Actions

Work Header

Lies to Tell the Truth

Work Text:

Reese likes to draw. He always has. He never got much of a chance to do it once he went into the service, though. In the CIA he occasionally did drawings for work—people, places, things they needed for the mission. But he didn’t do it for pleasure.

                After he “quit” the CIA, there was very little he did for pleasure.

                And then Finch came and Reese was able to rebuild his soul a little. He was able to bring the parts that the CIA had cut out back to life again. One of those parts was the drawing.

                He sits in the Library, or on a park bench, or at home (wow, he actually has one now!) and sketches, sometimes for hours. Finch glances over at him sometimes when he’s in the Library but he never asks what Reese is doing or if he can see the drawings. Reese suspects that this is Finch’s version of respecting his privacy.

                Perhaps it’s a good thing he never asks to see the sketch books.


 

                Finch sees Reese drawing often. He lounges with his feet up on the desk and sketches away. Finch has noticed that he’s gone through more than one book. He carefully refrains from asking about the hobby—he doesn’t even give into the impulse to look over his shoulder once in a while. He purposely pretends to not be interested.

                The man deserves a little privacy, at least.

                Harold enjoys watching John draw from a distance, though. He’ll pretend to be on the computer, or reading, or just puttering about the Library while covertly watching Reese sketch. He likes the intense look on the ex-op’s face, and he likes the careful sweep of his hands across the page, the delicate way he holds the pencil. Perhaps in another life, Reese was Michelangelo or Da Vinci.

                   Sometimes, Finch wishes he himself could draw with any skill—if only to draw that lovely look on John’s face when he sketches.


 

                John starts drawing again shortly after the first number that he and Finch worked together. He is hit with inspiration that he hasn’t felt in years. It isn’t until later that he realizes that this is the beginning of the healing of his soul.

                The first time he draws Finch is merely for the reason that the genius is the person that he spends the most time with. It isn’t until a couple months into their partnership that he is hit with the true inspiration to draw Finch. Unless you are actually an artist or writer, you don’t really know the difference between having that true inspiration and not. When you’re hit with it, you have this desperate need to get it out on paper. It’s like a brand in your mind, so bright and burning that it will blind you if you don’t get it out.

                That happens to him after the case with the Judge and his kidnapped son, sitting there in the diner. The stunned look on Finch’s face when Reese thanked him for giving him the job (a purpose) had been striking in and of itself, but the look after that that had demanded to be drawn. It was the expression of one of the many barriers his partner had built around himself being allowed to fall. It was a small victory on Reese’s part, but a victory, nevertheless.

                As he’d sat eating his Eggs Benedict (which was indeed quite good) he pulled the small sketch book that he’d brought from his inner jacket pocket—he still wasn’t sure why he’d decided to carry it with him that day—and began to draw.


 

                Since then, he’s drawn Finch many more times; he has pages filled with small sketches of some of Finch’s many different expressions. He probably draws Finch more than he ever draws anything else. Some days it bothers him because he can’t seem to understand exactly where the urge comes from.

                Then one day, he walks into the Library to find Finch asleep at his desk with his glasses having been knocked crooked and he gets the urge to draw him like that. But first he puts a hand gently on the smaller man’s shoulder to wake him. It’s when Finch is blinking owlishly at him—with his glasses still slightly askew—that he realizes exactly why it is that he had drawn Finch more often than anyone else. And that reason could end up being a problem. A big problem.

He doesn’t draw for a week after that.


 

                Finch doesn’t really mind anymore when Reese finds him asleep at his desk. It’s happened enough times that he’s grown used to it, even if the concerned looks the ex-op throws him are a bit annoying. He never actually says anything about it, but he knows Reese is concerned about his neck.

                One day, however, the concerned looks are different. When Reese first woke him, there was that familiar amusement and fondness in his eyes, but it seemed to change—as though something had struck him. There was shock in his eyes, hard to see, but still present. The rest of the day, Reese avoided his eyes—though Finch could still feel that grey gaze on his back every time he wasn’t looking.

Reese didn’t draw that day the way he usually did.

He didn’t draw the rest of the week.


 

                It takes nearly the whole week to come to terms with what he’s recognized about himself. Shocked as he to realize that he is in love with his employer, Reese really can’t say he’s surprised. The revelation is one that he takes and mulls over, examines it thoroughly and comes to the conclusion that it was inevitable. It probably would have been odd if he hadn’t fallen for Finch. Not only is the man brilliant; he also saved Reese in so many ways, picked him up from the depths, pieced him back together and gave him a purpose.

                There were so many problems with the situation, though. How could it not be a liability that he felt as though if something were to happen to Finch, he wouldn’t be able to handle it? It was best if Finch never found out. It would also be best if Reese kept his feelings under lock and key.

                He doesn’t completely stop drawing, but he doesn’t do it nearly as much.

He completely stops drawing when he’s in the Library.


 

                Finch wonders why Reese has stopped drawing. He feels as if something has been taken out of the atmosphere in the Library. He doesn’t ask about it, though.


 

                Caroline Turing’s number comes up, and all the complications that came with it. And then Caroline Turing is no longer Caroline Turing, she is Root, and she has kidnapped Harold Finch.

                The Machine expects John to go on alone. He won’t. He can’t. He’d rather let the world burn.

                Reese guesses that he didn’t lock up his emotions as well as he thought he did.  

Liability, indeed.


 

                When Reese finds his missing partner, it’s all he can do to stop himself from holding on to him the entire way home. He continuously glances at him—the loose cuffs and the tired eyes and the tenser-than-usual look all taken in over and over again, perhaps to reassure himself that the other man hadn’t disappeared again.

                It’s a relief to be back at the Library with Finch at his side—even if Bear has eaten one of Finch’s precious books and the billionaire looks too tired to be truly upset about it. Reese turns toward the rest of the room, fighting the desire to take Finch home with him.

                When Harold softly calls his name, he turns to look and the expression of vulnerability on his partner’s face makes his chest hurt. He also wants to draw it—another of his enigmatic employer’s expressions revealed. He won’t though, for so many reasons. He knows he’s already in too deep, but he still likes to trick himself into believing that he can remedy the situation.

                “I owe you a debt,” Finch says quietly, his eyes locked with Reese’s.

                He wants to reply that Finch owes him nothing. Reese owes him everything—he had saved his life and his soul and Reese will never be able to repay that. He doesn’t though, because right then, the phone rings and Reese tells Root in no uncertain terms to stay away from them because next time, Reese won’t let her get away. Not when it means Finch’s safety.

                The niggling need to draw bothers him all night, but he doesn’t give into it.

                Finch has returned home safely, but nothing has changed. He’s still at the same impasse that he was before.


 

                One day, after finishing up a number, the two men are sitting in the Library in companionable silence, Bear quietly gnawing on a toy in the corner. Finch is tapping away at the computer (probably hacking into the Pentagon or something) and Reese is reading. He doesn’t miss the looks that Finch keeps throwing him. He’s almost inclined to mention it when the other man suddenly turns.

                “John, why don’t you draw anymore?” he asks.

                Reese opens his mouth, but finds himself at a loss for a good answer.


 

                Finch could sense that something had changed between them after the incident with Root. They were closer, there was more trust. It still took him a while to bring up something that he had never asked about before. He wasn’t sure why it seemed like such a big deal, but it does. There’s something about the drawing that feels laden with meaning, if possible, and it feels like diving into strange territory when he asks.

                John gets a look on his face when asked that is something akin to a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. His reaction cements the feeling that there is more to this than meets the eye. Finch feels he has delved too deep, so he pulls out.

                “I’m sorry, forget I said anything,” he states quickly before John even has a chance to wipe the look of shock off his face. He doesn’t say anything though. He just goes back to staring at the book in his hands. Slightly disappointed and slightly relieved, Finch returns to his work on the computer.


 

   Reese isn’t sure if he’s relieved when Finch drops the question and doesn’t push it. On one hand, he knows he should be. On the other, he feels like he still has the weight pressing down on him like an anvil. He can’t tell Harold the truth, anyways, he tells himself, so even if he had answered the question the weight would still be there. Along with a lie. Finch promised never to lie to him, and he felt that he owed his employer the same.

                He had been wrong, though, when he said that nothing had changed after Finch’s kidnapping. It took him a while to notice it because it had happened slowly. They walked closer together. They brushed hands when working next to each other. One would brush their hand along the other’s shoulders when walking past the chair that they were sitting in. Little things like that were so much in evidence. And Reese also noticed it ever so slowly becoming bigger things—like the other day when Finch reached up to straighten out the tie Reese was wearing for a case. Their eyes had locked, and Reese could swear that Finch was purposely brushing his fingers more than necessary on his neck. It made him shiver.

                One day, they’re standing close together—too close together—and Reese imagines he can feel Finch’s body heat, pleasantly warm in the chilly Library. At one point, they catch each other’s eyes and Reese thinks he can see something there in those blue depths that he feels must echo in his own eyes. And then Finch’s lips are pressed against his and he’s not entirely sure exactly how that happened. As quickly as it started, it ends, and Finch is standing there wide eyed and frightened. Before Reese can say a word, the billionaire murmurs a quick apology and limps off as fast as his body will let him. Reese doesn’t attempt to follow him because something tells him that that would make it worse.

He knows what he has to do now, though.

He knows how to break out of the standby.


 

                When Finch comes into the Library the next morning, he is dreading seeing his partner. He had embarrassed himself yesterday and then ran off afterwards. He had been grateful when Reese didn’t follow him out as he was completely expecting him to do.

                There is no Reese in the Library yet, but he didn’t normally get there until after Finch arrived anyways. Bear greets him enthusiastically when he comes in and he tosses him a treat from his pocket with a smile. It’s then that he notices the stack of sketch books on his computer desk in front of his keyboard. There’s a ribbon tied neatly around them, but no note or anything else with them.

                So he sits down in his chair and pulls the stack towards him, slowly pulling open the bow. The dates on the inside cover indicated that the top sketch book was from when Reese had first begun to work with Finch. The first few pages of drawings were extremely varied. There were a few of Jessica, but mostly they were of places and inanimate objects, like the Library as viewed from outside and the eighth precinct, and Finch’s computer table. There was even one of the metal caging in front of the book shelf.

                Then there was the first drawing of Finch himself. Harold recognizes the scene from when they first met under the bridge, when he had turned to speak to Reese. The drawing itself was unremarkable but for the choice of scene. It was a monumental turning point for them both, after all. After that, there are mixed drawings, many of them portraits now, of Finch, Carter, Fusco, and even a few of their numbers.

                Then he hits a portrait of himself that’s different somehow. It’s not just the fact that this picture is more detailed than any of the other sketches have been. He recognizes the diner where he’s sitting looking down at his hands, and he also recognizes the expression on his own face. He knew it was the one he got whenever Reese managed to tease his way a little further into Harold’s life and somehow managed to make Harold happy about it at the same time. It’s after this picture that the drawings change a bit.

                The portraits of Carter and Fusco and the numbers don’t stop, but there are less of them. There are more of Finch himself and he feels the colour rise on his cheeks a little at all the attention. They are all different, and he remembers more than a few of the scenes, which range from everyday things like sitting in the Library at the computers to the sight of himself fallen asleep in a chair at Reese’s bedside after he’d been shot. He noticed that Reese hadn’t left out the detail of his hand gripping the wounded man’s own, even in sleep.

                It took a while, but Finch paged through all the sketch books that Reese had left there. And by the end he was quite certain he knew exactly what it was that his partner was trying to tell him. There was a note at the end of the last book, anyway.

                “Harold,

I really hope that these told you what you needed to know. Truth will out, I guess.

                                                                                                                                ~John

Finch pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. There was no handbook for this situation. There was no one telling him what to do, what was right and wrong here. He knew what he wanted. He also knew what would happen if he chose what seemed like the smart path. If he chose not to comment on…whatever it was between them, then John would follow his lead and not say anything either. But they’d go on in their lonely lives, knowing exactly what they wanted and exactly what they wouldn’t let themselves have. He had the feeling that it would drive them mad eventually.

                This seemed like a no-win scenario. Of course, he had told Reese on the first case they worked together that their whole “experiment” was a no-win scenario for the two of them. Both of them would end up dead sooner or later. Maybe there was no right and wrong here in this unprecedented situation.

                Planting his face in his hands, he muttered aloud, “Oh, what am I supposed to do?”

                Suddenly, Finch’s phone vibrated with a text. He tensed slightly, thinking it had to be Reese. Seeing the number on the screen, he frowned. The text contained one word.

                Hit.

                Shocked, he stared at the screen for several seconds trying to think how this was even still possible. His brain child was clever, though. And she had interfered in his life before—introducing him to Grace. He’d been happy for four years with Grace because of the Machine’s meddling.

                Maybe, just this once, he wouldn’t take the tried and safe way out.


 

                They had a number. John came in and set a cup of green tea next to Harold’s elbow, sipping his own coffee. Harold smiled gratefully up at him before taking a break from typing to sip the tea. John didn’t say anything. He seemed a little nervous and a tiny bit sad. Just as he was about to leave to try to find their number, Harold stood and called him back.

                Reese could easily see his boss’s nervousness. The quiet way he said his name was almost inaudible. He turned to see him standing there with wide eyes. Harold limped toward and stopped directly in front of him. He finally looked up and met Reese’s gaze directly.

                “Truth will out, Mister Reese,” he said softly. A sudden smile pulled at Reese’s lips. Slowly he reached up and put his hand on Harold’s cheek. He leaned in and gently pressed his lips to the other man’s in a soft kiss. When they pulled away from each other, Harold was smiling. Reese smiled back.

                Harold pulled out a new leather bound sketch book from his inside jacket pocket and pressed it into John’s hand. “I thought you could use a new one.”

                “I could.” He leaned down and kissed him again.