Author's note: Greetings friends! I'm back and I'm writing again! It's been a while since I wrote anything with my fanfiction, but I hope it works for everyone. I haven't decided yet, but I'm almost positive this will be the final chapter for this story. Please consider reviewing and letting me know what you think.
"Welcome back Auggie," Eric Barber told him the moment he stepped into the Domestic Protection Division.
Auggie had reluctantly accepted his old job back as the head of tech ops. Calder Michaels was leading the division now. Calder didn't know anything about Annie's death outside of the fact that she was indeed officially dead. Joan had sealed the file so that no one except those with the highest security clearance could read them and even then, it gave no mention of Paris, Auggie, or even the correct date she died.
But Auggie knew the truth, and now he had to live with it. He had to live with the fact that he killed the most important person in his life.
"Thanks Eric. It is good to be back. Have there been any changes around here since I've been gone?" Auggie asked as they walked to toward their office. As they walked, numerous people welcomed him back. The smile plastered on his face began to make him feel a little dishonest, but that was the job.
"We rearrange the office a bit when we received some new equipment, but if you'd prefer we can move everything back to where it was when you worked here before," Eric told him. He honestly had not expected to ever be working with Auggie again, he would move mountains for Auggie if he could and he knew it was easier for Auggie for things to remain unchanged.
"As long as there are no cords going through the middle of the room, I can relearn the space. It's not a big deal," Auggie told his friend. Truthfully, he did prefer the office be as he had once knew it to be, but he really didn't want to make everyone move everything around just for him.
"We have quite a few big cases going right now that we could really use your expertise on," Eric told Auggie as they got to the office. "Here we are man. I guess I should let you get reacquainted with the space. Let me know if you need to know where anything is or what's located in a particular spot."
"Thanks Barker," Auggie told him. He was grateful that Eric knew to let him explore the space alone, at least for now. He would, of course, have questions later and he would need help with things here and there, but not having people all over him was exactly what he needed to allow him to become reacquainted with his work space.
A few hours later, Auggie once again had a mental picture of the office. It was quite a bit different than what it had been, but it was workable. He knew the number of steps between workstations and knew where his desk was and the placement of everything on it. Now, he just needed some work to do.
He sat sifting through the countless emails that had piled up over his time away. He had Mingus playing through his headphone, but he could still hear the murmurings of those passing by the office. He couldn't actually make out any of the conversations, but he didn't need to. He knew what they were speculating about—Him.
It was over the hum of chatter, that he heard it.
Click clank, click clank
The sound was so distinct, he only knew one person who made that sound so precisely. He slowly pulled his headphones around his neck and listened closer. He knew it couldn't be, but that cadence was so familiar to him, he would swear it was an exact match. He had heard it in his dreams and it has also haunted his nightmares.
But now he heard it here- in real life. The door to his office slid open and the scent of grapefruits filled the air. This heart began to pound. The familiar sound of heels walked into his space. He tried to school his features. He knew it couldn't really be her, his mind was playing tricks on him. He knew it couldn't be who he wanted it to be.
"What's the matter?" an unfamiliar southern accent asked. "You look like you've just seen a ghost."
He sat for a few seconds longer, just blankly staring, which of course was what he typically appeared to be doing, but in the moment, his mind could focus on nothing except the sound of the heels now in his office.
"Ummm, okay, how does this work? I was told you were the best handler I could get, but right now you seem newer than I am." She bluntly told him.
"Sorry. I'm Auggie. You must be Patricia Yearwood. I have an email here from Joan that you'd be coming by around-
"Now, that I'd be coming by now. I expected you to be-I don't know, better at this. You're a bit of a legend around here, but I also know you've been gone for a while. If you need some time to settle in, I can request a different handler." She interrupted him.
"No, Patricia, it's fine. Let's get-"
"Pattie" She interrupted him again.
"Excuse me?" He asked.
"My friends call me Pattie."
Great, Auggie thought to himself. This women sounds like Annie, smells like Annie, and now her name even sounds like Annie. Joan must be killing herself laughing right now.
"Great, Pattie, let's get started. You'll have to forgive me, since I've been gone they've moved my equipment around a bit and I'm still not quite used to it. They also forgot to print me a braille copy of your file, so I'll have to read through it on the computer."
"So wait, you're actually blind?" the woman scoffed. "I thought someone was playing on joke on the new girl when they told me that."
Auggie pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed slowly.
"Yes, I'm actually blind." Auggie told her trying not to grit his teeth.
"Like totally blind? Or are you one of those people who still has some sight, but calls yourself blind."
Auggie took a moment to digest what she was really asking. It was times like this that he hated being blind. He couldn't be sure if she was serious or joking. Work had always been the one place he didn't have to explain himself, everyone just knew him and accepted him, but things had changed while he was gone. Was it going to be like he was starting over again?
He decided to take the question calmly, "Yes, I'm totally blind. No colors, shapes, swirls, or light. Nothing. And before you ask, I know where you are based on where I hear your voice coming from in the room, my computer reads emails and other things from the screen, and I read braille instead of printed materials."
"Oh, so they weren't messing with me. How are you able to help on missions if you can't see?" She asked.
Auggie sighed once again. Never before had anyone questioned his ability to do his job. Any operative just knew he would be there whenever they needed him. They didn't question his skills. But then again, Pattie had never seen those skills. He knew now that he would be proving himself to her as much as she would be proving herself to him.
"I used to be in the field myself be—
"A blind field operative?" She interrupted skeptically.
"Okay, you've got to stop interrupting me like that." He told her. Then paused, waiting to see if she had anything to add. "Can I please talk now?" He asked beyond annoyed with her.
"Sorry." She said, but sounded anything but. "Go on."
"I wasn't born blind. It happened seven years ago on a mission in the field. I'm very good at my job and none of the operatives I've ever worked with has asked for a different handler. However, by all means, please if you don't think you can work with me, I'm sure Joan will be happy to reassign you to a different handler." Auggie told her sarcastically.
"Oh, I didn't know." She said softly.
"Don't go feeling sorry for me. Are we working together or not? Makes no difference to me. I have a tech division to run as well as other operatives in the field." Auggie said nonchalant. He really could care less about working with this women. In fact, he absolutely preferred to not work with her.
"Let's give it a trail run with this mission to New Jersey. Joan told me I would be observing and possibly meeting with a potential asset there. Seems pretty basic," Pattie told him.
Auggie was highly put off by this women. But something was very strange about her. It unnerved him how much she was like her, but also how completely different she was at the same time.
"Could you do me a favor?" Auggie asked as he heard her take a few steps toward the door.
"What is it?" she asked impatiently.
"Could you not wear that perfume please? I'm allergic to grapefruit and the odor is giving me a headache from here." He partially lied.
"Oh, ummm, yeah, I guess I can find another perfume," she stammered, surprised he even noticed her perfume.
"Thanks, I'd appreciate it. Come back in an hour and I'll have your tech ready for the mission." He told her dismissively and put his headphone back over his ears to signal he was done with her.
He couldn't believe it. Of all the woman in the world. Of all the operatives applying to the agency. Of course, Joan would find the one woman that matched his image of Annie to a perfect T. He didn't have any clue what she looked like. But he also never knew for sure what Annie looked like. His view of her was all tactile, auditory, and olfactory based. He'd never seen her with his eyes. But he knew without a doubt that she was the most beautiful woman in the world. At least, she had been. Now she wasn't. Now she wasn't in his world. She was only in his dreams. He could only see her now in his dreams. In his dreams and in his memories.
As impossible as it sounded, he couldn't let on to Joan that this Pattie had any effect on him. He couldn't let her know that she got to him. That this woman reminded him of Annie at all. He would work with her. He would never say a word to Joan that it bothered him. He wouldn't let his imagination get the better of him. Annie was gone. He alone had to silently endure the consequences of her being gone.