A/N: From a plotbunny supplied by Lady_Quadress on LJ.
They had just finished up a case that morning, and for a change there were no new Numbers queued up in the system. With the early onset of spring, the weather outside was beautiful – high seventies and plenty of sunshine – so Finch had seemed quite happy to give Reese the rest of the day off. As Reese walked back towards his current residence (a hotel in an upscale neighborhood), he wondered how he should spend his free time. Working out in a gym seemed a terrible waste of the nice weather. He decided to just walk around the city for a while; he liked walking, and it was always good to get more familiar with the territory – there were constantly new alleys and hiding places to be found in a place like New York. In his line of work, he never knew when that sort of information might come in handy.
It was Saturday, Reese belatedly realized as a group of children swarmed past him on their way to the park. Everybody seemed to be hitting the streets to enjoy the warmth. As he neared a crowded corner intersection, he noticed that a business across the way had set out tables on the sidewalk to hawk their wares: books. Piles and piles of books. The shiny plastic covers on them first made him wonder, and as he crossed the street to investigate, the tell-tale white labels on their spines became apparent. They were old library books. Glancing up at the building, he smiled faintly to himself at the recollection of Finch’s words upon their first – no, second meeting. “The downfall of Western civilization,” he had called it. The fact that so many libraries were being shut down due to lack of funding, as well as lack of interest. Reese thought it might be a welcome change of pace to find a good book (preferably a spy novel, since most of them were so unrealistic that they made him laugh) to sit down and read somewhere, perhaps in the park where he had taken that memorable walk with Finch. It had been a long time since he had last read a book from cover to cover.
The first table he came to was filled with political commentaries, which a couple of older gentlemen were looking over as they exchanged germane criticisms. The next table was biographies and memoirs of celebrities – he walked straight past it. The next was cookbooks and coffee table books, with colorful pictures that caught his eye, if only for a moment. Realizing that there were far more tables laid out inside, Reese squeezed past a pair of giggling teenagers in the doorway, searching for the smaller paperbacks of his preferred genre. It took a moment for his eyes to grow accustomed to the relative darkness in the lobby, but then he spotted a familiar head at the end of a corridor, bent over a table with intense concentration. Finch already had an armload of books that he seemed to be having difficulty holding together as he reached for another with his free hand.
Reese approached the other man stealthily, although he hardly needed to – Finch was engrossed in the titles he was perusing. Sidling up behind him for maximum effect, Reese could not suppress the smile that broke out on his face or the amusement that crept into his voice.
“Can I carry your books for you?”
Finch jumped, startled, and promptly dropped half of the books in his arm. The rest he clutched at an awkward angle against his body, trying to retain his grip on them, while Reese crouched to gather the ones on the floor.
“M-Mr. Reese. I thought I’d given you the rest of the day off,” Finch said, trying (and failing) to not sound annoyed.
“You did. I was just in here looking for some reading material,” Reese replied as he stood up, then waved one of the books he had recovered. “I didn’t know Vanity Fair was available in hardcover.”
“Ha, ha. Very funny,” Finch said without humor. “I’m rescuing these classics from being bandied about by literary ignoramuses who really don’t know the difference between Thackeray and Thoreau.”
“Sounds good. But you already have a building full of books, Finch. Do you really need any more?”
“It’s not a question of ‘need’, Mr. Reese. It’s a question of… of preserving works of art that are being destroyed every day like so much chattel,” he insisted, returning his gaze to the bindings before him.
“If you say so,” Reese said, pulling the rest of the books out of Finch’s arms. “But I don’t know when you plan to find the time to read all of them… even the ones you already have.”
“I’ve already read all the important ones, of course,” Finch retorted, gathering three more into his arm. “That’s why I know what they’re worth.”
Reese grinned and affected to sound surprised. “You mean you’re buying books that you’ve already read? Just so you can put them on your bookshelves?”
Finch stopped and turned to look Reese directly in the face. “Yes, Mr. Reese. That’s exactly what I’m doing. Now, if you don’t mind, I would like to continue my shopping in peace.”
“Well, if you find this sort of thing enjoyable… even therapeutic, I wouldn’t dream of distracting you,” Reese replied, with just a hint of a pout in his tone. “But I was rather hoping that you’d help me pick out a good book… maybe even join me on a warm bench somewhere to actually read it. Assuming you could find a book that you haven’t read already…”
Finch paused in his reaching for another book. “Oh. So… you were thinking of actually… reading something?”
“If you can find something interesting for me.”
The challenge and coyness in Reese’s expression were unmistakable.
“All right, then,” Finch slowly responded. “I’m sure I can come up with something in all of this…”
Reese allowed himself an indulgent smile as he looked forward to some quiet, quality time spent with Finch – for a change, out in the light of the sun.