It was as it had been before, their bodies fit together in perfect, harmonious balance. Auggie’s fingers traced over Annie’s features, her shoulders, her hips. Annie’s eyes followed them, watching them as one would watch a ballet, glancing at his face now and again to see the desire and absolute joy of her painted so boldly across his features.
There were moments that were so tender, the passion so overwhelming, Auggie was sure he was in a dream. And then, to make him realise how alive Annie was, how alive he was, there were moments of pure laughter, where the world lifted up and left them free for as long as the sound of laughing filled the room and danced around the bed.
Auggie remembered every nuance, every subtle shade, tone, note, and texture his fingers picked up. For a moment, when he thought about how it wasn’t her in his bed, in his arms, it made him feel sad and disappointed with himself. There was no-one before or after Annie who could fit so easily into every part of his life. He could even talk about where he worked with her, and that would always be one less thing to have from his list of reasons not to be in a relationship at all.
Annie’s lips kissed him behind his ear and took all the thoughts out of his mind. There was now.
When Auggie came out of the bathroom, he could hear Annie on the bed, eating something.
“Food in the bed?” he groaned.
“I think we defiled the bed so much it doesn’t matter what happens here now,” she told him, patting the spot beside her so he could hear. “Come’ere.”
Auggie slid onto the bed, holding his hand up, just in case she was handing something to him. He felt a cold block wrapped in damp paper. He felt its rectangular shape, and smiled when he figured it out. “Where did you get ice-cream sandwiches? I didn’t have those, did I?” He unwrapped it and took a bite.
“No. It was an emergency purchase when you were at work.”
“An emergency, huh?”
Auggie had missed this tone in her voice, this sexy, growly, teasing voice that turned him on. Ice-creams finished, he snatched up her fingers and kissed them one by one, and as the CD repeated one more time, just as Annie and Auggie were so perfect together as a team in the field, they made it beautifully clear that they were perfect together physically and emotionally as well.
In the afterglow, Annie lay in Auggie’s arms. Auggie’s hands always moving, always seeing, softly stroked her hair, her shoulders, and he kissed her neck lightly.
Annie rolled over, looking at him. He kept his fingers tracing her shoulder blade, the softness of the skin, and waited.
“I want to make your life better. Easier.” Auggie could hear the honesty in her voice. “I want to, but I don’t think I do.”
Auggie was incredulous. “Are you kidding me? Annie, I’ve never met anyone since I lost my sight that makes my life so much better.” He shook his head, and kept his fingers trailing along her shoulder and neck. Now was the time to tell her how amazing she really was for him.
“From the first day I met you, Annie Walker, you thrilled me. I’d spent two years explaining what had happened, what I needed, what I didn’t need. I was still a bit raw inside. Defensive, maybe. Trying to prove myself and inside, not being able to prove it to myself. And there you come along, and all of a sudden, I’m barefoot on a gurney in the morgue on your unsanctioned mission. My capabilities were not questioned.” Auggie’s voice was soft. “Ever.”
“I don’t ever doubt you, Auggie.”
“Yeah, and I wonder if you should sometimes. But you deal with my issues so... incredibly, mind-blowingly easily. You don’t dance around it, you don’t ever dwell on it, you always have just talked to me like a person. And yet, somehow, you never really forget the stuff I need. And you just make it okay.”
“Isn’t that what you want?” Auggie could hear the teasing in her voice. “Would you rather I start making a big deal about you being amazing? Because I can.”
Auggie laughed. “You are exactly what I want. I thought... for a long time, that it was because I was blind, a liability, that you, in the end, were frustrated with me, that first real mission in Barcelona.”
Auggie sighed, giving her a half-smile. “I know that now. And it amazes me even more, because that wasn’t your first thought. All the times I was with you, and we were in danger, you weren’t scared because I was a liability.”
“I never thought you were.”
“Annie, I have had women who don’t think I am capable at eating or enjoying a movie.”
Annie laughed, but her laughter soon cut off. “You’re serious?”
“Uh, yeah. Imagine there are people in the world who don’t think I am capable at doing anything. Imagine those people can’t even understand how I can enjoy anything or be happy.”
“It sucks, Annie. And I don’t even like to talk about it, but it’s real. God, I had one woman that asked me how I knew where my feet were so I could put on my socks.”
Annie really laughed this time, but again, she was cut short by the expression on his face. He felt her fingers touch his cheek and he sighed and smiled at her.
“Every day, I thank my lucky stars that I met you, and that you are you. When you changed, when you weren’t you, I was so scared, because I’ve never met anyone who just is, around me. I never like to talk about that part. I never like to talk about what sets me apart and makes me different, but obviously, I can’t dance around the subject because it is right here, in plain sight... if you will.” He gave her a sheepish grin. “And you come along and... damnit, Annie, you just immediately accepted it, you learned my needs without any questions or qualms, and then that was that. From then on, it was me you talked to, me, not my disability, not someone standing beside me, not who you thought I should be. Just me. I can not walk away from that. Ever. How would I find that again?”
“Did... she really ask you how you put on your socks?” Annie asked.
Auggie rolled his eyes and grinned. “Yeah. She really did.”
Annie leaned up and kissed him. “Stupid girl,” she said. “Doesn’t know what she’s missing.” She kissed him again. “You’ve always been more than capable any time I have needed you. I have never had a reason to doubt your abilities.”
“That’s what I mean. You don’t doubt me going in. They do. I have to prove it to them, but you...”
Annie cut him off with another kiss. “I get it. I do. Auggie, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a woman.”
Auggie gave her a cocky smile. “Yeah, I’ve kind of noticed that,” His fingers followed her sternum down to her breast.
“I get that, too. They don’t think I can do the task because I am a woman. The only reason I think I was given so much trust and push was because Joan knows that same feeling.”
“Ah, Joan.” Auggie pulled Annie into his side as he laid back. “She is the strong supporter of the capable underdogs, isn’t she?”
“Not any more.”
“That’s where you are wrong, Annie. She is. She’s fighting for you as we speak.”
He could feel her moving, sitting up slightly to look at his face. “She’s on your side, Annie. She just... she doesn’t know how to deal with you right now. None of us did. She wants you on our team, she always has. Remember her saying that we were your family? It’s true. She needs you on her team, and she has a hard time telling anyone that. She seems harsher than she intends, I think. She wants the best for people she cares about. She was forever telling me to move on with my life and leave the other stuff behind and not dwell on it. I resented a lot of it, but she was only doing it because she believed in my capabilities and wanted me in her DPD team as the best tech crew head she could find to lead. She wasn’t being unkind. She wanted me to be happy, to be content. And then, in the end, after all her patting on the back that I wasn’t fit for field work, she sent me on several sanctioned missions. With you. With you, Annie. I mean, if she thought either of us incapable, unfit for field action, you because you’re a woman, me because, well, I have a bit of a vision problem, she wouldn’t have picked us for some of the big ops we’ve been sent out on. Together.” Auggie sighed. “I know I’m not going on missions like I did when I could see, who would think that was a great idea? I know I have limits. I know I can’t just go running out on a mission and get the intel, make the marks, do all the stuff I used to be able to. But, well, when I am with you, I can. I can do what I am good at, I’m free to do it when I am with you. You take care of the other stuff, the stuff I can’t. You look out for me.” He paused, thinking back. “I remember Joan told you to come with me to Datatech, to be my eyes. And you have been ever since. You do not know how much it means to me that you do this, without any prompting from me, I never have to ask, to beg, to plead.”
“It’s only fair,” Annie said, in a small voice.
“Annie. You are...” And there were no words for how Auggie felt at that moment, feeling her warm body pressed into his, hearing her soft breathing, her supportive words, smelling her scent, a heady mix of body heat, roses, spices, and sunshine. He felt his eyes mist up, not knowing how to tell her how incredibly amazed he was at his luck at being in bed with her, talking with her, holding her, tonight, every night, all nights to come.
“I wouldn’t trade any of this,” he said. “I need you in my life. Everything that has happened to me, to you, has brought us right here. And we get it. I’m okay with everything as long as this is how it turns out. I accept everything as long as you’re right here beside me.”
“It’s not easy,” Annie said, pushing him a bit further.
“Of course it’s not. But we have each other. Right?”
Annie clutched his hand. “We have each other.”
“Good. So from now on, together, we’re going to figure it all out. It’s going to be okay, Annie. I know this now. I didn’t for a long, long time.”
Annie snuggled down beside him, letting him wrap his arms around her. It was going to be okay. They’d face everything together now, starting with her illness, her recovery, her career, and his disability and all it entailed, and there would be love to come home to.As Auggie relaxed nearing slumber, he heard Annie mumble, “I can’t believe she asked you how you put on your socks,” and Auggie fell asleep with a very contented smile on his face.