Part Four

For the first time in a long, long time, free time flew by. Instead of staring at his watch every few minutes and wondering if it had been enough time to check in with Finch again, hours passed without Reese even noticing. It felt like no time at all before he noticed Carter's yawning had stopped and the way her eyes had started spending more time closed than open. He hated to move. He hated to interrupt the peace.

He hated that he needed to do something that might draw attention to the fact that she was leaning on his shoulder in her exhaustion.

But it gave him an excuse to gently touch her leg as he tried to rouse her.

"Hey, Jos," he cocked his head so he could meet her eyes as she slowly opened them, wanting to see her expression when she woke up to his face.

She grinned slowly, proving to him that it truly was her instinct to trust him. "I fell asleep on you, didn't I?"

He grinned. "Literally."

She jerked upright, her cheeks reddening as she squeezed her eyes closed. "Sorry about that. Long day and all."

He left his hand where it was, gently resting on her leg just above the knee. "I really didn't mind." Reminding himself not to push his luck, he moved his hand and stood up. "You want the bed? I can take the couch." He was so damn content right then, he'd be happy to sleep standing up.

"No, I'm ok." She shook her head as she stretched out over the seat he'd just vacated.

"Really, Carter, it's ok. You can take the bed. I've never slept here, so it's clean, if that-"

"Oh, yeah, because you seem really filthy." She snickered as she curled her forearms around as a pillow. "I'm shorter. I fit better."

Still feeling guilty, he motioned at the door. "That's not locked. You should take the bed. It's safer."

She looked up at him, her eyes perfectly serious. "One more word out of you about it and we're sharing."

Oh, fuck. Talk about temptation. He took a deep breath and reminded himself that she wasn't in the proper state of mind to make decisions like that. Finally he nodded and stepped back. "Ok, well, I'm here if you need me."

Smiling again, even after her eyes had closed, she curled up on her side. "Night, John."

"Good night, Jos." He stayed there, staring at her, knowing he was only getting away with it because she was so tired. The only reason she was happy to sleep on the uncomfortable couch was because she was exhausted. Feeling guilty that he was getting the bed, he grabbed a blanket from the bedroom and draped it over her. It was the least he could do.


It was hardly the first time it had happened to him. He'd seen so many horrible things, done so many horrible things, it was no wonder the experiences had to come out somewhere. He'd been trained to keep them out of his mind while he was conscious, but when he was asleep there was nothing he could do to keep them away.

He heard her screams first, trapped in the darkness, listening to Carter's terror, unable to do a damn thing about it. And then he saw her, that bastard on top of her, all of them on top of her. He was too late, they'd hurt her, they'd raped her, they'd killed her, left her lifeless eyes staring at him, accusing him of not saving her, of not being there in time. The same accusing stare he'd seen in Jessica's eyes every time he'd dreamt of her. He tried to look away, to block the sight from his mind, but all he saw were his hands, covered with blood, knowing somehow that he hadn't simply been too late, it had all been his fault.

He awoke with a choked shout, his breath coming in pants, his body shaking from the memory. Flipping the light on, he checked his hands, just to make sure there was no blood on them. It wasn't enough, though, not with the image of Carter's dead eyes in his head. He threw the covers back and headed for the door, but stopped halfway there. He should get dressed, he figured, just in case she was awake, because she probably wouldn't appreciate him sneaking up on her in his boxers after having just been attacked. But he decided against it. She was probably sound asleep and it would only take a moment and he needed to see her so badly right then that he didn't want to waste the time it would take to pull on his pants.

His bare feet were silent on the carpet as he made his way back to the living room. He held his breath as he peeked around the corner, letting out a sigh of relief at the sight of her still curled under the blanket. Her eyes were closed, her breathing even, her hair falling over her cheek. He'd satisfied his need to check on her. She was fine. He'd been there in time. He should go back to bed, he knew it.

But he couldn't move. He might as well have been cemented to the floor. He stared at her face, thinking of all the playful smiles she shot his way, the way she'd cock her eyebrow when she thought it was bullshitting her, the way she'd purse her lips when she was trying not to laugh at one of his jokes. He wanted to feel her in his arms again. He wanted to be able to check on her every night. Every day too.

Drawing on all of his strength, he swore he was going to walk away.

And then her eyes opened and he was sunk. Caught staring at her while she was sleeping. Shit, she was going to think he was a creep.

Instead of anger, her eyes reflected her lazy smile. "Is it time to get up already?"

He shook his head, trying to swallow the frog in his throat, wondering why the sight of her stretching seemed to tax all his reserves of self-control. "No, I- uh," he stuttered, feeling a blush spread across his cheeks. "I just wanted to check if you were ok. Sorry for waking you."

Her eyes drifted down his body, taking in all that his regular suits hid, a slow smile of appreciation working its way across her face, her gaze darkening with desire. "Not a problem."

Well, ok, he felt a little better for lusting after her now that he knew she was doing the same.

He didn't say anything else as he turned and retreated to the bedroom. He was too tired to think about it. He was still too shaken from his nightmare. As he climbed back in bed, he assured himself that Carter was alive and healthy and more or less unscathed and so there was no need for anymore nightmares. In fact, the way she'd just looked at him might make him dream other, much more pleasant things.

Unfortunately his mind had other ideas and the moment he drifted from consciousness, he was back there again, hearing her screams. This time, she was calling for him, begging for him to save her. Rather than the previous dream, he wasn't able to get to her. Instead he was trapped in a dark room, unable to find a door, hearing Carter calling his name. He screamed back in frustration, trying to tell her he was there even if he couldn't help her. He screamed until he ran out of breath, then he screamed some more.

And then, somehow, she was there. Her arms were around him, her voice in his ear, feeling more real than any dream he'd ever had. She was ok, she promised, everything was fine. Oh how he wanted it to be true, to accept the comfort of her embrace, to feel the heat of her body against his. Hell, he'd been through it a million times, usually with Jessica, but more recently, Carter had been appearing, and though he knew she'd be cruelly ripped from his arms, he couldn't stop himself.

His hands moved up, his fingers tangling in her hair, his mouth angling against hers as he kissed her. She didn't fight him, didn't resist as his tongue traced her lips. She opened her mouth to him and sighed as he deepened the kiss, her nails digging into his back.

And though he'd had the dream many times, he couldn't believe how overwhelming the sensations were. He wanted more. He needed more.

His mouth slipped down, leaving a trail of wet kisses across her throat. He tugged at her shirt as he tried to get more access, yanking at the collar with one hand while the other moved under it at her waist. That was when her hands moved from his back to his chest, pushing instead of pulling. He tried to wrap his head around it, reminded himself that he hadn't been the one who tried to hurt her. His lips moved back to hers, settling for her cheek when she turned her head away, moving toward her ear and nipping at her earlobe.

Her nails dug into his skin again, but she continued to push at him. His head was swimming. He felt intoxicated from touching her, like he couldn't control himself. He just wanted more of her. He wanted to feel her body against his. He wanted to feel her under him. He wanted to be inside her.

"John! Wait!" It was the fear in her voice that brought him out of the fog, reminding him that something always went very, very wrong in the dreams. No, he could never have her, Jessica either, something always changed and made him hate himself for wanting them. He curled his arms around her back, holding her against his chest, dreading the moment when he would lose her. She felt so real in his arms, so solid, so unlike the gossamer women in his dreams that would slip away before his eyes.

He turned his mouth against her ear, whispering to her. "I'm sorry, Jos, I'm so sorry."

She wasn't struggling any longer, in fact, her arms had slipped around him again, her face pressed into his neck. "For what?" One of her hands rubbed up and down his back. "It's just a little too fast. Not yet, not tonight, ok?"

Not yet. Not tonight. Well, that wasn't a no.


His eyes opened wide as the realization sunk in. He wasn't dreaming.

Oh fucking hell.

He'd been dreaming at some point, but no, he was wide the fuck awake now and he'd just tried to seduce Carter. As if he could ever save face from that, he'd picked the fucking night someone had tried to rape her. What the fuck was the matter with him?

And what the hell was she doing in the bedroom?

But… Not yet. Had she really said that? Was she really even willing to consider it? The words rolled around in his head, making no sense. It wasn't possible.

He'd just apologized to her, but that had been to the figment of his imagination in his dream, he'd been sorry for whatever horror he'd be responsible for happening to her in his dream. He squeezed her tighter, wishing there were some words that could explain how sorry he was. "Jos, I'm sorry, I didn't mean-"

She pulled back slightly, looking up at him, her smile fading to concern. "Stop apologizing. I heard you the first time."


She put a finger to his lips. "I said stop." Her eyes held his, assuring him of her conviction.

Reese wasn't one to leave well enough alone. "I don't even know what-"

"You were having a nightmare, screaming bloody murder back here. I'm surprised the neighbors didn't call the cops." Her hand moved to stroke his cheek. "I was going to let you sleep it off, figured you wouldn't want me involved, but then you were calling for me, so," she trailed off, having explained how she'd wound up in his bed in the first place.

"Carter, I thought I was dreaming. I never would have-"

She nodded, suddenly withdrawing her arms and trying to move away. "Yeah, I got it." She looked hurt.

He held her. "Wait. You didn't let me finish." She was misinterpreting his words again and he wasn't about to let her walk away when she might be hurting from something he hadn't meant. She stilled, her eyes locked on his chest, her face a forced blank. He cupped her cheek, lifting her face until she looked at him. "I never would have tried to get you in bed tonight, Jos, not after what happened to you. I need you to know that."

Searching his eyes for a long time, she finally nodded. "I believe you."

"I'm really sorry for my shitty timing."

She smiled, a laugh bubbling up and escaping. "Ok. I forgive you."

He smiled back. "I wasn't trying to get you in bed, but since you're here," he nodded at the pillows. "You want to stay?"

"You going to keep your hands to yourself?" It might have sounded like a threat if her hands hadn't been resting on his chest, her fingers lightly moving over his bare skin.

"Maybe you better go back to the couch."

"Maybe you better put your pants back on."

He stretched out, shifting himself over and holding the blanket up. "Coming?"

She followed his example and snuggled against his side, resting her arm over his stomach and her leg over his. "Good night, John."

Curling his arm around her shoulders, he smiled up at the ceiling. He wouldn't have expected it considering the way it had started out, but it had definitely been a good night. He'd thought he was rescuing her, but she'd rescued him too. Leaning down, he kissed the top of her head and drifted into a peaceful sleep.