Chapter 15

Returning to DC from the events of Forks, Bella simply was anxious to leave for her personal time. She didn’t hesitate to hand Joan her time off request at the same time as her report on the events from her home town.

Two months of traveling to the children’s theme parks, and not attempting to worry about life, slowly helped her get over the trauma she endured. The only stipulation she found herself in, was having no desire to ever return to Washington state. If Charlie wanted to see her and Auggie again, he was going to have to travel to them.

Auggie was amazing in making her forget, but his psychological insights rivalled her own. Any other agent in her exact situation would need therapy, but they sorted it out between them and she was more than ready to go back to work. To a certain degree. She was going to request not to be sent on year long assignments anymore, if she had to be blunt, a normal nine to five job sounded amazing, home for the weekends, but she refused to take desk duty.

It was as if Joan and Arthur knew that she needed some distance from the CIA and only called when they wanted to know how they were doing, talking about their travels. No work related stuff. Bella knew that Auggie checked his emails in the morning and in the evening, mainly because he didn’t trust Barber enough to have things under control.

Jai and Annie had teamed up and it looked like it was a match made in heaven. Bella didn’t say anything about it. Auggie loved the people he worked with, although he had made it clear that if things would change in the hierarchy of the agency, he would seriously contemplate leaving and find work in the private sector.

It was something she hadn’t considered before, but Auggie told her that some companies that had been trying to poach him from the agency allowed some freedom, room for a personal life. That, and the pay was better. Not that they’d have to do it for the money, but even that would provide more freedom.

She had considered to have a complete change in career, put her qualifications to use and become a psychologist but despite everything, she liked being in the field.

Visiting so many states, countries, was not new for Bella, but to do so for personal pleasure was a foreign concept. The first few parks, they had started discussing their future and he teasingly proposed at each location. It had become part of their ‘thing’ and she was afraid to admit that the more often the words came from his mouth, she wanted to say yes.

The last park had been Paris, mostly because Auggie wanted to make this beautiful city something positive in her life again, as it had been the catalyst for so much shit storm. She had expected him to propose to her there as well, and she had planned on saying yes, but he didn’t. And a part of her was disappointed. Most of her being was disappointed, had something happened between Japan and Paris that had made him reconsider?

While it had been all fun and play, teasingly asking her to marry him, he realized that he actually wanted to marry her. Make her his, make sure that whatever happened that she’d be taken care of, that he wouldn’t lose her. That she would know that she never had to leave again, that she always had a home to come home to. And in all honesty, it had scared him shitless.

Sure, he had been married before, but he had been young, truly smitten and an idiot. Who would marry for real for an assignment anyway? Helen had been gorgeous, Bella had liked her too and he mainly followed his dick and got his heart broken when Helen got killed. He barely survived that and lost his eyesight in the process of running away from his responsibilities and feelings.

What if he and Bella got truly married, for real, and she would get killed on assignment as well? He wasn’t sure if he was ready to find out. He liked what they had now, it was safe, and he knew that she wouldn’t leave him, but to marry and tempt fate? He didn’t want her to die, he couldn’t do that to her, or Charlie. Himself.

Auggie knew that it was an irrational fear and that what happened with Helen wouldn’t happen again. The likelihood of it happening a second time was very slim. He was such an idiot. It was their last night in Paris and he took her out to dinner on a vintage wooden barge, which was moored along the River Seine. He’d been there only once before, but the atmosphere had stuck. There was good music – they liked to get bands who played gypsy jazz and he loved him some good jazz, and the food was amazing.

After their meal, they strolled along the river back towards the Eiffel Tower and he decided to do the ultimate cheesy thing someone could do, apart from proposing in a Disney theme park. While she was temporarily distracted as he told her to describe the metal monstrosity to him, he went down on one knee for her and even provided her with a ring. Nothing too flashy, but nothing too dull either.

Turning to look back at him, Bella swallowed as she found him on his knee. “Auggie? What… are you for real this time?” She asked even as her eyes were fixated on the box in his hand.

“Yes, and if you’re going to say no, it’s okay too,” he smiled at her, he could feel his heart pound in his chest, it was ridiculous. “But I love you, Bella. And I could say all the cheesy things such as how you complete me and how I want to make sure that you’ll always be by my side and stuff, but you already know that. I want us to go on the scary adventure that’s called marriage, I think we’re going to do great.”

“To tell you the truth, I was more than a little disappointed you didn’t ask at Disney this time,” Bella started after a moment of digesting.

“I chickened out, but I straightened myself out. I mean it, marry me.”

“And I wanted, when you asked this time, to say yes,” she said as she stepped closer, her hand running over his arm to pull him up. “It is still a yes… Yes…”

He got back to his feet, his hand running up her arm to find her face and passionately kissed her. Auggie could feel his heart slow down again in relief. “Oh, I was so afraid you were going to say no again.”

“Not this time,” she laughed as she kissed him again. “All the times we joked, kinda wore me down. I can’t think of my life without you.”

“Me neither,” he smiled widely as he fumbled with the box to get the ring out before taking her hand and gently put it around her finger. “Look at that, it’s even the right size.”

She looked down at her hand and smiled tearfully. “It’s beautiful. When did you get it? You’ve been with me almost every minute?”

“Well… last week when I was ‘checking my email’, I was in fact sending an email to your dad with a description of what I had in mind and he went out to buy it for me. Had it delivered to our hotel and I picked it up when I ‘went to get some ice’,” he grinned.

Bella lightly punched his side at his sneakiness. “Sneaky a- I’m going to kill my dad.”

“I didn’t know who else to ask apart from one of my brothers but I think that if I had done that, they’d have gone for something entirely different,” he smiled and gently cupped her face before kissing her again. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she responded between kisses. “It’s our last night here but I think I’d rather go back to hotel to for a private celebration.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” he grinned.

~o.O.o~

Celebrate they did, all the way home. Bella had even surprised him in the lavatory on the flight on the trip back to DC. It didn’t stop over the weekend, her desire for him with the new ‘naming’ of their relationship. Even as far as surprising him with oral sex when they had intended for a quiet break of simply reading. It only found them back in bed for a number of hours that night. While it had previously been a concern for both, that it might have changed something, she felt it only made her feelings stronger.

By Monday, having to return to Langley put a new dampener on her spirit and she had a renewed stubbornness on leaving the bed. The moment the alarm went off, she wrapped the blankets around herself tighter and refused to budge.

“Cute,” Auggie snorted and tapped on the mountain of blankets next to him. “Come on, who knows what Joan has planned for you?”

“Knowing them, they have a plane ticket waiting to send me to Guam,” she answered into the mattress. “I don’t know shit about Guam. They can send Walker. Tell them I caught some alien flu while overseas. I’m sick.” Bella proceeded to exaggerate a fake cough as she lifted her head to face him. “I need another week of sick time.”

“They won’t send you to Guam,” he laughed as he poked the mountain. “You’re their favourite, remember? They’ll likely want to keep you around now that everything’s over. Worst thing that can happen is that they send you to the Farm to give some workshops.”

Bella shuddered at the thought of the Farm. She wasn’t very keen over the thought of dealing with newbies with attitude problems. “Can I like veto that too?” she pouted, rolling over.

“Probably not. But, you’ll never know until you get your pretty little ass in gear. I for one, dread going to work and deal with the mess that Barber will have made out of the office.”

“He avoids your office and works from his desk when he covers for you,” she reminded him. “It’s everyone else that decides to visit you need to worry about. But fine. If you promise I get a piece of your ass later, after work. Maybe we can pull over somewhere?”

“You are insatiable,” he kissed her before leaving the bed. “Come on, gorgeous, if we shower together, we save some water.”

She couldn’t help but grin at his suggestion and threw the covers off of herself. “Great thing we’re already naked my sexy fiance,” she cheered as she got up to start for the bathroom. Pausing at the doorway, she turned around, hesitating. “I know the doc said that everything would pass, that it was only sedatives they gave me, but you don’t think they had some weird reaction to make me super horny?”

“I don’t think that there’s a drug that can make you super horny for a long period of time without retaking it, but maybe something happened there to alter your brain chemistry, I don’t know,” Auggie nearly bumped into her as she was standing in the middle of his path. “If you’re worried about it, you should get yourself checked over again.”

“Maybe. Do you think I should?” She bit her lip unsure. “I mean, I feel fine. Okay, really. Great, even.”

“Well, we’ve been off work for the last few months and could do whatever we wanted, like sleep in or not sleep at all… you could always see how this….” he ran a finger up her arm. “Energy sorts itself out at the end of the week. Or not. And then reconsider.”

Bella’s lips curled as she calmed slightly and leaned into him, wrapping her arms over his shoulders. “I love you,” she told him. “Let’s conserve water and maybe, maybe, we’ll make it into work on time.”

They did make it in time for work, with five minutes to spare, and Joan was already waiting for them. “My office, now,” she commanded, causing everyone to look at the two of them.

“First day back, we’re already in trouble?” Auggie muttered as he followed Bella’s lead.

“I know, right?” she replied as she lead them into the office. At seeing Joan’s face, she tried to smile. “Whatever it was, we didn’t break it. We weren’t even in the country this time or on the clock.”

“And I’m thrilled that you two had so much fun during your time away,” Joan said as she closed the door. “This is about the last case you’ve worked on.”

Bella immediately sobered as her body tensed at the mention of it. “What of it?” she asked. “You said it was done and over. I’d like to not revisit it again.”

“Oh, you don’t have to, we’ve managed to get them all, but after the debrief, you walked out and went on your merry way and you forgot to mention one thing, the tiny little detail that you all seemed to have left out of your reports.”

“What would that be?” she asked, staring back at her. She kept her face carefully neutral in the moment but she could feel her heart rate increasing as the memories of her time inside the Cullen’s house creeping up on her. “I included everything that needed to be said.”

“Oh, perhaps,” Joan said as she leaned against the desk in front of Bella. “Two weeks after you left, I received a phone call from a worried father and he gave me some additional details that you all forgot to mention. How did he put it? Oh, yes. ‘Oh, Joanie, are those drugs out of my daughter’s system?'”

Irritation flooded the young agent as she struggled to suppress her anger. Closing her eyes, she shook her head and shrugged. “What do you want me to say? I did get checked by a doctor and he assured me that they would pass they were only sedatives that I was dosed with. If you want the labs, I can get you them, but they were run under a false name. I didn’t want a paper trail here in connection to them. Especially after everything.”

“As far as the agency is concerned, they were nothing more than a decade long mission for everyone involved and we strife in having everyone’s medical history complete because who knows? Maybe a future op would have serious health risks and without a complete history, you could die!” Joan shot at her. “And I understand, I really do, they’ve been your nightmare for so long but you’re my employee, Bella. I need to be sure that your health is 100 percent. Physical and mentally.”

She shifted beside Auggie and didn’t respond. Lowering her head with a nod, she waited for the order to come. She knew it was on the tip of her tongue.

“Joan, I’ve spent the last two months, every single day, with Bella. Physically she’s all healed up and we’ve worked on the things that were going on inside her head and-”

“Auggie, you should have known better,” Joan scolded him. “I’m starting to regret my decision of flying Bella back from Italy and have her work with you. Now, Bella, you’re expected in the lab and after you’re done there, you have an appointment with Dr. Slenk for a physical and after that, you’re meeting with Dr. Beene for a chat.”

She was initially scared at her words about her working with Auggie. Scowling at the list of appointments, she turned and walked out of the office, closing the door roughly behind her in her frustration on her way to the first stop. Bella only hoped that if she appeased her now, and quickly, she won’t consider sending her away again.

Running her hand through over her head, Joan looked at Auggie a little bewildered. “How about you tell me your account of what really happened in Forks now?”

“You’ve read my report,” he said easily. “I’m sorry I left out the part where she was dosed with something, but it was insignificant.”

“And do you recall what drugs were used? Because you of all people should be aware of the lasting effects that these things can have on a person. Bella has never endured anything like that before.”

Auggie sighed deeply and rubbed his eyes. “We managed to clear out the home from any type of drugs before the CIA team swooped in thanks to an old friend of Bella’s. They didn’t find anything other than sedatives. It seems like they wanted to keep her sedated until things would quiet down.”

Joan studied him and could see that there was a hint of worry in his face still. “Let’s hope it really ended there. The FBI caught Edward and Alice Cullen at Los Angeles airport trying to board a flight to Brazil where the US has no extradition agreement in place. I want to wait to tell her that they are in custody until we get the clearance from her exams first. Until then, she’s chained to the desk.”

“She is experiencing some hypersexuality, but I think that it has something to do with the experience itself, not because of the drugs. More like a mental component.”

“Let’s hope she mentions it to the psychologist. I would hate to be in that room considering her own degree,” she smiled slightly.

“I know it was irresponsible to bail, but she deserved it. And she’s fine. We both made sure of that. She’ll eat Beene for lunch.”

“How are you dealing with all this? It couldn’t have been easy for you,” she said concerned as she made her way over to him. Reaching out, she patted his elbow to guide him to the couch to sit and talk.

Sighing, he followed her and sat down. “I wasn’t fine, but now I am. It was nothing but a very fucked up assignment and it’s now in the past. I’m ready to go back to work.”

“I’m sure you are, but do you honestly think that Bella is?”

“Truthfully? She doesn’t want to leave again, so if you could give her missions that don’t require long absences from home without coddling her, that would be in her best interest,” he then shook his head, a smile on his face. “But then again, who am I to tell you that? What went down in Forks was my fault. I should have known better but there wasn’t a better option to get what we needed. I knew that they were going to take her. I figured that one last push from her part would end this nightmare for her and it did, it’s just that I didn’t anticipate the fall out.”

Joan sighed and hoped that it wouldn’t last long, whatever was going through the girl’s head. “How was your trip? I’m sure the both of you have had enough of Disney by now.”

“Actually, we were thinking about extending our trip and visit all Six Flags,” he remarked with a playful smile. “But we figured you wouldn’t agree to that.”

“No,” she agreed, amused. “I’m glad that you are both doing better, for the most part. Go settle back in and hopefully we have some news about Bella by the end of the day – if she doesn’t give them too hard of a time.”

“I hope she does,” Auggie said with a grin as he got to his feet. “She just loves being a pain in the neck. I’ll be at my desk.”

“That she does, Auggie. That she does,” Joan smiled. “If there is anything to be concerned about, I’ll see if I can tell you, but I do ask that you also keep me informed if there is any changes with her that we need to keep an eye on as well.”

He paused for a second at the door. “No, there’s nothing work related that you should know and should keep an eye out for,” he eventually said, knowing that Bella would rather tell Joan herself about their engagement – if at all. He then found his way to his desk, relieved to be out of Joan’s crosshairs and started to boot up his computers.

~o.O.o~

Bella made it through giving blood and her physical quickly, but when she reached the office for her psychological evaluation, she sat staring across the office obstinately with her arms crossed and her jaw clenched.

Deborah Beene looked at the woman sitting in front of her and sighed. “Shall we go for a coffee?”

“The coffee in this place sucks,” Bella replied. “And I’m not authorized to leave.”

“Ah, but allow me to let you in on a little secret…” she smiled warmly. “The best coffee is served at our science division, they often bribe agents to bring back coffee from all over.”

“I don’t need any coffee. If I want, I’ll wait until I get home or Auggie will bring me my own.”

Beene shrugged and walked to the mini fridge in her office. “Vitamin water then?” She said as she held up a bottle that she was going to drink. “How’s life with Auggie? It must have been quite the change for you to live with a blind person.”

Bella’s leg bounced with her agitation at her bringing Auggie up as she pressed her lips together. Turning a head away, she was resistant to discussing anything unrelated to work as it had little to no merit on her forced visit to the woman’s office.

“How’s your father? Did you enjoy spending time with him in Forks?”

Her fingers curled into a fist, knowing it was his loose lips that had sent her there, and she breathed out slowly through her nose. Her eyes turned to glare at the psychologist. “What are you getting at here? These questions about Auggie and my father have no bearing on my job and ability to do it. My personal life outside of these walls are of no concern to you or the CIA,” she snapped.

“Actually, your relationship with Auggie has everything to do how you perform your job and he will have his ass in here as well,” Beene countered as she sat down in the other chair and opened her bottle of water. “Tell me about Forks.”

Swallowing the bile that threatened to come up at the memory, she tightened her arms across her chest more. “I was ordered to make contact with my ex and his family who returned to the area and gain intel. I managed to get inside with his sister, but she had conflicting plans to what the rest of the family wanted with me and drugged me. Most likely to take me with them when they decided to leave.”

Beene pursed her lips as she listened. “I was more thinking about Forks, the town you grew up in, surely you have some happy memories there?”

“You have my records. It’s a boring town with one traffic light,” Bella deadpanned. “I left as soon as I graduated and was picked up by the Agency because of my involvement with the Cullens there. That’s a stupid question.”

She simply smiled at that. “Have you ever resented the CIA for recruiting you for your involvement with that family? Do you now?”

“I don’t regret or resent anything here,” she narrowed her eyes on her. “I went to school with the intention of joining a federal agency to bring them what I knew. The CIA came to me first. Where the hell would you get that kind of idea? Because I don’t care to be sent out on another lengthy mission away from home? Well, yes, I’m tired of that. I think we’d all like to stay grounded in one location for a while after being away from their family and friends for so long. It’s not that much to ask.”

“I’m just asking, I mean, some operatives who are recruited through a similar situation feel like they’re being used and don’t feel as if they’re good enough for the CIA once they finish their assignment and get reassigned.”

Bella rolled her eyes. “I signed on with my eyes wide open. I knew they wanted me specifically for them, and I had every intention of bringing them down for what I’d seen. Auggie was probably more upset for me than I ever was about it,” she sighed, bored. “How much longer are you going to keep me here?”

“Until I’m satisfied,” Beene replied with a nod. “Do you feel better now that your mission is over?”

“I’ll feel better when I know I won’t be reassigned for another long term mission like that,” she answered with an attitude. “I may not have been behaving like myself before that last assignment, but considering that I was practically kidnapped, held hostage by my ex and his deranged father, and drugged, both of whom had an unhealthy obsession with me, I deserve my own time to decompress-”

“Wasn’t the mission a set up for you to be taken into their custody to either buy more time or get the information needed to take them down? Wasn’t that the plan?”

“No. It was to go with them voluntarily. I was not. That fucking little bitch injected me with something,” she snapped at her. “I’d gladly thank her and her father for that because I had weeks of migraines from the withdrawals from the amount of benzodiazepines they had me loaded up on. You want to know how I feel? I’m angry, yes. But not at the Agency. At the fucking Cullens!”

She nodded. “That’s understandable,” she replied. “Do you think that your residual anger and frustration will impair your judgement on a future mission?”

Bella opened her mouth to reply but stopped to think about it for a moment and shook her head. “No. As long as there aren’t any parallels to their case, I don’t see a reason why there would be any reason for complication.”

“And should there be similarities, small details that could remind you of them, then what?”

“They’d be stupid to give me the assignment. There are reasons why are agents profiled to handle cases.”

“But many assignments are about manipulators, art, rich people you need to get close to. What do you think you could mean for the agency when you’re afraid to run into something that reminds you of the Cullens?”

She waved it off. “I’d get the job done and come home. I’d deal with my issues with Joan giving me the job then and decide what I want to do at that point. You can’t predict the future or future behaviors all the time.”

“Of course not, I just merely want to see where your head’s at,” Beene smiled at her as she took a sip of her water. “Do you get nightmares or flashbacks about what happened in Forks? Negative thoughts?”

Bella stared at her again, losing the emotion on her face. “No. I just don’t want to go back,” she answered blandly.

“Do you have problems sleeping?”

To that, she couldn’t help but to smile devilishly. “Auggie never complains, but I laid the rules down that we don’t discuss intimate details.”

“So you have an increased libido?”

She shrugged. “No more than some.”

“Do you feel as if you still have a future? Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Bella blinked at that, confused. “Of course I have a future. Where I’ll be, I don’t know? I may or may not be with the company but that could depend on your stupid report or another report in two years. I have plans and I aim to see them through,” she huffed, her fingers playing with her ring unconsciously.

“Okay, final question and then I’ll release you to your desk before I make my report. I know you haven’t had a permanent handler for a while and that technically, Auggie was your acting handler on your last mission. Do you think that your performance suffered as an agent because of your relationship with him?”

“No,” she answered succinctly and without hesitation as she looked back at her. “Anything else?”

“No, that was my final question, you are released from prying by a complete stranger,” Beene smiled at her. “Enjoy the rest of your day.”

Bella didn’t hesitate as she bolted from her seat for the door and was gone quickly. She practically flew through the building to get back to the DPD, to the safety of her desk where she sat in almost stone cold shock for nearly a half hour before she was ready to start speaking to anyone.

~o.O.o~

“Auggie Anderson?” a voice sounded, making him look up from his work and lowering his headphones.

“Depends, who’s asking?”

“Hi, I’m Deborah Beene, and I think you and I should have a chat.”

The sound of the doors to his office closing didn’t sound like a good omen and he sighed. “Who are you?”

“I’m a psychologist and I’m here to talk to you about… well, you. And the Forks mission and your relationship with Agent Swan.”

“Yeah, no,” he said as he spun his chair back to face his keyboard again and pointed at the door. “Bye.” There was no way in hell that he was going to talk to a therapist – even though she said psychologist. They were all the same and he didn’t want his head shrunk. One wrong answer and he’d be out of the Agency. He always had the feeling he had to work twice as hard due to his vision problems and he didn’t want to screw things up. For him or for Bella.

“It must be quite surreal to have your best friend back after not seeing her for years.”

“I said no.”

She approached him and leaned against his desk. “Well, I’m sorry, but this conversation is non-negotiable.”

“Bullshit.”

“Call Joan to verify if you need wish.”

“You know what, I think I will,” he said as he put the phone on speaker and pressed the hotkey to get Joan on the phone.

Auggie.”

“Joan! I have this pesky psychologist in my office. Make her leave.”

I can’t do that. You will talk to her, that’s an order.”

Auggie let out a grunt and disconnected the call before turning back to the psychologist. “Fine. What do you want?”

Dr. Beene smiled to herself and looked out the office window for a moment. “You know, someone else, reacted almost exactly. Now would you like to answer my question about your friend?”

“You asked me if it was surreal to see her after all those years. Well, no, actually. See, I don’t think you’ve noticed, but I’m actually unable to see, so it wasn’t surreal. It was nice to hear her voice again though, without the distortion of a telephone line or an internet connection,” he replied as he leaned back in his chair. “Nice perfume you’ve got on, not too much, not too little either, what is it? No wait, it’s that old lady’s perfume, Clair de Lune, isn’t it?”

“Semantics, Mr. Anderson,” she sighed. “Clair de Lune is an instrumental sonata. Miss Swan I believe is well aware of the tune from her time with the Cullens. It was one of Edward Cullen’s favorite pieces, was it not?”

He took a deep breath. “I don’t know, you tell me. I’m a jazz man myself.”

“How was your recent trip to Forks? It couldn’t have been easy being limited in the house with Miss Swan’s father and not knowing where she was located for, what was it? Two days?”

“Three, and I knew exactly where she was as there wouldn’t be anywhere else for them to have taken her,” he said easily. “It’s all in the report.”

“With their money and resources, I doubt that. But I’ll give you that leaway. How did you feel not knowing exactly where or how she was?”

“Bella’s a good operative. I knew that she would be able to handle herself, until I heard what they were doing to her and then it was hard not to break protocol. In my mind, there was only one way to help her out without calling in the big guns, and fortunately, we got some unexpected help so I didn’t have to break protocol.”

Beene eyed him curiously. “How are you handling everything now that her assignment is over?”

“The last few months have been a lot of fun, spending weeks in the happiest place on Earth was great. The differences and similarities of each park were fun to catch.”

“So basically, you two went from the shittiest place on Earth to the happiest place. You ran away.”

“I don’t think it’s in her file, but it’s definitely in mine that I tend to run away from things for awhile when I’m fed up with it,” he deadpanned. “The last time I ran so far away that I lost my eyesight, now how spectacular is that? I’m glad I returned with every single limb intact!”

She tapped on his desk, drawing his attention to her more. “And what do you think Bella lost when she ran away in this? Or possibly gained?”

“I hope that taking her away instead of bringing her back to Langley, or making her stay after our debrief, that it gained her some feeling of freedom. That she could go wherever she wants to go without fear. But you should talk to her about this, not me.”

“I have but I’m talking to you now. You know her best of everyone in the building,” she answered. “Do you think she still has those fears? That the Cullens or Volturi would be coming for her?”

“Did you ask her?”

“That wasn’t the basis of my interview for her.”

“No, instead, you’re asking me and I’m not going to answer those questions because it’s not my place. She’s her own person with her own mouth and brains,” he said abruptly. “But I can tell you that the both of us will likely kill them should we come across them.”

“Do you feel like you were acting to your best capacities in Forks as her handler?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Auggie sighed deeply. “Because I was distracted by many things. It’s hard to run an op when there’s so much personal mud around you that you can’t see the bigger picture, that you can’t let it go to do your job. It gets muddled. Did I make mistakes? Yes. Do I feel guilty for having her end up in the situation that she ended up in? Hell yes. I should have anticipated her being taken and I should have put more security in play. Can I be trusted with being someone’s handler? I don’t know, Annie seemed to be doing okay.”

“Was her father being present as a potential victim the distraction or something else?”

“Would you be on top form if you had to shrink your family members while having stuff in your head to complicate things?”

“Perhaps if you explain what you were distracted by, I might understand the situation more,” she said calmly.

“No, I’m not going to explain because it could either be a positive thing or it could end both our careers because I wasn’t able to keep my head straight on. Are we done?”

The doctor smirked and shook her head at the irony. “You have a history with explosive outbursts, I heard that you came close a few times to bashing someone’s skull in in Forks while Bella was taken.”

“So?”

“Have you considered anger management?”

Auggie let out a short laugh. “I’m fine. I didn’t hurt anyone and I have other ways to deal with my frustrations. That’s in my file too, by the way. And also the ways that I am dealing with my frustrations. You know, other than working out in the gym. Again my question, are we done?”

“I’ve heard the rumors about you and Bella in this building for years. I just want to ask you something for my own curiosity, off record.”

“Nothing’s off the record in this building.” He wanted her gone. Why wasn’t she gone?

“True, but you can’t blame everyone for what they’ve seen of the two of you. I’d just like to know, how long it took you before you finally decided to ask her?” she grinned playfully.

“It took me 30 seconds this morning to ask her for coffee after we woke up. I had to pee first.”

“Touché. Nice taste for the ring. Congratulations,” Dr. Beene said. “I’ll let Joan know what my decision is by the end of the day so you should anticipate to hear from her before you leave for the day.”

“Thanks for the heads up, it means I can go and find me a box to put my stuff in.”

“If that’s what you believe,” she sighed. “I’d rather you wait to hear the results first. It was nice talking with you.”

“You know the way out, please leave the door open, I want your perfume gone, it’s offensive.”

“I’ll be sure to send you some Febreeze for Christmas.”

“And you need new soles underneath your lovely Louboutins, there’s a flappy bit right at the front of your nose. Please don’t trip, it’ll be a messy clean up on those hard tile floors.”

The doctor shook her head at his attitude but it wasn’t uncommon in her profession. Making her way out, she headed straight for Joan’s office so that she could give her a verbal assessment before she returned to her own to put it into official writing.

 

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