Happiness Chapter 3

Reese had found a tea strainer and a tin of real tea at the store, so he put the kettle on while he served up dessert, then poured tea for both of them.

“I prefer coffee in the morning,” he explained to Finch, who had also gotten up just to stretch and walk about. “I need the caffeine to get going.”

“Which is why I like sencha,” Finch confessed. “Some green teas have more caffeine than coffee.”

“I’ll have to try some then,” Reese said, carrying their mugs to the table as Finch followed with the plates of pie.

“First doughnuts, now cream pie… If my waistcoat starts popping buttons, I’m holding you accountable, Mr. Reese,” Finch warned, although he was contentedly eating his dessert.

“I’ll just have to make sure you get enough exercise to work off those pesky calories, now won’t I?” Reese countered with a Cheshire Cat smile. “We could go for a walk in the park afterwards.”

“Oh, yes – I noticed there’s a park over there,” Finch said, nodding at the windows. “I’d wondered what attraction this area held for you… As you’ve no doubt guessed already, I checked for any locations where your cell phone signal tended to go on your days off before I bought this building. When I came to let the delivery men in, I noticed the view.”

“You bought this whole building?”

“Well, yes. No sense renting the apartment when I can purchase the entire property and – with some minor oversight of the management – reap a profit. So you see, you needn’t feel like it’s an imposition in any way; I’m always on the lookout for older buildings with good structure and classic architecture.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Here I was thinking you were shelling out an exorbitant amount of money for all of this space, when an apartment half the size would have been enough.”

Finch pulled a slight grimace before answering, “I realize that those postage-stamp-sized rooms you’ve been renting are adequate, John, but I am not the U.S. Army – nor am I your jailer. And while I hesitated at first in giving you this particular room, thinking that you might object to the amount and size of the windows, I felt that a more… open space, with a view of some greenery, might help you relax on your days off. God knows you’re in tight spots often enough.”

“Both literally and figuratively,” Reese nodded. “I appreciate the thought, Harold… and the windows don’t bother me at all. If anyone tries to shoot me through them, I’ll have just as good a view of them, too.”

Finch set down his mug without having taken the sip he had intended. “Well… let’s just hope it never comes to that.”

Reese smiled, his eyes seeming to cast their own light. “Yes, let’s. Would you like to move to the couch? I’ll get the dishes.”

While Finch stood up again and hobbled a little stiffly over to the sectional, Reese stacked the plates and put them in the sink, letting them soak in dishwater.

“You said I should come to see what you’d done with the place,” Finch called over his shoulder when Reese turned off the faucet, “but all you did was move these to face the window.”

“I adjusted those lights,” Reese mildly objected, pointing to the lampstand by the desk. Finch’s lips quirked in amusement as he looked out over the park.

“Would you like some drapes to close off the windows? I can recommend a place – they do very nice work, very discreet…”

Reese came up behind him and shrugged. “No need. I like feeling the sun come up by the change in the light. It’s easy to forget the rhythm of nature in a big city like this, so it’s good to be in touch as much as possible.”

Finch inclined his head in acknowledgment. Two children playing in the park had caught his attention, so he didn’t notice how close Reese was standing to him until he felt the taller man’s hand wrap around his elbow.

“Would you like to go out now?” Reese asked, his breath tickling the hairs on Finch’s neck.

“Ah… Um…” Finch hedged, startled by their proximity. “Perhaps… a little later.”

“Okay. I can make some more tea, or we could finish the wine.”

“I’m afraid I couldn’t fit in another drop at the moment – but thank you,” Finch replied, trying hard not to shake off Reese’s hand as he instinctively wanted to do.

“Would you like to sit down?” Reese asked. If he were aware of how uncomfortable he was making Finch, he didn’t show it. “This couch is quite comfortable.”

“Ah… yes. I hoped you would like it,” Finch said while turning to look at it, thereby breaking Reese’s contact with his arm.

“You picked it out for me yourself?” Reese asked with unfeigned delight.

“Yes… I did. I wanted to make sure it was comfortable as well as… well-built.”

“I love it – I sit here and listen to the radio every night when I’m not working a case,” Reese told him, sitting down as though demonstrating how he settled in for his routine. “Sometimes you can even see the stars through the windows.”

“Really? I wouldn’t have thought that possible, what with all the light pollution,” Finch responded, sitting down somewhat more awkwardly, although he was relieved to put a bit of distance between them. Reese’s arm, however, was resting on the back of the couch, his hand mere inches from Finch’s fused vertebrae.

“The best time is early in the morning – four or five o’clock,” Reese said, fighting the urge to stroke the other man’s neck. He knew that touching Finch in such a sensitive spot would be sure to send him bolting for the door. “After all the smog from the day before has dissipated.”

“Yes… I suppose it would be,” Finch murmured in agreement. They then lapsed into silence, which Reese allowed to continue for a bit longer than was comfortable for the other man.

“She still misses you, you know,” he said quietly. As much as it pained him, it was his opening gambit.


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