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Gritting his teeth, Finch limped across the hotel bathroom, the pain in his hip and back almost unbearable. Being knocked down by a fleeing criminal the previous night, coupled with the bitterly cold winter weather, had rendered him almost to the point of uselessness. He couldn’t concentrate, he couldn’t sit at the computer, and he could barely walk. He was seriously considering dipping into his supply of pain pills, which was only one option above asking Reese to shoot him.

Before succumbing to the mind-numbing fog of narcotics, Finch thought he’d try one last thing, had excused himself from the Library for a few hours, and had checked himself into a hotel, asking specifically for a room with a Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. Now, he lowered himself into the churning water, the steam fogging up his glasses. He peeled them off and set them on the shelf beside the tub, then leaned back against the sloped wall of the Jacuzzi, letting the powerful jets work their magic on his tight and damaged muscles.

“Spa day at the office?”

Finch nearly jumped out of his skin, his arms flailing in the water as he sat up and grabbed for his glasses, turning to scowl at Reese through the drops of water that dotted the lenses. The operative stood in the doorway, shirtless and barefoot, with a towel wrapped around his waist.

“Mr. Reese,” Finch gritted out through his teeth, “what the hell are you doing here? How did you find me? How did you get in here? What do you want?”

“I’m here because I’m worried about you,” Reese said, walking into the room and taking a seat on the edge of the tub, his gaze intense as he looked down at Finch. Finch glanced down at himself to make sure the churning surface of the water obscured the view before frowning back up at Reese. “I feel bad for letting you get hurt. Again.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Finch said, his expression softening. Reese reached out, took his glasses, and dried the lenses on the corner of his towel before handing them back.

“Yes, it was. As for your other questions, I followed you here and I used that nifty little app you designed to open the electronic lock on the door. As for what I want…I want you to scoot forward.”

“I beg your pardon?” Finch asked, but his eyes widened as Reese stood up, untucked his towel, and let it fall to the floor, revealing himself in all his God-given glory. Finch swallowed hard and looked away. “Mr. Reese, this is highly inappropriate.”

“Oh, relax, Finch,” Reese said, stepping into the Jacuzzi behind Finch and giving him no choice but to slide forward and make room. “I’m not going to molest you in the bathtub. I respect you too much for that.” Reese sank down, his long legs stretched out on either side of Finch, the water gurgling as it poured out through the overflow drain. Finch sat for a moment, letting Reese get a good look at the scar on the back of his neck and hoping it would satisfy the operative’s curiosity.

“Nice as this is,” Finch said, his tone dry, voice strained, “I think I’ll just-”

Reese caught him by the arm as he started to reach for his towel. “Give me five minutes, Harold,” Reese said. “If I can’t make you feel better, I’ll leave you in peace.”

Five minutes,” Finch said with a pointed look at the clock to mark the time. Reese didn’t intend to waste a second of it, apparently. His large, strong hands, fingers callused in strange places from the constant handling of various weapons, came to rest against Finch’s shoulder blades. Finch didn’t move. The heat from the bath had eased his pain a little, but he was by no means comfortable, and he anticipated mild to serious discomfort as a result of Reese’s fumbling attempt to ‘help’. He watched the second hand on the clock creep around the dial as Reese’s hands moved up Finch’s spine, his touch light and careful as he passed near the scar, exploring up into Finch’s hairline, then sliding back down, beneath the water, all the way to the small of Finch’s back.

Finch concentrated on keeping his breathing slow and even. Reese hadn’t hurt him yet, and if pressed he’d have to admit that the soft touch was not unpleasant, but Reese had also not yet succeeded in making him feel better. Two minutes down, only three to go.

“Let me know if this hurts,” Reese said, starting to work his way back up, his thumbs pressing and probing along Finch’s rigid spine. Finch set his jaw, having no intention of doing any such thing, but when Reese’s thumb dug into a particularly sore spot, he couldn’t help but flinch. “Sorry, didn’t see that bruise there,” Reese said, continuing on. When he reached the scar on Finch’s neck, his touch became feather-light, but he didn’t stop the examination, and Finch gritted his teeth, not in pain, but in annoyance as Reese’s fingers sought out the head of each long pin that held his spine together.

He was about to offer Reese a copy of his x-rays if the man would just get out of the tub now, when the hands withdrew. One settled on his shoulder and the other ghosted down his back to just below his shoulder blades. Using the heel of his hand, Reese applied firm, steady pressure to Finch’s spine, the hand on his shoulder holding him still.

“How does that feel?” Reese asked.

“Fine,” Finch replied.

“Now, don’t be a hero, Harold,” Reese said, shifting his hand half an inch south and repeating the action. This time, Finch gasped, his hands reflexively grabbing at something and finding Reese’s knees. “Was that pain or pressure?” Reese asked, easing up a bit.

“Both,” Finch said, his voice strained. His eyes darted to the clock. Forty-five more seconds. “It was a painful pressure.”

“That’s the spot, then,” Reese said. “Deep breath, Finch.”

“Mr. Reese, I-” He cried out as Reese pressed hard against his spine, the pain sharp, the sudden pop audible, and the relief instantaneous. Finch sat, his whole body trembling as the pain went from a four and a half to a two. His neck still ached and the normal throbbing in his hip was still there, but the agony had ceased.

“Better?” Reese asked, his hand rubbing up and down over the spot.

“Much,” Finch said with a sigh.

“So I guess that means I can stay,” Reese said, and even though Finch couldn’t see his face, he could hear the smirk in his voice.

“Yes, I suppose it does,” Finch replied with mock annoyance. He hesitated, then leaned back against his operative’s broad chest, letting his head rest on Reese’s shoulder. For a moment, Reese didn’t react, then slowly, as if afraid he’d spook Finch if he moved too fast, he wrapped his arms around the smaller man, his head tilting until his cheek rested against Finch’s temple as an unspoken understanding passed between them.

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One Comment
  1. managerie76 permalink

    “Finch glanced down at himself to make sure the churning surface of the water obscured the view ”

    Hey! Turnabout is fairplay!

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