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Surveillance – Ch. 12

Reese returned to his room, his body filled with a nervous sort of energy that made his muscles ache. He considered going down to the hotel gym, but settled for doing a few quick sets of push-ups and crunches, just enough to dispel the restlessness and quiet his racing mind. He knew exactly how Finch felt, not knowing, because he felt it, too – a swirling storm of thoughts and emotions, guilt and joy and fear and love, all warring within him, a screaming, raging battle threatening to tear him apart. Unlike Finch, however, his first impulse was not to quietly and logically examine this Gordian knot until he had unraveled the problem, but to slice through the center, to take action, to do something.

Finch was right, though. They needed to think this through. Impulsive action carried risks they did not need to take. Neither of them had done anything wrong…yet. They needed to keep it that way.

Picking his shirt up off the floor, Reese turned it right-side-out and slipped it on over his head before starting to clear the table of their breakfast dishes, piling the plates, glasses, and silverware back on the cart. As jumbled as his feelings were, one thing he did know for certain: he didn’t want to go back to the way things were. He could, and he would, if Finch wanted him to, needed him to, but he would not give up this intimacy without a fight. If Finch decided they couldn’t have a physical relationship, Reese could live with that, but if he wanted to establish that professional distance again, to keep Reese at arm’s length all the time-

A knock at the door startled him from his thoughts. Finch? He took a step toward the door, but stopped. Why would Finch knock? He’d already let himself in twice. Perhaps another surprise from room service? He hesitated, then grabbed his gun off the table and headed for the door.

A woman stood in the corridor, her auburn hair short, her make-up subdued, her pale blue blouse and navy skirt and black leather handbag reserved and professional. “Hi, sorry to bother you,” she said. “I’m staying in the room just across the hall and I was wondering if you had change for a twenty? I ordered lunch from room service and then realized I don’t have any small bills for a tip.”

“Sure,” Reese said with a smile. “No problem. I’ll be right back.” He walked away from the door, leaving it to close on its own, and was almost to the main room when he realized that he should have heard the latch click, and hadn’t. He looked over his shoulder and started to turn. The woman stepped into the hall, pointing a black handgun at him. He raised his arm; a muzzle flash flared in the dark hallway and he staggered back, feeling like he’d been kicked in the chest. He squeezed the trigger and she fell against the wall, her left leg buckling as the bullet tore through her thigh.

Reese took a gasping breath that made him want to cough, the pain worse than every time he’d had his ribs broken. He glanced down, shocked by the amount of blood that had spread across his chest, his T-shirt dark and wet. He heard a noise and glanced over at the woman as she raised her pistol again and fired. The impact spun him around, he felt himself falling, and then everything went black.

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