Silences make the real conversations between friends. Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts.—Margaret Lee Runbeck
Annie made her way down the hallway to the gym, stretching her neck by rolling it from side to side. It had been a crazy week. What she really wanted was a trip to the bar, but she couldn't find Auggie. He wasn't in his office and he didn't answer her call or text. She left a voicemail and settled for the gym, not really feeling like going to the bar solo. A workout was a good second choice for dealing with the frustrations of a day of post-case paperwork.
The main gym was bustling for a Friday afternoon. Apparently, everyone wanted to blow off some steam before continuing on with their weekend plans. She ducked into the mat room, hoping it would be less busy. She paused in the doorway. Auggie was the only one in there. No wonder he wasn't answering his phone. He usually turned it off when he worked out.
He hadn't heard her come in, so she stood watching him for a while. He was holding high plank, the muscles of his shoulders tense with the effort. There was no denying that her friend was a very fit, attractive man. Particularly in gym clothes. His workout tank was soaked with sweat, which told her he'd been there a while. After another thirty seconds or so, the plank turned into pushups. Clapping pushups. Damn. He cranked out thirty of them, breathing hard by the last few, then laid back on the mat to catch his breath.
"Impressive," she said, finally making her presence known and entering the room.
His head turned in the direction of her voice. "How long have you been standing there?"
"Partway through that plank," she told him, sitting on the mat beside him with her legs outstretched. She reached for her toes. Man, her hamstrings were tight today. "I was looking for you before I came down here. The bar was my first choice over the gym."
He snorted. "I've been here for a while."
"I can tell. You're soaked," Annie laughed.
"I suppose that means I can't get you to sit on my back for a few pushups."
"No, I will," she told him, nudging his side with her knuckles. That was always kind of fun to do.
"Gimme a sec."
While she waited, she continued to stretch, bringing her feet together, knees out. Ugh. Her hips were sore too.
"You're in pain?" he asked, in response to her grunts at the effort.
"I'm still feeling all that running I did this week."
"Well, it's a little easier to run when you're not wearing fancy four-inch heels," he teased.
"I was at a cocktail party! I had to dress the part."
"You say that as if this were the first time you had to run in heels for a case," he chuckled, rolling onto his stomach. "All right. Up you go."
Annie crawled over and threw one leg over his back. She giggled as he pushed himself off the floor, tucking her knees into his side and grabbing his shoulders for balance.
"Ugh…" he groaned, five pushups in, holding the higher position for a moment before giving up and lowering himself to the mat again with a growl. "I can usually do more than that. I did twenty the last time I made you sit on my back."
"But you've been working out for, what? An hour? Of course you're tired," she asked, kneading his shoulders.
"Longer," he mumbled, before instructing, "Lower."
She slid the heels of her hands down his back a bit. "Here?"
Annie smiled. It was always amusing how a backrub could reduce a man to monosyllabic grunts. She worked on his mid-back for a while. "So many knots."
"I passed out on the couch last night," Auggie explained. "Sitting up."
"Passed out?" Annie asked, scooting so she could work on his lower back.
"Oww," Auggie hissed.
"Stop?" she asked, stilling her hands.
"No," he insisted. She pressed on a particularly large knot, working it out with strong pressure from her fingertips.
"Passed out drunk?" she tried again.
"Yes," he answered, still gritting his teeth at her efforts.
"I thought you didn't want to drink last night," she said, patting his back to tell him she was done. She climbed off and sat beside him.
"I didn't want to go to the bar," he clarified.
"I would have come over," Annie told him. "Unless you wanted to drink alone?"
"I-" Auggie sighed, rolling towards her, onto his back. "It's not that you—I wasn't in a very talkative mood. I didn't want you to sit there and watch me brood."
Annie studied him for a moment. This crazy workout was another form of brooding. She nudged his side. "What are you brooding about?"
Auggie chuckled wryly, but didn't answer right away. He rolled onto his side, facing her, chest against her curled up knees. "It's the anniversary," he told her finally.
"Three years," he added, before she could ask.
A moment passed in silence. She knew the answer to her next question, but she asked it anyways, "Do you want to talk about it?"
"Didn't think so," she said. He snorted in amusement. "How about at least not drinking alone tonight?"
He shrugged. "I'm still not really in the mood for the bar. I make poor choices when I brood about this and drink," he sighed. She waited patiently him continue. "Last year, I went to the bar early. Got hammered. Went home with someone early."
"That doesn't sound terribly out of character," she teased. "You can be quite the ladies' man."
He sighed. "Yeah, that part's not that strange, but since it was so early, I went back and did it again. And that, that's not…me."
"No." No, that didn't sound like him.
"So, I don't want to do that again."
"You and me and your bottle of Patron?" she suggested."I could really use a drink. And I don't want to drink alone," she told him. "And I don't want iyou/i to drink alone either." He didn't say anything, so she smiled, "It's not like you're going to get fresh with me."
This earned her a small chuckle.
"And if you don't want to talk about it, I'm not going to make you. Promise." As much as she was curious about it all, she could wait. Eventually he'd tell her, but it needed to be when he was ready.
"I will warn you that I'm probably not going to be the best company," he said as he sat up.
She gave his shoulder a squeeze. "No worries," she told him.
He laid his hand on top of hers, and threaded his fingers through hers, "Thank you."
Annie asked softly, "Now, do you want me to try to cheer you up or-?"
"—do you want me to let you stew?"
"I don't know," he admitted.
"We'll play it by ear," she smiled, standing and taking his hand to pull him up.
"You seem to do a good job cheering me up without even trying."