Shameless Reese whump. Not much of a plot, just some old fashioned hurt/comfort with our two favorite characters. Sorry John, I just can't seem to refrain from hurting the characters I like but… it's just because I love comforting you!
This is my first Person of Interest fic, and I realized while writing that it is quite difficult to write these guys. The show is so great that I feel I shouldn't touch it. I've hesitated a long time before posting this story, but then I thought that since it was written… well, let me know what you think. Be gentle, please?
English is still not my first language... So please forgive me for any errors. Thank you to The Fictionist Aura for the beta reading. Any mistake left is mine.
05/2016. Story updated. Nothing major, some typos and errors that had escaped the first editing.
P o I - P o I - P o I
John opened the door and allowed himself to lean against the frame with a relieved sigh.
From the couch, the voice of Finch greeted him. "Mr. Reese, you're back. Did you enjoy your walk?"
The shorter man lifted his eyes from the book he was reading and rose suddenly. He gasped, dropping his book, as he took in the appearance of his employee.
"John, you're hurt!"
John raised his left hand in reassurance. "I'm fine, Finch."
Harold was stopped dead in his tracks.
"Fine? You have an arrow in your shoulder! That doesn't qualify 'fine' in any of the dictionaries I know," the bespectacled man sputtered.
Reese had a small wincing smile. "Not life threatening."
Finch blinked. For a man with so many shades of grey, Reese could be quite binary. Alive or dead, that was it. Nothing in between… like a probably very painful injury in his shoulder. He refrained from making any comment though; he knew it would be dismissed. He settled for an appropriate suggestion.
"Then why don't you come in and sit before that 'not life threatening' injury of yours has you pass out on the porch?"
Reese shakily pushed himself from the door frame, and surprisingly admitting to weakness, accepted Finch's help to enter the room. Finch pushed a chair from the eating area and John sat, leaning on his left arm against the table. He closed his eyes breathing softly, almost overwhelmed by the sheer relief of just sitting down.
He had an arrow protruding from his right shoulder, a long trail of blood down the front and back of his jacket. His hair was plastered against his head and front, slick with sweat, and his eyes were tight with pain.
"I'll get the keys to the car and drive you to town to see a doctor," Finch announced, limping toward his coat.
John lifted his head with a jerk, a flash of fear going through his eyes for a second.
"Finch, no matter how good the mufflers of your car are supposed to be, I'm not riding the ten miles of what passes for your driveway to the road."
When Finch had offered to go to his cottage for the week-end, Reese had been surprised. He hadn't taken the reclusive man for an outdoor person. Then Harold had told him the place was quite secluded but equipped with the best modern technology and comforts. After weeks of uninterrupted numbers, the prospect of some time off and out of the city had actually sounded good. He also was admittedly curious to see how Finch did spend his time off. It seemed like the genius was always stuck by his computers. Spending a few days with his "boss" outside the work area could prove interesting ─maybe Finch would feel like sharing more about himself?
What Reese hadn't anticipated was the "secluded" part of it. The cottage was down ten miles of a trail that was barely drivable unless with an excellent 4WD ─no, make that a military truck. John had been taken aback when Finch had appeared with a modern 4WD instead of the luxurious sedans he usually favored. He had refrained from asking anything but had wondered why Finch would choose such a car for their three hour road trip. Then, they had left the main road, slowed down to a gravel trail for a while before entering what could only be described as a collection of potholes and bumps surrounded by trees. That's when the idea about the military truck had popped in his mind. How anyone would want to drive over that thing was beyond him.
When he had questioned Harold on the bad shape of the trail ─after all it wasn't as if he couldn't afford the expense to level the road─ his employer had explained that he valued his secrecy more than comfort. Just like he didn't have a lift in the library, Reese had thought. No one was bound to want to drive that trail, or imagine there could be a house at the end of it. Finch had actually found the ultimate anti-burglar system.
So what had been a bouncy and ─once you went along with it─ even fun ride to come to the cottage (although the slight winces on Finch's face proved that it did his back no good) now looked like a nightmarish trail to hell with an arrow in his shoulder. Especially since it seemed to have developed a life of its own; it felt like it was moving with every single breath John took.
Harold paled, losing some of his usual composure. "Mr. Reese, you need to take care of that wound."
"Yes I do. Actually, you do."
"Harold, I need you to pull this thing out."
Finch swallowed hard. The nerve of the ex-covert ops agent was something that still managed to shake him no matter how many times he had witnessed it.
Reese started squirming to take his jacket off and Finch approached to help him. The left arm was easily out. Removing the right sleeve without further hurting him was a bit more complicated. He settled for ripping the front of the jacket to remove it without touching the shoulder or the arrow.
"Finch, how far did the point go?" Reese tried to look behind his shoulder but the angle was impossible.
Finch winced and observed the wound closer. "There's a little less than one inch out."
"So most of it probably. Pushing it through it is then…" Reese murmured sounding slightly defeated.
"Pushing… Oh God," Finch fought the bile coming to his throat.
John breathed deeply and started his instructions. Better explain everything before he passed out; he didn't know how long he would be conscious. The next minutes were going to be challenging, even for him.
If anything, his past life had made him a specialist of inventive doctoring. Getting an arrow (a bolt, Finch would have corrected) on his shoulder was a new experience ─one that he would have gladly made without─, but the principle remained the same: remove the foreign object from the wound.
"You will need to break or cut off part of the arrow in the front. As close as possible to the shoulder. Then, push it through, fast would be nice. The easiest way will probably be to use the butt of my gun to hit it. Then you will be able to pull it all out from the back. You may want to prepare disinfectant and bandages, and a couple of towels to stop the bleeding." With these words, John slipped his gun on the table after making sure the safety was on.
Finch was sure he was turning a very interesting shade of green. John, for his part, looked just as if he had been explaining a field drill to a rookie.
Limping a little more heavily than usual, Harold went to gather supplies from the bathroom. He had used this place to rest after his accident, once he had been allowed to leave the hospital and the wheel chair. His first aid kit could compete with any pharmacy in town. When he had told Reese the house had all necessary comfort, he hadn't thought about that part though.
He then rummaged through the utility closet before coming back with a hacksaw. Reese observed the tool with an appreciative nod; it would cut nicely through the composite material of the bolt.
Finch put everything he needed on the table then stepped back to remove his wool jacket. He was starting to feel hot and he was pretty sure it had nothing to do with the warm temperature of the cottage. In regards to being out of the city, he had abandoned his usual three piece suit for a more "gentleman farmer's look", with a wool jacket over the ever present pristine shirt, and he wasn't wearing a tie. John was wearing a flannel shirt and jeans.
Finch took a clean white handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to John. The wounded man seemed at a loss for half a second, had a small wince and nodded his thanks to Harold as he put the handkerchief between his teeth.
Harold then looked at the shoulder and arrow, trying to figure out the best way to hold the arrow still while he sawed through it. There was no way he could keep his hand away from the wound, if he wanted to hold the stem. With a murmured apology, he placed his left hand gingerly on shoulder holding the arrow before tightening his grip on the arrow to keep it from moving as he cut through it.
When Harold put the saw to the arrow and started the sawing motion, John inhaled sharply. He had anticipated the pain, he was ready for it. He had lost count of how many times he had been shot, knifed, cut, burned, tazed, tortured… It was all a question of control. You just didn't let the pain get to your head. It was a minor discomfort to be put aside while moving on, generally figuring out how to get out alive or just plainly survive.
Screaming wasn't productive and was only accidental. When the shot took you so completely by surprise, you couldn't help it or if your body was already focused on controlling the pain of another injury. So John was not about to let himself scream, but right now that in itself required a huge control.
The pain was overwhelming. He was sure he could feel every single tooth of the hacksaw going back and forth. Separating every single one, identifying the ones slightly broken or overused, the ones not at the same distance. He could give a name to every single point cutting through the material. Despite Harold's hand on the stem to hold it still, he could feel the vibration in his shoulder, from the front to the back, then spreading to his other shoulder, down his back, legs, all the way to his toes.
His hand was gripping the table in an impossible tight hold. There would be gouges in the wood, unless he broke his fingers first. His knuckles were so white it seemed the bones were about to pierce the skin. When Finch finally got through, he let out an explosive exhale, spitting the handkerchief.
He felt Finch moving to grab his weapon despite his dislike for guns, but anxious to move on with the instructions.
"Harold, wait…" John gasped. "Give me a minute," he asked in an impossibly low voice, his body shaking.
He couldn't take any more pain right now and he didn't seem to manage to get air into his lungs. He needed to breathe, to get his body under control. He felt that if Finch so much as blew on his shoulder he would scream his lungs out.
Finch looked at his friend with a worried look. John was so tense he didn't seem to be able to breathe. He put a comforting hand to his neck.
"John, try to relax. You need to breathe. You are allowed to scream or pass out, you know."
Finch knew from what he had uncovered about Reese's past that this had not always been an option. John's control over his body was a matter of survival, deeply ingrained. Letting go went against everything he was.
Keeping his eyes closed, John finally managed to breathe deeply several times, submitting his body to his will, then nodded. Finch understood and in one sure stroke hit the stem of the arrow.
The point ripping through flesh, the arrow moving in the shoulder, the gun hitting the open wound… It was too much. John couldn't keep the scream and as he closed his mouth on it he crumbled forward unconscious. Finch held him and guided his head to his arm on the table.
He immediately pulled the arrow out and applied a towel to the bleeding shoulder, pressing with all his strength, not having to worry about hurting Reese anymore.
Not life threatening, his employee had said. Apparently he knew what he was talking about. Finch managed to stop the bleeding quite easily. Or maybe the pressure he was putting on the shoulder didn't allow for anything else. He disinfected the wound thoroughly. Who knew where that thing had been laying? Come to think of it, he hadn't asked Reese how he got hurt. Trust the ex-agent to get involved with somebody firing arrows around.
Ripping the shirt to expose the skin, he properly bandaged the wound. John's face was drenched in sweat. With a wet cloth, he refreshed his face and head. He cleaned the table and threw away the gauze and towels he had used.
He looked at the two pieces of the arrow. It was short, probably from a crossbow; a bolt then, not an arrow. Who would use such a thing? He was about to throw it away but left it on the table. It was evidence after all, and he actually wanted to know the story behind it.
John was half sprawled on the table. Finch couldn't possibly move the man, but he could try to make him a little bit more comfortable. So he got a pillow that he managed to slide under his head, then covered his big frame with a blanket. Reese still hadn't moved an inch.
He watched his employee for a few minutes. He couldn't do anything more for him now. He went back to his couch and book, keeping silent vigil on the tall man that had become a friend.
John woke up about an hour later confused. His head was on a pillow but the position was strange. He was… sitting? He straightened, immediately ready to move, years of training pushing him into action. He groaned when his shoulder made him remember.
"Easy, Mr. Reese. You are safe," Finch said softly, not moving. He knew better than to startle the man.
John blinked and turned his head to Finch, looking from the pillow on his arm to the fallen blanket on his lap.
"How long was I out?"
"Approximately one hour. How are you feeling?"
"Sore," John replied not bothering to hide the pain. "Thank you for the pillow… and blanket."
Finch got up from the couch and went to get a glass of water and some pills.
"Here, take these, they will help."
John didn't even ask what they were. If anyone knew about painkillers, it was Finch. He swallowed them and sighed with pleasure at the refreshing water. He was thirsty, then remembered he hadn't taken any water on his walk. He lifted the glass to Finch.
"More water?" The man proposed before John could even ask.
He savored the drink and remained still on the chair, eyes unfocused.
"Mr. Reese, why don't you go lie down for a while? Then if you feel up to it, we can still go and see a doctor."
Reese opened his mouth then seemed to lack the energy to answer. He got up slowly and went to his bedroom to rest.
"I'll explain later, Finch," he murmured as he settled down. Exhausted, he was out in seconds.
P o I - P o I - P o I
A while later, Finch heard Reese grunting. He got up from the couch and went to the room to check on the man. John was thrashing on the bed, apparently caught in some nightmare. Harold made one step forward to wake him then stopped.
He had shaken Reese awake during a nightmare once before, when his employee had fallen asleep on a chair in the library. John had almost snapped his neck. After profusely apologizing, John had told him to refrain from approaching him when he was asleep. And to never touch him if he was having a nightmare. He had explained he wouldn't be able to forgive himself if he hurt the bespectacled man, which was very likely to happen if surprised in his sleep.
"Mr. Reese, wake up please," Finch tried rousing him from the doorstep.
Of course, caught in the throes of the dream, John didn't react.
"John, I need your help, wake up." Finch tried to convey as much urgency in his voice as he could. He knew John cared for him. If he felt he was in danger maybe the voice would get through his sleep.
It actually worked and Reese was up and almost out of bed before he was fully awake. He moaned, grasping his right arm with his left hand. He had pushed himself on his injured side and the wound had woken up with a vengeance.
"Mr. Reese?" Finch called out again.
"Yes, Finch." Reese groaned, his eyes closed, still confused.
He opened them and looked at Finch, still waiting by the door, a slightly worried look on his face. John blinked fully waking up and understanding the situation.
"Nightmare?" He asked. He didn't remember anything.
"It appeared so."
"Thank you then." Reese had a small smile when he realized why Finch hadn't come in. "I see that you remembered my advice."
"I am deeply attached to my head…" Finch answered in an unexpected trait of humor. He remembered vividly the strangle hold the ex-agent had got him on the previous time.
John looked at his shoulder. The bandage was stained with blood. Finch noticed it too.
"I will change the dressing. Would you like to eat something? You missed lunch."
John winced in distaste, feeling queasy. "No, thanks."
Reese raised an eyebrow. How did Finch know?
"Painkillers' side effect on an empty stomach. I'll make you a sandwich." He turned around and limped back to the kitchen, stopping by the bathroom to gather supplies to make a new dressing on the wound.
The tall man rose from the bed and removed his ruined shirt, then followed Finch towards the living area. His employer had already put all the necessary items on the table.
"Oh, good. You removed your shirt."
The bandage had stuck to the wound and Finch did his best to remove it without starting the bleeding again or adding any new pain. When he uncovered the injury, he frowned.
"Mr. Reese, this needs stitching."
"If you have butterfly strips they will do."
Finch made a face in disagreement but didn't comment. He observed the back of the ex-agent. It told of his dangerous past, covered in more scars he had ever seen on anyone. A new scar wouldn't make much of a difference he supposed. Apart for some occasional sharp breath intake, Reese didn't flinch as Finch probed the wound to apply the butterflies.
Finally done, Harold washed his hands and quickly made a sandwich.
"Here. This will make you feel better."
"Thank you, Finch. I don't know what you gave me, but apart from the slight queasiness, those pills are really doing their job."
"Yes, I unfortunately know how strong those drugs are," Finch agreed, conveying that he knew about pain too.
Reese often wondered how bad it was. He could see how his employer moved, but he didn't know how much was because his body just wouldn't move and how much was because of the pain. If he ever got his hands on the person responsible for hurting Finch that badly, he… He stopped his thoughts. He didn't want to go there. He was sure he would kill the man. The question was how long he would make him suffer first.
"So, how did you come to cross the way of an arrow?" Finch asked as he put a plate in front of Reese.
"Hunters," John answered as if it explained it all, thinking back to how it had happened.
P o I - P o I - P o I
After what had felt like an hour of spin cycle in a washing machine, they had finally made it to the end of the trail which opened on a wide courtyard.
The cottage was made of stone and polished wood, a single story with a large covered front porch. Two Adirondack chairs were disposed on a side by a small table. The interior was simple but well provided. A modern kitchen and a spacious living area occupied the front of the house. In the back, two bedrooms sharing a bathroom had windows looking over the countryside.
"Nice place, Finch." John looked at his friend wondering how many more surprises he had in store. It seemed like Finch was a never ending riddle.
"Thank you. I do like it, it is quite peaceful. Don't let the homey aspect fool you, I could probably run our numbers as well from here as from the library."
They had settled in and John had put on hiking shoes to go out. Harold was making some tea and a book was already by the couch. The way he intended to spend his relaxing time was quite clear.
"I'll go for a walk Finch, see you later," Reese said opening the door.
"Don't get lost."
John turned his head to the short man raising an eyebrow, wondering if Harold was teasing him in an unusual display of humor. But the other man was busy with the kettle and didn't turn around. John shook his head with a smile.
"I'll do my best."
Casting an eye to the clear sky, he had followed a trail across the countryside, taking in the views and letting the tension seep away. The last weeks had been strenuous, long days and even longer nights. Of course, he could have gone on for months without complaining, but this unexpected break was quite nice. Not ready to just stroll for now, he adopted an energetic pace and went on.
One hour and a half later, close to a lake, he spotted a deer. It had raised its ears at attention, clearly feeling a danger. John stopped to watch him and couldn't help looking in the same direction as the animal. Two men were hidden behind a bush, crossbows in their hands. Reese couldn't help a grunt. He knew this time of year wasn't hunting season, so it only left one option. Poachers! He purposefully stepped on a branch and the deer bolted away.
One of the men cursed and looked towards Reese, who approached them in a casual way.
"Not sure this is hunting season," he told them in his usual soft voice.
"You don't look like a Ranger to me!" The red hair man exclaimed.
"I was just pointing out a fact."
Years of training had Reese unconsciously straighten, ready for action. Poachers weren't known for their poise. These two might choose to complain for the escaped deer with more than just words. The slight movement didn't go unnoticed by the second man who felt the danger in the posture change. His hands seemed to act faster than his brain and he shot his arrow.
Things seemed to go in slow motion for a moment. John couldn't avoid the arrow and the impact pushed him backwards, but he had his gun in his hand before he reached the ground. Two precise shots had the men yelling, John had hit their elbows effectively disarming them before any of them had the time to fire a second shot.
He rose with a grunt to check on the two men bleeding out and yelling on the ground. He picked up the crossbows and threw them in the lake beside them.
"Hunting season is definitively over for you; you should learn to respect the rules. Consider this your lucky day, I'll give you more chances than you were giving that animal." He turned around going back to the trail he had arrived from. He didn't care if the men bled out, but he wouldn't kill them in cold blood.
Feeling slightly dizzy, he went to sit on a rock giving himself a few minutes to clear his head. He watched his shoulder with a resigned wince. No major damage, he could tell the bone was untouched and the arrow seemed to have cleanly gone through most of the shoulder. He sighed; this was not how he had expected to spend his days off. Putting his gun back in his waist band, he rose and put his left hand to his upper right arm to hold it steady, then started the trail back to the cottage.
He was glad that the overall ground was slightly downhill, then chastised himself when he realized he had no water. Way to go, John… Leaving for a walk with no water. That was probably one of the first things a seven year old scout learned. He thought of Finch's comment. Getting lost wasn't going to be a problem; he just hoped he would make it back to the cottage without passing out first.
As expected, the walk seemed longer on the way back, but he made it without stopping.
Yet, he had closed his eyes in relief when he had finally seen the cottage behind the trees on the last bend of the trail.
P o I - P o I - P o I
"This is not hunting season," Finch commented.
"Hence the arrow."
"Poachers," Finch spat disgustedly.
"Yeah," John answered, his mouth full chewing on the sandwich. "Finch, this is good. I should ask you to make me lunch more often." Reese gave him one of his rare blinding smiles.
Finch ignored the compliment. "So you decided to play law enforcement on your own?"
"Deers don't get social security numbers," he answered by way of explanation.
"How many were there?"
"Only two. I'm not stupid or suicidal, Finch."
"I could probably differ on that second part, but this is not the time or place."
Finch frowned slightly. Reese often took wild risks; Finch couldn't help thinking that John didn't value his own life enough to be more careful. "I take it, they didn't agree with your lecture."
"You could say that. Problem with crossbows is they can shoot pretty fast when they're loaded."
Finch winced in sympathy.
"But they won't hurt any animals anytime soon."
"Mr. Reese!" Finch exclaimed. He agreed that poachers needed to be prosecuted, but the ex-agent methods were sometimes extreme.
"Elbow wounds can be quite long to heal," Reese specified in his low voice.
Finch expelled a relieved sigh, and couldn't help marvel at the injury location. Reese was known for kneecapping people. This time he had fired to ensure the wounds would prove debilitating.
"Where did this happen? Locals know about this cottage, they usually never come close to it."
"Up by the little lake."
"The lake?" Finch exclaimed. "That's a two hours walk from here."
"Hour and a half," Reese corrected. "Seemed longer on the way back though," he murmured.
No wonder he had looked about to crash by the door step when he had arrived.
"Mr. Reese, I know I said I knew everything about you…" Finch voice wavered as if hesitating.
John just looked at him waiting. That part he knew.
"I… I'm just not sure I want to know how you managed to reach that point where pain just doesn't seem to get to you…"
"Lots of practice," Reese answered with a slight resigned wince.
"Yet…" Finch couldn't help a shiver.
"Finch, you do know a bit about pain yourself. I'm sure there's not much I can tell you. How do you deal with it?"
Finch's usual stoic face crumpled a little, his eyes looking haunted for a few seconds before he blinked and recovered his façade.
Reese kept his eyes on the man. He knew Finch wouldn't answer. Any question that verged on his personal life was always dismissed. However there had been something in Harold's eyes for a second that spoke volumes. As if he was afraid to tell, fearing that if John came to know the truth he would see him in a totally different way. He couldn't fathom what dark secret scared Finch that much. He had himself quite a heavy past, some of which he was sure Finch didn't know of despite all of his knowledge. Stuff that no living soul knew about, the stuff that fed some of his nightmares. He doubted Finch had anything close to that hidden in store.
"You know Finch, whatever that big secret of yours is ─it won't change my opinion of you."
"You'd be surprised Mr. Reese," Finch said in an unusual of moment of truth.
"I used up all my surprise a long time ago, Finch…"
Finch frowned. That was… sad. If the ex-agent didn't expect anything from life, then it was… pointless. Even with the new "purpose" he had offered him with this job.
Reese had finished his sandwich and was all but sprawled on the chair.
"Mr. Reese, why don't you go lie down? After all, this was supposed to be a nice relaxing break. You managed to remove the nice part of it, yet you can still use the time to rest. I'm guessing my proposal to drive you to a doctor is still void."
"The place is nice Finch, and I enjoyed my walk to the lake. I helped save a deer's life... Your sandwich was delicious… So it is still nice. Thank you for taking me here. I appreciate, really. We should come back to this place in the summer." He rose from the chair with a tired sigh. "Now if you don't mind, I will take you on your offer…"
Finch brightened, glad John had finally agreed to see a doctor.
"… and go back to bed."
Thank you for your time.