Wolfhound


Finch flipped a switch and the apartment was filled with the warm glow of incandescent light bulbs. Reese followed him into the corridor, leaving swirls of chilly air in the wake of his wagging tail as he used both sight and smell to take in his new surroundings. The walls between the rooms were thick, like what could be expected in an underground bunker or a catacomb, but their surfaces were whitewashed and clean, reflecting the light to give the windowless space a brighter feeling, and decorated with original paintings set in gilt frames. The furnishings were opulent but looked comfortable, with soft leather seats and intricately carved wood that spoke of wealth and elegance. The round thermostat dial that Finch turned up was also from a bygone era, but Reese could hear the furnace in an adjacent room respond immediately.

"It shouldn't take long to get the place warmed up," Finch told him as he made his way into the kitchen. "I'm going to make myself a cup of tea... Can I get you anything?"

"Row-fanf," ["No, thanks."] Reese replied and continued exploring. As he wandered into the living room he noticed that all of the ceilings were domed and the doorways were arched, reminiscent of a Mediterranean villa. He inspected the couch and, satisfied that it was large enough to accommodate him, loped past a wall lined with bookshelves to a cabinet that smelled strangely of new plastic. Nosing the door, he realized that it was a magnetic catch, which he pressed to open. He let out an appreciative moan when he saw what lay inside.

"I see you've found the TV," Finch said with a wry smile as he removed his coat and placed it on an antique hat rack. "I just brought it down last month, in case you're ever laid up again with a work-related injury. This place has several entrances, so we can hole up in here for a long time without anyone ever noticing. Although," he admitted, as an afterthought, "I don't suppose you'll be able to navigate a ladder in your... current condition."

He went on to describe each exit: the laddered chute that led straight up to the sewer system; the spiral staircase connected to another locked utility room in the regular basement and which served as a back-up ventilation system; the tunnel from a few floors above that led to a hidden room in a building on the other side of the block; a branch of that tunnel which merged into a subway station side track access corridor; and yet another passage that wound up a system of stairs and tunnels until it deposited the traveler in a small enclave of another building, which opened onto an alley behind a restaurant.

"That one will probably be the easiest for you to navigate," Finch concluded and took a sip of his tea. "There are no streetlights or cameras in that alley, either, although the dumpsters are rather... odiferous. But that's the least of our concerns, I suppose... At night it would be easy to slip in and out without being seen at all."

Reese had made himself at home, waiting until Finch had sat at one end of the couch with his tea before sprawling out beside him. Even lying down on his stomach, Reese's head was almost on the same level as Finch's, his breath catching the man right in the face and making him grimace.

"Speaking of slipping in and out..." Finch mumbled, setting his teacup down and pulling out a keyboard from a compartment in the coffee table. "Let's see if Ms. Mawon has been up to anything..."

The keyboard was linked wirelessly to a computer that used the big flat-screen TV as its monitor, and in a few minutes Finch had hacked into the surveillance feeds around the Voodoo priestess's neighborhood again. Rewinding the footage to when they had left the library, they could not find any unusual activity, so Finch relegated the current feeds to smaller screens along the side of the TV.

"What was the title of that movie you mentioned? 'Weekend at...' was it Benny's?"

"Rerr-neef," Reese corrected, though not very helpfully.

Finch scrolled through the list of movies available on his service and found it. "Ah! Here it is, 'Weekend at Bernie's.' You did recommend watching the first one first, right?"

Finch relaxed as they watched the comedy film, even taking off his shoes and putting his feet up on an ottoman, and Reese lounged across his three-quarters of the couch, resting his head again on Finch's thigh.

"You really are becoming insufferable," Finch remarked mildly, his hand stroking Reese's fur out of habit already. Reese grinned up at him, rewarded when the man realized what he was doing and glanced down at him in chagrin.

"Well... I always did want a dog..." he muttered, "although I was thinking more along the lines of a... Collie. Like Lassie, you know."

Reese snorted in disdain.

"They're very intelligent," Finch countered. "And obedient. Very obedient."

Reese rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to the movie, whiffling every so often at a particularly funny scene, and Finch found himself chuckling out loud several times as well.


When the credits began to roll, Reese got off the couch, yawned, and luxuriously stretched his long limbs. Finch turned off the TV and stood up slowly, expecting his hip to be stiff after sitting in the same position for so long, but was surprised when he was able to move it without much pain. He realized that the warmth of Reese's body pressed against that hip must have helped keep it limber, but he decided not to mention it for fear Reese would use it as an excuse to drape his shaggy self all over him – especially since he hardly needed one as it was.

"Well, I suppose we should figure out our sleeping arrangements," Finch began. "You're welcome to use this couch, but there are several bedrooms and you're welcome to any of them as well. Let me unlock them so you can see..."

Reese peered into each of them as Finch opened the doors and turned on the lights. Every room was decorated in a different color scheme, with large paintings of landscapes or seascapes framed by curtains to give the illusion of windows. There were a total of eight bedrooms but Finch didn't open the one closest to the living room until he had shown Reese all of the others, and then only because Reese sat down in front of that door and looked up at him expectantly.

"Yes, this is the master bedroom, and it has the biggest bed," he admitted as he unlocked and opened it. Reese moved past him like a shot, jumping onto the bed in one bound before sprawling on his back with all four paws waving in the air as he wriggled to get comfortable.

"This is usually my bedroom, Mr. Reese," Finch stiffly informed him.

"Ay-row," ["I know."] Reese replied, gazing at him with his head upside-down. "Ay-fan frerr rowr rowrown in-eer. Ruff-ferf-frenfy off-froom." ["I can smell your cologne in here. But there's plenty of room."] He rolled over and sat up on the far side of the bed. "Fee? Frenfy off frafe, for-rowf-off-uff." ["See? Plenty of space, for both of us."]

"You're not serious, are you? You don't expect me to... get into the same bed with a... a dog..."

Finch's voice trailed off as Reese pawed at the covers to peel them back, then patted the spot beside him invitingly.

"Ay-rown-rayf, Awr-rowr – Ay fromiff." ["I won't bite, Harold – I promise."]

"Fine," Finch declared when he had regained his voice. "You can have this bed; I'll just move my things to one of the other rooms..."

"Awr-rowr!" Reese protested. "Ay-riff-ranna feef-yoo warm! Iff rowr in-eer." ["Harold! I just wanna keep you warm! It's cold in here."] He jumped off the bed and approached Finch, looking up at him with his expressive eyes, the bushy eyebrows drawn together to plead his case. "Ay-rown-rurf-yoo. Ay-wur-reffer rurf yoo." ["I won't hurt you. I would never hurt you."]

Finch found himself at a loss for words for another long moment, during which Reese continued to hold his gaze with an earnestness seldom seen in the former operative when not engaged in a case. Finally, Finch relented.

"All right, then... I suppose it's pointless to argue with you." Finch heaved a deep sigh and shrugged. "I'm going to go shower now. You might as well make yourself at home."

"Fanf, Awr-rowr," Reese said softly. "Roo-rown rerref-iff." ["Thanks, Harold. You won't regret it."]