Disclaimer: Nothing you recognise belongs to me.

Strong "T" rating for sexual situations at the end of the chapter.

Carter's head hurts, but probably not as much as Fusco's she thinks, finishing off the last of her paperwork. Her partner still has steri strips covering the gash where the bullet had creased him, but he'd insisted on coming down to the precinct as soon as he was discharged from hospital; something that she is grateful for. The mess at the Orchadia bridal boutique was a total cluster fuck even with Reese's cover story explaining most of the reasons why they were there and the three dead bodies in the morgue. Joss grimaces at the thought. A couple of inches to the left from the bullet that had grazed hs skull and Lionel might have ended up in a drawer next to them. The tightness in her chest isn't entirely due to the idea that she'd have to break in a new partner if anything happened to him. Watching him munch on the bagel that she had brought him that morning with the not entirely accurate excuse that it was "buy one, get one free", she shakes her head at him in mock reproof when he drops a glob of cream cheese on his shirt before gathering her paperwork and taking it down the corridor to be filed.

Since John had actually come through with delivering Joey Ryder who was quite happy to find her and spill his guts about Janet Kline's drug couriering and testify to her murdering his friend, what should have ended in career suicide didn't even end up with a slap on the wrist. The DA had cut a deal with the kid and the stash of cocaine found under the floorboards of Orchadia's kitchen took any heat off of her and Fusco. Results spoke for themselves no matter how unorthodox the means of getting the information might have been, and all in all the bust was considered a win. The papers were having a field day with "The Blonde Bridal Drug Baroness."

After dropping off her files, Joss pauses at the water cooler and swallows down the cold liquid quickly before tossing the cup in the garbage. John used her, and that's not something that sits comfortably with her. He had his reasons, and they were good ones, but the knowledge that he had kept her so far out of the loop that she hadn't even had a chance to realise the danger she and Fusco were in before they were being shot at rankles. If John had been honest with her she might have been able to bring Janet Kline in wearing handcuffs and not a body bag. Feeling irritated and confused and telling herself that it has nothing to do with the fact that Reese hasn't contacted her in the past three days she heads to the kitchen.

The coffee is barely luke-warm in the pot on the sideboard but Joss pours Lionel a cup anyway, dumping three spoons of sugar into the dark sludge. When she returns back to her desk she's a little surprised at the smile on his face as he hurriedly shoves something back into the padded envelope in his hand.

"What's that?" She waves the cup of terrible coffee at him in an attempt at enticement and raises an eyebrow. "New Star Wars doll?"

Fusco grabs the cup and takes a swallow before grimacing and pushing it away. "I collect Star Trek collectable figures for your information, but no. Seriously, you call that coffee?"

"One of the rookies does." Joss watches as Lionel puts the envelope in his desk drawer and locks it. "What is that? It'd better not be porn."

Her partner gives her an amused grin. "Would that be so bad? Maybe you should broaden your horizons."

"Broaden my horizons?"Carter says sulkily, "I've already read "Fifty Shades Of Grey"."

"Really?"

Joss rolls her eyes and grabs her coat. "I'm done here. See you Monday, and you're welcome for the coffee."

"Whatever this stuff is it isn't coffee." Fusco's words echo behind her but she ignores them. Barring a catastrophe she's not due back into work for two days, and since Taylor is probably developing carpal -tunnel syndrome with his cousins playing video games at their house, the idea of going home and crawling into bed for the next forty eight hours sounds like heaven. She calls her son on her cell but he doesn't have much time to talk. Something about being on level five. Joss tells him she loves him and he says "see-ya" which is short-hand for "I love you too but there's no way in hell I'm going to say it infront of my friends."

Wearily trudging up the steps to her apartment, because yes, today of all days the elevator was out of order, Joss looks at her key in bewilderment when she opens the door to her home, checking that she's got the right door. The smell hits her first. She's always liked flowers but never had anywhere to grow them. Her grandmother had a garden in Iowa where she used to play as a girl and so some of the scents are familiar though. Honeysuckle. Hyacinths. Roses. The heavy fragrance of Lily Of the Valley. One hand curls around the gun she keeps in her purse, but it's giddy wonder and not fear that she feels when she closes the door behind her. The floor, the dinner table are overflowing with blooms. She can't quite see into the kitchen but Carter's pretty sure that there's a three foot high orchid in the sink from the little she can see through the flowers that have turned her home into a jungle.

"Going for subtle, huh?" The attempt at being snarky doesn't sound very convincing and the man waving a white rose at her shrugs.

"These were the flowers that you wanted. I was right there when you picked them out of the catalogue." John looks unrepentant, utterly at ease and so ridiculously sexy covered in white petals and sprawled on the couch that Joss can't help but laugh.

"Yeah, but.."Flicking her fingers through a spray of gypsofilia tucked into an over the top bouquet on her dining table, Joss surveys her apartment. "That was in pretend getting married world, and you know that I only chose them to piss you off. What the hell am I supposed to do with all this?"

"Forgive me?" He raises an eyebrow and Joss crosses her arms.

"You nearly got Lionel and I killed. You know that right?"

The light seems to go out in John's eyes. Settling herself down on the couch next to him, Joss plucks the rose from his fingers. The petals are beautiful, sleek and elegant. A thorn pricks the pad of her thumb and Joss rubs the blood away, watching as Reese watches her.

"I get flowers, what did you give Lionel? Please tell me it was the wedding cake."

"Sorry." John takes her hand and looks at the tiny wound. "I didn't think either of you would appreciate it, besides the bakery in question looks like going under along with Janet Kline's business." He kisses her thumb and Joss finds herself going very still. He lets her hand go, but she licks her lips involuntarily, feeling a rush of heat go through her. She's never thought her apartment small before, even with all the clutter that comes with living with a teenaged boy, but suddenly the walls seem to be a little too close and the air a little too thick.

"You gave him something." She kicks her shoes off and wriggles her toes in the carpet. "That envelope he got today was from you." It's a guess, but when John gives her an enigmatic smile Joss nods towards the bag she had dumped on the small area of floor that wasn't covered in flowers. "I can handcuff you, take you down the precinct and make you tell me you know."

"What is it with you and handcuffs?" John's grey eyes crinkle at the corners and she kicks him on the shin lightly.

"Come on, tell me." She keeps her attention on the rose in her hand. The silky caress of the petals on her palm. He loves me, he loves me not.

"Backstage passes to the Foo Fighters," Reese says eventually. "His son likes them."

"Huh." Carter thinks about that for a moment. "Good call. He gets points when it comes to his son, you get points with Lionel. Win, win."

"That's what I'm hoping."

"And I get to come home to a flower shop." She tries not to smile. "Is it even worth changing my locks so you can't barge your way in?"

"Do you really want me to answer that?" He leans forward so close that Joss can smell the faint trace of his cologne and feel the heat of his skin. This is the part where you get up, re-establish boundaries and act like a damn good officer of the law, she tells herself. She'd never been particularly good at following rules though, and so when his lips dip down and nuzzle hers she kisses him back, letting him pull her onto his lap when they have to break contact in order to breathe. Dropping her head down onto his shoulder she sighs when John runs his hand down her spine. His chest is hard and warm against her breasts, his erection solid in the junction between her thighs. When she rocks against him he groans and she feels the echo of it through her own body, and when he asks her if she's sure she practically drags him to the bedroom.

Joss doesn't turn the light on. There's enough light from the hallway to see what she's doing and even if she were waxed, made up and wearing her best lingerie she'd feel a little self conscious getting naked infront of him. Having come straight from work without even having time to change her clothes or shower she hesitates for a moment before John picks her up and places her carefully on the bed. He strips her clothes off slowly, folding first her shirt, then her pants before putting them on the chair beside her wardrobe. Batting her hands away he takes a very long time removing first her bra and then her panties. His mouth is soft, his big hands firm and warm as he spreads her legs. The crisp rasp of his starched cotton shirt against her inner thighs and the soft "Come for me sweetheart" against her core is all it takes for her let go completely.

Limbs heavy from the afterglow, Joss tugs at Reese's shirt sleeve.

"Lose all of..." She gives a half hearted wave at him. "Get your clothes off."

"Whatever the lady wants." His grey eyes are impossible to read in the darkness. When he climbs up on to the bed finally, blessedly naked, Carter runs her hand through his hair, down his neck and over his shoulder. He fits her like he's made for her and she whispers his name as she comes once again.

Afterwards, sweaty, blissfully lazy and more than a little sleepy, Joss touches the gauze taped to his shoulder. "What happened here?"

"Bullet from one of Janet Kline's friends." John shifts to move out of her, but Carter keeps her leg hooked over his hip and snuggles against his chest, tucking her head under his chin.

"Where do you think you're going?" She mumbles. The answering chuckle is something that she feels rather than hears.

"Nowhere apparently."

"You deserved to get shot," Joss says eventually. "I had to wear corsets for you and see Fusco in skinny jeans. That's real pain – you got off easy."

"You're all heart, you know Carter." He tries to sound annoyed, but can't help but laugh. "You want to know what pain is, it's having Finch watch you modelling dresses and not letting me see the footage."

"Harold watched me undressing?" Carter wrinkles her nose and snuggles closer to him, sliding a hand down his rib-cage. "I never saw him as the kinky type."

"He's not. He was a perfect gentleman."

"And you're not." Joss tries not to giggle like a teenager when he pushes her over onto her back. Reese is already hardening again within her and she looks up at his grey eyes.

"I'd have recorded every moment and put it on a permanent loop on my phone. "

"Pervert."

"Goddess." He kisses her then and it's a long time before Carter has a coherent thought after that. Waking up with the dawn light spilling through the blinds and John heavy and warm against her back, she smiles. Ok she won't be walking down the aisle for real with this dangerous, sexy, adorable guy, but that's alright. He's got her heart, and she's pretty sure that she has his. Who needs normal anyway?

A/N: Complete! There's an "M" rated version of this chapter that can be found through a link on my profile page (it's not that much different though). Thanks very much to everyone who has been reading this – it really was a lot of fun to write and you helped make it that way!