Absence ~ Chapter 6

On the way to the library, Reese talked about the case the Machine had given him before it had helped him track down Root’s roots. Finch listened with as much attention as he could muster in his exhausted state, although he thought of it as nothing more than a work report. For now it was soothing just to let Reese’s soft voice wash over him with the information, and gratifying to hear how he had managed to decrypt the message from the Machine. With detached amusement, he heard about the dog the Aryan Brotherhood had taken in lieu of payment, and he pondered how uniquely fitted for the job Reese had turned out to be. When Reese parked in an alleyway very close to the library, Finch realized it was for his benefit and gratefully entered their stronghold.

When he saw the animal Reese had mentioned earlier actually inside his most valued piece of real estate – inside his inner sanctum, in fact – he was aghast. Even more so to see that the dog had chewed the corners of a rare first edition which he had acquired at great cost, due to its (formerly) pristine condition. But as he observed the frayed edges of the book, damaged beyond repair, Finch reminded himself that it was only an object; just a few hours earlier he had been resigned to his fate, even if it meant death, and had given up any hope of returning to this building. It was a miracle that he was alive at all – a miracle which he owed to Reese’s capability and tenacity – so, with a renewed perspective, he shrugged off the loss.

He also realized that he hadn’t properly thanked Reese for his rescue; his first words upon their reunion had been self-deprecatory at best. Standing up, savoring the familiar smell of books and appreciating anew the gift of life, he called out to his partner, savior, and friend.

“I owe you a debt.”

He would have said more, expressed his gratitude more fully, but Reese’s cell phone rang just then. Even before he heard the female voice or saw the reaction on Reese’s face, Finch had a feeling of dread – a premonition of who it was. After all, who else would be calling Reese at this time of night? Both Carter and Fusco knew that they were back in town, as safe as they could possibly be. When Reese glanced in his direction, his dark eyes filled with concern, Finch knew: Root wasn’t through with them yet.

The threat in Reese’s response to her sent a cold tingling sensation up Finch’s spine, for he knew exactly how deadly the former assassin could be, but at the same time he was comforted to know that the next time, Reese would not hold back. His terror was not quite allayed – not just yet – but he felt safer than he had in what seemed an interminably long time. There was a pause laden with import after Reese disconnected the call. Finch broke it by expelling his breath and limping over to his desk.

“Well. Everything looks to be in order,” he murmured, trying not to let Reese notice the slight trembling of his hands as they danced over the keyboard. He was relieved to see that his system was still intact and his firewalls had not detected any attempts to compromise it.

“I’ll just get Bear settled in,” Reese spoke in a schooledly calm tone. “I’ll try to teach him your books aren’t chew toys, too.”

“I would appreciate that,” Finch answered without looking away from the main monitor. He checked the more in-depth code that would tell him if anybody had tried to access the system and cover their tracks, watching it scroll up with a practiced eye. He could hear Reese talking to the dog – Finch knew enough German to pick up the gist of the monologue – and moving around in the other room, spreading out a blanket for Bear to lie down on. Apparently, Reese had already set out bowls of water and food.

A sudden scrabbling sound made Finch look up in alarm, but it was only the dog chasing a tennis ball, which Reese must have thrown. Bear obediently took it back to Reese and they played fetch for a while. Finch watched them for a long moment, his mind almost blank. It was somehow calming to see Reese just playing with the dog, whispering words of encouragement which Bear lapped up like water. When Reese patted Bear and stood up, Finch barely managed to return his eyes to the screen before Reese caught him staring.

Reese walked up to the desk and picked up the chewed book. Assessing the damage with a grave expression, he returned to Bear and told him, patiently but firmly, that books were not to be chewed. Finch wondered about the effectiveness of his disciplinary tactics when he went right back to petting the dog, but decided against voicing his concerns yet; if Bear destroyed another one, he would insist that Reese use different and more stringent measures.

Reese headed to the bathroom to refill Bear’s water bowl, glancing at Finch’s monitors each time he passed by the desk. The tall man stooped to scratch Bear’s head affectionately one last time, then sauntered back into the office.

“Are we good to go?”

“Yes… everything looks fine, thank God,” Finch replied with almost religious fervor. He had begun shutting down his programs when Reese had walked by, realizing that his partner had spent an exhausting few days, too, and would no doubt like to get some well-deserved rest. Finch was satisfied that he had taken care of all essential business items so he would not have to access the system for another day or two, which he knew he needed to get his body back on track. He simply couldn’t bounce back like he used to. Even now, his joints protested as he stood up from the chair. He was thankful that Reese had enough tact to not offer his arm or anything.

The ride back to the apartment was quiet. Finch was too tired to be nervous, but he did worry whether he should broach the subject of sleeping arrangements or let Reese bring it up. The right moment did not present itself, so he mutely followed Reese into the apartment again. His mind was halfway asleep as he attended to his toilet and changed in the bathroom, but when he put on the garish pajamas they had purchased earlier at the bodega, the colors were so loud that they woke him back up. The green was a bright, yellowish green that made his skin look pasty, and the dragons were printed in gold with purple flames behind them.

“Well, this is certainly… tasteless,” Finch muttered to himself. Not wanting to seem ungrateful, he forced the scowl off of his face before exiting the bathroom. What he saw there made his eyes open wide and his brows shoot skyward: Reese was wearing a matching pair of pajamas, only his had silver dragons with red flames on a field of bright blue.

“That’s a… fresh new look for you, Finch,” Reese remarked dryly, nodding once as though approving.

“It’s certainly… festive,” Finch responded, equally dryly.

“Did I mention that dragons are a symbol of good luck and health in many Asian cultures? They’re also used to ward off evil.”

“Well, then, I should be practically invincible now.”

The wry smirk tugging at the corner of Finch’s mouth suddenly froze as he was enveloped in a crushing embrace. Reese had closed the few feet of distance between them in the blink of an eye to wrap his arms around the smaller man, holding him tightly as though he might try to escape – as if there were anyplace he would rather be than safe in Reese’s care.

Finch felt a warm dampness being pressed against his forehead, and it took his brain a moment to realize that he was being kissed. Repeatedly. Tenderly. Passionately. Reese was kissing him. On his hair, his receding hairline, his temple, his brow. Reese was cupping the back of Finch’s head so that, as he pressed his lips against Finch’s face, he would not put any strain on his old neck injury.

Finch simply gaped at Reese (or rather, at Reese’s shoulder), unsure how to respond, what to do or say. He wasn’t altogether certain that this was really happening, that it wasn’t a dream or hallucination brought on by extreme duress. He had fantasized what it might feel like to be held in Reese’s arms, even to be kissed by him, but he had never in his wildest daydreams expected it to actually happen.

Sensing his confusion, Reese halted his display of affection in favor of holding him with his cheek pressed against his temple. With his lips close to Finch’s ear, Reese drew upon all his courage to whisper three simple words:

“I missed you.”

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  1. Plink 42

     /  2012/10/27

    Awww… but did you have to end it there? I could do with some fluff right now. 😉

    Sounds like those PJs should be arrested for assault & battery on the eyes. 🙂

    • Sorry, I have to go to bed early, too… 😛
      Yes, indeed! But where they’re headed, they probably won’t be wearing them for long… 😉

  2. Mamahub

     /  2012/10/28

    I love the tie-in with Master and Man and Bear!! 🙂

    AND.. matching PJ’s for the win. Plus kissing and hugging – YAY!! Can’t WAIT for the next chapter!!!! 😉

  3. *slowly falls to the ground like a leaf and sighs as she stares at the sky* <- That's what this chapter did to me. ^.^ So cute. Thank you! 😀

  4. rainiejanie

     /  2012/10/28

    Reading the last part of the chapter
    , I really,reeeeeally wished I was Finch. Such lovely fantasy fodder. *slips into daydream mode, do not disturb* 🙂

  5. deliacerrano

     /  2012/10/28

    Lovin it, just lovin it! What a cute idea the wild dragon pj’s were. Losing them soon? Oh for a hidden camera & tape recorder!


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