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carnation

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"You're missing something, aren't you?"

Harold turns to explain to John that yes, he will fold his pocket square in another minute, when John reaches out a long arm holding--

"A green carnation?" Harold says, eyebrows rising quite high.

"Are you saying it doesn't go with your tie?" John's tone is light, but there's tension underneath.

The carnation, as a matter of fact, does go very well with Harold's outfit for the evening. That John offered it now can be a lucky coincidence, or it could mean that John had been biding his time, waiting for Harold to wear an outfit where the carnation would fit.

Harold starts putting it in his buttonhole, then hesitates. "Would you mind giving me a hand, Mr. Reese?"

"Not at all." John is smiling that way he does when he forgets to affect his man of the world aura, bright and - if Harold may say - dorky. It suits him very much.

After the flower is in place, Harold offers his arm, and John takes it. His grip is strong, not too tight. Warm through the cloth of Harold's suit.

"If I looked at your credit records," Harold murmurs, "how many instances would I find of you ordering a single green carnation?"

"I hope none," John says. "I like to think I cover my tracks better than that." Then his grin, impossibly, widens further. "But then again, you did say you know every last thing about me."

Looking ahead, arm entwined with John, Harold can confess: "I didn't know that you might be inspired to...." he flounders.

"Give you flowers?" John says coyly. "You'd be surprised."

As they wait for a taxi in the damp, chill evening, Harold's fingers find John's, and gently clasp.