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In the Stacks

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John closed the heavy outer door to the library behind him, shutting out the loud bustle of the city. He readjusted the bags in his arms and picked his way through the book strewn main floor to climb the marble stairs. On the top landing he paused a moment, checking the generator fuel levels and giving the exhaust system a once over. Satisfied that the lights would stay on for a few more days before he had to hook up a new tank, he continued on.

The library was quiet aside from the constant drone of the generator. Too quiet.

With his arms full, he rattled the security gate as he squeezed past on his way down the short hall. Late afternoon light spilled in through the wide window and cast long shadows across the smooth cement floor. John was no aesthete, but he'd come to appreciate the handsome architecture of the library. It was the nicest station he'd ever worked out of, solid, safe.

Sunlight flooded the empty work room, cutting golden angles over the dark computer monitors and old books lining even older shelves. He'd spent many a contented hour exploring those shelves, settled in  with a good book in the chair next to Finch's desk, basking.

He set his bags of supplies down on the desk. Finch's jacket lay neatly folded over the back of his chair and John took a moment to run his free hand over the sun warmed wool.

"Finch?" he called, turning to hang the dry cleaning on the side of the rolling ladder.

"Back here, Mr. Reese."

He stepped through the pools of light and turned for the stacks, listening for the constant squeak of Finch's book cart over the hum of the generator. A left at Commerce, a right at the intersection of Sociology and Anthropology, the shafts of sunlight growing weaker as he moved deeper into the collection, augmented now by the soft illumination of the ornate, but dusty, pendant chandeliers overhead.

There were twelve chandeliers on this floor and thirty-six matching wall sconces, not to mention the twenty-eight utility lights strung throughout the rest of the building. It wasn't particularly useful info to keep on hand, but in his experience, even the most mundane bits of intel could eventually prove valuable. Like the fact that the bearings on the front left wheel of the book cart had worn out and on a quiet day, the hee-hawing squeal echoed through the entire building.

He let the squeal guide him, walking the length of the Philosophy section, in and out of the chandelier light, until he came to the corner where the books branched off: encyclopedias lining the low cases and Psychology on the back shelves, and Finch. John slowed his steps.

Dressed down to his shirtsleeves and a wine colored vest whose silk back caught the bands of light as he pushed the cart towards the end of the tight aisle.
John came to a stop. Cocked against a heavy bookcase in shadow, he watched Finch pluck a book from the cart then, bracing a hand against the limestone wall, slowly -cautiously- bend at the waist to reshelve the leather-bound tome.

Bottom shelf.

Expertly fitted trousers pulled snug.

John swallowed.

It was over in an instant. Finch straightened slowly, both hands to his back.

"Need help?"

"Hmm," Finch murmured as he eased into the stretch. "I didn't hear you sneak up."

"Sneaking's why you pay me," John answered, a small smile ghosting his lips. He pushed off the bookcase and strolled down the dim aisle to join his partner. "Do you have much more?"

"Just these for now," Harold said, resting his hand over the dozen or so books the remained on the cart. "Then I have to start on the audio room."

John took a step closer and lay his hand over Harold's, dragging his fingertips down the back of his hand. "Busy schedule," he said softly, teasing his fingers against Harold's. "Think you have time to fit in a kiss?"

Harold's face lit in a slow, bright smile. "Of course."

"A real kiss."

"Oh, no." Harold tipped his head back, a wary brow arched. "Your kisses have a propensity to grow into much more, Mr. Reese, and we have work to do. Which reminds me," he added, slipping his hand loose. "There's a bulb out in Geography."

"I'll add it to my honey-do-list."

"It's called maintenance, John," Harold said. He gave John's arm a gentle pat before reaching for the next book on the cart.

"So I don't get any kind of kiss at all?"

"I really need to finish shelving these."

"I see." He lifted Harold's hand away from the books, tangling their fingers as he guided him back against the book lined shelves. "The library's not the only thing that needs attention around here, you know."

"No?" Harold tipped his head back, eyes narrowing slightly behind his lenses. "Do tell, Mr. Reese."

"Where to start?" John whispered, dipping his head to nuzzle along the curve of Harold's neck. "It's been a while since we've had time to ourselves."

"And despite your extensive... honey-do-list, you have some ideas about how you'd like to pass that time?"

"Same ideas I have every time I get you alone," John rasped. He caught Harold's wrists lightly and brought them up, pinning him against the musty rows of gold embossed, hand tooled, leather bound books. "Ideas about getting you out of your fancy clothes."

"That would prove an obstacle to my planned productivity," Harold said in a low tone.

"Just a kiss." John uncurled his hands and pushed his palms up, sliding warm against Harold's until their fingers were clasped together. He pressed his body close and felt the coinciding shift in Harold's body and the quick squeeze of his hands.

"One kiss."

"Mmhmm..." John said absently as he ran his lips along the Harold's jawline.

"Then we get back to our chores."

"Of course." John nipped lightly at Harold's ear.

"And later, after you pick up Bear from the vet's, if you're still up to it—"

"If I'm still up to it?"

"Later, we can attend to this supplementary maintenance in a more thorough manner."

John untangled his fingers, softly brushing over Harold's skin. He raised his hands to Harold's face and slowly pulled the glasses away. Carefully, he folded the arms and set them on the bookshelf, then turned his attention back to Harold, his wide blue eyes blinking as he focused in the low light.

"As thoroughly as you want, Finch," John said before dropping his head to collect his hard bargained kiss and cross today's most important task off of his list.