Part Ten

It took a long time for Finch to navigate his way through the perpetually congested city streets, finally crossing into a peaceful, unpopular park, at least unpopular in the middle of a busy Monday morning. He pulled off the street and cut the engine, looking over at her as he opened the door.

"Care to join me?"

All she saw was a bench, the river, the city that she hadn't felt so far removed from when she was in Afghanistan. She'd been a New Yorker all her life and yet now, she didn't think she belonged anymore. She wasn't sure she belonged anywhere, except for with John. Which would be rather difficult.

In the absence of John, she realized Finch was the best she could do. John had chosen to befriend the man, after all. He'd chosen to work with him. It would have to do for her as well. "Yeah, sure."

Finch led her to the bench, a wistful smile on his face. "You know, this is where I met Mr. Reese. I'd seen him, but I'd never spoken to him. I arranged a lawyer to have him removed from your custody and had some friends bring him here." Finch frowned as he looked over at the Lincoln. "He didn't like me at first either. But I offered him a chance to pull himself together and he took it. He wasn't easily impressed with a life of wallowing in guilt."

She sat down beside Finch, her own mind drawing up the vague memories of the night she'd met John. "I'm glad you helped him get over Jessica. There was nothing he could have done to help her. I've seen so many cases of abused wives; no one can decide to save them besides themselves."

Finch nodded, his eyes returning to his phone. "I gave him a job, Jocelyn." He swallowed hard. "I believe you're the one who helped him get over Jessica. The real change in him came after he got to know you better."

Her face involuntarily curled into a smile. Though she doubted its veracity, the statement made her happy.

"I believe the two of you will make one hell of a team."

Carter sighed. "Little late for that now."

His eyes darted to his phone. "I feel like a child waiting for Santa Claus." He looked back up at her. "I'm aware that you have other employment options, not the least of which would be to reconsider your retirement from the NYPD, considering that your boss was rather pleased with you when you left and Fusco has yet to turn in your resignation."

"That would be a bit difficult since they've got me on camera visiting John in prison."

"There's also an opportunity for you to make a good name for yourself in law. I believe you would be an excellent litigator, considering your penchant for arguing with everyone." Once again, his eyes darted to his phone.

"As much as I appreciate the backhanded compliments, can you just get to the point?"

He cleared his throat, forcing his eyes from the phone. "I would like you to consider staying on with me. I can certainly make it a financially sound decision for you, full benefits for you and your son as well. Even with Mr. Reese back, there is more than enough work to do at any given time. In addition, considering recent events, I'm sure Mr. Reese will expect that you'll continue to be involved in our work."

"You're offering me a job? Again?" She stared at him for a moment, eventually comprehending the words he'd used. "With Mr. Reese back? Is there something you're not telling me?"

He looked at his phone again expectantly. "Not at the moment."

"Whatever." She stood up, taking a few steps toward the car before stopping and looking back. "I'll take the job, but only because I think I owe it to John, not to you." She didn't bother to wait for his response. She stormed back to the car and slammed the door.

She reached for her coffee, more out of habit than thirst, and realized that the third cup was missing. Someone had been in the car in those few minutes, someone who'd dared do it while the owner was a few feet away, someone, she realized with a start, who was still in the car. She was terrified beyond words, wondering what she'd walked into, fearing that of all the stupid things she'd done in the past, getting into a car without checking the backseat would be the one that took her down.

She swallowed hard, wishing she hadn't turned over her gun so easily, and steeled herself for whatever she'd find. Then she turned slowly, shaking with the anxiety of the unknown.

And there he was, dressed in his typical suit, shirt unbuttoned at the collar, smirking at her while he sipped his coffee. His eyes were dancing as they met hers.

She stared at him for a full minute, thinking she'd gone completely insane. But no, she told herself, if she was imagining John's presence, he wouldn't be sitting there smirking into his coffee.

"Get out."

At least that got his attention, the smirk faltering. "Excuse me?"

"Get out of the damn car." She watched the smirk fade entirely from his lips as he set his coffee down and reached for the door handle.

She followed suit, slamming her door shut as she closed the distance between them, throwing herself at him exactly the way she'd promised herself she would if she ever again had the chance. He was surprised for a second, finally realizing she wasn't angry or attacking. Her arms would over his shoulders, his arms around her waist. It was hard for her to say for certain who was holding on tighter.

There were so many questions forming in her head, but they all paled in importance to keeping John in her arms, at least until her arms started to shake from the exertion. Although really, her trembling limbs could well be blamed on the way his hand was rubbing gentle circles against her back, his voice soft at her ear as her shushed her. She'd honestly never thought of John as a comforter; he was a protector, a defender, a fighter. But now that she was in a position to receive reassurance from him, she realized he was as skilled with it as he was with everything else he did.

Her hands finally moved upward, her fingers searching for purchase in his short hair and finding none, eventually moving to his face, cupping his cheeks to look at him. "You're really here."

He grinned, a hint of a blush reddening his face. "Seems that way, doesn't it?"

She grinned back, happy tears replacing the ones she'd been crying all morning. "How?" Even John wasn't skilled enough to break out of the sort of armed escort the CIA would have had for him, not alone. "You know what? I don't care." She pulled him into another hug, squeezing him tight once again.

She was so happy to have him back that she really didn't care. Hell, she wouldn't even care if he asked her to stop hugging him. She wouldn't listen, but she wouldn't be hurt. She was too damn happy to hurt.

And so, it was a moment she knew she'd always remember when his arms closed tightly around her waist, pulling her fully against him and actually lifting her off the ground. Apparently there was very little chance of him asking her to let him go, not when he was just as happy to see her.

It was Finch's voice, rather unexpected since she'd forgotten he existed, that finally drove them apart. Barely. Though they were no longer hugging, they remained so close together their arms were touching.

"Good, I see things worked out." He picked up his phone, fiddling with it for a moment before making a call. "Confirmed. Payment has been transferred."

John grinned. "Figured you were behind it when they didn't kill me."

Carter piped up. "Ok, I'll bite. Who didn't kill you? How did you get free?" She didn't care so much about the answer, not as much as she cared about whether or not it would ok for her to lace her fingers through John's.

He was on the same page, shifting his weight slightly, allowing the entire side of his body to lean against hers. "The mercenaries that highjacked the transport I was in. I was expecting a bullet when the doors opened, instead they gave me a change of clothes and walked away."

Finch bristled. "I did not hire mercenaries. I own a number of security agencies, a fact of which you are well aware. One in particular had the right background for this job."

"Security companies are where mercenaries work, Finch."

Finch pursed his lips unhappily. "I did not hire mercenaries. I employed security experts."

"They're not listed in the phone book as mercenaries.

Looking very much like he was regretting his actions, Finch hissed. "Perhaps I offered mercenaries a legitimate job for once."

"It was hardly legitimate in the eyes of the law enforcement community." John bit back his grin, his eyes darting to Carter who, at least as far as he knew, was a member of said community. Rather than pretending to be annoyed, she chuckled.

"Fine. I hired mercenaries to attack the transport and free a wanted criminal. Are you happy now?"

"Yes."

"You're worse than that damn dog," came the muttered response. "I supposed I'll have to close the company now," he nodded to himself, his eyes darting around as he considered the situation. "I'll give everyone an excellent severance package and recommend employees apply at another of my agencies."

Finally, content with his plan, Finch glanced between them, his attention to detail almost certainly catching the physical contact. "There had been some staffing changes in our operation while you were detained, Mr. Reese."

John's smile faded, his eyebrows knitting together in concern. "Staffing changes? Should I reapply at one of your other agencies?"

"Don't be absurd." Finch offered a tight grin, motioning vaguely in Carter's direction. "You're already familiar with your new partner, Mr. Reese."

"Partner?" His eyes turned on her, curiosity battling with worry for dominance in his expression. "Carter?"

Slightly embarrassed by the scrutiny, she shrugged. "I had a philosophical falling out with the NYPD late last week." Her hands moved of their own accord, winding around his arm, holding him in case he tried to run away. "And Finch seemed satisfied with the work I did over the weekend."

Making no move to separate them, John glanced at Finch, who answered without needing to be asked. "A number came in while you were unavoidably detained. I did what I could." He turned toward a car that was approaching from the roadway. "I've requested a ride from the car service. Feel free to use mine," he said as he nodded at the Lincoln. "There are bagels for you if you're hungry. I don't imagine you've had anything at all to eat, let alone something healthy."

He only made it a few steps toward his ride before he looked back again. "Mr. Reese, please bring Jocelyn to the library when you're ready. We've got more work to do."

"Jocelyn?" John's head turned back and forth between his friends.

"Library?" She ignored John's question, her mind filled with her own. "And what's this about a number? Is that what you call people like Norton?"

"Have fun, Mr. Reese." Finch laughed as he walked away, knowing Carter was liable to grill Reese for hours for more information.

John met her eyes, his expression serious. "We've got a lot to talk about." He narrowed his eyes and checked that Finch's form was retreating. "I think he just gave me permission to tell you everything he told me to never tell you."

With Finch's car speeding out of sight, Carter's desire to question John further on the whole thing he and Finch had going faded. She dropped his hand, opting to slide her hands up his chest and behind his neck. "How about we get right down to business?" She didn't give him a chance to answer before she leaned up on her toes, grabbing the back of his head and pulling him into a kiss.

He responded exactly how she'd hoped, his quick instincts kicking in, his arms wrapping around her and pulling her hard. His mouth angled against her, his tongue probing her lips insistently, as though he wanted to make sure he acted before she could change her mind. He needn't have worried; she had no plans of letting him go.

While she allowed him to deepen the kiss, her hands shifted down, trailing back down his shoulders and chest, moving in at his waist under his jacket. His body was hot, warming her all over in a way she hadn't felt in years. She'd been so upset and scared while John had been in custody and, quite frankly, she hadn't expected him to respond so enthusiastically to her overtures, not right then. She'd thought he'd back off the sudden change in their relationship, let her down gently, but firmly, remind her that they needed to talk about work and get back to it, and maybe, at some far off point in the future, revisit the rampant attraction between them.

Most likely not.

And though she knew she'd be hurt by the perfect polite, well-meaning rejection, she was honestly so happy that John was alive and healthy and free she wouldn't mind. Not too much, at least.

She was still trying to work through the slow, disjointed thoughts in her head and process the fact that he was doing absolutely the opposite of what she'd expected when he raised the bar. His arm tightened around her waist again, lifting her off the ground again, turning and pressing her against the car. She tried to help, tried to open her legs wide enough for him to move closer, but she remembered the frumpy skirt she'd put on as her costume which unfortunately more or less kept her legs glued together from the knee up.

John was a problem solver, as always a step ahead of her, reaching down and tugging her skirt, raising the hem several inches. With the freedom his assistance brought her, she bent her left knee, lifting her leg, wrapping her calf around the back of his. His hips thrust into hers, his lips finally leaving hers, his groan a rush of heat against her throat.

She'd never been a fan of public displays of anything, but the park was deserted and she knew they were both damn close to, if not already over, the line of caring. She dug her nails into his waist to get his attention.

His head lifted sharply, the hand he'd been using to support her leg pulling back. "Jos?"

"Should we take this somewhere else?" She was fine if he refused or agreed.

His face fell, his worried expression almost funny under the circumstances. "Both of our places are really far." He reached for her leg again, his hand sliding up the outside of her thigh, working on raising her skirt further.

"Car?" She jerked her head toward the oversized luxury car, her hands pulling his shirt from his pants, her fingers caressing his bare skin.

His eyes were closed, his enjoyment of her touch obvious. Forcing his eyes open, he stared at her. "Finch'll kill us."

Encouraged by his lack of refusal, she raked her nails up his back. "So?"

He grinned, his hands moving to the buttons on her blouse, deftly undoing them. "We'll get it cleaned."

She smiled back, pulling the door open. "Finch said he thought we'd make a hell of a team."

John ducked into the car and yanked her onto his lap. "Finch is a smart guy."

"He is," she purred as she spread her legs and settled her weight onto a rather eager part of John's anatomy. "And that's the last we're going to think of him for a while."

"Good plan." He nodded as he helped her pull off his jacket and shirt, then pressed his lips back to hers, sealing their deal with a kiss.

And then they didn't think. Not about Finch. Not about Snow. Not about anything besides each other.

~finis~