Absence ~ Chapter 5

Finch carefully stepped over the side of the tub after testing the water temperature. Sharp pain shot through his injured hip for a moment but he shifted his weight onto his left hand, gripping the rim, and managed to hoist himself over. He sighed in relief as the hot water surged around his exhausted body. Although the tub was not yet completely filled, he couldn’t wait any longer to get clean. Finding the new bar of soap Reese had set out for him, Finch started scrubbing his skin with relish, feeling as though somehow the unpleasantness of the past few days could be washed away along with the sweat and dirt.

There had been horror, too – a deep, gut-wrenching horror as Weeks (despite the fact that Finch had given him the knife to get free) had pointed the gun at him; and as dastardly as the man had proven to be, it had been horrifying to watch Root murder him in cold blood. She had done the same to Corwin without so much as turning a hair. Finch now knew what a ruthless, remorseless killer looked like – crazy as well, if brilliant in her own way, but all the more dangerous. He steamed his face with the washcloth, inhaling the hot, moist air and letting it out slowly, trying to relax.

He turned off the faucet when the water rose to a few inches from the lip, then lay back to soak. He reminded himself that he was safe now: he was back in New York, he was with Reese, and the Machine had not been compromised. He worried about Root having heard that the Machine could be reprogrammed on-site, but he hoped she would not be able to find where that site was. Even if she did, he was confident that his encryption was impossible for anyone – even a gifted programmer like her – to crack. He’d managed to foil her last-ditch attempt to shoot the station security guard. Perhaps not all was right with the world but, for the moment at least, it was safe. He could rest.

It occurred to him that he would be resting in Reese’s apartment tonight – perhaps for the next few nights. He remembered how he had agonized over selecting the right bed for his tall partner, shopping at several stores and finally deciding on one of the largest ones available, then outfitting it with a firm pillow-top mattress which offered both support and comfort. He wondered (not for the first time) if it had been a good choice for Reese, if the man liked it as much as he had hoped he would. He realized that the chance to ask him – off-handedly, of course – might arise sometime during the course of his stay.

And then he also realized that he had only purchased the one bed for the apartment.

“Well, knowing John, he’ll probably offer me the bed and sleep on the couch himself,” Finch reasoned. “Or I could offer to take the couch, since he’s no doubt worked himself ragged trying to find me. That’s what I ought to do, even though it would be rather hard on my body… but at least it’s better than being strapped to a chair.”

He knew his restraints hadn’t been that bad, relatively speaking, but it was a great relief to be able to scratch one’s nose whenever it itched. He finished washing and was waiting for the bathwater to drain when there were two quiet knocks on the door.

“John?” he anxiously asked, covering his chest with the washcloth instinctively. The door opened a crack and Reese’s arm snaked in to deposit a pair of black socks on the counter.

“I’ll have your shirt ready in a few minutes,” Reese told Finch before closing the door.

Finch showered off, cleaning the tub in the process, and silently thanked Reese for thinking of clean socks. He was planning on picking up the spare socks, shirts, and suits he kept at the library, so he hadn’t thought to buy socks at the bodega earlier. This pair looked and felt brand new, which made Finch wonder if they were one of Reese’s spares or if the man had gone out on his “errands” just to buy them for him. Either way, the simple gesture almost made him weep; it was nice to be cared for, and not by a sociopath. Giving himself a mental shake – blaming his emotional state on exhaustion – Finch self-consciously stepped out of the bathroom in only his underwear and, of course, the clean pair of socks.

What greeted him was a sight that almost made him forget his half-clad condition: Reese was ironing his shirt. From the practiced way his hands moved, forming crisp creases along the sleeves, Finch realized that the talented former operative must have been ironing his own shirts all along. Finch paid his cleaners (several stores, in fact) top dollar for the service.

“It’s still hot. You can wear my bathrobe until it cools down,” Reese said as he hung the shirt on the back of a chair and pointed at the bed where his bathrobe was laid out. “Let me take a look at your hand.”

Finch had removed the surface bandages before taking his bath, but there was one layer of taped gauze (now wet) still covering the butterfly closures. After Finch had wrapped himself in the soft, navy-blue robe, Reese removed the gauze carefully and inspected the row of tape strips holding the wound closed. Finch felt a thrill travel up and down his spine at the warm touch of Reese’s hands, holding his so the man could inspect the cut. Reese nodded with satisfaction and headed into the bathroom.

“Looks good. I’ll just put some ointment on it before wrapping it up.”

Finch opened his mouth to say he could do that much himself, but something made him hesitate. It would be easier to have Reese wrap it, of course; he could not hope to wrap it himself with one hand, or at least not neatly; so he might as well have Reese apply the antiseptic cream, too. He allowed the taller man to do so without comment, although he felt the same shiver head straight down into his groin again as Reese very gently daubed the salve along the red, sensitive line on his skin. His cock strained against the fabric of his new briefs, making him flush and swallow hard, hoping that Reese would not notice.

“There’s water in the kettle – it should be close to boiling. I picked up some of your tea while I was out,” Reese mentioned as he wrapped fresh bandages around Finch’s hand with deft movements.

“That’s… very thoughtful of you, Mr. Reese. A spot of tea sounds… absolutely wonderful,” Finch confessed.

“I’m gonna catch a quick shower, too, if you don’t mind. I won’t be long.” With the hint of a wry smile at the corners of his mouth, Reese added, “Make yourself at home.”

When the bathroom door closed behind Reese and the shower turned on, Finch tried not to imagine Reese standing in the tub, naked and with soap suds trailing down his wet body. Giving himself another mental shake, Finch shuffled over to the kitchen and found that Reese had, indeed, bought his favorite brand of loose-leaf tea along with a strainer. Filling a mug with the steaming brew, he padded over to the couch, which had been turned around to face the large windows, and sat down to face the view.

The building across the way was rented out to small businesses, with stores on the ground floor, so there were no lights on – and no prying eyes – at this time of night. Finch tried removing one of the seat back cushions of the couch and assessed the width available for sleeping on: narrow, but not uncomfortably so. He needn’t feel overly gallant for offering to take it nor excessively indebted to Reese if the other man insisted he take the bed. If he could just be sure that the computer system at the library hadn’t been tampered with, he would be able to sleep well tonight. He was exhausted, his nerves had been frayed from too much nervous excitement, and if his last worry were laid to rest, then so could he.

He took a few more sips of the tea before getting back up to get dressed. He was still buttoning his shirt when Reese emerged from the bathroom, already fully clothed. After bringing Finch’s suit to him, Reese rummaged in his closet and pulled out what looked like a gym bag.

“For your clothes,” he explained, offering the bag to Finch.

“Thank you, but I have a suitcase at the library.”

“Let’s go then,” Reese said with a grin.


 

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13 Comments

  1. Many thanks to rainiejanie for the lovely mental imagery! 😉

    Reply
  2. managerie

     /  2012/10/17

    Love this series.

    Reply
  3. Plink 42

     /  2012/10/17

    Whew! Lots of bathtub action, though none of it together. (Only downside. ;)) Of course Reese can iron a shirt. How else could he look so put together? He’d make a wonderful husband. *big grin*

    More soon please!

    Reply
  4. rainiejanie

     /  2012/10/17

    I almost SOL’s (squeed out loud) when I read Finch’s little fantasy. I got credit in a story! *flails like Kermit the Frog* Thank you for that. (((hugs)))

    Reply
  5. deliacerrano

     /  2012/10/17

    It must be so wonderful to finally be safe and with person who can keep him that way..be
    cared for even pampered which he probably never had much of in his life. By the way, Reese ironing & doing a good job? Priceless!

    Reply
  6. dancingdog

     /  2012/10/18

    it’s here, it’s here…off to read story….
    I have some ironing that needs done here….

    Reply

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