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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Covert Affairs fic: Reasons 3/3

January 7th, 2012 (10:44 pm)

PART ONE
PART TWO
PART THREE



PART THREE

Waking up was never Jai’s favorite thing. After all, that meant coming back to reality and in the last few years, reality had never been the most pleasant place for him.

Usually it involved a lonely existence and relentless climbing of the CIA ladder.

This time, it involved pain.

Not a lot, but a funny, cottony pain. He seemed to be floating in it and the vague sensation hinted that it wasn’t as bad as it probably should have been.

Which, of course, was just about as disconcerting as anything else. His life was too tenuous to being only half-aware, though he could not imagine relishing the pain that would follow full awareness.

With that, he had a powerful incentive to just go back to sleep. Because whatever had happened, he was probably better off not knowing. At least this way he couldn’t screw anything up any more than he already had.

But then, he remembered.

The car.

Auggie.

“Auggie,” he said, coming to with a gasp. But the word was garbled, lost in the thickness of his throat and when he tried to clear his airway enough to speak, he was assaulted with sharp pain.

A voice cut through the pain, though, and he was brought to actual awareness by a hand on his arm. “Hey, settle down.”

Jai worked to even his breathing – it was all mind over matter, just like he’d been trained – and after a few short moments, he was able to think clearly and open his eyes.

The hospital room was perhaps to be expected, and he took it in as methodically as possible. It wasn’t a regular room – the cubicle was small and too crowded with equipment – but most likely an ICU ward.

Jai remembered the crash; he remembered the blood on Auggie’s face. His own injuries were less clear to him. Being trapped by the car was clear enough but after Annie had showed up, things had gotten more than a little hazy.

Annie.

He blinked, rolling his head to the side. It took effort and made his vision darken slightly, but there she was, perched on a chair and looking at him worriedly. “Hey,” she said again. “Welcome back.”

This time, Jai swallowed before speaking, testing his strength and his pain tolerance. His throat felt unduly scratchy and every breath tugged at a tightness in his side, which he strongly suspected would hurt more if not for the drugs undoubtedly coursing through his system.

Still, he was alert and in one piece. With another rallying breath, he asked the question again. “Auggie?”

Annie’s face broke into a smile. She shook her head. “You just woke up from major surgery in the ICU and don’t even think to ask about you?” she asked.

Annie sounded exhausted; moreover, she looked exhausted. Her hair was unkempt, her clothing rumpled. The news of major surgery was somewhat of a revelation to him, but given the circum-stances, not too surprising.

Besides, he was weak and in pain, but he strongly suspected he would live. When he had last seen Auggie, he hadn’t been so sure about the other man.

Wetting his lips, he tried again. “He had a seizure,” Jai said. He suppressed the urge to shudder – it took too much energy – but the image of Auggie’s body jerking and his limpness in the aftermath still haunted him. He fixed his eyes on Annie’s with desperation. “I didn’t know if he was okay.”

Annie’s countenance faltered, a sure sign of just how much this situation was weighing on her. He felt guilty, suddenly. She was here, sitting bedside, which was never an easy thing. And if she was here with him, that probably meant that she couldn’t be there for Auggie.

The idea churned in his head, settling heavily in his stomach. She would be there for Auggie first. She would be. Unless—

Jai’s eyes widened. “He’s not—“ his voice cut off, strangled and pained. “Is he--?”

Annie started, shaking her head. “No, no, no,” she said quickly. “He’s alive.”

That small tidbit of news was a relief and Jai felt himself melting back against the bed weakly.

Next to him, Annie seemed to shift slight, moving closer and settling herself. “He’s in a bed not too far from here, actually,” she told her, trying to smile.

Knowing Auggie was alive was important, but Jai could tell Annie was still holding back. “How bad?” he asked, and his voice was still a whisper.

“You’re—“

Jai shook his head. “Auggie.”

She tweaked her eyebrows. “I had no idea you two were such good friends,” she said.

“Things change,” he said.

“Apparently,” she replied.

“How is he?” Jai pressed again, refusing to be deterred.

Her shoulders fell a little; it was a question she clearly didn’t want to answer. “He’s not great,” she admitted. “They had to repair a little internal bleeding in his stomach, but it wasn’t too bad. But the head wound made his brain bleed. They’ve put in a shunt, but…” Her voice trailed off and she shrugged a little, helpless.

But shunts were never any guarantee. Head wounds were tricky, dangerous. They were unpre-dictable in their prognosis and often took unexpected turns.

So Auggie was alive, but they didn’t know for how long. And they probably didn’t even know what, if any, impairments he might face when he woke up.

If he woke up.

The thought made Jai sick.

Annie’s hand was on his arm again. “He’s pulled through worse, though, right?” she said, her voice artificially bright. “I mean, what he suffered in Iraq – this should be a cakewalk for him.”

Jai doubted that, but he couldn’t fault her efforts.

“Besides,” Annie said, clearing intent on changing the topic. “You haven’t even asked about yourself yet.”

It still seemed like a secondary concern.

Annie didn’t wait for him to bring up any further protests. “You’ve got a concussion of your own there,” she said, nodding toward his head. “But the worst of it was your leg. You nearly severed your femoral artery. You almost bled out by the time they got you here.”

Jai frowned, considering this. He tried to look down the length of his body, trying to make sense of what Annie was telling him.

“The other bruises and contusions were mostly superficial,” she said. “Painful, but nothing that won’t heal.”

Swallowing, he looked at her again, trying to put together the lingering disparate pieces. “So why does my throat feel so raw?”

Annie’s face flickered. She pulled herself together quickly, but he could see the hint of real wea-riness she was trying to hide. “When you bled out, your vitals tanked,” she said, shrugging. “A few lifesaving measures were necessary, just until they clamped off the bleed.”

In other words, Jai had almost bled to death. Or, given the slightly haunted look in Annie’s eyes, he had bled to death but thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, he’d been given a second chance.

It was a novel idea: a second chance. Jai could use one of those.

Looking at Annie, he thought about what Auggie had said in the car. Maybe he had that kind of chance after all.

His eyes focused on Annie again and he really looked at her this time. Looked at the worried smile on her face, the tired relief on her face. Some of it was for Auggie – a lot of it, Jai had no doubt – but she was still there, by his side. That meant something.

Suddenly, he wanted to explain. He wanted to tell her everything, just like he’d told Auggie.

But as he looked at her, he realized he didn’t have to. Annie had been his friend from the beginning – regardless of family connections or past incidences. She was the one person who wasn’t asking him for an explanation. She had never asked him for anything.

Now, maybe, it was time to really start repaying that favor.

Letting himself relax, he found the strength to smile. “That was one hell of a mission you read me in on,” he quipped lightly.

Annie snorted, her voice breaking on a laugh. “I know,” she said. “Someone intercepted the line Auggie’s contact used. They were trying to figure out who the mole was and who he was working for, which is why they set up the meet here. They planted a small explosive on your car.”

Jai winced. “While we were checking out the house,” he said.

Annie nodded. “Fortunately, they were sloppy,” she said. “They threw together the plan too quickly and we traced the parts and there’s already been a few arrests, not to mention some great intel on who was behind it. You and Auggie are quite the heroes around the Agency these days.”

Jai’s eyebrows went up. “Days?”

Annie stopped, blushing guiltily. “Yeah,” she said. “You’ve been out of it for a bit.”

“Days?” he repeated.

“Just two,” she said. “The blood loss sort of messed with your system.”

Just two. The thought made Jai’s stomach roil a bit and his side hurt with fresh fervor. Two days was longer than he’d thought; longer than he wanted to think about. Especially since two days for him was two days for Auggie.

Two days and Auggie still wasn’t good.

Frowning, he focused his attention back on Annie. “What’s Auggie’s prognosis?”

She hesitated, clearly choosing her words carefully. “It’s really just a waiting game,” she said. “They’ve got to let the shunt do its work and wait for the swelling to come down enough. They said it might take a bit – the accident rung his bell pretty hard.”

“But what about damage?” he prompted, trying to sit up a bit more. “I mean—“

The movement was too much, though. Pain flared up and Jai felt his vision darken precariously. His awareness ebbed and the pain eclipsed everything for a long moment. When he managed to come to terms with it, he found himself flat on his back again, Annie standing above him.

“Sorry,” he rasped.

Her smile was weary. “I know you’re worried,” she said, “but you need to focus on you for a little bit.”

This time, Jai couldn’t protest. Instead, he nodded in acquiescence, and Annie’s posture eased somewhat.

“Have you seen him?” he asked finally.

Annie’s eyes darted away. “Some,” she said. “They’ve been kind of strict with the ICU rules and Auggie’s mother made it out here yesterday. One visitor at a time doesn’t give me much chance.”

That made sense, and Jai tried not to think about how his own father was duly absent.

As usual.

He couldn’t think on that now. Instead, he worked up his energy to smile again. “Once he’s moved out of ICU, that’ll free things up a bit,” he said, hoping to convey optimism for her sake.

Her face brightened. “Yeah,” she said. She looked like she wanted to say more but the words never came. Her shoulders slumped again.

It wasn’t hard to see that she was worried – really worried. She was playing it down for Jai’s sake, but Auggie was her best friend.

And, from the look of it, maybe more. After all, Annie flinched every time she heard his name; explaining Auggie’s condition made Annie look physically ill. He hadn’t seen her act like this about anyone – not since Ben.

She’d almost seen Ben die and had come out on the other side stronger, better.

He wasn’t sure the same would be true if something really did happen to Auggie.

“You care for him,” he said suddenly, the words out before he could stop them.

Annie startled, eyebrows up. “He’s my best friend.”

“No,” Jai said. “I mean, you really do care for him. More than friends.”

Her mouth opened, shocked. Then she laughed, shaking her head. “No, it’s not like that.”

Jai’s lips quirked into a smile. “It’s okay,” he said. “I won’t tell anyone.”

She shook her head, adamant, but the blush on her cheeks was evidence enough.

“He’s a good choice,” Jai continued.

“He has a girlfriend,” Annie said.

“And you’re better for him,” Jai concluded. “Anyway, if this mission has taught us anything, it’s that second chances are rare. You can’t take them for granted. You don’t want to waste what you already have.”

It was the lesson Jai had learned, anyway. One that mattered more than the rest. More than get-ting Joan’s job, more than proving he could make it on his own. Way more than ever winning his father’s impossible approval.

For a second, Annie looked like she wanted to disagree. But she couldn’t.

Laughing, she dropped her head down, running a hand through her hair. “Sounds I should send you on missions more often, then,” she said.

“Anytime,” he said, and he meant it. Then he nodded toward the door. “Maybe you should go check up on Auggie now.”

Annie gathered herself, sitting up again. “Maybe,” she said. “But I’m mostly going to leave so you can get some rest. You still look awful.”

Jai laughed – then groaned. “Thanks for the encouragement.”

Annie shrugged easily. “Just a little honesty,” she said. “Something we can appreciate more than most in the spy game.”

Jai nodded, feeling the weight of the conversation pulling him back toward sleep. “Thanks, Annie,” he said.

On her feet now, she paused, smiling sincerely. “Thank you,” she said.

Jai nodded. “Tell me when he wakes up, okay?”

“Sure,” Annie said, making her way out of the cubicle.

Alone again, Jai let himself deflate. He was tired and he was sore. He didn’t want to think about his recovery. He didn’t want to think about the paperwork. He didn’t want to think about what his father would find to insult him over this time.

Those things didn’t matter. Well, not as much as Jai thought they did.

What mattered was getting the mission done. More than that, being a good friend.

Jai hadn’t succeeded at much, but maybe he could still succeed at that.

-o-

Annie had been on some stressful missions in her short tenure at the CIA, but this one was by far the worst. And to think, she hadn’t even left the country.

In reality, it had only been a week since Jai and Auggie had been compromised on their meet. But that week had been, hands down, the longest week of Annie’s life. Between the frantic search to find them to putting together where the lines of communication had been compromised, the entire thing had been a mess.

And that didn’t even get her started on the stress of waiting in the hospital to find out whether or not they would be okay.

Ultimately, Jai’s condition had been more critical – he’d very nearly bled to death before they’d ever gotten him to the hospital – but after clamping off his femoral artery and infusing him with blood, he’d made a quick recovery.

Relatively, anyway. It had taken the better part of two days for him to be coherent and conscious, but the doctors were increasingly optimistic. Annie had had her doubts, but seeing him and talking to him had made a world of difference.

Auggie, on the other hand, hadn’t come quite as close to dying but his long-term prognosis was also much worse. A week out, and he was showing minimal signs of improvement. The shunt hadn’t eliminated the swelling, but it was keeping it just shy of emergency treatment. There was continued evidence of brain activity and they’d been able to remove the breathing tube after a few days. Beyond that, however, it was a waiting game.

So Annie waited.

She divvied her time as best she could. She spent some time at the office – the paperwork for the mission was still a mess, even as the plot that had been unfurled was quickly mopped up – but her heart was never in it. When she took long lunches and took off early, Joan conveniently looked the other way.

At the hospital, she spent most of her visiting time with Jai. She’d been surprised that he had few other visitors, and he always seemed so pleasantly surprised when she visited that it was usually a gratifying experience. Talk was to let him go home in a day, as soon as the lingering low-grade infection worked its way out of his system.

The other portion of her time, she spent with Auggie. She had to take turns with his mother and two of his brothers, which made it harder. Harder still that she couldn’t tell them any of the details regarding who she was or what had happened.

All she could tell them was that she knew Auggie. She knew him well and cared about him very much. In all the lies, she figured that truth was the most important.

Too bad she still didn’t know how to tell that to Auggie.

Which was ironic, she thought. Since joining the CIA, Auggie had been the one person she’d never kept secrets from. And yet, here she was, harboring the greatest secret of all.

Sitting there, watching him, it didn’t seem like it should be so hard. She could reach out and touch him, she could say anything now – this was only as hard as she made it.

Sighing, she looked down, playing with her fingernails. When she looked up, she let her eyes linger on him. The bruising on his face had ripened, though a good portion of his face was still obscured by the bandage around his forehead. Part of his head had been shaved for the shunt, and his face was pale, darkened with a week’s worth of scraggly beard.

He was alive, though. Alive and breathing on his own. His mother said that Auggie might just surprise them; even the doctors said there was no telling when he might wake up. It might be in two minutes; it might be never.

It might be never.

She looked up again, studying him. He looked wrong like that. He was too still, too passive. That wasn’t Auggie. That wasn’t the man she knew. The man she…

It was still hard to think about, even if she knew the truth. Everyone seemed to know the truth. Danielle had seen it; Jai, too. And yet, Annie didn’t know how to admit it.

Which was stupid. She was being stupid.

Danielle’s entire marriage had fallen apart because they let it get away. Jai’s position at the CIA was tenuous because he wasn’t sure where to put his trust. It was about commitment; it was about following through. That was something Auggie lived and breathed – it was why he had gone to Africa to tell someone that he loved her, without any guarantee of how she’d respond.

Being timid wasn’t any way to live a life – spy or otherwise.

“You should wake up,” she said finally. Her voice sounded small, tinny in the silence. She kept her eyes on Auggie and ignored the pounding of her heart. “Because there’s some stuff we need to talk about. And you’re my best friend.”

Her voice wavered. Auggie didn’t flinch, the monitors still beating their unchanging songs.

She wet her lips. “You’re more than that, really,” she said. “I’m not sure. But. If you don’t wake up, then we’ll never find out. I’ll never know if you could love me…”

She had to pause, to rally her strength. She took a shaky breath, pressing her lips together in a smile.

“As much as I love you,” she concluded, and she wasn’t going to cry. Not about this. She wasn’t.

She took another breath, but before she could continue, a monitor beep. Something chimed and an alarm sounded.

Frightened, Annie pushed back, looking around. But before she could act, a nurse came into the room. She sidestepped Annie, moving directly to Auggie’s side. At his bed, she pressed a few buttons, leaning over him carefully.

“What is it?” Annie asked – almost begged.

The nurse hesitated. Turning around, Annie was surprised to see the other woman smiling. “Well, I need to get a doctor,” she said, but she couldn’t hide the twinkle in her eyes. “But I think Mr. Anderson is waking up.”

-o-

The smell of a hospital was by far Auggie’s least favorite scent. After his accident in Iraq, that smell had been the first thing he’d been aware of. In his newfound world of darkness, that smell had defined his existence.

It had been years since then, but that smell was still all too easily recognized. Which was why he knew, even before he knew anything, that he was in the hospital.

There was also pain, which was another giveaway, and the strange sensation of floating. Voices came and went – his mother, his brothers, even Annie – and he woke sometimes, heard himself murmur replies to questions he didn’t quite grasp, before slipping back into oblivion.

In the back of his mind, he remembered, too. Remembered the contact from his asset. Remembered the long drive with Jai to the empty house. Remembered the crash. Remembered the hazy time afterward with Jai.

He half-wondered if some of that was a delusion, though. Because they’d been getting along. There’d been empathy and understanding, and if that wasn’t evidence of severe and life-changing injury, Auggie wasn’t sure what was.

Still, though there were still some holes in his memory, he was piecing together the details pretty well. When he was conscious, he still threw up at random intervals and often found himself passing out for no apparent reason, but his episodes were getting fewer and further between, and despite the severity of his head injury, he was on course to make a full recovery.

That didn’t mean he liked any of this, though. The smell of the hospital, waking up unsure if he was alone or surrounded by well-intentioned people. The unknown sense of how long he could cling to consciousness before it was stripped from him without warning or his consent.

This made waking up a cautious effort. Once the smell filled his nostrils, he breathed out and listened, trying to ascertain just what awaited him this time.

Sometimes, it was the scuffling of a nurse or the cold hands of a doctor. More often, it was his mother or his brothers, arguing and fussing. Sometimes, it was Annie, a warm hand on his arm.

This time –

This time was different.

Filtering through the haze of pain and nausea, he sought to grip his awareness, even as unconsciousness threatened him again.

The presence was more stoic than most, somehow reserved. Drawn in on itself but still there. And familiar. Not as close as the others that had been here, but distinctive.

There was a slight shuffling. “Auggie?”

The voice was tired, weaker than it should have been. Auggie frowned, brow creasing as he replied, “Jai?”

There was something of a relieved sigh. “Hey,” Jai replied.

He sounded uncharacteristically reserved, which was saying something when it came to Jai. Auggie’s mind was still sluggish, but the memory came unbidden. Jai’s worried voice, tinged with pain. He’d been hurt in the crash, too.

That detail had somehow evaded him, though with his brain still resembling Swiss cheese, he figured that might be expected. “You okay?” he finally asked.

Jai snorted a laugh. “I was discharged a few days ago,” he reported. “You’re the one still giving doctors a run for their money.”

Auggie smiled. “You know me,” he said.

“Always the center of attention,” Jai finished for him ruefully.

“It comes naturally,” Auggie said. “Part of my inherent charm.”

“Something definitely not complemented by brain injury,” Jai quipped.

“Hey, now,” Auggie countered in mock defensiveness. “At least my problems can be fixed by modern medicine and some recovery time. What about you?”

“Ha ha,” Jai said banally, but he did sound increasingly relieved. “You are recovering, at any rate, which is something of a relief.”

Auggie nodded, closing his eyes for a moment and pushing back the lingering nausea. He pressed his lips together, forcing a smile as he opened his eyes and rolled his head back toward Jai. “Slowly, though,” he admitted, somewhat sheepish. “If I drop off mid-sentence, don’t take it personally. For once, it’s not your sparkling personality. People keep saying that it’ll get better, but I’m starting to think they’re liars.”

“Liars, no,” Jai said. “But they may be looking down the road a bit more than you’d want.”

Auggie scoffed.

“So how do you feel?” Jai prompted.

Auggie groaned. “The liars keep asking me that, too.”

“With reason,” Jai said. “You’ve been through a lot.”

Auggie nodded sagely. “I know,” he said. “And actually, there is a lingering problem I’ve been meaning to bring up.”

Jai seemed to scoot forward and Auggie took some pleasure in imagining the concern on his face. “Do I need to get a doctor?”

Auggie shook his head, as seriously as he could. “No, just – I need to tell you first,” he said.

“Yeah, okay,” Jai said, sounding a bit at a loss. “Anything.”

Auggie leaned forward, looking as intent as possible. “I know I haven’t been awake long, but this has been nagging at me.”

“Auggie, are you sure you don’t want me to get a nurse?” Jai asked, clearly sounding distressed now.

“No, no,” Auggie said. “It’s just. Well. I can’t see anything!”

Jai let out an audible sigh, his hand swatting him lightly on his good arm. “You’re an ass.”

Auggie chuckled, for once okay with the pain that cause. “But a humorous one,” he said.

Joking was part of Auggie’s coping mechanism. It always had been, ever since he was a child, but after his accident in Iraq, he’d clung to even more than before. Now was necessarily no different, and the instincts were hard to ignore.

Still, there was an odd silence, uncomfortable and uncertain, and when Jai collected a breath, it seemed to be out of desperation. “Yes, well, considering what you’ve been through, I think you’re actually doing quite well.”

There was something in the way he said it. Something telling. The doctors were matter of fact and his mother was doting but Jai – Jai seemed different.

Which made sense, because Jai had been there. Auggie’s memory worked, parsing together the disparate pieces. They had been trapped together and they’d had to wait. Jai had been there for the worst of it. He hadn’t been picking through Auggie’s brain in the aftermath: he’d been there for the blood and the dizziness and the seizure, if the doctors were to be believed.

Which also explained his odd reticence.

It was somewhat sobering and Auggie smiled grimly. “That’s right,” he said. “You were there.”

“I was,” Jai agreed. “One of the hardest missions I’ve been on, by far.”

Auggie winced. “And here I was hoping our male bonding session had been one of the halluci-nations.”

“No,” Jai said, before pausing awkwardly. He seemed to be looking for words and coming up short. “I mean, it was just a lot of pressure. We were both in a lot of pain. It doesn’t have to mean anything more than that.”

He was backtracking. In an epic fashion.

Rolling his eyes, Auggie shook his head. After everything, he wasn’t about to let Jai get away with it. “You think you can get rid of me that easily?” he asked. He arched an eyebrow with decided effort. “You did confess some of your deepest secrets to me.”

Jai huffed a semblance of a laugh. “I was hoping you might forget that part.”

“Oh, no,” Auggie said. “I’m not the type to accept a near-death confession of friendship and let it go.”

“Well, I’m not sure I’ve ever been much of a friend,” Jai replied.

Auggie shrugged. “You were a pretty good friend back in the car,” he said. “Kept me awake. Probably kept me alive. That counts for something.”

It counted for a lot, actually, not that Auggie planned on getting effusive about it. Because if the pain and the haziness were pervasive, Jai’s voice was grounding. Auggie had been certain of nothing else but that, and even now, it resonated. It mattered.

“Yeah,” Jai said after a small pause. His breathing caught just slightly, then he continued. “I just knew that there’d be a lot of people up in arms if I let you die.”

“See,” Auggie said, gesturing as best he could. “And there you have it: the makings of a perfect friendship.”

This time, Jai laughed. “I’ll have to take your word on it.”

“You’d better,” Auggie said roundly, nodding for emphasis. The movement was small but it was just somewhat too much. His nausea spiked and as he bent to control it, the pain in his head flared up anew. The entire thing left him reeling and he found himself stiffening in desperation to control the episode.

“Hey,” Jai’s voice cut through it all, his presence closer. A gear shifted and his bed began to sink back somewhat, the motor whirring. “You should rest.”

Auggie wanted to protest, but found himself lacking the energy. Instead he breathed out, letting his eyes close. He shook his head. “Because we’re friends, you think I’ll listen to you now?” he quipped.

Jai didn’t waver, still close by. “Trust me,” he said, and he meant it, his tone entirely earnest. “You’ll feel better when you wake up.”

Auggie had heard that more times than he could count. From the doctors, from his mother, from Annie. But somehow, from Jai, he believed it more than the rest as he drifted back to sleep.

-o-

In the CIA, missions always ended the same way: paperwork and moving on.

Now that Annie had the paperwork done – and it had been a lot of paperwork – she was more than ready to move on.

Jai had been released over a week earlier and was due back at work soon. The bruises on his face had faded but he still walked with a limp, grimacing at simple movement whenever Annie saw him.

Auggie was slower to recover, but he was improving in leaps and bounds now. The swelling in his brain had gone down entirely and the small patch of hair that had been shaved for the shunt was starting to fill in with brown fuzz. He was staying awake longer and itching to get out. With his mother still in town, the doctors had finally consented.

Annie knew he had family there, but she still wanted to be there for him. Really, she wanted to be there for herself. She needed closure on this one, and seeing Auggie walk out of the hospital was an important step in the right direction.

Besides, this was Auggie. She was starting to recognize the way her heart skipped a beat when she thought about him and she knew that going to see him wasn’t just about closure. Because she could close this mission but she hadn’t even gotten started on the more important matter of telling Auggie how she felt.

One thing at a time, however.

When she got there, Auggie’s mom was just on her way to pull the car around. Inside Auggie’s room, Annie was pleased to find him alone.

Auggie sighed. “I told you, I’ll be fine,” he said, clearly exasperated.

Annie grinned. “I’ll be sure to tell that to your mother when she comes back.”

Auggie’s face brightened and he paused what he was doing, his half-packed travel bag open in front of him. “Annie Walker!”

Annie stepped forward. “I thought I’d see you one last time before you were released.”

“I’m flattered,” Auggie said, turning toward Annie. “Although being released means I’m getting better. You make it sound like I’m dying.”

“Well, you came pretty close there,” Annie reminded him, sauntering closer.

“That’s what I keep telling him,” a voice came from the doorway.

Annie turned, surprised to see Jai there. In the wake of the accident, the two men had been closer than before. There was something more there, a new understanding, maybe a new appreciation. Mostly, just an unexpected friendship that Annie was still too awed by to question.

“And Jai Wilcox,” Auggie said, sounding unduly pleased with himself. “I’m quite popular today.”

“Well, I just wanted to make sure you didn’t go and get yourself almost killed again,” Jai said.

“I don’t plan on making a habit of it,” Auggie said. “And besides, I should be saying the same to you.”

“No kidding,” Annie said. “Are you even cleared to be driving yet?”

“There are a few perks to having a father with connections,” Jai said, shrugging one shoulder with a sly smile.

“As long as you know how to properly exploit them,” Auggie agreed. “But really, you two, I’m fine.”

It was true. After everything, Auggie was fine. He wasn’t quite healthy yet, but he almost there.

“Maybe,” Jai said. “But I think I wanted to see it for myself.”

He said it lightly, but Annie could hear the pain under it. And she understood. She’d been there at the end, just before they’d both been put into the ambulance. Neither Jai or Auggie had talked much about the time before that, but she was beginning to think that more had happened then either of them was letting on.

“Well, seeing isn’t always believing,” Auggie said, inclining his head. “And that’s a lesson learned from a blind man.”

Jai laughed. “But sometimes it definitely helps.”

Auggie nodded. “Sometimes it definitely does,” he said. Then he gathered himself, rubbing his hands together. “I’m afraid when my mom gets back, we’re not going to have much time for anything. But in a week, when she goes home, we should do something.” He pauses, head drifting toward Annie and then toward Jai. “All of us.”

It was a surprising offer. The three of them. It was a bond that Annie had thought could develop at one point but seen strained before it could really start to grow. But it was different now. Bet-ter.

A lot of bad things had happened in this mission, but Annie thought if this friendship was among the outcomes, then it really wasn’t all bad.

Jai nodded warmly. “I’d like that,” he said.

“Me and two invalids,” Annie agreed jokingly. “I suppose I could get used to it.”

Because she had joined the Agency for a lot of reasons. Making friends and falling in love weren’t among them, but really, she had to admit, they may have been the best reasons yet.

Comments

Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: January 9th, 2012 01:54 am (UTC)
Auggie & Jai

Fabulous!

Could you please tell show to read this fic? I want to see this on screen?

Thank you so much for the lovely gift.

*hugs again*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 13th, 2012 04:26 am (UTC)
annie

I would be very happy if they ever gave us a real Auggie/Jai bonding episode. With whump preferably, LOL :)

It was pretty fun to write this one, especially in honor of you.

*hugs back*

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