I sat next to him but refused to look him in the eye. He didn't say anything for a while, just sat and rubbed his thumb across the back of my hand.
“I don't want you to worry about what Barns said.” he spoke finally.
“But he is right! I can't...” my voice broke.
“Hey,” he squeezed my hand and I looked up.
“Don't worry about what he thinks. I'll talk to him, and as soon as I am out of this godforsaken bed, I am going to kick his ass!”
“No you won't.” I laughed and shook my head.
“Yes I will! He's jeopardizing any chance I have at getting you to give this a chance.” he squeezed my and again. “If I could, I'd kick his ass right now!”
“He is your friend, he just worries...” I tried.
“Don't defend him.” John said firmly. “He is my friend, my comrade in arms, has been for a long time, I trust him completely but he has no right to say things like that to you.”
“Fine.” I sighed. “I actually talked to Blair about it.”
He looked surprised. They all seemed to think Blair and I hated one another. We weren't exactly the best of friends but things were definitely improving between us. He tugged on my hand and I scooted closer to him.
“You did? How did that go?”
“Really well actually. She made me feel a lot better.”
“Kyle and Star were sitting with us and she just reminded me how much I love them. I was so upset by what Barns had said about not being able to have a family that I was blinded to the one I had built.”
“What do you mean?” he asked curiously.
“I was mourning something that can't be, instead of embracing what is.” I smiled shyly. “She reminded me how lucky I am. I have two kids that I love, a brother I adore, and someone working towards being my sister. If you ask me, that is a pretty full family.”
“Sounds to me that all that is missing is someone to care about as a lover.” he said, smirk firmly in place while I colored in embarrassment.
“Maybe.” I conceded, lifting my chin somewhat defiantly even though my cheeks were still pink.
He smiled this time.
I leaned down and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek but as I pulled away he moved forward and caught me in a real kiss. We were cut sadly short when someone behind me cleared their throat and I pulled away quickly while John growled.
“Again with the interruptions.” he grumbled.
My fading blush came back full force and I tried to move away when I saw who was standing in the entrance way. John's grip tightened on my hand and refused to let me go anywhere while he glared at our guest.
“What do you want Barns?” he snapped.
Barns scowled and dropped his eyes to the side.
“I need to talk to you.” he said in a low voice.
Barns eyes cut to me, glancing down at the hand John was holding, his scowl darkened.
“Alone.” he demanded.
I tried to stand again but John let go of my hand and settled his across my thighs instead, keeping me in place.
“No.” he said simply.
I could see Barns' temper growing and dropped my eyes to my lap, pulling my hair over my left shoulder and began turning it into a braid. It was quiet for a moment before Barns frustration finally won out and he spoke.
“It's just not right!” he spat. “She is a Terminator! A machine!” he gestured angrily at me and I shrank away from him.
“She saved my life.” John snapped back. The steady beeping of the machine monitoring his heart rate began to pick up speed and I frowned at it before turning that frown on John. He took a calming breath and the numbers started to drop back to normal.
“Is that what this is?” Barns asked. “Some kind of sick debt you have to pay?”
My hands hesitated on my hair. I hadn't thought of that as a reason for his actions. I looked at him, unsure. He gave my thigh a gentle squeeze and met my gaze.
“No its not.” he said confidently while holding my gaze. I instantly felt better.
“Then what is it?” Barns demanded angrily. “I don't understand!”
“You don't have to.” John said, looking at his friend. “All you have to know is its what I want, and as my friend, that should be enough for you.”
Barns still looked petulant.
“You are getting soft.” He accused.
“Enough!” John snapped, his heart rate monitor spike again and I contemplated telling Barns to leave if it spiked again. It wasn't healthy for John's heart to take to much strain so soon.
“I am a grown man, Barns.” John said angrily. “You are not my father and I do not need you to approve my decisions!”
I managed to stop myself from laughing out loud but a little giggle escaped at the thought of John going to Kyle for approval on anything. Both men glanced at me but I ignored them, focusing on perfecting my braiding.
“Fine.” Barns snapped before turning on his heel and stomping out of the room.
It was quiet except the sound of machinery for several minutes. I didn't want to disturb John's thoughts, he was still watching the empty doorway.
“What was so funny?” John asked, finally, eyes still on the entrance.
“I just had the funniest mental picture of you asking Kyle for permission to date me.” I giggled. He chuckled, tearing his eyes from the door.
“So...” I frowned as a new thought occurred to me. “If Kyle is your dad, and I have pretty much adopted Kyle...Does that make me your grandmother?”
He laughed fully this time, then groaned as he put a hand to his bandaged chest.
“Oh my god! I am so sorry!” I jumped off the bed and hurried over to the sink, filling a paper cup with cold water.
“I'm fine.” he protested when I demanded he drink.
“I would give you something for the pain if I could!” I paced beside the bed. “I hate this! Kate says the supplied are to low to give you the dose you need every few hours!
“I'm fine.” he said again, watching me fret. “I've had worse.”
I frowned at him.
“That does not make me feel better! You shouldn't be in pain. I am your doctor, I should be able to take the pain away, at least temporarily!”
He held out his hand.
“Sit back down.”
I sighed but did as requested. I sat beside him, crossing my legs and looking down at the large hand holding mine.
I studied it closely, tracing a jagged scar on the back with my finger. I followed another scar that went from the top of his wrist, wrapping down around his forearm and stopping about three inches from the inside of his elbow. There was another one that crossed in an 'X' shape through the middle of the wrap around scar.
His arm was relaxed and pliant in my hands, allowing me to turn it over and look at it from all angles. I counted ten large scars all together on his right arm, from the back of his hand all the way up to his shoulder. There were numerous small ones that looked like burns, punctures and scraps, decorating the skin between and around the larger scars.
I traced the largest of the scars, a particularly gruesome looking one on his bicep, with the tip of my finger. It looked like it had been a very deep, jagged laceration and part of it was deeper than the beginning, as if a chunk of skin had been gouged out and burned around the edges. I paused when the skin beneath my fingers twitched. I looked up at his face, he was looking at me just as intently as I was looking at his arm.
“How did you get this one?” I asked, touching his bicep again.
“We were freeing prisoners from a Skynet facility in southern California when we were attacked by a couple of Terminators guarding the facility, we thought we had taken them all out but our information was faulty and we missed a couple. An explosive projectile missed me by about six inches but a piece of the metal door the exploded lodged itself in my arm. Kate had to remove it in sections so it left a pretty bad mark.”
“Wow.” I said softly.
“I have a lot of them.” He looked over at his left arm and I saw that it too was littered with markings. “I have almost as much clear skin as I do disgusting scars.”
“I don't think they are disgusting.” I said quietly. “They are part of who you are.”
I traced my fingers lightly across the large 'X' on his forearm.
“I like them.” I admitted, blushing.
“Really?” he sounded rather pleased.
“They suit you.” I said, looking up at him. “They represent what you have accomplished, the things you have sacrificed for what you believe in. There is nothing disgusting about that.”
“If you look at it that way, I am a walking trophy case.” he chuckled and I smiled.
“John...” I said softly, trailing my fingers back down his arm to rest on his palm. “I...I am not really good at this kind of thing, and to put it quite frankly, it scares the hell out of me, but...I'd like to give this a try.” I linked my fingers through his.
“You would?” I glanced up at his hopeful expression then back down at his hand as he closed it around mine.
“Yeah. As long as, we can take things slow.”
“We can go as slow as you want. You set our pace, and I will do my best to match it.” he promised.
I smiled, raising my eyes finally to meet his. Slowly, I leaned forward and carefully pressed my lips against his.
As I leaned back, I realized something important...
Life here may be completely different from when and where I was used to, but I didn't have to face it alone. I was surrounded by people who I love and care about. This new world was full of wonderful possibilities and I was looking forward to exploring each and every one of them.
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