It’s midnight when her driver drops her off, earlier than she usually calls it a night in the city that never sleeps, but her clients have been quiet lately. If she were younger, more inexperienced, the lull would worry her, but she’s seen the cycle before. When the turf wars start, when the plays for power get a little more intentional, her business will be booming again. It’s feast or famine in the information world, and Zoe never starves.
Her door is unlocked. It’s shut; whoever forced it was a pro and the lock is intact. She swings it open and turns on the light. “Mind telling me what you’re doing in my...” It’s not a client or even a two bit burglar. John sits on her black leather sofa, his shoes left politely on the welcome mat a few feet away. “Well, this is a new development for us. Can’t say I mind, though.” She closes the door behind her and lets her heels (Devour, red, and worth every penny) drop off and land next to his black ones.
“Zoe,” he says. John is a man of few words, and while Zoe appreciates that about him, it is not without its frustrations.
“Did you at least bring wine?” She’s hungry but her fridge is empty so she settles for tin of peanuts stuffed in the back of a cupboard. They say ‘best before 2013’ and she decides ‘before 2013 ends’ is close enough. She looks back at him. There’s no wine bottle in his hands, but there is something red.
“Jesus.” The peanuts are forgotten on the countertop and she’s kneeling in front of him. “What happened?”
He looks fine, flushed if anything, and Zoe’s reminds herself to breathe. “Switchblade,” he says. He says it like a normal person would say ‘a vase of tulips’ or ‘raspberry tea’ and Zoe’s heart is back up in her throat. “Just a graze, but,” he nods towards the phone on the table next to them. She hadn’t noticed it before. The battery and sim card are pulled out and laid next to it in a careful row.
“You didn’t want him to worry about you.” Half of how she stays on top of her game in the information trade is networking, contacts she cultivated through years and years of hard work. The other half is intuition.
He smiles. “Something like that.”
Zoe rolls her eyes. “You’re eating the peanuts and drinking plenty of water,” she says, and he’s smart enough not to argue, and she gets her well-stocked first aid kit from the bathroom.
The gash turns out to be shallow, but the shirt is a lost cause. John refuses to take it off so they work around it. He fights her on the neosporin (she wins), but he wins the decision to leave the cut exposed, save for two small pink and purple band aids that keep the edges lined up. It makes his ribs look like a smiling cheshire cat.
“I know your last therapist turned out to be a crazy murdering kidnapper,” she says, and John shoots her a panicked look. She doesn’t think she’s ever seen his eyes open quite that wide. She knows bringing up Finch’s kidnapping is a risk. “But you should see someone, or at the very least talk with Harold.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She puts the first aid kit away and makes a mental note to restock. “You hiked all the way across town to use me as a safe house. You could have raided a pharmacy and done this yourself in a hotel, but you came to me because you wanted company.” She knows she’s right when she sinks down on the sofa next to him and he doesn’t move away. “And since I like your company it’s not a problem.”
It’s midnight and she’s still hungry and there’s still no wine so she lets the words keep falling. “Avoiding Harold is.”
John doesn’t look at her, just stares at the door he hasn’t turned his back to yet. “It’s... complicated.”
The phone is closest to her on the coffee table. She slips the back off and slides the sim card in first and then the battery and presses it into his hands. “Call him and tell him you’re spending the night. He won’t ask and he won’t worry.”
She slides off the sofa. Her legs itch under her nylons and her feet hurt. “You’re taking the sofa. There’s bedding in the closet. I like eggs in the morning.” She smiles at him, melts into her bedroom, and turns off the light.