A/N ~ After a long hiatus, I'm back to finish this fic, and I'm picking up right where I left off. Much thanks to Wolfmusic218 for doing the beta work, and thanks to everyone who takes time to read and review. So, here we go! Hope you enjoy.
~ I do not own Person of Interest or its characters.
Joss watched Donnelly retreat from the room and closed her eyes once the door shut behind him. She took a deep breath and swore.
Damn that son of a bitch for digging up a part of her past she'd buried long ago just to torture her with it now. She was shaking inside. Not with fear or helplessness, but with anger. Who exactly did he think he was?
She took a deep breath and walked towards the door. The train of her dress was still in her grip, hands still balled into fists. He'd picked the perfect moment to approach her with what he knew; right when she was about to go into this fundraiser in a room packed with her supporters and the press. He could've dealt this blow at any other time, but this move was calculated. This was deliberate because he wanted revenge. He wanted blood, and he wanted hers.
The next move was hers and she had to make it fast. Reese's eyes found her the moment she turned the knob on the door and opened it. "Ever vigilant," she thought, "always in tune to everything and everyone around him." Almost as if he had a direct pulse on her emotions, his eyes darkened. Damn him for being able to read her so easily.
"It was his job to read people," she told herself. "It's got nothing to do with me."
She ignored the look of worry on John's face when she didn't exit the room and simply motioned for Harold to join her.
"Joss? What's going on?" Ian asked. He'd been waiting outside while she met with Donnelly, and their conversation had gone on longer than either of them had anticipated. He was concerned, and rightfully so, she thought. If and when this story came to light, it would affect him too. But right now she needed to talk to Harold, decide how to go forward before she gave him the rundown of what was going on.
He came closer, and she lightly gripped the lapel of his dinner jacket.
"What's going on?" he repeated. The tenderness of his tone was welcome, especially since circumstances had just gotten so turbulent. She flattened her palm against his chest and leaned in close.
"There's been a development, an unexpected one," she admitted. "I plan to tell you everything. But I just need to talk to Harold first, okay?"
"Are you alright?"
It was a loaded question. One that could be answered in so many ways and she wouldn't be lying, but brevity was the only thing that would serve her right now, so she simply said yes before patting him on the chest.
She stepped away from the door to let Harold in. He shuffled past her, and her eyes briefly met John's before she retreated into the room.
"What did that snake want?" Finch asked without preamble.
"To tell me that he knows about Michelle Cambridge."
Harold recognized the name instantly, his eyes widening in shock as he took a step towards her. She'd been good friends with Harold for a very long time. There wasn't much he didn't know about her, and he knew the ramifications about a story on Michelle Cambridge just as well as she did.
"How?" he asked.
"I don't know how," she answered. Her frustration was growing, threatening to overpower the little control she was trying to keep over the situation. "But he knows, and he's going to the press with it."
"Did he say when?" Joss could already see the wheels turning in Finch's head. He always had a backup plan, and she thought just as he did that they needed to get ahead of this story before it got public. A scandal like this would only serve to feed the many objections to her being a single candidate and would do a great job of uprooting the ground they'd recently gained in the polls as it pertained to family values.
She shook her head. "He didn't, but I don't think he's going to waste much time."
"And that son of a bitch picked tonight to tell you?"
His thoughts mirrored hers, and she nodded. "I mean that happened how long ago? Almost twenty years? He must know someone really high up to get those records unsealed."
"Whoever it was, they can kiss their career goodbye once I find out who's responsible."
Joss huffed at that. "Donnelly is a smart bastard, but he's not smarter than me."
"I need to make some calls, and we need to come up with a plan. Tonight."
"Yeah, you're right. We didn't come this far to quit, Harold. He wants me to drop out; he'll probably give me two days tops to respond or make an announcement, but there's gotta be some way to fight this. I am not dropping out of this race."
She shook her head, tears of defiance stinging her eyes. She thought about the Aryan Brotherhood that had been picketing her headquarters since she'd announced her candidacy. She thought about the paint thrown in her face, her shattered window at home, all the hatred and slurs that had been hurled in her direction. She hadn't buckled under the heavy weight of racism. Surely she was stronger than Donnelly. Surely she could endure this.
"I'll call Olivia," Harold said, reassuring her. "We're going to need her help with this one."
As much as Joss resented her involvement in the campaign when Olivia suggested she date Ian Murphy, she had to admit that she and Harold couldn't do this one alone. They did need her. Badly.
"I'll see if she can fly over tonight."
"Good idea," she said, nodding. "Now, we have to talk to Ian."
Reese led Joss and her party into the event hall and stood by as they all entered. They were met by a small group of reporters from various news networks and online political sites, and Joss smiled for the cameras. Though nothing was communicated to him after Senator Donnelly left, Joss' nonverbal cues confirmed what she did not say. Her meeting with her former rival had shaken her, and the tenuous grasp she held on to her self-control after she'd spoken with her campaign manager and then with Murphy, was evident. At least to him.
The evening passed by in a blur of lights, corny political jokes, unlimited bottles of champagne and spirited commentary. He went through his protocols; stood sentry while she spoke onstage, made sure her detail was close by whenever she moved. The room, though large, was secure at all times, and he was satisfied when the event ended without incident.
Sameen Shaw had informed him that Stephen Fawkes would be stopping by the Senator's hotel suite later on. Olivia Pope was preoccupied with another client and wouldn't be able to make the trip herself. Stephen Fawkes was a lawyer and litigator and was the Senior Associate at Pope & Associates. Not only had he known Ms. Pope long before she worked with President Grant, but they were very close friends.
He showed up shortly after 2 am, attired in a dark blue suit and a look of determination on his face. His expression around Joss was warm, however, his body language open and reassuring, and Joss responded to that immediately. His handshake was firm as Reese shook it, and he obliged as he was put through a few short security measures.
Reese stood outside the suite as the rest of his team went to their posts and rooms. Joss, Harold, Sameen Shaw, Ian Murphy and Stephen Fawkes were all gathered inside, their meeting lasting just shy of an hour. When it was done, Joss looked exhausted, emerging from the room wearing gray sweatpants and a matching hoodie.
She quietly told Harold that she planned to sleep in late and that she would see both him and Sameen in the evening. She walked with Ian to the elevator and Reese stood by as Ian asked to stay. She declined his offer, and he couldn't deny the relief that washed over him when she did.
She kissed him, and he hated the raging jealousy that ran through him even though he knew he had no right to feel that way.
"Are you sure you're gonna be okay tonight?" Murphy asked.
Their closeness irritated him beyond reason. Years of training helped him maintain his professionalism and muted expression, but his hands twitched as Murphy caressed her face. He wanted to punch him, strangle him, pry his hands off of Joss any way that he could. His slow blink and the tension in his jaw were the only indications that this cozy tete-a-tete had any effect on him.
"I'll be fine," she answered and glanced in his direction. "I'm in good hands, remember?"
"Right," Murphy replied, and she giggled. Reese was seething. Didn't Murphy notice that she was reeling? That this was nothing more than a front? That she was so close to falling apart right now?
Hearing the doors of the elevator slide shut was only partly comforting. The deep breath she took as she turned and wordlessly made her way back to her room made him ache inside.
He'd made a mistake. A huge one. He never should have told her that it was over. Their connection was so strong that it never could be. But how could he begin to try to mend what was broken without her thinking he was playing games with her head and heart?
She stopped turning the knob on the suite door and didn't move. She didn't turn around. Only the slight turn of her head in his direction showed that she was partly interested in what he wanted to say.
"Tell me what's wrong."
He swallowed. Hard. She could tell him to go to hell right now, and she'd have every right to.
"Nothing's wrong, Agent Reese," she said, finally turning to look him in the eye. She knew it was a mistake the moment she did it. Her eyes started pooling, and she let out a sigh. "You know, things are probably going to get a little crazy around my office and home in a few days, so I might as well tell you what's going on." She opened the door to the suite and beckoned to him. "Come on."
It was just past three in the morning and Joss was ready to pass out. She kneaded the flesh in the back of her neck, willing the tension away and wondered how she was going to start. She'd buried the memory of that night, and the weeks and months after, so far in the back of her mind, sometimes when she actually thought about it, she wondered if it really happened.
She wondered now what John would think of her once she told him, but she guessed that it didn't matter anyway since he'd decided that being with her was too much for him. No doubt his interest in what was going on was purely professional.
She wandered over to the small bar in the suite, filled a glass with some red wine and downed a bit more than a mouthful. It went down pretty smooth, and as she sat on the sofa, she started to relax a little. He finally moved from the door to sit opposite her, perched on the armchair and waited for her to start.
She had told the story to Stephen Fawkes just an hour ago and it had felt much easier. Repeating it now seemed like the hardest thing she'd ever had to do. Despite things being done between them, his opinion still mattered to her, and she couldn't shake that.
"Paul and I had been married for about…five years when I found out I was pregnant. The baby didn't make it, and I had a miscarriage. I was devastated. I was almost inconsolable. It took a toll on me mentally and physically. I kind of withdrew from….everyone…including Paul."
"Was that sympathy in his eyes that she saw?" She wondered as his hand splayed across his thigh.
"Anyway, a couple months after the miscarriage, I found out he was having an affair. I lost it. We had a huge fight, I found out where his mistress lived, and I assaulted her. It felt like an out of body experience. Like I was watching myself…attack this woman. All the while thinking of my baby and what I lost, and now she was trying to take my husband. The last connection I had to our child."
"What happened next?" Reese asked.
"I was arrested. But Paul convinced her not to press charges and thankfully a good attorney made the case go away. When I finally got into office, I used some of my connections to seal those records permanently. I looked Paul's mistress up again and paid her enough money to keep quiet for the rest of her life because I knew that if the story ever got out, it would ruin me. And Donnelly somehow managed to find out about her..."
"And now he's planning to use it to get you to drop out of the race."
She nodded, emptied her glass, and got up from the chair. "So based on what happens in the next week or so, you might not have any further reasons to be here. If my detail gets revoked, my assistant will finalize everything with you. Make sure it all goes smoothly. I just thought that you should know."
Having his eyes on her right now was torture. She couldn't stand his pity, and she didn't want it. What she wanted was his support. Wanted his arms around her. She wanted him to tell her that she was a good person and not the monster she knew Donnelly was going to make her out to be. She knew she was asking for too much right now, so she needed him to leave.
"It's been a long day and an even longer night, Agent Reese. I need to get to bed."
She couldn't look at him right now, not when she was this vulnerable, so she turned away. "What do you want from me?" she asked.
He moved closer, and that magnet that always drew them to each other seemed to work overtime. She ached to have him hold her right now, but she refused to move. She felt his fingertips move over her hand and pry the wine glass out of it. Her stomach quivered at the touch. Her hands dropped to her sides as she felt his hips brush against hers when he reached past her to rest it on the coffee table.
"Look at me," he said.
Seconds felt like years as she stood there. Longing filled her as his hands moved around her waist to pull her close. Ache and need were threatening to take over as his chin skirted the edge of her shoulder, as her back pressed into his chest. She bent her head and closed her eyes in silent defiance, though she felt like she was punishing herself instead.
"Look at me. Please," he whispered near her ear. She didn't know how much longer she could stand the gentle timbre of his voice or the touch of his hands on her stomach. She felt weak, resisted giving in, but how could she continue to deny him when he held the other half of her heart?
She turned around slowly and looked at him. His eyes didn't leave hers as he removed his ear wig and let the cord dangle on his shoulder. His big hands cupped her face and she started to shake when he finally kissed her. She found release in his arms, felt warmth and love on his tongue as he murmured, "I'm sorry" against her mouth.
Over and over he repeated the words, and the touch of his lips on hers emphasized his sincerity. She forgot about Ian, about Donnelly, about everything else, as her fingers moved through his hair, as his tender kisses became passionate, bruising. He was making up for lost time. He was making up for callous words and for all the nights he made her sleep alone. He was wiping away the memories of Paul and Michelle Cambridge. Every last one of them disappeared in his embrace and the feel of being back in his arms once more.
"I'm sorry, Joss," he said again as his tongue slid over hers. "I'm sorry," he told her as he slowly undid her zipper. He didn't rush. He took his time undressing her, took his time pressing her into the bed and setting her whole body on fire. By the time his tongue had circled her nipples, lips had kissed her stomach and everywhere else, she was in a frenzy of need. Trembling thighs circled around his back, hands gripped at his waist and his shoulders, and he put them both out of their misery when he entered her.
Tears started to fall when he moved slowly within her. Emotions held back for weeks finally found their outlet as his pace began to quicken. His buried his face in her neck as he called her name over and over again. It wasn't long before she came. Weeks of hot frustration boiled over and gave way to a quick, but blinding, orgasm. She moaned into his neck as he came too, grinding deep and spilling himself inside her.
He kissed her wet cheeks and pulled her onto her side. She didn't want him to leave. She didn't want to let him go. She'd waited too long for this, and the moment they'd just shared, though wonderful, felt far too brief.
She traced his eyebrows with her fingers, ran her thumb across his bottom lip, and wondered what she was gonna do without him when all this was over.
Reese let out a rumbled purr as Joss traced her fingers over his face. Besides being inside her, he'd missed the intimacy of their times together, how she'd sometimes look at him in wonder and marvel as if he was something special. He'd missed seeing her vulnerable and raw and open like this, and he didn't know how he was going to accomplish it, but he knew he had to spend the rest of his life with her.
She shivered and he drew the covers around them, taking advantage of the little time that they had left. He had to go. The next shift was starting soon, and he couldn't risk them being found out. He didn't want to add to the trouble she was already facing, but he needed to reassure her that he was still in her corner.
"I'm never gonna leave you again, okay?" He swallowed the lump in his throat at the expression on her face. "I was stupid and selfish, and I never meant to hurt you."
He wiped the fresh tears that slid from her eyes and kissed her hard. "I will never do that to you again, Joss. I promise. Okay?"
She nodded and put her arms around him. "Okay. I love you, John. I love you."
"I love you, too."
Reese's bed felt empty as he slid into it. The sun was coming up, and the light of a new day was peeking through the blinds in his room. By the time he'd left Joss' room, she was already asleep. He'd gotten dressed, kissed her on the forehead, and left the room just in time for Groves to pick up the next shift.
He lay back against the pillows and pulled the comforter over himself. It would take a while for his mind to wind down and be quiet enough for him to get a few hours of much deserved rest. He and Joss still had a lot to talk about, but he was happy with where they were at the moment. They were back on the same page and back together again, and that was all that mattered.
She had a lot on her plate right now, but at least she knew that he was there to support her. She didn't have to do it alone.
"Wait a minute," Reese said aloud and bolted upright in bed. She didn't have to do this alone, he thought. He knew just the right person that could help. He reached for his cell phone and cut the lamp on by the bed. He scrolled through his contact list looking for a number he hadn't called in a very long time and dialed it.
After a few rings, she finally answered, and the familiar husky voice called his name. "John. It's been a long time."
"It has been, Zoe. How have you been?"
"You know I'm always good. To what or whom do I owe the pleasure?"
A/N ~ I changed Stephen's last name from Finch to Fawkes, simply because having two guys named Finch might have been a bit confusing. Thanks for reading!
** You may have a problem reviewing if you already did so on the last 'chapter 10' that I posted. If so, just log out and leave a guest review. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter. Thanks.