Six months after meeting Morgan, John Reese is getting his life back together after some intervention from a reclusive billionaire with a Job offer. However, things get complicated for the ex-operative when he learns of events that transpired the day he was forced to part ways with the little girl. He only wanted to check up on Morgan from afar – but this time, keeping his distance both emotionally and physically, may not be enough.
Chapter One: The Parting of Ways
Location: New York City, April 2011
John Reese had always known that the relative peace of the last few weeks could not last forever. His time being in the open had been bound to carry consequences – he just didn’t think that whatever action his former employers would choose to take, would be in the presence of a nine year old. But with Morgan’s small scream and his own small grunt of pain as fire lit his side, John knew his time had finally run out...
The gunshot had come out of nowhere, but Nine year old Morgan – who had been sitting inches away- had felt the impact second’s before hearing John Reese’s grunt of pain and seeing the sudden splash of red on his greying shirt. Twisting around upon feeling John’s arm move from where it had been resting across the back of the park bench beside her head, Morgan let out a small, uncharacteristic, cry upon seeing the wound John was hastily trying to hide from her- but it wasn’t fast enough. The pain of the bullet’s impact – although keenly felt, was over ridden by John’s shock and urge to protect the little girl he considered a friend in the most unconventional sense.
Quickly looking around, as sweat began to bead his forehead, John turned to the shaking girl and reached over to take her smaller hand in his less-blood-covered one; he ignored the nine year olds flinch at the contact, as he needed her to focus.
“Morgan...” he said, while gently squeezing her hand. “I need... need you to get out of here... okay?”
Morgan shook her head as soon as the words passed his paling lips, as her eyes remained fixed to the slowly seeping would – where red continued to spread through Reese’s fingers. “N-no. You need a H-hospital...”
John shook his head weakly as he swallowed. “I can’t – can’t go to the hospital, kid.” He offered her an attempt at a pain filled smile. “I need t-to make s-sure you get a-away from h-here.”
With the sound of an audible swallow from the normally withdrawn girl, Reese caught sight of a lone tear escaping the corner of Morgan’s eye and realised her tear was for him. I don’t deserve it, he thought sadly, as he put a shaking hand beneath her chin and gently lifted the girl’s head away from the wound in her line of sight. As the young girl’s tear filled eyes slowly rose to meet his, Reese used the pad of his thumb to gently brush away the stray tear. Morgan didn’t flinch this time – which was an improvement he noted with a glimmer of pride.
“Y-you don’t leave y-your friends b-behind.” She whispered in a choked voice.
Morgan’s withdrawn personality often hindered the youngster when it came to her making connections with people. It wasn’t that she was difficult child – as her social worker and other adult figures often thought, it was a product of Morgan not being taught how to deal with people. An essential social skill often taught in childhood, Morgan’s development in that regard had been disrupted due to instability during those crucial years in her young life. It had taken John longer than usual to figure out this particular kink in the kid’s personality – his usual sharpness having been dulled by the amount of alcohol he had ingested- but when he had, the ex-operative had taken a different approach to dealing with Morgan’s tumultuous mood swings that the girl had honestly no control over; it was how the young girl next to him had become the shy youngster he had been getting to know since.
“Y-you won’t be l-leaving me behind,” he swallowed. “I promise... but you need to go.” He coughed.
Reese inwardly groaned at the kids sudden burst of uncharacteristic stubbornness. After weeks of gradually bringing the girl out of her reinforced shell, Morgan had chosen the most dangerous moment to start acting like a normal nine year old who would kick back and question anything and everything they were being told in the proper environment.
Jerkily, he moved his hand from Morgan’s chin to her shoulder; where he gave it a squeeze, causing Morgan’s breath to hitch slightly. “W-when I tell you – you are going to run. Understood?” He made sure to keep his eyes focused on hers as best he could, despite the slight blurring in their corners. “ You can’t come back here again. I-it’s not safe anymore.”
Morgan bobbed her head in repetitive nodding, as the pressure on her shoulder increased slightly – whether it was due to a wave of pain causing his hand to flex in response, or because he wanted to offer some small reassurance, she wasn’t sure. Usually, the pressure wouldn’t normally have bothered her – she had been on the receiving end of worse, and she knew John wouldn’t hurt her; but today, the pressure from where John’s hand rested sent fire through her shoulder and a cold sweat to break out on her back. She had known this latest ‘punishment’ had been bad – she had needed Alison’s help after She had left, and her arm had been unusable since. It was a consequence of yet another raging row between the couple fuelled by alcohol and frustration; she hadn’t spoken of the incident to John, after seeing his reaction to her now faded bruises – she had seen the way his eyes had darkened at the sight of the old injuries, and the look had scared her.
“N-now go.” John hissed, releasing her shoulder as his hand immediately came back to his side as blood dripped between the slits in the seat beneath them; causing a small puddle of blood to start forming.
As the pressure on her shoulder was removed, Morgan felt light headed and a chill set into her abused muscle and ligament; even before coming to meet John, the girl had been forced to change t-shirts and change the gauze padding as best she could with the injury in a place she couldn’t reach by herself. In an attempt to warm her bad arm, Morgan used her good hand to curl the injured limb into her chest and hold it in place. Like John, she couldn’t go to a hospital; Jacob and Regina had made certain things clear after she had witnessed a rough incident with Joshua during her first week at the Sweeney placement, and hospitals were on the top of their places not to go.
Reese watched shakily, as the nine year old curled her arm into her chest, as her breathing became shallower than it had been moments before. The motion caused a slightly different pain to flare in his chest, at the prospect of having broken the only promise he swore to the girl he would never break. Everyone I meet always seem to get hurt because of me, he thought bitterly, and this time – I hurt her.
With this probably being the last time he would ever see his young friend again – for that is what she had somehow become over these past weeks – Reese swallowed in the hopes of relieving some of the scratchiness in his increasingly sore throat as he spoke. “A-and T-thank you... f-for being my f-friend...”
Doing as he said, Morgan quickly scrambled up from the bench – coming to stand in a similar position to the one she had taken during the pairs first meeting. Blinking her eyes at the dizziness that overcame her (causing her to sway slightly on the spot), Morgan caught John’s latter words; his goodbye. Swallowing, the nine year old took a hitched breath.
“P-please d-don’t d-die...” she whispered, loud enough for John to hear; before plucking up what little courage she had to step in front of the man in order to plant a sloppy, uncoordinated kiss on the older man’s sweat ridden forehead. Her own cold forehead feeling how damp his hair had become, making greying strands turn black, as she felt the heat radiating from his skin.
Reese was too in shock to process the girl’d last action, as Morgan made a hasty retreat back the way she normally came from. She’s a good kid, his mind processed as his eyes caught a glimpse of Morgan’s shoulder where a dark patch stood out in contrast against the colour of her hooded jumper. He would miss her...
Location: New York City, October 2011
‘P-please d-don’t d-die...’
John Reese jolted awake, raising himself into a half-sitting position, as he felt the slight strain on the arm he was leaning on for support. Blinking to clear the haziness left behind after his sudden awakening, the former CIA operative was alert almost immediately. Looking around, Reese found himself in the seedy motel room he had checked into the night before with no whiskey bottle in sight, which was new. Nothing seemed out of place, he noted- unlike the last time he had fallen asleep in a similar establishment, only to find himself somewhere new; waking up to a phone call, and his left hand held by a thick plastic restraint attached to the head of the bed.
Flopping back down, he turned his head to the bedside table where his recently acquired cell phone lay silent. Reaching over to pick up the device, Reese pressed the Home button on the device to light up the display, to find it free of any messages; meaning that no new numbers had come up on Mr. Finch’s machine who needed either saving or stopping. Sighing, he returned the phone to the table, before resting his head back on the pillow and turning his gaze up to the ceiling.
He hadn’t dreamt of that day in months – not since welcoming the dreamless sleep alcohol offered – and yet at the same time, it had been the clearest his memory of the day had been. Nine year old Morgan’s face swam to the forefront of his mind, causing Reese to bring a hand up to rub his face, as the sight of the frightened little girl reminded him of what he had left behind that day in the park. Morgan had unwittingly invaded his self-imposed isolation one afternoon in March; and had somehow managed to pull him out of his alcohol induced haze – but he had discovered that he wasn’t the only one spiralling. She had been a foster kid, whose placement had not been the best – and so she had come to Central Park in order to escape her barely mentioned home life for as long as she could.
The companionship the pair had inadvertently developed over three weeks had come with surprising ease – much to the ex-operative’s bewilderment. Morgan was a withdrawn kid who was just as much an outsider as Reese was; the pair had connected after she had asked if he was okay upon seeing blood on his shirt. While the kid had been the first person in quite some time to ask such a question with the sincerity he had heard in Morgan’s voice, what had struck him more about her was her resigned idea that she was alone and couldn’t rely on anyone to help her; he hadn’t wanted the kid to give up like he had done years before, and so he had told her that she wasn’t as alone as she thought she was. It had been hypocritical of him, to tell Morgan this, but he had been willing to become one if it meant helping the little girl and slowing her descent into the pit he had fallen into years before. Sometimes, Reese wished he had just allowed Jessica to do the same for him.
After John had been shot, he had gone underground where he had met Joan; an older woman who had been living on the streets for years. She had patched up the broken man as best she could- but even she couldn’t stop him going back to his alcoholic crutch when the dreams returned to remind him of his past actions and mistakes. His biggest mistake, of letting Jessica go all those years ago, had now been joined by the frightened face of a little girl- who had pulled him back from the brink following his discovery of Jessica’s death without realising she had even done so.
While the months had blended into a montage of forgotten memories and guilt at the lost chances with both the woman he loved and the girl he had befriended; the past week or so had been a blur of action – as he adjusted to the new lifestyle he found himself attaining, with a new job and an employer who was the most paranoid individual he had met in quite some time. Finch was an enigma he wanted to solve in the hopes of discovering the reclusive billionaire’s true motivations – something Reese figured would take some time to piece together as Finch had admitted to being a very private person by nature. However, at the moment, the ex-operatives thoughts continued to return to the recent spate of dreams he had been experiencing in the past few times he had been able to catch a decent night’s sleep, with the face of a young girl coming to the forefront of his consciousness.
Swinging his legs over the edge of the single bed, Reese ran a hand through his rumpled greying hair as his mind made the decision to check up on Morgan. It was for peace of mind more than anything, he thought as he tried to convince himself that this was a good idea. Kara had always told him never to look back, but he couldn’t stop himself from doing so. His plan was to check up on the kid from afar, just in case she was happy and in a safer placement – he could make sure she was happy before focusing himself entirely on the numbers and seeking some kind of redemption for his past actions.
But there was a flaw in the man’s plan. He didn’t know Morgan’s full name, which meant he couldn’t trace her down on just name alone. Also, with the girl being in foster care- and the previous lengths of her placements, Morgan could have been moved several times since their last meeting. With the first two plans out of the question, he would have to resort to plan C, which was a long shot in itself.
Morgan had spoken often about a friend she had in the system, Tasha Reynolds, who – at the time of the pairs meeting had been living in a placement upstate and had seemingly enjoyed it. It had been the longest distance the girls had ever been separated by since they had gotten to know each other with Tasha was six, and Morgan five. Tasha had been due to return to the city three days after Reese’s shooting, and so he hoped that in finding Tasha, he would find Morgan.
He had some work to do...