Left Behind

NOTE: I started this before 4X11 and have kind of adapted it to fit the 23 seconds of cannon we got of Auggie calling Danielle. And I know there is no canonical proof that Annie knows Braille, but that's the fiction part….

A week after Annie "died" Auggie took a cab to the guest house at her sister's soon-to-be-sold house in Georgetown. Calder had been right about Auggie having very little sign of Annie at his place, between their fight and the sweep team all Auggie had was a shriveling kiwi in his fridge.

He wasn't sure what he was going to take and Annie had spent so little time here he feared it wouldn't even smell like her any more, but he wanted to be here to be around her things.

He let the cab go, not sure how long he was planning to stay and pushed the heavy gate back. His cane brushed away the fallen leaves and he crunched on the few that remained in his path to her door. He turned his key in the lock and started on the stairs and stopped when he smelled it, a woman, but not Annie.

"Who's there?" the voice sounded sad and scared.

"Danielle?" he called back.

"Auggie?" she replied.

"Yeah, it's me," he entered the room with his hands up, his folded cane in one hand and his keys in the other.

He had no idea where she was in the room, she sounded close, but the room had odd acoustics, he remembered the way Annie's gasps and moans bounced around that first night they made love. He hardly had time to wrap his heart around that memory when a hand came out and smacked him across the face.

"You were supposed to take care of her," Danielle stalked past him and ran up the stairs.

Auggie had a hard time arguing with that and wasn't sure if he should follow her or not. He opted instead to make his way to the middle of the room and sat on the bed. He figured curiosity would get the better of Danielle and no matter how sad and hurt she was, she would come back to him. He reached for a pillow and held it to his face, he was right, it didn't smell like Annie any more, just faintly of fabric softener, but it felt like the same combination of soft and crisp that he remembered from the one night they spent in this bed.

Minutes passed, maybe a half hour's worth and finally Auggie heard the door open again at the stairs.

"Auggie?" she called.

"Still here," he replied and was rewarded with her heels clacking against the stairs.

"I'm so sorry I slapped you," she said contritely.

"S'ok, you're upset and you are right, it was my job to watch out for her," he shrugged.

"It is an impossible job, I had it for years," Danielle sniffled.

Auggie stood and held his arms out to her. He remembered she was taller than Annie, almost as tall as him with her heels on, so he could feel her wet cheek against his own, the one she slapped.

"I am so sorry Danielle," he whispered against her hair.

He had said it over and over again on the phone, but now he could feel her nod against him and squeeze a little tighter in acknowledgement.

"Thank you," she took a deep breath and Auggie prepared for more tears but she cleared her throat and took a step back.

"You look like shit," she said honestly.

"Thanks Danielle, don't hold back or anything," he laughed and ran a hand through his hair.

"When did you eat last?"

The amount of time it took Auggie to remember was clearly too long for Danielle to tolerate.

"Come up to the house, I have some food," she brushed his arm with her hand and he took hold of her elbow.

***555***

"So what brings you by?" Danielle asked as she ladled some more soup in Auggie's bowl.

He took another mouthful of soup and pondered his answer.

"How much do you know?" he asked vaguely.

He had gotten off the phone fast when he called to tell her about Annie, not elaborating on the lie he was telling Danielle and allowing her to process her grief on her own.

"About Annie? I feel like I know everything and nothing simultaneously," Danielle returned the soup to the stove.

"Huh," Auggie was struck by how honest and accurate that was.

"You know I know about work, right?" Danielle asked tentatively.

"Yes."

"So were you asking what I know about you guys not at work?"

"You asked why I was here," they were talking in circles.

"I know Annie loved you and I can tell by the look on your face right now that you loved her too," Danielle felt the tears threaten again.

"Love. I love her Danielle, it doesn't go away," Auggie said harsher than he intended.

"Of course. Were you together? Annie kept leaving me cryptic phone messages about wanting to talk, was that because of you?" Danielle was putting the pieces together.

"For about 10 weeks," Auggie smiled sadly.

"Oh Auggie," Danielle gasped and without warning she was hugging him again.

"I'm OK," he felt guilty being comforted when Danielle actually thought her sister was dead.

"She sent me a postcard, not long before she died. Did she know she was going to die Auggie? Was she scared?" Danielle asked as she pulled away.

"She knew she was doing something risky and as brave as Annie was she was not immune to being scared," Auggie answered vaguely.

"That hurts so much, the idea that she was scared. Dying is dying, we all have to some time, right? But the idea of her being afraid hurts me so much."

"We all live with fear Danielle, Annie's fears were more probable than most people's, but fear is a part of life," he tried to make her feel better in whatever way he could.

"So you never answered the question about what brought you here. I was planning to call you before I left, maybe grab one of the Smithsonian's famously bad cups of coffee," she teased him about a past meeting before Danielle knew Annie's true employer.

"I just miss her Danielle, my apartment is full of memories, but nothing solid, that I can wrap my hands around and hold on to. I don't know what I am looking for, maybe I was just meant to find you," he smiled.

"Her circle of trust was pretty small," Danielle nodded.

"We could have club meetings, it really was just us," Auggie agreed.

"I know exactly what you should take, come with me," they stood and Danielle offered her arm to Auggie.

She left Auggie near Annie's bed and moved to the far side of the room, taking something off the wall.

"I had this made for Annie's last birthday," she handed the piece of art over to Auggie.

He judged it to be about 10 X 16 inches and made of wood or resin.

"Go ahead, run your fingers over the whole thing.

His fingers felt around the back of it to find the bracket for hanging and over the front to feel words painted in various sizes and thickness of paint. About two-thirds of the way down he stopped and looked up at Danielle with a smile.

"It says…" Danielle began.

"I love you," Auggie whispered.

"…in all the languages Annie knew."

"You should," Auggie cleared his throat, "you should keep this."

"It's OK, Auggie, I want you to have it," Danielle placed her hands over his as they gripped the edges of the piece.

"I was amazed when she learned to read Braille, I don't know why of all the amazing things about Annie that that was the thing that amazed me, but it did," a tear escaped and splashed onto Danielle's hand.

"It's because she did that just for you."

The End