A/N: After Episode 1.19 “Flesh and Blood.”
“Very good, Mr. Reese,” Finch responded to his operative’s report that the subject (a would-be kidnapper) had been subdued. “I’ll confirm that the police find him with the evidence you’ve set out. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Actually, Finch, I was wondering if you’d care to join me for breakfast,” Reese replied as he checked the knots of the rope that bound the unconscious man. “I found this great little place – Tierny’s, over by Columbus and 85th. They only use organic produce. I think you’d like it.”
“Oh?” Finch said, somewhat dubiously.
“Don’t worry – most of their security cameras are dummies. Only the one trained on the cash register is working.”
“I hesitate to ask how you know this, Mr. Reese…”
“You’re not the only one who knows how to hack into a security system, Finch,” Reese smiled. “I’ll be there around seven-thirty… but feel free to get started without me if I’m running late.”
It occurred to Finch that he had never agreed to meet Reese for breakfast in so many words, but since he didn’t have any other plans for the next morning, he decided to go along with it. After all, he didn’t want to become predictable, and if this new restaurant were any good, it would be one more location he could add to his list of public meeting places.
He found the café easily enough and was intrigued that Reese had thought he would like it. It was almost completely glassed in, giving it a very bright, airy feeling, but which also made it susceptible to prying eyes as well as every street cam nearby. However, the interior was very smart, modern, and chic, with brand-new faux leather seats alternating between burgundy and black, and the artwork on the simulated oak-wood walls, while mass-produced copies, were tasteful. He had arrived a few minutes early despite Reese’s warning that he might be late, so he went ahead and ordered a broccoli-and-cheese omelette and a bowl of fresh fruit along with his green tea.
Having chosen a table by the window, he had a commanding view of the street in both directions and was able to see Reese approaching from a good distance. It was hard to miss him, as tall as he was, especially if one knew what to look for. Even if one didn’t, Reese was rather conspicuous this morning since he was surrounded by several women – of a wide range of ages, dressed in varying levels of formality – who were apparently all trying to talk to him at once. Finch’s brows furrowed in an unconscious frown as he remembered: yoga class. This was Thursday. No doubt Reese had found this diner because of its proximity to the gym.
Finch stuck his fork into a piece of pineapple with unnecessary force before devouring the hapless morsel. He had been in an unwontedly good mood this morning, which he had dismissed as being due to the warm weather and the blooming flowers, but now it felt as though his bubble had been burst. Though he could barely admit it, the realization that Reese was enjoying himself, meeting new people and trying new things without him, made Finch feel isolated and – in a vague but unmistakable way – bereft. He had to swallow hard to get the pineapple down past the lump which had formed in his throat; he didn’t even bother looking up as Reese walked in with his giggling, chattering entourage.
“Harold!” Reese called out, his voice bright and happy – which only made Finch feel even more dour. However, he could hardly ignore him now, so he looked up at Reese with the intent of delivering some snide remark as to the younger man’s prowess at yoga. The brilliant, genuine smile on Reese’s face made the words die on Finch’s lips.
“Sorry I’m late,” Reese said in an intimate undertone as he neared the booth. “The girls were telling me about this great new Indian restaurant in Parkside and we missed the light.”
Finch was further startled when Reese, instead of sliding into the seat across from him, bent over him and planted his lips – gently but firmly – on his cheek.
“What are you having? The broccoli omelette? I haven’t tried that yet,” Reese continued, sitting down as though nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. “I usually get the corned beef hash special, but that does look good…” He grinned ingenuously and cocked his head a little to one side. “What’s the matter, Harold? Cat got your tongue?”
In fact, Finch felt like he had swallowed it, although he would have choked on it if he had. He simply continued to stare at Reese in disbelief.
A perky waitress showed up to take Reese’s order – his usual corned beef hash special with coffee – and by the time she left Finch had resumed breathing again.
“What the hell was that all about?” he demanded, his voice low but his displeasure clear.
“What? Can’t I kiss my boyfriend good morning?” Reese replied with perfect aplomb, the edges of his mouth twitching upward. “I’d told the girls all about you, but they still wouldn’t leave me alone, so I wanted to make sure they knew that I was in a committed relationship. Of course, now that they’ve seen you, they might try to make a pass at you… but you won’t let anyone get between us, would you Harold? Not after everything we’ve been through…”
Reese’s eyes were twinkling with mischief, just as they had been when he had surprised Finch at the software programming office. Finch blinked, processing this new information, and schooled his features into a somewhat patronizing smile.
“Of course not, dear… as if any woman could take your place!” he managed.
“Aww… You do say the sweetest things,” Reese purred, reaching over to place his hand over Finch’s. He pretended not to notice the approaching figures as he remarked, “We really should do this more often, Harold. I’m sure your office can get along without you for an extra half-hour in the morning.”
“Uh… Hi,” one of the women nervously interrupted. “You must be Harold. John has told us all about you! It’s so nice to finally have a face to go with the name…”
“Ah… He has, has he?” Finch responded, acting convincingly embarrassed. “I hope he didn’t tell you… too much…”
“Oh, it was all good,” another woman assured him. “In fact, he can’t say enough good things about you!”
“And it’s all true,” Reese put in, unabashedly pulling Finch’s hand over the table to kiss his knuckles. “He’s too modest to admit it, but Harold is the nicest, sweetest man I’ve ever met!”
There was a slight pause before the women tittered and made their excuses to leave, afterward congregating at another table where they obviously leaned in to discuss John’s “boyfriend”. Finch was blushing furiously and no longer needed to act embarrassed.
“I hope you’re happy now, darling,” he murmured with suppressed fury.
“Perfectly, honey,” Reese replied, releasing Finch’s hand at last as his own food was set down on the table. “Like I said – we need to do this more often.”
Although Finch had felt his hackles rise upon being backed into a figurative corner, he couldn’t help noticing that the lump in his throat had disappeared as quickly as it had formed. With Reese smiling at him across the table, enjoying his breakfast, Finch decided that he did like this diner, very much.