Author's Note: Here's the next chapter for this story. I think I have one or two more stories to update before they're all updated after my latest writing break. I hope you all enjoy it. Sandysea17, I think you'll be happy with this chapter. For those reviewing, thank you!
"An Irreplaceable Ally"
Dr. Miles McCabe rubbed his shoulder as he circled his neck around slowly to attempt relaxing his tense muscles just a little. They were on the jet headed back to DC from Oregon. It had been a particularly exhausting case this week. The team had lost three patients, but finally found the disease responsible before the other ten patients died from it as well. He was glad to finally have a couple days off. He knew he would have to clean his apartment when they arrived back in DC, but he leaned back and closed his eyes, wishing the mounting to-do list in his mind would come to halt so he could relax on the way home.
After about an hour of restless sleep, he decided to give up on the pretenses of getting any sleep and brought out his laptop to check his email. Scrolling through the emails, he began to delete and categorize the list hoping to at least make it more manageable when he was home to deal with the ones that needed any amount of his attention. Nothing really caught his eye until he reached the emails from earlier in the week.
He had promised them that he would stay in touch with them, but quite frankly he had just been too busy the last month and a half to even give them a call. Now seeing Auggie Anderson's name in his inbox his stomach rolled, hoping Annie wasn't still having complications from the meningitis, he quickly opened the email. He believed they could make it work somehow. Despite all the odds against them, he wanted them to fight for the obvious love they held for one another.
After opening the email, he read through it,
It's Auggie Anderson, I'm not sure if you remember me. We met at Georgetown University Hospital when Annie Walker was your patient about two months ago. I hope this email finds you well. I know this might sound weird, but you said if we ever needed anything to contact you. Therefore, I'm doing just that.
Annie and I have been going to the School for the Deaf to learn sign language three times a week. She is gifted with languages and is picking it up quite quickly it seems. I, however, have not had such luck. I'm struggling, to be frank.
I wondered if you might have any ideas on how I can learn this. Books and videos don't work so well for me. And the three hours of one-on-one time at the school just aren't enough.
Miles was sympathetic to Auggie's problem. It was indeed a challenge for a blind man to learn sign language. Not impossible, but quite challenging nonetheless. He needed someone who could show him the signs in a tactile way. As Auggie had pointed out, he couldn't just read a book or watch a video to learn it. An idea struck him as he excitedly emailed back.
Auggie had given up on hearing from Dr. McCabe after the fifth day without a reply. He knew it was a long shot. He had hoped against all odds that the doctor had meant it when he said to contact him if they needed anything.
Now he was back to the drawing board on how he could realistically improve his signing so that he could effectively communicate with his girlfriend. Danielle had taken a three week class at a local community college and now knew more than he did. He was grateful to her for Annie's sake, but he was also jealous of her that she could just go to a couple classes and pick up more than he had in almost six weeks of thrice weekly sessions with supposed experts.
At the moment, Danielle and Annie were out shopping. He had stayed back to do a project for Joan, which had now been completed for two hours. Annie and Danielle weren't scheduled to be back for several more hours and that was if they stayed with their plans. As he waited for their return he couldn't help but think about him and Annie's communication problems. It had got a lot better the last couple weeks, especially now that Annie would verbalize her answers to him occasionally. But even that wasn't consistent and she wouldn't say a word outside of their apartment or if anyone else was there.
Oh one hand, he was honored to be the only person she trusted to hear the voice she could no longer hear herself, but it also meant, it was his responsibility to help Annie navigate the world outside their apartment. When people asked her questions, needed her order at restaurants, or simply had to give her information about a purchase. They rarely went anywhere as a result, but at times, they both felt cabin fever setting in.
He remembered one evening at Allen's Tavern, Annie's first time there since getting sick. Many of their friends from the CIA were there and invited Annie and Auggie to join them at their table. Auggie wasn't sure, but Annie pulled him over.
It immediately became evident that neither of them could keep up with the conversations of the table, despite knowing everyone there. Auggie quickly became overwhelmed with trying to remember everyone's voice and follow who they were talking to. Then trying to keep Annie in the loop by interrupting-quite poorly-what was being said to her and around her. He knew she would want to know what everyone said, but constantly signing was a struggle for him. She didn't ask him much, but she did respond through him, which was frustrating as well. He kept making mistakes in interrupting her signs and he was certain he wasn't using all the correct signs. He tried to finger spell words he didn't know signs for, but his fingers just weren't used to spelling out words for such a long time period.
Eventually, Annie told him he could stop, but he knew this would mean she would hardly be communicated with as a result. Some of their old friends tried to continue communicating with her, making up their own signs or writing things down, but after a few minutes the novelty wore off and they all went to conversations between themselves.
By the time they got home later, Auggie wanted to talk about what had happened, but Annie just said "Its fine. I'm tired. Let's go to bed." And that was that. They went to bed and it wasn't discussed.
The next morning while eating breakfast, Annie seemed her normal self. Auggie didn't want to shake her good mood by bringing up complicated topics. Days later he regretted not talking it over with her. They needed to communicate better. They were each bottling things up because it was easier and they feared miscommunications.
Now, as he sat at the kitchen counter with his laptop, he decided to try something new during his sign language practice. As he practiced each sign, phrase, or sentence he sat in front of his laptop, preforming each motion directly in front of his laptop, allowing his laptop's camera to record the practice session. He thought it would be good to show his tutor or Annie his progress. He hoped they would be able to give him feedback on what he might be doing correctly or incorrectly.
Auggie worked longer than usual practicing the language he desperately needed to master. Once he was finished he checked his email to see if Joan had any other work for him to do. After checking his work email, he decided to check his personal email just so he could be finished with all of his computer tasks and focus on Annie when she arrived home.
To his surprise, there was a reply from one Dr. Miles McCabe
It's great to hear from you! How is Annie doing? I know this has been a huge adjustment for both of you. I will be back in DC in a few hours. I have a few ideas on ways to help you learn quicker and be able to practice more.
Can we meet up somewhere to discuss my ideas this weekend?
Auggie couldn't believe his luck. Of course, Dr. McCabe would answer him, if nothing else he had expected a message saying he was too busy, he hadn't expected him to want to meet up.
Auggie responded to the email, letting Dr. McCabe know that his schedule was wide open this weekend. He never knew how Annie would feel from day to day, so they rarely made plans of any kind. She had been having more good days than bad lately, but she still grew tired easily and continued to have trouble with walking or even standing for long periods of time. Auggie had noticed that her walk was much slower and more labored, like she wore weights on her feet, than it had been before she got sick. It had been almost two months since she was first hospitalized, but the improvements were slow.
After sending the email, Auggie began to grow excited about seeing what suggestions Dr. McCabe might be able to offer him.
Miles couldn't believe his luck, of course, he would get home after being away for several weeks, dealing with back to back cases, to find out that his landlord had been trying to get a hold of him. Apparently, there had been a small fire in the apartment next to his and there had been significant damage to his apartment. The landlord told him it would be at least a couple weeks before he could live there again. For now, they suggested he find a friend or family member to stay with until the damages could be taken care of.
Sighing, he went inside his apartment and grabbed a pile of fresh clothes, some basic toiletries, and his gadgets. Then he turned back around and headed back out the door. He hailed a cab to the nearest hotel. Right now, he just needed sleep. He would figure out where he would be staying later.
Auggie couldn't wait for Annie to get home to tell her about Dr. McCabe coming to see him this weekend. He hoped it would go as smoothly and be as helpful as he was imagining that it would be. He didn't want to get his expectations up, but at the same time, he wanted something to look forward to-something good to finally come from this whole mess.