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Damaged – Ch. 14

Finch awoke alone, again. He wasn’t hung-over, which was a blessing, but his body was stiff, his sinuses congested, and as he sat up, a heavy, raspy rattle filled his chest. He grabbed the little plastic bedside wastebasket and coughed up more phlegm and mucus than he thought one human body could produce. For that, he was glad he was alone. Except…

“Good morning, Harold,” Reese said in his ear. “Sleep well?”

“I slept fine,” Finch replied, his voice rough and his disposition not that of a morning person on the best of days. He put his glasses on and glanced at his watch. It was a quarter to seven. “How are Ms. Wallace and her children?”

“Fine,” Reese said, taking on a more professional tone. “The kids are still asleep. She’s having coffee and reading the paper.” There was a pause. “How are you?”

“Fine,” Finch said shortly, wincing as he did his stretches sitting on the edge of the bed. He paused to catch his breath and reconsidered his brusqueness. He sighed. “I’m stiff and sore, my chest hurts, my throat is raw, I don’t have any clean clothes to put on, I didn’t get laid again, and I’m just not used to having to converse before I take a shower and have a cup of tea. So I’m sorry if I seem a bit grumpy.”

“Grumpy? You sound like your usual charming self to me.” There was another pause. “I’m sorry, did you really say you ‘didn’t get laid again’?”

“Yes, I believe that’s the modern vernacular, isn’t it?” Reese just chuckled. Finch finished the stretches, the simple exercises unable to alleviate the stiffness and aching, but it would help delay fatigue and cramping. So would a hot shower, but he had experienced a moment of panic just stepping into the bathroom and seeing the tub. He wasn’t sure he could actually get in it.

He knew just needed to do it, to get over his fear, to put the experience behind him, to move on…but if it was that easy, he wouldn’t be afraid of heights. He considered the facilities in each of his residences, in all the safe houses, in every hotel he’d ever stayed at, but it was the simple stall in the library bathroom that made him feel the most at ease. He had clean clothes in the library, too. And after he fixed the generator and put the hard-drive and motherboard back in his computer, he’d have all the processing power he needed to run facial recognition on the ex-husband.

But the CIA…Would they even still be in the area? A surveillance team, maybe, but after the havoc Reese had caused with his brazen attack, they knew they had been found out. There was no reason to think either he or Reese would go back there. Finch could slip in, make his repairs, take a shower, make a decent sup of tea…There was just one problem.

“Mr. Reese, where did you put that cash you took out of my desk?”

“In my duffel bag, under the bed. Why?”

“While I appreciate the loan of your clothes, I just don’t feel like myself. Perhaps I’ll be able to think more clearly if I can put on a suit.”

“I have the ticket for your dry cleaning in my pocket,” Reese said, much as Finch had expected. “I can pick up your clothes once I make sure Ms. Wallace and her kids get to school safely.”

“John, you can’t coddle me,” Finch said firmly. “I won’t put up with it. I know you care and you’re worried about the CIA, but I really doubt they’ll be looking for me in a clothing store. I’ll be fine.”

There was a long silence. Finally, Reese sighed. “You’re right. I just…”

“I know. It’s new and strange and you’re afraid something will happen and it will all be over. I know. But that’s just something we’ll have to live with, because neither of us is going to change.”

“Just be careful,” Reese said after a moment.

“I will.”

“She’s getting the kids up.”

They lapsed into silence as Finch got ready to go out, preparing himself as best as he could to be seen in public. He found a gray hoodie in Reese’s duffel bag while he was looking for the cash, which would almost hide the fact that he’d slept in his clothes. Grabbing the spare room key and his cell phone, he shoved the hardware from his computer into a paper take-out bag and headed out, a small knot of worry in his gut. Technically, he hadn’t lied, but he had by omission and insinuation deceived Reese – not how he had wanted to begin this new phase of their relationship.

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