Allen's felt wrong.
Annie and Auggie were at their usual table and they had a pitcher of beer between them. It tasted right, but the whole light-hearted feeling that she associated with the place didn't match her current mood. From Auggie's expression, he felt the same way.
"Would you be upset if I didn't want to finish this pitcher?" She asked.
Auggie was immediately concerned, but sat his mug on the table. "Not at all. What's wrong?" He asked.
"Nothing. I just feel like being somewhere a little more private tonight."
"I get that." He said. "How about I buy us a six pack at the bar, and we take it back to my place?"
She didn't immediately respond.
"Yeah," she responded. "That sounds fine."
Auggie didn't completely believe her, but knew that she had plenty to work out. "I'll be right back."
Annie was quiet as they drove to Auggie's place, and didn't say much more as they put the beers in the fridge and settled on the couch. Annie pulled her knees to her chest and sat sideways, staring at Auggie.
"Anything you want to talk about?" Auggie asked.
"Sorry. I'm still just processing some things. Do you want to put on some music or something?"
Auggie walked over to his record collection and fingered through the albums, trying to figure out which would be appropriate for their moods that evening. He found a record that he hadn't listened to for years, and put it on the turntable.
The music filled the awkward silence as Auggie returned to the couch and his beer.
"I listened to this album a lot, right after Iraq." He said. "I was uncertain of so much, and putting my life back together seemed so overwhelming at times. This album isn't that good, really. But for some reason it was what I gravitated toward. It was background music as I sorted out my life. I haven't really listened to it at all, since."
Annie didn't respond.
"I know that our situations are different, but I would like to think that I have a fairly good idea what you are going through, Annie."
Annie still couldn't get herself to talk, but she reached for his hand, to let him know that she appreciated him.
They sat and listened to the music for a little while.
"How long did it take?" Annie finally asked, quietly.
Auggie shrugged. "It wasn't like a switch was flipped or anything. For me, the big thing was when I went back to work." He squeezed Annie's hand. "For you, I think this is going to be all about your sister."
Annie nodded. "You don't talk about your family much."
Auggie shrugged. "I didn't make much of an effort for them to be a part of my life after the accident."
"I guess that is an option for me, as well."
Auggie cringed. "Your situation is different. You and your sister are close."
"We used to be." Annie replied.
"And you will, again." He said with the same confidence that led her from every scary situation she had encountered as an agent.
"My sister isn't that forgiving."
"She's family," Auggie replied. "And she has shown that she will move heaven and earth for you."
Annie looked at her fingers, wrapped around his. "What about us?"
"I want us." Auggie said, bluntly.
"I do, too." Annie said, softly. "That's the easiest decision for me, right now."
The reaction on Auggie's face pulled a smile out of Annie. He sat his beer on the spill tray and gave her a light pull toward him. She moved so that their bodies were touching, but didn't lean in for a kiss. Still, he bent and placed one on her neck.
"I'll be ready, whenever you are." Auggie said.
Annie sighed. "Thanks."
After a half hour of sitting in each other's arms listening to the music, Annie got up. "Come to bed." She said, simply.
Auggie silently obeyed, following her up the stairs. He expected a kiss, tug at his belt, or another sign of intimacy, but instead she kept walking into the bathroom, where he could hear her brushing her teeth.
"I just realized that I don't have any clothes." Annie said as she walked out of the bathroom.
"That's not usually a problem," Auggie said seductively.
An awkward silence fell on them for a moment.
"Help yourself to whatever you need of mine." Auggie said, his tone more serious. "And make yourself comfortable on the bed. I'll take the couch."
He walked toward the bathroom when she caught his arm. "No." She said. Her voice was soft, but firm.
"To what part?" He replied, slightly insecure.
"The couch. I don't want to be alone."
Auggie smiled. "So, help yourself to my clothes, and make yourself comfortable on the bed. I'll be right there."
He stepped out of the bathroom and heard her climbing into the bed. "Need me to hit any of the lights?" He asked.
"No," She replied from the bed.
Auggie walked around the bed and sat his watch on the bedside table. In the dim light from the window, Annie watched him change into a pair of cotton pajama pants and climb into bed beside her. He cautiously reached in her direction, and she responded by curling into his side.
He ran his fingers through her hair. It was soothing for both of them. Auggie noticed that her hair felt different, and assumed this was from the change in color. He was contemplating this as Annie's body began to lightly shake in his arms as she quietly cried. He continued to touch her soothingly, and placed a reassuring kiss to the top of her head. He didn't try to reassure her with words, because he knew how useless they could be.
Annie quietly cried herself to sleep. Auggie was careful not to disturb her as he found a comfortable position for himself. For the first time in ages, they both slept through the night.
I'm trying to recover from some serious writer's block. If you have very specific Walkerson stuff you want to see (in any of my universes) let me know! I know some of you have given me requests, and I'm trying to make things happen. But... blockage.
Thank you, as always, for all of the support.