4. Massage

They returned to the subject of books after lunch, since Reese wanted to let both their stomachs settle for a while, and Finch found himself talking more freely than he had in a long time. He was explaining to Reese how he viewed the similarities and differences between the nightmare future of George Orwell’s 1984, the cynical realism of Heller’s Catch-22, the maniacal fatalism of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, and the near-suffocating totalitarianism of Kafka’s The Trial; and he was pleased to find that not only had Reese read all of these books, he had also retained a good portion of their contents and was capable of asking pertinent questions. Finch described several scenes to jog his memory, of course, but overall it was a stimulating conversation, and one that (while eerily resembling, in some cases, their own lives and current situation) took them for a brief time out of the here and now.

“I see how some might interpret it that way,” Reese responded to one of his comments, “but I really didn’t think Vonnegut was being facetious when I first read it. I thought it was an ideological fantasy – a means of wishful thinking, so to speak – to bring in the whole concept of the fourth dimension. Just because he’s talking about aliens doesn’t mean he’s trying to write science fiction, and to dismiss his philosophy on the issue without hearing out his argument is a rather premature and snap judgment.”

“Oh, I agree,” Finch assured him. “But his brand of fatalism – that foundless optimism in the face of knowledge, even when that knowledge is dire – is patently absurd. Even supposing that the human species might someday grow capable of seeing into the future, our very nature is such that we would either despair and commit suicide upon learning what was in store for us (thereby changing whatever future we had seen) or choose to fight our fate, tooth and nail, in an attempt to change it for the better. And I believe we are capable of enough tenacity to figure out what will work to change our future, at which point we would be back to square one. We’re simply not cut out for omniscience.”

“Which brings us back to the Machine, doesn’t it?” Reese said wryly. “Even your brilliant Machine isn’t cut out for omniscience – the future it sees can be changed. Which is why we have to fight that future for each person, tooth and nail.”

“Yes… That does boil it down to a nutshell, doesn’t it? If you’ll pardon my mixed metaphors…”

“Oh, of course,” Reese chuckled. “But as interesting as this all has been, I think it’s high time we got down to business.”

Finch looked up at him askance, having momentarily forgotten where they were and why, so caught up was he in the world of books.

“I’ll need all the pillows in the suite to make sure you’re comfortable,” the taller man continued, standing up and stretching before he went into Finch’s room.

Finally remembering that they were here for a “spa retreat,” Finch picked up the remains of their lunch to distract himself. He knew the pain would be worth it, in the end, since his upper back was already feeling better from the treatment that Reese had given it earlier, but he was still understandably nervous about what he would have to endure.

Reese breezed by him with his arms loaded, saying, “Oh, don’t bother with that right now – I’ll get it later. Besides, I need you to test this out.”

Following him into the other room, Finch watched as he pulled back the covers and lined up the pillows on top of the mattress.

“Your face goes here, and I’ll get you a towel to support your forehead. Then you’ll want some leeway here,” indicating the crotch area, “and your feet should be elevated. That looks about right… Well, try it on for size and see how it feels – I’ll go get that towel.”

Finch removed his glasses and gingerly climbed onto the bed, trying not to disturb the array, and lay face-down on the softness. Reese returned with a rolled bath towel in time to place it under his forehead.

“How’s that?”

“Quite comfortable, Mr. Reese. Although it might have been easier to rent one of their massage rooms with those tables.”

“I think this will be much more comfortable in the long run, and it’s definitely more private.”

“True,” Finch agreed. Then he nearly choked as he felt Reese’s hand slipping under his stomach and untying the belt of his robe. “M-Mr. Reese?”

“Relax, Harold. You didn’t expect me to work on your pressure points through the bathrobe, did you?” Reese asked rhetorically, removing the bathrobe from him one arm at a time before pulling it down to cover his legs.

“I… well…”

Finch could see the other man grinning in his mind’s eye, even though his field of view was limited to the area of sheet right beneath his face. He felt warm hands touch his back directly, with no cloth barrier shielding his skin, and wished he could stop the flush that was creeping around his neck.

“Why don’t you start by taking a few deep breaths. Do you have enough clearance for your face? Any areas I need to adjust? All right, then, breathe in… and out… in… out…”

At first Reese only rubbed the surface of Finch’s coiled muscles, getting him accustomed to being touched and manipulated. Then he tackled a spot between Finch’s neck and right shoulder that caused him to gasp in pain.

“It’s from using the mouse all the time,” Reese explained. “We’ll have to take this one in stages. Ready? Breathe… breathe…”

Finch truly needed Reese to remind him to breathe, for the pain seemed connected to his fused vertebrae, but after several excruciating moments of struggling for air, Reese let up on the pressure and rubbed around it. Once it was relaxed again, he moved down to Finch’s right elbow.

“You should try using the mouse with your left hand sometimes,” Reese advised. “This is tight all along here, too.”

“Yes… I keep intending to, and then… when I get caught up in work, I forget,” Finch admitted. “That does feel good, right there…”

Reese continued to dig his fingers into key areas along both of his employer’s arms, and smiled as Finch’s breathing slowed.

“Now comes the fun part,” Reese murmured before getting up on the bed and straddling the prone man’s waist.

“Wh-What are you—?” Finch began, feeling the bed shake. His answer came in the form of Reese’s hands applying even pressure on his lower back, one on each side of his spine. “Oh…” slipped from his mouth inadvertently as he realized what sort of position his masseur had taken.

“Here’s another bad one,” Reese commented, rubbing both of his thumbs on the same spot. Finch grunted in pain and agreement. “It’s from your limp. Take a deep breath, now…”

Again Finch felt the sharp-hot sensation, as of a poker just taken from the fire being pressed into his flesh; the pain radiated like lava from a volcano, but he forced himself to breathe as Reese coaxed him, and gradually the heat became bearable.

“Good, good… I’ll come back to that one later, too, just to make sure we got it all, but you’re doing great, Finch.”

The other ones along his spine were not as bad and comparatively easy to deal with, although Reese took the time to rub around each spot to ensure that there was no lingering stiffness anywhere. Then it was time to tackle the bad one in his shoulder again, and Reese pushed Finch to the limit, letting up only when he broke out in a cold sweat.

“That’s a stubborn one, all right,” Reese said, removing his own bathrobe and covering Finch’s trembling back with it. “Keep breathing – I’ll be right back.”

He returned with a hand towel rinsed in hot water, which he placed on Finch’s sore shoulder.

“Thank you… that’s much better,” Finch gasped.

“I’m sorry I pushed you so hard,” Reese said, opting to work on Finch’s legs for the moment. “I kept thinking that it was almost done, but you’ve spent years using a mouse – putting knots on top of your knots – and I can’t reverse it all in a few seconds.”

“I realize that, Mr. Reese. And I do appreciate what you’re doing.”

“Don’t mention it.”

Reese worked his way down to Finch’s heels, pressing on either side of his Achilles’ tendons to grateful groans, then began kneading the soles of his feet.

“Uh… Mr. Reese?”

“Yes, Mr. Finch?”

“That’s really not necessary… I mean, you don’t have to—”

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t want to, Finch. Trust me, I don’t mind – it gives me a sense of satisfaction to feel all that tension melt away.”

“Well… in that case, you really should consider trying some of the hotel’s spa treatments. They may not measure up to your standards, but still… the only time you’ve been able to relax so far was when we were in the Jacuzzi.”

“This is relaxing for me, Finch. It’s actually rather… therapeutic,” Reese smiled, pulling on each one of his employer’s toes. “But once I’ve worked all the knots out of you, you can rest here while I go treat myself to some retail therapy.”

“‘Retail therapy’?”

“Remember those girls we met at the pool?”

“Uh… of course.”

“I plan on paying them a little visit – to see if they have some nice lotion for my Harold.”

Since Reese delivered the last bit with a slow stroke of his palms up Finch’s calves, it was impossible for him to miss the sexual innuendo. His mouth went dry as Reese continued up the backs of his thighs, removing one of the two bathrobes covering him to do so.

“A man can never have too much lotion around the house, you know,” he asserted in his alter ego’s soft, lilting voice. “Or wine, for that matter…”

Finch felt the bed shake again as Reese mounted it, and him, and proceeded to rub the two halves of his buttocks with both hands.

“Oh, poor Harold… your ass has gotten terribly uneven in the past few years. Comes from having to favor your one leg… Just relax and breathe, and I’ll make it all better…”

Finch swallowed hard as he tried not to tense up, reminding himself that Reese was only teasing to try to get a reaction out of him; unfortunately, it was working, and it took a while to get his breathing under control again. Which meant that Reese’s hands stayed in that vicinity for quite some time, working over and under his still-damp swimming trunks. But despite the psychological discomfort, he had to admit that the muscles there were sore, especially on the one side that worked harder to cover for his injury, and Reese’s warm hands seemed to give them exactly the relief that they needed.

“I’m going to finish this one,” Reese informed him, rubbing around the sore spot in his lower back. “Deep breaths, now…”

The pain, thankfully, was not as intense as the first time, and after a few moments it dissipated altogether. Finch breathed sighs of relief while Reese stroked up and down his spine to let his tingling nerves settle down. He was so distracted by the fact that – for the first time in years – his lower back felt completely relaxed, he didn’t even notice when Reese removed the second bathrobe covering his upper body.

Reese was now straddling his legs wearing nothing but his swimming trunks, which was also the only article of clothing that Finch was wearing.

If anybody walked in on us now, they really would think we’re lovers, Reese grinned silently to himself. Poor Finch… he’s trying so hard not to let on that it bothers him!

In lieu of an apology, Reese massaged the prone man’s back for a long time with delightful circular strokes that left him moaning in spite of himself. In fact, Finch’s breathing slowed down almost to the level of sleep.

“Finch?” Reese whispered. There was no reply. He stretched himself over the other man’s back, sliding his hands slowly across the mattress on either side of his body until he could peer over Finch’s shoulder. When he was certain that his eyes were closed, he lowered his own body very gently onto Finch’s back, letting his chest and abdomen warm the slightly-chilled skin of the other man.

“Damn, Finch… you’re so adorable when you’re sleeping,” he murmured, resting his cheek against Finch’s shoulder blade. He continued to rub his one exposed shoulder and pressed his legs against Finch’s so that they wouldn’t get cold. However, after several minutes Reese himself was getting cold, so he carefully moved away and covered Finch up with the top sheet and blankets that he had pulled off earlier.

He went into the bathroom to put on his street clothes again, leaving his shirt untucked and open one button lower than usual to give himself a more bohemian air. Then he paused at Finch’s bedside, crouching down to look into his sleeping face.

“Be good while I’m gone, Harold. And don’t wander off anywhere,” he said softly, before pressing his lips to Finch’s temple.

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2 Comments

  1. Reese, please, just fucking kiss him, will you?

    Reply

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