2. Shopping

They ended up not getting Speedos, much to Finch’s relief, since there was a respectable array of boxer-type swimming trunks at the store. However, before they could leave, Reese insisted that they needed to buy pajamas as well.

“We could buy the hotel’s,” Finch protested, all-too-aware of the store cameras monitoring them.

“Yes, but then people might think you’d stolen them,” was Reese’s glib reply.

What people, Mr. Reese?”

Reese smirked and ignored the question.

“If you’re tired of shopping, I’ll be happy to pick something out for you. Do you prefer tiger-stripes or leopard-prints?”

Begrudgingly, Finch trailed after him to the men’s sleepwear department, where Reese found a display of silk pajamas.

“Wonderful… feel this, Finch – it won’t even seem like you’re wearing anything.”

“Fine. Let’s just get what we need and go.”

“But what color do you want, Finch? Personally, I think you’d look great in this chocolate brown, but if you’d rather have the forest green or midnight blue—”

“Mr. Reese, I don’t care. Nobody is going to see me wearing them, and it hardly matters what color I’m wearing in the dark.”

“Finch, I’m going to see you wearing them,” Reese replied, looking affronted. “But since you have no preference, and I’m the one who’ll have to look at you, I choose brown. I think you’ll look… simply scrumptious in them.”

With a cold sense of dread, Finch realized that there was a sales attendant approaching them, just within earshot. He also knew with certainty that Reese was well aware of the sales clerk’s presence and had deliberately vamped that last bit for his benefit. Feeling a flush creep up his neck, Finch was ready to turn and run – or at least take off at a fast pace – back to the library, but Reese had grabbed his elbow, preventing his escape.

“But what color do you think I should get, Harold?” Reese asked, his voice honeyed and cloyingly sweet. “I got to choose yours, so you choose mine.”

“You can get whatever color you like, John,” Finch deadpanned through tight lips, “as I really have no preference.”

“Blue, then? Yes. Definitely blue,” Reese tittered, checking the tags.

“Can I help you gentlemen find anything?” the clerk broke in, seizing his moment of opportunity.

“Yes! Do you have these in a Tall?” Reese asked, indicating the dark blue pajamas, his soft voice tinged with an effeminate lilt.

“I believe so,” the clerk replied, scurrying to the other side of the table. “Tall, Medium?”

“Perfect!”

Reese took the set the clerk had found, releasing his grip on Finch to do so, and picked up the brown set he had chosen earlier. With a slightly defeated sigh, Finch reached for his wallet.

“Oh, no, Harold!” Reese protested. “Let me get this. Consider it an early Christmas present.”

The way Reese fluttered his hand at him caught Finch off-guard and left him without words.

“After all, you’re paying for the hotel,” Reese asserted as he followed the clerk a few steps over to the cash register. “It’s the least I can do!”

Finch seriously considered fleeing from this new, unexpected Reese. But it was still Reese, after all, who could hunt him down with or without the aid of surveillance cameras. And he would really hate to have to move all of his equipment from the library to a new location. Plus, it was doubtful that he would ever find another man with such perfect qualifications for the job.

Besides, I have already paid for the hotel, Finch thought dryly to himself as Reese turned to him with a bright smile, holding the shopping bag with their new acquisitions.


“Would you mind explaining what that was all about?” Finch demanded as levelly as he could once they were out of the men’s department. Thankfully, Reese did not even attempt to play dumb.

“We need a cover story, don’t we?” he replied, back to his usual self. “Two guys, staying at a hotel? I simply chose the obvious one.”

“I see.” Finch pondered the situation for a moment before remarking, “I’ll have to add that to the rest of your many talents.”

“What, being charming?” Reese prodded with a devilish look.

“You may call it that,” Finch said tonelessly, refusing to be baited.

“By the way, what name did you make the reservation under?” Reese asked, deciding to switch to business.

“Harold Smith.”

Smith?

“Yes. Why?”

“Just that everyone will know it’s an alias. But I suppose it would have to be…”

As Reese let his words trail off with no explanation, Finch finally took the bait.

“Why would it have to be an alias?”

“Isn’t it obvious? You’re a successful businessman, perhaps a man of some influence and consequence in the world. You’re booking a hotel room with another man. Clearly, you’re having a clandestine affair – something you don’t want your wife and children to find out about. Possibly even your constituents.”

They exited the store and Reese stepped to the curb to hail a cab. Once inside, he waited for Finch to give the driver the hotel name before resuming their conversation.

“Of course you wouldn’t make the reservation under your real name. Do you have any idea how easily someone could do a search on the internet and find you out? You could be blackmailed, or worse!”

The irony of this statement made Finch’s mouth twitch in what almost resembled a smile.

“Is that so? It seems you’ve spent a fair amount of time considering such things.”

“I have, Harold. Everyone ought to, really – it’s not like the government is going to protect our privacy, right? By the way, did you get a room with a Jacuzzi?”

Feeling slightly whiplashed by the sudden change in topics, Finch answered, “No. The only rooms with a Jacuzzi in-suite were the honeymoon suites. I reserved us adjacent rooms with a shared living room, but there is a Jacuzzi by the pool.”

“Well, for the record, Harold,” Reese smiled demurely, placing his hand on the other man’s knee, “I wouldn’t have minded the honeymoon suite.”

Finch’s lips parted in surprise. The cab driver could barely speak English, so he knew Reese wasn’t putting on the gay act for his benefit. Or was he? Now he was completely confused.

“And here we are,” Reese announced as the cab came to an abrupt stop in front of their hotel.


The suite was luxurious by any standard, with white furniture and walls painted a soothing pale green.

“Oh, good choice,” Reese murmured. “Perfect for a spa vacation.”

“I’m glad you approve,” Finch replied, moving over to the window and peering out to make sure that there were no cameras trained on it.

“Good idea,” Reese agreed, and went around the room checking the lamps, phones, clocks, and other nooks and crannies for hidden surveillance devices. “It’s clean,” was his final assessment.

“It should be, for how much they’re charging,” Finch commented from deep within one of the plush, overstuffed chairs. That alone was a welcome change from his desk chair. “There should be a menu, somewhere, of the spa services they offer here.”

“Harold, Harold, Harold,” Reese clucked, returning to the living room and shrugging off his jacket. “What do you need them for when you have me? And I won’t even ask for a bonus, I promise!”

“Oh,” Finch responded, slightly taken aback. “When you said a spa retreat, I simply assumed—”

“That was very thoughtful of you, but there’s no need to spend more money than you have to. Besides, I don’t think the type of shiatsu they offer here could hold a torch to what I can do. And I’m more than happy to do it.”

“So, uh… what now?”

“Now, Harold, I think we should check out their pool and Jacuzzi. I need you to relax a bit before we get to work on those knots.” Reese reached into the shopping bag and handed Finch his new swimming trunks. “They have bathrobes in the closets, and I saw that there’s a back elevator to go down to the pool and gym.”


Finch felt exposed walking down the hall in nothing but swimming trunks, slippers, and a bathrobe, but was glad that they had changed in the suite rather than in the locker room, where there was no privacy whatsoever. Once out in the pool area, he was even more relieved to see that they were the only ones there.

“Wow! We have this whole place to ourselves,” Reese said with unfeigned delight, languidly stretching his arms above his head. Finch could not help but stare at the toned muscles on the other man’s back (actually, over all of his body) and wish he had done more push-ups on a regular basis. He attempted to stretch, as much as his injuries would allow, and realized that he had lost some range of motion which he had once worked hard to regain with physical therapy.

This will never do, he chastised himself, vowing to create and stick to an exercise regimen.

Reese was fiddling with the controls on the Jacuzzi, testing the strength of the jets with his hand.

“That should do. Any harder and it would be counterproductive,” he murmured, then stepped into the roiling water. “Come on, Finch – the water’s wonderful!”

Finch stepped in slowly, thinking that it was rather hotter than he liked, but when he sat down and felt the jets kneading his sore spots, he closed his eyes and sighed. He sensed that Reese was moving about, making adjustments, but when he opened his eyes again he couldn’t see – his glasses had fogged over from the steam.

“I think I understand what you mean, Mr. Reese,” he said as he removed his glasses and set them carefully on the ledge. “I could get used to this.”

“Me, too.”

Reese’s voice had come from much closer than he had expected, and when he turned he realized that the other man had moved to sit right beside him, rather than across from him where he had been at first.

“We should consider making this an annual event. Maybe even a monthly event,” Reese suggested with a blissful smile, his eyes closed as he leaned his head back against the ledge.

“Indeed,” was all Finch could say in reply. For now, he just wanted to rest against the soothing pressure of the water jets, letting them wash away his fatigue.

It is a rather demanding task that we’ve set out to do, he mused, a part of his ever-wary mind still alert and conscious. If we’re to continue for any length of time, it will become necessary – even vital – to have some structured decompression sessions like this… to de-stress, re-group, and heal…

Leaving the comfort of his position, Finch sat up and turned to observe Reese. He saw the many faded scars that spoke of the man’s harrowing past, as well as the newly-healed bullet wound in his shoulder. Right in the middle of his abdomen, in the center of the triangle formed by his navel and nipples, was a red spot – from his research the night before, Finch knew that the tiny dot was where the spy had inserted a needle into Reese’s nerve bundle, no doubt causing him excruciating pain.

“What?” Reese asked, opening his eyes, having sensed Finch’s stare on him.

“I know a thing or two about pain, Mr. Reese,” he answered carefully. “Not that I consider myself an authority on it, but I’ve tried various things to alleviate it since… since I was injured.”

Reese fixed his entire attention on Finch. It was rare for the secretive man to share anything about his past, and he was not about to miss a word.

“If this is how you’ve dealt with your pain – and not just the physical aspect of it, but the psychological pressures of your job – I suppose it’s as effective a means as any.”

Finch lay back again, somewhat awkwardly, which Reese knew was due to his discomfort in confiding even the least bit of information with him, not his physical limitations.

“I’ve tried many things to alleviate my pain, too… Like you say, not just the physical pain, but the psychological,” Reese told him in a low voice, just loud enough to be audible over the noise of the water. “But there’s no panacea… no sure-fire cure-all. And what works one time might not work another. I just try to take care of the physical pain, and hope that the psychological will mend itself.”

“Yes… at least there are ways to block out or dull the physical,” Finch agreed.

“Is that why you weren’t keeping tabs on the Machine last night?”

Finch knew exactly what he meant.

“Yes. If I can’t help them… I’d rather not know.”

He felt Reese’s hand rest on his knee and give it a gentle, commiserating squeeze under the water.

Yes… we’re both familiar with the pain of bearing the burden of knowledge, Finch pondered, feeling strangely comforted by that thought as well as by Reese’s brief gesture of understanding.

As he willed his body to relax, his mind continued to analyze their situation from all angles: he knew that there could be monitors, even from outside of the building, watching their every move through the tinted glass; that at any moment, a chance encounter with someone from their past or the authorities currently searching for them could bring their enterprise to a crashing halt; or that the very next number the Machine gave them might lead to one or both of them becoming injured beyond recovery, even killed.

Finch knew the risks and dangers. But as he lay there, allowing his tired body to be pummeled by jets of water, he also knew that there was no other man on the planet whom he would rather have sitting beside him, united with him in his endeavors, than the man he knew as John Reese.

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5 Comments

  1. It was a cute ending to very funny chapter. I loved gay!Reese, it was hilarious.

    Reply
    • I sort of ran with this flamboyant version of Reese. Now that we’re further into the show, I know that Finch doesn’t ignore any Numbers he can’t help; it’s not like he gets that information through the computer, either; but I hope it doesn’t detract from this story.
      Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Does happy hamster dance and clicks on part 3!

    Reply

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