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Damaged – Ch. 31

Regretting his decision not to bother putting on underwear before they went out to dinner, Reese stepped back through the curtain wearing nothing but the hospital gown. At least it wasn’t one of those cheap ones that hung open in the back. It had little snaps to keep it closed, although judging by the draft on his ass, he might have missed one. He had his clothes folded and bundled under one arm, his gun hidden inside the folds of his jacket, but within easy reach.

Dr. Tillman was just finishing up with Finch, putting the last neat, black suture in place. He watched her dab antibiotic ointment along the suture line, then cover it with a sterile gauze bandage. She did the same for the open wound on the front of his thigh, then covered him back up.

“They’re getting a room ready for you,” she said. “It shouldn’t be much longer.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Finch said. He sounded sleepy.

Dr. Tillman turned to Reese. “All right, let me see that knee.”

Reese didn’t think it looked that bad – he’d certainly survived worse – but the good doctor insisted that she put a couple of stitches in it. He sat silently, watching as she washed, numbed, sterilized, and sewed the flesh back together.

“So…” she said as he clipped the last thread and began to bandage him. “Your friend said that you’d been…tortured?”

“When did he say that?” Reese asked, trying to suppress the anger that flared inside him. What else had he told her?

“This morning,” she said. “He called to ask me about a drug.” She finished placing the bandage and looked up at him, her eyes filled with concern. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” he said, his voice tight.

“You don’t seem fine,” she replied. “You seem very angry, like a completely different man from the one who saved me.”

“It’s been a long year.”

She sighed and changed tactics. “What other injuries do you have?”

Reese just wanted to put his clothes back on and check on Finch – he was the one who’d been shot, he was the one who needed care, not Reese – but he grudgingly pulled up the bottom of the hospital gown, exposing the wounds on his thigh and calf.

Oh, my God,” Dr. Tillman whispered, her face paling. “What did this?”

“Two, ten-inch metal rods driven under the skin and attached to an electrical source,” Reese said, trying to look at it as through it were someone else’s body. “So you see, there’s really nothing you can do.”

“I’m going to write you a prescription for antibiotics,” she said, pulling her pad out of her jacket pocket. “And you’re going to take them. If those get infected, it could kill you. Are you in a lot of pain?”

“Not really,” Reese said. “The electricity killed a lot of the nerve endings.”

“What about the burns?” Finch asked, his voice soft.

“Not now, Harold,” Reese said. He’d thought he was asleep.

“What burns?” Dr. Tillman asked.

“It’s nothing-”

“On his genitals,” Finch said, to Reese’s great horror. “Second degree burns on his scrotum and perineum.”


“He won’t tell you about the sexual assault, either-”

“Harold, would you shut the fuck up!” Reese snapped, the blood rushing, roaring through his ears. If Finch said one more word, Reese was going to shoot him. But Finch didn’t say anything else. He drew a shuddering breath and sobbed.

“Get out,” Dr. Tillman said, pulling aside the curtain between them and the next empty exam area. Reese scooped up his clothes and stormed over to the bed, throwing them down and grabbing his jeans. To hell with them all.

“Oh, no you don’t,” the doctor said, jerking his pants out of his hands. “You sit down and be quiet.”

Reese reached into his clothes and pulled out his gun, pointing it at her. She took a startled step backward, her eyes widening, but then she raised her chin defiantly.

“Are you really going to shoot me, John?” she asked, a slight tremor in her voice.

He didn’t answer. At that moment, he didn’t know, and that scared the hell out of him.

“Sit down,” she said quietly. “I’ll be right back.” She walked back through the curtain and closed it behind her. Reese closed his eyes, his arm starting to shake as he lowered his weapon. He was shaking inside, his chest so tight it was hard to breathe. He tucked his gun back inside his folded jacket and sat down on the bed, cradling his head in his hands. His heart was pounding, his breath coming in little gasps. Was he having a heart-attack?

“It’s all right,” he heard Dr. Tillman say from the other side of the curtain, her voice soft and low.

“He- he yelled at me,” Finch said, and Reese squeezed his eyes shut, his chest aching at the sadness and pain in his voice.

“He didn’t mean it,” Dr. Tillman said. “He’s angry and hurt. He needs help.”

“I don’t know how to help him.”

“Shh, you just rest,” she said. “I’ll do what I can.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

Reese heard the curtain move and looked up, blinking back the moisture that stung his eyes. Dr. Tillman glanced around warily, looking for his gun, probably.

“I don’t want to have to call security,” she said.

“You won’t,” he said. He still felt like he couldn’t catch his breath. She stepped over and he tensed as she put his hand against the side of his neck, checking his pulse.

“Your heart is racing.” She pulled a penlight out of her pocket and flashed it in his eyes. “I think you’re having an anxiety attack. Has this happened before?”

He nodded. “This afternoon, in the bathroom of a restaurant, I thought I saw- thought I saw the man who-” He stopped, unable to continue, and stared down at his hands, watching them shake. His hands never shook. How was he supposed to protect Finch if he couldn’t hold his weapon steady? How would he save the Numbers? What good as he?

“John? John, I want you to look at me. You need to calm down. Take deep breaths.”

He tried, but there just wasn’t enough air. He felt like he was smothering. He had to get out of there. He lunged to his feet, pushing past the doctor as she grabbed for his arm.

“John, wait!”


Reese froze at the sound of Finch’s voice. He pushed though the curtain that separated them, hesitantly approaching Finch’s bedside.

“Harold, I’m so sorry,” he whispered.

“It’s okay,” Finch said, reaching out toward him. His hand shook, too, but he gripped Reese’s hand with surprising strength. “It’s going to be all right,” Finch said with doped-up naiveté. “We’re going to get through this.”

“How? I can’t protect you – I can’t protect anyone. You need to find someone else-”

“No,” Finch said, and for a moment, it seemed like the fog had lifted. “There is no one else, no one like you. It’s going to take time, but you’ll get better. I’m sorry, I didn’t do the right thing for you, I didn’t help. I tried. I thought holding you would be enough. I thought waiting for you to choose to talk to me was the right thing. I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” Reese said. “None of this is your fault.” But it didn’t matter what Reese said, Finch would blame himself, and that wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair. Reese leaned down and kissed him, tasting salt on his lips, but he wasn’t sure which of them was crying. Maybe both of them.

Finch reached up, touching his face, wiping at his cheeks, and Reese felt his body relax, his heart rate slow. He could breathe again. When he finally drew back, he had stopped shaking.

“You did help me, Harold,” he said. “You’re the only one who can.” He glanced through the open curtain, where Dr. Tillman was sitting, waiting patiently. Reese drew a slow breath and let it back out. “I’m going to go talk to the doctor now. You rest.”

“I love you, John.”

Reese leaned down and kissed him again. “I love you, too.” Returning to the adjacent area, he closed the curtain behind him. “I’m sorry, Doctor.”

When she looked up at him, she gave him a small, tired smile. “You don’t have to apologize. Do you want to sit down and talk for a minute?”

“Not really,” Reese said, “but I think I better.”

“Would you be more comfortable talking to someone else? A rape councilor, or a male doctor?”

Reese flinched at the word rape. “No. I don’t want anyone else to know. And I wasn’t raped.”

“Oh. I’m sorry, your friend said sexual assault-”

“It wasn’t rape,” Reese said again, his tone clipped as he felt that now familiar pressure start to build in his chest again. He took several slow breaths until it went away.

“All right, why don’t you tell me what happened, then?”

Reese didn’t want to do that, either, but Finch needed him to get better. “It was an old friend of mine. Mark. We worked together. Then I quit. My bosses didn’t like that and they sent him to bring me back. He’s been after me for months and it got personal. He caught Harold and to keep Mark from hurting him, I traded myself. Once Mark had me, he tortured me with electricity, but I wouldn’t tell him anything, so he injected me with some drug. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t fight him. He put me on the bed and- and he- he-” He choked on the words, the cold, ugly truth too obvious to deny any longer. “Oh, fuck, he raped me.” He felt like he was going to be sick. His eyes stung again, but he blinked until it stopped.

“John,” Dr. Tillman said quietly, “I’m going to ask you some questions. If you answer them honestly, I won’t have to examine you. All right?”

He nodded.

“Tears in the lining of your rectum can be very dangerous. It can allow bacteria to get into your bloodstream. Have you had a bowel movement since this happened?”


“Did you clean yourself up afterward?”

“I showered.”

“Did you notice any bleeding?”


“Are you in a lot of pain?”

“No. A little,” he amended when she looked skeptical. “I was taught how to disconnect from the physical, to ignore discomfort. My ass is sore, but it doesn’t hurt, not like…not like he ripped me open or anything.”

“The Tericuronium that he gave you acts as a paralytic, a neuromuscular-blocking compound. It would have prevented your anal sphincter from tightening. Because you couldn’t fight him, the physical injury was probably minimal. I really should examine you…but I won’t. Just promise me that you’ll take the antibiotics and a stool softener, and that you’ll see a doctor immediately if you start feeling sick.”

“I will, Dr. Tillman, I promise,” Reese said, relieved. “Thank you.”

“Oh, and Harold said something about second-degree burns?”

Reese nodded. “Will you be needing to examine those?”

“As long as there’s no numbness or swelling of the area, it should be fine. I’ll get you a cream to help with the pain and keep the skin soft.”

“Thank you,” Reese said again.

Dr. Tillman stood up and tucked her hands in the pockets of her white coat. “I could give you the information for several support groups, but something tells me you won’t go to any of them. Will you talk to Harold, at least? It’s obvious that he cares for you a great deal.”

“Yes,” Reese said, nodding. “I will.”

“All right. You can get dressed and go back and wait with him. Someone should be coming to move him to a room soon.”

Reese watched her leave, then began putting his clothes back on. He wasn’t sure if having to talk about things had something to do with it, but it seemed like every movement hurt, the weight of his clothes making his skin ache. He pulled his shoes on, tucked his gun into his waistband at the small of his back, and picked up his coat. He stepped through the curtain to find a nurse disconnecting Finch from the monitors and oxygen tube. She looked over at him, clearly surprised.

“Excuse me? Can I help you?”

“I’m with him,” Reese said.

“Oh. I was just about to move him to his room.”

“I’ll follow you, if that’s all right.”

She nodded and pulled Finch’s bed out into the hall between curtained areas. They made their way through the maze of the emergency room and to an elevator. Up four floors and down another labyrinthine corridor, and they arrived at a private room with a view of several nice buildings. Reese went straight to the window and analyzed the security. There was a hotel across the street with any number of windows suitable for snipers. He drew the shade and returned to Finch’s bedside as the nurse helped him move from the ER bed to a larger, more comfortable hospital bed. She replaced the pillows around him, brought him a fresh gown to finish changing into, since he was still wearing his dress shirt and undershirt, and asked him what he’d like for dinner.

“Gulab jamun,” he replied with a sleepy smile.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I don’t think the cafeteria has that. Today we have roast beef and potatoes, turkey and gravy, or vegetarian lasagna.”

“We had actually just finish eating when he was injured,” Reese said. “I think he’s going to sleep for a while now.”

“All right,” the nurse said. She showed them the call button and the phone, and how to adjust the bed, and then she finally left. Alone with Finch, Reese could finally breathe again, the muscles along his shoulders slowly relaxing. He pulled a comfortable chair over beside the bed and helped Finch change his clothes. It was a bit like changing Leila, he thought with a small smile, the drugs in Finch’s system compromising his motor control.

“Is this why you never take pain pills, Finch?” Reese asked, sliding his hands underneath the older man to do up the snaps.

“Mm-hm,” Finch hummed, giving a slight nod. “Nathan said I was a cheap date because I always got drunk so fast. Pills do the same thing to me, and I hate being like this.” The medication must have been wearing off, for him to be so aware of his current state. Reese cupped his cheek and leaned down, kissing him softly.

“Don’t worry, Harold, I didn’t let you say anything you’ll regret.”

“Sorry for telling Dr. Tillman about your-”

“That’s okay,” Reese said quickly, not wanting to discuss it again. Not for a while, anyway. “Why don’t you get some sleep now. it’s been a long day.”

“You need to sleep, too,” Finch said, catching Reese’s sleeve and giving it a tug.

Reese motioned to the chair. “I will.”

“No. With me,” Finch said, patting the bed in front of him as he lay on his side. Reese hesitated. It was a big bed, but if he moved in his sleep, if he hurt Finch…

“Maybe I shouldn’t.”

“Please, John.”

Reese caved. He just couldn’t say no to the man. Setting his coat on the chair, he kicked off his shoes and stretched out on the bed beside Finch, their faces just inches apart. Finch reached out and took his hand, a soft sigh escaping him as his eyes closed. Reese smiled and let himself relax, falling asleep with their fingers entwined.

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  1. farmgirl1964 permalink

    Incredible job…as always! I love the way Finch is so concerned that it finds it’s way through the meds. I really liked Dr. Tillman, too. Thanks for bringing her back into the mix. Also, thanks for making the stitches black. It’s a tiny detail, I know but you are so, so excellent with the details!!

  2. Gah, it’s too late to be reading something like this. I’m about to cry and I haven’t come across a story that has made me feel like that for a long time. Honestly, how do you do it? You update on time, you create characterizations that dig underneath the skin of most likely every reader that comes across this, and you formulate step by step plot devices that merely serves to emphasize how wonderful this story is. And the romance between these two is so beautifully crafted – sappy and yet, classic.

    Anyways, I wish I had something to critique on or…well, something to describe on here…but my mind won’t let me wedge anything else in but the words of your story. I can’t wait for your next update, I really am excited already!

  3. Plink 42 permalink

    Poor Reese. Finch is going to make him talk about it even if it kills both of them. (That’s probably a bad choice of words, but you get my meaning.)

    Dr. Tillman is do unflappable. Makes me wonder if she’s had a gun pulled on her before. Of course it is a New York hospital, do maybe she has.

    That last scene! I almost can’t breathe because of the lump in my throat. Let the recovery begin (I hope).

  4. deliacerrano permalink

    Your story is so professionally done – plot, characters, & writing – that it is a joy to read. I’m crazy about Finch & Reese as a couple and you write them just as I wish they were.

  5. lol. Never go commando. XD
    OMG, Finch. Reese, don’t be an asshole to him. 😦 *gives Finch and Reese both a mental hug*
    Aw, I miss Leila. She was a cutie pie. 😀
    D’awww. So cute how they fell asleep. ^.^
    Thanks for the update. 😀

  6. rainiejanie permalink

    Awwww. Poor Reese. Poor Finch. Tho I loved picturing the last scene. Wish Reese would snuggle with me.

    Loved how Tillman didn’t let Reese scare her. You tell ’em sister!

    Happy Birthday Michael Emerson! 😀 (Just thought I’d throw that in.)

  7. Awww… How hard it would be for Reese to admit anything, but I’m glad you had him get professional help (at least for the physical injuries). So poignant how getting yelled at made Finch cry, which then brought Reese back to his senses. They are so perfect for each other!

    Fave line: “Nathan said I was a cheap date” XD (Imagining Reese tensing up at that line, LOL!) Also LOL-ed when Finch asked for Indian food.

    Nitpicks: “she said as he clipped the last thread” — “she” again
    “Two, ten-inch metal rods driven under the skin and attached to an electrical source,” Reese said, trying to look at it as through it were someone else’s body. — No comma needed after “Two” and “as though it were”
    “What good as he?” — “was”
    “He felt like he was smothering.” — “was being smothered” in this case
    “He pushed though the curtain that separated them” — “through”
    “must have been wearing off, for him to be” — no comma needed
    “it’s been a long day.” — “It’s”
    I don’t think you need a hyphen in “heart attack” any more than “panic attack” but that’s dealer’s choice.

    Thanks for yet another wonderful installment! After a 12-hour workday, I really needed my POI fix!!

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