Chapter 14

The warmth of the rising sun grew by degrees, slowly bringing Elise out of her beautiful dream. The arm holding her close, the chin resting on the top of her head, the slight snoring she could hear…all blended perfectly with her dream. As the light from the sun more directly shone on her face she finally roused herself enough to open her eyes but just a crack because it was so bright. Her right arm was curled up next to her but her left arm was stretched out across ...a chest? Moving her head ever so slightly, she realized her dream was a reality. She had been sleeping in John Reese's arms all night. She began glancing around and took in where they were, memories of the night's ravishment, both hers AND his flooded back, making her blush madly but smile at the same time.

Snuggling closer to John and hugging him tighter, she was rewarded with a hug from his left arm that took her breath away in its fierceness. A low rumble in his chest alerted her that he was awake and speaking to her.

"Morning Ms. Tate, hope you slept well." He murmured as his right hand reached up to smooth her hair out of her face. As was his want, he ran his fingers through her hair and buried his hand deep in its silky darkness. Feeling his hand in her hair gave her a delicious shiver from her head to her toes and a tingle deep within her body. Wiggling her legs until they were intertwined with his, she gave a deep, contented sigh.

"Yes Mr. Reese, I believe I did. Thank you for asking." She said with a smile and a smirk. She could 'feel' his answering smile above her head.

Pulling away enough to raise herself on one elbow, she found herself looking at the face of a John Reese she'd never met, one that was extremely relaxed and seemed carefree. She hadn't believed it was possible but here he was. She hoped she was responsible for the smile of satisfaction she saw on his face.

"John, I need to tell you something." Whispered Elise. Pausing, John tried to speak but she placed her finger against his lips and shushed him. "I need to tell you this while I still have the nerve." Licking her lips she took a deep breath and continued. "You have become such an important part of my life. I thought I was happy before I met you. I thought I didn't need anything or anybody. I had a job and only relied on myself. But, I was not really living. I was simply existing which is not the same thing." Placing her hand on the side of his face and titling his head to look at her, she continued. "But you made me FEEL again. You made me feel anger, rage, happiness, worry, irritation and….love. Love was something I thought was out of my reach, that I'd missed that chance years ago and it would never come my way again. But you showed me I was wrong. I found I did have the capacity to care and to care love."

Gently rubbing her thumb over his bottom lip, she leaned over and softly kissed him. Pulling back she looked into his eyes. The eyes that made her heart beat faster whenever he looked at her. Eyes that burned with desire to match hers. Eyes that no longer held any secrets from her.

"I love you John Reese, I love you with my heart and soul which are both yours to take."

Her words hung in the air for a moment. The longer John took to answer, the more concerned Elise became, worried that she had misread him and made a fool of herself. A slight frown appeared between her eyes as she started to pull away but John's arm prevented her from moving. Using his other hand, he brushed her hair back behind her shoulder and rested his hand behind her neck. He gently lowered her onto her back until he was above her. He cupped her head and leaned down and kissed her, almost reverently, never taking his eyes off of hers, kissing her with eyes wide open. Pulling back he brushed her cheek with the knuckles of his right hand, catching the tears that suddenly appeared. Bending over her, he kissed the trail of her tears, raining light kisses all over her face until he could feel her smile. Once again he pulled back and looked into the eyes that he had fallen into months ago and realized he never wanted to be out of their thrall.

"Elise, know this…you have given me more than I will ever be able to give you. You saved my life in more ways than one. I was on my way 'back' with Harold's help but there was a part of me that he couldn't heal. But you could and you did. You've made me whole again. I no longer see everything in black and white. The world has color for me again. The darkness is still within me but it's less and less every day when I'm with you. You brought me peace, something that has been missing in my life, my mind and my soul. I love you Elise Tate, body and soul, and I am forever thankful for having you in my life. I'm yours if you'll have me."

Elise couldn't believe she was hearing those words from him. They wrapped around her heart and wouldn't let go. "Oh John, we belong to each other now and I'll never let you go."

"Neither will I Elise. Ever."

Once more they made love, slowly and sweetly, reveling in the joy of having that special someone to share life's troubles and triumphs. They were not alone any longer and there was no better feeling in the world.

Weeks went by and Elise and Zoe helped out with several of the cases Harold gave to Reese. One night, when they came home late from a particularly bloody shoot out, John found Elise crying in the bathroom. He lowered himself down next to her and took her in his arms.

"Sweetheart, why are you crying? What's wrong?"

"I just..John…when those bullets were flying and we were ducking for cover, I saw you…. you….you took out that one guy who was hiding behind that building and I thought…" She tried to get out between sobs. "I remembered my partner, Tim….after..after …he died, I swore I'd never, ever trust anyone to have my back like that again. But when I realized that I….that I trusted you in that way….it's so scary but it's also such a relief to have you there for me. I'm sor…sorry.. you must think I'm such a cry baby!"

Her words cracked open the darkness around his soul just a little bit more. He was honored and touched that she trusted him that much and told her so. "Elise, so long as I have breath in my body, I will never let you down. Never."

"Thank you John." She said, hugging him tightly. "I feel the same about you."

They never spoke of what happened to her partner again but with each case that they worked together, each became a more confident member of an efficient and sometimes deadly team.

Zoe also found the partnership with John and Harold rewarding. It was nice at the end of a job to be able to sit back and relax her guards with a bunch of people she was confident would always have her back. She was also able to be more discriminating in the paying cases she took thanks to Harold and his uncanny ability to get information for her. If a case did not seem on the up and up, Zoe was able to simply refuse it now. As Harold became more self-sufficient, she was able to liaise more with Elise in the field and that relationship too become stronger as a result.

Life had settled into a rhythm for Harold after his abduction and rescue. With his fingers healed and able to be actively back in the loop, Harold was once again back in his comfort zone. He had built new firewalls to guard against another intrusion from Root. His time spent with her did allow him to get a 'feel' for how her mind worked. She was a genius but that she was patently insane, he had no doubt. He knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, they would cross paths again. But this time he would be prepared...prepared in ways she could not fathom.

Carter had started her new job with the New York City office of the FBI. She was getting to know her new job responsibilities and meeting new co-workers. The scope of what she could 'see' and 'do' was exhilarating. It was the same type of job but on a much larger scale. She was going to miss the hands- on part of her old job but not the long hours with lousy food grabbed on the run.

The biggest surprise she had was that she almost had normal working hours. She was low man on the totem pole but she still mainly worked Monday through Friday from eight to five with very few nights so far. She was enjoying family life with Taylor, dinner, breakfast; normal everyday things she'd missed being a single parent and working for the NYPD. She wanted to raise her son, not her mother.

With Carter moving over to the FBI, Fusco assumed her position as lead detective. For once, he felt like he was finally on the right track. He enjoyed going to work every day. He could look people in the eye, and found himself looking over his shoulder less and less. HR was effectively shut down but Fusco knew there were still some HR cops on the job that he hadn't been able to finger. His biggest worry was Simmons but he appeared to be lying low after so many of his confederates were busted. Fusco also found that with greater responsibility, came some better perks. His hours were definitely better than before Carter left. He actually made it home most nights to have dinner with his son. Best of all, he'd made it to TWO hockey games. He felt like a cop again and a father, life was good.

Taking one job at a time, one day at a time had become a welcome modus operandi for Zoe. After the excitement, blind-eyed terror and bloody field work she had experienced in helping find Finch, she was glad to be back at her old job. The business she and Zoe had together was flourishing. Legitimate clients and under the table clients were clamoring for their services. Even with Elise helping John more and more, she was still just a phone call away. Zoe had been on her own for so long that her and Elise's new relationship had become a blessing in disguise. They were definitely on a more equal footing nowadays and that made the jobs easier. Zoe also found that had time to spend with Elise after hours. Sometimes for nothing more than a quick dinner or drink somewhere, sometimes for an evening out. Having some 'girl time' was refreshing.

Surprisingly, she found herself looking forward to the meetings with Harold. She and Harold had entry into worlds that Reese and Elise did not. Sometimes Harold called her for help and sometimes she called Harold for help, it was a give and take relationship that worked very well for both of them. For the first time in forever, Zoe felt she had friends that she could enjoy being with and who wanted nothing from her.

Elise and John were coming to grips with a relationship that began in, love, respect and now friendship. Their personalities were quite different, border line exact opposite. Reese was quiet, methodical, always thinking two to three steps ahead, looking at all the angles. Elise was much more impetuous. She had good instincts and things usually worked out fine. But there were enough times that her being head-strong and stubborn caused them to be caught in bad situations that they either had to fight their way out or shoot their way out of them. When that happened Elise had to listen to Reese all the way back to the library telling her about what she should have done, which usually consisted of waiting for HIM to do something first. Many times they'd be arguing as they entered the library on their way to report to Harold. After the first couple of jobs that ended with the 'juvenile bickering' as he called it, Harold learned to tune them out until they ran out of things to fuss about and were ready to give him a report about what they had done or seen or prevented.

However it was their sense of duty that made working together smooth, easy, and uncomplicated...until Reese tried to tell Elise how to do something that was. She demanded equal footing and responsibility but he had trouble sharing the control of a situation. He found out the hard way that Elise was quite capable of taking care of herself. He ended up at the wrong end of a punch more than a few times until he just let her do what she knew needed to be done. But when infiltrating a gang or investigating a warehouse full of drug runners, he knew he couldn't ask for a better partner. It was as if they were inside each other's head. They moved as a single unit in two pieces. Hand signals were seldom even needed, just a look or head tilt and they knew what the other was needing.

The biggest differences that needed to be worked out were in their home life. Elise had effectively moved in with John, seldom going back to her apartment except to pick up a few clothes here and there. It was almost empty except for the furniture and her lease was up in another month. Back in his loft, they enjoyed going to bed together, sleeping together, bathing together and waking up together but it was the other 50% of their time at the loft that was the problem.

John was former military, CIA and a compulsive neat freak. Everything had its place and everything was IN its place. Elise was the exact opposite. She was also former military but she fought back against the strict regime of 'neat enough for a daily inspection'. She'd leave clothes on the floor, towels over chairs, shoes in the middle of the room. Eventually she'd get around to cleaning them up but any of those acts drove John almost to distraction. He tried asking her nicely to pick up things right away, to throw things away or bring them to the kitchen. Elise always apologized and tried to do better, for about twenty-four hours and then she was back to her relaxed way of living. Each time John brought to her attention, the toothbrush hanging on the side of the sink instead of in the toothbrush holder or her hair brush on the coffee table the more vocal their 'discussions' became. They tried to work through their differences. He relaxed and decided to not pick up her clothes and leave them for her to pick up. She tried to remember to put the toothpaste up. It was going to be a long uphill battle that was certainly going to try both their patience.

Only problem was, when they'd argue, it would get heated and then they'd both pause, look at each other and realize they were hot and horny and needed to take care of some 'business' right then and there. Jumping into the bed, or dropping down on the carpet by the couch, or their favorite place: in a window seat and all problems disappeared. They were becoming finely tuned to each other's needs and desires and they both made a point that that took precedence over any laundry on the floor or toothpaste on the counter. Their physical attraction to each other was potent, knocking all other concerns to the wayside until each was satisfied, at least until the next time.

Sundays were almost always relaxing days, days to get caught up with family and personal things. They were 'off the clock', their time was their own and was not to be interfered with unless absolutely necessary. It had become an unspoken understanding among Harold, John, Elise, Zoe, Joss and Lionel to not use their cell phones if at all possible on those days to call each other.

Carter was having brunch with Taylor at the Lyric Diner. She'd seldom got to go out with her handsome son. She was so proud of him! He was doing well in school after a rocky start. He showed no permanent emotional scars from his abduction by Elias. His admiration of John Reese was still going strong. Sitting in the diner, Joss was surprised when two girls stopped by the table to talk to Taylor. After he introduced them to her, she sat there watching and smiling at the young man her son had become. His father would be so proud.

Stirring up a batch of scrambled eggs, Lionel kept a close eye on the bacon frying in the pan. His son came walking into the kitchen half awake, drawn by the smell of bacon. Looking at his son, he was continually amazed at how fast his son was growing. He was happy with his new job and new hours that meant he could spend Sunday mornings and some school mornings with his son. There was so much he'd already missed since he and his wife had divorced. He could actually plan things with his son, like going to a NY Giants game or ice skating in the park. Letting the bacon drain on a paper towel he scooped some scrambled eggs out onto a plate and grabbed the toast out of the toaster and set it in front of his son. Grabbing the plate of bacon and his own plate, he sat down and they began to eat and plan their day.

Balancing the books for the business, Zoe was sitting at her dining room table after finishing breakfast. The numbers looked good. She had learned to screen her clients well enough that she seldom got stiffed for payment. Because of their high success rate for getting the job done, she and Elise could almost name their price for any work they contracted for. Looking through the paper, Zoe was trying to decide if she wanted to go to the opening of the art show today or just take in a quiet movie. Or better yet, stay in and curl up with a good book.

Enjoying the morning sun on the roof, like they did every Sunday morning when they were not working, Elise and John were recovering from their morning 'workout'. When not working on Saturday night, they had developed a habit of having pizza and beer on the roof and watching the stars come out. Their conversations covered a huge variety of subjects, some personal, some professional and sometimes just nonsense. The sun did its usual wake-up call by shining in their faces. Snuggled under the covers with no clothes on, they were not eager to get moving. That is until skin rubbed against skin. Still discovering each other's bodies they played their own game they called 'What's that Scar From'. Reese had many more scars than Elise but she still had her fair share. They took turns pointing out different scars on each other and asking for the story behind them. It was another way to get closer to each other; they were still learning so much about each other. Elise stood up, wrapped the sheet around herself and went down to the loft to bring up coffee. Bringing it back up, she also brought the newspaper with her. She found Reese stretched out on his back naked as the day he was born. Standing over him, Elise thought she was one lucky woman to have a man this fine sleeping at her feet.

Harold walked into the library hung up his coat and put his brief case on his desk. Booting up the four different computer systems he stood there thinking about how their latest person of interest had ended up. Safe and secure and on their way to England, away from an unscrupulous business partner who was now in jail for attempted murder. Turning on the tea pot, he waited for the water to heat up so he could make his own Sencha green tea. During the week he picked up a cup at a vendor in the park but on Sundays he liked to make his own and drink it out of a china tea cup like a civilized, educated man.

After pouring the hot water over the tea leaves he covered the cup and let it steep. Checking the systems as they came on line, he could tell that a new number had come up. It would take a minute for the computer to spit out the number so he went back to fixing his tea. As he walked back to his desk the machine finally posted the new number on the main monitor. Standing there, watching the number the computer generated, Harold felt a rushing noise in his ears, his breath came in short gasps, his hands began to shake and he dropped the bone china tea cup on the floor where it shattered into hundreds of pieces. That number...he knew that number by was a number he had never ever wanted to see from the Machine. But it was there and it had a new and different display. Crunching down on the pieces of broken tea cup, Harold tapped a new command in the computer and a second bit of information showed up.

" can't!" Gasped Harold. Grabbing the edge of the desk, he tried to keep himself from falling to the floor. "John...I've got to call John." He whispered. Looking around frantically he could not find his phone. It had to be here, he never went anywhere without it. In a panic he grabbed his briefcase and dumped it out on this desk. His phone was not there! He patted the pockets in his pants...not there. "Where the hell is that damn phone!" yelled Harold, completely out of character.

Then he remembered, he limped over to his coat hanging on the coat rack and found his phone in the front pocket.

Barely able to make his fingers function he pressed the speed dial for Reese.

Reese's phone rang, bringing him instantly awake. Sitting up quickly he almost knocked Elise over as she tried to sit down with the coffee. Seeing Harold's name come up on the ID he frowned. This was not a good sign for Harold to break their unwritten rule about 'no work calls on Sunday'. Turning the phone to show the ID to Elise, she looked surprised also but nodded for him to answer it.

"Good morning Finch." John said in his best, good natured lilt.

" came up. Her number came up. I don't know what to do. She's in danger. And the machine says it's from two sources and one is the government. John...I can't ...I can't...nothing can happen to her!" Finch babbled almost incoherently. John frowned trying to piece together what Harold was saying but gave up.

"Harold, Harold. HAROLD calm down and tell me what's wrong. I can't help you if you don't tell me what's wrong. Take a deep breath, hold it, let it out and tell me what's wrong." John said firmly.

"Grace...Grace...Grace's number has come up"...

A/N: Don't worry readers we won't leave you hanging for long. We've started on the next fict in the series and will get it to you all ASAP.

Special thanks to our kickass beta: Maddsgirl75/Reesefan75. Check out her ficts too if you liked ours…she's an awesome writer herself.