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Damaged – Ch. 17

Half an hour later, Finch was about ready to just sit on the floor, the pain in his hip and lower back nearing a critical level. He wasn’t sure how much more he could take, but he knew Reese would be coming for him soon and he didn’t want to hinder the rescue any more than necessary. Every noise outside the door made him twitch, every ringing phone, every raised voice catching his attention, and he knew Snow could see it, but the agent was also waiting, facing the door with his weapon in his hand.

“Still think he’s coming for you?” Snow asked, the first words they’d exchanged since entering the room.

“I think he should have killed you when he had the chance,” Finch replied. They both jumped as a shot rang out, followed by screaming and shouting. Snow lunged at Finch, grabbing him by the arm and propelling him toward the door. Every step was agony, like he had shards of broken glass embedded in his muscle tissue, but he hardly noticed, his heart pounding in his throat as Snow pushed him out into the bullpen, where two dozen police officers had their weapons drawn and pointed at Reese.

Reese was using Detective Fusco as a human shield, his back against the wall and his gun pointed at the detective’s head. Under the circumstances, Reese looked unnaturally calm, his gaze sweeping the crowd, searching. He stopped when he spotted Finch, the relief evident in his intense eyes. Finch, however, didn’t share his feelings. As far as rescue plans went, this one didn’t appear very well thought out.

“Everyone shut up,” Snow ordered and the handful of officers trying to convince Reese to put his weapon down fell silent. “What are you going to do now, John?” Snow asked. “We gonna trade hostages and go our separate ways? Cause I hate to break it to you, but you can shoot that fat bastard for all I care. You’re not getting out of here alive unless you surrender right now.”

“Getting out of here was never part of the plan,” Reese said in that low, slightly unhinged tone of voice. “Take those cuffs off of him and let him go…and I’ll put my gun down.”

“John, don’t-” Finch said, his words choked off as Snow grabbed him by the back of the collar, the knot of his tie digging into his windpipe.

“Put that gun down or I’ll make sure this crippled old geek of yours dies in a hole in Guantanamo.”

“Don’t fuck with me, Mark. I’m ready to die for him. Are you?”

Finch could feel Snow hesitate. “If I let him go, you’ll surrender?”

“My life for his – that’s the best deal you’re ever going to get.”

Finch drew a rattling breath as Snow let go of his collar, the mucus still in his lungs making him want to cough, but he fought the urge, his gaze fixed on Reese as Snow released the cuffs.

“All right, John – your turn,” Snow said, holding up the empty cuffs.

“Go on, Harold; get out of here,” Reese said, glancing toward the front entrance. Finch started to shake his head – pointless and irrational as it was, he couldn’t just walk away – but Reese was having none of it. “You need to go now. The Numbers come first, remember?”

Finch was shaking inside as he turned to Snow. “This isn’t over.”

“You’re damn right about that,” Snow said with a mirthless smile. Finch cast one last glance at Reese, then hobbled out of the room as fast as his screaming body would allow. His steps might have been slow, but his mind was racing, scrambling to formulate a plan. Daring rescues weren’t his forte. He couldn’t follow them – he didn’t have a car at the station, a cab would be too obvious, and the CIA were trained in evasion techniques. He couldn’t track Reese’s phone, it was turned off, but Snow had taken Finch’s. If Finch could get back to the library – assuming it wasn’t overrun with agents – he could track his own cell and-

“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to stop right there.”

Finch stopped, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as he looked up to find a pair of uniformed cops standing in front of the main precinct doors, blocking his way. “Oh, I- I was just giving a statement – someone broke into my car – and I need to go pick up my granddaughter from preschool-”

“I’m sorry, sir, but no one is allowed to leave right now,” one of the officers said. “We have an ongoing situation and-”

Finch stiffened, his blood going cold as a pained shout rang out behind him, followed by scuffling and thumping. Finch could do nothing more than step out of the way as a horde of officers and detectives came flooding through the hall, with Snow and Reese at the center of the commotion. Reese’s hands were cuffed behind his back and blood flowed freely from a cut above his left eye, his right cheek already showing signs of swelling and bruising. Their eyes met, pale blue-gray eyes filled with regret, with sadness and resignation. He was giving up.

Finch took a step forward, his fists clenched, fully aware of the folly and futility of getting involved, but he couldn’t just stand there and let Reese be dragged away to a slow and tortuous death. He had to do something.

He was stopped after that first step by two officers. “Agent Snow, what do you want us to do with him?” one of them asked and Snow glanced back, a smug smile on his face.

“Lock him up,” Snow said. “I’ll send someone for him later.”

“Mark, you sonofabitch!” Reese shouted. “Leave him alone; he doesn’t know anything!”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” Snow said, shoving Reese forward. He glanced back at Finch. “Oh, and don’t let Detective Carter near him.” Finch could only stare after Reese as Snow and the cops wrestled him out through the glass double doors. Hands seized him by the arms and cold metal bit into his wrists as another pair of cuffs was slapped into place.

This was all his fault. Numb, Finch allowed himself to be escorted back through the bullpen and down a long hall toward the holding cells. His limp was pronounced and painful, his progress slow, and the entire precinct seemed to be watching him pass. He saw Carter in her captain’s office, arguing animatedly with him, a look of frustration on her face. She saw him and fell silent, watching through the window of the office as he passed. This was all his fault. He let his gaze drop to the floor.

“I’ll take it from here, boys,” said a familiar voice and Finch glanced up to see Detective Fusco standing in the hall.

“Hey, Fusco, you okay?” one of the cops asked. “That guy looked ready to blow your head off.”

“Of course. It’s all part of the job, right? You don’t mind if I have a few words with Mr. Sunshine’s little friend here, do you?”

“Go ahead, so long as he’s ready when the spook squad comes for him.”

“Not a problem,” Fusco said, taking hold of Finch’s arm. “This shouldn’t take long.” The officers went back to the bullpen, Fusco casting a quick glance over his shoulder as he escorted Finch down the hall. Before they reached the holding cells, though, Fusco pulled out his set of keys and quickly unlocked an unmarked door. It led into a barely lit stairwell.

Once the door locked behind them, Fusco turned to Finch and sighed. “Well, that’s not how I expected to spend my morning.” He quickly unlocked Finch’s cuffs. “So, what’s the plan?”

“You mean John didn’t tell you?” Finch asked.

“No, he just said to get you out of here. He said you’d know what to do.”

Finch felt lost, helpless, just like he had before he’d met Reese. He glanced around the stairwell. “We’re not out of here, yet, Detective. Up or down?”

“Up,” Fusco said, confirming Finch’s suspicion that life hated him. Downstairs would have been miserable, but going up would be impossible.

“I can’t,” Finch said. “My leg…”

“It’s the only way to avoid the cameras,” Fusco said. “There’s a back hall on the second floor that leads to a service elevator. We can take that down to the garage.”

“It’s a fine plan, Detective, but I can’t.” As usual. Fucking worthless body.

“Sure we can,” Fusco said, stepping toward him. “It’s this leg, right? So just put your arm across my shoulders-” Finch drew back, his whole body tensing. “C’mon, Finch, I ain’t gonna bite.”

“That’s not- I just-” Finch threw his arm across Fusco’s shoulders, stiffening as he felt the detective’s arm around his waist. “I’m not used to being…handled in such a way.”

“Yeah, this is a first for me, too,” Fusco said, grunting as they began climbing the stairs. It was anything but pleasant, but once Finch accepted that he could let Fusco support his weight, it wasn’t quite so painful. Awkward as hell, but not as painful. “So,” Fusco said after a minute, both of them puffing and out of breath, “we’re gonna get him back, right?”

“Why, Detective, you almost sound like you care,” Finch said, using an acerbic remark to avoid answering a difficult question, one that he didn’t want to admit that he didn’t know the answer to.

Fusco shrugged. After a few more steps, he said, “I didn’t grow up wanting to be a dirty cop, you know. I wanted to help people. Then suddenly ten years is gone and I’m in so deep I can’t see daylight. Our guy really did me a favor when he blew up my car. Now I get be a little more like I always wanted – one of the good guys. So yeah, I care. I wish he’d quit riding my ass so hard all of the time, but I do care.”

Finch was silent for a moment. He hadn’t realized how much of an impact they’d had on the detective. “Yes, Detective Fusco,” he said finally, “we’ll get him back.”

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