It took nearly an hour before Harold could answer all of his nephew's questions, before they could get Nathan settled back in his bed, before John carried the baby gear upstairs and set Julie and Angela up in an empty bedroom. Before Finch was able to get upstairs finally to check on his wife.
He was dismayed, but not at all surprised, to find her curled in a tight ball at the far side of the bed.
"Oh, my sweet Diedre," he said quietly as he undressed. "It's alright, love. I know you've had a long day, a hard day, but no one here is going to hurt you. You are perfectly safe, my love. I'm here, I'll watch over you."
He was startled when she suddenly rolled over and looked at him in the dim room. "How many times have you done that?" she asked.
"A few," Harold admitted. "You don't usually wake up."
"I'm sorry. That must be hard for you."
"It is an … an honor, of an odd sort, to be able to calm your fears." He changed quickly into his pajamas. "I wish I could simply erase her from your memory."
"I do, too."
He slipped into the bed next to her. "That was a very brave thing you did, with Will. Thank you."
She moved into his arms. "He's my brother."
"Because I asked you to make him your brother." He was perversely, profoundly glad to find that the distance he'd felt between them was gone. He held her a little tighter. His back twinged, the new pain low on his spine from the damn chaise. He ignored it.
"Ehh. I needed a sibling, I think. It's good for me."
"And things are truly alright?"
"I think so. We're going to be a little touchy for a while, but we'll be okay." She shifted a little, unable to settle. "How did Nathan like Julie?"
"Oh, they're getting along famously." Her body felt unusually warm against him, her breasts lush and full. If they had been less exhausted, he might have been tempted to make love with her. As it was, it was merely a comfortable notion for future reference. "And he's completely smitten with Angela."
"Aren't we all?"
She sighed comfortably. "I wonder what we do now."
"I have no idea," Harold answered, with a matching lack of concern. They could sort that out in the morning.
He was drifting toward contented sleep when Christine suddenly jerked away from him.
"What?" he asked, startled.
"Nothing. I think." She lay very still, stiff and distant. And then, "Oh shit." She bolted out of the bed and closed the door on the en suite bathroom behind her.
Harold heard the water start in the sink, full blast. And then he heard the unmistakable and not quite disguised sound of vomiting.
Strange, he thought, she barely ate any of dinner, maybe the argument with Will had upset her more than she –
And then he knew.
She was gone a little more than five minutes, and she came back with minty fresh mouthwash on her breath. Harold snuggled her against his side again. "When were you going to tell me?" he asked quietly.
"When I was done being mad at you."
"That's fair, I suppose." He chuckled. "And I kept finding new ways to anger you."
"I was starting to think you were doing it on purpose. Especially with the salmon."
"I am so sorry, my love. I should have been – less enraging."
"Well. You have had other things on your mind."
Across the hall, through closed doors, they heard Angela cry and Julie grumble.
"Are you okay?" Christine asked.
"Me? I'm fine. I'm happy. We planned this, remember? I'm also a bit terrified."
"Are you okay?"
"Coffee tastes bad," Christine said. "And I think I'm dying without it."
Harold chuckled sympathetically, and she abruptly burst into tears.
He half-turned so he could wrap both arms around her. "Oh, my poor darling. My poor love. I'm sure it's not forever. I promise. One day you will enjoy coffee again, I swear."
"You promise?" she sobbed.
She continued to cry, and Harold did not try to stop her. It was not, he knew, about coffee. Or at least mostly not about coffee. I don't have the bandwidth to disarm your fears for you, she had said. Of course she didn't. She was newly pregnant and the specter of her abusive mother hovered in her dreams. Add Root, add Nathan, add Will, add her husband being a horse's ass. It was a wonder she wasn't screaming in the corner.
Crying in his arms felt therapeutic, for both of them.
He held her, and he listened to Angela fuss, and he wondered again what they would do in the morning.
But wondering was not the same as worrying. And though he knew he should be, he was not worried.
Will Ingram was already up, hunched over a mug of coffee at the dining room table, when John came down in the morning. Reese opened the door and let Bear out into the yard. "Morning."
"I made coffee," Will said. He sat up and his back cracked audibly. "Oh, God."
"Slept on the chaise, didn't you?"
"It looked so innocent. So comfortable."
Reese got himself coffee and returned to sit across from Ingram.
"I'm sorry I was such an asshole last night," Will said sincerely.
"You had quite a day yesterday."
"Yeah. But I was still an asshole."
"Yeah, you were."
"And also – thank you. Now that I know how much you've really done for us, that doesn't seem like enough, but thank you."
"Mm-hmm." John smiled, pleased. "How's your dad?"
"He slept through the night. God, he looks awful."
"He looked worse when we found him."
Will shook his head. "I can't even imagine. If you hadn't found him when you did …"
"But we did." John swallowed more coffee, stood up. "Pancakes?"
"Can I help?"
They went to the kitchen and started breakfast.
"Scotty, you want some bacon?" Will moved around the table, holding the skillet in one hand, tongs in the other, serving the fried meat.
"Not even a slice or two? There's plenty."
Christine stood up. "Be right back." She left the room.
"What?" Will asked. "Did I offend her with bacon?"
Nathan chuckled. "You do know your wife's pregnant, don't you, Harold?"
Finch's ears went red, but he smiled. "I do, yes."
"What?" Will said. "That's great. Congratulations!" And then, "That is great, right?"
"It is," Harold confirmed. He looked to Reese, who had brought in a fresh stack of pancakes. "I'm sorry, John. We wanted to tell your first."
John shrugged. "I knew days ago, Harold. She stopped liking coffee."
"You're going to have a cousin to play with," Julie told Angela.
The baby gurgled happily.
When Christine returned, there was another round of congratulations. She went pink, too. "Not the most elegant way of announcing it."
"Eh, we're all family here," Nathan assured her.
John put a pancake in front of her. "Try to eat that. At least a few bites."
"I am so sorry," Will said. "About last night. If I'd known you were pregnant …"
"Do you not yell at pregnant women?"
"Not if I can help it. And I wouldn't have waved bacon in front of you, if I'd realized."
"I wouldn't have even cooked bacon. I know how that smell got to Julie." He grinned slyly. "Bacon, and trout, and liver and onions …"
Julie poked him in the arm with her fork.
"In a year," Christine warned, "when you find your daughter vibrating while she sucks the last sugary pink grains from a giant pixie stick, I want you to know that it was me who gave it to her."
Will laughed. "Okay, I'll stop. But I really am happy for you."
Christine took a tentative bite of pancake.
"You're going to need a daycare center at the office," John said.
"I actually suggested that," Harold answered.
"Nah," Christine said. "We'll just throw a big playpen behind the front desk and let Ms. Kellingsworth deal with them. It'll be fine."
"She would, too," Julie agreed. "She'd have them learning their alphabet by filing reports."
They chatted around a few ideas. Christine managed to eat half a pancake, and Angela tried her first taste. She seemed confused by the texture of the tiny bite her mother gave her, but she also seemed to enjoy it.
"We're going to have to find big playpen for me, too," Nathan said, a bit sadly. "I don't imagine we can all stay here forever."
"I'm not complaining," he said quickly. "I shouldn't be here at all. A week ago I was … well, anyhow. I don't want to put you in danger. Any of you. That's the most important thing."
"Where would you like to live?" Julie asked. "We should start there, and then we'll figure out how to manage the security. Do you want to go back to the city?"
"No," Nathan answered immediately. "All those buildings, those people, those cameras? No. I don't think I could live there now. I just – no. And even if I did, I'd always be tempted to go out some time. I'd convince myself I could get away with it just once. I … no. Not the city."
"We could find a house like this," Harold offered. "Or this house, probably. It's very nice."
"Or several houses," John suggested. He waved his fork toward Will and Julie. "Anywhere they go repeatedly, it might be enough to attract attention."
They were quiet for a moment.
"You know what's funny?" Nathan said. "When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to get the hell out of Texas. I was so sick of all those horses and cows, all those big empty spaces, all that sky. I couldn't wait to get to a real city. And God knows I thrived when I finally got here. But when I was living on that ratty farm in Green Bank … it felt right. To dig up worms and go fish whenever I wanted to. To lay in the grass and look at the stars. To sleep with the windows open and feel the breeze at night, hear the birds at the crack of dawn. I even thought about getting a couple cows, maybe a horse. I didn't, of course. I figured the government was gonna show up any day and haul me away. But I thought about it And I was … I was happy there. Despite everything, I was happy."
"You do look good in flannel," Christine teased.
"My parents have a farm upstate," Julie said slowly.
"Your parents have a compound upstate," Will corrected. "They just call it a farm. It's more like a fortress. And we can't take my dad there."
"No," Julie said. "But now that we've got Angela, and she's got a cousin on the way," she gestured to Christine, "maybe it would be nice if we had a place of our own. Where we could get out of the city. Somewhere they could run barefoot on the grass and have a tree house. Maybe a few horses, and chickens. And goats."
"Goats are fun. And good for weed control. Anyhow, somewhere we could go on weekends and holidays, or during the summer."
"Somewhere it wouldn't be surprising if we went often." Will nodded.
"Somewhere big," Harold added. "With ponds and creeks and forests. A preserve. But enclosed, maybe with a wall."
"An electronic wall," John amended. "A ton of surveillance cameras. Crazy billionaire security, all day every day, because they're never sure when you'll be there."
"State of the art technology, so you can work while you're there," Christine suggested.
"So we can work while we're there," Will corrected. "And completely off the grid. Self-sustaining power and water."
"And a pool," Julie added.
"And escape tunnels," Christine contributed.
"And like, tons of bedrooms," Will said, "so we could all visit at once."
"Place like that," Nathan completed slowly, "would need a live-in groundskeeper. Someone to look after all that livestock and such."
"And if the children were terribly fond of that groundskeeper," Harold said, "no one would think anything of it."
"Does that sound like the place?" Julie asked.
Nathan swallowed hard and nodded, unable to speak.
"Can we find a place like that?" Will asked.
"We can build a place like that," Christine answered. "We just have to activate billionaire powers."
"Oh, of course."
John cleared his throat. "I'd want full-time security there. Someone reliable, someone we can trust absolutely. That will take some searching."
"No," Christine said, "I already know a guy. Big, scary-looking, got some military training. Tired of living in Florida. Makes the best Irish coffee in the world."
"The big guy from the coffee shop?" Will remembered. "He'd be great. You think he'd put up Christmas lights for us?"
"I love this idea," Nathan finally managed to say. "I love everything about it."
Harold went to the living room and retrieved a computer. He sat back down, paused to look around the table. This family of his. They would need a bigger dining room. Room for highchairs and booster sears, because there would most certainly be more children to fill them. Room for Joss Carter, and perhaps her son, though Taylor did not seem much like the country type. Room, perhaps, for Olivia; that matter was still to be discussed.
It would still be a prison of sorts for Nathan. The man would have to stay concealed, disguised, for the rest of his life. But a week ago he was dying of thirst in a derelict basement. This farm that he wanted would be everything Harold could make it.
He could see it clearly for a moment, as clearly as he had seen the Machine's code before he wrote the first line. Breakfasts like this, in a bright sunny room. The table crowded and noisy and joyful. Nathan healthy and walking, a bit sunburned, refilling plates with pancakes and eggs and sausage. John in blue jeans, laughing, the care temporarily banished from his face. A band of children so universally cared for that no casual observer could match them accurately to their actual parents.
Safe, all of them, and happy.
Harold Finch could somehow not manage to see himself at that breakfast table.
He shook his head quickly and the vision vanished. He opened the computer. "Well then. Let's start searching, shall we?"