A/N: From Episode 1.17 “Baby Blue,” Reese’s thoughts on the brief time spent with Leila together with Finch.
I couldn’t believe the pile of stuff that Finch had bought for Leila. Granted, he must have felt responsible for her welfare (even more than for the usual Number) since she was so tiny and he had snatched her from the clinic himself. It’s risky to get emotionally attached to an Asset, but in Leila’s case you could hardly blame him. Even I had a hard time suppressing a smile when I saw her gnawing on one of Finch’s expensive silk ties, sitting in a castle built with his precious books – although he had probably chosen ones that he didn’t mind getting drooled on. But the pile of clothes really stunned me.
“We’re just going to show Carter that Leila’s okay,” I protested as Finch dressed the baby girl in layers of clothing.
“Of course, but we need to make sure that she’s covered up against the cold, as well as hidden from prying eyes. You do realize that there’s an Amber Alert out on her.”
“Yes, but people will never suspect that it’s her as long as we don’t act suspiciously. The moment we try to hide her, people will start wondering why.”
He was struggling to get her into a head-to-toe outfit, which was why he couldn’t respond immediately. I gave him a hand and, once it was on her, I had to laugh. It was a teddy bear outfit, complete with ears on the hood.
“What? Oh, yes. It’s adorable, isn’t it? Plus it has the added benefit of hiding most of her head and face… possibly even her gender.”
He was fussing with the hood, trying to tuck in her wispy hair, but she cried out in annoyance and managed to push the hood back with her tiny hands.
“I think she wants the top down, Finch. The sun is out today and it’s not that cold.”
“Mr. Reese, a baby can lose a significant amount of body heat from its head and is much more vulnerable to the cold than you are. But thankfully, I thought to get this little hat, which should be harder for her to reach…”
I couldn’t help glancing at Finch’s own rather vulnerable head as he placed the knitted hat on her. She fussed, but I distracted her with one of the many toys that Finch had brought back from his shopping trip, and he was able to secure her in the baby carrier without incident. He got her to drink from a bottle as I drove the car, and I found it… endearing, really, to hear him talking to her, coaxing her to take another sip while the formula was still warm.
Once at the park where we had set up the meeting with Carter, he helped me strap her on. It took a few minutes to figure out the contraption, especially since one of the belts was twisted, so we were running a bit late for the rendezvous; however, I reminded him that the surest way to call attention to ourselves was to hurry and/or act suspiciously – the safest course of action was to stroll leisurely through the park like we were just taking the little tyke out for some air. Our little tyke, of course. I was tempted to grab Finch’s hand and insist that it was necessary to pull off the disguise of being a happy family: two gay guys with their adopted (or surrogate-born) child. But I decided that Harold had been stressed enough for one day, and settled for walking close enough to him so as to leave no room for doubt in the minds of the other people enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.
What surprised and amazed me was, how attracted people naturally are to a baby. Almost everybody we passed turned to look (except for a couple of die-hard joggers) to catch a glimpse of Leila’s face, and half of them talked to us or to Leila directly, asking how old she was, et cetera.
“Oh! Just look at those beautiful eyes!” one woman gasped to her companion, and I paused to let them coochie-coo at my baby. Leila burbled contentedly as the first woman shook her tiny hand and the other one murmured another comment about how beautiful she was.
“She has her daddy’s eyes, don’t you think?” I asked, smiling, with a significant look over at Finch. He stopped and stared at me, turning somewhat pale as his eyes grew wide behind his glasses. The women laughed and agreed with me – and in fact, in that moment he really DID look like he could be Leila’s biological father. “We’re so lucky,” I told them, cocking my head a bit to the side to try to look my part, although it was almost funny how little attention anyone had been paying to Finch or me, since they were so focused on the cute little baby. Who knew how distracting an infant could be? The next time I needed to move around town unnoticed, all I had to do was borrow someone’s baby and strap it on to myself!
We finally got to the rendezvous point, where Carter must have been waiting for a while, but even she couldn’t help but be charmed by Leila. She seemed relieved to see that we were taking good care of the baby, although she did voice her objections about the means by which we were protecting her – as expected, of course. But when we went our separate ways after the meeting, I planted a kiss on our little angel’s forehead while Finch wasn’t looking. I’d told Carter that I was teaching Leila how to go undercover; I couldn’t help wishing that we could keep the little sweetheart long enough to see her grow up. But the only life she could have, living with Finch and me, was one spent in the shadows of society, as far undercover and underground as any human being could be hidden. That’s no way for a child to grow up. So I knew that if I cared for her at all, I would have to let her go… but for now, during our all-too-brief walk in the park, I could almost pretend that the three of us were a real family.