Title: The Space Between
Summary: An anniversary. A friend in need. Surprises for both sides.
Author's notes: Plot bunnies run amok. A sequel is already in the works.
The Space Between
What's wrong and right
Is where you'll find me hiding, waiting for you
The Space Between
Your heart and mine
Is the space we'll fill with time
-Dave Matthews Band
Carter sat at her desk shuffling papers, trying to look busy. It had been a quiet day so far, but she knew…just knew…that something was in the wind. She'd been antsy all day. Even Fusco'd noticed, offering to pick up coffee for her when he ran out to pick up some paperwork from his son's school. She'd declined, not needing any more caffeine than she'd already had today. Maybe that's what it was…she was overcaffeinated. She just couldn't stop the feeling of dread that was washing over her.
When her phone rang, it startled her out of a forced daydream of a white sandy beach, a drink with an umbrella, and no worries. She didn't look at the screen, just flipped open the phone. "Perfect timing, John. One more papercut from shuffling these reports and I was going to go crazy."
The pause on the other end made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. "Hello?"
"Detective, I think I might require your assistance on a…special project."
Finch. Not John. This can't be good.
"A special project? What does that even mean?" Any number of things ran through her mind. She just never knew with those two.
"Would you be able to meet me at the diner a block down from your precinct in, say, 20 minutes?"
"I can, but can I at least get a hint of what kind of trouble I might be letting myself in for?"
The pause said a lot to Carter. Now she knew there was trouble. But she still couldn't fathom why he wasn't just telling her what it was and letting her do what she did best.
"All I can tell you over the phone, detective, is that it involves our mutual friend…and the events in New Rochelle."
Her heart clenched in her chest. "I'll be there in 10."
Carter entered the diner and scanned through the early dinner crowd looking for Finch. It wasn't long until she spotted him, his head in a book. She slid into the seat opposite him and he looked up, a thin smile on his face.
"Detective, thank you for meeting me. Can I get you some coffee?"
"No, thanks. What you can do is tell me what's going on with John. Why do I get the feeling I'm not going to like it?"
Finch closed his book and adjusted his glasses on his nose. "I wish I could tell you not to worry, but I don't know for sure that we shouldn't."
Carter just stared at him.
"I haven't heard from Mr. Reese in over 24 hours."
She waited; there had to be more. He just sat, hoping she'd catch on. She raised her eyebrows in an attempt get him to get to the punchline. He didn't take the bait.
"Finch. Give me the rest; I'm not following. Why is it a problem? John is a big boy; he's allowed to take a day off occasionally. And he doesn't need your permission, it's not like he clocks in."
He looked uncomfortable under her scrutiny and she was glad; this whole conversation was getting ridiculous.
"Normally, I would agree, but this is a special case. Do you know what today's date is?"
Carter took a deep breath and just shook her head to keep from saying something snarky.
"Today is the anniversary of Jessica's death."
Carter closed her eyes and bowed her head. "Shit."
"Now, don't misunderstand, I don't know for sure that anything is wrong with Mr. Reese. I just have a bad feeling since I haven't heard from him since yesterday morning."
That explained the feeling she'd had all morning. Damn it. She decided against telling Finch, not sure if he'd believe her or not. She wasn't sure if she believed that was the cause.
"What do you want me to do? Can't you just go see him?"
Finch paused a moment, collecting his thoughts. "I would, but I don't think he'd be open to any help from me."
"And he would be from me? I doubt that."
The corner of Finch's mouth turned up slightly. "Detective Carter, I think you're the only one he'd be willing to talk to."
She digested his words, not willing to try to decipher their meaning. "Why?"
Again, Finch looked down, a smile trying to work its way across his lips. "Let me just say this: he holds you in high regard. You've both experienced a similar loss. John would recognize that, even as he would fight your help."
Carter just shook her head. She wasn't sure she was ready to get into a battle of wills with John Reese, but he'd helped her so many times; she owed him for her son's life. And there was something … just…something…that she'd see in his eyes every now and then…
She sighed. That was another subject she wasn't sure she was ready to deal with.
"What do you want me to do?"
Finch pushed a business card across the table to her. On it, there was a key. "This is John's address and a key to his loft. Please, go check on him. If I know him at all, he's buried in the guilt he's carried all these years. I can't help him, but I think you can."
She nodded, taking the card and key, and standing. "I'll do what I can, what he'll let me do, if I find him."
"That's all I can ask, Detective. Thank you."