Authors Note: As explained, this is the same story in an easier to read version.

Trust Issues

I'm sick and tired of it. Wonderboy, Glasses, Little Miss Sunshine and Cocoa Puffs can all take a running jump for all I care. The whole lot of them are griefy as hell and I should know better than to pick up the phone to them. Yeah, I may have been getting in over my head with HR before Tall, Dark and Deadly put those bullets in my vest on the road to Oyster Bay, but I certainly ain't never been shot at quite so much as the last few years. And being kidnapped is a recent addition to my list of pastimes too. Used to be Saturdays were for work or taking my kid to a football game, not for being handcuffed to a metal pipe in some creep's basement.

The only consolation when I wake up is that the Bane of My Existence is right beside me, and definitely looks worse for wear. We both got knocked out when we were taken, and my head is killing me, but Reese - or Riley, or whatever the hell his name really is - is still out cold and has a bump on the noggin the size of a goose egg.

It was supposed to be an easy request. The Professor, - who apparently really is one now, - had called John and told him about some new schmuck that they needed to save. And so, despite being half way through a murder investigation, he insists on taking us both on this wild goose chase to find this man. It's the last time I'll ever let him drive the cruiser!

We argued, all the way, because I'm sick and tired of being told to jump and not even getting the chance to ask how high. Or rather, I argued but was just met with his usual stony silence. Now, we'd spent a great deal of time speculating about just where Finch gets his intel from, and we'd pretty much figured he was some sort of hacker genius, but it'd be nice to be trusted with that info and told outright, you know what I'm saying? I told Wonderboy as much and he just gave me this little frown and kept his trap shut in that way I find particularly infuriating. Despite all I've done for them, they clearly still don't trust me, and I was getting pretty pissed about it, when suddenly we lurched into an old parking structure where we just happen to come across a bunch of heavies in black ski masks dragging a handcuffed and hooded man to a car.

So next thing I knew we were being shot at and Wonderboy slammed on the breaks and then leapt out, firing his service weapon like he was some kind of bulletproof terminator. And more fool me, because rather than just taking the wheel and getting the hell out of dodge I ended up joining him.

But despite what he thinks, John ain't indestructible and he went down with two bullets to the vest. I ducked down and crawled over to him, still laying down cover fire. He was still in the land of the living, sucking in air to his battered chest and struggling to get up when some asshole snuck up behind us with what must have been a tyre iron or something. One smack to the back of my head and I ended up in Wonderboy's lap. Then it was lights out until I wake up in what I can only describe as a dungeon.

I ain't got a clue where we are. Some basement somewhere, and the freakiest thing is it looks like it was designed for this. Our phones and weapons have gone, and they've even taken our jackets, tie, belts and shoes. They've used our own handcuffs to loop through the metal bar that is at just the right height to allow us to sit but with our arms stretched up over our heads. From what I can see, there ain't no reason for that bar to be there except to chain folk to. And on the other side of the room there's a matching bar with a guy in a grey suit zip-tied to it. Same guy we were meant to be helping, I'm guessing. The one who was being manhandled in the parking garage. He looks to be in his thirties, nice suit, smart haircut. He's Asian, skinny and has a pair of thin framed glasses perched all lopsided on his nose, doesn't look like much to me, but then half the people we end up saving don't.

The rest of the place ain't nothing remarkable. There's no windows, just a single lightbulb hanging from the middle of the celing and a set of rotting stairs that leads up to a heavy metal door. Like I said, built for this, right? One thing's for sure, it don't look like getting outta here is gonna be easy.

The guy on the other side of the room begins to wake, and then he comes to fully in a panic, letting out a yelp and then tugging violently on the zip ties, which don't achieve anything except rub red marks into his wrists.

"Hey! Hey! You're gonna hurt yourself." I point out, and the guy listens to me and stops. Those zip-ties don't ever come free and he ain't gonna do nothing but cause himself some damage. Looking at the panic in him just proves to me this fella ain't the dangerous type, so why the hell is he here? "Hey kid," I start, even though he's what, ten, fifteen years younger than me at most, "who the hell are ya? And why you got the goon squad after ya?"

"Who the hell am I? I should be asking who the hell are you?" The man says, fear sending his voice an octave higher than it probably was normally.

I'm already having a bad day, so his attitude pisses me off almost immediately, but I remember he's scared and quite rightly so, so instead I take a breath and say, "My name's Detective Fusco, my partner and I were just driving into the parking structure when we saw you being kidnapped or whatever and tried to help."

There's movement by my side and I realise John has woken up. "Sleeping on the job are ya?" I grumble at him, it ain't fair, but I'm sore and irritable so sue me. He doesn't say anything but looks at me with a grim expression on his face, and Jesus Christ, that bump is getting bigger! He gives the slightest of nods and I take that to mean he's ignoring the gripe and happy with my version of events that I've told our roommate. Good, because I wouldn't know how the hell else to explain it.

The schmuck sighs and seems to believe me, "I'm sorry Detective, but I don't know why they're after me either."

"What's your name, kid?"

"Michael. Michael Nguyen, and I'm a nobody, I don't know who these guys are."

"What do you do for a living Michael?" John rasps.

"I'm an IT guy. Glorified tech support really."

"What does your company do?" John asks, but before he gets an answer, the metal door at the top of the stairs opens and a man dressed in black enters. Another man follows him and stands at the top of the stairs guarding the door.

"Who are you?" The man snarls. He's in his forties, tall, slim and imposing with blonde hair in a military style cut. He reminds me a little of Wonderboy, but when he talks it's with a slight Russian accent. The question ain't directed at Michael, but directed at us.

"I'm Detective Riley and this is my partner, Detective Fusco." Reese says with an innocent expression on his face. I want to kick him, why would he tell these thugs we were cops, they'll kill us for sure? But as always, he seems to know more than he's let on to me. "We were just in the parking garage when we saw your men taking this guy and then you started shooting at us."

The Russian looks from him to me and back to Reese again. "We ran the details from your badges. He," he gave me a kick to the leg, causing me to pull my legs up out the way, "really is Detective Lionel Fusco, graduated mid-table in the academy, started off as a beat cop in the Bronx, got his Detective's shield on the second try, had an unremarkable career at the 51st precinct and yet still wound up on a renowned homicide task force at the 8th.

"But you, Detective Riley, let me tell you what we found on you, and if you really are a detective you can tell us where the plot holes are. Short stint in Narcotics before a transfer to Homicide, at least your service record with the NYPD shows you deserved your posting, unlike your friend Fusco here. Transferred from Chicago with a stunning write-up from your Captain, conveniently most of your service has been deep undercover and the details are redacted, but what was not redacted was your death." He pauses for effect. "So if the real Detective John Riley was gunned down while trying to stop a bank robbery, then who the hell are you?"

Oh shit! We're in trouble now. Whoever this guy is, he's good. I heard all about the cover that John had used at Rikers. Elaborate as hell. Finch must be slipping. Except I turn to look at John and the bastard is smiling.

"The man who gunned me down did it as retaliation for an undercover job. The State faked my death and moved me to New York." John shrugs. He's so nonchalant that I could slap him.

"According to the reports there was not much left by the time the real Riley was riddled with bullets."

I feel like I'm watching a tennis match, back-forth, back-forth, wondering who's gonna drop the ball here. But then John says, "how many times was the Riley in your report shot?" and I just know he's too confident to lose this.

"Six times."

"So check." John says casually. "Undo my shirt and look for six bullet wounds."

Seriously, six times? I dunno whether I should be horrified or surprised he ain't been shot more. And Mr Russia, does just as suggested, crouching down and tearing his shirt open, sending buttons flying before taking a knife off his belt and ripping his undershirt and cutting away his bulletproof vest.

"Jesus Christ Partner!" I can't help but stare, I was always kinda jealous of the man's physique, but the reality is Reese's body is a mess. I mean, I knew he'd taken some damage over the years, had even sat with him for a while in Finch's makeshift hospital, after... well, you know. Not that I'd ever tell him that. But I ain't never seen all of it before. And it's not just the bullet wound scars neither, although they're the thickest and most obvious, there's knife wounds, burn marks, and surgery scars to add to the list. There's two big bruises on his chest too where the bullets had hit today, and I wonder how many more bullets have been caught by Kevlar over the years.

Mr Russia is staring at him in a way that creeps me out, but Reese doesn't appear bothered and just says, "The sixth one is on my left thigh." For a second I think that Mr Russia is gonna strip Wonderboy's pants from him too, but instead he seems to take his word for it. The guy stands up and starts pacing. He gets a roll of strapping tape from his pocket, the kind boxers use, and starts wrapping his fists.

"That still does not explain how you knew to be in that parking lot at that precise moment. We watched the camera feeds back, and you suddenly change direction and drive at speed with that structure as your destination. So, how did you know we'd be there?"

"Lucky guess?" John offers. It doesn't go down well, and Mr Russia drives a rapid punch that catches Reese in the jaw and snaps his head back until it hits the concrete wall with a dull thud. Across the room, Nyugen let's out an audible gasp at the violence. The kid looks like he's about to piss his pants and I hope they don't turn on him next.

"Do not take me for a fool. Someone tipped you off. Who was it?"

"999 call to someone being kidnapped. Anonymous member of the public."

"We checked that out too, no call was made."

So Wonderboy just sets his mouth in a grim line and stares blankly ahead. It's a cue to everyone that he's done talking. The second punch cracks him in the eye, it sends Reese's face towards mine, and I get a good look at those steely eyes. They're pleading with me not to talk. I just give him a slight nod. I wanna tell him I got his back, I just hope it's true.

"Let me tell you my theory." The Russian said, landing a heavy fist on those bruises to his chest. It draws all the air from Reese's lungs and leaves him gasping in pain. Judging from the bruises he's bound to have a couple of cracked ribs already. "When I got to New York three years ago, there was talk of a vigilante, The Man In The Suit. Some Special Forces trained nutjob running round town helping people, always in the right place at just the right time. Sound familiar?"

Reese shrugs, to which Mr Russia waves that nasty looking knife at him, and then runs it clear across Wonderboy's chest. It opens up a thin line of flesh and starts oozing blood but Wonderboy doesn't even blink.

I know if I say a goddamn thing I'll be turning that unwanted attention my way, but I ain't gonna let our superhero wannabe go it alone. "Hey," I bark, against my better judgement, "The Man In The Suit is dead, didn't ya get the memo?" The guy turns to me, brandishing that knife that's dripping with Reese's blood and points it in my face, less than an inch from my eye. I do my best to channel some Wonderboy steel of my own, "Some rogue CIA agent a few years ago. Snow his name was. Sorry it don't fit this weird little narrative you're desperate to cook up but Riley really is just a detective."

"Now, come on Detective. I know you never bought that bullshit. That agent Donnelly had embarrassed the FBI and they jumped at the chance to wrap it up in a nice little box. The thing is, I knew Mark Snow, and the last thing he'd do is run around helping people. Besides," and then he draws his phone out and shows me a picture. It's a blurry black and white security camera still of Wonderboy running down the street with Cocoa Puffs, back on that night from years ago when he thought she was an innocent victim. "Looks familiar don't you think? Certainly not like the follicularly challenged Mark Snow."

I shrug, "What can I say, maybe Snow wore a toupee."

I'm expecting it, but that doesn't make the first hit hurt any less. I wasn't expecting the relentlessness of his assault. Hitting me over and over until I lose count. All I can do is bury my face in my arm to protect it and take the beating. At some point I feel the knife sink into my right thigh and I can't bite back the roar of pain. I draw both legs up, knife still in my thigh, and I kick out at the man with both feet, catching him in the stomach with all the force I can manage.

The Russian is caught off balance an' staggers back, landing on his ass. I can't help but laugh, "What are ya? FSB? They not teach you about New Yorker fightin' spirit in Russian Spy School?" I spit blood at him and it hits the floor with a thick splat. There's blood dribbling down my chin from my nose and a split lip. My nose is busted and it's hard to breathe, and one of my eyes is swelling already. I glance over at Reese, and he's giving me this look I ain't never seen from him before, admiration.

"What is it to ya anyway?" I carry on. I know I should probably just keep my trap shut, but I'm still angry about being dragged into this without knowing why. When did my life get mixed up with spies and conspiracy theories?

"Because your friend is The Man In The Suit." He says, emphasising the 'is'. "And because my employers have reason to believe he has help. We want to know where he and his colleague get their intel from."

I feel a little sick, it could be the likely concussion, or the fact I've still got a knife in my leg, but I think it's got more to do with the fact they know about Glasses. I mean don't get me wrong, he's a bit of a weirdo, but I feel a certain level of protectiveness over the little guy.

The Russian reached over, grabbing my leg and pinning it down while he wrenches the knife from me. "Aw, shit." I curse. Looking down, I can see a dark red stain seeping through my slacks but not so quick to suggest he's hit an artery... I don't think.

"He doesn't know anything." Tall, Dark and Deadly growls coldly.

"I know." The Russian shrugs. "And Mr Nguyen isn't of any consequence either. But they're both here because you have delusions of martyrdom. You might be resistant to torture but you won't want others to take it for you."

"What?" That's enough to send Nguyen into a panic, drawing his legs up to protect his chest, tears springing from his eyes. "I'm just here to be tortured? Why me?"

"Bad luck really. I needed someone in danger to draw The Man In The Suit out."

"No, no, no!" He whimpers, as the Russian turns his attention to the IT guy, waving the knife at him. Reese sets his jaw and doesn't say anything, his eyes are full of regret but I can tell he's made up his mind, he'll do anything to protect Finch and the mission. And I get that, I do. I respect his loyalty, but Nguyen doesn't and he starts bawling.

"Hey, you know what?" I really am pushing my luck here. "The kid don't need to be here. Let him go and use me as leverage." I know, right? Who's got the martyr complex now?

"You are right." The Russian starts, but I'm looking at Reese instead and realise by the flicker of dismay in his face that I've made a horrible mistake.

"We don't need him, unfortunately he can't be left a witness." And the guy don't even pull a gun, just slashes out with the knife.

He hits an artery and blood sprays clear across the room, hitting me in the face and chest. I blink away the blood and see the poor schmuck, his head tipped back and blood frothing from the deep gash in his neck. He's gurgling as the blood pours out and he struggles to breathe, knowing it's his last moments on earth. It's a sound that will haunt me forever.

I can't look at him, so I turn to Reese, and he is hanging his head, eyes closed, and I swear for a second I see a bead of moisture on those long eyelashes of his. Who knows, perhaps I'm imagining it, because when he lifts his head and opens his eyes a moment later, his eyes are hard and steely again. Like it ain't the first time he's had to watch someone choke on their own blood. Hell, he may have even been the cause of it. And that prospect is something I really don't wanna think about.

"You didn't have to do that." Wonderboy says, in that way that lets you know he'll tear you limb from limb at the first opportunity.

"Perhaps not." Mr Russia replies as though he ain't got a care in the world. "But it did prove to you that I'm not here to mess about. So if you want to spare your friend the same fate then you'd better tell me what I want to know. Where is your friend? And where do you get your intel?"

"I'm sorry Lionel." Reese says, no emotion whatsoever, but for once I don't hold that against him, he's gotta shut himself off, for the good of the mission, I get that.

"Hey, it's okay Partner." I promise. And as the punches start again, I think of my boy Lee, just thankful that he's safe at his mom's this time around.

I must've blacked out, or it was an awful long blink, because I squeeze my eyes shut and when I open them again, it's because Reese has let out a scream. An honest to God, bona fide yell, which he bites back as soon as he's made it. I never thought I'd here a sound like that come out of his mouth and I'm scared to look, but I do anyway and see John panting, shirt soaked with sweat and blood. Mr Russia is holding a knife and something else I can't identify until he slaps it down on the cement floor and I wanna throw up more than ever. It's a bit of skin, he's flayed a strip of fucking skin off Wonderboy's ribs and it's now laying there between us all glistening and raw.

I look up at him and catch his eye. He's slumped in the restraints, head back and eyes glazed over, panting hard. He rolls his head over towards me, and his look is a warning. I know what he's saying, Mr Russia ain't noticed me awake yet, and if he does I'm back to being the prime target. I want more than anything to just close my eyes and play dead until it's all over, but I can't just leave Reese to his torment alone.

I open my big yap to get myself in further trouble, when there's a knock at the door. We all look to the menacing-looking heavy who opens it. There's another guy, also dressed in black and he hands over a plastic picnic cooler. The guard takes it and locks the door back up before bringing it down the stairs and planting it beside our Russian sadist. I feel Reese tense up, like he knows what's inside, and I'm guessing it's not gonna be a six pack of brewskies.

Our captor smiles and he looks pure evil. He takes the lid off and gets an IV bag of clear liquid out, already attached to the plastic tube. He hangs it up beside me, and then gets out a cannula. Now, I'm really nervous. I mean, I can take a beating, but I ain't cut out for this chemical crap.

"Sodium pentathol?" Reese rasps, "Not very effective if the guy you're using it on doesn't know the answers."

"Perhaps." He gets out another bag and hangs it next to Wonderboy. The bags hang there, like a threat. I rack my brains for every spy movie I've ever seen, but I can't think of any tips to fight a truth serum. He grabs my forearm and tugs my shirtsleeve beyond my elbow, my heart is racing.

"Hey," Even in a time like this, Reese manages to stay calm. "Hey, Lionel. It'll be okay."

I look over at him, I think I'm hyperventilating, but his gaze is steadying. I try to match his breathing, though it's made harder by my broken nose. But I ain't never been a scaredy cat, and I'm determined not to start now. I flinch as the needle goes in and he finds the vein. He connects the cannula to the bag and turns the drip on. I can feel it feeding into my vein. It's so cold it feels like it's burning the inside of my arm. Reese tenses up as the needle goes into his arm, misses the vein on the first try and leaves a thin line of blood from the resulting puncture wound. I can't imagine the needle hurts Wonderboy that much, not considering some of the other wounds I've seen him take tonight, and so I figure the flinch is because he knows what's coming. Truth serum breaks down mental barriers, right? So what Mr Badass is really flinching from is facing up to his vulnerability. What? You like that assessment? See, being a shrink ain't so hard, even with someone as closed off as Reese.

Our captor watches with an evil looking grin as the drugs flow into our veins. He crouches down to John and grasps his face in his hand, fingers gripping that bruising jaw tightly and forcing his head up to look him in the eyes. He's watching for the moment the poison starts to work, and perhaps because of his head injury, it don't take long before John's eyes are struggling to focus. The Russian draws his knife up against John's bare chest and places the point at his shoulder, pressing it in just enough to start the blood to well up and trickle down his ribs.

"Hurts more now doesn't it?" The Russian says, despite the fact it don't look like John's felt it at all. He presses the knife in deeper. John's only acknowledgement of the pain is a flicker of a wince.

"Imagine, what this is gonna feel like when I do it to your friend. Lowered inhibitions, increased pain sensitivity, and no training to help him through it. Is that what you're going to allow me to do to your friend?" He presses the knife in again, John barely grunts. "Do you really think this man, a man you claim to be innocent, deserves all the nasty things I can do to him?" John is trembling with pain now, yet still he doesn't make a sound as the knife gets driven deeper, not until the bastard yanks it out again, and John lets out a ragged gasp.

You ever been out drinking and think you're fine until you move? I think for a brief, naive moment that it ain't working, until I turn my head and the room spins. It makes me wanna hurl. I look to Superman beside me for a cue, he's got his eyes closed and is concentrating on his breathing so I try and do the same. Guess if he's being effected then there's no hope that I can avoid it.

"How do you feel Detective?" Mr Russia asks.

"Like I got a nice beer buzz going." I reply. "Nice to know I can still be sarcastic on this stuff. And not entirely truthful. Yeah, I feel like I'm drunk, but it's more like intravenous vodka shots. Hey, I should ask Wonderboy over there if that would work, could be useful." And I realise that I've just said my thoughts out loud. "Oh shit."

That sadistic bastard is laughing at me, and I think I even detect a smile on Reese's face.

"So, Detective, would you mind telling me who your friend works with?"

"Me you jackass!" I say with a cackling laugh. It hurts to laugh, everything hurts more now, my face feels like it's on fire. I imagine I can feel every bruise, every break in my bones. My eye socket for sure is broken, and I imagine my own skull with a big jagged crack running through it. The wound in my leg, I can feel every muscle torn through, nerves shredded and raw.

"Fair point. I should be more specific. Who is The Man In The Suit's silent partner? What do you know about their vigilante operation?"

"I know it gets me shot at and kidnapped more than I'd like."

And even Reese lets out a chuckle at that. Suddenly that pisses me off.

"Yeah, you think that's funny Wonderboy? You with your death wish, and your super spy skills and your masochism? You drag the rest of us into your crazy Jason Bourne world and don't tell us shit! And it gets people killed!"

Reese flinches at my words but I'm on a roll now, and this stuff has opened the floodgates. "Y'know what? He is the Bane of My Existence and I would quite happily tell you all about his little secrets, because no one should have to be chained in a fucking dungeon and tortured. But the thing is, he don't trust me with nothing, I don't know Wonderboy's real name, I don't know his friend Glasses' real name neither. As for their intel, it comes outta thin air, near as I can figure. I never asked to be a part of it, Carter never asked neither, and she gave her life for this untrusting asshole."

I look over at Wonderboy, to glare at him. I'm so angry and I expect he is too. It weren't that long ago we were knocking ten bells out of each other on a rainy night in Colorado. But what I see instead is even more unnerving than Tall, Dark and Deadly in trigger-happy mode. There's tears streaming down his face and his body is shaking with silent sobs.

"I'm sorry," He croaks, "I'm so, so sorry. I never told her anything. And I should have. I should have told her I loved her." He's finding talking hard through his crying and his swollen face.

"Yeah, you should've." I say bitterly, "you hurt her bad y'know?"

"I know. I always do. And I tried to keep my distance but couldn't help myself."

"It was your distance that hurt her."

"I know that too." He sobs.

"Enough!" Our torturer is unimpressed and angry. "Tell me about where you and your friend gets your intel." He directs at Reese.

But Reese is gone now, lost in his own little hell, filled with regrets. "I loved her. I tried not to, but I loved her." He whispers, hangin' his head.

"How did she die?" Our torturer tries a different tactic.

"She gave her life for me. She shouldn't have." He says bitterly.

"Did you know she was going to die? Did your source tell you?"

"I should have known. This is going to kill us all. I should never have gotten her involved. I'm prepared to die, but wasn't prepared to lose her, but I should have known. It should have been me. I wanted it to be me. If I'd died for her, my life might have meant something after all."

Hearing Wonderboy's death wish spoken aloud is perhaps unsurprising but disturbing nonetheless, and I no longer feel angry at him, just sorry for him. With all the people he's saved and he still don't think it's enough. I would've said it aloud but watching the indestructible Reese break has a sobering effect and I feel a bit more control of my body. I feel tired all of a sudden, more than I already did, and I can feel my head droop and my eyes slide closed.

I jerk awake, and I have no idea how much time has passed. Could be minutes, could be hours, but my left eye has swollen completely shut, and Reese is still shaking with silent sobs. There's more strips of flesh on the floor, but he's saying nothing just still mumbling to himself about death and loss. I can't stay awake, and I slide right back into unconsciousness.

The next time is because there's a shout and the sound of rapid gunfire on the other side of the door. Reese is passed out, the noise don't even alert him now. The door slams open and as soon as it does, a shot is fired and Mr Russia is thrown back by the bullet that enters his head. I fight the heaviness of my eyelids, suddenly I've got Fruit Loops in front of me, crouching down and sliding the needle from my arm.

"Wonderboy..." I mumble.

"The big lug will be fine." Cocoa Puffs says, unlocking my handcuffs from the bar. Pain and pins and needles flow through my arms, but it's just a minor addition to the list of everything else that hurts.

My eyes slide shut again, and the next thing I'm aware of is Cocoa Puffs and Little Miss Sunshine, hauling me to my feet between them.

"Come on Fusco, ugh, it's time you laid off the doughnuts." Shaw grumbles as she slings my arm over her shoulder. I glance down at where I'm expecting Reese to be, but they've already moved him and all that's left are bloodstains on the floor and three strips of flesh. Suddenly all my composure is gone and I throw up, the girls manoeuvring me just in time so I miss my shirt. I expect some sarcastic comment from one of them, or both, but they just hold me braced between them until my stomach is empty. I even feel Shaw's hand rubbing my back in a way that's meant to be soothing.

The journey to the hospital is all hazy. I remember laying slumped in the back of a car, Wonderboy passed out beside me, and then suddenly we stop and there are people's hands on me as I'm hauled out of the car and onto a gurney. As I'm wheeled in, the bright light hurts my eyes, it's a contrast to the dark outside, and I know that says something about how long we were held for but I can't do the math right now. I want to ask how John is, and maybe I mumble something but I don't hear the answer as I slip back inta unconsciousness.

When I awake the pain has dulled, but the first thing I notice is there's another needle in my arm. I can't do it again, I want it out of me, and I go to tear it out but a hand grabs mine, stopping me.

"Calm down Lionel, it's just saline and antibiotics."

That voice is the last thing I expected to hear, and I drift back to awareness to see it's our Captain who is stood over my bed.

"Welcome back to the land of the living." She says, and smiles at what must be bewilderment on my face.

"Captain." My voice is raw and I struggle to sit up. She helps me raise the bed and offers me a cup of water which she helps me drink, and I feel all kinds of pathetic.

"You're quite the hero, Detective Fusco." She says with a smile.

I frown at her, "I'm not sure..." I try to remember doing something heroic but all I can remember is making Wonderboy cry. And won't that image haunt me to the rest of my days?

"It's okay, memory loss is one of the side effects of sodium pentathol. You may get it back or you may not. But to get yourself and Riley out of there was impressive."

"How?" My brain really isn't functioning.

"Well it looks from the scene like you tore the metal bar you were chained to right off the wall and stole the perpetrator's gun. You took three of them down and then a young woman found you on the street, dragging Riley with you and brought you both here."

"How is he?"

The Captain's gaze moves over to the far side of the room. I'm so tired that even turning my head is hard work. But when I do I see there's another bed beside me. Wonderboy is laying there, pale-faced and battered his chest swathed in bandages. But he's linked up to a heart monitor which is beeping away steadily.

"You've both suffered some quite significant injuries, but the doctors assure me you'll be just fine. He was awake for a while earlier, he doesn't remember much more than you. But he did say that he didn't think he could have done it without you."

Typical! That John is at death's door and yet still wakes up before me.

"I'm going to let you get some rest." Captain says, "but the woman who rescued you is outside. She wanted to hang around and make sure you're both okay. Shall I send her in?"

"Erm, sure."

"Get some sleep Lionel." The Captain leaves and then Shaw comes in, dressed in her usual black jeans and vest. Her hair a bit of a mess, like she's just taken on a bunch of Russian spies, but with the same nonchalant attitude she approaches all violence.

"Hey Lionel, how you doing?" She asks casually, glancing over at Reese but settling down in a hard plastic chair beside my bed, crossing her ankle over her opposite knee.

"Been better." I grumble. "But I could be worse. Thanks for the rescue."

"Oh Lionel, didn't you hear? You did all that by yourself."

"So I gather." I pause, not sure I want to know the answer to my next question. "Did they get anything from us? Is Glasses okay?"

"He's fine. He wanted to be here but it's not safe, just in case there are others watching. And no, you didn't tell them anything."

"How do you know? I can't remember all of it." I admit.

"You didn't. Some guys are good at dishing out punishment but not so good at taking it." She says coolly. I don't think I wanna know what that means. "Apparently you just had a shouting match and then lover boy over there got all broody." She smiles at the notion. "We'll make a spy out of you yet Lionel."

I let out a heavy sigh, "we might have the night off tonight, but there are gonna be questions in the morning."

Shaw smiles, "surely you know there's been an ongoing terror threat that involves kidnapping and torturing officers? Or don't you read your memos?"

Of course, every cop knows that, but the threat has been there for years and I've always chalked it up to one more nutjob and god knows we see plenty of them in this job. I remember John being pretty angry about it though, he didn't like the idea that we'd all had this hanging over our heads for so long and no one had been able to do anything about it.

"I think a hit squad being hired by terrorists to take out a couple of cops makes a lot more sense than you two being tortured by Russian Secret Service for intel on a violence-predicting super-computer, don't you?"

So, that's part of our theory confirmed. I wonder for a second if Shaw has misspoken, but dismiss it immediately. She's always in control. This is her telling me as much as she's allowed to.

"What about Nguyen, the IT guy?"

"There was no one else." She says with such firmness that I know I'm not allowed to question it. Christ! I wonder how much effort her and Fruit Loops have put into dressing the scene to fit their story. I have no doubt that Nguyen is gonna turn up in a few days floating in the Hudson. A tragic victim of a robbery gone wrong.

"You just concentrate on getting better so you can enjoy the medals and praise you've got coming your way. Let Finch, Root and me worry about the rest."

"Medals I don't deserve." I point out.

"Oh, I'm sure you can think of something you've earned a medal for. Putting up with that guy for a start." She grins, pointing at Reese.

She chats for another couple of minutes and checks the medical notes that we both have at the bottom of our beds. Satisfied that we're not gonna crap out on her, she leaves and I settle down into a long needed sleep.

My dreams are chaotic though, and I wake up with a start having just watched Reese get flayed alive again, his blood bubbling out of a slash in his throat. As I start to get my heart under control, I see that it's morning already and Wonderboy is awake and looking at me with a concerned frown on his face.

"Hey Lionel, how are you?" He asks. I ain't ever heard him ask after someone's welfare and I'm a bit taken aback.

"I'll live. You?"

"Good job last night." He says, ignoring my question.

"You remember any of it?"

He looks at me, but doesn't say anything. There's a lot of regret in those eyes, and embarrassment too. He don't need to answer, because I know he does, parts of it anyway.

"Look, I didn't mean what I said last night..." I begin awkwardly.

"It's called truth serum Lionel." He points out coldly.

"Yeah, well. I wish you'd trust me to know all about your operation. And this isn't me giving you an all time reprieve because I deserve to know, but at least this time I'm glad you didn't."

"It was to always protect you Lionel."

"Yeah. Didn't really work out that way did it?"

"No. And I'm sorry." Two firsts, I ain't never heard him say sorry neither.

"I'm sorry too, about what I said about Carter, I know you were just trying to protect her too."

He opens his mouth and at first I think we're about to have an honest to god conversation about feelings and stuff, but then the door opens and Lee rushes in, followed at a distance by his mother.

"Hey buddy." I grab my kid in my arms and pull him close, not caring that it hurts to do so.

"Dad! I'm so glad you're okay." Lee says, "the officers outside said you were a hero."

Reese beside me puts on a charming yet tired smile, "That's right. He is."

"Really?" Lee's overexcited by the news, and I even see my ex-wife crack a hint of a smile, although I know I'll get a talking to later about putting myself in harms way and depriving Lee of a father. I look at Reese, who's more than happy to chat to my kid and tell him some exaggerated story about our police work. We have unfinished business to talk about, but the opportunity has been interrupted now and I doubt he'll ever give me the chance to bring it up again.

Lee spends the rest of the day with us, and I'm surprised at how good Wonderboy is with kids. Later on that day, they let me out, but they tell Reese he's gotta stay in another night on account of his flayed and broken ribs and a crack in that thick skull of his, and I swear to God he actually sulks about it, worse than when Lee gets grounded even though he's spent most of the day falling asleep. He almost signs himself out and leaves with me until I remind him that he's Detective Riley now, and on this at least, Riley would do as he was told.

I'm looking forward to going home to my own bed, but I couldn't've been asleep for long before the nightmares start again. I can't seem to shake that image of that bastard tearing strips off John, except this time in my dream I join in and suddenly it's me that's flaying him while he cries and blames himself. Wonder how long that'll haunt me for.

Anyway, that's why I'm sat here on the muddy grass telling ya this story in the middle of the night. I know right? You never would've pegged me for the sentimental type but here I am, again.

Sorry it's been awhile since I came to see ya. I guess life just got busy ya know, and having Wonderboy as a partner don't exactly make for an easy existence. He'd come to see ya too, y'know. Except I think it hurts him too much. You'd think someone who was used to so much loss would learn to deal with it, wouldn't ya? But I guess the opposite happens, and it just wears ya down instead. He misses you, y'know? We all do. I know you'd want me to look after him, and I'm trying. He don't always make it easy though.

Right, I know what you're thinking, I should be tucked up in bed not sat here in the cold and the dark with you. You'd probably point out that I could've had this chat in the comfort of my own home, not creeping around in a graveyard in the middle of the night, but I needed to see ya. I had no idea, when I took that desk opposite yours, just how much an impact you'd have on my life, but I swear I ain't never had a better friend. Wherever ya are, take care of yourself Carter, and I'll talk to ya again soon. Thanks for listening, and do me a favour won't ya? When Wonderboy runs out of those nine lives of his, make sure you're waiting there for him.