A/N: So chapter 8 was the last real chapter, but now you get an epilogue as well.
I still have a radio on nearly all the time. Mostly classical music stations. No words, just notes. Music flowing around me, keeping the silence at bay. Sometimes I keep it on even when I'm watching television, so I can turn off the TV, but the noise doesn't stop. I don't have to get up and turn on the radio. It's just there.
I still wake up with flashbacks turned nightmares, but I haven't had one in the daytime when someone's talking to me for a while now. The ones I do have are bad, leaving me a trembling mess when I finally wake up and usually falling back to sleep is out of the question. But they're not nearly as frequent as they were in the beginning.
Fin has been out of the hospital for nearly a year. Captain got him a desk job and Fin's not ecstatic about it, but he says it beats retirement so... as long as he's happy, I'm okay with any bull I have to listen to. He comes over more often now than when we worked together. I didn't say 'when we partners' because the truth is, we still are. The connection's still there, as are the arguments and bantering, but I love it anyway, perhaps more now than ever.
I still see Olivia and Captain and Elliot far more than really necessary as they usually insist on including me and Fin in any unit bonding activities. I suppose Captain feels the need to make it known that we are still his unit, no matter who sits at my desk or at Fin's desk. We had seven years together at those desks, that's not something you throw away when a couple of them leave. I don't mind though, the company's good for me, and Huang's not the only one that says that. For once, I agree with the man.
Olivia checks up on me more than she really has to, but I guess it puts her at rest, knowing that she can drop by any time and make sure I'm doing all right. I don't mind that either, as Olivia and I were always friends, Fin getting shot just made us closer in a different way. She became a support, a new beam to replace the one that broke that day. I call her, if I need to, when the flashbacks get too bad. She always comes, even if it's one o'clock in the morning and she just hit the sack after a couple days at the precinct. I never notice it when she first comes, still being half in flashback mode, that trembling mess that either can't stop crying or can't start crying. But I notice it later, when it's gone and I can think and act like a normal human being, normal as a human being can get that is. I feel bad then, but she always reassures me that it's all right, I needed her, it was no problem. I always believe her, too.
I don't know why a beam broke that day. Why I snapped. I've come up with theories, sure. Maybe I couldn't stand another partner getting shot with me coming away with hardly a scratch. Maybe I just had too many years under my belt, too much stress, too much wear and tear on that beam and it just couldn't hold the weight any more. Whatever it was, it happened, and I'm getting through it, slow and painstaking as the process may be. A visit with Huang is still a weekly chore, and some weeks are worse than others, usually those in which I have a flashback. He always wants the details, and sometimes giving them is hard and I don't think I can do it. My mind sometimes flips back into them as I begin explaining them and sometimes it changes on me and I'm no longer in his office, but somewhere else entirely. It hasn't happened every time, but when it does, it scares the hell out of us both.
But all in all, we're all doing better I think. Every single one of us. Fin's doing great, far as recovery and such goes. Captain's got a couple new guys under his watch, and even though everyone was doubtful at first, they're doing all right now and I'm sure he's got less problems with them than he had with me and Fin. Elliot and Casey... well, they're still doing their jobs, both in keeping in touch with Fin and me and the ones they get paid money for. Olivia's Olivia, as always, and there are very few areas, if any, in which she needs improvement or could possibly get better in and I love her for it. And me... well, I'm living and loving it, nearly every minute. Retirement's agreed with me this time and I've taken it to put some things behind me, put others in perspective and live the hell out of the rest of what I've got.
A/N: Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed. It was sure an experience writing this, let me tell you. I still have no idea how I came up with all these ideas, but nonetheless, I enjoyed writing it. Little self pimping here: check out Tear Stained Letters. More John angst for those of you who need your daily/weekly fix of it.