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Surveillance – Ch. 8

Finch groaned as he stepped into the room. “What do I have to do to make you leave?” Finch asked, a thread of desperation in his voice.

Reese walked over and dropped the bag on the bed beside him. “Stand up.” Finch opened his eyes and glared at Reese, the muscle in his jaw jumping as he clenching his teeth, but he remained on the bed. “That’s what I thought,” Reese said, slipping out of his jacket and tossing it over into Finch’s armchair.

“What do you want?” Finch asked through tight lips.

“I want you to dial back on the paranoid defense mechanism just a bit,” Reese said. “The bad guy is dead, remember? I shot him, so you can relax a little. It’s just me; John. Remember?” Finch averted his gaze.

Reese sighed. He could understand Finch’s attitude, like a hedgehog sticking out its prickles when frightened, but he was tired of getting stuck on the spines. He opened the bag and pulled out the two bottles of medication.

“I took the liberty of getting you some antibiotics – take one pill three times a day for ten days – and some pain meds. I’m sure you know what to do with those. I also got some more gauze since I think I used up most of what you had.”

“What did you do, rob a pharmacy?” Finch asked, a frown creasing his brow.

“I called in a favor,” Reese replied.

“Dr. Tillman?”

Reese nodded. Finch seemed to think about that for a moment, then he sighed, the weight upon him seeming to ease just a little.

“All right, I’ll take the pills,” Finch said, a hollow resignation in his voice.

Reese resisted a smile over the small victory, instead heading for the door. “I’ll be back with some water,” he said. When he returned, Finch still hadn’t moved, which said volumes about the pain he had to be in. He could see Finch not wanting to fight and struggle against his body in front of an audience, but when he wouldn’t even do it in private…

Reese took a pill out of each bottle and pressed them into Finch’s hand. Before the stubborn man could protest, Reese sat down beside him and carefully worked his arm beneath Finch’s shoulders, slowly easing him up enough to take a drink to wash down the pills. As he lay Finch back down, Finch suddenly stiffened, his jaw clenching and a sound catching in his throat.

“Sorry, did I do that?” Reese asked as he drew back.

Eyes closed and face pale, Finch shook his head. “No,” he gritted out. “Muscle…spasm… Not your fault.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Reese asked, only slightly relieved.

“Not unless you know a massage therapist who owes you a favor,” Finch said. Reese watched the spasm pass, Finch’s taut frame suddenly limp and trembling.

“I’m afraid I don’t,” Reese said, “but I could ask Fusco if he has any experience.” He supposed the sound that issued from Finch’s lips could have been considered a laugh, but it was still too much like a sob for Reese’s liking. Without thinking, he reached out and took Finch’s hand.

For a moment, he just sat there, staring at the stiff, unyielding hand in his, trying to decide if he should pull back, acknowledge his mistake and accept the defeat, or stick to his guns and let Finch make the next move. A strategic retreat was safer, but he was hardly known for playing it safe. He waited, expecting Finch to pull away, or tell him to leave, and was pleasantly surprised when that gentle hand, those skilled fingers so adept at coaxing information out of any machine, curled lightly around his.

“I’ll be all right, Reese,” Finch said quietly, at least leaving off the Mr. even if he hadn’t called him John again. Reese didn’t understand – and was unwilling to examine it too closely – why it had meant so much to hear that small word from Finch’s lips, but something deep inside him longed to hear it again, whispered and murmured and moaned and shouted.

Reese gave Finch’s hand a small squeeze and then let go, rising from the edge of the bed as though he could put the same distance between him and those pointless thoughts. Finch would never see him as anything more than a mercenary, a gun for hire, a necessary evil in his grand quest for redemption. Finch hadn’t even thanked him for saving his life, just joked about giving him a bonus, because killing people was Reese’s job, it was all he was good for. Suddenly frustrated with himself, Reese ran a hand back through his hair and sighed.

“You need to rest,” he said, his gaze raking Finch from head to foot, trying to decide if he needed anything else. “Are you going to sleep in your clothes?”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Finch said. “Just turn off the light on your way out.”

“Hold your horses,” Reese said. “You don’t need your shoes on.”

“Mr. Reese-” Finch protested, but Reese ignored him, walking to the foot of the bed and gently sliding one shoe off, then the other. As the second shoe came off, Reese frowned and dropped it on the floor, his attention on Finch’s black dress sock. It was wet and sticky with blood. He peeled it off and dropped it on the floor beside the shoe. All the blood from his leg wound had run down and soaked into his sock.

“You’ve got a handkerchief, don’t you?” Reese asked. Stiffly, Finch slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a crisp, white handkerchief. Reese took it, shook it out, and placed it under Finch’s bloody foot to protect the quilt beneath. “I’ll be right back,” he said as he left.

In the bathroom, he looked for a towel, but could only find Finch’s bloody shirt lying on the edge of one of the sinks. It looked like it had already been used to clean up Finch’s wounds, so Reese went ahead and rinsed it out with warm water. He returned to Finch and set about washing his foot.

“That’s really not necessary,” Finch said, sounding annoyed.

Reese ignored it. “Has that painkiller kicked in yet?” he asked.

“Not yet,” Finch said. “It’ll be a while l-” He seized up, a whimper slipping through his tight lips as Reese pushed back the leg of his trouser to wash his ankle and the cloth rubbed across the exposed, bloody wound.

“There’s no dressing on this one,” Reese said, his brows knitting as he lifted the material and slowly rolled it back.

“I ran out of gauze,” Finch said through his teeth.

“Why didn’t you say something – I got more.”

“I forgot!” Finch snapped. “With as much fucking pain as I’m in, I forgot.”

It was probably the most unguarded thing Finch had ever said, and Reese didn’t reply as he gently wiped away the fresh blood and went back to the bathroom to fetch the antibiotic ointment and surgical tape out of the first aid kit. By the time he returned, Finch had composed himself.

“I must apologize for my language, Mr. Reese,” he said. “There’s no excuse for such vulgarity.” Reese couldn’t help but chuckle, earning him a dark look from Finch. “Did I say something to amuse you?”

“I was just thinking about something you said earlier today,” Reese said. “It was the most eloquent, appropriate thing I had ever heard come out of your mouth. It was when Mr. Allen told you he’d kill me and then come back to torture you some more unless you told him what he wanted to know, and you said, ‘Fuck you’. I couldn’t have said it better myself.”

Finch rolled his eyes, then closed them. “I’m glad you approve,” he said, grimacing as Reese placed the gauze over the wound and taped it in place. Reese wiped away a few more smears of blood and then set the wet shirt on the floor.

“All right, anything else I can do? How are the muscle spasms?”

“Not as bad,” Finch said, his speech starting to slow and thicken – the painkiller was beginning to take effect. “My hamstring feels as knotted as an old yo-yo string, though.”

“Which one?” Reese asked and Finch pointed. Reese stepped around to the side of the bed and leaned over Finch, placing his hands on the other man’s hip and knee.

“What are you doing?” Finch asked, stiffening as suspicion cut through the fog of narcotics.

“Relax,” Reese said. “I’m just trying to help. Can you roll your body this way just a bit?” For a moment, Finch seemed more inclined to tell Reese to go to hell, but he finally shifted his hips and let Reese help him onto his side. “Does that hurt?”

“No more so than any other position,” Finch said.

Reese began slowly moving his hands up and down the back of Finch’s thigh, applying gentle pressure as he felt for the knots. “When I was in Basic,” Reese said, suddenly uncomfortable in the silence, “guys used to cramp up after long runs and we’d rub the knots out for each other, except the goal was to rub hard enough to make the other guy scream. Whoever screamed had to buy the beer.”

“Sounds like summer camp,” Finch mumbled.

Reese hesitated. “How did you get hurt?” he asked finally, bearing down lightly on one of the knots.

Finch groaned. “I was in an accident,” he said, “and if you think one pain pill is enough to get me to bare my soul, Mr. Reese, you’re going to be greatly disappointed.”

“Can’t blame a guy for trying,” Reese said with a dry chuckle. They lapsed into silence as Reese worked out the rest of the hard muscles, broken only by an occasional sharp intake of breath or a muted groan from Finch. “How does that feel?”

“Better,” Finch said. “Thank you.”

Reese lifted his hands, letting Finch roll onto his back. “And your neck?”

“You’ve done enough, Mr. Reese,” Finch said, his gaze glassy as he stared up at Reese. “I’d like to sleep now.” He reached up and peeled off his glasses, his eyes closing and arm shaking as he let it fall back to his side. Reese hesitated, then took the glasses from him and placed them on one of the shelves at the head of the bed, beside the bottles of pills and half-empty glass of water. He gently pulled the folded quilt off the foot of the bed and shook it out before laying it alongside Finch, within easy reach should he get cold.

He glanced around the room, could think of nothing else he could do to help, and picked up his jacket before slowly heading for the door. He turned off the light and stood a moment in the doorway, staring back in at Finch, the light from the hall falling faintly upon his prone form. He didn’t want to leave.

He tried to fool himself with excuses – that Finch was too vulnerable to be left alone, that Mr. Allen might have an accomplice, that the risk of leaving the library was too great with the cops still looking for him – but that wasn’t as effective since he’d quit drinking. He didn’t want to leave because he didn’t want Finch to wake alone. He wanted to be there, to show the wary man that neither of them had to be alone anymore, to prove that he wasn’t going to abandon or betray Finch, that he was capable of more than destruction.

“Why did you do it?” Finch asked softly, his speech noticeably slurred.

“Do what?” Reese asked. Help him? Put a bullet in Mr. Allen’s head instead of his knee? Race across town to save Finch? Take the job? So many of his actions bore murky motives, he wasn’t sure which one Finch was referring to.

“In the alley, with that man…” Finch said. “You knew I would be watching.”

“I had…” Reese hesitated, searching for a safer word, but finally settling on the first one that had come to mind. “I had hoped you would be.”

“Why?”

Reese shrugged. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“If you can’t give me an honest answer, Mr. Reese, then kindly stop staring at me and go away.”

Reese seriously considered doing just that. That whole incident was a mistake he wasn’t ready to face. “I’m sorry,” he said finally.

“I didn’t ask for an apology, just an explanation.”

“I don’t have one,” Reese said, wishing the pain meds would hurry up and knock Finch out. “It was stupid and impulsive-”

“Couldn’t have been too impulsive,” Finch said, sounding groggy, but by no means unconscious. “You gave him a pair of glasses to wear while you were with him…Why? Surely, you had a reason for that.”

Reese closed his eyes, his body tensing, as through bracing for a blow. “It was easier to pretend he was you.” He waited for Finch to accuse him of lying, to tell him to get out, to never come back…

“I’m flattered, Mr. Reese,” Finch said, his tone dry, more like his usual self. “I don’t think anyone has ever fantasized about defiling me in an alley before.”

“Finch, that’s not-”

“Get out, Mr. Reese,” Finch said, his words filling Reese with a hollow, sinking feeling. “This conversation is over and will never be brought up again, understood?”

“Understood, Mr. Finch,” Reese said quietly, backing out of the room and pulling the door shut behind him. He stood for a moment with his hand on the doorknob, his eyes closed, listening to the sound of his own deep, steady breaths in the silent hallway. Finally, he turned and walked away, digging his cell phone out of his pocket and dropping it on Finch’s desk as he left.

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