John finds Finch on his 'deck' fingers curling under the fruits of his labor - almost literally. Finch is studying the jalapeno with something like reverence or confusion, touching ever so gently the first pepper that had appeared - almost two inches now. John remembers the order in which the peppers - six total, now - had appeared. His bells hadn't quite gone past flowering yet. The tomatoes refused to do anything but climb their trellis and taunt him. He slides the glass door open sharply, but not angrily. He knows he should be surprised to find Finch there, already in his space and not obeying any real conventional rules of visiting.
He doesn't say anything when Finch jerks around guiltily to stare wide-eyed and caught at Reese. He closes the distance while Finch stands frozen and patiently tucks his own fingers under the rosemary. It shares a pot with sage, and John has been trying to encourage it to grow down over the side of the terra cotta instead of trying to choke out its neighbor. Eventually, this will all come together to make marinara sauce, minus the red wine and meat. Home grown, like his family used to make.
Or, it will rot and die. If John is killed or has to suddenly abandon this place Finch has given him, like all the others, the plants will go forgotten. The potted plants are a sign of a prayer for permanence, weak as it may be as they are still somewhat portable but John is in absence of any real ground here on the fifth floor. They are a defiance of his usual reliance on being transitory (transient, more aptly as of late).
"You kept a key," John says, into the silence of Finch working his throat in swallows and preparatory apologies.
"Yes, Mr. Reese. For emergencies."
Reese presses his fingers into the darkly damp soil, finds the last remaining evidence of the cloth netting he'd grown the seeds in, long patient months of cultivation resulting in tiny green victories. He has more pots, more plants than he'd intended. More than he could probably use if they all turned viable. He hadn't had the heart to cull any, unlike his directions had said, not even the weakest.
"When you gave me this space I had no idea what to do with it," John says, in memory. He lets the apartment go cold or warm, unused to comfort, unwilling to admit defeats in climate control. "I couldn't fill it."
Finch is looking at him, John can feel the settling of his eyes on every motion. Like one should watch a loosed predator, paying attention to body language and never forgetting for an instant that human skin is no match for teeth or claws.
"You've settled in-" Finch begins, but Reese cuts him off from his small talk.
"I've begun to feel like I belong, Harold." John uses the name like a victory from habit, looks up from his plants and shakes dirt from his hand, and why shouldn't he? It's one of the few victories he's ever really gained, if it even means anything. His tone always twists it, wry and suggestive, because it could be just another layer or dummy trail, just as false as 'Mr. Finch' - a lie even by suggestion.
Finches are communal birds. And yet he's never taken 'Mr. Hawk' or 'Mr. Kestrel', never even suggested he could hunt on his own.
"You did that for me."
It's not an accusation exactly but it lingers like one in the air. Not for the first time, John wonders what shattered the man. Probably, he'll never know that story, at least not to his satisfaction, but sometimes when Finch looks at him, especially lately - Reese reads the implication that whatever it was, it was shaped somehow like him.
"I suppose I wanted you to know you should stay," and Finch hesitates long enough that Reese notices the past tense, like a book folding closed with a dull thud. "John."
Reese wants to shove him, push him down onto the deck and shake him until he admits he's afraid. Until Finch tells him that it's John he fears.
"What am I?" he asks instead, without allowing his tone to change. He stays crouched by the pot. He'd settled in enough to grow things, but the puts sat flush on the otherwise empty deck.
"John Howard," Finch starts, carefully avoiding the last name, leaving a pause to imply that he of course knows it. He's acknowledging that who John is is not who he was. "Born to Katherine and Arnold in 1972..."
Reese does shove him then, takes him off balance by hitting him counter to his center of gravity - always slightly gingerly to his right, delicately maintained and not so hidden as Finch liked to hint. He's standing as he does it, and catches a hand in Finch's vest to keep him from hitting the deck hard. Using his own strength as a counterweight, he lowers Finch abruptly but gently enough to the position of disadvantage. He registers the sharp gasp - surprise. A little pain, but not much. Finch wasn't as delicate as he seemed either, but John didn't take chances. Cloth rips, fear wakes bright in Finch's eyes, and - betrayal. His dog has never bitten him before, and John is sick of being treated like he has without understanding why.
Reese is just as afraid of the answer as not knowing it, but he doesn't know how not to fight for it.
"You never looked at me like you do now," John says, with two handfuls of very expensive shirt front and vest. He can feel a loose button digging into his palm, torn free but not escaping his hold. "What am I, Mr. Finch?"
"I don't know-" Finch's voice has gone upward, nervous, eyes locked on John's to try and read his intentions - and all all of them are there goddamnit, so why does Finch look like he's searching for more?
"Harold," he warns, does not shake. Does not injure. Just holds.
"I don't know, John!" Finch raises his tone in desperation and begins - bursts forth with helpless, useless information. "I have guesses, conjectures, wild shots in the dark, but I don't know."
It's the first time that it really matters where Reese has heard Finch admit to not knowing something. John takes a step back and pulls upward - one of Finch's wide flung hands has crushed his peppers - and sets Finch back on his feet, carefully. But he's broken trust at last and - he's sorry.
Not that it will matter. The plants are doomed for abandonment after all, to wither unwatered in the summer heat, when all John had wanted was the permanence to see something all the way through for once.
Finch looks in shocked disbelief down at his torn vest, fingers the missing button. His eyes are round with shock and he stands like the only building left undestroyed by a storm. Reese pulls open the sliding door and leaves it callously wide behind him, doesn't slam it like he wants to.
He leaves the front door open too, walks out without picking up anything, needing only the gun and his drive, and he forces himself not to hear (but of course he does ) the lifted voice behind him.
"You're a part of it, John. I don't know how, but I-"
John drops everything in his pockets - phone, keys, wallet, identification, passports - onto the stairs. He takes the fire exit out and leaves in the confusion the blaring alarm makes, ware of the cameras.
He doesn't know where he's going either, that's one advantage that Finch won't have against him. He just has to get out of the city.