Title: You Learn
Pairing: John Reese/Jordan Hester
Fandom: Person of Interest
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the lovely John Reese or Jordan Hester, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.
***Jordan glanced over at John, wondering how his boyfriend could look so calm and composed. When he'd opened the door at John's knock tonight, he'd been appalled to see the bruise on John's cheek, and blood dripping from his split lip.
He had wanted to drag his boyfriend inside the apartment, look around in the hallway to make certain that no one had followed John here and that his lover's life wasn't in immediate danger. It had been hard for him to calm down, to tell himself that John could take care of himself.
He wanted to ask John just what had happened, but he'd refrained from doing so. He had simply helped his boyfriend clean up, washing away the blood and making an ice pack for John to hold against the bruise until the swelling had gone down.
But now, he couldn't hold back his questions -- or his anxiety. "John, what happened tonight?" he asked, his voice very soft. "I know you get caught up in some dangerous situations, but you scared the hell out of me when you showed up here all bruised and bloody."
John shrugged, sighing softly and shaking his head. "I don't want you to worry about me, Jordan," he said, his gaze meeting Jordan's without wavering. "You've known ever since we first met that my job isn't the safest thing in the world. You just have to trust me."
"I do," Jordan told him, his sincerity evident in his voice. "If I didn't, then I couldn't be with you. I couldn't deal with knowing that the man I love puts himself in danger all the time if I didn't trust you to be able to take care of yourself."
"It's something I'm used to doing," John said, shrugging again. "I've been putting myself in danger for a lot longer than I've known you, Jordan. And it's not something I can just stop doing. I feel like I serve a purpose. And like I'm making amends for the past."
Jordan let those words pass; he wasn't going to get into a discussion about John's past. He knew that there were too many spaces there that John was reluctant to fill in, and he didn't want to pry. When his boyfriend was ready to talk about that, he'd do it with no prompting.
Unable to sit still any longer, he got to his feet and went to the sliding glass doors that led out to the balcony of his apartment. He didn't want John to see how unsettled he was, how it had shaken him to see his boyfriend bruised and bloody.
He would probably have to get used to this, he told himself as he stared out at the velvet blackness of the night outside the glass. John wasn't going to give up what he did -- and in some ways, Jordan didn't want him to. He had no right to ask that of John.
If John didn't keep doing what he did now, he would change in some undefinable way that Jordan wasn't able to put into words. He wouldn't be the same man who Jordan had fallen in love with -- and he didn't want his boyfriend to lose that noble, protective air that he had about him.
To Jordan, John seemed like the modern version of a white knight. He helped people who were in bad situations, and as much as Jordan sometimes feared for his safety, he was proud of the man he loved. He didn't want John to lose that selfless quality.
He could feel John's presence behind him, the other man's strong arms sliding around his waist to pull him close. John's warm breath was on the back of his neck, sending a shiver down his spine; he leaned back against John, closing his eyes and sighing.
"Does it ever get easier?" he asked quietly, knowing that John really couldn't give him the answer to his question. John had never been in the position he was in, loving someone who constantly put themselves in danger. John had always been on the other side of that situation.
"I don't know, Jordan." His boyfriend's voice was soft and gentle; John's hands moved down his sides to rest on his hips, but without any hint of desire. John was merely holding him, comforting him with his presence, trying to make him feel calmer.
"How do you deal with it? I mean, with knowing that there might be some job you don't come back from?" Jordan swallowed hard even as he spoke the words; he didn't want to contemplate a time when John might be taken away from him permanently.
"You learn to cope with that fear," John said, his voice even and steady. "And even, at some point, to thrive on it. You have to take those fears and put them behind you, to be absolutely positive that you can beat the odds and survive the game."
"How about the people who care for you, John? How do we lean to cope with the fact that there might be a time when you don't come back to us?" Jordan didn't want to ask the question, but he didn't feel as though he had a choice. He had to know.
"I don't know, sweetheart." John turned Jordan around in his arms, until they were staring into each other's eyes. "I've never been in that position. And I don't want to put you into a situation that you can't deal with. If you feel like you have to leave, Jordan, then you should."
Jordan shook his head, closing his eyes and resting his forehead against John's. "Leave? There's no way I could do that," he whispered, his voice breaking on the last words. "I love you, John. I'm just so scared sometimes that it's all going to go up in smoke one day."
"You're afraid for me, aren't you?" John murmured, raising a hand to stroke his fingers through Jordan's hair. "I wish I could tell you not to be, but there are times when I'm afraid for myself. Though I've got to admit, they're few and far between."
"I know I should trust that you can take care of yourself, that you know what you're doing," Jordan told him, trying to keep his voice calm and steady. "But I can't help it, John. I love you so much that I'm terrified you'll just .... disappear out of my life."
"Jordan, I can promise you that no matter what happens to me, I would never vanish without a trace," John told him, his brow creasing in a frown. "I'd have Harold tell you what happened. Or one of the two cops who work closely with us. You'd have closure, I promise."
"But I wouldn't have you," Jordan whispered, shaking his head. He sighed, raising his head and taking a deep breath. "Sorry. I'm just not used to being with somebody who puts his life in danger on a daily basis. I guess it freaks me out a little."
"You learn how to deal with the knowledge that you might lose someone you love," John told him with a soft sigh. "I'd rather than you didn't have to learn how to accept that feeling, Jordan. But if you're with me, then you're going to have to face the possibility."
"I don't want to have to face it, but I don't have a choice, do I?" Jordan asked with a wry smile. "It's not easy to face the fact that I risk losing the person I love every day, in a lot more than most people do. But I'll deal with it, if that's what I have to do to be with you."
"I'm going to try my best to stay safe," John murmured, his lips against Jordan's hair. "For you. So you won't have to be alone -- and so I'll be able to come back to you and try to live as normal a life as a man like me can live. But I have to take some risks, Jordan."
Jordan nodded slowly, wishing that he didn't have to agree with John, but knowing that he had no choice in the matter. "I understand. And I accept that you have to take some risks. I just wish there was some way to have some fail-safe protections."
"I've learned that in my business, things like that aren't possible," John told him, wishing that he could state otherwise. "I try to protect myself as best I can, but there's always some measure of risk in what I do, Jordan. You have to know that. You were a part of it once, you know."
"I know I can't convince you to be more careful -- or to stop doing what you do," Jordan said, careful to keep his voice on an even keel. Then he shrugged, giving John a wan smile. "And I wouldn't want you to. I think if you stopped doing this, you'd be a completely different man."
"I would be, yes." John nodded, sighing again, his hands moving down Jordan's sides to rest on his hips. "And I would be much more bitter and disillusioned. I would probably never have met you, and neither of us would have the bit of happiness we've carved out for ourselves."
Jordan had to admit that John was right; if he didn't do the dangerous job he did, they'd never have found each other in this huge city full of people. They could have walked right past each other on the street, without either of them knowing what they had missed out on.
It was never going to be easy for him to come to terms with what John did, but he could accept it. If this was what John wanted, then he would learn to live with it. And maybe one day, he would be able to help his boyfriend in some way, if he was ever needed.
John probably wouldn't like that idea, Jordan thought with an inward smile. But just the same, he was always here for John if the man he loved needed him in any way, just as John was here for him. It was the least he could do for the person who held his heart.
"You learn how to deal with the tough times, Jordan," John whispered, his words soft in Jordan's ear. "And the times when you're going through some stress just make the good times even better. We'll get through the bad times, and they'll make us appreciate the good ones even more."
Jordan could only nod in agreement, unable to think of anything to say. He wanted to believe that John's words were true -- but somehow, he couldn't help thinking that it was going to take him a long time to learn how to cope with all of his fears for the man he loved.
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