Harold Finch let a great shuddering sigh escape his lips as his glassy stare locked on his computer screen. Everything had finally begun to feel normal again. Well, until five minutes ago. Now he could feel his life starting to slide once more toward agonizing disarray. Or, at least more agonizing disarray than was the norm.
Squeezing out of Root's grasp had taken over two weeks, although without John it likely would have taken months. She hadn't beaten him for information until the end, to his surprise, but the ordeal had left him mentally exhausted. Returning to the library to see the list of chances he had missed throughout the two weeks made things even more difficult. Despite John's somewhat fervent argument against it, he had gone directly back to picking up numbers and sending John off on scouting missions. He needed the tension and sense of urgency their missions brought. It was, he felt, his only real purpose to go on living.
A sharp scrape of metal followed by the scuff of a shoe forced Harold to break from his trance, quickly closing the photo displayed on one of his monitors.
"Good morning, John," he said without turning his head.
"Morning, Finch. Any killers to catch? Babies to snatch?" John said with an even tone, sarcasm dancing behind his words.
"Not quite," Harold murmured quietly, taking a sip of his tea nervously. He rose from his chair, stifling a groan when his back protested the movement.
"Well?" John cocked an eyebrow, urging him to continue.
Finch made his way absentmindedly to the wall where all of his missed chances hung, looking at it grimly. He couldn't afford another picture on that wall.
"Finch, anybody home?" John sounded a bit more agitated as he spoke, clearly growing antsy as he awaited the answer to his question.
Patience wasn't always John's strong suit, unless he was going about his business of stalking. Impatience was the exact reason John had found and rescued him so soon, though, so he couldn't fault him for it. There were many things he couldn't really fault John for, good or bad. Although when Harold had recruited Reese he expected him to be nothing more than a coworker, he had grown into something closer to a friend.
There were certainly some rough patches in the friendship, if it could be considered that. He knew nearly everything about John, but kept his own life a secret. Through some distinctly annoying prying John had gained some slivers of knowledge, but he only had pieces of the whole. Harold had intended to keep it that way, friend or not, but now he was afraid. Afraid that things might change. Afraid for every sacrifice he had made.
While John had been pestering him, Harold had made his way to a bookshelf and pulled Jane Eyre out of a neatly organized cluster of novels. He leafed through it until his fingers found a photograph, and he allowed his eyes to slide shut for a fraction of a second before pulling it from the pages. Grinding his teeth together in agitation, he folded it in half so only one face was showing in the picture. That was a strange thought, a face. It was rare that he called anyone a face before a number.
Limping with a sort of pride he always managed to limp with, he ignored John's baffled look and made his way to the wall where he pinned up the photos of all their new numbers. Sticking the old photo to the wall he grimly turned away and returned to his chair, ignoring the pain shooting up his spine as he flopped down without an ounce of gentleness.
"Is this the silent treatment?" Reese began as he passed Harold's chair to go view the photo, "I don't remember pissing you-" he suddenly broke off when he was close enough to see the picture.
Reese turned to face him, but Harold wished he wouldn't. He didn't want to make eye contact with him, not until he absolutely had to.
"Finch," Reese began, "Harold, look at me."
"I can see you just fine, Mr. Reese," Harold shot his spite through his words as he finally made his blazing eyes meet John's.
"I'm not going to let anything happen, Harold," John said with all the confidence he could muster. Harold recognized it as the tone he used to soothe victims, and he didn't appreciate it.
"Unless you plan on reassuring me in that tone with every number we receive henceforth, please drop it. This is no different from any other number. We'll treat it as such, with some precautions."
"It is different," John moved closer as he spoke, "you can't hide this one from me. You have to trust me enough to help me. If you still love her-"
"Don't!" Harold was on his feet, "Don't you question if I love her! You already know who she is to me, you already uncovered the one thing I wanted to bury forever," his tone was bitter, "and it could well be because of you that this number came up. You do your job, Mr. Reese, and leave me to mine."
With that, he dropped the finger he had pointed accusingly and stiffly settled back into his chair, gripping the handles like a vice and staring straight forward. John left the room without saying a word; Harold hadn't expected him to. Some part of him, buried deep inside, regretted snapping at John. It wasn't enough to kill his anger, though. Reese had gone to see Grace. Whatever danger she was in could be related to John, and if anything happened to her no amount of dashing heroics could bring Harold to easy forgiveness.
A thought hit him then. What if it wasn't John at all? What if Root had traced him right back to Grace? What if it was no one's fault but his own?