I had a lot of good feedback from my story Reuniting, so I thought I would try a few one shots that didn't quite fit with the story, but I considered back story to that one. Hope you enjoy.
It was three weeks after Annie went dark. It was time to take care of Annie's belongings, and Auggie wouldn't let anyone else do it. After the memorial, Auggie suggested to Danielle that she and the girls go through the guest house and take all the jewelry and whatever else they wanted. He promised he would take care of the rest. Auggie had put it off for two more weeks, but he knew it was time. He planned to put most of it into storage, which he'd pay for as long as it was necessary.
When the alarm clock blared, Auggie reached to turn it off with a groan. He knew he needed to get to the guesthouse before the movers arrived. He was sure that Annie hadn't left anything classified in her home, but he wanted to be in her place one last time before it wasn't hers anymore.
Auggie dragged himself to the shower and tried to let the water rouse him. It was only mildly successful. After he dried off, he moved to the kitchen. If the shower didn't wake him, maybe caffeine would. Auggie moved back to his closet while the coffee brewed. Once dressed, he poured himself the coffee and moved fluidly to his desk. For the most part, he'd put the loft back in order. The focus it took to meticulously go through the apartment and put things back together was oddly comforting during his periods of insomnia over the last three weeks.
At his desk, Auggie opened his laptop. He'd rebuilt this piece by piece in the nights after her phonecall to make sure there were no bugs and no viruses that might track activities or keystrokes. He was sure it was the most secure thing in his apartment. Auggie checked his email, and then moved onto his ritual of checking though their regular protocols. He hadn't heard from her yet, but he didn't want to risk the chance that he'd miss her. When nothing turned up, he sighed; just as he had daily for the last three weeks. Auggie finished his coffee and checked his watch. The car service was due to arrive in a few minutes. He closed his laptop and made his way back across the apartment. He left the mug in the sink, and moved to the door. He grabbed his keys, cane, and the key to the guesthouse that Danielle gave him before she headed back to California.
In the car, Auggie held the guesthouse key in his hand. He ran his fingers along the grooves, and felt each bump until he memorized the pattern of ridges and grooves. He'd given Annie a key to his place when they were together, but they rarely stayed at her place. It was much easier for Auggie to navigate his own apartment, and his toes appreciated familiarity. This was, he realized, the first time he'd held a key to her place in his hands. A smile crept across his face at the realization, although it quickly turned bitter when he remembered that it would probably be the last time, as well. To get his mind off the knot that tightened in his stomach, Auggie moved to the keychain. It was obviously handmade by one of the girls. It was two crossed popsicle sticks with yarn wound around them. Auggie remembered making something similar with sticks and twine at boyscout camp. He struggled to come up with the name for them, but "God's Eye" sounded familiar. Auggie fingered the yarn. Not very plush, and the yarn had something else woven in it. Was it metallic threads? He guessed he shouldn't be surprised that a love of all things shiny ran in that family.
Auggie was lost in his thoughts as the car came to a stop. The driver turned, "we're here, Mr. Andersen," he said tentatively.
Auggie palmed the key. "Thanks, Fred. And how many times do I have to remind you to call me Auggie?" he asked as he tried to muster his best smile. He knew he hadn't been the greatest company to drive around for the last few weeks, but he genuinely liked the man.
"Yes, Mr.- Auggie," Fred corrected himself. "Can I assist you to the door?"
"I've got it from here," Auggie said, as he opened the car door. He unfurled his cane and made his way up the front walk. He paused at the door. As he had for the last few weeks, he reminded himself that she wasn't really gone. He felt like he was living deep cover again. The phone call had confirmed all the rumors to be true, which meant their relationship was as good as public at The Agency. It also meant his grieving had to be public. It was easy enough to do- he really did grieve her absence, and he easily transferred the anxiety of knowing she was on her own to an even more convincing performance. But the longer he publicly grieved, the harder it was to hold onto his hope. Auggie took a deep breath as he unlocked the door and turned the handle.
He first noticed the smell. The air was stale, but there was an undercurrent of her. The knot in his stomach tightened. He knew this would be hard, but he didn't expect that it would hit him as soon as he walked in the door. He held a hand out and ghosted along the hallway. Hanging next to the door he found a few of her trenchcoats and an umbrella. His throat tightened. Everything was where she left it. It felt oddly personal and almost invasive to Auggie. In the last three weeks of craziness, this place had remained a constant. Auggie swallowed hard as he continued down the hallway. In the main room, he moved beyond the bed. He felt around the coffee table and found magazines and a pillar candle. He thought back to one of the last times they were together here. They'd split a bottle of wine and she lit a bunch of candles.
He smirked as she curled up next to him on the couch."You know it's a nice gesture and all, but the ambiance is sort of lost on me," he began. She playfully nudged him in the ribs. "Plus," he continued, "a blind guy surrounded by open flame? Are you trying to get rid of me?" He heard her beautiful laugh, and he was about to laugh too, when he felt her tilt her head up and lean into him. Their lips met, and she abruptly broke the kiss.
"I guess you're going to have to trust me and follow my lead," she said as she took his wine glass and placed it on the coffee table. She stood.
"I always do," he said earnestly and took her hands and let her pull him to his feet. She turned and he placed a hand on her hip as he followed her, her hand on top of his. Auggie used his other hand to brush the hair from her neck. He gently kissed her neck, and heard a sigh escape her lips. He smiled into her neck and kissed her again, this time with more force. She stopped walking.
"You'd better be careful, mister," she giggled. "If you distract the driver, we might both end up too close to those flames." Her free arm reached behind her and snaked up behind his neck.
"I like to screen my drivers to make sure they are up for the challenge of keeping me safe," he murmured.
"I'd like to think you have different screening protocols for your chauffeurs," she replied half as a statement, half as a question.
"I assure you, Miss Walker, you are at the utmost pinnacle of my screening procedure. But one can never be too careful." One hand remained on her hip, and the other rested on her abdomen. He used his hands to gently spin her around. He now placed both hands along her jawline, and her hands went to his hips. He let her guide him to the bed as their lips met again.
After they'd finished, he rolled to his side, propped his head on his hand, and pretended to study her. "Definitely the handsiest driver I've ever had," he stated, and rolled to his back as the pillow smacked him across the face.
Auggie stood still as he remembered that night. He fought against the urge to let his knees buckle and collapse him to the couch. Instead, he shook his head as though to clear his mind. He moved along the couch and to the bookshelves. He wasn't sure what he was looking for, but he knew he'd find whatever it was. He ran his fingers along the shelves. Of course Annie had a number of books. He knew most of them were in their original languages. She'd once told him that she preferred the originals to their translations. It came up in one of their first conversations at Allen's, when she'd wanted to know what he did to disconnect himself from the job. Auggie knew they were best friends, but he was constantly amazed at all the little details he'd stored in his head about her, even back when they'd first met. They were now surfacing on a fairly regular basis. As his fingers continued to trace along the shelves, he came across some trinkets and picture frames, but none of it was what he wanted.
Before he moved towards the bed, he lifted the cushion along the window seat and lifted the plywood to reveal her safe. Auggie had a number of combinations he knew to try. Not her birthday, she was too smart for that. He'd done his research to get her parents birthdays, Danielle's, the girls', and a few other important dates like graduations and other milestones. He pulled out the equipment he needed from his messenger bag. He hooked the wires between the safe and the port on his phone. The safe decryption app he'd borrowed from a trusted friend would first attempt any known possibilities, then set about a systematic pattern to break the code. Auggie knew it could take hours, so he hoped his one of his hunches paid off.
Auggie sat in silence after he started the program. He checked his watch again. He still had time before the movers arrived. Right now, though, he wasn't sure if he had the energy to move to her bedroom. He leaned his head back against the window and closed his eyes. It couldn't have been more than five minutes when he heard the click of the safe. Auggie opened the door, disconnected the wires, and checked his phone to find out the number combination that worked. He smiled as his phone read out the numbers: it was the day she left The Farm and started at Langley.
Auggie cleared the contents of her safe into his messenger bag. He didn't know the specifics about the contents of her safe, but he knew that it couldn't be left behind, and had to be dealt with by a trusted source. After a final sweep, he closed the safe door, returned the cushion, and stood. It was time to continue on.
Auggie moved to the armchair on the far side of the room, and felt around the end table. Some coasters and a lamp. Still nothing that he wanted. He knew he was looking for something to take with him. Something that he could hold onto when he needed to remember them and why she was gone.
With another deep breath, he crossed to the bed and sat on her side, near the head. As he sat, her smell enveloped him. Tears sprang to his eyes and he swallowed hard. Three more deep breaths, and he reached to the nightstand. He found nothing of significance on top of the nightstand. Whatever book she'd been reading, a glass for water, and the alarm clock. He opened the drawer and felt inside. It seemed shallow, but not by much. Auggie cleared a few things and found a tab at the back. He carefully extracted the contents of the drawer, and his breath hitched as he lifted the false bottom out. His hands felt around the additional half inch depth. It felt like there were a few ticket stubs, a postcard or two, and- Auggie held his breath as his fingers contacted first one, then another small object. He picked up both and held them in his hands, and they were cool to the touch. Auggie recognized the rings immediately: one, a solitaire with a simple band, the other a matching plain band. It was from their time in Barcelona, when they'd been married for a day. Tears sprung to Auggie's eyes. She'd called him the romantic on that trip, but he wasn't the only one who held onto the memory. Auggie slipped the rings on his pinky for safe keeping. He replaced the items in the drawer to be packed up later by the movers. He'd found what he was looking for, although he hadn't expected this.