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Dream A Little Dream of Me – Ch. 1

Reese strode down the long, book-lined hall toward the center of the Batcave, the knuckles on his left hand bruised and bloodied, but feeling better than the face that they had collided with, he imagined. The Number had been a simple one; embezzlement and blackmail escalating toward murder. Now both parties were on their way to jail and Reese had been on his way to pick up some well-deserved Chinese food, but when he’d called Finch to see if he wanted anything and had received no answer, he’d made a beeline for the library.

His steps slowed as he neared the main chamber, the lights turned down low, the staccato tapping of Finch’s fingers on plastic keys absent. Gun in hand, Reese emerged into the room and took in the scene with one sweeping glance. The computers were still on, Finch’s overcoat still hanging on the rack, so he hadn’t gone home. There were no signs of a struggle, no overturned furniture, nothing out of place. It simply looked as if Finch had gotten up to go to the bathroom.

Frowning, Reese crossed the room and entered a shorter, darker hallway. The bathroom door was closed, a faint line of light showing beneath it. Lightly, Reese tapped his knuckles against the wood.

“Finch, you in there?”

“Mr. Reese?” He sounded terrible.

“Something you ate not agree with you?” There was a long pause.

“Technically, yes, although not in the way you mean.” Reese heard water running, then footsteps. He drew back and tucked his gun away as the door opened. Finch stepped out, his glasses off, tucked into his shirt pocket, and a wet washcloth pressed against his forehead. “The cart where I usually get my tea wasn’t there today so I tried somewhere else, a mistake I’ll not be making again. Inferior tea leaves give me a migraine.”

“You have a headache?”

Finch gave him a dirty look. “Yes, Mr. Reese, I have a headache. Did you deal with Mr. Harris?”

“And the woman who was blackmailing him,” Reese said, following Finch back out into the main room. Finch sank down into his chair at his workstation and cradled his head in his hands. Reese watched him, resisting the urge to step over and…He didn’t even know what he could do to help, he just wanted to do something. But none of the things that came to mind were very helpful. “Do we have another Number?” he asked finally.

“Gee, I don’t know,” Finch said through his teeth. “Any chance I can get back to you on that?”

“Actually, if you could check now-”

“Fuck, John, can’t you see I’m in agony here?”

“I know,” Reese said, unable to resist his impulses any longer. He stepped over behind Finch’s chair and placed a hand on his shoulder. Not very helpful, but he couldn’t stop himself. Finch went still under his hand, his body tight and rigid. “I just want to know before I take you home.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You’re in no condition to work, Harold,” Reese said, lifting his hand so the man could relax – if he ever did. “Check the Machine and then get your coat.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Finch muttered, taking his glasses out of his pocket and slipping them back on. He pulled his keyboard closer and began pecking at the keys. “You don’t know where I live.”

“True,” Reese admitted, “but there are plenty of safe houses to take you to. Or maybe I’ll take you back to my place.” The room went silent as Finch’s hands froze, hovering over the keyboard, and Reese realized how his comment must have sounded. Freudian slip, perhaps? “It’s the safest place I know and I don’t mind sleeping on the couch.”

After a moment, Finch went back to typing. “I assure you, Mr. Reese, I’ll be fine, and I have too many things to do at the moment.” One of the monitors blinked, the screen going black except for a single line of computer code. “No, there is no new Number. Go home and get some rest.”

“You’re coming with me,” Reese insisted, walking over to the rack and taking down Finch’s overcoat.

“Mr. Reese-”

“I’m perfectly capable of rendering you unconscious and carrying you down to the car, Finch,” Reese said with a smile, his tone pleasant, but he meant every word. And Finch knew it. With a sigh, he gave in, shutting down the electronics and rising stiffly from his chair.

“This is kidnapping, you know,” Finch said, taking the coat from him.

“Depends on your perspective,” Reese replied. “I prefer to think of it as a rescue.” Together they walked down to the car. Finch climbed in on the passenger’s side, reclined his seat a bit, closed his eyes, and placed the wet cloth back on his forehead. The drive to Reese’s loft was a silent one, interrupted only once when an ambulance went screaming through an intersection in front of them, making Finch groan miserably.

Reese pulled into the underground parking structure, creeping through the cool, dark catacomb-like area and pulling into his parking space. He shut off the engine just as Finch sighed. “We’re here,” he said, unnecessarily, perhaps, but he felt like he needed to say something. Finch followed him up to the third floor and down the hall to his apartment. Reese went in first, gun drawn, but the loft was empty and undisturbed. “C’mon in,” he said, leaving the lights off. There was plenty of ambient light spilling in from the street below to make out the dark shapes of Reese’s sparse furniture, the vast majority of which Finch had provided for the apartment.

“Make yourself at home,” Reese said, shrugging out of his coat and tossing it into a chair as he headed for the bathroom. He quickly looked through his medicine cabinet, figuring that a man with chronic pain would need something a little stronger than aspirin. He emerged with two pills held loosely in his hand, amused to find his coat no longer in the chair, but hanging up on a hook behind the door, alongside Finch’s. Mr. Homemaker was slumped on the sofa, his head tipped back and his eyes closed.

“Hey, Finch, I got something for you,” Reese said, heading over to the kitchen nook and filling his only glass with water from the tap.

“If you’re offering to put me out of my misery, I accept.”

“Try these first,” Reese said, walking over to the sofa and holding out his hand.

Finch raised his head a fraction. “What are those?”

“Migraine pills.” Finch narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Okay, not really, but they’ll knock you out so that you don’t feel it.” Finch hesitated. “Or I can knock you out the old-fashioned way. Your choice.”

“And you’re sure it’s safe here?” Finch asked, finally reaching out to take the pills and glass of water. Reese opened his mouth to say that Finch ought to know, he picked the apartment, but then he realized what Finch meant. Whether Finch was aware of it or not was another matter.

“Yes, Harold, you’re safe. I won’t let anything happen to you.” For such a private, paranoid man, the prospect of giving up one’s control, one’s very consciousness, in a strange place required a significant amount of trust. Perhaps more than Reese had earned. Finch regarded the pills in his hand for a long moment, then sighed and tossed them to the back of his throat, swallowing them down with a gulp of water.

“Thank you,” he said, handing the glass back to Reese. Reese just carried it back to the kitchen and set it on the counter. Did Finch really trust him, or was the pain simply that bad? And was Reese worthy of trust? He wanted to be. He wanted Finch to trust him, which was why it had hurt so much to discover that Finch had been hiding a Number from him. He’d thought he’d proved himself during the Ecstasy incident, when he’d had a chance to discover all of Finch’s secrets and had refused. Perhaps that was why he came back more determined than ever to discover what Finch was hiding. A former fiancée never even crossed his mind.

Reese realized that he was just standing at the counter, staring at the glass. He returned to the couch and sat down, leaving a calculated amount of room between them – not so close as to intrude into Finch’s personal space and no so far away as to seem unfriendly. When he spoke, his kept his voice low and soft.

“Those pills should start working in about a half an hour. You should probably be in bed before then, unless you want me to carry you.”

“I’d prefer to avoid it if at all possible, actually,” Finch replied dryly, but his usual sardonic humor was thin and brittle with pain.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Reese asked, keeping his tone carefully neutral, even though it wouldn’t do any good to pacify the fiercely independent man.

“I’m perfectly capable of getting myself ready for bed, Mr. Reese,” he said, in the exact irritated tone of voice that Reese had imagined he’d use. After a moment, he levered himself up off the sofa and hobbled across the loft to the bathroom. Reese watched every pained step, wishing there was something he could do. After the bathroom door closed, he got up and walked to the bed, turning down the covers before fetching a spare pillow and blanket out of the closet for himself. He tossed them onto the end of the couch, then stood staring out the window until Finch emerged, his jacket and tie draped over his arm, the first two buttons of his dress shirt undone.

“Mr. Reese, might I trouble you for a hanger and perhaps a T-shirt to sleep in? I wasn’t aware we were going to have a slumber party or I’d have brought my own pajamas.”

“It’s no trouble, Finch,” Reese said, finding him an empty hanger from the closet and a baggy pale blue T-shirt from the dresser. Finch lay them on the bed, turning his back to Reese as he continued unbuttoning his shirt. Reese knew he ought to walk away, but he hesitated, watching as Finch struggled with the buttons, a low grunt of pain escaping him as he slowly worked the shirt back off his shoulders. Reaching out, Reese delicately took the edges of the shirt between his fingers, fingertips brushing against Finch’s shoulders. Finch drew a sharp breath, tensing as if he’d been burned. Reese ignored it and eased the shirt down Finch’s arms, then handed it to him.

The silence was palpable, so thick it made it hard to breathe, and Reese was one heartbeat away from finding a motel to sleep at when Finch spoke. “Thank you,” he said, his voice soft.

“Any time, Harold,” Reese replied, deciding to quit while he was ahead. He went back to the kitchen area and pretended to clean up, rewashing his dishes from breakfast that morning while Finch finished changing. Movement out of the corner of his eye drew his attention and he glanced over as Finch peeled off his tight white undershirt, revealing pale skin marked by dark scars, a bit of a gut, and a fine mat of light brown hair on his chest.

Reese turned back to the sink before he was caught. The only thing worse than being unable to act on his feelings would be Finch finding out and openly rejecting him. It was hard enough to live with a secret – facing the truth would be impossible.

The quiet groan of new bedsprings filled the silent loft and Reese glanced over, watching as Finch sat down on the edge of the bed, wearing Reese’s blue T-shirt. Finch started to lean down, presumably to untie his shoes, but stopped suddenly, pressing a hand to his forehead as he sat back up.

“John?” Finch said, his voice tight with pain.

“Yeah?” Reese asked, already halfway across the apartment.

“Could you- I mean, if it isn’t too much trouble-”

“I got it, Finch,” Reese said, taking a knee beside the bed and carefully removing the stiff leather shoes. “Socks on or off?”

“Off, please. It just hurts so much…and now I’m starting to feel light-headed, too.”

“That’s just the pills,” Reese assured him, peeling off his thin, black dress socks, his callused hands cradling each warm, soft foot, his fingers gliding along the silken arch- Reese pulled his hands back and set the socks aside with the shoes. “You should fall asleep soon.”

“I- I don’t…don’t want to sleep…Not safe…”

“Yes, you are, Harold,” Reese said, looking up into his shadowed face, his eyes glazed. “Do you want to keep your pants on?”

Finch gave his head a small shake. “No…” He started to stand up, lost his balance, and sat back down hard on the edge of the bed, little lines of pain appearing around his eyes. He tried again, his stubborn streak showing, and Reese grabbed him by the upper arms, steadying him as he swayed like a reed in the wind. They stood there for several minutes, Reese gently righting the drugged man each time he listed too far in any one direction. “Can’t…unbuckle…Hands don’t work right…”

“Yes, those pills affect fine-motor control,” Reese said. “You can just sleep in your pants; you won’t even notice.” He started to help Finch sit back down on the bed, but Finch resisted.

“Wrinkles…” Finch mumbled, still working at his belt.

Reese sighed. “All right, Harold, give me your hands. C’mon, we don’t have much time.” One by one, he moved Finch’s hands up to his shoulders, making sure the wobbly man had a decent grip before reaching down and quickly unbuckling his belt.

Finch made a soft sound, almost a whimper, his eyes closing. “…touch…me…” he slurred, his words like a fist squeezing Reese’s heart.

“I won’t,” Reese said, unbuttoning Finch’s trousers and carefully lowering the zipper. Finch’s pants slid down his legs, leaving him standing there in just Reese’s T-shirt and a pair of black silk boxers. “All right, lay down, Harold. It’s all right.” Reese lowered him to the mattress, helping him lift his legs into bed. Finch dropped like a rock into the deep pool of sleep, not stirring as Reese covered him up.

Reese gathered up Finch’s clothes, placing them on the hanger and hanging it in the closet beside his own handful of dark, almost uniform suits, then disappeared into the bathroom to take care of his own pre-bed rituals. As he brushed his teeth, he couldn’t help regarding himself in the mirror, wondering what Finch saw that would ever make him think that Reese could hurt or take advantage of him. He hadn’t with the MDMA, and that Finch would have been a hell of a lot more compliant than the unconscious man in Reese’s bed.

He spat foam into the sink and splashed his face with water, drying himself on a towel before turning out the light and emerging into the dark loft. It took a moment for his eyes to readjust, then he walked over to the bed, his head cocked to one side as he stared down at Finch, his brow pinched in worry even in his sleep.

Gently, Reese removed the recluse’s glasses, setting them on the edge of the massive, wooden bed frame where they’d be easy to find in the morning. Reese started to turn away, but stopped as Finch shifted, making a soft, helpless sound in his sleep, those little lines tightening around his eyes again. Without thinking, Reese reached down, soothing his distressed friend, his touch light as he smoothed back Finch’s soft brown hair. Finch made an unintelligible sound, his lips moving briefly before he sighed and relaxed.

“Good night, Harold,” Reese whispered, and on a whim, he leaned down and placed a feather-light kiss on the older man’s forehead. “I love you.”

He hadn’t meant to say that, the words just fell out of his mouth before he could close it, but once spoken, he felt a kind of relief, like some of the pressure building inside him had been released. The admission was freeing, like being able to cast aside a cover and just be himself for a moment, even if only with himself. For a long time, he’d been trying to classify his feelings toward his employer. Gratitude seemed most likely, but that was too simple. Friendship was too pale, loyalty too weak. Camaraderie was closer, devotion closer still, but really, the only word that captured the intensity, the depth, the raw, aching power of his feeling…was love.

Next –>

One Comment
  1. lunarg permalink

    Poor Harold. It’s very difficult to remain civil through that sort of pain; finding the wherewithal to firm words and sentences is incredibly taxing, so someone trying to ask you questions can feel like an attack. And I love John’s casual threats to render Finch unconscious by other means. Finch knows he means it, too!

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