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a place where no one else could come

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When John brings it up, Harold looks shell-shocked. "Never mind," John adds, hurriedly. "It's fine. What we do is fine."

Harold blinks. "Are you sure?" he sounds tentative. John hates it.

"Absolutely." John doesn't have to work at sounding earnest.

"Oh." Harold still sounds a bit unsure. "Well. If you say so."

John slinks close to Harold, tilting his head in the way that gets Harold to kiss his neck. Harold does kiss him, and curves his palm against the opposite side of John's neck. John hisses and rubs his hips against Harold. "We're good," John says, low and emphatic.

"Mm." Harold's hands firm on John's skin, a beautifully tight grip that John loves. "I enjoy it myself, as it happens." Harold sounds dead certain now, telling John where to go with little difficulty and no doubt. John lets himself melt. He figures everything's fine.

~~

But not everything is, because as soon as they're done, Harold sits up and says, "Would you mind if I asked why you suggested... that?"

John closes his eyes and breathes. Harold sounds tentative again, and the worst thing is, John knows if he said no - Harold would let it drop, no question.

But Harold asked. The best gift Harold gave John is honesty - well, also John's life, but the honesty feels more precious somehow. John repays in kind. "I used to be with someone," he says, slow, "who wanted me to top all the time. I got tired of it after a while."

A furrow appears on Harold's brow. "If you're tired of bottoming--"

"I'm really not," John says, fervently, and still feels he's understating his feelings. "I worried you might be."

"Oh." Harold's face softens. He drags John in for a kiss. "That's very thoughtful of you," he says. He's frowning again.

"I don't want to do anything you don't want," John blurts.

Harold smiles, but it's a little sad. "I know, and it's mutual. That's the problem, actually." He sighs. "The issue isn't that I don't want to bottom. John, have you thought this through?"

John considers, because if Harold is sounding like that, there must be something John has missed. But as he tosses the thought around, he can't come up with anything that seems like it could be an issue. "Your injuries?" John says at last, doubtful. He knows Harold's body pretty well by now, and while they couldn't do all the poses in the book, most classic ones should work fine.

"Not that," Harold says. "Or... well, I suppose you've seen my scars."

John raises an eyebrow and runs his palm over Harold's bare chest. "Yes. I have."

Harold's mouth purses. He shifts under John's hand, and John moves it away. Harold's eyes stay fixed on John's hand. "There we have it," Harold says, softly.

"Harold," John says, because sometimes he needs to point this stuff out, "you're not making any sense."

Through sheer familiarity, John has developed an awareness of what some of Harold's expressions mean. This one, endearingly specific, means Harold has come to a very clever, carefully crafted, and dead wrong conclusion.

"I very much appreciate your willingness to let me, ah, just lie there," Harold says. "I really do. But I can't be comfortable knowing that you're doing it only for fairness' sake, and I'm honestly very happy to carry on as we were."

John breathes. He runs his hands over Harold's chest. "Let's try this again," he says. "This time, maybe let's not assume I'd offer to have sex I'm not into."

Harold raises an eyebrow.

"That's unfair," John says mildly. "You offer to fulfill one fantasy...."

Harold's expression softens. "I did appreciate the offer. I still do. And the fact holds that if you don't enjoy an act, I am not interested in engaging in it with you."

"Got it." John gives Harold a swift, hard kiss. It's time to pull out the big guns. "Now let's get to the part where I jerk off thinking about fucking you."

The effect his words have on Harold is immediate and visible: Harold turns bright pink, and his soft cock stirs. "Well. I'm not opposed to the thought, myself."

He doesn't go out and ask John to tell him more. He doesn't have to.

John kisses Harold's throat. "I think about eating you out," he whispers in Harold's ear, gleeful at how Harold shivers in response. "What sounds you'd make. How you'll open up for me. I think I'll like how you taste, Harold."

"You can't possibly be serious," Harold says.

Words aside, Harold's cock is hardening against John's thigh. John retreats a little and rubs his thumb against the underside of Harold's erection, grinning at Harold. "Serious as a heart attack."

The pink on Harold's face is darkening into blotchy red. "If you keep on like this, you might give me one. What's gotten into you, Mr. Reese?"

That opening is too good to pass up. John takes Harold's hand and puts it on his still slightly sore ass. "And here I thought you were paying attention, Harold."

"Incorrigible," Harold mutters, but he's grabbing John's ass nice and firm, bringing them close together, and John gets happily lost in round two.

~~

That's the last they speak of Harold bottoming for a few days, but they don't really have time to talk about sex at all: a bunch of numbers come all in a row, John zig-zagging back and forth between two cases, Harold running himself ragged supporting John, Shaw, and Carter through helping five separate numbers.

When they're done with the last of it, and Ms. Gillis has been firmly escorted to the airport with a fresh identity and a stern warning, it's time to crash.

They sleep in, which means John wakes up at 0800 rather than his usual 0600. Harold is still asleep, breathing evenly. John curls up behind Harold and just lies there for a while, feeling and thinking.

He's hard, a combination of morning wood and a response to Harold's proximity. Pressing up against Harold feels good, both the contact itself and the knowledge that Harold likes this, so John does that until Harold stirs.

"I'm up," Harold says, groggy and amused. "And I see I'm not the only one."

John nuzzles Harold's shoulder, mouths at the place where it meets Harold's neck, and thrusts against him some more. Harold's hand finds John's, their fingers twining over Harold's chest.

Actions are easier by far than words. John gently tips Harold to lie on his stomach and rubs his cheek down the line of Harold's spine, careful of his scars. Harold grumbles a bit, but stays put until John begins kissing the small of his back. At that point Harold gets squirmy.

John bites him; just a little, barely closing his jaws over some of the flesh of Harold's ass.

That makes Harold squirm more, and say, pained, "Really?"

John freezes. "You don't like it?"

Harold's skin is reddening. John watches it, fascinated. Harold says, "I suppose I'm not entirely opposed."

John kisses his skin. "I could stop," he says. "I don't want to do anything you don't like."

For a moment, Harold is quiet. Then he turns to lie on his back and says, "John, please come up here."

John does, laying his head on Harold's shoulder. Harold runs a hand through John's hair, making him shiver.

"I did like it," Harold says. "I am. Not entirely comfortable receiving such attention."

"We don't have to," John whispers.

Harold pets him more firmly. John's eyes shut of their own accord. "But I do want to," Harold says. "To be honest, the discomfort is part of the appeal. At the same time, if you have any objections--"

John doesn't want this to be about his objections, which he doesn't even have. He sits up and pushes at Harold until Harold gets the hint and turns over again. Then John says, "I'm not stopping until you say uncle," and resumes his exploration down Harold's back.

"Not the safeword I'd have chosen," Harold says, "but I suppose it'll suffice."

It's not uncle, and it's not an outright actual protest, so John ignores him.

He has a feeling proceeding with some of the ideas he's had - specifically, the eating Harold out ideas - will get Harold flustered enough to stop him. John kisses and nuzzles the small of Harold's back, careful of his spine, relishing the way Harold lies under him, like he can't quite squirm but wants to.

John shuffles up the bed and gets lube from the bedside drawer. "I'm going to open you up with my fingers." He whispers the words into Harold's ear, grinning as said ear turns pink.

"It might take some-- ah! That's cold," Harold says, reproachful.

John kisses Harold's shoulders and his nape, rubbing slick finger over Harold's rim. It's tightly shut, stubborn, but John is used to coaxing Harold to let him in. "It'll feel good," John says, "when you relax. And if you take your time," he nips at Harold's shoulder blade, "I'm just going to keep at it and enjoy you."

"For goodness' sake," Harold mutters.

"You think I don't mean it?" John casts his eyes over Harold's bare skin, pale and scarred and precious. "Do you know you're turning red all over? You're fun, Harold."

Harold grunts, says, "Not a descriptor I've often heard applied to me."

As he speaks, though, he finally opens up. Just a tiny bit, John won't rush him; only a fingertip, not even to the first knuckle.

"Have you done this before?" John wonders. "Had someone finger you, or did it to yourself?"

It's almost a shock when Harold answers candidly: "I've tried, ah, a handful of times since you mentioned the possibility. The positions were too awkward, so I gave up."

At that, John has to come close and rub his cock against Harold's good thigh. John is painfully hard already. Part of him is tempted to rub himself against Harold and then keep fingering him, but he has a sneaking suspicion that his own blatant desire is the only reason Harold has let him in even this far.

God, he shouldn't think about being let in, not right now, but since he has... "You're going to be so tight," John says, fervently. "I'm going to be so careful, make you feel so good."

Harold emits a noise that from a lesser man might have been a whimper, and John's fingers slide that much deeper.

Emboldened, John says, "I don't care how long this takes, Harold. I can keep going for as long as I need to to get in you," oh, that was definitely a whimper that Harold made now, "and I'm going to enjoy every second."

A thought occurs to him, and he turns Harold over. Harold unthinkingly crosses his hands over his chest, which is hilarious and endearing. John grabs Harold's wrist with his clean hand, and when Harold doesn't resist, John exposes his chest.

John leans closer, licks desultorily at Harold's nipple as he pushes a finger gently inside him. Harold thrashes under him, restrained by John's weight. "Remember," John says, half-teasing, "just say uncle if you need me to stop."

"I didn't say anything of the sort," Harold grits out.

John grins. "Of course you didn't."

By the time John can slide three fingers in and out of Harold's body, enough time has passed that John's fingers are cramping. He is nowhere in the vicinity of minding, though, since Harold is still impossibly caught between arousal and embarrassment, flushed everywhere. John's made Harold come once already, and the evidence is shining on Harold's stomach.

"At my age," Harold pants, "it's extremely unlikely I'll climax again so soon."

John makes a noncommittal noise. "Still having fun?"

Harold pauses, and with some reluctance, says, "I suppose I am."

"Good. In that case, I'm going to move you." John has the maneuver in his mind all mapped out, and he's certain he can do it without hurting Harold. Harold is gratifyingly pliant as John spreads his legs and shoulders between them, bringing his dick to where Harold is wet and open for him.

"Fuck," John says, breathing shallow as he eases into Harold's body. "I don't know where to look, I want to see your face, I want to see my dick getting inside you."

Harold moans, hiding his face behind his hands.

"And I want to see your cock," John continues, merciless. "Are you getting hard for me again, Harold? I don't know how long I can last, fuck, you're tight, but I'm definitely not leaving you hanging. Oh, no."

The noise Harold makes in response is somewhat unclear, but the way his cock jerks speaks louder than words.

Multitasking has saved John's life on occasion. Despite this, he was never as grateful for it as he is now: dividing his attention between watching and feeling his cock disappear inside Harold, stealing glances at Harold's furious blush, and wrapping his hand over Harold's rapidly hardening dick.

Harold moans, a sound both enthusiastic and mortified. "Oh goodness," he says, breathless. "Oh, John."

John inches inside him, so careful not to hurt, to only make Harold feel good. A vivid image of Harold using John's dick like a toy, Harold pleasuring himself with it and telling John exactly how hard to thrust--

John breathes deep and puts the idea away for later consideration. He needs to focus on what he's doing right now.

After a few minutes of shallow, careful thrusting, Harold's hands fall away from his face. John watches him, fascinated. Harold's eyes are glassy, unfocused. His lips are wet and parted, and he's panting to the rhythm of John's thrusts.

"Just like that," John murmurs, his hand on Harold's cock picking up speed. "Yeah, just like that."

John comes before Harold does. Nothing wrong with that: it means John can lie on his side next to Harold and push his fingers into Harold where he's still wet with lube and John's come. Harold's mouth opens and closes silently, his flush flaring again, but he makes no move to cover himself or to take over from where John is milking his cock.

"Oh," Harold says, and something slurred from which John only understands his own name.

When Harold finally comes, he slips almost immediately into sleep. John watches him fondly.

Enticing future scenarios spin through John's head, a vicious cycle of carefully planned positive feedback. "Proof by induction," John says under his breath, mouth quirking up; he'll have to share that one, Harold would appreciate it.

Harold's eyelashes flutter. "What was that?" he says, still a little slurred.

John lightly pets Harold's soft stomach. "If you liked this," John says, low and cajoling, "and you believe I liked it, maybe you'll believe me when I suggest some more things we might both enjoy."

Harold's eyes open. He gives John a rather dubious look. "I can't argue with that," he says, "and yet I feel I am being set up for a trap."

John smiles with his teeth, but means it with his entire face, his entire being. "Everyone's bound to fall sometimes, Harold. Just relax and go with it."

Harold grumbles, but he shuffles closer to John, resting his head over John's shoulder. He falls asleep again so easily that it lulls John into doing the same.