Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love." - Jane Austen, 'Northanger Abbey'
Annie blinked awake at the sound of her phone, a jaunty guitar riff coming from the other room. For a moment she was confused—she usually kept the phone on her bed table. But this wasn't her bed, and she wasn't alone. So far, what could have been a monumentally poor decision to get into Simon's rental car had been going all right. And by all right, she meant there hadn't been a lot of talking. He took her back to the hotel room he'd gotten, and they'd pretty much fallen straight into bed. Annie slipped out of the bedroom and into the living room area to fish the phone out of the pocket of her jeans pocket before she missed the call.
"Hey…" Auggie's voice was raspy on the other end.
"What's up? Are you okay?" It was five in the morning after all.
Auggie chuckled wryly.
"Auggie?" she asked, getting worried now.
"Annie?" Simon called from the bedroom. "Is everything all right?"
Shit. Shit. Shit.
"Fine," she called back. "Fr…Co-worker."
She'd started to say friend, but co-worker would give her an easier out if she needed to leave. Simon grunted in acknowledgement.
"Oh, you have company," Auggie muttered. "I…It's not important."
"Auggie!" she whisper-yelled. "Obviously it is, or you wouldn't be calling me at five a.m."
Auggie sighed on the other end. "Yeah…"
"What's wrong?" she asked again. Something was definitely wrong. He sounded really distracted.
"Well..that's a long story…but the short part is I could use a ride."
He was definitely slurring his words a bit—and when they'd last spoken he'd been at the bar. Not good.
"Okay," she told him.
"Even though you've got…company?"
"That's not important."
"Where do you need a ride?" she asked.
Ah. "From where?"
"Not now. I'll explain later."
"Anything I need to bring?"
"No," he sighed. "No."
"Okay…see you in a bit."
She said the last part louder for Simon's benefit in case he was listening. Annie slipped back into the simple clothes she had been wearing when she'd gotten into Simon's car—clothes that were now scattered around the room. She crept back into the bedroom, crossing to his side and kissing his cheek. Simon's eyes fluttered open.
"You are leaving?" he asked, groggily.
She nodded. "Work thing. I owe my co-worker a favor so…" she rambled. "This was nice. We should do it again sometime soon."
"I'd like that," he told her. Annie leaned in to give him a parting kiss. "You do not have your car. Are you all right to get where-?"
"I'll just grab a taxi," Annie assure him as she left.
A taxi to her sister's house. Then her car to pick up Auggie at the police station, probably back to his place—she needed to grab something to wear to work before hopping right into her car at Danielle's. Skinny jeans and a sweater would have been fine in Lena's division, but she was back in the DPD today, and that meant attire a bit more formal.
Half an hour later, she was pulling her little red car into a parking spot on Idaho Avenue outside Metro Police District 2. Auggie was quiet when he finally emerged from the back, but he gratefully let her take his arm and lead him out to her car. Outside, in the early morning light, she could see he was a mess. Huge dark circles under his somewhat bloodshot eyes, shirt stained.
"Your place?" she asked as she put her seatbelt on.
"Mmmhmm," Auggie mumbled, eyes closed, head back against the head rest.
After shifting the car into drive, she reached over and took his hand. He squeezed it back—hard—but said nothing. Okay, he could have a pass for the short ride back to his place, but he was not getting out of explaining to her what the heck was going on. His grip slackened, and Annie could tell he had drifted off to sleep before she'd even made it a full block. He didn't get much of a nap. They were back at his place in fifteen minutes, and he jolted awake as soon as the car stopped.
"Come on," she released his hand and opened the door.
"You're coming up?" he asked.
It briefly crossed her mind to ask if that was okay, but she nixed that and answered, "Yes."
It didn't seem like he wanted her to come up. He struggled with his key in the lock, his coordination failing him, before tossing it to her, and leaning the wall with a sigh. Sliding the door open, Annie was not prepared for what she saw. Right in front of the door, everything from the sidebar table was strewn on the floor, most of it in pieces. The pillows from the couch were all over the living room. The mess continued up above in his bedroom, with sheets and blankets all over the floor. In the hallway, clothes from the closet were everywhere.
"Auggie?" she asked gently, looking over to him. "What happened?" He stood fixed in place in the doorway, gaze straight ahead, as if he too was surveying the damage. "You did this, right?" In their profession it wasn't always good to assume that was the case, regardless of the circumstances. He nodded, not offering more. "Come on." She slid her arm around his. "Let me help you through this…mess." He let her without complaint, and she guided him up to his bedroom. "Sleep."
He kicked his shoes off, and sat on the edge of the bed undoing the buttons of his filthy shirt. "I have to go into work"
"You don't seem like you're in any condition for work."
"Have to," he murmured, raking his hand through his hair with a yawn. "Arthur took care of some things, but said 'you get your ass in my office first thing'. So…" he sighed, shrugging the shirt off his shoulders.
"I see," Annie said, trying not to stare, though she supposed it didn't matter since he couldn't see that she was staring. "It's still early and I have to get ready too. Why don't you close your eyes and rest for twenty minutes while I shower first." She nudged his knee with hers.
" 'Kay," he answered, curling onto his side.
Annie stood there a minute longer until she was sure he had fallen asleep, then quietly took survey of the mess around her. Blankets at her feet. She quickly picked it up and folded it, placing it on the bed. Clothes on the floor. That was easy. She hung it back up. She had no idea of the order he had it in, so those nifty little labels would certainly do their job in the coming days.
The lower level looked like a tornado had torn through it. Coffee. She definitely needed coffee before tackling it.
Most of the ceramic pieces from the sideboard were beyond saving, so she dragged the trashcan over and carefully lifted the big shards in. She'd go back over it with the broom after. He had sure done a number on his apartment before he set off to drink himself into oblivion—which somehow had resulted in his spending the night in jail. Annie was crawling around the sideboard table, grabbing some pieces of debris when something caught her eye on the other side. The ring. That pearl that had broken her heart in Barcelona because it was so beautiful and so thoughtful was lying on the floor by the door. Things were starting to make sense. Annie sighed, and put it on the sideboard. No matter how angry Auggie had been when he threw it—and she was sure he'd thrown it-, eventually he'd wish he hadn't.
The aroma of coffee was filling the apartment and Annie made her way to the kitchen to pour a cup—praying that they weren't all in pieces on the floor. The contents of the cabinets appeared unscathed. The clock on the coffee pot read 6:30am though. They were going to be late. She couldn't leave his apartment like this. He would hurt himself on the mess.
Annie pulled her phone from the back pocket of her jeans to call Joan.
"Hello?" the older woman answered.
"I know this isn't good for my first day back to the DPD, but I'm going to be late—"
"I figured," Joan cut her off. "How is he?"
"Not good. He's sleeping for a few minutes while I clean up this mess—" she cut herself off not wanting to share too much with Joan. That was Auggie's business. "Do you know what time I have to have him in Arthur's office by?"
"The earlier the better, but let's say no later than nine."
"Joan, what do you think Arthur is going to—?"
"Come to my office when you get in." And she hung up.
Annie sighed and sipped her coffee. She could let Auggie sleep for a little while longer at least.
It was half an hour later when she crept back up to his bedroom—mess swept up and dressed for work. He was still asleep, but it did not seem like a very peaceful sleep. Annie placed a mug of coffee on his bedside table, and sat on the bed beside him.
"That was a fast twenty minutes," he growled.
She chuckled. "Actually, that was more like an hour."
"Joan said for me to get you to Arthur's office by nine when I called her to tell her I was going to be late."
"Why were you calling Joan to say you'd be late?"
'Long story I am back in the DPD for now."
"Unh uh. You first. I've been very patient."
Auggie sighed and took a deep breath. "Is that coffee for me?""
He pushed himself up to sitting and Annie handed him the mug. He sipped it in silence. She scooted back against the headboard to sit right beside him.
"Auggie, how did you end up in jail?"
"Parker left me." His voice was ragged as he told her.
"When?" Annie asked.
Right before he'd wanted her to join him at the bar. Now she felt guilty. "I'm sorry I couldn't join you at Allen's. I was in a huge work mess of my own." She tipped her head onto his arm.
"Does that have to do with you being transferred back?" he asked, happy to shift the conversation back to her.
"It does," She sighed. "It does. But—"
"I got in a fight. I was really—really—drunk, and this guy started an argument. A really stupid argument. But he wouldn't let up. He threw a punch and I hit him with a bottle. Got arrested for assault, and spent the night in the drunk tank."
Wow. That didn't sound like the Auggie she knew, but she'd never seen him upset like this. He usually kept all that hidden away.
"You said Arthur took care of some things?"
Auggie nodded. "Now I get to see if I get to keep my job—or any job at the Agency. We'll see what Arthur's punishment will be."
"Joan wouldn't say anything. But if he took care of some things then I'd think that means he's not going to fire you."
"I'm sorry that things didn't work out with Parker," she told him. She meant it too. Even though the news of his impending proposal had devastated her, he was happy. It broke her heart to see him so upset.
"She wasn't ready. I was blind to that too—" he choked that last bit out, and Annie wrapped her arms around his shoulders. "So much for stability."
"Hey…hey…" she soothed, running the heel of her hand up and down his back. His shoulders shook with a few sobs that he tried to fight back as he inhaled sharply. He regained his composure and sat back up.
"I should get ready for work." Then he sighed, "All my clothes are on the floor."
"You picked them up?"
"I took care of all of it."
"You didn't have to—"
"Yes, I did," she told him firmly.
"Thank you." She gave his hand a squeeze. "Did you find…?"
"It's on the sideboard. I figured that you'd eventually wish you hadn't thrown it."
He nodded and stood up with a groan. "It's going to be a really long day."
"I'll make more coffee."
This earned her the hint of a smile as he headed down the hall to the bathroom. Small steps towards making him feel better.