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Finch stared at the burning warehouse, a column of thick, black smoke rising up into the air, flames leaping into the sky. The roar of the fire was deafening, the heat licking his skin, the wind whipping the cold spray from the fire hoses into his face, the static in his ear filling him with a hollow emptiness. Reese.

It had been a routine reconnaissance mission, Reese looking around inside the empty warehouse while Finch hacked the local wireless security systems. Finch wasn’t even going to come, but Reese threatened to pick up pizza for lunch if he didn’t. Finch saw right through the ploy, of course, but as Reese’s excuses to spend time together grew more frequent and transparent, Finch found himself caring less and less. It was nice to have someone to talk to, to share a meal with, to count on.

Jesus, Harold, it’s a bomb,” Reese had said, chilling words that drew Finch back to Matt Duggan, to the bomb in the baby stroller, to the helpless panic that had filled him. He’d scrambled from the car, the echoing sound of gunfire piercing his skull, voices shouting, screams of pain, then static as the building exploded. He’d just stood there, staring, that unearthly crackle and hiss in his ear.

He’d known this would happen, he’d warned Reese from the very beginning. They were both living on borrowed time. But it wasn’t supposed to happen like this, not yet, not now. They were supposed to have lunch. Finch blinked, the acrid smoke stinging his eyes, his vision blurred by the drops of water on his glasses, the wind cooling the warm tracks that rolled down his cheeks.

“Too bad we didn’t bring marshmallows,” rasped a familiar voice and Finch whipped around, his eyes widening at the sight of Reese limping toward him, his clothing in tatters, his coat smoking, and the side of his face red and blistered.

“John,” Finch whispered, rushing over to help the man to the car. “John, thank God, I thought…I thought-”

“I can tell,” Reese said, raising his hand to wipe at the tear tracks on Finch’s face. Flustered, Finch pushed his hand away.

“Not now, I’ve got to get you to a hospital.”

“You’re right,” Reese said as Finch opened the passenger’s side door. “There’ll always be time to talk about it later.” He dropped down into the seat with a groan, having to physically lift his own leg into the car before leaning back against the headrest and closing his eyes. Finch stared at him, his words echoing in that hollow place in Finch’s chest, reminding him of all the things he’d intended to tell Nathan ‘later’, of all the things he’d almost never gotten to tell Reese.

Finch leaned into the car, pressing his lips to Reese’s, his hand cupping Reese’s unburned cheek. He withdrew before Reese could even react, closing the door before he had a chance to speak. As he limped around the front of the car, his heart pounded and his mind raced, trying to calculate the possible outcomes of his rash decision. Sinking down into the driver’s seat, he could feel Reese staring at him, but he deliberately avoided looking at him, peeling off his glasses and quickly drying the lenses on his handkerchief instead.

“Harold?” Reese said as Finch put his glasses back on. Finch hesitated, then glanced over at him. “Me, too.”

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One Comment
  1. managerie76 permalink

    “Finch stared at him, his words echoing in that hollow place in Finch’s chest, reminding him of all the things he’d intended to tell Nathan ‘later’,”

    That line always makes my heart clinch.

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