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earful

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"Oh! Oh my. Yes, what a good boy you are, Bear. You have ears!" On the last word, Harold's voice goes high, word drawn out. The last time John heard him sound like that, Harold was high on E.

He's not ruling out Harold being drugged out right now. John certainly never heard Harold talk like this while in his right mind.

"You ate your dinner? Very, very good! You ate it all! What an excellent boy, Bear. A most wonderful and excellent Bear you are!"

He never heard Harold talk like this at all.

It's probably a good sign that Harold is letting his guard down when it's just him and Bear. (What Harold doesn't know about the bugs John left in the library can't hurt John.) Good for Harold, to be able to be a little silly, express affection.

"Oh-ho-ho, are you feeling frisky, boy?" A sharp rap: Harold slapping the tops of his hips. "C'mere, boy. Here."

John's legs twitch. He grinds his teeth. It's not like he doesn't know it isn't him Finch is addressing.

"Here you go-- Bear? Bear! No! Stay!"

A loud crash sounds, followed by static noise and silence. John sits up straight.

It takes him ten minutes to get to the library, heart hammering in his chest. He's greeted by Finch, surrounded by a mess of hardware and a repentant Bear. Harold's bent over, attempting to rescue the fallen monitor. John tries not to stare at Harold's ass too much.

"Good evening, Mr. Reese," Harold says. "I hope you weren't too alarmed." He stands up with difficulty, holding the now-defunct bug up at John with an unimpressed expression.

John regrets nothing. "Glad to see you're okay," he says blandly.

Harold holds his gaze. "If any of my, ah, less considered utterances tonight reaches Shaw, I'll know who to blame." John isn't sure what his face is doing, but Harold's expression creases with alarm. "John? Is everything okay?"

"It's good," John forces out. "You're bonding. It's important."

Harold walks over to him. His limp is a little more pronounced than usual. John should maybe see if Harold threw anything out while fixing the mess. "He's your dog, Mr. Reese. I wouldn't try to take him from you."

John stares. It's not like Harold to be this stupid. "Harold. You think I'm worried because I'm jealous of you?"

"Do you expect me to think that you're jealous of the dog?" Harold says. Then his eyes widen. "Oh. Oh dear."

"I didn't get praised for taking a bullet," John says. He's trying to smile, and he knows he's failing badly, and it's pissing him off. "Let alone for having ears."

Harold scowls. "I hardly want to encourage you to take more bullets." But he comes closer, and reaches up shyly to John's ears. "I approve of you having ears, I admit. Try to keep them." He traces a delicate line over the shell of John's ears.

John locks his knees to keep from collapsing. "If I eat dinner, will you tell me I'm good for that, too?" He hopes he sounds like he's joking.

From Harold's expression, he's missing by a mile. And yet, even that is, amazingly, okay. Because Harold is smiling back, much better at it than John is. And Harold warmly says, "I think it's excellent that you eat, Mr. Reese," and staying upright just isn't worth it.

Besides, apparently if he's on his knees Harold can pet the back of John's neck with ease. Standing up is totally overrated.