Get better, we need you back at the office.
We present this Purple Heart and sincerely say thank you for service and sacrifice.
You'll be moved to the recovery Wing.
We'll find a way to bring you back Auggie, I promise.
Promise. Joan had to resort to promises in order to keep him contained. But Auggie knew better than that. He had gotten that Purple Heart just for being the only one left alive, pictures were taken and possibly shipped elsewhere, one copied to his file at the Company. There was only one truth out of all of this: He wasn't an active agent anymore. He wasn't an agent anymore. He couldn't be. His life was ruined. He would depend on someone else for the rest of his freaking life.
The doctors were to remove the casket in his arm the following day and start with braille classes. Part of "Adjust to your blindness" program or what not. He had nothing against disabled people, he just loathed being one. He depended on his eyes for survival in the field, he had made enemies out there. What if they came for him? For his family? For someone he cared about? He couldn't defend them anymore.
He'd have to rely in his touch and his hearing and... God, he couldn't do this. When he was about to break his hand once again, Hoban's commanding tone made him stop "That's enough Auggie". Turning around as if he could see him, Auggie looked up to the voice, standing still, "You need those hands, they're your eyes now". Auggie wanted nothing more than to give him a piece of his mind but Hoban was the only person on his side since day one. The one that always called the shots and told him the harsh truths. "I don't want them to be. I'm an agent Doc, I go on missions, I catch the bad guy. I can't be a blind agent".
"No, you can't. You won't be an agent anymore. But with these two", Hoban spoke softly grabbing his hands and setting them between his, "You can become the best Handler out there. You can still catch the bad guys, and even more, you'll get to bring our peeps home safe". Auggie took a deep breath through clenched teeth, thinking curses in all the languages he could think of, and he even programmed a few in his mind. "I can't see, I can't be as efficient in braille, c'mon".
"Auggie please, I expected more from you! You work for the CIA and there's SHIELD people here too. You can walk, you can talk, you hadn't lost your mind- well, not yet at least. You're healthy. You have one thing against you but you also work for one of the most powerful agencies in the world. If someone can live through this, that's you".
Before Auggie could answer back, a quiet familiar voice was at the door, "Hoban, I've been looking all over for you, I need you for the rounds, they don't trust m"- she spoke non stop with that cadence she had since school, seemingly unaware that the blind guy was him, August Anderson. Or maybe she was bluffing. Of course she was bluffing. What did Nella had to do in Dessau, huh? She was an active SHIELD asset, she did rescue Ops. She was here to soothe him no doubt, to teach him the ropes? To calm him down? To hold his hand and tell him things would be okay?
Right, as if they could ever be. "Nella?", he asked playing along. He was almost sure that he could hear Hoban smiling. Or something. It was strange, having all these sort of images in his mind but not really getting to see them, not for real. Everything was like remembering something from the past, like Hoban's face. He hadn't seen him, he didn't know how he looked like and he wasn't going to ask, he wasn't going to lower himself to do that. Yet, somehow in his head Hoban looked like a Muppet man. Maybe it was his tone of voice, the way he paced through a room, the way the nurses scoffed whenever he politely asked them to do something.
"Auggie?" she asked in disbelief. "What- what are you doing here?" Her first impulse was to hug him, but she couldn't. She couldn't touch or be touched by anyone. She resented it, she wanted to be away from everyone. She didn't want their judging eyes on her. She didn't want to remember Clint's words, she didn't want to remember herself in those videos... What had happened. How could she not remember? How could she had done those things? How could she?
She was drugged, she wasn't being herself. It wasn't even a bad nightmare. She had been drugged and subdued to a point of forgetting her life, forgetting who she was, forgetting she was married and an agent that had gotten caught. In the videos she was this 1950s housewife to her kidnapper. And it was all on tape. She was abused, destroyed to her last bit.
And the one person that should understand, the only person she wanted near her, her husband didn't. He loathed her. He pretended to be caring at first, but when she kept on denying that she had anything to do with those videos, he lost it. He called her terrible things, he told her she had fallen for her kidnapper when the videos clearly showed she had been drugged. She almost died for Christ's sake. Her free will was stolen from her, and she feared she'd never be whole again.
She decided to stay put in Dessau while Clint went back home alone. To move out he said. He loved her, he said, but couldn't stand the sight of her. Maybe one day, maybe one day he could forgive her. Forgive her! For what? Not for being reckless or losing their baby but for falling for her assailant. Lords. She hadn't! She had lost her baby and her husband and her future. He was slipping away and he'd never understand. And she couldn't go back. She couldn't stand being locked up in a room, she couldn't put up with other agent's familiarity, not even with Phil's. She only found solace in helping others right now.
At first she did some rounds with Hoban, since he wasn't judging her. He seemed to be the only one not judging her. She advised him on this and that in a case or two and then she started doing simple nurse things. She still had her medical degree and only a week later, Phil had managed to get her cleared for non-active tasks. Though the facility Director had his doubts, if supervised by another MD, she could handle simple non-life threatened patients, maybe helping in Recovery.
Deep down, she knew Phil and Hoban had something up their sleeve, there was no way someone would clear her that quickly, no matter who your older brother was. Or how much pull you had with Fury. On and all, she didn't care. She felt useful and it kept her mind off things.
It was in one of these rounds that one of the patients went berserk on her and she had to dose her off without Hoban's green light, which lead to her running all over the Recovery wing looking for him, until she found him in the common room for visually impaired folks. And then this guy talked to her. She hadn't even seen him, let alone recognize him.
"Auggie?" She asked again, everything falling into place. Her furious eyes went from her college friend to her doctor friend and back to the brunette. "What are you doing here? What? Did Phil put you up to this? Wha", but Hoban held her by the arm and made her take a step back. "Penny, don't", he said softly, and that's when it hit her. Auggie was blind.
"Put me up to what? Going blind? Yes, sure Penelope. What the hell are you doing here?" He snapped out and Hoban found himself stuck in cross fire. "Children, that's enough", he teased as he looked around and signaled the nurse to go elsewhere with the other visually impaired patient in the room. "I didn't know you knew one another", he ventured out, getting mirrored scowl from both, "Sure you didn't", she mouthed through clenched teeth.
"Fine, I'll leave you too alone then. DONT break anything. And I'm talking to you Anderson", he finally said, rushing out before a confused Penny could say anything. Taking a hand to her forehead, she saw the doctor leave and close the door behind him and was confused as to what to do next. She felt played, yet again, only this time by the one person she trusted. Phil was totally playing her. Bring up the cavalry, bring up Auggie.
Similar thoughts were going through Auggie's mind. Joan and Phil thought alike, they had planned it all, haven't they? They were almost married once, of course they would bring Penny along, to "help him". Right. Help him. As if that was possible. "How did SHIELD let you go? I mean, how the hell did they talk you into this? How come your husband"-
"We're getting a divorce", she whispered matter of factly, looking up at her tall friend with her doctor eyes. He had no reflexes, his face was aimed her way but he wasn't seeing her. "I didn't know. Well, thanks for dropping by, but it's highly unnecessary. I mean, unless you're my braille teacher. Just go", he said turning around and bumping into a table and almost tripping, if it wasn't for Penny catching him mid-air. "I'm not here because of you Auggie. I'm in Recovery as well".
Auggie snorted letting his arm free from her hand. "Sure you are. Tough divorce going sour?" he sniggered out, wondering where the hell was that chair he was sitting in before. She couldn't believe how low Auggie would hit her. Whomever thought this was a good idea, was clearly mistaken. "I've been MIA for 6 months. They found me a month ago, in shock. You're not the center of the freaking universe August. Good luck with your braille classes", she rushed out but stopped at the door and spoke once again, without looking back. "And your chair is at 3 o'clock".