The aftermath for John and he makes a confession. Also thanks out to Teobu who got my creative juices flowing again after Matt Cohenkilled my brain.
John wakes from a dream of alarms and smoke and blood, eyes glassy with remembered pain and fear as he shoots upright in bed. Next to him Madeline stirs, her tousled hair softening the worried lines of her face as she looks at him through the haze of late night and street lights. It is her whispering his name that brings him out of the memory of that moment when he honestly thought his number might be up. It is the hesitant touch of her hand that reminds him that he is alive and she is still ignorant of the truth behind his dreams and bruises. Keeping the true nature of his job and the dangers he faces from her is the hardest thing that John has ever done and he finds himself envious of that new freedom Virgil now has, that freedom Scott has had with Hollie since she came back into his life.
More than anything he wants that kind of openness with Madeline, especially in light of recent events. Though it has been nearly two weeks since the explosion on Five and his bruises have faded and healed so that he does not look like he lost a fight with the entire football team John is still aware of the mottled yellow and black bruise on his forehead and the nearly healed wound that could have been so much worse. Madeline's reaction had been instant and concerned, fading quickly to anger when she realised that he had kept the fact that he had been hurt from her.
"Are you sure you're alright?" Madeline mutters as she kisses his bare shoulder, resting her cheek against him for a moment and listening to his heart rate slow.
"Just a dream," he assures her. "Just the accident." This is not the first time that he has dreamt about it, he knows that his brothers also have nightmares about their own near misses on occasion, their work is fraught with danger after all, but unless they have found themselves unable to sleep at the same time as one of the others it is not something that they talk about. Thinking about the accident, however, brings memories of the smoke and smell back once more and he finds that the need for fresh, clean, air is almost overwhelming. "Go back to sleep, I'm going to get some air."
Even in the semi-darkness he can see the worry on her face and he is quick to try and chase it away with a kiss. He does not like the thought that he might be responsible for upsetting her in any way and not telling her the truth is one of them. Not telling her the truth about what he does and who he is might well be the most harmful thing he could ever do to this relationship. He grabs his phone as he gets to his feet, slides the balcony door closed behind him and calls his brother.
-Is something wrong, John?- Scott's voice is hazy with sleep, concerned and John feels a pang of guilt for waking his brother even though he knows that with that time difference it will not be long until he hears Scott's alarm in the background.
"I'm going to tell her," John blurts. It is something that he has been debating for a while, something that he has wanted to do but has never been sure how to bring the subject up with his family.
-Are you sure?- Scott asks, sounding much more alert as the implication behind John's words sink in. -John, you understand that father won't be happy when you tell him. This is the biggest secret we have, can you really trust it to her?-
"Like you trusted Hollie. Or even Erin for that matter," John points out. "I've been lying to her for too long, Scott, and I can't keep doing it. Will you back me up when father finds out?"
-Of course I will,- his brother's reply is soft and John can imagine that he is looking at Hollie as he speaks. He envies his brother that as well, that Scott can wake up next to the woman that he loves every day. -You were going to tell her anyway.- John laughs softly, dream and memories fading away in the light of his brother's understanding.
"I just needed to hear myself say it," John admits.
"Say what?" He turns to find Madeline stood in the door with the hotel robe wrapped tightly around her. He hears Scott wish him luck before the line goes dead and he takes a breath.
"We should go inside," he replies, "this isn't a discussion for balconies and open doors." They go inside and she sits on the bed, watching him as he paces and searches for the right way to tell her about his involvement with International Rescue. Finally he pauses in his movements and runs his hand back through his hair.
"My mother died when I was very young," he starts, the words stilted and he barely hears her tell him him that she knows this. "It was an accident. Father always thought she would have survived if someone had reached her sooner with better equipment. I think that's what drove him, beyond all the grief, it was what made him work so hard, it was what made him buy the island. He decided to create an organisation that had the equipment and the speed to help people like my mother, even though he knew that such advances would be dangerous if made commonly available. So he chose the only people he could trust, his family, and he moved us all to the island. He swore us all to secrecy and it's a promise I'm about to break." The words are falling from his lips now, spilling from him as he is finally able to reveal this truth that he fears to expose. "Everyone wonders who they are, these men in blue who appear when they are called for. Everyone wants to know the identities behind International Rescue and that's who we are, my family and I. We are International Rescue. It's where I go when I'm away, to a remote outpost where I monitor the radios and wait for calls."
"Something went wrong didn't it?" Madeline cuts in. John nods but does not elaborate. It is enough that she has drawn that conclusion. "It's how you got hurt. Is that why you're telling me this now?"
He had expected her to be hurt, even angry, but there is something cold and flat in the way that she is talking. There is something almost broken to her voice and he cannot understand it.
"If you don't want to tell me the truth you don't have to," she whispers finally, "but you don't have to make this up to convince me that your father has you working in top secret conditions."
"Why would I make this up?" He demands. "What possible reason could I have for telling you that my entire family is involved with International Rescue unless it was the absolute truth?" He can understand her scepticism, can understand her doubts, but he needs her to believe him so badly, so much, that to even consider the idea that she might believe he is lying to her is almost unthinkable. It was something that did not even occur to him to take into account. "I'm telling you because I love you and I don't want to keep hiding the truth. Is that really so hard to believe?" For a terrifying moment her only response is silence, then she is in his arms and her lips are pressed to his and he knows that she has accepted his words.
"You can never tell anyone," he mutters when they part. "Do you understand? You can't tell a soul."