Chapter 2 – Long Night

Throughout the surgery, cops come and went looking for news on their injured colleagues and paranoid Finch was dying on the inside from having all these law enforcement officers in such close proximity, but he didn't want to leave. He long ago had figured out that Reese had deep feelings for Carter, and he was terrified of what John would do if Josselyn died. He needed to be there in case the worst happened.

Finch was also worried that someone would recognize John as the 'Elusive Man in the Suit'. The NYPD had been chasing John for some time, but none of them knew what John really looked like, since all they had was the description; a tall guy in a suit. John was wearing jeans, a t-shirt and his leather motorcycle jacket, and was obviously known and liked by Taylor, so they never caught on that one of the most wanted men in the city was sitting amongst them. John remained cool and calm, and never gave any indication that he was nervous about meeting any of the officers. He even managed to chat amiably with a few of them.

After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor finally emerged from the O.R. with good news. While Carter's injuries were serious, and she would probably need a couple more surgeries to completely repair all of her wounds, she would recover. Only Finch saw the tear trickle down John's cheek before he swiped it away.

"Can I see her?" Taylor asked.

"We will move her to her room in a few minutes, and after we get her settled in, you can see her," the doctor told him.

While they were waiting for Carter to come out of the O.R., John and Harold decided to check up on Fusco. Lionel was sitting up, but somewhat drowsy from the pain killers. One arm was in a sling and his leg was in a splint up to the knee.

"How's Carter doing? No one tells me nothin' around here", he groused, as soon as they entered the room. Despite his ill humor, John felt just bit kinder towards the man for his obvious concern for his partner.

"Surgery went well, she's going to be fine, but she has a long recovery ahead of her." Finch informed him.

"At least she's gonna be OK. What about the bank robbers? I know Carter took one of the bastards down, what happened to the other one?"

"It appears that he got away for now. Mr Reese and I will track him down. I'm sure he will be avenging Carter's injuries," Finch assured him.

"You got that right Finch," Reese said, in that that low deadly tone that both Fusco and Finch knew meant someone was about to die. Fusco nodded his approval; while Fusco was very loyal, his moral compass wasn't exactly pointed due north.

At that point Fusco's ex-wife and son arrived, so Reese and Finch excused themselves. Joss had been brought down from surgery and the nurses were getting her settled in her room. Taylor and Alice were standing in the corner of the room, holding hands and watching carefully with helpless expressions on their faces. John moved over by Taylor and squeezed his shoulder; Taylor acknowledged him with a tight nod and went back to staring at his mother.

John almost didn't recognize Joss with all the tubes, monitors and IVs hooked up to her. She was still unconscious and her normally beautiful skin was ashen.

Finch watched Reese carefully. John tended to be intense at the best of times, and right now he was as tense as Finch had ever seen him. He never took his eyes off of Joss as she was settled into her bed. Finch saw John's eyes slowly fill with tears that he attempted to blink back. Finch's heart was suddenly very heavy in his chest.

Finch turned his attention to Taylor to find that Taylor's expression mirrored John's. His brown eyes were locked on his mother, and he too was blinking back tears. Finch did not think his heart could get any heavier, but somehow it managed to sink lower in his chest. Harold vowed to find the man responsible for this. He was not a vengeful or angry man, but the sad scene in front of him almost made him one. Seeing the pain in the eyes of the son, the mother and man who loved the injured woman, Finch briefly wanted the fugitive's head on a platter so he could serve it up to John.

Once Carter was settled and the machines were hooked up to the nurses' satisfaction, Taylor approached his mother and held her hand, talking softly to her.

John suddenly felt like an intruder, he didn't deserve to be here, he didn't belong here. He touched Harold's arm. "Let's give them some privacy," and they moved to the door.

Taylor saw them going and said, "You're coming back." It was a statement, not a question. John was startled, a bit unsure as to why Taylor would actually want him around. He nodded. "We'll be back in a while. We just want to give you some time alone with your mom."

Alice followed them out the door and touched John's arm. "I'm sorry, I don't know you, but Taylor obviously does. Thank you for being here for him."

Harold took her hand and smiled. "I'm Harold and this is John. We have had the pleasure of working with your daughter on several cases and we have…become very fond of her. If you need anything please let us know."

"Do we have you to thank for the private room?" Alice asked. "My late husband was a cop, I know NYPD insurance doesn't cover private rooms."

Harold gave Alice his most reassuring smile. "Don't worry; it's all taken care of."

"Thanks, Harold." Alice hugged him, and went back into the room.

Harold turned to John who had been standing next to him quietly throughout the exchange, looking rather lost and miserable. "If you don't need me here, I'm going to go back to the Library and start tracking down the gunman."

John nodded, but didn't say anything.

"John," Finch said softly. "She's going to be fine. I've arranged for the best care possible. She will be up and arguing with you in no time."

The corner of John's mouth ticked up, just for a second, and then he let it drop again. "I failed her, Finch. I should have been there."

"John, stop it. Carter and her family need you right now. This is not the time for recriminations. I seriously doubt you could have made it to the scene in time to prevent Carter's injuries anyway. The whole incident took place in a remarkably short time frame." Finch turned and limped off.

John watched him go. Reese knew Finch was right, he could guilt trip later; right now he needed to focus on helping Taylor and Joss through the crisis. But, why, of all the people he had protected and saved, why could he never seem to be in the right place to save the woman he loved? He couldn't save Jessica and she'd died, he was not there for Joss, and she nearly died. What was wrong with him?

John wandered sadly around the hospital for a while and finally settled down in the small chapel. He wasn't a religious man, but it was quiet and he had the place to himself. He decided that he would deal with his feelings for Joss later. He just hoped he could learn to manage his emotions so he could continue to work with her after she recovered. The thought of not having her in his life at all would kill him. Regardless, he would place Joss first and do whatever was best for her.

After a couple of hours he realized it was getting late. He wanted to head back to Carter's room and convince Alice and Taylor to go home and get some rest. He would stay, of course. There was no way he was going to leave her alone.

John was not surprised when he entered the room and Taylor hadn't moved from the spot he had been in when John had left. Taylor was still seated next to the bed, holding his mother's hand and talking softly to her. Alice had seated herself on the other side and was holding Joss's other hand.

When she saw John enter the room she got up and spoke quietly to him. "I can't get Taylor to leave."

John nodded, "I'll see what I can do". He approached the teenager and laid his hand on his shoulder. "Taylor, it's late it time for you to go home and get some rest."

"I don't want her left alone." John nodded; he understood what the teenager was saying.

"Don't worry, I'll stay with her." Taylor turned and looked up at John, and wiped a tear away.

Alice grabbed John in an unexpected hug. "Thank you for being here. I know it means a lot to Taylor."

John swallowed that bitter pill, had he been there when Joss needed him, they would not be in the hospital now. But that was something he would deal with when Joss was better.

John saw Alice and Taylor out and then stood by the door staring at Joss lying there in the bed, the steady beep-beep of the heart monitor the only sound in the room. He slowly approached the bed. Finch had arranged for a cot to be brought in for him, but he knew he was not going to use it. He sat down in the chair by the bed that Taylor had just vacated and took the same hand that Taylor had been holding. He stared hard at Joss's lovely face, marred by the breathing tube snaking from the corner of her mouth and taped to her cheek.

John reached and tenderly touched the other cheek. Her color had improved somewhat during the day, but it was still off. She looked so vulnerable laying there that John was overwhelmed. He vowed to kill the man who shot her as soon as Finch found him.

John leaned over her and kissed her forehead, letting his lips linger, as the tears he had been suppressing all day finally started to make their way down his cheeks.

"Joss, I don't know if you can hear me. I'm so sorry for last night, I never should have grabbed you like that, it was inexcusable. I hope you can forgive me. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you today. I should have been there and you got hurt because I wasn't. You are so important to me, and I failed you. I can't lose…you…" and John couldn't go on; he put his head down on the bed next to Carter and began to cry quietly. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…" he kept repeating over and over.


Thanks for all your kind reviews for Chapter 1! Sorry for the short chapter, more to come.