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24 April 2012 @ 04:09 pm
PofI Fic: With the Dogs  
Fandom Person of Interest
Rating: PG, gen
Characters: Carter and Szymanski
Words: 1200
Summary: Carter visits the hospital after Baby Blue

Note: For pirateveronica for the wegetcarter mini gift-exchange!






Carter stopped outside of room 314. The uniform on duty checked her badge, which she would've found more reassuring if she didn't know there were cops on Elias' payroll. Szymanski's protection was that Elias didn't care about him anymore, not the guard outside his room.

Two days had passed since that whole thing with Moretti had gone down. Szymanski was going to be okay, but she knew how close it had been.

John had told Elias about the safe house. He'd all but served up Moretti and Szymanski on a platter for Elias. While she'd have made the same choice of Leila over Moretti and even Szymanski, it hadn't been the only choice he could've made. John had traded both, heedless -- reckless -- of the consequences, because he trusted only his own judgment.

And now you reap the consequences of John's vigilantism, she told herself. It's like Gran used to say -- you lie down with dogs and you're gonna get fleas.

Worse, she was going to have to go in there, still covered in the fleas of an ulterior motive.

Damn you, John, and your bug-eyed friend, too, for dragging me into your Batman fantasies.

Her fingers tightened on the ribbons holding the balloons in her right hand, but when the uniform glanced at her curiously at her hesitation, she manufactured a perfunctory smile and opened the door.

It was a semi-private room, with a narrow window and two beds, but the bed near the door was unoccupied. There was a curtain partially drawn between, hiding the sight of the other bed, but the television was on. She paused out of sight and called softly, "Szymanski, it's Carter. You up for visitors?"

"Carter? Come in." Szymanski's voice was hoarse, but she was amused to hear how eager to have company he sounded.

She pulled the curtain out of the way and smiled at him. The head of the bed was raised a bit so he could see the television, and generally, except for the i.v., pulse monitor, and pads stuck to his chest under the beige hospital gown, he didn't look too bad.

"I come bearing a get-well present from the precinct." She held out the balloon bouquet, proud of the two Eeyore ones she'd picked, especially when he saw them and smiled. "And your card." She took the card out of the envelope and handed it to him. He read it and chuckled, then winced and held his stomach, looking a bit pale.

"Sorry, maybe we shouldn't have gone for the funny one." She took the card back to stand it up on the little wheeled table holding a cup of water.

"That's okay. I like it." He dismissed her apology with a wiggle of his fingers, but proved himself a liar as his eyes drifted shut to rest.

"I was planning to keep you company, unless you want me to come back?" she offered.

"No, no," his eyes popped open. "Pull up a chair. I'd love some news."

She sat on the hard chair and gave him some general gossip about the station house, the captain, and how tiny Officer Consuela Vasquez had beaten Fusco at the donut eating contest. The last made him smile, but she knew they were both delaying the inevitable.

Finally he asked. "And Moretti?"

"Nothing. I'm guessing he's been dumped some place. No love lost there between the old man and Elias." They exchanged a grim look, and he blew out a rueful breath, regretting what had happened. "Hey," she told him, leaning forward intently. "It's not your fault. Elias has resources and leverage all over the city; we knew that going in." She hadn't expected that leverage to come in the shape of a baby and John's inability to stay the hell away, but it wasn't a shock Elias had found a way to get Moretti.

"Yeah," he agreed with a sigh. "Still don't know how it got blown. How'd you hear?"

"I had a CI call me that Elias was on the move." Her answer was mostly true. She changed the subject. "Did you give your report yet?"

"No, not yet," he answered. "Captain said not to worry about it for now. Since you knew most of it."

"So what happened?" she asked, trying not to tense as she waited to hear what he would say. The question she wanted answered was whether he remembered the person with her or not, and if so, what she could do about it.

He shrugged, wincing. "I got your call, went inside to get Moretti. Couple minutes later Elias' thugs burst in. I think I winged one but the rest - were too many. One got me. I fell and heard them grab Moretti, then they were gone. Next thing I know you were there. That's it."

"That's it?" she repeated and smiled in relief. Then, to cover her relief, she added, teasing, "For getting shot, that's a boring story, Szymanski. You should work on that."

"I should, huh?" he asked, and his lips quirked in a weary smile. But then the smile faded and his brows knitted in a frown. "Carter. Was there something about a baby? Was there a baby in trouble?"

Her stomach turned cold and her face seemed to freeze. John had mentioned the baby. Szymanski must have heard him. She made a frown and shook her head briskly, and patted Szymanski's arm. "Nothing to worry about. A different case and it's all taken care of now."

"There was another voice," Szymanski persisted, with a deeper frown, trying to remember. "Male."

Her shoulders felt too tight as she shrugged. "My phone. There was no one else there," she reassured him. Now you're making me a liar, John. Bill Szymanski's a good man and good cop and he doesn't deserve me lying to his face about you.

"Oh, okay," Szymanski said, relaxing and letting it go with a soft sigh. "My memories are kinda messed up."

"It's all right. You were bleeding out on the floor-- I think you're entitled." She was relieved. That was all he had. Hopefully he'd forget even that much. "But I should get going. You look tired and I should get back."

"Tell everyone thanks. Take down a couple bad guys for me while I'm out."

"Will do. But no lazing around watching Judge Green for a month." She jerked her head at the tv, where Judge Green was laying the smackdown on a pair of young stupid people. "We need you, Szymanski."

He smiled, looking touched. "Thanks."

She said goodbye and headed for the door. Nearly out of sight she looked back, to find him watching her leave. He lifted a hand to wave and she waved back, but when she was safely out in the hall, her smile faded.

There had been some doubt on his face. Maybe he remembered more than he'd said, maybe something felt 'off' about her answer to him -- whatever it was, he hadn't fully bought it.

She couldn't poke at it or deny it more than she had without risking more suspicion. She would have to wait and see what Szymanski put in his incident report or if he started to ask questions.

Just don't mention a man in a suit, Szymanski, she prayed silently in the elevator. You don't want that kind of attention, not from him and for damn sure not his enemies.

Outside, as the cool air hit her face she stopped and she looked up, straight at the security camera, wondering if they were watching. She wouldn't put it past either of them to be keeping tabs on her and Szymanski, for exactly the same reason she'd gone to talk to him.

I'm not telling anyone, she promised them with her expression and her eyes. I'll keep what secrets I know. But nothing new. We're done.

She didn't say it out loud, but she didn't have to. John had already gotten the message.

It was time to go back to work.

 
 
 
patron saint of neglected female characters: dani-kevlar otprose_griffes on April 25th, 2012 01:04 am (UTC)
I THINK I STILL HAVE POST-"BABY BLUE" TRAUMA. B/c now I'm just all sad again... *sniffles*

Carter's pragmatic thoughts about Szymanski's protection feel just right, and her guilt at having to lie to him is just painful and perfect.
lizardbeth: PoI - Carter Reeselizardbeth_j on April 25th, 2012 04:45 am (UTC)
it was very traumatic!!!!

Thanks!
blacktop50blacktop50 on April 25th, 2012 02:44 am (UTC)
Oh, I love this new angle on this terrible moment! This story is really well done, especially the hesitant dialogue in which Syzmanski is struggling with his memories and Carter is struggling with her protective lie. He is a competent cop trained to trust his instincts and now she has put him in a difficult dilemma: to doubt his own mind or his trusted partner. So Carter is not just sacrificing her sense of right and wrong for Reese, she is jeopardizing her professional relationships and her own identity. I love it when a story opens up a whole new line of thought about the show as you have done here.
lizardbeth: PoI - Carter Reeselizardbeth_j on April 25th, 2012 07:19 am (UTC)
thank you!

I was looking through screencaps I'd made of Baby Blue when it occurred to me that even though Szymanski's eyes were closed when John was there, that doesn't necessarily mean he didn't hear anything. And whether he did or not, Carter would have to find out if he did. So that was the seed.

But anyway, that's what makes that ep so sad - it's not just Carter breaking up with team Batman but she also got her one, single trustworthy legit partner taken away, too, and for what? so she has to lie to him? sucks for her. :(
realstone1903realstone1903 on April 25th, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC)
I like this. It's an excellent reminder to me about the crooked paths we tread when we have to make truth out of our lies.
lizardbeth: PoI - Carter Reeselizardbeth_j on April 26th, 2012 05:50 am (UTC)
thank you!

And yeah the lies don't touch only the Big Three - they've now grown to encompass good people like Syzmanski, and innocents like Taylor.
entertaining in a disturbing way: Det Carter is awesomelyssie on April 29th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
Excellent. Sometimes, I feel sorry for Carter, having to juggle all the different aspects of her life. But then again, it's not any different than when she was in the army. She's just less naive now.

But I liked seeing her visit Szymanski, and worry about what he might or might not know.