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Auggie noticed the warmth of the sun between his drowsiness, it seemed to be morning. What day was it again? How long has been put down? Where was Dr. Hoban? He seemed to be the only one cutting the bullshit around here.
He had been dozed off after the little incident with the cup and the little incident when he missed the night table and that other one when that British nurse kept on wanting to feed him as he was 5 years old and he just snapped.
He didn't have the gauze over his eyes anymore. Nothing was pressing his eyelids closed, there was nothing brushing against his eyelashes. He could open his eyes and see... nothing.
He wanted to reach his eyes with his hand, but the V line was still on his right. And now he had a casket on the left. How did that happen? Ohm... right.
Well, he was being treated as a kid that couldn't cope, he had to hit something and the wall seemed to be the only thing close enough. He didn't know how bad his arm was before that, he only knew it hurt like hell after hitting the wall and didn't know much more after two thugs held him down and put him to sleep. And now there was a casket adding insult to injury.
Those guys also seemed British. But he was... where was he? The aftershave reached him before the Doc knocked on the doorframe. "Hello Dr. Hoban, shiny... morning?"
"Afternoon, you've been sleeping for a while now" the Dr. came near him. He felt the little lantern's light playing around his eyes and he was suddenly hopeful "Doc, I think... I think I just saw that" Hoban sighed and Auggie's grim look returned.
"Your mom and your big brother are getting here today I hear" Auggie frowned "Which brother?"
"Adam, I think. They want to talk to you about options."
"Options? I just, they're… I can't. I can't talk to them right now. I don't even know what day is. I don't know which t-shirt I'm wearing. I don't even know where I am" Realizing the increasing desperate tone of his patient, Hoban sat on Auggie's bed. His patient didn't flinch. He saw it as a good sign considering that for the last 72 hours he was the only person that Anderson hadn't yelled, insulted or tried to take a swing at.
"It's Tuesday, July 12th. You're wearing a teal robe that brings out your features and after they patched you up rather roughly when they found you, they brought you to this hospital in Dessau"
"Dessau? I thought we were-"
"Yeah, well. This is the best place on this side of the Atlantic. Some people high up must really like you"
"I don't know about that."
"Well, I've been getting nudged by at least 5 different people about you in the last 3 days. That includes General Oubash, who's pushing to get you in your uniform so that he can take photos of himself giving you a Purple Heart. The man lost an entire unit and he wants media coverage. Disgusting." Auggie clenched his teeth. Hoban sighed at this clear setback.
"Also, this lovely blond in her early 40s is here to debrief you, since you're all patched up now, and so far, not throwing anything to anyone." Uh oh.
"Blonde and tall? Jackie tailored dress?" She's here to do her husband's dirty work. Fire the blind guy. The blind guy.
"Jackpot" Hoban got on his feet again and brushed his right arm in a comforting way. "You'll be fine. Want me to get you anything before she comes in? Comb your hair? Get you mints? A bath? I think you could use a bath, especially if she's as high as her posture indicates"
Auggie chuckled. "She is" he paused for a second. "Mints are okay." He heard a little box of (possibly) Tic Tacs that ended in right left hand. He realized the doctor was standing up so he grabbed him by his arm.
"Ehm, I think you're right about the bath too. Could you…?" Hoban patted him on his hand. "I'll get a non-irritating nurse to help you with that. And tell your boss to get lunch in the cafeteria." Auggie nodded.
"You're gonna be okay. This is standard procedure." Auggie nodded again and tried to conceal a worried sigh.
"And she does seem very worried about your well being. Don't get anxious before is necessary Anderson"
Hoban took off and locked the door behind him. Joan was 4 steps away.
"Good news. You'll need to wait" Joan was puzzled and slightly frowny "And that's good why?"
"It's the first time he's asked for help. He'll be getting a bath. He wants to groom, see? That's good." Joan tilted her head for a second; she didn't understand where this doctor was coming from. He was most definitely too cheerful for a Company man. Right, they shared this hospital with the nut jobs tree huggers from SHIELD.
"You're a SHIELD MD, aren't you?" Her insulting tone made his grin change to a sullen look "I'm an MD from this facility, attending to your operative." He did have a nerve, alright. "You can wait for Captain Anderson on the cafeteria. A nurse will let you know once he's done. Good day Ms"
On the east side of the same floor there was another operative in recovery. She was holding very still in her chair, staring at the woman in front of her.
Penny's expression was unreadable. She wasn't happy, or sad, or gritting her teeth. Her hands were on top of her legs; her dark golden hair was tied up in ponytail. The shadows under her eyes gave a clue on how her last few days had been after an all-too-cheerful doctor had taken her out of a comma and supposedly saved her life.
Penny hadn't been able to tell the difference between reality and dreams. Every day things seemed more colorful and slow and dreams (nightmare was more like it), felt so much real. The woman in front of her seemed too boring to be part of a dream, yet there was something comical about the way she spoke. Penny's senses were heightened and could hear a nest near the window, little pigeons asking for food.
She didn't notice how her hand moved from her leg to her womb, thinking of the little pigeon she was no longer carrying. She took another slow breath.
Penny also knew that behind the mirror on the back of the room Clint and Phil were watching her every move, trying to figure out what was going on. But nothing was wrong with her. She was in an op, she underestimated it, and she got caught. This was the aftermath.
Everything that had happened to her since was simply payback for being reckless, for not keeping a straight head. She needed to keep a straight head. She needed to focus on what was real. Was this real?
Penny took a deep breath and blinked, taking an extra second to do so. She didn't have her wedding ring. She didn't have her lucky necklace either. She wondered if they were still at the night table in their home. Her home with Clint. He was going to move out after the op, at least until she told him about the baby. And six months had gone by for him… for her it was a different story.
She looked at the mirror and was brought back by the operative. The woman in front of her seemed tired of her lack of answers; it showed in her posture, in the little vein on top of her left eye and on her occasional gritted teeth. "Let's go through this one more time"
Penny sighed and kept on staring at her eyes "I've already told you everything I remember. You say I was there for 6 months. I only remember 3 weeks. I know you're telling the truth simply because my hair is longer and because it'd take too much trouble to fake every single piece of journal in this facility. You can ask all day, but I still won't remember that gap of time."
"There was a woman before agent Barton reached you. Do you remember her?"
"Yes. It was a Russian assassin we've been tracking for months now. I can assume she w-"
"Don't assume, just stick to the facts."
"You realize that you're asking facts to someone that's been on high dosages of hallucinogens for half a year, right?" The operative took her glasses off.
"At least know you're not fighting the fact that 6 months went by. That progress." Penny gave an annoyed looked at the mirror and then back at her. "The question again please?"
"Why did this assassin let you live? You were a high risk witness to the operation she was trying to… clean up"
"She was sent to tie loose ends and leave no evidence of her employees. I guess she didn't see me as a threat since I don't know who financed the half house."
"But you were close to your assailant. He had a fixation on you as we could see in the videos" She heard noises behind the mirror and suddenly the door opened with Phil rushing in.
"That's enough agent Thompson. Thank you". Penny's countenance was suddenly filled with grief. She saw right through Phil, always protecting her, even from herself.
"Nothing you need to worry about"
"Which videos Phil?" Clint came right behind him and squatted next to his wife. She looked right into his eyes. There were videos about her, about her blackouts, about what she feared were nightmares. Her half memories, the ones she was too ashamed to mention.
Agent Thompson got up and called the Muppet-looking doctor, who came in concealing needles in his pocket. She was calmed, she wouldn't need to be drugged; she just wanted to see the videos.
Clint brushed her arm and she shook him off as if his touch burnt her, rushing up clumsily. It was the first move she had made in hours. Everyone around knew that what she had just done was an unconscious reflex that abused people had… Shit.
"I've been answering the same questions for 2 days now. No one thought that these videos may jog my memory?" Phil spoke coming closer to her "You've been through enough Ellie" but she wouldn't let it go.
Clint went to the back of the room and opened a notebook, putting a CD on; Phil was going to say something but stopped when he saw Clint's determination. He put a chair to his little girl in front of the TV. Then Clint got a chair next to her, but kept his distance.
Agent Thompson left. Dr. Hoban was 3 feet away and she could feel Phil's warmth hovering in her back. Clint asked, "Are you sure of this?" Penny nodded and held her breath.
He pushed play. There she was in the screen: sepia colors, bruised face, hair bloodied near her mouth. She swallowed slowly. A voice off the screen spoke,
"What happened today?" There was a date on the bottom right corner of the screen, she had no idea that psycho was filming her. This was 2 weeks in. The beat up after this had caused her to lose Clint's baby.
"I tried to escape." Her voice in the video was breaking, showing the little hope she had left. A man came on the screen grabbing her by her jaw. "And do you know what we do to the people that try to escape?"
The woman on the video spitted on her assailant, which only made him smile. She suddenly realized that Clint was closing his fists and clenching his teeth and that Phil was doing pretty much the same in the back of her chair, without touching her.
The scene changed. 5 weeks into the hostage situation. She was sitting down, still tied up to the chair but looked cleaner. Her hair in a ponytail pretty much like the one she had now. Her eye seemed less bruised. "What did you do today?"
"I tried to escape" She looked to her assailant. He came closer to her. The same man as before. Penny could suddenly feel his breath on her face. She swallowed again and kept on watching. The man caressed her face "Why did you try to escape?"
Penny from the video looked at her assailant confused "I don't know"
"Is there someone waiting for you outside?"
"I… I think so."
"There is no one outside waiting for you Bobbi. You're here with me now. Just you and me."
"But, I… I"
"I don't want to punish you anymore Bobbi, promise me you won't try to escape anymore"
"I promise Lincoln" he kissed her forehead and she gave him a timid smile.
Penny swallowed again and took a longer breath. Her expression was the same on the outside but her mind was racing. These videos started jogging her memory alright. Hoban picked her reaction and asked them to stop.
Phil and Clint started talking about taking her home and what a terrible idea this had been and apologizing. They wouldn't shut up, they were choking her. She was dead quiet and only stared at Hoban. He spoke,
"Guys, Guys, GUYS!" they shut up at his loud tone. "You're hovering. You two go to the cafeteria. NOW. And leave me those videos. We'll watch them later if Dr. Morse needs to"
Clint was going to say something but she asked them to do just that, and even though they both wanted to hold her and keep her from harm, they took off.
She sat again and took a long breath through her mouth, taking both her hands to her face. "It gets worse, doesn't it?" He squatted in front of her, keeping his distance. "Yes. But you don't have to see them. Not right now at least." She looked at him and then at her confused self in the PC.
"Tell you what. Why don't you go to your room and I tell those crazy guys out there that I've given you some sleeping potion? It'll be our little secret."
She half smiled at his vocabulary, got up and reached for the PC and the videos. "Thanks, Hoban is it?" He nodded and walked her to her room.