Disclaimer: The backstory and all characters from the show Profiler belong to someone else. I'm just borrowing them for my own amusement. Only the original characters that have not appeared on the show and the storyline itself belong to me.
John glanced up from the pile of paperwork that was cluttering his desk and noticed the time. One o'clock in the morning, and he was still at work. "No point in going home now," he muttered to himself. He would just have to be back here in another seven hours anyway. Unfortunately his body didn't care much about logical thinking and was starting to demand rest. His head began throbbing, his eyes hurt, his throat felt sore…it was like with the realization of what time it was, his body decided to give him the not-so-subtle message that it wanted sleep and it wanted it now.
"What are you still doing here?" Sam asked, rubbing her eyes tiredly as she came into John's office and sat in one of the chairs across from him.
"I could ask you the same thing."
"Yes, you could, but I asked you first."
"This case is just bugging me, Sam. I can't put it down even to sleep because there's something so obvious that we're just not seeing. I know that it's right there, in front of me, and I'm afraid that if I put it down when I look at it again I'll be starting from scratch."
"You're too tired to find anything, John, so why don't you take a break and get some sleep?"
"Why leave now? By the time I get home and get into bed I'll have at the most two hours before I have to get up so I can shower, get ready and get back here."
"Then why don't we both go to your apartment, and you can take a shower while I fix us something to eat."
"And what about you? Don't you need to shower and change too?"
"I have an extra change of clothes in my office, so I can take them with me and shower after you. If that's okay with you, that is."
John looked back down at the file and sighed. There was something that was right there, staring him in the face, and if he walked away now…then again, he might do better if he had some food in his stomach, and he was certain his co-workers would appreciate it if he showered and changed his clothes. "It's fine by me. Your car or mine?"
"Mine. I don't think you can keep your eyes open long enough to drive to your building. I, on the other hand, have had a pot and a half of coffee and will have no trouble at all staying awake."
Sam may have consumed enough caffeine to stay awake, but obviously John had not. He was sleeping with his head against the window before they had gone four blocks. A smile crept across Sam's features as she watched the man beside her, looking so peaceful and calm. If only you could be that way when you're awake. The truth was John kept an awful lot buried so deep that Sam wasn't sure even he knew all of the secrets he was hiding.
Traffic at that hour was light and she made the trip in only 20 minutes, then had to decide how she was going to get John awake and up to his apartment. "Hey, you ready to go in?" she finally asked, gently shaking his shoulder.
"Mmmph…where are we?" he asked before shifting his position and opening his eyes to see Sam sitting in the driver's seat. "Sam?" Then he remembered what had happened, and he relaxed. Sam had driven him home so he could shower and eat something. "Home already."
They walked up to John's door and once John had the door unlocked he ushered Sam inside. "Bathroom's down the hall on the right," he said, sitting on his sofa as he felt the last of his energy leaving him.
"I'm going to see what I can find in your refrigerator that's edible," Sam told him, gently squeezing his shoulder before heading off to the kitchen. "Why don't you take that shower you wanted?" she called as she walked away.
"Right, shower," he mumbled as his head started pounding again. "Just give me a few…"
Sam had found eggs and a loaf of bread, and decided that it would do for a quick breakfast. "You want to eat first?" she asked, and getting no response she went back to find John asleep on the sofa with his head resting on the back of the sofa. "And you wanted to stay and work on the file," she chuckled softly as she went to find a blanket to cover him up.
"Mommy?" John asked in his sleep as Sam pulled the blanket up over him. He snuggled into it just like a little boy, and Sam couldn't help reaching out to smooth his hair.
"You're safe, John. It's okay, just get some rest."
"Sorry, Mommy. I'm sorry."
"There's nothing to be sorry for," Sam assured him. She knew he was just dreaming, and her heart told her to just go along with it and maybe relieve some of the guilt the man carried around with him.
"I wanted to keep you safe, Mommy. I should have been with you."
"Shh, John, it's okay. It wasn't your fault."
"Miss you Mommy."
With that John was silent, sleeping peacefully while Sam just watched him, tears forming in her eyes. The logical part of her mind told her to shower and change her clothes while he slept, but the illogical part—the part that she listened to when trying to come up with a profile—told her to stay where she was in case John had another dream and needed comforting.
At some point Sam fell asleep herself as she sat in a recliner so she would be close by if John needed her. She woke to the sound of someone crying, and as her mind cleared she realized that it was John, crying in his sleep. He had been tossing and turning until he got himself tangled in the blanket.
"No, let me go. Don't…no, please, please let me go." The more he struggled, the more the blanket restricted his movement and Sam knew he would wake up panicked if she didn't do something.
"John, it's okay. John, it's Sam, come on, wake up. John?"
"Don't let him hurt me," he whimpered, so Sam knew that he had heard her but not comprehended the words.
"No one is going to hurt you, John," she said firmly. "No one. You are safe, John. It's just you and I here. No one is going to hurt you."
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
"John, what are you sorry for?"
"You died because of me, Mommy. I didn't want you to die. Please come back, Mommy. Please."
"It wasn't your fault John."
"Don't let Daddy hit me anymore. Please, Mommy, please make Daddy stop. Please don't let him hit me."
Sam's hand flew to her mouth in shock as she realized that John's mind was dragging him between his mother's death and before he and his mother had left his father. "He can't hurt you ever again, John. He can't hurt you."
"Don't let him lock me in the closet, Mommy. Please, it's dark and it's cold and the last time he tied my hands behind my back so I couldn't open the door. Please, Mommy, please don't let him."
Sam was torn between letting him continue dreaming and telling her little bits and pieces while thinking she was his mommy, and waking him up. Brushing his forehead with her hand, she noticed that he was very hot. Pressing her hand deliberately on his forehead she realized that he had a fever. How could I not have noticed that before?
"John, wake up now. Come on, John, wake up. It was just a bad dream, that's all. Wake up."
"Mommy? I don't feel good, Mommy."
"I know you don't, John. That's why you need to wake up now." His fever must be what's got him confused between his dream and reality. "John?"
His eyes fluttered open, and it took him a few seconds before his vision cleared. "Sam?"
"The one and only," she joked, but the terror and shame in his eyes remained. "You've got a fever John. Do you have any aspirin?"
"Medicine cabinet in the bathroom," he said, closing his eyes as his head started pounding once again.
"I'll be right back. You just stay put."
John was trying to make sense out of the lingering images in his mind. His mother, his father, the yelling, the beatings…and Sam. Somehow his mind had put Sam in the middle of all of it. He remembered having a conversation with his dead mother, and now he wondered if he had in fact been having that conversation with Sam.
"Here you go," Sam said as she returned, handing him a glass of water. He took a few sips before Sam gave him the two aspirin.
"What time is it?"
"Time for you to get into your own bed, mister. You are in no condition to be going into work today. In fact, I'm going to call in sick for both of us." Seeing the confused look on his face, Sam smiled. "Well you're probably contagious, and since I've been here with you that would make me contagious too, right?" A sudden chill made John shiver, and Sam pulled the blanket back around him. "I'm going to call Bailey and let him know we won't be in, and then I'm going to get you into your own bed. Okay?"
Finding her cell phone in her purse, Sam made the quick call and, after reassuring Bailey that there was no need for alarm, that she and John had just caught some bug that was probably going to be making the rounds, she went to help John to his bedroom. "Come on, stand up John. That's it. Come on now, walk with me."
John was making progress as he managed to put one foot in front of the other. His headache was getting worse, and he went from being cold to suddenly feeling very flushed. "Sam," he said weakly as things started spinning. "Sam, I…I'm going to be sick."
"Okay, the bathroom's right here."
John fell to his knees in front of the toilet, barely having time to lift the lid before he starting heaving. Since his stomach was relatively empty there was nothing but bile to come up, and Sam knelt beside him, rubbing his back and then handed him a wet washcloth to wipe his mouth once the heaves finally stopped. "I'm going to get you a glass of water," she said, standing up. "You stay here, and I'll be right back."
"I'm not going anywhere," he replied.
Finding a clean glass in the cupboard, Sam filled it and returned quickly, but not before John's stomach tried to turn itself inside out as dry heaves once again hit him. She just kept rubbing his back like she did to comfort Chloe when her daughter was sick. When it was over with he leaned against Sam, who had wet a clean washcloth pressed against John's forehead.
"You're welcome. Do you want to try going to bed?"
"Maybe if I can crawl on my hands and knees."
"However you want to get there, John. We'll go slow."
He managed to stand up, but his stomach was so sore that they moved at a baby's pace with Sam's arm around his waist to support him. The trek had completely exhausted him, and once he laid down he didn't even have the strength left to resist when Sam pulled of his shoes and undid his shirt and his pants.
"Think you could help me undress you?" Sam asked, but John had fallen asleep within seconds of landing in his bed. Continuing to hold the washcloth on his forehead, she heard right away when he started whimpering and calling for his mother.
"Mommy…Mommy, are you still here?"
"I'm here John. You're not alone." She knew that it was the fever that was making him think he was talking to his mother, but she saw no harm in offering him some simple comfort. If his fevered mind wanted his mommy, then his mommy he would get. "I'll stay here with you, John. I won't ever leave you alone."
God, he sounds so much like Chloe when she gets scared. "Get some rest, John. It's okay. I'll be right here."
John settled and was soon breathing slowly and evenly, having fallen into a deep sleep. She wanted to get him some more water for when he woke up, and perhaps another cool washcloth for his forehead, but she didn't want to leave him, either, in case he woke up or started calling for his mother again. The sound of John's phone ringing startled her, and she decided to let his machine pick up but she listened for the message in case it was something urgent.
"John! John, it's Bailey. Pick up, please. Sam, if you're still there please pick up the phone."
"I'm here, Bailey," Sam said once she lifted the received and hit the stop button so the answering machine wouldn't record any more. "What is it?"
"There's something on the papers that John took from the crime scene, Sam. We're not sure what it is, but everyone who has come in contact with those papers has become deathly ill. We're having tests run on them now, and an ambulance is on the way to take John to the hospital. I'm afraid you'll have to go to the hospital as well, Sam."
"Me? But I…I didn't have any contact with those papers."
"But you have had contact with John, who had contact with those papers. We've got spouses and children of agents who are sick, Sam. I'm sorry, but you have to go to the hospital as well. Until we can identify what the substance is, everyone who has come into contact with it has to be kept in isolation at the county hospital."
"I have to go Bailey. If they're going to take us to the hospital I should pack some things for John."
"They won't let you take anything, Sam, to prevent any further contamination."
"Bailey, is there any way you can pull some strings and get John and I…well, at least near each other? He can't be alone right now. I can't discuss it with you, but he can't be left alone. I need to be with him."
"It's out of my hands, Sam. Perhaps you can plead your case to the CDC officials. They're running the show as far as your stay in the hospital goes."
"What hospital are they taking us too?"
There was a banging on the door, and Sam knew what it was. "They're here Bailey."
"I'll try to make contact Sam, and I'll let Angel know what's happened."
Six people in what could only be described as space suits came inside when Sam opened the door. "Dr. Samantha Waters?" Sam only nodded her head, her mind already thinking about how John was going to panic. "We're with the Center for Disease Control here in Atlanta. Has Agent Malone told you what has happened?" the woman who Sam assumed was the leader asked.
"Where is Agent Grant?" one of the men asked, but Sam didn't answer him.
"Please, before you take us to the hospital, there's something you have to know. I'm a psychiatrist, and Agent Grant is in no condition mentally to be stuck in a room and isolated from everyone."
"Dr. Waters, I…"
"Just let me be in with him. Please. What harm can it do?"
"Since you aren't yet sick, there's a chance that you won't get sick if we keep you away from any source of contamination, which includes Agent Grant."
"I'll make you a deal, Dr. Waters. You can ride in the ambulance with him and keep him calm, and once you've both been declared decontaminated, I'll let you visit with him for a little bit."
"He's in the bedroom, lying down. Please, let me wake him up. He's confused because of the fever and…oh, he was sick earlier but there was nothing in his stomach to come up. His stomach is a little sore, though."
"One of you go get a stretcher," the woman told her team, and two men obediently went out of the apartment to retrieve the stretcher. "You go and wake him up, Dr. Waters. There's no need for us to go in there and scare the living daylights out of the poor man."
"Thank you," Sam said, but as she turned away she felt a gloved hand on her shoulder.
"I promise you, Dr. Waters, that I'll talk to my boss and see what we can do at the hospital. We've put husbands and wives in isolation together, so I don't see why we couldn't do it for you two. I'm not sure how, but I'm sure I can convince the right people that it would be in everyone's best interest."
"Thank you," Sam said, nearly in tears. It had scared her to think of what John might do if he was left all alone.
"Go on and wake him up. We'll get him onto the stretcher so he doesn't have to walk."
Sam just nodded and went to see about getting John up, not sure if she should hope that he would be too out of it to give her a hard time, or awake enough so that he wouldn't panic. "John," she said softly as she approached the bed, not wanting to startle him. "John, can you hear me?"
"Hmm?" he said, not opening his eyes.
"You have to wake up for me, okay. There are people here that want to help us, so I need you to wake up. Come on, John, wake up so they can take us to the hospital."
His eyes flew open at the word 'hospital'. "No, no, I don't need to go to the hospital." His vision cleared and he saw Sam, and he remembered that she had driven him home and then…and then he had puked, and she had helped him into bed.
"John, there was something on the papers that you took from the crime scene. Everyone that has come in contact with that crime scene is being taken to the hospital by the CDC."
"I don't need to go to the hospital. I'm okay, really. I won't go. You can't make me go."
The aggravation in his voice scared her; the last thing she needed was for John to have some sort of panic attack. It certainly wouldn't impress the woman who was willing to try and keep them in isolation together. "John, Bailey sent these people. He wants us to go to the hospital so he can be sure that we're okay. You know how he worries."
That got through to John, and he got his shoes on and followed Sam out of the bedroom. He instantly tensed, though, at the site of the CDC team that was waiting for them. "Sam?" he asked.
He was holding his stomach, and she didn't know if it was because it was so sore and walking made it worse or because he was going to be sick again. "John, what's wrong? John?"
"I'm not going…" He felt very dizzy, and the last thing he remember was someone in a blue chemical suit rushing towards him, and strong arms holding him and easing him down to the floor.
John whimpered as Sam held his hand. They had gotten John onto the stretcher after he passed out on them, and now they were in the ambulance with Sam and Nicole, the female leader of the team in back with him.
"It's all right, John. I'm here. Shh, you're not alone so just relax. It's okay."
His eyes fluttered open, but they were unseeing as he tried to raise his arm and found that he couldn't. "No, you said you wouldn't! You said that I was safe! Let me go!"
"John, calm down. The straps were just so you didn't roll off the stretcher." Sam hoped she could get through to him and return him to the present. "You're in the ambulance, John, and we're going to the hospital."
"Fever-induced delirium isn't uncommon," Nicole reassured her before reaching for a syringe. "I'll give him a mild sedative to calm him down for the rest of the ride." She spoke to John to try and calm him before she gave him the injection. "You are safe, John. We're here to help you, John. If you calm down I'll undo the straps. Would that be better?"
Some clarity returned to those blue eyes as he gazed at her, then turned towards Sam. "What's going on?"
"What's the last thing you remember?" Sam asked him as Nicole kept her word and began to loosen the restraints.
"All these people in space suits taking me away on a stretcher."
"I'm going to give you a shot," Nicole said, holding up the small syringe.
"No, no, I don't want it," John said, struggling against Sam who had her right hand resting firmly on his shoulder.
"Well you're getting it whether you want it or not," Sam told him.
"Sam," he whimpered. He had been so sure he could trust her, that he could count on her when he needed her, and she wasn't even going to keep these people from injecting him with god-knows-what.
"She is trying to help you, John," Sam assured him, "and we both want you to get better quickly, so please don't fight her." Poor John…hemust really be sick to be acting this way.
"Will you stay with me, Sam?" John didn't care that there was someone else present, he was scared and he needed to know that Sam wouldn't leave him. "Please stay with me," he added in a whisper.
"Can I?" Sam asked, her eyes filled with longing. All she wanted right now was to reassure John that he wouldn't be alone, that she would be right there with him through this ordeal.
"After you both go through decontamination, I'll do my best. My boss is a good man, but…well, there are rules and a lot of politics. At the very least I'll bring you to him when he's back in his room, Sam. I promise."
Decontamination… John had an idea what that would entail, although he was sure that the CDC's decontamination process was much more thorough than anything the Atlanta PD or even the VCTF could even imagine. "Sam, please."
"Let Nicole give you the shot, John."
His attention turned to his arm as Nicole wiped an area with alcohol and then held the needle just above the skin. From somewhere in the back of his mind came memories of the time his father had lost his temper and beat him so severely that he ended up in the hospital. During that stay he had been stuck with so many needles, both to administer medication and to draw blood because they thought he might be anemic, that to this day he swore he could still feel the pain of those needles. "No," he said softly, and to his surprise Nicole looked at him.
"You'll barely feel it, I swear. I'm not doing this to hurt you."
Recognizing the look in her eyes, John relaxed a little. It was the same look that his mother had whenever she had to clean him up after his father had beaten him. Since his mother never hurt him, perhaps this woman really didn't mean him any harm. "Go ahead," he whispered, looking towards Sam as the needle entered his arm.
"It's okay, John," Sam said as he winced at the slight burning sensation of the drug being forced into his vein. "Just relax."
"We're all done," Nicole announced as she threw the syringe into a container and locked the lid. "Now we just need to massage the area to make the medication move faster and get rid of that burning feeling." As she was talking she had started to rub and massage the area, and John felt the burning subside almost immediately.
"Thanks," he told her.
"You're welcome. We should be at the hospital soon, and I'm afraid once we get there you'll be separated for a while. I promise you, I will do my best to get you together, but I can't make any guarantees. I can guarantee, though, that as soon as you are back in your room I'll find a way to get Sam in to see you."
"Are you going to be there for the decontamination?" John asked.
"No, I won't. I will be trying to pull as many strings as I can to get you and Sam into the same room. I promise you'll be okay, though. It's really not that bad."
John felt himself getting a little bit sleepy, and he realized that Nicole had given him a sedative. "Why can't Sam be with me?"
"Because you both have to be decontaminated separately. Now close those blue eyes and relax, and before you know it you'll be clean and resting comfortably in a bed."
"Sam will be there, right?"
"I will do my very best, John."
"And I get to wash myself. Otherwise, no deal," he said, his words starting to slur as the sedative kicked in.