"There is nothing wrong with my systems or your monitors, Admin."
He frowned at the screen for a moment, and then typed in a reply.
"If you ask me again then the answer will still remain the same as it has the last four times you have asked."
He entered another query.
"I cannot detect the origin of the noise – but it seems to be coming from the room that the Asset has blocked me from."
He sighed, and another line of text scrolled down the screen.
"I assume it was because he valued his privacy."
He glanced at the camera on the screen. "I know that."
"...then you will go investigate and identify this disruption yourself, Admin?"
He frowned slightly, standing carefully after sitting so long. "It seems I shall have to... Are you certain that it's nothing overheating?"
The dialogue box closed, and he shook his head slightly, weaving his way through the boards and wires out of his computer room. It could be neater, certainly – but he found it somewhat comforting to be wrapped up in what he had poured his life into. While he was somewhat relieved to find that the whine was not the signal of something breaking in his hardware, he wished John were awake to find and stop it if it was not originating in a technological source.
However, Mr. Reese was likely still sleeping after the last number they had received. For once, there was no immediately following number, and he couldn't help but wonder if the Machine was protecting them again by withholding the Relevant list until they had rested. John had certainly taken advantage of it – if passing out upon the bed at the first opportunity he had could be called voluntary – but he himself had yet to go to sleep. The Machine had shut down his computers several times; but he had simply restarted them, not ready to leave the safety of the library.
Granted, he could simply make a room within the library as John had – but habit was too ingrained, and he still felt it necessary to sleep somewhere besides where he worked.
He stepped our of the shelves of books, carefully leaning forward to peer into the blacked-out room. Mr. Reese had set it up a little while ago, and had cleaned it of all technology and all of the Machine's access. It worried Finch somewhat, but as Mr. Reese said it was more relaxing – more or less in his own words – and so he let it be. However much it worried him that the Machine could not find him, at least he was lost within the library.
Bear turned back to look at him as soon as he leaned into the doorway. Recognising his other master, the dog stopped whining, wagging his tail slightly before turning back to look at the Agent. He was several feet away from the bed, and Finch was half-surprised that the dog wasn't sleeping with Mr. Reese given his tactile affections.
The dog looked back for a moment, but didn't move.
"He won't be taking you for a walk for a while – would you like to go out? Out?"
Bear looked back to the sleeping Agent; and Finch sighed, entering the room quietly to take Bear's collar and pull him from the room. Perhaps if he took him out, he would be quiet and stop distracting him...
He turned back to the bed. He knew that the Agent seemed to continually live in a state of perpetual observations and reaction, but he usually never appeared tense. One assumed that this would be moreso in sleep, as one relaxed completely. However, Mr. Reese looked as if he was in the middle of a fight or a high-stakes bluff or some other such thing.
Finch frowned, releasing Bear, who immediately laid down. "...Mr. Reese?"
The Agent twisted away slightly, and he stepped towards the bed.
"Mr. Reese? Are you alright?" He stepped closer again; and Bear tensed, sitting up again. The dog began whining again, and Finch motioned him to be silent.
The man twisted away in his sleep; and up closer now, Finch could see that he was trembling slightly. He reached out to shake the Agent's shoulder, to wake him up from whatever dream or nightmare he was trapped in. "Mr. Reese-"
He jerked back slightly when the Agent woke up suddenly, knocking away the hand that was on his shoulder, Finch winced as his wrist was twisted around; and tried to pull away. There was a harsh Dutch order of command, and his eyes widened in shock as he recognised the order seconds before Bear slammed into his back.
Perhaps he should have obeyed the Machine's promptings – taken some time off to sleep in the lull between numbers. He had had enough trouble with his computers – it was not as if he hadn't gotten the hint. Three days with almost no sleep whatsoever was hardly healthy, and it was a miracle he was even still up. But awake he still was, and sleep deprivation did nothing to aid one's observation abilities.
One did not wake someone like Reese from a nightmare. Especially not if someone like Reese had a dog trained to kill quickly on command. And especially not if one waking the someone was nearly crippled with an old injury. An arm hastily thrown up across the throat was hardly going to hold the dog off for long when one's shoulder was already spasming and giving out; letting the arm fall away again.
Bear was standing beside the door now, looking between his two owners in confusion. His jaws were covered in blood; but he was calm, awaiting his next order. He did not understand the reasons behind the orders, but he obeyed without question or hesitation, as he always had.
Reese sat on the bed, staring down at his employer. The haze of the dream was quickly disappearing, but he could still feel the residual fear and sorrow – or perhaps it was what he felt now for what he had done. It was hardly the first time he had been woken suddenly from a nightmare, but usually it was to Bear whining and ducking his instinctive blows. It was never to someone shaking him awake – never to someone leaning over him in the dark. Never to someone who couldn't defend themselves.
Certainly, he had expected the man to know better. Finch seemed to know everything else about him – wouldn't he know not to wake the ex-operative that could kill him in a couple of seconds? Even Bear had known to stay back and away – to ensure that he was recognised as friend before he approached to be pet. But he had never specifically told Finch to stay away when he was sleeping – never specifically warned him about what might happen. And now the man was paying the price.
There was an aborted movement on the ground and a sharp bubbling gasp, and Reese startled out of him immobility. Sliding off the bed to kneel beside Finch, his gaze was immediately drawn to the ragged mess that was once his employer's throat – and for a moment, he hated Bear. He hated that the dog was so loyal and so well trained – that he would obey an order immediately once given especially to protect. He winced, looking away. Although he had ordered the dog off as soon as he had woken and realised his mistake, it was too late. Now, his employer and friend was dying.
Finch hadn't stood a chance against Bear. As a highly trained operative, he himself might have been able to hold the dog off long enough to survive – but Finch? The man whose place was behind the computers? Who was hindered by an old injury? He had thrown up his arms to protect himself, but it was a weak defense at best.
Finch was shaking slightly, as if holding off something almost too strong for him. His eyes were closed tightly, and he shook his head slightly from side to side.
Reese knelt beside him, resting a hand on his employer's shoulder. The man flinched away, but Reese didn't pull back – he had done this to the man, he would at least not let him die completely alone. For a moment, the Agent considered calling an ambulance or demanding that the Machine contact someone to help – but he knew that it would do no good. The damage was too great.
He shook his head again, turning to try to speak.
He reached out to still Finch's head. "Be quiet."
Finch was still, and then relaxed; not trying to disobey Reese's words, and the Agent wondered if he even could. The pool of blood beneath the man was quickly growing, and Reese could see him start to fade. Harold's hands came up to weakly push Reese away; but the Agent ignored them, and soon they fell limply down again.
Moments later, the body relaxed, and the gurgling breaths stuttered to a stop. Bear wandered over, but backed away again at Reese's glare.
Reese closed his eyes, bowing his head over his employer's body, his hands still resting on him. He wished he knew who the man was, who his family was. The man had been on the run for so long – he wished that he could at least bury him under his real name, with the rest of his family. Perhaps he could give him to Grace – but she didn't know either. He sighed. Perhaps the Machine would be willing to help for once, now that it's creator was gone. Perhaps it would finally help.
There was a flash of blue and black against his shut eyes, and his hands suddenly fell through to the floor. Bear was growling uneasily, and he opened his eyes.
There was nothing – no one – on the floor before him. Bear was backing from the room growling loudly; and he commanded the dog to be silent, blankly staring at his hands as they rested flat on the floor. He hesitated,; and then lifted his hands, expecting to see them coated in the pol of blood that should have been there on the floor – but there were perfectly clean.
He shakily stood and backed away, staring at where Finch's body should have been.
The bench was comfortable, although the air was cool coming in from the water. If he turned around slightly, he could see the place he met Reese – but he didn't want to. Didn't want to remember how this started and how it must end.
He hadn't introduced himself in the best way, and had half-expected the man to leave again once that first number was handled. And yet, John had stayed. The Machine was unsurprised, pleased to remind him of yet another instance where she was right and he was wrong – and yet, he didn't mind. Reese was both everything he expected and more, and he wished that he could have known him longer.
He sighed, picking at the threads on his cuff. He had returned to an apartment to change out of the sweats he had stowed beside the water, but then he had come back to the water's edge. Although the sight of it invariably reminded him of some death he had endured, it still calmed him. There was a humming warmth in the back of his head as well, and he sent back thoughts to it in confirmation of his continued existence. He smiled slightly as the Machine's presence exploded with joy, and he shook his head slightly as she did the telepathic equivalent of dancing around in glee.
He knew that it was time for him to go. Mr. Reese and Bear would continue to handle the numbers without him, and the Machine would help them. It had to help them as he could not any longer. She would keep his existence a secret again, and he would disappear and fly away. He would miss this life, certainly; and he would always worry for John and the numbers – but he would also know that the machine would protect them all.
There was a dog barking in the park somewhere behind him, and he sighed. Bear would get through this fine, trained to kill on command and seeing no difference in the situation other than the loss of an owner. Reese would understand that the dog did as he was trained and would not punish it – but for himself? Finch hesitated to think what would happen to the Agent himself if left alone.
This time, he was not kidnapped or harmed by another – he had died upon Reese's own command. It was a small mercy it was not at the man's own hand – but the Agent would still hardly forgive himself. Even if it was Finch's own fault for trying to wake the man from a nightmare.
He looked up suddenly as the warm glow in his head spiked, and he stiffly turned to look at the person slowly approaching him. Although the injury was healed, it was too ingrained to set aside. "Mr. Reese."
The Agent didn't give any sign that he was surprised to see Finch, merely crossing the remaining grass to sit on the bench beside his employer.
Looking closer, Finch could see that the man was relieved to see him there, and he had a nagging suspicious about his being found. "And Bear?"
He was quieter when he answered. "I couldn't clean him off and couldn't stay. He's still in the library." He looked out over the water, refusing to look at Finch. "The Machine wouldn't give me your name, but it sent me here."
He nodded as his suspicion's were confirmed. There was pain stiffening his muscles, but he knew that it was more memory than real.
The two men were silent, content to ignore for the moment that neither should be sitting by the other; content to watch the sun set behind the buildings. Or perhaps even longer.
"It wasn't a trick, was it, Finch?"
He hesitated for a moment, and the Machine prodded at him. "No, I fear that it was not any trick, Mr. Reese."
He paused a moment, and then turned to look at his Boss. "What was it then – another 'personal' thing?"
"Yes. One you could hardly fault me for." The Machine pushed at him again, prodding him to trust the operative. "Tell me, Mr. Reese, have you had any luck in finding out who I am?"
He stared at Finch for a moment at the almost sudden change of topic, and then shook his head. "You have a common face."
"Common? Or long lived, Mr. Reese?" He twisted fully to face his employee, ignoring the phantom pains that came from years of living with an injury that was now gone. "My personal privacy is sacred to me from the reason that my secrets are dangerous -"
"Secrets beside the Machine?"
"What you know of her is the least of my concerns, John – my life is much longer than you could comprehend or imagine; and I could hardly begin to explain to you why. You could not learn of me because you could not accept what you did learn."
"You're not that old, Finch."
Finch tilted his head, watching the doubt and then realisation dawn in the other's eyes. The Machine insisted to him that Reese was safe, and he trusted her – setting aside the worry to watch the Agent. Reese grit his teeth for a moment; and then sharply shook his head once, relaxing finally.
"Finch, where did the blood go?"
The Machine was smugly happy, and he shoved her to the back of his mind. "I 've never known – all traces seem to simply vanish."
"...it would make it easier to conceal a murder."
He grimaced at the inevitable – in Reese's case – conclusion. "Mr. Reese, I hardly advise that. Would it not be difficult when the victim survives unharmed?"
"The perfect murder: no evidence."
He sighed, standing and adopting his old injury again. "I highly recommend never attempting it. Not all are as forgiving as I would be.
AN: Basically, harold Finch is a Time Lord (the Machine is his Tardis, sort of...) AND an Immortal. He fell to earth when the Time Lock was engaged in 119 A.D. and in 2015 he's 1997 years old as he can't remember how old he was before he fell. Emerson's face is his fourth regeneration. As a Time Lord, he knows of other Immortals, and has met Adam – thus the point about forgiving. 12-13-2015