This is a John and Layla fan fic set at the end of Episode 4 of “Strike Back.” The death of John's wife hasn't yet taken place (decided to spare him that angst just yet), but the other events are essentially the same.
I don't really know where I am going with this yet, but I know people are asking me for a John and Layla fic, so I am taking a stab at it. Feedback would be much appreciated. Don't own the characters; don't earn a dime from it. Nothing graphic in this first bit but that will likely change if you decide I should keep writing . . .
John sat down slowly on the bed in the hotel room, wincing in pain from the bullet wound in his side.
He was hot, dirty, exhausted and in need of a proper bath with a slug of good whiskey and a couple of painkillers on the side.
Zimbabwe had not been a welcoming place, but then, he hadn't expected it to be. He was a soldier, not a tourist.
~At least Masuku is still alive, no thanks to that fucker Collinson and the Suits in Section Bloody 20. And Sister Bernadette and the kids are OK~
He smiled a little to himself as he remembered the gentle, heart-felt kiss she had pressed to his cheek. A good man sent by God.
~Nice to be appreciated~
A knock came at the door. “Yeah?” He called out.
“John, it's - Layla.”
He raised his brows.
The lieutenant stepped into his room. John eyed the large canvas duffle bag she was carrying with interest.
“Don't suppose you've got Jack Daniels hiding in there, do you?” He queried with a wry smile.
Layla frowned for a moment. “Jack – oh. No. Sorry.” Smiling back at him, she shook her head almost shyly, John thought.
“I do have some clean clothing for you – minus bullet holes – and some more first aid items - and meds,” she said. “The good kind.”
John laughed, then winced at the stab of pain in his side. “A girl – after my own heart,” his gruff northern burr a little breathless.
Her brown eyes widened in concern. “John, let me take a closer look at that wound. Make sure it's not getting infected.”
Part of him, the stoic in him, wanted to tell her to leave him be.
~Truth is, I wouldn't mind a bit of TLC at this point~
He nodded and began to slide up the ammo vest he wore over his t-shirt.
“Let's do it the proper way. Get those things off,” Layla said briskly in her no-nonsense manner.
John eyed her, a smile playing about his lips. “Just making sure, but – Collinson hasn't set up another honey trap, has he? Because my self-esteem is OK, it's just my body that's a bit battered.”
Layla's dark eyes met his blue ones, her face expressionless. “Collinson doesn't even know I'm here, John.” She lifted her chin as she began to unfasten the vest. “Call it a covert operation, if you like.”
“Well . . .” John tilted his head, eyes narrowing as he watched her face. “Don't tell me Lieutenant Thompson is going rogue . . .”
Her full lips curved into a smile at his words, and for a moment, Layla looked like a kid who'd been caught with her hands in the biscuit jar.
“Let's just say I do have a mind of my own.” She began easing the vest from his broad shoulders. “Don't assume I'm anyone's puppet, John.”
As she leaned in to slide the vest free of his arms, John gave a sniff. “Perfume, Layla?”
She shrugged her shoulders in an off-handed manner. “Needed to do a bit of freshening up, that's all.”
“It's nice. Nicest thing I've smelled in a while.”
“Thanks.” She paused, then frowned a little. “We need to get this t-shirt off. Can you raise your arms without too much difficulty?”
“Yeah, think so.” As he lifted his arms free of his body, Layla began to slide up the shirt, revealing the broad, blood-stained bandage wrapped around his lower chest.
~Oh, John. What you've been through~
John saw the unguarded look on her face. “It could have been worse,” he said gruffly.
Layla blinked and cleared her throat.
“Yes. At least you are still in one piece.”
~No thanks to Hugh~
She slid the t-shirt up over his pectorals – impressive-looking, she had to admit - and those broad shoulders with their scars, and then pulled it off and tossed it aside.
Layla allowed her eyes to flicker over John's naked torso.
~Muscular. Lean. That skin looks so - touchable~
Suddenly she felt very envious of Danni.
She quickly retrieved a pair of scissors from her bag and began cutting off John's bandage.
“You really never did give up training, over all those years, did you? Always hoping for the chance to turn things back around?”
“Yeah, well, not quite the seedy old wild-eyed nutter you thought me,” he drawled.
Her voice was soft. “I told you I was sorry for the way I acted. I – misjudged you.” She gingerly pulled the soiled bandage from his body and studied the wound, shaking her head.
“The cordite-and-candle method . . . it's the first time I've actually seen it put into practice . . .” Her eyes met his. There was more than a little admiration in Layla's.
“That had to hurt. A lot.”
John gave her a half-smile.
“Yeah. Had to give me a wooden spoon to bite. Couldn't spare the bullets.”
~You might have needed one for yourself. John Porter, you are one hell of a man~
Layla expelled a breath as she poured some antiseptic on a cloth.
“I'm going to clean around the wound, front and back, then put on some more antibiotic cream. And - I'm afraid it will hurt.”
“Oh – no worries, mate. I can take it.”
She smiled. “Yes, I think you can.”
As she leaned in to carefully tend to the wound, John drank in more of the scent she was wearing and gave a small sigh.
~Wonder if she ever wears outrageously frilly underthings beneath those uniforms? Our Layla, a bit of an enigma~
He grimaced, clenching his teeth as the antiseptic burned his damaged flesh.
“Sorry . . .”
“Quit apologizing, Layla, or I'll think you've gone all soft on me.”
~That's the problem, John. I think I am going all soft over you. And I am still not sure who I can really trust. But I really want to trust you~
“Soft, Me? Hardly. Turn to the side, please.” She managed to keep her words even.
She couldn't help noticing the ripple of his muscles as he turned to let her attend to his back.
~Damaged, in more ways than one. But beautiful~
She finished cleaning the wound and then with her fingertips, very gently applied the antibiotic cream. John sighed, turned his head to look back over his shoulder.
“Now that, actually feels pretty good, lieutenant.”
“Good, sergeant. I'll do the same to your front. Turn around.”
John shifted so that he was facing her once again. He tilted his dark head and smiled, his brow creasing a little.
“Gotta say I never saw you as a ministering angel. But you show promise.”
She lifted her eyes from attendance to the injury and met his.
“I guess we keep surprising each other, don't we, John?”
He lifted his hand. She thought for a moment he was going to touch her face. Instead, he placed it over the hand that was treating his wound. His fingers were warm and strong against her flesh.
“Maybe, lieutenant, we should declare a truce.” His voice was just as warm and a little husky.
Layla couldn't seem to tear her eyes from his piercing azure gaze.
Her heart seemed to be beating a little faster than normal.
“I – yes, I think a truce might be a good thing.”
Damn it, her mouth had gone completely dry.
Layla Thompson was feeling just a little out of control and she didn't quite know what to make of it.
She closed her eyes for a moment and shook her head as if to clear it.
John's hand was still on hers.
~No. As a matter of fact, I'm not.~
“Er, yeah, just a bit of a headache.”
Layla slid her hand free of his and grabbed fresh bandages.
“Time to finish the job,” she said briskly.
“Right.” He rumbled, his eyes following her every move, it seemed.
She began to wrap the bandage snugly around his torso, talking as she did, trying to keep her tone dry and professional.
“Now, this should keep you going until we can get you back to London for a physician to attend to you.” She paused, licking her lips, then continued.
“Amazing how you were able to talk that nun through treating your wound in that fashion.”
A low laugh. “Amazing what humans can do in times of crisis.”
Suddenly he grasped her arm. “Layla.”
“Yes.” She kept fussing with the bandage and avoided looking into those eyes.
“Look at me, Layla.”
~Damn it. It's like he can read my mind~
“Trust me, please.”
There was deep emotion in those three words.
Her eyes, wide and dark, met his. Her hand slipped free of the finished bandage and rose to touch his cheek.
“I don't – really know you, John. I'm still not sure about you. But – yes, I will trust you. God help me.”
He slid his fingers into her long, light auburn tresses and gave her a lop-sided smile, his blue eyes growing heavy-lidded.
“Didn't you know? I'm a good man, sent by God. Sister Bernadette says so.”
He leaned forward and whispered in her ear: “And I think maybe we could be good for each other.”
Layla closed her eyes, ruffling his ink-black hair with her fingertips as John's lips moved to her throat, kissing the hollow at its base.
“W-wait.” Was he thinking of her, or imagining he was with Danni?
John lifted his head and looked into Layla's eyes. “Second thoughts?” he rumbled.
“I - need to know, John – I'm not just a convenient substitute, am I? Because – I -”
He pressed a finger to her lips.
“Don't sell yourself short, Layla.” He lightly traced the outline of her soft, full lips with his fingertip and smiled into her uncertain face.
“Maybe we're more alike than you think . . .”