~ * ~
Finch sat Mr. Reese down on the toilet of the hotel’s bathroom. John was in shock of course. He was covered in Carter’s blood as well as his own. Harold had unfortunately become quite adept at first aid. The bullets however, would require Ms. Shaw, who would be here shortly. Harold would clean and disinfect as best he could, preparing Shaw’s work station for the impromptu surgical removal.
While Finch removed the soiled clothing all the way down to socks and boxer-briefs, John stared straight ahead: unflinching, unmoving, lifeless.When Harold started scrubbing the blood off, John stirred, “I tried to tell her you know? I even kissed her.”
Finch paused and tried not to tear up. “Oh John.” He breathed.
Louder he said, “I am so sorry.”
Reese voice shook, “And then this happened.”
John leaned forward and placed his head in his hands. “This always happens.”
Harold’s chest ached for the pain in John’s voice. “What happens, John?”
Still looking at the floor, but with his arms hanging between his knees, Reese answered. “I told her the bullet story. I started carrying it around again, waiting for the right time to tell her.”
Finch took in a sharp yet relieved breath. “I’d noticed, but it wasn’t my place to ask. I had hoped you were simply remembering you didn’t need it anymore.”
Reese shook his head, “I told her about the bullet. I told her that she changed me that day.” John turned earnest eyes toward Harold. “Her kindness helped me to believe you, to give you a chance, to work for you. Without her I might have missed your lawyer. I might have used that bullet before you could get to me. I might never have met you and then I wouldn’t be alive. I’d be dead if I hadn’t met you. If she hadn't stalled me.” John moved his gaze to the floor again. “So, I told her she changed me. Didn’t explain about you, of course. Then, I kissed her. It wasn’t like kissing you, but it was nice.”
Harold shifted uncomfortably at the comparison.
John swallowed. “We agreed. Well, actually no. I didn’t agree. You told me to. You wanted me to find a woman, to have a normal life.” John’s grimace at the phrase ‘normal life’ showed the contempt for such a concept that had Harold insisting John try to find it. “I went out with Zoe and she knew right away that she could only have my body. She spotted my love for you right off.” Again Harold was uncomfortable with this information.
“Then you threw me at Maxine Angelis. That was a disaster.” Finch silently agreed, but said nothing. “This last time you insisted I make a real effort. So, I thought; Carter was a good friend and knew my past. So, maybe it could be like when I would help out an army buddy." He shrugged. "No big romance I know, but we could maybe be married like you want me to be and I can still be near you.” John voice cracked and his eyes filled with tears as he said, “Carter would have understood that I need to be near you.”
Harold knelt down and cradled Reese, “Oh John! I am so sorry.”
Between sobs Reese gasped out, “Why don’t you want me? What did I do wrong?”
Finch pulled back to look at Reese in the eyes, "You have done nothing wrong, John.” Harold shook the larger man, “Nothing!”
John gathered some toilet paper to wipe his eyes and blow his nose, “Then why do you keep kicking me out of your bed? I thought we figured out the sex pretty well.”
Harold blushed, stood and busied himself with the medical supplies before he answered. “Our sex life is wonderful Mr. Reese. However, I feel it would be wrong of me to steal your chance at a family.”
John's voice was angry, “You're my family! You and Bear!” Reese took a bracing breath and continued, “Why do you keep making me do this? I love you! I'm in love with you! You are the only one who has managed to survive my love and you keep turning me away. Well look what that has done! I lost Carter; a real friend and asset because I tried to have a normal life with her. ”
Harold turned back to look at Mr. Reese. “You make it sound like you're cursed.”
John threw his hands up in the air in exasperation.” I am! Every time I try to pretend I am straight, try to forget that I want a man, try to be what my Dad and now you want me to be, someone gets hurt or dies. This time is was Joss!”
Finch tried to calm John down with little success. Shaw finally arrived and had Reese doped up quickly. She removed the bullets dispassionately and sewed up the holes. With Reese passed out and Shaw finished, Harold thought she would leave.
Instead, Shaw sat with a fifth of Vodka from the room’s bar and started swigging from the bottle. The entire time she stared daggers at Finch. When she had consumed about a third of the bottle she asked, “Why didn’t your machine prevent this?”
Finch stammered, “I got the call just a second too late.”
Shaw slammed the bottle down, “Not a call! Why didn’t you get Root to tell you what your machine knew?”
Harold had no answer that would satisfy Shaw so he remained silent.
She resumed her drinking at a slower pace. Harold looked at John. Finch would not be sending Reese away from his bed anymore. It seemed that anytime Harold tried to do the right thing it backfired gloriously.
Once John sought revenge for Jocelyn, and Reese would scorch the earth in retaliation for the loss of such a champion of truth and justice, he would return to Harold’s embrace. Finch would promise him that John would never have to look for a normal life again. It appeared that John was trapped in this life just as much as Harold. They would again soldier on alone, a family of three.