Beta: Thanks to Frost Deejn for the beta :-) Any remaining flaws are all my own.


for that which grows

It's a bad day.

Too much time spent hunched over his computer, too little spent doing his physiotherapy. Knowing this doesn't help. Nothing helps. He lies on his bed, mind hazy with pharmaceutics and pain. Like floating on a river of lava, he thinks. Which is another way to tell that it's bad; he's not normally one for thinking in purple prose.

The door creaks open, even though he should be the only one there. He doesn't even consider lifting his head.

"That better not be you, Mr. Reese," he says instead, aiming for steel but barely hitting audible.

"You'd rather it was a home invader?" Reese asks, feigning either hurt, curiosity or both as the door falls shut behind him. True to habit he makes no sound as he crosses the floor. Finch, because that's who he is to Reese, allows his eyes to fall shut rather than stare up at the looming figure.

"I'd rather you left," he offers. Of course, he'd rather a lot of things right then.

There's no witty come-back, but nor does the door creak open again. A spasm, cruel and insistent, puts the issue of Reese's continued presence in perspective. Unless the man's about to put his gun to use – and Finch will admit, if only in that very moment, that his feelings on that matter are more ambiguous than they ought to be – then it simply does not matter.

There are techniques, some of which they taught him during his rehabilitation period and others that he's picked up from books. He's used them all today – he's been a beach with the pain rolling in as waves from the ocean, he's been a tree with roots digging deep into the earth for relief, he's been nothing but a useless dead weight trapped in his own bed – but this time he just drifts.

When the worst eventually passes, he can hear the rasping of his own breathing. He opens his eyes and finds Reese still staring down at him. He looks tense. Unhappy even. Which strikes him as ridiculous because Reese… Reese has done more than just kill people, he's tortured them too. Pain shouldn't disconcert him.

"Painkillers not working?" Reese asks now, his voice so mild – or maybe just the drugs so strong – that it takes a few seconds for it to sink in just what an ludicrous question he's been asked. Finch's next inhale hitches on something that is close to laughter. Reese is truly not a man for hyperbole.

"Oh, they're working," he manages, words coming out slurred. "Just not…"

There he trails off, exhaustion setting in mid-sentence. He wishes he could turn his head to face the wall, but he's unwilling to move. Unwilling to even breathe past the shallow and perfectly measured in and out. Instead he just closes his eyes again, wishing above all else that he could just sleep.

"Finch," Reese says, voice insistent but far away, "is there anything I can do?"

It comes to him then, his mind approaching the thought like a man fumbling through fog, that if he asked then Reese would try to fix this for him. He'd knock over a pharmacy. Kidnap a doctor. Perhaps, if he asked really nicely, even knock him out with the butt of his gun. Finch puts this realization away, a puzzle to play with later.

Then there's another spasm, followed by yet another just as he thinks it's about to get better. He forgets altogether about Reese's question. Forgets even about Reese and is thus somewhat taken aback when he finally returns fully to his own mind and hears a voice, smooth and warm, filling the room.

At first he thinks that maybe Reese has been talking to him and shies away from the thought of having to gather the strenght needed to reply. Then, after a few moments of just floating and listening he realizes that no… no, Reese isn't talking, he's reading; each word of the Scandinavian poet as familiar to Finch's mind as the rows of code making up his own masterpiece.

Of course it hurts when buds burst

Otherwise why would spring hesitate?
Why would all our fervent longing
Be bound in the frozen bitter haze?
The bud was the chasing all winter.
What is this new thing that consumes and bursts?
Of course it hurts when buds burst
Pain for that which grows
And for that which envelops


Author's Note: The poem quoted was written by Karin Boye. Finch came across her works after being given her novel, Kallocain, by Ingram. Kallocain's a dystopian story, featuring a totalitarian world state where each home has a camera installed so that Big Brother can keep an eye on them. The novel and the rest of her work is in the public domain.