Characters: John Reese, Harold Finch.
Disclaimer: I don't owe Person of Interest or any of its characters.
Spoilers: 2x02 "Bad Code."
Summary: "Well, Mr. Reese, I'm sorry that my troublesome adjustment after having been retained by a highly unstable woman is not quite as good as your own..."
Notes: Thanks to PJTL156 for the beta.
Reese went up the dusty stairs of the library holding a cup of coffee in one hand and a cup of Sencha green tea in the other, Bear obediently walking a couple of steps behind after meeting with him as soon as he stepped inside.
After some resistance from Finch, the billionaire had agreed to take Bear under his care, taking the dog to his house (houses) and allowing him to stay in the library with him.
Reese didn't say it, but part of the reason why he had been so persistent regarding Finch keeping the dog was that he felt more confident knowing Finch had someone who could defend him, if needed, when Reese wasn't around. After Root, he wasn't taking any chances.
It had already been a week since Reese had found and brought Finch back; a week in which Finch had fully returned to work, in spite of John's casual suggestions that he could work with Carter and Fusco's help just fine. There had been only two numbes so far, both fairly easy to solve, and Reese was well aware Finch had spent every minute he wasn't helping him with them, looking, hunting, for Root, whom they now recognized as Samantha Groves.
Ever since that call she had done to 'thank him' for finding her friend, she had disappeared without a trace and Reese was sure they wouldn't find anything that would lead them to her, at least no until she wanted to be found again. Finch probably knew it, too, but he couldn't blame him for keep trying. Reese himself wished he still had something, anything, to look into.
Shaking his head, Reese turned to the right, walking straight into the main room of the floor where Finch was already completely absorbed in whatever it was he was looking at on his several screens.
"Good morning, Finch," Reese easily greeted the billionaire, without missing the way Finch had jumped at the sudden noise, and the grimace that had crossed his face, just for a second, before being replaced by a carefully blank expression.
"Mr. Reese," Finch replied shortly, his gaze sliding from Reese to Bear before returning back to the screens in front of him.
Reese placed the cup of tea on Finch's desk, at a considerable distance from where his keyboard was, before pointing to let Bear know he could go.
Obediently, Bear trotted soundless away, leaving Reese alone with Finch, who hadn't acknowledge the cup or Reese.
Reese suppressed a sigh and instead took a sip of his coffee. This wasn't the first time he had noticed Finch's jumpy and anxious attitude ever since he came back. It was something normal, perhaps even relieving, that Finch was showing signs of having been affected by everything he had gone through. Not that Finch had given him a lot of details about what had happened besides the basics. Yes, she knew about the Machine and that he had built it; yes, Corwin and Weeks had been of the people involved with the Machine; and no, he didn't give her anything, but Weeks had, thought Finch wasn't sure if he had told her the truth. He'll have to look into it.
Reese thought it over. He hadn't pushed Finch to talk, even if he knew it would be good for him. He had wanted to give Finch some time to settle down, perhaps rest a bit and let the still raw memories start to wear off, or at least attenuate, but that clearly wasn't doing Finch any good.
Putting aside his cup, Reese leaned against the edge of Finch's desk. "I think we need to talk, Finch."
It wasn't until Finch finished whatever it was he was typing that the billionaire turned his upper body toward Reese, giving him an annoyed, irritated look. "Do we, Mr. Reese?"
Ignoring Finch's unfriendly tone, Reese nodded. "Yeah, we do. I think we need to discuss your attitude the last couple of days."
"My attitude." Finch replied flatly, his jaw clenched.
"Yes. You've been extremely anxious; jumping every time you hear any noises and being wary of everything I say or do. It's like if you don't trust me anymore."
Even before he finished, Reese could feel the anger building up inside Finch. Good. Even if the prospect of being yelled at wasn't exactly something he wanted, Reese knew it could help Finch and, it wasn't as if Finch would say something Reese had never heard before.
"Well, Mr. Reese, I'm sorry that my troublesome adjustment after having been retained by a highly unstable woman is not quite as good as your own, and therefore had caused you some discomfort. I assure you I will try to be more professional."
Reese growled deep in his throat. Of course Finch was going to take it in the worst possible way.
"That's not what I mean and you know it, Finch."
"I think you already said what you needed, Mr. Reese. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some things to take care of." Finch turned his attention back to his screens, not looking up as he added, "I'll call you when we have a new number."
Reese rubbed a hand over his face. Finch wasn't going to make this any easy. To make clear to Finch he wasn't going anywhere, Reese pulled over the empty chair and sat down.
"You need to talk to someone about what happened, Finch." Reese watched as Finch's whole body tensed, his right hand clenching into a fit over the keyboard. "You don't have to talk to me, you can-"
"I'm fine, Mr. Reese."
Finch's sharp tone actually made Reese blink. He had never hear Finch use it before.
"You are not fine, Finch," Reese stated, his smooth, deep tone contrasting greatly with Finch's sharp, cold one. "If you were fine you wouldn't be acting this way. This is not you."
Only silence met Reese words, but he could see the way Finch's body had slumped ever so slightly, and the pained look on the billionaire's face as he watched him.
"It's normal that you're struggling with this, Finch. It would be alarming if you weren't, but try to overcome this by yourself is not going to work, and keeping everything inside will only make it worse for you. You need to talk about what happened."
Finch shifted his gaze away from Reese's, focusing it somewhere behind Reese's right shoulder instead. "We've seen worse things happen to other people; innocent people. This- what happened is nothing compared with that. I was with... her less than 48 hours and she did not hurt me."
"There are several ways to hurt someone, not only physically."
Reese was silent for a moment, trying to decide if he should push Finch some more, or wait for him start talking. He always had been of a more direct approach, though.
"You saw her kill at least two people; people you knew."
A shiver went through Finch's body, as the image of Alicia Corwin and Denton Weeks' dead bodies flashed before his eyes, leaving a sickening hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach. Finch wish with all his heart he could tear both images out of his mind, both distressingly followed by Root's smiling face.
Reese felt a pang of guilt rise in his chest watching Finch's sharp reaction. It was a logical guess that someone with an aversion to guns (and violence in general) as strong as Finch's would be greatly affected by the mere fact of seeing someone murdered in cold blood before his eyes. Because even though Finch had heard people being murdered before, before thay had started working together, or even though his earpiece, connected to Reese's cell phone, it wasn't the same. It wasn't at all.
Even him, with all the people he had seen being killed over the years, and the ones he himself had killed, he still remember the first person he had seen being killed. The memory was still fresh in his mind, so he could only imagine how bad it would be for Finch.
Finch squeezed his eyes shut, tasting the bile rising in his throat and swallowing back. Out of his whole ordeal with Root, those memories were perhaps the more disgusting and horrifying ones, which made them unforgettable.
When Finch was finally able to meet Reese's gaze again he found it firmly directed to him, the expression on Reese's face open and understanding, almost inviting to open up.
Finch drew a deep breath, hesitant. He always had heard that talking about what was troubling you was good, and it helped, but he had never done it before. Not really. He had opened up a little with Nathan, telling him some things about his past and his life, but always cautiously, keeping certain distance and without saying too much.
Perhaps he should give it a try; perhaps get some things out could help him relax some and be able to sleep at night.
Not even the knowledge that there was a militarily trained dog in the same room with him helped him sleep. The first two nights had taken him several hours to be able to fall asleep, only to be awakened a couple hours later by the nightmares filling his dreams.
After some apprehension, the third night Finch had allowed Bear to sleep on the bed with him. The heat from the dog's body and the feeling of safety that the strong presence of the dog at his side provided him helped Finch to sleep some more, but did not kept the nightmares away. Either way, he was well aware that was not a solution; he couldn't sleep with the dog forever, or even continue functioning with only three or four hours of sleep per night. He had to consider what Reese was telling him.
"Because you're wrong. He proves you're wrong. Not all humans are bad code."
His own words to her just days ago echoed in his head. Finch pursed his lips, the corner slowly curling up. There's nothing more to think, the decision had been made long before he even realized.
Finch meet Reese's blue, soft gaze and any uneasy feeling he still had fade away.
Taking a deep breath, he starts.