A/N: Hi! I just felt it would be so tragic for such a cool story to be left unfinished, so whether you R and R or not, I plan to write and write until it gets a decent ending. For Nova-chan's sake, though, please review! And thanks again to Nova-chan for giving me the opportunity to write this, and helping me out with my writing flaws. You rock:) - Seven of Spades
Chapter 5: Adaptation
Maya accompanied Dennis, whose eyes were concealed behind a thick pair of shades, as he walked into the Blush office to a round of applause. He dropped his cane, eager to find the rest of the gang with his bare hands. They soon found something particularly large, fleshy and warm.
"Aack!" Maya yelled. "Get your hands off my boobs, Finch!"
"Oopsies. Well, they are kinda hard to miss." He promptly dropped his hands, grinning mischievously as Maya stepped back, picked up his cane and led him to Jack's office. "Hee, I've always wanted to do that."
"Still the same old Finch, eh?" came a male voice to his right.
He followed the source of the sound and reached his arm forward, raising it slightly to feel something hard and round with his hand. "I knew it was you, Elliot," he laughed.
Maya's hands continued to guide him to a seat in Jack's office. He'd never noticed how soft they were until now. That moment, he silently wished that he could match the sweet face to her voice again, comforting himself with knowing that he would always remember that New Year's Eve picture.
"Nice to see you, Jack," he said sarcastically, adjusting the bandage on his head.
"Now," came Jack's familiar gravelly but warm voice, "I know your handicap may hinder you when doing your job, but we'd be happy to have you stick around."
Let's see: answering calls, making calls, taking down messages, arranging schedules, typing, printing, stapling, oh, SHIT! Dennis didn't think he could handle doing any of his clerical tasks now that he'd lost his eyesight. "You'd have to pay for my Braille lessons and convert all documents and my keyboard to Braille. I think it'd cost much less to hire someone else."
"What's it been, Dennis? Fifteen years?"
"About that long." He was getting more and more depressed by the minute. Fifteen years as a secretary.
"I can't just make you leave Blush after all these years! Plus, I'm not about to get dragged into court again for firing a handicapped person," Jack scoffed.
"There really was no reason to fire Alexis like that, though Dad," Maya insisted.
"Who hires a deaf girl to take dictation?"
"Nevertheless, Dad, Finch does have a point. It would be more cost-effective to hire someone new," came Maya's voice from the back of the room. She was right, yes, but Dennis hated hearing it come from her of all people. "But we could hire someone else, and have Dennis take care of answering phones."
"Hey, sure," Jack replied. "We'll buy a headset and an in-office intercom so you don't have to write anything down. What do you say, Dennis?"
"You don't have to worry about a salary cut."
Good enough. "Less work for the same pay? Sounds good to me. I'll do it."
As soon as he felt his way out of Jack's office with his cane, he detected the strong scent of tequila from in front of him. "Nina, is that you?"
A pair of skinny arms suddenly squeezing his frail body signified the affirmative. "Thank God you're alright, Finch!"
Finch tried prying the woman off of him. "Nina, please, you're smothering me with the smell of alcohol...and what do you mean 'alright'? I have to quit the Traffic Academy and the Future Magicians of America! I won't get to watch cat shows anymore! And did I mention that I'm blind? Jesus. Got anymore tequila?" As soon as he felt someone wrapping his free hand around a half-full shot glass, he downed the drink. "Thanks. Man, that's a strong one!"
"Tastes the same to me," Nina remarked, staring into her own glass. "Anyway, I'm just glad you're still alive. Blush wouldn't be the same without you."
"I know," he jokingly replied in the direction of her voice. "You guys would be lost without my savvy wit and great taste in music. But thanks, Nina."
Someone took the glass out of his hand and helped him out the office door. "So," he heard Maya say, "is there anyone to take care of you now?"
"I live alone, Maya, you know that."
"Right. Look -- er, listen, -- you can come live with me until we sort your situation out."
His grasp on the walking cane in his hand tightened. "It's okay, I'll just call my mom and sit around until she arrives. That is, if she doesn't die of a heart attack first. I doubt she'll be pleased to find that the son who she once thought was gay is now blind."
"No, Finch," she insisted, "I can't let you go home by yourself. We'll get a few of your things and you can stay in my spare bedroom."
He smiled at nothing in particular. "Will you let all my porcelain cats come live with you too?"
Maya laughed as she opened her car door and helped Dennis into the front seat. "We'll worry about your porcelain cats later."
Dennis emerged from the car wearing a knapsack and holding an equally large canvas bag and his cane in one hand. He flinched a little at the feel of someone taking his free hand and made a sort of squeak he wished he could take back.
"Relax, Finch," Maya said. "Just let me show you to your room."
She hoped he wouldn't notice that she was starting to get a funny sensation just by holding his hand. What is with me today?
Stepping in, Dennis detected the scent of polished wood mingling with tea leaves. He could visualize in his head what her apartment would have looked like -- probably decked out in earthy tones, like maroon and dark green, and it would make you feel right at home. Just like Maya.
Once they'd reached his bedroom, she began to unpack his things for him, one particular item catching her eye as she unzipped the canvas bag. "You have a blow-dryer, Finch?"
"Well, do you think my hair gets all smooth and shiny on its own?"
She giggled and continued unpacking, now handling folded pajamas in the different colors of the rainbow. She examined one of them more closely. It was purple, with the word
"Monday" embroidered on the sleeve. "Oh my God," she laughed, "Days-of-the-Week pajamas?"
"Hey, I haven't worn those for many, many...days," he replied. "My mom gave them to me for Christmas."
"Huh. Don't tell me you have matching boxers, too?"
He hugged his knapsack closer to his chest. "What gave you that idea?" he said a little too defensively.
After unpacking the last set of pajamas, she turned around to see him sitting on the edge of her bed, eyes still hidden behind shades. She took them off for him, momentarily stunned by his eyes. They were a hypnotizing turquoise color -- they would catch her off guard every once in a while through the years they'd been working together, but never like this. Sadly, though, his eyes were completely vacant of emotion, no longer possessing the mischievous gleam they once bore. He blinked repeatedly, unaware of his surroundings or the fact that
Maya just stood there staring transfixed at him.
Sadly, though, his eyes were completely vacant of emotion, no longer possessing the mischievous gleam they once bore. He held on to his knapsack in an innocent, childlike way, so unlike the regular Dennis Finch. He was tragic and endearing at the same time, making her feel sorry for him, and yet so very drawn to this new dimension of his character.
"M-Maya, are you there?" he called out. "I think some creep just stole my shades."
His voice jerked her out of her stupor. "Oh, your shades are with me. I'll just set them down on the desk."
"Oh. Thanks," he mumbled with a touch of distrust in his voice.
"So," she said, clasping her hands, "is there anything else I can do for you?"
He grinned at where he believed Maya was. "Give me a bubble bath?"
"Never mind," she sighed, exasperated. "Good night, Finch."
"Wait," he called, "what about dinner?"
Finch's persistence never ceased to irritate her. "Hey, quit it."
"No, seriously. I haven't eaten in eight hours."
"...Oh." Her cheeks turned pink, unbeknownst to him.
"However, if you'd like, we could enjoy a candle-lit dinner followed by naughty time," Dennis suggested with a diabolically raised eyebrow.
"I'm just going to chalk that up to exhaustion. I'll have your dinner ready in an hour," Maya said, leaving Dennis in her spare room.
A few minutes (and a bump acquired from hitting the wall) later, Dennis was on the couch facing the TV, which, at the moment, was showing a re-run of Frasier. As she set down the plates, Maya watched him sadly while he tried to enjoy the sitcom without his sense of sight.
"The pasta smells great! Hurry up in there, Aunt Jemima, I'm starving!"
She was amazed -- people could hardly smell food cooking from all the way in the living room. "It'll be done in a sec."
She heard tapping sounds getting louder and louder, prompting her to look around and see him using his cane to find his way to the dinner table on his own. Overcome with sympathy, she rushed over to help him into his seat. "Don't try to be a hero, Dennis, it's only been a week since the accident."
He stood up and followed the sound of her footsteps. "Come on, Maya, just a taste?" he pleaded.
"Oh, all right," she relented, ladling a dollop of sauce into his open mouth. "Careful, it's hot."
"That's delicious -- might want to add just a one more basil leaf, though. And don't throw herbs in whole, the taste is maximized if you chop them up first. There's just enough olive oil in here, and the plum tomatoes? Excellente. The overall texture of the sauce is just perfect."
"Well, thanks. Do you restaurant-hop in your spare time, Finch?" she asked, adding in a half-tablespoon of chopped basil.
"Actually, no, my sense of taste just got better all of a sudden. I think it might've been a roast beef sandwich I ate at the hospital."
Weird, she thought as she tried the marinara sauce. "Hey, it does taste better now!"
"I told you. Let me kiss the cook?" He puckered his lips and closed his eyes.
"Just so you know, Finch, I am rolling my eyes at you right now."
Soon enough, two plates of linguine and two glasses of white wine were set down on the table -- Maya's favorite dinner to prepare. Just as she was lifting a forkful of pasta to her mouth, she saw him feeling around the table for his fork and then holding it shakily to try to twirl the pasta around it.
"Here, let me help you," she said, gently taking the fork from his hand. "Open wide."
A little hesitant at first, Dennis finally obliged, feeling Maya's hand under his chin as she fed him the pasta. "Mmm, thank you Mommy."
He could feel the blood rushing to his cheeks as he heard her laughter. He hated that she had to see him in such a helpless state. "Jesus, Maya, I can do it myself."
"No, it's fine," she laughed, clearly enjoying this more than she wanted him to know. Dennis was oddly endearing this way.
"Well, I don't want to be treated like a kid forever," he said defensively.
"Alright, alright," she relented, getting up and moving behind him. "It's this way." She took his hand, her palm touching his knuckles and her fingers over his, and helped him handle the fork properly. His hand was shaking at her touch. "Then you twist it -- yup -- and there you go."
She figured they had a long night ahead of them, but Maya didn't mind at all.
Before retiring to her own bedroom, Maya decided to check on Dennis one last time. She opened the door to see him lying awkwardly on his bed, fingers interlaced, staring at the ceiling hoping to finally fall asleep. Naturally, he didn't notice the light streaming in from the open doorway. She moved silently towards the large cabinet in the room, pulled out a blanket, and walked towards him.
"Huh? Oh, hey. Didn't see you there...obviously." He was still quite resentful that fate had decided to pull the rug out from under him, like it had up and decided to just shut off the light and force him to wade through the rest of life in the dark. As if I didn't hate life enough already. Dead-end job, no one to accompany me at home except my cats, and don't even get me started on girls. And then I have to lose the one sense most important to me.
Maya unfolded the blanket and draped it over him so he was covered from the neck below. "You looked kind of cold."
"Well, I'm kind of not used to this. But, thanks."
"Good night, Dennis."
He smiled. "Good night, Clara Barton," he replied to the sound of retreating footsteps.
Okay, so maybe fate doesn't hate me entirely. If anything, Dennis was thankful that he had such supportive friends, Maya especially. God bless her, still willing to help him out after all the snide remarks and nasty pranks he'd pulled on her over the years.