Author's note: I considered the story done with the one chapter, but readers asked for a second chapter, so here it is.
When Carter woke up, the headache was hanging on just at the limit of her perception, and against all experience or expectation, she felt rested. She stretched and, recalling the events from the previous night, looked around the room confirming she was alone. Her gaze lingered at the window, the sun shining in from alarmingly high in the sky.
She turned towards her nightstand, but her alarm clock was no help in determining the exact time since it had been unplugged. "John!" she mumbled. Her wrist watch informed her that it was just past 8:40am. She called Fusco while stumbling out of bed.
"Hi Fusco, I'll be late coming in this morning."
"Late?" he said, surprise in his voice, "last I heard you got the morning off."
"The captain, that's who. Said your doctor's office called."
"How … ? Never mind."
She hung up the phone.
"John!" she thought again and an annoyed smile formed on her lips.
She went to have a shower, feeling just short of upset at John for taking over her life like that. He, or his friend, were already listening in on her phone calls and keeping track of her whereabouts, but their invasion of her privacy usually stopped at passive information gathering. Were they crossing a line now? And should she be upset, if they were?
Carter towelled her hair. The eyes that looked back at her from the mirror over the sink were baggy and red, the skin across cheeks was pale and her lips were strewn with thin cracks.
When John came into her bedroom the night before, she had expected the playful him, up to is his usual antics, ready to exploit any weakness he found in some way. But now that she saw herself the way he had seen her then, she understood why he had been so willing to concede control. He would only play and tease and probe with a partner who could handle it, and she had not been in any condition to handle it, so he did not.
She figured that on a more unconscious level she had already sensed this the night before, since she really did not mind him staying after he came into the room the second time. In fact, she had really appreciated him just being there at that point. And while she could not quite condone the illegal possession of narcotics, she also could not argue with the result.
So, she had been miserable and had looked like death warmed over, and John had made sure she got rest and would not be in trouble at work. He did tell her that he would have her back.
She was still in thought when she found the box of doughnuts and the thermos of coffee in the kitchen. No doubt courtesy of John when he came to pick Taylor up for school. She shook her head, smiling. That guy sure could be thoughtful when he wanted to be.
Her phone rang and she answered it while opening the doughnut box.
"Try the one with the chocolate icing, Detective Carter, it's really good." John's voice was cheery; he sounded pleased with himself.
"I bet it is."
"How is your head this morning?"
"It's … " she was going to lie and say 'just fine', but after last night doing so felt wrong. "It's getting better, it will be fine in a few hours."
"Well your doctor thought you should have the morning off, anyway."
"Uh-huh. And who gets 'impersonating a doctor' added to their list of charges - you, or your friend with the glasses?"
John smirked at that. "You're welcome."
Should she tell him off? She was not completely okay with how smug he was about his actions. She had not asked to be looked out for, but she had never asked him to stop either and had at least once thanked him for having her back. She did not, strictly speaking, need someone to look out for her. Nonetheless, knowing he was there was a good feeling.
Were his former CIA colleagues right, was he going to end up hurting her? Her intuition told her they were wrong and the last time she did not trust her intuition around those two she lived to regretted it.
"No problem," Reese said, then the line went dead.
Carter sighed and took a bite of the chocolate covered doughnut.