Finch returned from his trip with stronger pain meds to find Reese asleep. He was reluctant to wake him. Sleep took years off of Reese face, the tension wrung out of him leaving Reese lax against the dark-pattered bedcovers, the lines at the corners of his eyes halved. Reese looked almost innocent. Finch smiled indulgently. Yes, almost, but not quite. That image was rather difficult to maintain when one took into account the gun cradled in a loose-handed grasp.

Reese made a soft, quiet sound, eyes moving rapidly behind closed lids, breaking the moment.

Finch approached, intentionally dragging his feet more than was necessary. It appeared Reese's dreams had become bothersome, his eyes moving rapidly behind closed lids, but otherwise remaining silent.

"John," he said, stopping at the foot of the bed. He knew how unnerving it could be to wake with someone's face peering down at you and he had no wish to subject Reese to that. "John!" he repeated, louder.

Reese bolted upright, gun steady in his hand and trained level with Finch's chest. Finch held up the bags, the gauzy plastic crinkling in the otherwise silent room. Reese clicked the safety back on his gun before slowly setting it aside.

"Two of these pills should help significantly," Finch explained, ignoring the incident, as he unwrapped the bottles. "And that?" Reese said nodding to the folded up paper bag. Finch tossed it to the bedside with a grin, "Food. A cheeseburger to be exact."

A wry smile flashed across Reese's face. "Finch" he said, paper bagging crunching in his enthusiasm. "I think I love you." Reese eyes flicked up, checking Finch's reaction presumably before he settled back to eat, affecting an easy lounge.

Finch struggled with a blush, experiencing the faint burn in his cheeks. He worried it did nothing for him but make him appear over exerted and odd, neither of which complimentary. "Well…" his voice squeaked, he cleared it – ignoring that it had ever done such a traitorous thing – and began again. "What might you have said if I'd brought a steak I wonder?" Finch teased, his tone once more dry and impeccable.

Reese chuckled, amusement bright in his eyes. "Marry me?" He tossed out with an absent shrug, cheeseburger half finished. Finch made a small, strangled sound in the back of his throat. Reese's grin widened. Finch, reigned to Reese's teasing made himself comfortable in the high backed chair located to the left of the bed, close enough to carry on a conversation without crowding, half heartedly wishing he had in fact picked up steak instead. It was good to see Reese in better spirits.

He is bouncing back surprisingly fast, that, or it's the drug talking. Finch decided it didn't particularly matter; Reese seemed content. Reese tossed the paper bag into the trash bin, an effortless hole in one, as it were. Finch leaned into his chair as Reese settled down on his back in the bed, neither quite ready to fill the comfortable silence that hung between them with words.

Reese broke first. His words were a soft-sharp murmur in the middle hours of the night. Finch had thought he was asleep. He had been. Any annoyance Finch might have harbored died down quickly when Reese began to speak. "He – they don't know anymore about you than they already did." His voice was steady, precise, but detached. "They don't know what it is we do, or about the Machine. I just thought you might want to know, Finch."

"That is good to know, Mr. Reese." Finch paused gathering his thoughts. "I know that what happened in that warehouse is something I'll never understand, but if you want – or need to talk about it, well" Finch swallowed, "I've been informed I'm a very good listener."

"I hope to God you never have to understand, Harold" Reese said his words thick with emotions, buried as they were through years of CIA conditioning they were still very much present. Mr. Snow hadn't broken him, but Finch could see the hairline fractures mapped across his psyche.

Right now all it would take was a little push – but no, that wouldn't happen. "Over my dead body," he thought as he kept his vigil at Reese's bedside. "All he needs is time," he reminded himself. "The world at large thinks we're dead. Time is all we have."

"That chair can't be terribly comfortable," Reese said, startling him from his thoughts. Again. He had thought the man had finally drifted off to sleep. It would seem not. Finch arched an eyebrow, "I assure you that it is, Mr. Reese."

"You don't have to stay, Harold. You did your part. I'm all patched up now, see?" Reese said flicking his bandaged wrist absently. "So, you can go…wherever it is you go when you're not here."

Finch chuckled. He should be annoyed that Reese occasionally elected to shadow him on his days off. He really should be. But as with most things Reese-related, he wasn't. It was, dare he think it, endearing. "As though you don't know that for yourself, Mr. Reese."

"What can I say? You're a hard man to pin, Finch."

"Coming from you, Mr. Reese that is quite the compliment." Finch tilted his head, "Is this you're way of saying you want me to leave?"


"Then if that's settled," Finch said deciding to forgo sleep himself as he pulled out a book from the nightstand drawer, "I believe I'll read for a while."

Reese didn't look at him, and to the average observer his face didn't change. Finch never having been accused of being average saw Reese's lips quirk, his shoulders going loose minutely as the tension drained out of him. Reese, lulled by the flick of papers being turned and slightly-too-loud breathing and the whiff of lemon, allowed sleep to sweep him from consciousness for the next six hours.


After one days worth of bed rest, Finch realized something despite Reese's best effort to conceal it. He was suffering mild symptoms of PTSD. Last night Finch had passed it off as nothing; those little abortive starts at loud noises, car horns, sirens. But during the day –

During the day it was worse. Reese was as close to twitchy as he'd ever witnessed. Being aware of this, and the fact that the man slept with a 35. Berretta, made Finch twitchy.

He had never been so aware of how very loud the city was until every unexpected noise made the fine lines around Reese's eyes tighten. Sirens would blare and Reese would subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, reach for the gun tucked into the waistband of his pants.

Finch came to hate it by proxy, all the noise, and the traffic, but most of all Mr. Snow. Finch regulated his breathing, his hands unclenching from his hand rest. Getting worked up would do him no good and Mr. Snow would have to wait for another time; he could keep. Once his breathing leveled out again, Finch flicked his eyes towards the room Reese occupied; relief was followed closely by a sharp disquiet that overcame him when he heard the soft creak of floorboards.

Reese never makes unnecessary noise, unless – Finch cut off that train of thought. It was foolhardy. Reese had been through an ordeal; it was not too hard to image his skills might not be at their best considering he had stitches in his feet. And that right there was a thought Finch had never imagined would cross his mind, who needed stitches in their feet?

No, Reese hadn't caught on to his true purpose for keeping him close at hand. But he might well have noticed that Finch gained a certain relief in knowing he was present. Which wasn't good, but it was better.

Reese had made noise about going home and 'resting up' but Finch wouldn't have it. He said things like 'Unsupervised concussions can be dangerous Mr. Reese,' and 'You need help with those bandages, John!' until Reese had conceded. What Finch didn't say was this: 'I'm not ready to let you out of my sight' and 'God help me. I think I love you.'

Finch had accepted these sentiments; having been brought so close to losing Reese had made them unavoidable. At this point to do so would have been an exercise in self-denial, and he was not in the habit of encouraging delusions. Still, accepting was a long stretch and many miles from confessing.

The chair squealed, swiveling as he levered himself to his feet. "We need to talk" he said, shuffling forward to stand, awkwardly, in the doorway. Reese looked up from the book he was flipping through, a wry smile curving his lips. "Are we breaking up, Finch?" he teased, discarding the book. Reese pulled himself to attention, one bent knee hanging off the ledge; closed book resting across his lap. He'd exchanged his suit in favor of worn track pants, no shirt, and Finch could appreciate the view, a bit worse for wear as it was.

"Finch –?"

Reese wasn't laughing, exactly, but he was uncomfortably close to it, now. "Apologies, I believe the last 24 hours have been more taxing than I first realized" Finch offered in lieu of explanation, a blatant manipulation he would feel guilt over late, but would use now. It drove home how very off his game Reese was that he fell for it.

Suddenly Reese wasn't almost-laughing anymore. But there was concern, and tired affection in his pale eyes, "What were you going to say, Finch?"

He paused, head tilting. "Another Number?"

"No, no, nothing of that sort," Finch assured him, wondering what exactly the man had planned to do if there had been a Number; wheelchair himself after any potential target? Finch dismissed the thought, alarming but likely true.

"I have a house, one of many, that I sometimes use when looking for some peace and quiet –" A siren blared outside the window causing Reese to flinch. No more than a hard blink before he forcefully resumed his languid sprawl. Reese attempted to cover his earlier reaction with a disarming smile, the sort he used on grumpy clerks, and pretty secretaries to ease his way through closed doors. It was a very nice smile as such things went, but Finch preferred the smaller, truer, one that reached his eyes.

" – As I was saying, the library offers neither of these things. But my house does."

"Why is it I feel the urge to say I'm not that kind of girl?" Reese muttered, running a hand through his hair, "Look, Harold, I'm fine – "

Crack. Finch dropped the wine bottle discreetly tucked under his arm, his point made when Reese rolled to his feet, wincing, and cursing, his gun aimed low but steady in his hand. "Christ!" Reese snapped, words clipped and sharp as the razors edge his sanity seemed perched on. "You didn't need to do that."

"Apparently I did, John."

"Do I get a choice in this?" Reese asked, not looking at him. Finch frowned; shuffling closer he gently rested his hand over the one gripping the gun. "Reese – John, I cannot make you do anything you are adverse to, nor would I wish to. Your sleep was erratic, and your naps are worse. You startle at every noise, making sleep nearly impossible. And that's what you need to recover, sleep, and a safe place to do it. I suppose what it comes down to is whether or not you trust me?"

"Trust?" Reese murmured, his gaze lifting abruptly. He squeezed Finch's hand, the calluses on his hand brushing Finch's knuckles, "Yeah, I trust you. I decided to do that a long time ago, Harold."

"I will do my best to never betray that trust, John."

"I know you will."

Reese eyed the shattered pieces of crockery, wine splashed across the floor that he could barely make himself see.

Red, so much red like –

He shook himself forcing his mouth to curve into a grin. It was sharp and predatory, unlike the softer tease he'd wanted. "What a waste." Finch arched his eyebrow at the remark. "Not at all. I picked it up at a local drugstore."

Reese laughed, a soft chuckle that surprised them both.

Finch, inordinately pleased, grinned – a small tenuous thing that twitched along the corners of his lips. "Think of it this way Mr. Reese, you can utilize your special talents to pry my secrets from the walls of my house…" Finch paused dramatically, "Well, you can try."

"Is that a challenge, Harold?"

Finch's grin widened. "It is."

Reese propped himself up against the bedside. Hands spread in concession. "In that case…" he leaned into Finch, close enough to smell a hint of lemon and hear the small hitch in his breathing.

"—Lead the way."

Reese threw on a navy-blue sweater, threadbare and worn at the cuffs as he waited. A crutch propped under his arm – the one Finch had discovered in the utility closet, saved over from the last time Reese had been wheelchair-bound. One shoulder leaned against the doorframe, his lanky frame pressed close for several feet of it, the other balanced out by the crutch. It was a standard issue appliance, plain and sturdy. It should look silly. But, somehow, Reese made it work. And that look, that hint of mirth thawing the usual coolness of Reese's eyes as he tossed a backwards glance at Finch made him hurry after Reese quite before he realized what he was doing.

It should be silly.

Reese was a bandaged mess unable to properly walk, and yet –

And yet it simply wasn't.

Finch trailed after, a riot of things going through his head. He quieted his thoughts; all the important ones had already been decided and further debate was futile. The Numbers had their place in his life, but it was no longer the most important one.

"Coming, Finch?" Reese called back over his shoulder opening the car door, and holding it for him. It was a gallant gesture, delivered with a half-mocking, half-sincere nod of his head. It was the sincerity that unnerved Finch most, even as it loosened the tension riding his shoulders. Their hands brushed, transference of electric shock breaking the contact. It was a curiously intimate moment, hands inches apart. Close enough that Finch could feel his heat but distance enough that he couldn't touch. Reese opened his mouth, something dry and witty no doubt, lingering on the tip of his tongue.

"Don't, John," Finch said, unwilling to give up the moment so soon. Reese, indulgently, kept quiet. There was something like kindness in his brief glance, and something else Finch could not place before the other man pulled away sliding into the back of the car, their knees casually bumping.


Reese settled back, content to watch as the busy streets and sidewalks of New York gave way to trees and hills, and eventually a very rustic looking log cabin at the top of a small grassy knoll. It was quite unlike anything he would have expected Finch to consider home. This was exactly where Snow would have expected him to disappear to, making it the onc place he would never look. It was a double bluff; just clever enough that Reese was not overly concerned about midnight raids or a knife at his throat.

Having discovered a mild form of mind reading, Finch finally spoke: "This mandatory vacation is for you, which means a place that's easily defensible, and possesses numerous exit strategies – all easily executable."

Reese swallowed back a tumult of feelings that blindsided him. In an abstract way he'd known Finch cared, but knowing, and knowing were two very different things. It was a kindness he hadn't expected and didn't know what to do with. Finch, who read him far too easily for comfort, waved aside anything he might have said, the car sliding to a gentle stop at the driveway.

"Welcome to my home away from home, John."

"I thought you said –"

Finch ducked his head, adjusting his glasses. A clear tell that he was becoming uncomfortable. Reese couldn't fathom why, but let it be regardless. He was pleasantly surprised when Finch filled in the blanks on his own. "I never said I didn't like it, too."

Mr. Novak carried Finch's luggage up to the house, Reese's a burlap sack slung across his back that he'd insisted on keeping. Finch and Reese limped after, not a single sure step between the pair of them, but they made it work.