At the end of the season, I'll probably retire this series, and start a new series of one-shots based on wherever they leave us. But I wrote this a month or three ago, and if I don't post it, we'll learn more that makes it more and more out of date. So I'm going ahead and sharing this now. It immediately follows Chapter 9 - Spycraft.
It was just supposed to be a 48 hour trip. Annie and Auggie were flying out on Friday night, and returning Sunday evening. Now that Annie knew that Auggie was screwing with her earlier in the week, and that these were his real parents, she was a bundle of nerves again.
"Stop fidgeting." Auggie declared. "You are going to shake this plane out of the sky."
"You haven't told me anything about them. Even why we are going this weekend." Annie replied.
Auggie sighed. "They are conservative and set in their ways." He explained. "There's a reason we are only staying for 48 hours."
"That bad? Are you sure I should be here with you? Will I be reason for more conflict?"
Auggie grinned. "No dear. You being there is what will get me through the weekend."
Auggie gave her directions to the suburban neighborhood north of Chicago and before long she was pulling into the driveway of a large house set on a well-manicured lot.
"Auggie, I'm not doubting that you know your parents' address, but describe the house where we should be."
Auggie looked confused. "Brick, two-story, there should be a garage directly in front of us, a walkway to the front that goes past a window -"
"Okay, so we are at the right place, but Auggie, there are no other cars in the driveway."
"That's strange." He replied as he started to get out of the car. Annie got out and met him at the front of the vehicle. "Let's go see what's up." he said, encouraging her to walk to the front door.
Annie went into operative mode as she led him to the front door. She was more scared than ever, but was used to not letting that show.
Auggie, on the other hand, looked almost ready for a fight. They walked up the few steps to the front door, and Auggie reached for the doorbell without hesitation. "Here goes nothing." He said under his breath.
Annie gave his hand a squeeze as they could hear footsteps. The door opened to reveal a wiry older lady with a head full of thick white hair that was meticulously pulled up in a way that framed her face beautifully. She had shocking blue eyes that went through a range of emotions after opening the door.
At the sound of her gasp, Auggie was relieved that it was his mom that came to the door. "Hi mom." He said, and plastered his broadest smile to his face.
"Auggie?" She asked.
Auggie responded by reaching out his arm. The lady stepped forward into it and, still in a bit of a stupor, returned the somewhat awkward hug. When they released she stepped back and looked up at him. "What are you... No, first, come on in." She turned and led him into the house. Annie quietly followed, wondering if the woman had even noticed her presence yet.
"Mom, this is my girlfriend, Annie Walker." Auggie stated while putting his arm around Annie.
"Oh! How nice to meet you! I'm sorry, I... Why didn't you tell me you were coming, Auggie?" His mother appeared to be the type that wasn't used to being flustered.
"We always get together for your birthday." He stated, as if it was obvious.
"You don't." She said, accusingly.
Auggie's smile faded.
"And my birthday is Wednesday. Your brothers are coming next weekend."
Auggie laughed a breath. "Well that's what I get for trying to surprise everybody."
As if snapping out of a trance, Auggie's mother turned to Annie. "Annie, sorry. How rude of me. So nice to meet you!" She reached out a hand, which Annie took. The women had matching grips, firm, but inviting.
"Nice to meet you, too Mrs. Anderson."
"Oh, please, call me Cecilia." She looked between Annie and Auggie. "Well, since you are here, we might as well have ourselves a nice little visit. How long are you in town?"
"Until Sunday afternoon." Auggie replied.
Cecillia nodded. "Your father and I have tickets to the symphony tomorrow night. We might be able to get two more, if you guys are interested, I would hate to abandon you after you traveled all this way."
"Don't worry about us, mom. We can handle ourselves."
Cecilia sighed. "I wish you had called. Next time at least call one of your brothers so they can fill you in on the details."
"Lesson learned." Auggie responded. "Where is Dad?"
"He should be home any minute. He went to have a beer after work."
Auggie looked slightly shocked. "Really?"
Annie smiled. "I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree."
Auggie rolled his eyes at Annie's comment. "He's with a client, isn't he?" He asked his mother.
"Of course!" Cecilia replied, as if any other option was unthinkable.
Auggie nodded. His father wasn't one to socialize without an agenda.
"Do you two have luggage? Why don't you make yourselves at home? Auggie, just be careful, I've rearranged things a bit since you were here last."
"We just have one bag." Annie explained. "I'll go get it while you two catch up."
"That sounds great," Cecilia stated before Auggie could object. "Go up the stairs, and you'll be in the first room on the right."
Annie patted Auggie on the shoulder and went to the car. As soon as the front door closed, Cecilia pounced on her son.
"She's cute." The words were both an accusation and a compliment.
"So I hear." Auggie replied.
"I won't even ask why you haven't told me about her."
"Sorry I didn't call to say we were coming. I just had to cancel so many times before, and I didn't want you to go out of the way and me not show up again..."
"It's okay. I'm glad you are here now. It's a nice surprise."
There was an awkward silence between them for a moment, and they could hear Annie come back in the front door. At the same time, the mechanical garage door started to open.
"You and your father can get along for two days, right?"
"I'm sure we can." Auggie replied, plastering on a big fake smile. He heard Annie return as the garage door started to close.
A moment later an older man stepped in through a door into the large kitchen. He was tall and looked very fit for his age. His hair was dark gray, with wrinkles that seemed to frame his face in a way that demanded respect. Annie figured this was the result many years of demanding respect, both in the home and the office.
The man looked at the the adults standing in the kitchen, but said nothing. Annie noticed that Auggie had put on his poker face. No frustration with the silence was visible, but he definitely wasn't relaxed.
"Well." The man said, as if the one word summed up everything.
"Dad, I'd like you to meet Annie." Auggie responded. He wrapped his arm around her side and pulled her closer, rather than presenting her to the man.
His father stepped forward. "Annie." He presented a hand. "Nice to meet you. I'm William."
William turned to his son. "August, I didn't know we were expecting you."
"You weren't." Auggie responded. "I came for mom's birthday."
"We are doing that next weekend."
"So I've learned." Auggie said.
"So we get some time with Auggie on our own!" Cecilia interjected, lightening the tension. "I'm going to open a bottle of wine. Annie, do you have a wine preference? We also have some beer."
"Wine sounds good. Whatever you prefer."
"Auggie?" Cecilia asked.
"A beer sounds great, mom."
"Go make yourself comfortable in the living room." Cecilia directed. "I'll be right there."
Auggie pushed Annie out of the kitchen, while his father walked toward the fridge. "Go for the couch." Auggie whispered as she navigated him around the furniture.
She touched his hand to a soft leather arm of a couch he didn't recognize. He sat down and ran his hand over the leather, as well as reaching to explore the coffee table in front of him.
"Your mom finally got the new furniture she always wanted." William stated as he walked into the room with two beers. He pushed one against Auggie's hand, then took one of the coasters and exaggeratedly placed it in front of him. "I'm putting a coaster right here in front of you. Use it."
Auggie said nothing and took a drink from the bottle before sitting back with the beer in hand. "Thanks, dad."
Cecilia walked into the room with two glasses of wine and the rest of the bottle. She handed one of the glasses to Annie and set the bottle on the coffee table. She sat the other glass on an end table and returned to the kitchen.
"August," his father began. "You look like you are doing well."
"Can't complain." Auggie replied.
"Is your job still going well?"
"Yep." Auggie responded.
The interaction between the two men was more mesmerizing than Auggie cutting a steak. Annie wasn't sure, in her whole career, that she had seen a conversation with so many unspoken messages.
"Annie, what do you do?"
"I work in the arts. Importing and exporting."
"Like a dealer?" He asked.
"I work with dealers. But mostly I help navigate items through customs, things like that."
William appeared impressed. "That sounds far more interesting than Auggie's tech security work."
Auggie just shrugged.
Cecilia returned to the room with a plate loaded with cut fruit and cheese. She sat it on the coffee table with a small stack of plates. "What did you bring us, mom?" Auggie asked.
Annie noticed the shadows that crossed the face of both parents for a brief second, but didn't convey to his mom's voice. "Some fruit and cheese, dear. I just sliced up an apple and a block of cheese. There's also some grapes, and crackers. You want some on a plate?"
"Sure." Auggie replied.
"You didn't have to do all this." Annie stated.
"It's no big deal, dear." Cecilia also made a plate for William.
Auggie easily found the coaster his father had provided and placed his beer on top.
"How did you and Auggie meet?" William asked.
Annie smiled and leaned toward Auggie.
"She and I have worked together, on and off, for a few years." Auggie answered.
"You are working in the arts now?" William asked.
Auggie shrugged. "Actually, she was at the Smithsonian when we worked together. I do security work at all kinds of facilities, though." It rarely mattered, but all of Tech Ops had NOCs with a fictional tech security consulting firm.
William responded with a slight huff.
"So, you two have been together for years?" Cecilia asked, trying to keep the conversation away from subjects that at she knew caused friction.
"No, mom. I haven't been hiding a relationship from you for years. We have known each other for a while. I just grew a pair and took it to the next level a few months ago."
Cecilia was openly staring at Auggie. It wasn't like her son to be shy about a girl, but she had seen him so little since he was blinded. The comment almost worried her.
William was more blunt. "What's happened to you, son? You've never taken two breaths before asking a girl out before. Especially one as pretty as Annie here."
Auggie was opening his mouth to respond when Annie beat him to it. "I was in a relationship when we met."
"No you weren't." He responded with a grin. "I was."
Annie rolled her eyes. "I wasn't over my last relationship, and didn't know that at the time Auggie was seeing somebody."
"Well son. It's nice to know you haven't been lonely." His father stated.
"Nope, not at all." Auggie said with false cheer.
An awkward silence began to fall. "I like the new couch, mom." Auggie said, running his hands over the leather.
"Isn't it nice? Come over here and try these chairs we got with it."
"I'll check them out later." The last thing Auggie wanted was his father staring at him while he navigated the room. "How are all the grandchildren?"
"There are almost too many of them to keep up with." William replied.
"Oh William, that's not true." Cecilia interjected.
The family caught up for another hour. Annie kept quiet and watched as William attempted to insult, prod, or embarrass Auggie, and Auggie deftly moved the conversation in other directions. Occasionally she helped divert attention by asking Cecilia about family details. Eventually, William announced that he needed to be at the golf course early the next morning and was heading to bed.
When he was out of earshot, Cecilia sighed. "That went well." She said.
"Seemed civil to me." Annie said with a smile.
"Dad and I have had our issues over the years." Auggie said with a shrug.
"William is just set in his ways, and Auggie has never followed the same path as everyone else."
"I've learned that much." Annie replied, smiling at Auggie.
Cecilia stared at the couple in front of her for a moment, wondering how much of what they told her was true. She knew that Auggie kept some very big secrets, and hoped that one day she might gain his trust and be allowed into his world. But for now she just wondered about the young, successful woman before her.
"I'm about ready to call it a night," Annie announced. "Can I help you clean up?" She asked motioning to the food left on the coffee table.
"That would be great." She replied. "Auggie, if you want to head on upstairs, everything up there is the same as you remember."
"The bag is on the bed." Annie added. I'll be right up."
Auggie leaned over and gave Annie a kiss on the side of her head. "Don't talk about me too much." He said, loud enough for his mom to hear. Then he got up and navigated to the stairs.
Cecilia followed Annie into the kitchen with a few things in her hand. She sat them in the sink then turned and leaned against it, a different look in her eyes than earlier.
"I assume from the wine that you drank that you aren't pregnant." The woman stated bluntly.
Annie was genuinely shocked. "Of course not."
"Are you guys in trouble then? Auggie has never come to us for money-"
"Misses Anderson-Cecilia." Annie interrupted. "There is nothing more to read into what's going on here. Not that I know of, at least. I respect and adore Auggie, and it means a lot to me that he brought me here. I don't want you to think there's more to it."
"Okay," The older lady replied. Annie could tell she wasn't convinced. "I'll see you in the morning. Sleep well."
"Thank you. Good night."
Annie turned off the lights and followed the older woman up the stairs. She stepped into the dark room where Auggie was just pulling on a tee shirt.
"I really hope I have on my pajama pants, because we haven't worn them together much and both pairs felt the same."
Annie laughed. "You would recognize if they only came to your knees, though."
They were standing close. Auggie put his hand behind Annie's head. "That's what I like about you, Walker. You always assume I actually know what I'm doing."
Annie laughed and was silenced with a kiss on her lips. She slipped her hands under the elastic in the back of his pants. When their lips separated she said "You haven't proved me wrong."
Auggie smiled. "As much as I like where your thoughts are heading, the thought of my parents hearing us…"
"Got it." Annie said, pulling away and giving him a pat on the chest.
A little while later Annie slipped into bed next to Auggie and curled into his side. He instinctively wrapped his arm around her and gave her a kiss on the top of her head.
"Has the hallway always been filled with pictures?" Annie asked.
"Yeah, but mom changed them frequently." Auggie replied. "I would imagine she has a lot of the grandkids on the wall these days."
"I think I saw a few of you out there. Lots of dark-headed boys."
"My brothers all have dark hair."
"One of them is rather grey." Annie explained. "Three kids, the oldest two were boys?"
"Lucas went grey?" Auggie asked, turning his head toward Annie.
"If that's who you say he is."
"Does he look like dad?"
"A younger version, yeah."
"Huh." Auggie's fingers tickled her skin as he thought about this. "I hate that we came the wrong weekend. I did plan for you to meet my brothers."
"That's okay, I'm enjoying this." She gave him a reassuring kiss on the cheek.