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Death is Just the Beginning

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Reese has consistently exhibited the unusual tendency to empathize with every Number with whom he comes into contact, but that resonance had seemed especially close with Ulrich Kohl. That is perhaps only natural, given the congruity of their past occupations; but it has driven home to Finch how very fortunate he is that Reese had chosen to direct his destructive tendencies inward, rather than outward, by the time he had approached him.

For Kohl, that point had only arrived after three attempted murders, two of them successful, and a shocking discovery; and he had chosen the swiftest available method of conclusion afterward, selecting Reese as his instrument of oblivion. Finch finds it somewhat curious that Reese had chosen such a passive and drawn-out method as alcohol poisoning under similar circumstances...

...or perhaps not, given his repeated references to the length of time he has, in the past, resisted torture. Those data points lay a trail of breadcrumbs that Finch's calculating mind winces to follow.

Finch had seen more classified documents, he suspects, over the last nine years than virtually any other person still living. He has reviewed every fragment of Reese's life he could dig up. He has watched and listened to Reese shoot, strike, and otherwise neutralize a wide variety of violent individuals pursuant to Finch's own orders. And yet, like Mrs. Kohl, he finds he is still capable of surprise at the reality of his partner's skills and experiences.

"I watched what the missions did to you. The darkness in your eyes...."

"...I told myself that he had lied first. So much death. How could he?"

He is also quite certain that on some level, Reese is playing him. The Eggs Benedict, the green tea, the wry conversation, even the spotter's scope? Reese himself had said it: cultivate a relationship and earn the asset's trust.

Unlike Mrs. Kohl, however, Finch had gone into this business with eyes wide open. The road behind may be rockier than paper and ink and pixels had led him to expect, but the past is not the present, and in the present, Finch has only had true cause to fear Reese once: the morning after their first meeting, when under the influences of adrenaline, confusion, and in all likelihood a nasty hangover, he had manhandled Finch and pinned him against a wall. Yet even under duress, he had not hurt him.

He thinks about Reese's repeated statement that no one deserves be alone; about the ache of facing the numbers on his own after losing Ingram; and about the wreck of a man he had scraped up out of a police station. About false names, false graves, and the fact that his last eight weeks have contained so much more meaning than the eight months before that. About betrayals, brokenness, and new beginnings.

About life after death. Here be monsters: and, yet.

Finch doesn't remember what hope feels like. But thinks he may be starting to remember what it feels like to live.