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Damaged – Ch. 13

“How…quaint,” Finch said, standing in the middle of the hotel room, his laptop tucked under his arm. “Reminds me of that place where I found you…”

“Oh, no, this is much nicer,” Reese said, giving him a sideways glance. Finch did not look amused as he limped over to the table and set the computer down, taking off his wet shoes and socks before getting back to work. Or trying to, at least. As Reese double-checked the room for bugs and unpacked his bag, hanging his suits in the closet and dispersing his arsenal between the dresser drawers and beneath one of the mattresses, Finch kept making impatient noises and tapping his fingers on the table. “Something the matter, Finch?”

“This is just a backup unit,” he said. “It’s not nearly fast enough. My system at the library could run this search in one tenth of the time, and run half a dozen parallel processes while it was at it.”

“Doesn’t look that impressive to me,” Reese said, pulling the hard-drive and motherboard out of his bag and setting them on the table in front of Finch. Finch started to reach for the hardware, then frowned as he glanced up at Reese.

“You don’t think that was the main computer that you pulled these out of, do you?” he asked. “That was just a relay unit – little more than a decoy, really. It allows wireless access to the central computer.”

“And where is that?”

“In the library.”

“So, taking that-” He motioned to the hardware. “Really didn’t help.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Finch said. “It maintains the deception that this was important enough to take. And if you couldn’t find the central computer – and I know how much time you’ve spent snooping around my library – then I’m not worried about those idiots at the CIA finding it.”

“So, where is it?” Reese asked, his curiosity like an itch he couldn’t scratch.

Finch just gave him a small, smug smile. “If we ever get to go back there, I’ll show you. Right now, you need to get back to watching Ms. Wallace.”

Reese had almost forgotten. In his defense, it had been a long, unusually stressful day, and it wasn’t even five o’clock yet. “I’m on it,” he said. He drew his gun, ejected the magazine, and refilled the clip before tucking it away again. “I still need to force pair her phone. Did you find out anything else about her?”

“I never got a chance to see what the search turned up,” Finch said, “and this damn thing…” He looked like he wanted to throw the laptop against the wall.

“Patience, Finch,” Reese said with a chuckle as he slipped his earpiece into place. He pulled a second one out of his bag and set it on the table. “I know you don’t like these things, but I’d feel better if we stayed in contact while I’m gone.”

“You’re not going to get all clingy now, are you?” Finch asked dryly, a slight frown creasing his brow as he inserted the earpiece, then he glanced up at Reese, a small smile gracing his lips for the duration of a single heartbeat. Reese resisted the urge to lean down and kiss him, instead turning and heading for the door. He hesitated before opening it, glancing back over his shoulder at Finch. “Are you going to be okay here by yourself?”

“I’m fine, Mr. Reese,” Finch said, not looking up from his laptop. When Reese continued to stand at the door, Finch finally raised his head. “I’m okay, John. Really.”

“All right,” Reese said with a faint nod. He held up his phone. “Call me; I don’t think I have that number.” He stepped outside, into the covered breezeway, and pulled the door shut behind him. The cell rang and he answered, establishing the secure connection and switching his earpiece on. “Are you there, Finch?”

“Yes, Mr. Reese.”

Reese smiled to himself as he climbed into the car. “Don’t forget to eat something soon,” Reese said. “I did some shopping – groceries are on the counter or in the minifridge.”

“Tea?”

“Of course.”

Finch sighed. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” As he drove across town, he listened to the quiet sounds of Finch making tea, punctuated by muttered curses at the laptop and fits of frenetic typing. Reese reviewed the limited information he’d been given, trying to determine a likely direction for the case to turn, so Finch could refine his search and thus save time and frustration. He wasn’t sure if he was just becoming cynical, or if the previous case had something to do with it, but his thoughts turned almost instantly to one person.

“Hey, Finch, where’s the ex-husband? You said she was divorced.”

“Yes, I did…give me a minute…Ah, here it is. Jeremy Roberts is currently incarcerated in the Arizona State Penitentiary serving a six year sentence for possession with intent and domestic abuse. Looks like she testified against him.”

“I’d say that’s a good place to start looking for a threat,” Reese said. “See if he’s had any friends released in the past few weeks.”

“Easier said than done,” Finch muttered. “Oh. No need. Mr. Roberts was released last week after serving only half his sentence due to overcrowding. There’s a warrant out for his arrest for violating the terms of his parole, namely leaving the state.”

“Is he in New York?”

“I don’t know,” Finch said, sounding disgusted. “I can’t run facial recognition on this thing and I’m not finding a credit card or cell phone registered to his name or any of his known aliases. I’m sending you his picture; you’ll probably have more luck finding him than I will.”

“Relax, Finch, I can handle this,” Reese said. “The info on the ex is a huge lead.”

“If it’s the right lead,” Finch said. “He could be in Mexico right now, not giving a second thought to his ex-wife.”

“True,” Reese acknowledged, “but it’s a place to start.”

He arrived at Ms. Wallace’s apartment and found a place to park a few blocks away, making his way on foot through the quiet residential streets. Finding an inconspicuous place to stand in front of a neighboring apartment, Reese watched through the windows of the second-story apartment as the latest number fixed dinner for herself and her two children. He made a half-hearted attempt to force pair her phone, but he wasn’t close enough.

Taking a walk around the neighborhood, he looked for suspicious people or vehicles while he waited for darkness to fall, but all was quiet. Whatever was going to happen involving Ms. Wallace, it didn’t look like it was going to happen that evening. He watched the small family enjoy their dinner, his stomach giving a single petulant rumble before giving up. The kids, about eight and ten, he’d guess, then worked on homework while their mother did the dishes. When that was done, they watched a movie together, complete with a big bowl of popcorn.

On the other end of the open line, Reese could hear Finch moving about, making tea, tapping at the keyboard – soft sounds that he found strangely comforting. When the shadows finally deepened, the amber streetlights winking on, Reese slipped into the alley between the two apartment buildings and scaled the fire escape, pausing outside the Wallace’s window just long enough to establish a connection with her phone before continuing up to the roof. It was cold without the buildings to stop the wind and he turned up his collar, crouching down in the lee of the heating/cooling unit.

“I paired her cell,” he told Finch, his voice low.

“Good, let me see what-” He made a frustrated sound. “Never mind. God-forsaken low-bandwidth wifi, I can’t sync with your phone.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Reese said. “I’m right here; I’ll keep an eye on them all night. Nothing is going to happen.”

“Oh. You’re not…I thought you might come back here for a few hours. But no, you’re right – you should stay there.”

Reese closed his eyes, his chest aching. Finch wanted him, wanted to be with him. It took his breath away that someone who knew everything about him, about everything he’d done, would even speak to him, or be in the same room with him, to say nothing of wanting to share a bed with him. If that was even what Finch meant. He didn’t know how to ask without it sounding like an interrogation.

“Harold…” he started, but couldn’t find the words to continue.

“I didn’t think before I spoke,” Finch said softly. “The numbers must always come first. There will be time for…us later.”

Reese leaned his head back against the sheet-metal housing of the unit and stared up at the sky, the city lights washing out all but the brightest stars. A jet roared far overhead, headed for LaGuardia. After a moment, he sighed, his breath ghosting white in front of his lips. “Is that enough for you, stolen moments waiting for a later that we both know will never come?”

“There will be time…John,” Finch said, only a slight hesitation before he said Reese’s name. “We’ve had days without numbers. We had almost a whole week, remember? The down-time nearly drove you crazy.”

Reese smiled. “I remember.”

“I am willing to take what I can get. The numbers mean too much to me, the difference we’re making is too important. You have no idea – or maybe you do – how lost I was, how hopeless, how consumed by guilt. This is my purpose, my second chance. I can’t just walk away. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Reese said, and he meant it. “I just needed to know if…this was enough.”

“Considering that I never expected to share this part of myself with anyone again, this is about all that I can handle at the moment. Not to sound like it’s unwanted, just overwhelming.”

“I understand. Believe me, I know exactly how you feel.” They lapsed into silence again. After a while, Reese said, “Have you eaten yet?”

“No.”

“You need to.”

“Have you?”

“Not yet. I was just about to.” He dug into his coat pocket and pulled out a protein bar. “Care to join me, Harold?”

“I suppose I have time to make a sandwich,” Finch said, then he snorted. “Hell, slow as this thing is, I have time to bake the bread from scratch.”

“Oh, quit your grumbling,” Reese said, smiling even though Finch couldn’t see. He waited until he heard Finch sit back down at the table, then he unwrapped his dinner and they ate together in companionable silence.

When the movie was over, Ms. Wallace wrangled her kids into their pajamas, oversaw the brushing of teeth, was unmoved by a round of heartfelt cajoling to stay up just five more minutes, and settled them into bed with a story. It sounded like a pretty routine night for the single mother. Sitting on the roof, Reese wondered what it would be like to wake up each morning in the same place, knowing how each day would end. Did people like Margaret Wallace know how lucky they were?

An hour later, she turned off the TV, enjoyed a long bath, and then read in bed until turning off her light at a quarter to ten. As the apartment settled into silence, Reese rose from his cramped position and quietly walked the perimeter of the roof, looking down at the streets and alleyways, his eyes searching for occupied cars or figures lurking in the shadows. If the ex was waiting to break in, he’d do it within an hour of the lights going out. Normal people just didn’t have the patience to wait longer.

One hour passed, then two, midnight creeping up and slipping away without a sound. As one o’clock approached, Reese found himself pacing.

“You awake?” he asked, his voice soft.

“Barely,” Finch replied. “Still no location on Mr. Roberts. Everything all right on your end?”

“Yes. They’ve been asleep for a while now, the streets are quiet. I think I’m going to try to catch a couple of hours; you should rest, too.”

“I know,” Finch said, then he sighed and Reese heard the sound of the laptop being closed. “Excuse me for a minute.” The line went silent and Reese frowned, but then smirked as he realized why. Taking Finch’s lead, he picked up his empty water bottle.

“Mr. Reese?” Finch said a while later.

“Yes, Mr. Finch,” Reese teased. He really didn’t mind Finch’s formality – it made the times when he used Reese’s first name mean that much more.

“Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Harold.” Reese expected Finch to end the call, but he heard the sound of the bed covers being turned down, bedsprings creaking, the light switching off, and a low groan from Finch as he settled himself. Reese closed his eyes, imagining his arms wrapped around the quiet man, breathing in the scent of his skin, his warmth soaking into Reese’s body. With a sigh, he settled himself back against the housing of the heating/cooling unit and pulled his coat tight around himself.

Opening his eyes, Reese sat for a moment, the creak of a floorboard reaching him through the cell phone in the apartment below. Pushing himself to his feet, one hand slipped beneath his coat, reaching for his gun, but he let it fall away as he caught the distant sound of a toilet being flushed, followed by the soft patter of little feet. Letting out a slow breath, he walked the perimeter of the roof again, surveying the deserted streets below.

It was a quarter to three, almost four hours before Ms. Wallace was due to wake, and Reese found himself unable to go back to sleep, his sudden awakening flooding his system with adrenaline. He paused, listening to Finch’s soft snores through the earpiece, and then went back to his position, but he couldn’t shake the restlessness in his limbs, the ache in his skin.

The numbers come first. Finch was right, but Reese couldn’t silence the whisper at the back of his mind trying to convince him that just this time it would be all right to leave his post. The family would be safe. He’d hear if anything happened, if someone tried to break in. But he’d be halfway across town, too far away to do any good. But nothing was going to happen. There was no evidence that the ex even knew where she and her children lived. Since his incarceration, they had moved three times, she’d returned to using her maiden name, and she didn’t even have a landline, let alone a listed number. Just this once, it would be okay.

This was why he’d had to sever all ties to his former life, why he’d been discouraged from pursuing anything other than a paid encounter or a one night stand, because emotions were liabilities, they made you weak, irrational, vulnerable. He knew this, and still found himself crossing the roof to the fire escape, descending to the street, and making his way to where he’d parked the car. All the way back to the motel, he kept shaking his head, his grip on the steering wheel tight enough to turn his knuckles white. This was a pointless waste of time; Finch was never going to let him get away with it. Reese would be chastised and sent back out into the night. And still he didn’t turn the car around.

Turning out the headlights, he pulled into the motel parking lot. Even this place was quiet and still. Pulling the motel key out of his pocket, he let himself into the room, switching his earpiece over to the Wallace residence as Finch’s snores came at him in stereo. The lights from the parking lot bathed the sleeping man for a moment as Reese paused in the doorway, just staring at him. Then he shut and locked the door, carefully toeing off his shoes and shedding his coat as he moved toward the bed.

Finch was in the middle, lying on his back, his neck and shoulders supported by the pillows from both beds. Reese lifted the covers and sank down on the edge of the mattress, pulling his gun out of his waistband and setting it on the nightstand beside Finch’s glasses, but as he slid his legs in beside Finch’s, the man gave an unexpected start, lashing out with both arms. Reese caught one by the wrist, but received a forearm to his chest that was surprisingly forceful, even if it didn’t hurt.

“Easy, Finch,” Reese said, letting go as soon as Finch tried to jerk away from him.

“John? What are you doing here? Did something happen?”

“No, nothing happened. Nothing at all…and I thought…” It was fairly obvious, what he thought, and he waited for Finch’s reprimand. For a long moment, Finch said nothing, then his hand pressed against Reese’s chest, his fingers gripping a handful of Reese’s shirt, and Reese found himself being pulled into a deep and fevered kiss. Reese closed his eyes, groaning into Finch’s mouth as he felt the other man’s tongue against his own. “You’re not mad?” Reese asked when Finch paused for breath.

“I trust your judgment,” Finch said, deft fingers making short work of the buttons on Reese’s shirt. “You never would have left if that family had been in any danger, and…I wanted to ask you to come back, but it seemed…selfish.”

“I think we’re entitled to be a little selfish once in a while,” Reese replied, his heart beating fast as Finch slipped his hands into Reese’s shirt, exploring him by touch, those soft fingertips seeking out and lingering on the scars that marked his body – innumerable cuts and burns, the bullet hole above his clavicle where he was shot trying to save Judge Gates’ son, the larger, newer scar on his abdomen, still pink and sensitive, but he didn’t pull away, didn’t give Finch anything less than he would want to receive.

Finch leaned close, pushing Reese’s shirt back off one shoulder and pressing his lips to the ridge of Reese’s collarbone. Reese gasped as he felt teeth against his skin, every hair on his body standing on end as Finch gave him another exploratory nip, this one harder. He moaned his approval, his body demanding more even though he knew he ought to put a stop to things before they progressed any further. They just didn’t have the time.

It wasn’t until he felt nimble fingers working his belt loose that he pulled away. Beside him, Finch went perfectly still, then he raised himself up on one elbow and reached over Reese, turning on the bedside light and grabbing his glasses. A small frown creased his brow as he regarded Reese.

“Are you trying to make a liar out of me?” he asked. “Because I’m trying very hard to believe you, but you keep making it more difficult.”

“I’m not,” Reese assured him, reaching up to cup his cheek. Finch stared back at him, eyes hard, doubting. Reese sighed. “I just…I have to get back to the Wallace place in a couple of hours. There isn’t enough time-”

“Time to do what?” Finch asked, arching an eyebrow. “I hate to break it to you, but I’m not twenty anymore and no offense, but neither are you. Two hours – you’re going to kill me.”

“No, that’s not…” Reese shook his head. “I just don’t want to fuck and then run off. You mean more to me than that and…and I’m…I don’t want to mess this up. All my experience with men comes from training, or working an asset, or getting close to a target. I’ve never been with a man that I cared about and I want to take the time to do it right.”

“If you make love half as well you talk…” Finch said, his expression softening. He leaned close and kissed Reese again, sighing reluctantly as he drew back. “Something tells me I’ll never get to find out, not if you keep insisting on the ‘right time’. There really isn’t such a thing. Trust me, I know. I wasted years waiting for the ‘right time’, and I nearly lost my chance altogether.”

“I won’t do that,” Reese said, reaching back and turning out the light. “As soon as this thing with Margaret Wallace is settled-”

“And if another number comes up?”

“Then I guess I’ll have to give you a rain-check. But we’ll find the time, I promise. It doesn’t have to be the ‘right time’ just more time.”

“I will hold you to that promise,” Finch said and Reese could hear his smile in the near-dark.

“Fine,” Reese said, shifting closer and wrapping his arms around the smaller man, “as long as I can hold you right now.”

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2 Comments
  1. Miani permalink

    omg, I love your fics and this fic is amazing =)

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