The hidden camera on the streetlight winked at her, making the detective all too aware of its presence. Though Carter's curious nature was satisfied at finally knowing about the source that kept Harold Finch and John Reese in business, the knowledge brought a small level of anxiety with it. Especially now that she knew the machine's eyes were throughout the entire city, always watching. Watching even her.
She sighed, letting her gaze drop. Relived that the super computer at least couldn't read thoughts. Especially when her thoughts as of late, had been constantly focused on its number one vigilant. She shifted in the driver's seat of her car. Her grip tightening on the file she was waiting to hand off to John.
Joss swallowed uneasily. She had been through this routine before. He would invite himself into her car. Sit in the passenger seat, maybe throw out a flirtatious greeting and give her his annoying, taunting smirk. She would hand over the file then they would talk business for a minute or two, and then John would make a hasty exit.
She would still be the detective and he the vigilant. There would still be no mention of that kiss they had shared months ago, when death's shadow had been hovering.
Joss had been waiting patiently for that conversation. For them to make sense of the kiss. To decide if they were going to do something about the feelings that had been shared that night. She had been hopeful that once the dust settled with HR, John would fully open that door to his heart.
But the long days waiting, crushed those hopes. The John she saw that night, had gone back into hiding, hurting himself and her. And at this rate only the threat of death would make him reappear.
Her head turned when the car door opened. As expected, John slid into the empty seat, focusing on her with that knowing look.
She rolled her eyes. "That line never gets old John," she said, somewhat dryly, not in the mood to comeback with her usual snarky remark. She held out the file. "That got what you need?"
His eyes rested on her as he took the file. His gaze taking her in carefully. Finally, he opened the file looking it over. Leaving Joss to watch him. Her eyes caressing the angles and lines of his face. Her heart thudding at the thought that this man could be so close to her, yet beyond her reach.
"Thanks Carter," he said referring to the file, and breaking her thoughts.
"You gonna need anything else?"
He looked up. "May need you for back up later. Depending on how much trouble she's in. I'll let you know." He placed a hand on the door, preparing to exit.
Joss gave a brief nod, her focus sliding toward her car wheel. However, instead of opening the door, John remained in the passenger seat. His gaze intent as he stared at Joss. Taking in her lowered shoulders, and downcast eyes. It was apparent something was bothering her, and his senses were heightened at the knowledge. Lowering his hand, he shifted so his body was turned towards her.
"Joss are you okay?"
Her eyes briefly closed at the use of his nickname for her. He always used it when he was concerned.
"Joss?" his voice lowered as his concern grew from her silence.
Opening her eyes, Joss found his and concentrated on the man sitting next to her. He asked, should she tell him? Get it out now? Push the ball back in his corner and let him do with it as he saw fit?
If she told him what was really bothering her, she'd have to live with if he decided to do nothing. But she wasn't sure she could live the rest of her life without facing what was between them. Without challenging him to do the same. She had to try.
Taking a breath she shook her head. "No John, I'm not okay."
He tensed, his eyes sharpening on her. Already making up in his mind that he would remove any obstacle or issue causing her pain or frustration.
"When are we going talk about it?"
She saw the moment those words hit him. The moment they blindsided him and left him stunned.
"I tried to give you time after we got ambushed by Simmons. I knew that was a close call and we both were shaken. Not to mention I was still dealing with HR. I figured, with all of that, you didn't want to make any major decisions about you and me. But HR is over. The shock of Simmons' ambush has worn off. It's been months and I'm beginning to think you're not ever going to want to talk about it. But I do."
He held her gaze and his face remained unreadable. His CIA training was working well for him. But Joss knew on the inside there was a mighty civil war raging. She continued on.
"You know John, trying to figure you out has been exhausting. I haven't caught up on all the sleepless nights you've caused me. I've always known, even if it was in the back of my mind, that there was something between us. But I thought you kept from doing anything about it because you didn't want to be tied down. I told myself, you've spent most your life having to answer to yourself and your own conscience. You loved one woman, and though I know you gave her your whole heart, that relationship wasn't very extensive. I thought you enjoyed your freedom too much, to ever want to fully latch onto someone. Someone you'd have to compromise with or answer to. And I settled for being your friend.
But after that kiss and the way you've avoided talking about it, I finally realized I didn't have you figured out like I thought. I was completely wrong." Her gaze sharpened on him in challenge. "John if you're anything you're loyal. You'll sell yourself to protect and care for the people you love. You'll give your life to a cause and never take it back. You have no problem committing to the people you love.
But you can't stand the thought of someone committing to you. Of someone you love attaching themself to you. Why? Because you come with baggage? Because you come with uncertainty? And yes because you think you're just not good enough for anyone?
That's why we've danced around this- whatever it is- and wasted nearly three years. Three years of me trying to find a man who could push you out of my mind. Three years of denying ourselves and what we feel and what we really want," she snapped. Joss turned in her seat, her blood rising. The words flying out of her mouth now that she finally released them. "John I want to be attached to you. You get that? I want it all. Your baggage, your overprotectiveness, your issues, your past and your future. I want you. And every string that's attached to you. I know you want to protect me, and I know you think if we go down this road that one day, I'll realize I can't do it and I'll leave you. But I've had three years to walk away and stay away, and I haven't done it yet. And I'm not going to." She said with finality. "You're stuck with me, just like I'm stuck with you. Why not make the most of it?"
Joss swallowed, feeling her heart pump heavily as she tried to suppress her longing. As every nerve stood at attention and her body demanded that she tell this man how much she loved him. But she couldn't do that. Not yet. He needed time to process this and if she made one wrong move, she could chase him away. Or worse, further convince his misguided logic that he was doing the right thing in keeping her at arm's length and suffering in silence.
Taking in a slow breath, Joss took in his face. He still maintained his detached mask. But she wasn't bothered by it. She had learned how to look past that. His eyes always told another story with her.
Cautiously Joss reached out, her unsteady fingers gently touching his face. Caressing his skin and sliding into the hair at his temple. Reveling in the feel of his flesh and hair against her palm and her fingertips. Her thumb traveling dangerously close to his lips. Though he tried to remain unaffected by her touch, she noticed that his chest began to rise and fall at a faster pace and perhaps without realizing it, he leaned into her palm. And his eyes, yet again revealed another one of his heart's secrets.
How many nights had he suffered? Standing at the brink of happiness. At the brink of being something more than just a man trying to pay a penance. Yet consistently denying himself the opportunity to have more out of life. As painful as this divide had been for her, she knew his agony was far worse. Especially for a man who had not had nearly enough pleasure in his life.
"Oh John," Joss sighed. "Life doesn't have to be as hard as you're making it." Her voice had softened to a whisper. The air hummed between them. Cocooning them for a moment in a world where even the machine couldn't touch them. "You denied yourself this once before. History doesn't have to repeat itself this time. But it's up to you." She held his gaze.
Strengthening her resolve, Joss took her hand back and faced forward. It was her turn to put on a mask. She had boldly and undeniably placed the ball back in his corner. Even given him a small glimpse of what could be between them. Now it was in his hands.
"See you around John," she said without looking his way.
He didn't respond, but a moment a later she heard the car door open and close.
There will be a part 2. I really wanted to post something closer to Valentine's Day, but once again I missed that deadline. However I wanted to get this idea posted. Thank you for reading hope you all enjoyed it.