Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine, and I'm not making any money off of them.
Spoilers: None really, but the story makes most sense set towards the end of Season 1, specifically in-around Episode 22.
Carter was trying to finish some paperwork but she could not concentrate on the words in front of her. She read the same paragraph of the witness report over and over without any of the content sinking in. She forced herself to concentrate, but by 1pm, a dull pain permeated her left temple. She knew these signs, and she got up to take a Tylenol, hoping to stave off the impending migraine. The painkiller brought some relieve for not even an hour, then the pain was back, now stabbing into her temple like a knife. Her phone rang; she looked at the caller display. A suppressed number; she had a good ideal of who it was, and decided not to answer it.
"You alright Carter?" Fusco asked across the desk, a frown on his face.
"Yeah I'm fine, just a headache." She knew that that wasn't quite true, but didn't want to go into her medical history with Fusco.
"Well you should go home then, the paperwork will wait 'til tomorrow."
He was right. She knew from experience that this migraine headache was going to get worse - a lot worse - before it would get better.
By the time she was turning the key in her front door, her stomach had turned on her as well. She made it to the bathroom just in time to throw up her lunch. The waves of stabbing pain in her temple, magnified by the sudden movements of the heaving, made her stomach even worse. When the heaving finally subsided she cleaned herself up as best she could while keeping one hand on the sink for support. The pain made it hart to walk, or even to stand straight. She somehow made it to her bedroom with a glass of water and took one of her prescription demerol. She eased herself into bed. Any sudden movement, any movement at all really, made the pain just that much more intolerable.
Her upset and now empty stomach did not take the assault with the painkiller kindly, and before she even got settled in her bed, she had to stumble to the bathroom to throw up a second time.
"Finch, you there?" Reese was hidden next to a cargo container keeping an eye on their latest person of interest.
"Of course I am, Mr. Reese" said the voice in his ear.
"Did Carter come through with the fingerprints yet?"
"I have not been able to reach Detective Carter. She refused to answer her cell phone earlier, and has since turned it off." Finch said, slightly annoyed, since that meant he had to hack the police database, which took him away from keeping tabs on his employee.
Reese frowned. He'd have to check into what Carter was up to later. Currently, his attention was on the imminent threat to their latest person of interest, as he saw the co-worker with the knife.
"Never mind, Finch, I think I know which one of the other dock workers is dirty."
With that he started walking over to the would-be assailant and took care of the threat before the person of interest even knew what was happening. Frankly, he had hoped for more of a fight. Then he dialled his phone.
"Fusco, I have a present for you." He gave Fusco the address where he would find the tied-up perpetrator. Fusco grumpily agreed to come and book the guy.
"One more thing, Fusco. Why isn't Carter answering her phone?"
"Don't know. She didn't look too good earlier; said she had a headache. You know, women."
"Thanks." Reese said curtly and hung up, frowning. This wasn't like Carter at all. He tapped his ear piece.
"Finch, where is Carter now?"
"I believe she is in her apartment. I conclude from your conversation with Detective Fusco that the threat is neutralized?"
"Yes, walk-in-the-park. I'll see you later." He tapped his ear piece again, got into his car and made his way to Detective Carter's apartment. Finch decided in the meanwhile that it would be a good time to hack Carter's medical records.
Taylor had just come in the front door when his mom came out of the bathroom the second time.
"Mom - " he looked at her for a moment. "Migraine?"
She nodded. He helped her back into bed, turned on the accent light in the corner and closed the blinds, leaving the room in dim light.
"Your grandma is still in Florida, but I could call and see if Gina is available." Carter said weakly.
"Mom! I don't need a babysitter anymore, I'm fine." Taylor said slightly indignant, followed by a more amicable "I can take the bus to basketball practice and I can make myself a sandwich later."
"Alright." was all Carter could get out, barely audible.
Taylor left the room to get his sports bag ready. He wished his grandma was coming, not for him but for his mom. He hesitated at the door for a moment, then decided that he could not leave his mom alone like this. So he sat on the sofa and turned on the TV. Minutes later, someone knocked on the front door.
Reese had his strategy in place for how he was going to go about scolding Carter for not answering her phone. He hoped she was just being stubborn, all the while what Fusco said about a headache at the back of his mind, growing into worry.
He heard the door latch open in response to his knocking, but it was Taylor on the other side greeting him in a half whisper and with a smile.
"John! Hi." He opened the door all the way to let Reese in.
"Hi Taylor, how are you doing? Everything alright?"
"Yes I'm fine." He said quietly.
"Why are you whispering?" Reese inquired, while quickly surveying the apartment looking for anything out of place.
"Oh it's because of mom; she has a migraine and any noise makes it worse. She's laying down."
That explained the muted TV with subtitles turned on.
"Does she get those often?" he asked while dividing his attention between Taylor and his survey of the apartment. Reese was nearly whispering now too, which was his preferred way of speaking anyway.
"No, not really, maybe once or twice a year." Reese considered this information for a moment then considered his options for how to proceed.
"Do you need a ride to basketball practice?" He finally asked. Reese had noticed the sports bag by the door, and remembered that Taylor had basketball practice on Tuesday evenings. Having found no sign that he was needed here, he was about to leave and could as well drive the kid to practice on his way, letting Carter rest if she wasn't feeling well.
"No, that's okay, I'm not going today."
"Oh, why not?"
"Well usually grandma comes over to take care of mom when she has a migraine, but grandma is visiting friends in Florida, and I don't want to leave mom alone right now."
That worry in the back of Reese's mind was stirring again. He wondered how bad Carter's condition was that her kid would forgo basketball practice to stay with her.
"Do you think I can see your mom?" His eyes were soft and open; he was not trying to hide his concern from the kid.
"Yeah, I guess." Taylor said and pointed to the partly open door of Carter's bedroom.
Despite the whispering, Carter was able to make out most of what was said in the hall. She was irritable from the pain and annoyed that Reese was going to see her like this. She mustered all her strength and brazed herself for Reese's entry. There was a soft knock on the open door, then she sensed Reese next to her bed but did not open her eyes yet. Reese looked her over. He knew what pain was all about. He had inflicted it on numerous occasions, and he had experienced torture more than once. One look told him that Carter was in an immense amount of pain, and he caught himself from hardening up his soul, locking out all feeling, the way he usually would in such a situation.
Carter assembled all her willpower to force herself to open here eyes and to speak, before Reese could say anything.
"Tell that kid to get his ass to basketball practice, and get the hell out of my bedroom!" she wanted to sound strong and annoyed, but the pain made it hard to concentrate and keep control of her voice, so she couldn't quite pull it off.
"I'll get out of your bedroom, but I'm taking you with me, we're going to the emergency room." He stated in a way that he hoped would not allow for any disagreement.
"I don't need a doctor, nothing they can do. I'll be fine by tomorrow." The strain of talking over the pain made her breathing heavy now. Reese decided then that it was not his place to argue with her.
"Ok." he said and left the room reluctantly, and as quietly as he had entered it.
"Your mom says to get your ass to basketball practice." He informed Taylor once he was back out in the living room, where the boy was watching TV. Taylor looked unsure of what to do. He wanted to go to practice. Reese sensed his hesitation.
"I'll stay here with your mom while you go to practice."
The kids eyes lit up.
"Really?" He asked. Reese nodded and smiled at him.
"Wow, thanks man! I'll have to run to catch the bus!"
Taylor jumped up and grabbed his bag, but gave Reese another hesitant look before going out the door.
"Have fun. Your mom will be fine." Reese told him. With that Taylor was out the door, sprinting to catch his bus.
Reese made his way back to Carter's bedroom. She had her eyes closed again. He walked in quietly without knocking and gently touched her shoulder to announce his presence. Her body stiffened and he withdrew his hand.
"What are you still doing here?" she forced herself to say.
"I had to promise Taylor I'd stay here with you while he went to practice."
"Well I promised the kid, and you know I always keep my promises. I'll be in the chair over there." He waited for a response indicating her objection to his presence. He would have taken his position in the living room, where he wouldn't be able to watch her, but at least be within earshot. She didn't answer or object though, so he made his way across the room and sat in the chair, thoughts drifting to his mission from this afternoon, then to Finch. He wondered what Finch thought he was doing in Carter's apartment. That brought his attention back to Carter. She had beads of sweat on her forehead now and her breathing was very shallow. Reese got up and quietly left the room. He came back moments later with a cold wet washcloth.
He touched Carter's shoulder again gently to announce his presence by her side. She tensed up slightly and breathed in sharply. He moved his hand to her forehead now, partly so she wouldn't be startled by the cold that would touch that area next, and party to check for the presence of a fever. Having convinced himself that the sweat was a result of the pain, he placed the washcloth on Carter's forehead.
"Thanks." She managed, barely audible.
"No problem." Reese whispered back.
He was glad for the appreciative response. He could understand if she was uncomfortable or even afraid with him there. His "friends" from the CIA had shown her his file and convinced her to give him up, so they certainly had not shown her the most flattering things he'd done. She had seen his handiwork herself at various crime scenes by now, too. He was very effective at inflicting pain, a heartless killer at times. His aptitude at easing pain on the other hand was unestablished, even in his own mind. However, she also knew that he protected people, and he sincerely hoped that she knew that she was safe with him.
He retreated back to his chair and was soon lost in thought again. Seeing Carter in pain like this was hard. When it was him having the pain, well, he could deal. He'd had training in how to deal. When it was him inflicting the pain, he was in control as to how much and how long. Plus he'd be in stone-cold-killer mode, his feelings locked up and safely out of the way. He was conditioned to go into that mode, to not let her pain touch him, but something stopped him. He cared too much. The CIA had considered that a fault and so he had worked hard on his ability to switch on the stone-cold-killer mode in any given situation, until it happened nearly automatically. Now he was trying no to. A keen observer would have seen the struggle playing out in his eyes. He was relieved to find how easy it still was for him to not shut his feelings down, after all.
A little while later, the same outside observer might have thought Reese asleep in the chair. But the slightest movement from Carter had him alert again. She was reaching to turn the washcloth on her head around. Reese went to the bathroom and brought back a fresh cold washcloth. Carter's eyes were closed, her breathing was still shallow and what he could see of her body was tensed in pain. He touched her shoulder once more. She did not flinch this time, her subconscious probably having decided that his touch was not a sign of imminent threat. This made him relax in turn; less worried that she'd tear his head off for his intrusion once she was better. He removed the old cloth and placed the fresh cold one on her forehead.
He sat back down in the chair then, when his stomach started making noises he was afraid would startle Carter. He left the room and walked over to the kitchen. Looking around, he soon spotted the stack of take-out menus. The menu from a pizza place had items marked with a highlighter. Figuring those must be the Carter family's favourites, he dialled the place and ordered two of the marked-up pizza's. He was sure Taylor would be hungry as well when he came home.
The pizza arrived 30 minutes later. Reese placed it on the kitchen table and found some plates to set out as well. Taylor arrived home soon after.
"Hey, pizza! You should come over more often, you know."
Reese smiled non-committingly at Taylor.
"I didn't know what you liked. There's pepperoni and hawaiian."
"That's great. How's mom?"
"She's … in pain. How long do these migraines usually last?"
"About a day, usually."
"As in 24 hours?" Reese asked incredulously.
"Yeah." Taylor said, with an air of sadness in his voice.
Reese took a moment to digest this information while they sat down to eat the pizza.
After they were done eating, Reese checked in on Carter and changed her washcloth again. He noticed the bottle of demerol on the bedside table. He touched her shoulder gently to get her attention and she opened her eyes.
"Did you take any of these?" Reese asked, holding up the painkillers.
It took a moment for Carter to gather her strength to answer.
"Yes, can't keep them down."
"I'll get you something better. I'll be 40 minutes, tops."
He told Taylor, who had sat down to do his homework, the same thing as he left the apartment.
Reese arrived at the library and made his way up. Finch was still at his computers.
"How was your dinner with Detective Carter?" he asked, as if knowing what his employee was up to at all times was the most normal of things.
"It would have been nicer if Carter had taken part in it." Reese answered, while passing the other man on his way to the back room, where the medical supplies where.
"She's suffering from a migraine, I take it." Finch said, getting up to follow Reese. "I understand they are very painful." And after a moment of watching Reese go through the cupboards with the medical supplies: "What are you looking for?"
"Morphine." Came Reese's answer.
"If she's in that much pain, you should take her to a hospital! And anyway, she has a prescription for pain medication."
"She won't go, and she can't keep the pills down." He had found the bottle of morphine and was now looking for the needles. Finch wanted to argue with Reese, but the determined look on the other man's face made him think better of it, so instead he pulled a fresh needle from a drawer and handed it to Reese.
"I hope you know what you are doing, Mister Reese."
Reese gave Finch a look that indicated "thanks for the meds" and "I hope so too", mixed with concern and urgency. He hurried back to Carter's house.
He stood next to Carter's bed for a moment, then touched her shoulder, a now familiar gesture. She did not open her eyes.
"Hmm?" Was the only reaction he got out of her.
"I brought some morphine, I'm going to give you an injection."
That did get her attention. She looked at Reese's face, his warm eyes revealing concern and maybe some anxiety. Then she looked at the needle and back at him. He was standing perfectly still, waiting for her reaction.
"Okay." She agreed, moving her arm out from under the covers.
Reese had learned how to give injections in the field. He did it quickly and confidently. He then remained sitting on the side of Carter's bed, checking her pulse, changing the cloth on her forehead, moving rogue strands of hair out of her face. He was alert to signs that she was uncomfortable with his presence or his touch, but could not detect any, so he continued. Soon her breathing become more even, deeper, and her previously tense muscles relaxed. The morphine was doing it's job.
Taylor came in the room, and Reese got up and moved to the side of the room.
"Mom? I'm going to bed now."
"Did you finish your homework?" She sounded much stronger.
"Yes." Come the slightly irritated reply. Followed by "All of it." in anticipation of the next question.
"Good man. Sleep well."
"You too mom."
Reese got ready to leave. He was no longer needed. Approaching the bed once more after Taylor had left the room, he said: "There's left-over pizza in the fridge, if you feel hungry later. Call me if you need another dose of morphine. I'll be back here at 8 tomorrow morning to take Taylor to school."
"What? No, that's fine. I can take him."
"After the shot of morphine I just gave you, I'd rather you did not operate a car tomorrow morning."
She knew he was right. The migraine also wasn't over, just numbed.
"You're welcome. Sleep tight."
With that he left the room and let himself out of the apartment.