Spoilers: Anything through season 1
Disclaimer: Clearly not mine.
She wasn't at all surprised when the phone rang. It was half past eight and whenever she worked late, Taylor always got worried and checked on her well-being, even when he was staying with friends. She flipped open the phone without checking the display.
"Hey, baby, I'm fine. Just doing paperwork."
There was a lengthy pause, revealing that it was not Taylor long before the older man spoke. "Detective Carter, our friend needs some help."
She rolled her eyes. John was in trouble. In other words, just a regular night. "What now?"
She didn't bother pretending she wouldn't help; they all knew she would. Especially after the last time, when she'd stood in a room full of agents and cops who were about to arrest, and likely kill, John. She'd thought she'd die just watching the scene unfold, her heart pounding harder in her chest than it had when she'd faced Bottlecap's gun.
Thank god everyone's attention had been turned toward their screens to follow John, one look at her face would have given away her personal involvement. Hell, she'd nearly been in tears when she saw John running around in circles like a rat in a maze. She shuddered thinking about it.
"It's rather an emergency. He's apparently running low on ammunition." Finch's voice wavered the slightest bit, his worry slipping through his calm façade.
"Jesus, at what point will you two learn?" She was already on her feet and headed toward the door. "One day, he's going to get himself killed, probably you too, hell, probably all four of us."
"I'm afraid every close call he survives only further convinces him that he's invincible."
"Where is he?"
She got the address, the last GPS location of his phone, and hurried off to help. As much as she bitched about it, she loved that they still depended on her. Knowing Fusco was in the mix, knowing he had considerably more flexible morals, knowing the only thing he cared about was saving his own ass, would have made him the obvious choice. The men all knew she was the only one who actually felt bound to obey laws, even if they had talked her into straying over that line more than once. In fact, the evidence they had on her would be more than enough to keep her in line should they feel like cutting her loose.
It made her believe that the contact continued because John wanted it. And that made her smile, even as she turned on the lights and siren and pressed the accelerator to the floor.
She was about to call Finch, to report that she couldn't find anyone, when she heard the smattering of gunfire. Someone had an automatic weapon and she suspected that, had it been John with that kind of firepower, she wouldn't have been called. The answering volley was a single shot from a handgun, confirming her suspicions.
At least her timing was perfect, arriving just as John ran empty.
The problem was that she traced the sound to an alley with a dead end and almost no cover. There was no way for her to offer him assistance on foot. She'd have to drive into the middle of it and hope he got to her before the bad guys did.
She closed her eyes and said a quick prayer, wondering once again why she was willing to go to these lengths for this man. What the hell was it about him that made her risk her life and her career over and over again? She answered her own question, her mind immediately recalling the way he'd appeared just in the nick of time to save her from the bullet with her name on it and the heartfelt promise that he wouldn't let any harm come to her son before she even knew Taylor was in danger.
She revved the engine and sped into the alley, wincing and ducking instinctively as the bullets started flying her way.
Slamming on the brakes to avoid the brick wall at the end, she threw the car into reverse. The passenger door flew open amid a hail of bullets from the driver's side, John jumping into the car with a wide smile that instantly reminded her of another reason why she did what she did for him.
"Go!" He slapped his hand onto her knee, causing her foot to press the gas, sending them flying back the way she'd come. The bullets kept coming, shattering the driver's side windows, even as they moved, revealing the presence of a second shooter. No wonder he'd needed help.
She felt the piercing pain just as he reached for her, pulling her down away from the window, taking over the steering of the car for her. She was completely disoriented, the car whipping around as he threw it into drive with her head still cradled against his chest. He moved over to the middle of the seat, his leg reaching past hers to take over the rest of the controls.
He drove them out of the immediate area before he pulled over. "Carter? Where are you hit?" His voice was panicked, his face scared. His hands seemed to be everywhere at once, checking over her for the source of the blood.
She shook her head, trying to get her thoughts together while his worried hands threatened to scatter them again. "I'm not hit. I think," She sat up, looking down at her left shoulder and the blown out window. "I think it's just glass."
He leaned over her, either not believing her or needing to see for himself. His touch was gentle as he inspected her shoulder, her neck, even ran his hand through her hair, his relief obvious when he came to the same conclusion. His eyes closed and he let out a breath, his hand remaining against the back of her neck. "Oh thank god."
It made her smile, despite the pain, despite the problem of explaining a shot up car to the NYPD. He'd been worried about her. He was glad she wasn't hurt worse. He met her eyes, that sexy smirk of his appearing, and for a long moment, he just looked at her. They'd never been so close, mere inches separating them.
"Thank you." He finally broke the stare, carefully trying to extricate himself from the physical tangle that had occurred during their escape. But his attempts to move were jarring her sliced up shoulder, so she stopped him with a hand on his arm.
"Stop. Just stop moving." She waited until he did so before she continued. "I think you'd better drive."
He was already half in the driver's seat and it just seemed easier for her to scoot herself over him into the passenger seat.
At least it seemed easier until she tried it one-handed, losing her balance and dropping into his lap.
She heard the quick breath he took, his attempt to circumvent his body's instinctive response to hers. Yeah, she thought, that's exactly why she answered every call. The attraction between them was a force all its own and it was too damn fun to ignore. John's flirting and occasional touches made her feel things she hadn't been sure she'd ever feel again.
And the sensation of him holding her still in his lap for a briefest of moments was another one of those that she'd never expected. She'd thought it was just flirting, just fun, just friendship, but in that moment, he'd revealed that he really was attracted to her.
Well, hell, that changed the game a bit.
He didn't take long to recover, using his superior strength and uninjured arms to lift her the rest of the way over. He didn't say a word, didn't smile, didn't even raise an eyebrow at her. That told her as much, if not more, about what he felt.
After another long moment, he shifted back to look at her, his attention on her bloody shoulder. "Do you want to go to the hospital?"
Shaking her head, she didn't glance at the wound that hurt like hell. She knew looking would only make it hurt worse. "No, I'll be fine. Just take me home."
Then he did give her that raised eyebrow and a smirk. "I thought you'd never ask."
When they arrived back at her place, she expected John would be on his way. It wasn't the first time he'd left her with a huge mess to explain and nothing from him but a snarky remark.
But this time, he hurried around the car to open her door, even offering his hand to help her to her feet.
He nodded at the car while he escorted her up the steps. "Tomorrow morning, report the cruiser stolen. I'll take care of the rest."
She nodded, thoroughly relieved that he was finally willing to help. "Thanks."
Rather than leaving her at the front door of her building, he held it open for her and followed her all the way to her door. Shaking her head at his odd behavior, she slid her key into the lock and stepped inside. When he moved to follow, she turned to stare at him.
"Are you going to follow me into the shower too?"
A hint of a smile appeared, fading as soon as it had come. He tried to move past her into the apartment, but she blocked him.
"Did you hit your head or something? You're not acting like you."
"You think you know me well enough to know when I'm not acting like me?" He accepted that she wasn't just going to let him walk in, but he wasn't leaving either.
Something was definitely going on.
"You've voluntarily said more than two words. Clearly something happened." She leaned her head to the side. "Come on, 'fess up or I'm not coming next time Finch calls and says you're in trouble."
He turned away, his brow furrowing as he gazed in the general direction of her couch. "That's just it, Carter." He turned back to face her, his eyes on hers, his expression open and vulnerable. "You drove straight into that alley to help me."
She shrugged. "It's not the first time, John. It's what we do, right? Back each other up. We're a team."
He shook his head. "You had no idea what you were driving into." His hand pulled at the fabric of her blazer above her bleeding shoulder, calling her attention to a second hole in her shirt. "This bullet hit the headrest, Jos, it almost killed you."
She swallowed hard, pushing back her own feelings at the near miss she hadn't even realized she'd had. She reached up and covered his hand. "It didn't kill me because you pulled me out of the way."
He looked down. "You shouldn't have been there in the first place."
She grasped his hand. "If I hadn't been there, you'd be dead. I'm willing to get hurt to save your life, John. I know you'd do the same for me."
His eyes moved back to hers for a second as he forced a smile. He nodded a moment later, and she decided that he was accepting her declaration even if he didn't like it. "How bad is it?" He nodded at her shoulder.
As with most injuries, she suspected it felt a hell of a lot worse than it actually was. She steeled herself to look, almost pleased to find that while it was bleeding, she really couldn't see much through her clothes. She pulled the fabric back a bit, an excruciatingly sharp pain bringing tears to her eyes. "I think there's still glass in there. Besides that, it'll be fine."
She worked off her jacket carefully to avoid disturbing it, then took another look through her blood stained shirt. Once she got the glass out, she knew it wouldn't hurt nearly as much. She tried to get a good look at it, but between her shirt and its location on the outside of her shoulder, it was impossible.
"You can't see it, Carter, you're just going to make it worse." He moved in front of her, his hand brushing hers out of the way.
She felt his fingers prodding around the cut, then a sharp pain when he pressed a piece of the glass. "Ow, shit, that hurt!"
"Sorry, I can't really see."
"No x-ray vision? I'm disappointed."
His hands touched her hips suddenly, his fingers slipping under the hem of her shirt, lifting it the slightest bit. "May I?" He waited without presuming, his clear blue eyes holding hers, waiting for an answer. He had no idea he took her breath away.
It was adorable, she thought when her brain started functioning again. Smiling at the chivalry, she nodded. She couldn't say she'd never thought about him gently tugging her shirt over her head, but she'd certainly never thought it would be under these circumstances. Raising her arms, the blinding pain immediately distracted her. She told herself it wouldn't do to scream in pain over a cut when she was with a man who was consistently able to get up and run with bullets and knife wounds and god only knew what else in him.
Still, all the rationalization in the world didn't help when a shard of glass shifted under her skin. She stifled the yelp, but she knew he'd heard it anyway.
He turned his full attention to her wound. "I see a few pieces of glass in here. You have tweezers?" It was weird to feel his breath falling against her bare skin as he spoke.
She nodded, wondering when he'd start teasing her about the gooseflesh that arose under his hands. He would. He noticed everything and he always teased her. And she was powerless to resist the instinctive response of her body to his touch.
She cleared her throat. "In the first aid kit. Kitchen."
"Lead the way."
He let her get a head start of quite a few feet and only then, when she noticed his hesitation to follow, did it occur to her that he was enjoying the view. Immeasurably happy that she was wearing one of her good bras that day, she turned around to face him unashamed.
She raised an eyebrow which she was fairly certain he didn't even notice considering that his eyes were focused considerably lower. "Is there a problem?"
His eyes snapped to hers as a blush spread across his face. "N-n-no," he choked out as he started to cough. "Right behind you."
She let herself smile and enjoy the victory. He'd liked what he'd seen. And she was glad to know that, despite having given up on finding someone, she could still turn the head of an attractive man and make him stutter.