Somewhere around two in the morning, the doctor appeared. There were still smears of blood on his white coat, surgical booties covering his shoes. He extended his hand to Finch, who rose stiffly to greet him.
"The patient is resting comfortably."
Finch let out the breath he'd been holding. "Oh thank god."
The doctor smiled. "The blood loss was more significant than his wounds, which we were able to correct with a few transfusions. He's heavily sedated for now, but I see no reason he won't recover quickly."
Finch nodded. "Yes, that's good news." He shook the doctor's hand again. "Thank you for your hard work, Dr. Reynolds."
"Always happy to help, Harold."
Harold. So she had names. Not that she had any reasonable expectation of finding either John Reese or Harold Finch if she were to investigate. She noticed the way Finch glanced at her, his face twitching the slightest bit at the realization Carter had his name.
The two men began to walk, back toward the entrance.
"Um, excuse me," she had to clear her voice to get the words out. The men turned to her as though they'd forgotten she was there that quickly. "Can I see him?"
Reynolds glanced at her, but his eyes moved to Finch.
It was Reese's strange friend who answered, reminding Carter that they absolutely were not in a hospital. "Yes, I don't see why not."
And then they walked away, leaving her to find her way to Reese's room, undisturbed by any personnel.
He lay terribly still, his tall, muscular frame seeming slight and fragile under the sheet. A heart monitor beeped steadily, assuring her that he was much better off than the last time she'd seen him. His skin tone had deepened back to the color she assumed it normally was, the way it had looked when she first saw him as Snow pulled up to him in the garage rather than the ghostly white appearance he'd had by the time they'd gotten into Finch's car. She reached out, unexpectedly needing to touch him, finding an immeasurable sense of peace when she found his hand warm and heavy in hers.
It was the first time she really had a chance to look at him, having only had moments before Snow's partner had started firing. The man was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. She compared his clean-cut current appearance to the memory of the wild, unkempt way he'd looked the first time they'd met. She'd thought he was a creep, a drunken homeless man with some twisted, murderous intent. The stories she'd heard of his exploits, usually wearing a suit, never made any sense. She'd wondered how the homeless man who smelled like a liquor cabinet could pass by so many people unnoticed. As she'd pursued him, she'd realized her first impression of him had been wrong, especially after he saved her life. He was smart, skilled, and, now, quite attractive. With a shave and a haircut, she realized how easily he'd been able to blend into the crowd.
There were only two things that had remained intact from their first meeting – his intense, dark stare and his intoxicating voice. She wondered about the glare he'd given her on the roof of the parking garage, couldn't figure out what he'd been trying to tell her in that moment. But now she knew. He'd been disappointed in her. He'd trusted her enough to reveal where he was and she'd let him down. He certainly knew the moment Snow pulled up what was about to happen. And seeing her there, with Snow, no wonder he'd shown her no recognition or kindness in his expression.
Though his eyes had stayed intense, the anger behind them was gone after she'd helped him into the car, when she'd stared at him and tried to determine what to do. While he was injured, while he'd been fighting to escape with his life, he'd also processed her involvement and he'd realized she hadn't meant to hurt him. He'd forgiven her without her even needing to ask.
But still, even knowing that he would recover, she wanted to see his eyes open, to hear the liquid heat of his voice teasing her. Just hearing him say her name again would be enough.
She left his side long enough to retrieve one of those horrible plastic chairs and drag it to his bedside. Then she sat down, took his hand again, and waited. For what, she didn't know, but she figured she'd know when it happened.
Nurses appeared periodically to check on him over the night. Carter was prepared each time one entered to defend herself and why she was there, but it was never necessary. This was a private facility and they knew she had the permission of the owner. She tried to stay out of their way, backing away when they pulled off the sheet to examine his wounds, letting go of his hand when they checked on his IV and hung new bags of medicine.
She didn't go far, never out of the room.
Maybe she was waiting for him to wake up and tell her to fuck off.
Maybe she just wanted to see what color his eyes were. She hadn't noticed earlier, and now suddenly, she was desperate to find out.
It was long after dawn, late enough that she was starting to wonder what the hell she was supposed to do about the job she had no intention of showing up to that day, late enough that she knew she needed to check in to let Taylor and her mom know she was fine, late enough that she supposed Finch would pop in to check on his friend's progress, but she continued to wait, unable to concentrate on anything else long enough to actually attend to it.
And then, though it was so soft she wasn't sure it was real, his hand tightened around hers.
She stood up, amused by her instinct to check her hair and the remains of her makeup before she faced such an attractive man. She was sitting by his bedside, however, which she decided had to buy her some forgiveness for her sloppy appearance.
It took forever still before his hand twitched again, but this time, she noted a change in his breathing as well. Her heart started to beat faster, knowing she was about to let him witness how far over the line he'd passively convinced her to tread.
His head turned on the pillow, turning toward her, his mind probably attempting to work through the grogginess from the medications to figure out who was touching him. His eyelids opened slowly, so slowly Carter could tell how heavy they were to him.
And finally, his magnificent eyes moved to hers.
It seemed to take all his strength, but one side of his mouth curved up in a smirk that was so fucking sexy she was sure it was illegal in seven states.
She wanted to say something brilliant, something funny, something he'd say to her, but she couldn't think of anything. Instead she squeezed his hand and smiled back. "Hey."
He blinked, but that was all she received in response. She supposed she couldn't really ask for more from a man who'd been shot and had surgery and was heavily sedated.
She nodded at nothing in particular, just pleased to have a conscious audience, regardless of the shape he was in. "Doc said you're going to be ok, good as new. You know, now you're not bleeding all over me."
His eyes slipped closed, but rather than falling back to sleep, he was simply expending his energy on speech instead of holding her eyes. "And whose fault was that?"
She chuckled, wondering how he could joke, realizing that he remembered he'd forgiven her. Or maybe waking up and finding her there with him was enough for him to reach the same conclusion about her all over again. His ability to trust, to forgive, came as a shock to her after the way Snow had talked about him. The way he'd run from the precinct that first night, the way he'd refused to talk to her, the way he'd stayed annoyingly close yet completely out of reach ever since – it all pointed to a man who didn't trust anyone. But there he was, a few hours away from almost dying because of her bad call and he was joking with her.
Wanting to reward him, she smiled warmly. "You weren't ever going to let me catch up to you otherwise, were you?"
His thumb traced lightly over the back of her hand and, intent on ignoring the unexpected feelings it stirred in her, she decided he didn't even realize he was doing it. But then he opened his eyes again, holding hers as he continued to stroke her hand.
"I would have let you win eventually."
She leaned in closer, sucked into his teasing the way she always was. "Eventually, huh?"
"Never took you for a cheater." His eyes were drifting lower and she fully expected he'd be out cold in a few seconds.
"I didn't cheat. I just took a shortcut."
His mouth only managed half a smile. "You couldn't wait?"
She realized his eyes weren't closing after all. They were just focused lower than hers. With a start, it occurred to her that he was staring at her mouth. Ducking down to catch his eyes, she pointedly looked at his lips, so he would know she'd caught him, caught him and didn't care. "I could have waited. I just didn't want to."
Reese's eyes darted back to hers, their dark heat a black hole that threatened to swallow her whole.
Obviously Snow had his head up his ass. Reese was a trusting man.
Or maybe Snow had been exactly right. Maybe Reese had simply chosen to trust her and nothing was going to dissuade him from that decision.
But she'd be damned if she wasn't going to do everything in her power to redeem herself, even if he didn't seem to think she needed redeeming.
"So how are you feeling?"
His eyes lazily drifted away, moving from the IV taped on the back of his hand up the tube to the bag that was dripping into his veins. Then he laughed as his hand tightened around hers. "I'm feeling fucking great. What the hell is that?"
She reached up, twisting the plastic bag to see what label it had, but there was nothing on it. Shrugging, her hand moved back to his. "I don't know. Must be something good."
His eyes darted around, taking in his surroundings, eventually falling on their joined hands. "What the," he met her eyes, his own widening suddenly. The open ease on his face disappeared, replaced by the guarded darkness she'd seen earlier. He jerked his hand away, reaching over with his other one to rip the tape and tubing from his skin. Blood spurted from his hand, but he didn't pause as he threw the sheet off and pushed himself up, pulling the leads from the heart monitor loose.
"Oh, hell no, don't even try that shit." She darted around the bed, blocking his path and shoving at his chest in an attempt to get him to lie down.
He wasn't having it, at least, he was trying to not have it. He batted at her hands, using his weight and gravity to win the battle for him. The moment his feet touched the floor, his legs buckled, his body slumping against her.
"Oh, fuck," he groaned as his side, the one he'd just had operated on, slammed into her.
"What the hell is wrong with you? Get your ass in bed."
She felt him shaking and she gripped him tighter, knowing she was hurting him but unwilling to let him fall. She glanced up, seeing that he was smiling.
No, that wasn't right. He was laughing.
His laughter died back, leaving a smirk on his lips and a gleam in his eye. As she tried to maneuver him back toward the bed, his hand moved along her back, her thin cotton clothes doing nothing to mask the heat from his palm. It was the medicine; it had to be. She ignored it, recognizing that he wasn't fighting her as she tried to shove him back on the bed without causing him further injury.
Unfortunately, the bed was too high and she couldn't lift the man, not even if he was pretending to be cooperative. She had only managed to get him to backed up against the bed while she stood facing him. He was leaning on her, staring, smirking away.
Shaking her head, she found herself starting to smile back. "Bed. Please?"
Suddenly his hand was on her face, his thumb stroking her cheek gently. "But I hardly know you, detective."
And then she was laughing too. She let herself enjoy it, being near him, both of them laughing, the first lighthearted moment she'd had in a long time. But realizing that his hand was still bleeding and that her body was about to give out from supporting his weight, she had to sober them up. "Come on, John, can you lie down or do I need to call for help?"
He glanced at the bed, a look almost like longing passing over his face, and then turned his eyes back to hers. "I can't stay here." He sounded like he was sorry, and had she been in his physical condition, she would have been sorry she wasn't lying down too.
"You're safe here."
He shook his head. "You won't be able to stop them. They'll find me. Hospitals are the first place they'll look for me." He tried to turn away, but only got as far as lifting his arm before a phone started to ring. He looked around, locating his phone lying on the table beside the bed at the same time she did. "Can you hand me that?"
She saw the way his arms were shaking from trying to support himself, undoubtedly trying to take the weight off her while not putting any pressure on his abdomen or leg. "How about you let it go to voice mail?"
"It's Finch. He's probably calling to tell me they found me. I have to get out of here." Beads of sweat started to break out on his forehead and his eyes were taking on a slightly crazed look.
"This isn't a hospital. Finch brought you here. I guess he owns the place or something." She waited while he searched her face for any hint of deception, but she realized she was losing him, his fear and paranoia getting the better of him as the pain killers wore off. Not that she could blame him after the evening he'd had.
She grabbed the phone and handed it to him. "Here, ask him yourself."
He hadn't even lifted the phone to his ear when she heard Finch's voice. "Get back in the bed, Mr. Reese. It's my clinic and no one knows you're there. In fact," he paused, his voice trailing off. "Yes, your former coworkers are currently scouring the parking building at St. George's Hospital. They've locked down the building and they're searching every car. They have no idea we got you out."
Reese's eyes were drifting closed as his friend spoke, but they jerked open. "We?"
"Judas had a change of heart after she turned you in. It seems she doesn't bear guilt well, didn't even collect her thirty pieces of silver. Let her help you get back in bed."
Realizing that he could see them, Carter scanned the room. She couldn't see a camera anywhere, so she decided he must have been listening instead. Her cheeks burned in embarrassment when she thought about the way she'd flirted shamelessly with a man she'd expected was too drugged to remember it. It hadn't occurred to her that there might be a witness, one that certainly disapproved.
Reese offered her the phone, accepting his friend's assurance and letting himself fall back on the bed. As soon as dropped the phone back on the table, Carter helped him swing his legs up and then watched as he collapsed against the pillow.
"I'm going to go get somebody to fix you back up." She motioned at his hand and the blood he'd smeared all over everything, including her again. "And look for another change of clothes."
"Wait," he muttered, clearly too weak to put up much of a fight. His hand, the one that wasn't bleeding was reaching out for her though he could barely lift it from the bed. "Don't."
She took his hand, unable to stand seeing him in distress of any sort. "Didn't we talk about this already? These are your friend's people. No one's going to come after you here." Squeezing his hand, she caught his eyes. "I'll be right back."
"No, please." He shook his head, swallowing hard as he tried to force out the words. "No pain killers. I don't like them."
"You got shot. You had surgery. You need pain killers." Suspecting reasoning wasn't going to work, she tried another approach. "Besides, you liked them a few minutes ago."
"I can't tell what's real."
Things clicked into place, his relaxed smiles, his easy forgiveness, his apparent happiness to see her, his blatant flirting. No wonder. He hadn't known it was her. He probably thought she was someone else entirely. She felt like an idiot, imagining how Finch would reveal everything she'd said, thinking how they'd share a good laugh over her stupidity.
Nodding, she stepped back and tried to pull her hand away. She needed to put her walls back up and keep him on the other side of them. "Ok, no pain meds. I'll tell them."
He picked up on the change in her attitude, his hand refusing to release hers as his eyes narrowed. "Jos?"
She looked at him. Just looked. He was hurt, by her, again. She didn't understand it, but she knew it was absolutely true. Her face, and her determination, softened. "You're bleeding, John. Let's get that taken care of, then we can-" She stopped mid-sentence. She didn't know what she wanted to say.
They could what? Have a little chat? Confide their innermost secrets to one another? Hold hands and whisper sweet nothings? What the hell was she doing? What the hell was she thinking?
Though she had no answers, she knew she shouldn't look too hard. She didn't want them. The answers were only going to lead to more questions. Might as well quit while she was ahead.
"I'll just get that nurse." She turned around, withdrawing her hand before he summoned up the energy to stop her.
But she only got as far as the door before his words stopped her as effectively as his grip would have.
"I feel it too, Jos."
She nodded without looking back, unwilling to let him see the tears his words brought to her eyes. So they both felt it. That was something.
It was one answer that didn't hurt.
She headed out to look for a nurse with a smile.
At least now she knew what color his eyes were.