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Summer had finally arrived, which meant short nights with less darkness to skulk around in, sweltering days being broiled alive in his car while on surveillance, and about ten million children with no school to go to. Reese liked kids…in moderation, but this many, running willy-nilly through the park, laughing and shrieking, was an operative’s worst nightmare, as chaotic as a hurricane.

He stood by the fountain, waiting for Finch to arrive and watching two dozen or so elementary-aged boys and girls splashing around in the sparkling water. At least these were being supervised by a parent or baby-sitter, unlike the teens and tweens running riot through the trees and bushes across the wide lawn. And speaking of the parents…Reese was getting some uneasy and outright hostile looks from young mothers. Then he realized how he might look, a single man watching someone else’s children. He turned and walked several feet away, attempting to not look like a prowling pedophile.

Finally, Finch arrived, limping up in his three piece suit, just the sight of him making Reese sweat. “How can you wear that?” Reese asked. “It’s a wonder you don’t pass out from heat exhaustion.”

“You concern is touching,” Finch replied dryly, handing over a stack of plastic cards – fresh IDs and credit cards. “I believe this is what you asked for.”

“Thanks,” Reese said, tucking them into his back pocket. “Have you found out anything more about Mr. Nelson?”

“I discovered some interesting information, but nothing to indicate why his number came up. It seems he was born in Idaho and his parents divorced when he was seven. His father-”

“I don’t suppose we could walk and talk at the same time,” Reese said. “I keep getting the evil-eye from those women over there who think I’m here watching their kids.”

“Oh?” Finch said, turning stiffly to look. “I see. Yes, of course.” They headed away from the fountain, into the subtly cooler shade of the nearby oak and elm trees lining the meandering paths, Finch rattling on about the fairly hum-drum early life of the mysterious Mr. Nelson.

Suddenly, a teenage boy came crashing through the bushes and raced past, the back of his T-shirt soaking wet. “Take that, you coward!” came a shout in the direction the boy had come from and Reese’s instincts kicked into gear. He ducked, just as something pink and round, the size of a grapefruit, came flying through the air. He heard Finch gasp and felt drops of water splash onto his arm and neck. The bushes rustled again and Reese’s arm reflexively moved toward the gun tucked into the waistband of his slacks, but stopped before he pulled his gun on the ten or twelve year old boy that came running out. The kid skidded to a halt so fast he nearly wound up on his butt, his face going white as a sheet, his dark eyes as big as saucers as he stared up at Reese and Finch.

“Oh, shit, Mister, I’m sorry,” he said, and Reese followed his gaze to Finch, the remains of a pink water balloon dangling from the corner of his glasses. He was dripping in the middle of the path, his suit soaked down the front, his hair plastered to his head, water drops clinging to the lenses of his glasses, his lips pressed into a thin line.

Reese snorted, choking back a laugh and earning himself a dirty look from his boss. After a moment, Finch reached up and removed the broken latex balloon from his glasses, holding it out to the kid, whose hand trembled as he reached out to take it.

“I’m really, really sorry – I didn’t see you, honest,” the boy said.

“Apology accepted,” Finch said, not sounding nearly as mad as he looked. “Be more careful next time.”

“I will. I’m sorry,” he said again as he turned and hurried off.

Finch glanced over at Reese, who fought in vain to wipe the smirk off his face. Reese arched an eyebrow as Finch turned abruptly and began hobbling after the boy. “Young man, wait a second,” he said. The kid looked back, seemed to think about making a run for it, and then walked apprehensively back to Finch. Finch leaned down and said something quietly, to which the kid nodded. Then Finch reached into his pocket and pulled out a crisp bill of uncertain denomination, but it looked like a twenty. Reese started to turn on his earpiece so he could hear what being said through Finch’s cell microphone, but just then Finch handed over the money and the kid turned and ran off.

“What was that about?” Reese asked when Finch returned.

“A private matter,” Finch replied, pulling out his handkerchief and drying his glasses and face. “Now, where was I? Oh, right – So, after dropping out of college, Mr. Nelson took a job at an aluminum recycling center…” They continued walking, and Reese tried to listen, just in case some seemingly innocuous detail proved to be the key to unraveling this mystery, but he kept hearing things, whispers, footsteps in the bushes, and he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched.

“We should get out of here,” he said quietly, interrupting Finch, though he wasn’t sure what the man had been saying. “Something isn’t right.”

“Ah, those killer instincts,” Finch said, and something in his tone made Reese pause. “I couldn’t help but notice how quickly you ducked when the attack came, but couldn’t manage one word of warning to me.”

“Finch, it was a kid with a water balloon,” Reese said, glancing over his shoulder as the bushes rustled and said kid appeared, carrying a fresh balloon in each hand. “It’s not like it was a drug dealer with an assault rifle.”

“And I’m sure you could tell the difference just from his footsteps,” Finch said, a small smirk quirking the corner of his mouth as he slowly backed away from Reese. Another boy appeared, then a girl, then another, half a dozen armed teenagers emerging from the underbrush. Reese swallowed hard, his hand straying toward his gun. “Really, Mr. Reese?” Finch inquired, arching an eyebrow.

“Not them,” Reese said, “but maybe you.”

Finch smiled, the first warm, honest smile Reese had ever received from him, and Reese let his hand fall back to his side.

“Be careful you don’t start something you’re not prepared to finish, Harold,” Reese said, pulling his cell out of his pocket and tossing it to Finch in surrender.

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  1. managerie76 permalink

    Love this!

    Being sneaky, smart & Rich equals AWEsome!Finch

  2. yes, I can imagine Finch doing this:)

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