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Damaged – Ch. 30

Reese watched the ambulance pull away, feeling lost, helpless, alone. We have each other. Finch’s words echoed in his head, but now Finch was gone. He was adrift, for once without a plan. He needed a car. He needed to get to the hospital, but he was surrounded by cops. Any second, someone would realize that he needed to be detained, questioned, arrested.

“You look like you could use a lift.”

Reese turned to find Carter standing beside him. He hadn’t even noticed her walk up. Maybe he wasn’t alone after all.

“Hey, Carter, you want me to take care of this scumbag?” Fusco asked, hurrying over. He was using a wet-wipe to clean the blood off his hands. Finch’s blood.

“Nah, I got this one, Fusco,” Carter said. “I got some questions I need answers to.”

“Yeah, okay,” Fusco said. “I just thought you might want to be the first to question Kirkland, or whoever the hell he is.”

“I don’t think he’s going anywhere,” Carter said. “This guy, on the other hand…” She reached out and took Reese by the arm. “You’re not going to give me any trouble, are you?”

“No, Detective,” Reese replied, giving Fusco a covert but pointed look, trying to tell him to get lost, that he had everything under control.

“You’re not gonna cuff him?” Fusco asked, smirking as he followed them over to Carter’s unmarked car.

“In case you forgot, Kirkland is wearing my cuffs,” Carter said. “Can I borrow yours?”

Fusco reached for his belt, then seemed to remember that he’d lent them to Finch. “I must’ve left them in my desk drawer.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Carter said. “I doubt there’s a pair of handcuffs on the planet that he couldn’t get out of in ten seconds or less.” There was a slight quirk to her lips as she said it, and perhaps a bit of admiration. Perhaps. “But I figure if I give him a ride to the hospital, maybe he’ll be nice and answer my questions. Then I’ll decide if I want to arrest him or not.”

They reached her car and she opened the back door, motioning for Reese to get in. It wasn’t until he sat down and his jeans pulled tight across his knee that he realized he’d banged it in his struggle with Mark. He watched blood begin to soak through the denim.

“Are you okay?” Carter asked quietly, looking in through the open door at him.

He called upon his extensive training, leaning back against the seat, stretching his legs out as far as they’d go, and draping one arm along the back of the seat as he gave Carter a lazy, confident smile. “Never been better.” Funny, she didn’t look like she believed him.

She shut his door and climbed in on the driver’s side, both of them glancing over as Fusco dropped down into the passenger’s seat.

“What?” he asked. “Is it so strange for a guy to want to look out for his partner? If he decides to give you trouble, you’re gonna need backup.”

“Aww, isn’t that sweet,” Reese said. “Carter, it looks like someone has a crush on you.”

“Watch it, asshole,” Fusco said over his shoulder. “I still haven’t forgotten how you held a gun to my head.”

“It was nothing personal, Lionel,” Reese said. “When choosing a human shield, you want to pick the biggest one you can find. Now, can we talk and drive at the same time? In case you forgot, my friend has been injured.”

“Looked like more than a ‘friend’ to me,” Fusco muttered as Carter put the car in gear and pulled away from the crime scene.

Reese leaned forward so he could see Fusco in the rear view mirror. “So what if he is? You got a problem with it?”

Fusco stared back at him for a moment, then glanced away. “Nah, I ain’t got a problem. Love is love and all that. I got a cousin who’s gay-”

“John, what the hell were you thinking, killing that school janitor?” Carter suddenly interrupted, as if she couldn’t contain the question any longer. “There were kids there-”

“He wasn’t a janitor,” Reese said. “He was the estranged ex-husband of one of the teachers and he murdered the real janitor to get his ID badge. And I know there were kids, that’s why I had to kill him, because he was carrying a semi-automatic handgun and over eighty rounds of ammunition. He wasn’t there to talk.”

“And the sniper two days ago that had the city in a panic? That was you, too, wasn’t it?”

“I needed to cause a distraction.”

“A distraction! You sent half a dozen people to the hospital!”

“They were all CIA,” Reese said. “And it wasn’t like I sent them to the morgue. Snow started all of this – I was just trying to finish it.”

“You mean Kirkland.”

“I suppose I do.”

“So you didn’t know that’s who he really is?”

Reese hesitated. “Just between us, Detectives, I went on a dozen missions with Snow, missions sanctioned by the Agency. We had to return to Agency headquarters for debriefings. His security clearance was higher than mine. That’s not something that can be faked.”

“And CIA documents and FBI BOLOs can?” Carter asked.

Reese shrugged. “My friend has a way with computers.” Though when Finch had time to fabricate such information – and why he’d kept it a secret – was a mystery to Reese.

“You mean to tell me that I just made a false arrest?” Carter asked, glancing over her shoulder as they waited for the light to change. Beside her, Fusco chuckled.

“It was nice knowing you, Carter.”

“Shut up, Fusco,” she said, but there was no malice in her tone. After a moment, she turned back around. “I like being a cop,” she muttered as the traffic began to move again.

“Relax, Carter, you’re not going to lose your job. You were acting in good faith on information that you had no reason to doubt,” Reese said. “And who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and those charges will stick.” Not likely. Finch was good, but as soon as they ran Mark’s prints, the cleverly crafted fiction would crumble like ash. Not even Finch could hack into IAFIS. And once the police knew the truth…they’d have to let Mark go.

It would take time to run the prints, though. Contrary to what was shown on television, it took hours to search the more then seventy million entries in the FBI’s database. They had time. Just enough time, he hoped. And they wouldn’t make the same mistakes again. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his cell, and yanked out the battery. Let Mark try to track him now.

They arrived at the hospital and Carter barely managed to beat Reese into the emergency room. She headed for the front desk while he hung back, looking for a way into the trauma areas, but the waiting room was walled off by a security door. He’d need an ID badge, or to be buzzed through. His attention shifted to searching for an ID badge he could steal, but he didn’t see any staff.

He felt a presence move up behind him and he turned, but it was just Fusco. “Hello, Lionel.”

“Ah, so it’s back to the creepy first name stuff, is it?” Fusco said. “I was just wondering what you planned to do about Kirkland, or Snow, or whoever the fuck he is.”

“You let me worry about that,” Reese said, turning as the security door opened and a man wearing green scrub pants came out, his ID badge hanging from the jacket thrown over his shoulder. Reese moved to intercept, only to have Fusco grab him by the arm.

“Hey. I need to know if I should call in sick tomorrow, okay?”

Reese watched the ID badge disappear out through the main doors and barely resisted the urge to make Fusco a resident of the trauma ward. He turned back, and the anger must have shown on his face, because Fusco took half a step back.

“Never mind, it’s none of my business,” Fusco said.

Reese reached out and grabbed him by the shoulder of his jacket, trying to keep it friendly-looking as he leaned close, speaking quietly in Fusco’s ear. “Where’s my gun, Lionel?”

“Under my jacket,” Fusco said, frowning. “Why? You want it back?”

“Already got it,” Reese replied, withdrawing his hand from inside Fusco’s suit and tucking the gun quietly out of sight.

Fusco pulled away and patted himself. “Just checking to make sure my wallet is still there,” he said.

“What would I want with an empty wallet?” Reese replied, turning away and striding over to Carter. She glanced up at him.

“Any idea what name he would have given?” she asked. “There’s no Finch, or Burdette.”

“Gunshot wound to the thigh,” Reese said. “How hard is that?”

“This is New York,” Carter reminded him. “There have been six gunshot victims brought in in the past hour.”

“Yeah, but how many of them were middle-aged men in three-piece suits, glasses, sideburns-”

“Oh, I know who you’re talking about,” said an older man organizing charts behind the counter. “I took his information. Said his name was Harold Wren, if I remember correctly.”

“That’s it; that’s him,” Reese said. “Where is he? We need to speak with him.”

“Sorry, I’m not authorized to let anyone through. You’ll have to wait.”

Reese reached into his coat and Carter grabbed him by the arm, a look just shy of panic on her face. He shrugged her off and pulled out Stills’ badge, holding it over the counter. “Open that door right now or I’ll arrest you for obstruction of justice.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know you were a cop,” the man said, rushing over and pressing the button to buzz them through. Reese didn’t wait for Carter or Fusco, rushing over and jerking the door open, heedless of the pain in his leg. It was only physical discomfort – he could ignore it.

“John! John,” Carter hissed in a loud whisper, “get back here.”

He ignored her, too, peering into every curtained-off area that he passed, his heart pounding, his mouth dry. Where was he? Where the hell was he? He shoved a curtain aside and nearly walked on past before he realized that the disheveled hair and glazed blue eyes behind smudged glasses belonged to Finch. The smaller man looked tiny on the big trauma room bed, pillows tucked in around him as he rested on his side, an opened hospital gown draped over his lower half, a bit of furry ankle showing between the edge of the gown and his socks.

“Harold,” Reese said and Finch looked up, blinking as though to clear the fog from his eyes. He was still hooked up to the IV, but now he had a pulse monitor attached to his finger and an oxygen tube under his nose.

“John,” he said with a smile. “You found me.”

Reese closed the distance between them, leaning over the bed rail and burying his fingers in Finch’s hair, the kiss deep and fierce, Reese’s chest aching as Finch made a soft sound, his lips eager and clumsy.

Ahem.”

Reese pulled back, taking a moment to smooth Finch’s hair while he regained his composure. When he finally turned around, he found Fusco looking uncomfortable and Carter smirking at him. “Thanks for your help, Detectives,” Reese said, “but I think I can take it from here.”

“Oh, no, you’re not getting rid of me that easily,” Carter said, crossing her arms over her chest. “I want to know what the hell has been going on, and I want to know how you faked all those documents.” She addressed this last question at Finch.

“What documents?” he asked, a confused look in his slightly glassy eyes.

“Harold, did they give you pain medication?” Reese asked, stepping over to look at the chart beside the bed.

“Oh, yes,” Finch said. “I feel wonderful. What documents?”

“Electronic files from the FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security,” Carter said, frowning. “They claimed that Agent Snow was actually a man named Michael Kirkland, a fugitive, spy, and murderer.”

“I didn’t do that,” Finch said with an almost childlike solemnity. “It must have been the Ma-”

Reese covered Finch’s mouth with one hand and pointed out toward the waiting room with the other. “Get out, Detectives. Please,” he added quickly. “I can’t let you take advantage of my partner’s compromised condition. He’d never forgive any of us, and trust me, this is one bit of information that you do not want to have.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” Fusco said. He tugged on Carter’s sleeve. “C’mon, let me buy you a cup of coffee. No cream, two sugars, right?”

“Ugh,” Carter said, making a face.

Fusco laughed. “I’m just messing with you. Cream, no sugar. I remember.” Reluctantly, Carter followed Fusco back out of the trauma ward. Reese took his hand off Finch’s mouth and made sure they were gone.

“What was that for?” Finch asked, reaching up to touch his lips.

“You’ll thank me later,” Reese said. “Now, what were you saying? You think the Machine forged those documents?”

“It said it was ‘reformatting’ the threat. Erasing Agent Snow’s identity and creating a new one could be seen as reformatting.”

“But I thought you said it wasn’t going to help us anymore.”

“That’s what it-”

“All right, Mr. Wren, it looks like you need-” The curtain parted and everyone froze as Dr. Megan Tillman looked up from her paperwork. “You,” she said staring at Finch, then her gaze shifted to Reese. “John?”

“Hello again, Dr. Tillman,” Finch said. “How have you been?”

She looked back and forth between the two of them several times, like she wasn’t sure if she should call security or not. “I’m fine,” she said finally, a wariness in her tone. “Looks like you’ve been better.”

“I got shot,” Finch said matter-of-factually.

“I see that,” she said, stepping inside the curtain and closing it behind her. “You know we’re required by law to report all gunshot wounds to the police, right?” she said in a low voice.

“We’ve already spoken to the police,” Reese assured her. “He was collateral damage in a drive-by. We didn’t see anything.” He must have been losing his touch; she didn’t look like she believed him, either. “Is he going to be all right, Doctor?”

She glanced down at the chart in her hands again. “Yes, he should be fine,” she said and Reese could hold back the sigh of relief. “We’re going to keep him overnight so we can monitor his pain management as well as get his blood volume back up. He’ll need to be on bed-rest for a couple of weeks and he’ll need physical therapy, but barring the unexpected, he’ll make a full recovery.”

“Good…good,” Reese said, resisting the urge to reach out and take Finch’s hand in his.

“I do need to put a few sutures in the wound,” Dr. Tillman said, setting the paperwork down and pulling a new pair of latex gloves out of the box on the wall. There was a tray with needle and thread on the counter. Dr. Tillman pulled a wheeled stool over and sat down, folding back the edge of the gown that covered Finch’s lower half, revealing a pale thigh stained yellow with betadine. She examined the entry wound on the front of his leg, a raw, bloody hole about the size of a dime.

“I think that’ll heal up just fine on its own, don’t you?” Reese said.

“Are you a doctor, too?” she asked, arching an eyebrow as she glanced at him across Finch’s body.

“No, I’ve just been shot a few times,” Reese said, lifting up the bottom of his T-shirt to show her the pink scar on his abdomen.

She made a face. “Did you sew that up yourself?”

“No,” Reese said, letting his shirt drop again. “How bad is the exit wound?”

“I’ve seen worse,” she said as she threaded the needle. “Come look.”

Reese stepped around the end of the bed, wincing as his knee gave a twinge. It must have stiffened up from standing still for so long.

“Are you okay?” Dr. Tillman asked.

“Fine,” Reese said, stopping beside her and leaning down to regard the ragged hole in the back of Finch’s leg. It was easily twice as big as the entry, but as far as exit wounds went, it wasn’t bad.

“There’s a chair here if you want to sit down,” she said, hooking it with her foot and pulling it over before Reese could refuse. He moved it out of her way and sank down, drawing a sharp breath as his jeans pressed against his knee again. He quickly straightened out his leg. “I better have a look at that,” Dr. Tillman said, glancing down at the blood on his pants. The denim was dark and still wet, which meant it was still bleeding.

“It’s nothing,” Reese said. “I just banged it on the street.”

“John, don’t argue with the doctor,” Finch said. Reese had thought he’d fallen asleep. “You should let her look at your other injuries, too.”

“What injuries?” she asked.

“A couple of punctures and some burns,” Reese said. “It’s nothing.”

“I think maybe the doctor should be the judge of that,” Finch said.

“Harold, would you just-”

“All right, all right, that’s enough,” Dr. Tillman said, looking up from suturing inside the wound. “The curtain next to us is empty. Go change into a gown and let me finish this in peace. Now,” she said as Reese opened his mouth to argue. Reese stood, his body stiff, a rushing in his ears and an unnatural heat under his skin.

“Please, John,” Harold said softly, and Reese felt the pressure in his chest deflate. He took a slow breath, unease replacing the irrational anger. He pushed aside the curtain and stepped into the empty exam area, searching through drawers until he found a gown. Scowling, he shrugged out of his coat and peeled off his T-shirt. Finch was right. The doctor was right. So why did their concern for him just make him angry?

<– Prev   ~*~   Next –>

23 Comments
  1. ChoresToDo permalink

    Uh-oh, Reese feels like he’s lost control of the situation again. 😦 That’s my guess for why he’s angry and it sounds just about right…the way you portray it, he gets pissed when he feels like the choice is out of his hands. Again, makes absolute sense and I’m glad your dealing with what he’s gone through realistically.

    Oh, very nicely done by the way, with how you make us figure out the smaller picture by stating what their actions are and not outright stating the “why.” It’s really like we’re watching an episode or something.

    And WOW, when you mean weekly Friday updates, you really mean it! I never thought I’d see the day an author kept their word when it came to that kind of thing! I really must commend you for doing that.

    Anyways, I’m pretty sure I mentioned this before but, again – I adore this. And you. 😛

    • Thank you so much. I’m glad it makes sense. I don’t always plan out how the characters will react to things, I just let it develop as I write, and it’s nice to know that things are plausible. I like realism and I think fictional emotional trauma is fascinating and underutilized. (I specify ‘fictional’ because real emotional trauma is terrible and no one should have to suffer through it, but in fiction it’s okay, lol)

      I read a bit of writer’s advice somewhere (I can’t remember where) that said to trust the reader. The reader is smart and can figure things out, and they get more enjoyment out of the story when they do figure things out on their own, as opposed to having the author spell everything out for them. So that’s what I try to do.

      Thanks. I do have two WIP stories that I feel bad for abandoning, so I’m trying my best to at least keep this one on schedule.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! The support of the fans is one thing that keeps me motivated to keep writing. 🙂

  2. ChoresToDo permalink

    Oh, forgot to mention…I laughed SO HARD when Reese went straight to kissing the heck out of Finch in front of Carter and Fusco. I would’ve reacted the same way…okay, wait, no, I would’ve reacted the same way as the waitress in the restaurant did.

  3. deliacerrano permalink

    Oh I am so enjoying this story! I agree with “ChoresToDo” that Reese is feeling that he may be loosing control which is a big no no for him. especially with Finch involved & hurt. And yes an author who keeps posting until story is done, & on the time they said yet, is an angel!

  4. Anonymous permalink

    I agree completely with “chores” and “deliacerrano”. You are right on with the moods and motives. Thanks for doing such a great job and updating so regularly. I love, love, love this story!!

  5. Plink42 permalink

    While I agree with what others have said about Reese losing control, I think he doesn’t want to show his injuries because it’d be admitting to past mistakes and weaknesses. Those are things he barely admits to Finch and definitely would not like admitting to anyone else.

    So, Snow is coming back. The man is a cockroach in so many ways.

    I don’t want this story to end. It’s my soap opera fix, and I don’t even watch soaps! 😀

    • That’s a very good point. These injuries especially, because they were inflicted to induce trauma, and he doesn’t want to admit that he is traumatized. These wounds are physical proof that what happened was real and he won’t be able to pretend that everything’s okay.

      I think you may be surprised when Snow does return, lol.

      It’s got a ways to go before the end. 🙂

  6. rainiejanie permalink

    Great chapter!

    I agree with Plink, that Reese thinks showing his wounds to anyone (except maybe bullet wounds) means showing his weaknesses.

    You brought Tillman back. Yay! 😀

    • Thank you!

      I think you’re right. 🙂

      She’s one of my favorites. I hope they bring her back on the show.

  7. Wonderful, as always! LOVED when Reese kissed Finch in front of the others. 😉 And how great to have Dr. Tillman take care of both of them!

    Fave line: “Aww, isn’t that sweet,” Reese said. “Carter, it looks like someone has a crush on you.”
    Reese’s comment about finding the biggest human shield was pretty funny, too! 😀

    Okay, nitpicky things: “hooked up the IV, but now…oxygen tube under his nose” > “hooked up TO the IV” and missing period at the end.
    Carter takes her coffee “cream, no sugar” – I remember from one of the episodes where she was grilling Fusco when he got a call from Reese to meet him at the coffee stand outside.

    I agree with everyone else: you are AMAZING for sticking to your self-imposed deadlines! I truly admire your discipline!! Thank you so much for providing us all with our much-needed POI fix!

    • Thank you! I just have at least one big, romantic kiss in front of witnesses. Although I think the one in ‘Surveillance’ is better. 🙂

      Thanks so much for catching that. You know, I watched that part just a couple of days ago, which is what prompted me to put it in the story. I can’t believe I remembered it wrong, lol. Oh well. Instead of just fixing it, I did a little creative rewriting. 😉

      Thanks so much! I feel bad for abandoning Empathy and Wish, so I’m trying my best to keep this one on schedule, at least.

      • ANY kiss between our two guys is hawt! 😉

        Very creative! I can totally see Fusco doing that!! 😀

        Gah, don’t mention such things… I have a sci-fi fic that’s been abandoned for over two years… :p

  8. ““Aww, isn’t that sweet,” Reese said. “Carter, it looks like someone has a crush on you.”” Daw. ^.^ A fat joke? Really John? XD ““It was nice knowing you, Carter.” “Shut up, Fusco,” she said, but there was no malice in her tone.” Those two are so cute. 🙂 Gotta love Team BA. 😉 lol, I like Reese’s burn. Poor cops and their salary. XD I love Carter and Fusco’s reaction in Finch’s room and how Reese shut him up before he said anything he’d regret. 🙂 lol, poor Dr. Tillman. XD She can’t catch a break. 😉

  9. I seri0usly can’t wait f0r the next chapter…! Every chapter y0u write is amazing and suspenseful… I feel f0r Reese… I just h0pe Finch can help him thr0ugh it all and maybe if Reese c0nfr0nts Sn0w it will help him… Keep up the amazing w0rk!!

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