The nurse woke me up. I'm sorry, Annie, I wanted to be here when you woke up..."
"Not what I meant. I'm glad you got some sleep. How long?"
"Since I told you I wanted you pulled out of Istanbul, before you went off book in the market."
"That was days ago."
"I caught a few naps in the office."
"You need sleep. Real sleep. Not ten minutes here or there."
"I'll sleep later. With you. In some hotel with a balcony overlooking the ocean."
"I'd settle for right here, right now."
"They'll throw me out."
"Since when has that stopped you?" Auggie felt the metal rail of the bed fall away under his arm, and Annie's weak tug on his arm propelled him to his feet.
"I don't want to hurt you," he told her, tentatively sitting on the edge of the bed. "Your ribs..."
"I'll tell you if it hurts. Please, Auggie. Whatever they've got me on, I'm just so tired, but I want..." Her words trailed off, half-garbled with sleep. Her plea was enough, and Auggie kicked off his sneakers before cautiously laying on his side behind Annie, picking the side without tubes. Carefully wrapping his arm around her waist, he held his breath, waiting for her sharp intake of breath or cry of pain. It didn't come. Annie simply leaned back into him, the hand without the IV line jabbed into it reaching for his. They were both asleep in seconds.
A nurse woke him hours later, a hint of disapproval in her voice as she shook him awake. "Mr. Anderson, you really can't be doing this," she said sternly as Auggie carefully laid Annie back down on the bed. She was still out, but sighed as he released her. The tiny noise made Auggie want to tell the nurse exactly what he thought of her disapproval.
"She could have died," was the only explanation he provided as he moved to the chair by her bed.
Auggie could hear the rustling of sheets as the nurse moved around, the hushed noise of her sneakers on the tiles. She cleared her throat, and Auggie nearly growled with frustration. He had a feeling the nurse was staring at him, waiting for some kind of acknowledgement, but he had no idea what she wanted.
"Mr. Anderson, you need to step out. We have to change Annie's bandages. You can't be here."
Auggie laughed humorlessly, fishing out his cane and waving it in what he hoped was her general direction. "What do you think I'm going to see?"
"Regardless, you cannot be in the room. Hospital policy."
"It's a stupid policy."
"Please step out into the hall, Mr. Anderson. It will only take a few minutes, and then you can come back. As long as you promise to stay out of Ms. Walker's bed," the nurse tacked on, any hint of sympathy void from her voice.
Auggie mumbled a noncommittal response, grabbing his cell phone and shuffling toward the hall. That nurse could say whatever she wanted, but if Annie asked for him to lie down next to her and hold her, that was what he was going to do. The medical staff could go straight to hell as far as Auggie was concerned. Annie was all that mattered.
Checking his watch, he realized he had gotten a solid four hours of sleep. It hadn't been nearly enough, but he did feel better. Not good enough for the phone calls he had to make, but better.
With a sigh, he dialed Joan first. That would be the easier of the two calls. Auggie was pretty sure she knew more about Annie's situation than he did, having foregone the chat with the doctor to go straight to Annie's side.
"I was wondering when you would get around to checking in," Joan greeted him, a hint of reproach in her voice. "How's our girl?"
"Tougher than we ever give her credit for," Auggie replied, leaning back against the wall. "I haven't actually talked to the doctor, though. She seems okay. They've got her pretty drugged up."
"She did just have surgery."
"I know. What'd they tell you? You probably know more than I do."
"It was what you thought. When that bastard kicked her, he broke some ribs. One went into her lung. They managed to set the bones and repair her lung. She should be fine."
"How long until she can go home?"
"It's up to Annie. They need her to stay at least another night there so they can keep an eye on her, but she's okay to come back to the States after that. She'll need physical therapy, and it's going to be awhile before she can come back to work, but at least she'll be home. She's out of the field for at least two or three months."
"That's going to make her crazy."
"I'm sure you'll be able to distract her."
"Very funny, Joan." Auggie smiled anyway. Yes, if he had his way, he would be able to keep Annie out of trouble while she healed. He was more than happy to take care of her. Danielle already had her hands full with her kids.
"Has anyone called Danielle?"
Joan sighed. "No, we haven't. I was hoping, seeing as how she already knows you, or maybe now that Annie is awake..."
"I'll call her. She's going to be angry enough we didn't tell her when it happened."
"Thanks, Auggie. Let me know if you need anything. When Annie is ready to come home, we'll send a company plane. I don't want her flying commercial with broken ribs."
"Will do." Auggie disconnected the call, squeezing his eyes shut. One call down, one to go. Not that the call with Joan had been all that bad. It had been what he expected. Annie was out of the field for the foreseeable future, which wasn't going to be welcome news. Selfishly, Auggie was glad he would get to spend more time with her, but he didn't want it at the price of her unhappiness. He knew all too well how frustrating it was to have your body refuse to catch up to your mind.
He listened carefully, but the low murmur of the doctor's voice was all that came through Annie's door. They weren't done with her yet, which meant he had plenty of time to call Danielle, however little he wanted to. Running his fingers over his watch, he realized it was very nearly getting to be too late to call.
Auggie's breath caught in his throat when Danielle answered on the first ring. "Hello?" she demanded into the phone, sounding annoyed. "Listen, whoever you are, it's after eight. This had better be good."
"Danielle, it's Auggie. Auggie Anderson, from Annie's...from the Smithsonian," he explained in a rush. "I'm sorry to call so late, but..."
"Is Annie okay?"
"Yes, she's fine. She will be. There was an incident..."
"An incident? Is that what you people call it when you send my sister home beaten within an inch of her life? And you, Auggie, you of all people, just talking about her like...Never mind. Which hospital are you at? I'm coming down there."
"She's not in DC, Danielle. I'm sorry, I want to tell you more, but I can't. You know I can't."
There was a long pause, and Auggie could hear the sniffles coming across the phone line. When Annie's sister spoke again, her voice was thick. "Tell me what you can."
"She was attacked outside her hotel. Broken ribs. One of them punctured her lung. She was in surgery for awhile, but the doctors say she's going to be fine. We should be back in DC in a few days."
"We? You're with her?"
"When did this happen?"
Auggie winced. "Last night."
"Last night, as in, almost twenty four hours ago?"
"And this is the first I'm hearing of it?"
"I'm sorry. The company is very strict about protocol." Auggie chose his words carefully, praying Danielle would get it. He couldn't have an argument with her standing in the hallway. It may have been a military hospital, but there were still people everywhere. He had no way of knowing if he was being listened to or not.
"I hate this, Auggie. I hate this job."
"Annie loves it."
"But don't you worry about her?"
"Of course I worry about her!" Auggie practically shouted it into the phone. He was still exhausted, and he was frustrated as all hell with everything. Danielle, Joan, the doctors...all he wanted was to protect Annie. "I worry about her every minute of every day," he added a little more calmly.
"You should tell her that."
"Maybe that's not all you need to tell her."
"Annie didn't tell you?"
"Tell me what? I haven't seen her in weeks. She told me she had to travel for business and she wasn't sure how long it would take." Danielle's voice grew suspicious.
"I thought she told you."
"No, Auggie. No one tells me a damn thing. Danielle is always the last to know everything."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean..."
"It's fine. Now what didn't she tell me?"
"I...we...Annie and I..."
"Oh, finally!" Danielle's laughter was a welcome sound. "Good for you guys. You're so cute together."
"If you hurt her again, I don't care what kind of ninja shit you know, I'll kill you myself," Danielle went on cheerfully before Auggie could think of anything more intelligent to say.
"What do you mean, again? I would never..."
"You're going to need to talk to Annie about that. When she's better. Don't upset her while she's in a hospital. And I want to know the second you're back in DC. The second, Auggie. Not two days later."
"I'll call you as soon as we know when we're coming back."
"You better." Danielle hung up without another word. Auggie sighed, shoving the phone back into his pocket. Hopefully, by the time Danielle talked to Annie, she would be calmer. The last thing Annie needed was an earful from her sister. Of course, Danielle's comment about him hurting Annie again burrowed into his chest and lodged itself as a splinter of doubt in his heart. Annie had never told him that he had hurt her, but it didn't take much mental digging to figure out when and where.
The nurses had made their way out of Annie's room by the time Danielle had hung up on him, so Auggie returned to Annie's side. "You okay?" he asked quietly, lacing his fingers through hers after settling into the chair.
"Yeah, I'm okay. The drugs are wearing off. Broken ribs hurt like a bitch."
"I can call the nurse for you."
"In a few. The painkillers make me fuzzy. I don't like it."
"Annie, there's no reason to be tough. We're in a hospital. I'm not going anywhere."
"I want to go home, Auggie. I need to convince them I'm well enough to go home."
"You just got out of major surgery. They're not letting you go right away." He paused, brushing his thumb against her wrist in what he hoped passed for soothing. "Besides, Danielle is a little pissed right now. It might be better if you're not home for a few days."
"You told her?"
"Yeah, I told her. More than I thought I was going to...why didn't you tell your sister about us?" Auggie tried to keep the hurt out of his voice. It wasn't really the time or place to be bringing it up, but he couldn't help himself. Annie keeping their relationship from her sister filled him with doubts he knew he shouldn't be having.
"I just...I was getting ready to leave for...and it was so new..." Annie squeezed his hand as hard as she could, hating the way his eyebrows furrowed. Her ribs hurt, and the temptation to call for more pain meds was high, but she didn't want to go back to sleep. She wanted Auggie to put his arms around her again, to wake up back in Washington with him. "I've wanted this, wanted you, for so long, and I guess I just wanted to keep it to myself for a little while. I had to wrap my head around you wanting me before I could tell anyone else."
"Of course I want you, Annie." His voice was rougher than Annie was used to, but he was out of his chair and leaning over her in a moment, pressing soft kisses against her forehead, her eyelids, her cheeks, before landing on her mouth. His touch was feather-light, and Annie wanted nothing more than to pull him down to the bed beside her once more. He pulled away before she could, the same old spark back in his warm eyes. "I want you as long as you'll have me."
Thank you to everyone who reviewed along the way. I hope you guys enjoyed reading it as much as I had fun writing it.
I didn't set out to write anything long, and while I know I could keep going, this is where I want to end it. I told the part of the story I was interested in telling. Here's hoping season 3 goes the way we want it to for A&A!