A/N: In episode 3.02 “Nothing to Hide,” Finch gets hit on the head and Reese gets shot. Hurt/Comfort (no smut, sorry)
When Reese offered Shaw the first taxi he managed to flag down, she shrugged.
“You need it more than I do. Besides, I think I’ll walk home tonight.”
Reese’s eyebrows rose instinctively, but when Shaw started walking down the sidewalk, he got into the car with a groan and gave the driver a corner not far from his apartment. Shaw was right; he did need it more than she did. Although the state-of-the-art vest Finch insisted he wear on assignments now had done its job, every new injury seemed to take longer to heal. Reese wondered how much longer he would be able to go on his dangerous assignments. Then he shook his head ruefully — he must be feeling old to even consider retiring; he had always hoped to go out with a bang, guns blazing, not set out to pasture like a worn-out horse.
Finch had left the library earlier, also on foot, but after paging his driver to pick him up at the usual spot. Reese had urged him to have his neck looked at to make sure the recent trauma hadn’t exacerbated the old, but Finch had pulled a face.
“While I appreciate your concern, John, they wouldn’t do anything at the hospital other than what I’ve already done — namely, keeping it iced and elevated. I’ll be all right.”
Finch had instructed both Reese and Shaw to meet him at a park late the next morning for a final debriefing, then limped down the stairs with Bear in tow. The two operatives had stayed in the library, Shaw watching while Reese efficiently cleaned and reloaded his weapon, before they followed Finch out.
It occurred to Reese as the cab neared his apartment that Shaw might have lingered in the hopes of tailing him. She had attempted to tail Finch with the same success as Reese had on his first try; she could have switched her target to Reese. Mulling this over, he decided that there was not much for Shaw to gain by finding his apartment. It was about as impersonal a space as he could make it (aside from the closet stocked with a small cache of weapons) and it wasn’t as though he kept the things he cared about there.
If she had followed him, Reese couldn’t spot her as he walked the few blocks home. Of course, he wouldn’t expect to notice her, since she had been as thoroughly trained as he had himself. But he didn’t get that prickle on the back of his neck as the hairs stood on end, the feeling of being watched by a malevolent entity, which he usually got when being tailed. Shrugging off his concerns, he entered his apartment, took a quick shower, and eased his sore body into bed.
What bothered him more than his broken rib was the guilt and self-blame he was inflicting on himself over having left Finch alone with Kruger. Finch was not trained in self-defense and could not be expected to handle a man who chose physical violence to get past him. Bear would not have attacked Kruger unless his intentions became clear, and even then the dog would have been confused since his masters had introduced him to the man as a non-threat entity. Reese gritted his teeth and added to his already-long list of do’s and don’ts: Never leave Finch unguarded with a Number. Never allow Finch to meet a Number in person unless absolutely necessary. Never forget to give Bear the command to stand guard when leaving Finch in the canine’s care.
With such thoughts swirling ceaselessly in his mind, Reese could not fall asleep. He checked the clock and wondered if it were too late to call Finch and see how he was doing. After grabbing his cell and arguing with himself, he decided to just call — Finch would have turned off his cell if he didn’t want to be disturbed. To Reese’s relief, Finch answered on the first ring.
“How’re you feeling?”
“Like I had a cheap replica vase broken on my head.”
“Would it have felt any better if it was an expensive original?”
“No… I suppose it would have felt worse. Small favors. How are you feeling?”
After a pause Reese answered, “Stupid. I should’ve never left you there with Kruger.”
“Please don’t beat yourself up over that, John — I should have been more on my guard. He’d already tried to call his office; I should have realized that he didn’t comprehend the gravity of his situation.”
Reese pursed his lips for a moment. “Guess some people have to find out the hard way.”
“Is it awful that I don’t feel bad he’s dead?”
There was a brief intake of breath before Finch replied, “What makes you say that?”
“He hit you, Harold. A part of me feels like… I dunno, like I’d deliberately let down my guard with Collier so he could kill Kruger.”
“Good gracious,” Finch murmured. “Don’t do that to yourself, John — that way lies madness. You were distracted by Mr. Sommers and did an admirable job of talking him out of violence. And Collier shot you, too, as I’m sure you’re painfully aware.”
Reese grimaced at that. “Yeah… I guess. And if I’d decided to give Kruger what he deserved, I wouldn’t have let him die so easily.”
“Honestly, John! I was only out for a few minutes. Although if I hadn’t been, I might have been able to triangulate Collier’s phone in time to warn you and kept you from getting shot.”
“Don’t, Harold. Don’t blame yourself for that.”
“But I do, John. Just like you’re blaming yourself for Kruger.” There was a long pause filled with meaning. Both men understood by now how very similar they were, how alike they were in processing the casualties they witnessed. “For the record, though,” Finch resumed, “I don’t feel very badly about Mr. Kruger’s demise, either.”
Reese grinned. “Well, at least that’s one weight off my mind.”
“Is it enough to let you sleep tonight?”
“I don’t know,” he answered, drawing out his reply. “I think I might need someone to tuck me in… maybe sing me a lullaby….”
“You want me to come over?”
“Are you feeling up to it?”
Finch considered this before responding, “I don’t think I’ll get much sleep on my own here, anyway. Bear keeps coming over to check on me, like he’s afraid something might happen to me again.”
Reese made a face; it seemed he and Finch were not the only ones suffering the aftereffects of guilt.
“Come over,” Reese whispered into the cell. “I know I’ll rest easier if you’re here with me, and Bear might too.”
“Okay. I’ll be there in a bit.”
As he waited for Finch to arrive, Reese realized that he was already relaxing more, breathing easier. He went to the upper level storage area to find a pair of Finch’s pajamas and laid them out on the bed. Then he retrieved a bag of frozen peas (bought specifically for this purpose) and wrapped a hand towel around it before setting it on Finch’s pillow. He stood by the window to watch the darkened neighborhood until a familiar black car pulled into a spot a discreet distance down the street. He could make out Bear’s tail wagging in anticipation as they neared his building. The smile that crept into his exhausted face was genuine.
He opened the door before Finch had a chance to knock. Bear rubbed himself against Reese’s legs while the two men gingerly embraced.
“You do realize,” Finch said, leaning against Reese’s uninjured chest, “that neither of us is in any shape for certain… activities.”
“I know,” Reese answered as he tightened his arms around Finch’s middle. “Just… sleep.”
“Mmm… perchance to dream….”
They finally broke apart and Finch gathered his pajamas, shuffling into the bathroom to change, while Reese brought Bear’s bed over by his. He was still scratching Bear absentmindedly when Finch padded out.
“You should keep Bear overnight sometimes,” Finch said. “He’s happier with you, the alpha male.”
Reese shook his head. “Then who would protect you?” He stood up, making sure Bear was satisfied and settling into his cushion, before pulling back the covers for Finch. “If you want me to spend more quality time with Bear, you’ll have to come along for the ride. I’m not leaving you unprotected.”
“Package deal, is it?” Finch responded, a wry smile forming on his lips.
“Package deal,” Reese affirmed.
Finch gratefully adjusted the bag of frozen peas under his neck as he lay down, and Reese slipped in from the other side, trying not to jostle the bed for his partner’s sake. When they had both settled in, as comfortable as they could get with their respective injuries, their hands met in the middle and their fingers entwined.
The three were asleep within a few breaths’ time.
The next morning Reese awoke to the sound of his lock being picked. As he reached for the gun under his pillow, Bear crept over to the door, hackles raised. When Shaw walked in with a box of doughnuts, however, both of them relaxed. Reese had halfway expected it, after all, and Bear could smell the pastries.
“Good morning, Sleeping Beauties,” Shaw said brusquely. “Brought you some breakfast.”
Finch started and grasped Reese’s t-shirt, causing the younger man to grunt in pain.
“Oh! I am so sorry, John….”
Shaw rolled her eyes as she stalked into the kitchen to make coffee.
“Don’t know why you made such a big secret about it; it’s not the fucking Dark Ages, you know — I don’t care if you’re gay or strip-teasing transvestites,” Shaw grumbled just loud enough for the blushing men to hear.
“Well, in that case,” Reese murmured and leaned down over Finch until their lips touched.