NOTES: Written for LJ community pofinterest-fic Valentine's Day challenge. I've never written these characters before, but when I saw the challenge posted this idea came to me and I figured I'd give it a shot.

It'd been years since he'd given this day any thought whatsoever. He knew of its passing each and every year because one would have to be a hermit never setting foot outside to avoid the bombardment of hearts, flowers, chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, and cutesy pictures of Cupid. Like most everything else that normal people engaged in, however, John Reese didn't care.

Until now.

Why he cared this year was anyone's guess. He imagined Finch, or whatever his real name was, would have some insight if Reese asked him. He didn't, though. They didn't share with one another about things like this. Reese wasn't sure he wanted to understand it, truthfully.

The fact of the matter was. He cared.

Detective Carter was a good woman and a good cop, and there was no doubt in his mind whatsoever that she had been a good soldier as well.

He debated on just where and how to deliver his impromptu gift. The precinct would have been more logical simply because she spent most of her time there. He didn't go with logical, though, this wasn't work related and he thought she worked too hard most days. No, he wanted her to have something to enjoy away from the job.

So, instead, he planned it so she could come home after a long day of catching the bad guys to something nice. A gesture acknowledging her place in the world as a woman and a mother no matter how stepping over the line it was.

Getting in was no problem. She was at work, her son was in school. As expected, her place was neat and orderly. He imagined the son's room was not so neat and orderly as teenagers were, but he didn't search. This entry wasn't about finding out information about his Detective Carter.

In.

Leave the goods behind.

Out.

Don't get caught.

Easy as can be. For someone like him anyway.

Detective Carter loathed this day. She didn't used to. Once upon a time, it was a day that she enjoyed as others did who were in relationships. Oh sure, it was overall a silly holiday, but she'd enjoyed the flowers and candy that always came with it. A dinner out was nice. She was taking Taylor out. It wasn't quite the same, though.

She'd already given him a card. He was too old now for the little boxes of chocolate that he'd gotten so excited over when he was a boy. There were times she wished for those days back, that innocent enthusiasm he had for little things. Now the things he wanted cost so much money. DSIs, Wiis, iPhones, and whatever else the latest gadget was. He, and millions of other teenagers, had their pulse right on what the latest, hottest things were and they wanted them.

She slid out of her shoes almost immediately after she closed the door. She was lucky, she supposed, that while single she had someone to come home to, to make her evenings away from the job not quite as lonely as they could have been without her son.

"Taylor," she said. "Are you ready to take your mom out for Valentine's Day?"

Her eyes fell on the bouquet of roses in front of her. Somehow, even without having to ask and have Taylor deny they were from him, she knew. She could smell them, too, as she walked the short distance to them. Not surprisingly, there was no card or any indication who or where they came from.

She knew.

Some women would mistake the red to indicate love or passion, but she knew the color had other meanings and those were the ones that this Valentine was going for. Courage and respect came to mind. She wasn't sure what exactly she'd done to earn his respect, but she had.

There was a card, too. A generic, unromantic greeting card. He hadn't signed that either. Big surprise there. She gave a soft chuckle as she thought of all the things he probably knew about her and how little she knew about him.

"Are we still going out to dinner, Mom?"

"Yes, of course. Why?"

"I thought maybe you had other plans," her son said, gesturing to the flowers. "You know, a date or something."

"No, just the date with the guy standing in front of me. They're just from a friend."

"Well, I didn't get you flowers or anything," he said with a shrug, handing her a card. It was a store-bought card, which was fine. Again, though she couldn't help but wish fleetingly for the cards he'd made by hand when he was younger. She'd kept all of them. He probably had no idea how much she treasured each and every item he'd made especially for her.

"You don't have to get me anything, Taylor," she said, tears forming in her eyes as she read the card. "Telling me you love me is gift enough."

"Mom," he said.

"Yeah, yeah," she said, knowing he felt it even if he hated saying it these days. She remembered being a teenager and while she didn't hate her parents like so many of her friends did during that stage of her life, she didn't openly admit to loving them either. Especially in front of people.

"Let me get changed and then we can go."

"All right," he said.

He told her about his day at school while she changed, the abbreviated version she was sure. The fact he was still willing to tell her what he'd done made her happy. Too many times on the job she'd seen parents and children who had problems that could have been alleviated simply by communicating with one another.

Not that she was an expert and hadn't made mistakes as a parent. Until recently, she'd never questioned her methods as a cop either, but her involvement with Mr. Finch and Mr. Reese was making her do just that. There were laws and rules, and the majority of the time there was good reason for those laws and rules to be in place. There was no place in a city like New York for vigilantism, and yet she knew that they were trying to help people.

If only she knew how they were getting their intel. It was kind of creepy, really.

Changed into more casual clothes, she ran a brush through her hair and put a fresh layer of lipstick on. She wasn't going to think of Mr. Reese tonight. She was going to enjoy spending time with her son because sooner rather than later he'd be out on his own and memories of nights like tonight would be all she had.

"I'm ready, Taylor."

The roses were beautiful, she mused as she slid back into her coat. Taylor was ready to go, but she had to stop and smell them once more before leaving. It'd been a long time since she'd gotten flowers of any kind, for any occasion. She wasn't sure how she felt about getting these today.

Sad because it meant Mr. Reese knew she had no one else to buy her flowers. The life of a widow and a cop.

Elated because he thought enough of her to think she deserved them.

Confused because it seemed to cross a line in their relationship. This was personal not business.

She shook her head as she fixed her scarf. She was reading too much into it. They were just flowers from a man who, for whatever reason, wanted her to have them. It was Valentine's Day. He was just being thoughtful.

She could handle that.

"Thank you, Mr. Reese," she said, having no doubt through whatever means were at his disposal, he'd hear.

~The End~