Auggie left with every intention of going home to Natasha. Well, not home; to a predetermined meeting place where she would be waiting with bags packed and her heart on her sleeve. His own words rattled around in his mind, harsh and honest, and he tried to remember the last time he'd really unloaded like that. He'd been angry, yes, thousands of times, but he was with the CIA then. He was a free agent now, pardon the irony, and his anger resonated with and without purpose. As a soldier and an agent, he'd spent years thinking he had a pass to be livid because he could channel his passion into results that could help people. What meaning did his words have now that he wasn't a mouthpiece for a greater organization? His rebellion, his freedom, his rants... all of it felt like a shout into the void.

Like metal, Natasha was a conductor. She ran very, very hot and terribly cold. She could generate an electric shock or repulse your advances with an inhuman strength. She was also a metaphor, Auggie realized, for a life that had not previously been his to live. She represented freedom and ferocity; she was candy for dinner and ice cream for breakfast and not-having-a-bedtime. She was sitting in that predetermined meeting place with a bag of his socks and underwear and her heart on her sleeve, catching the attention of every man in the vicinity and not giving a shit about it.

That was what made it so hard to stand her up.

Auggie was supposed to turn on Vine. Hanging a right on Vine meant a crosswalk and a coffee shop and a whirlwind adventure. But no one was tracking him now. No one knew who he was or where he was supposed to be except for Natasha, and while that could be an oh-so-dangerous situation for a blind man in the city, Auggie felt his whole body relax in the warmth of the anonymity. It was a shitty thing to do, not turning on Vine, but he was done doing things out of obligation.

Who knew what he wouldn't do out of obligation next.