Their current Number, John observes as he straightens in his seat, is something of a Greek God.
Even Sameen, he notices with wry amusement, has a spark of interest in her heavily made-up eyes. She catches his appraising glance as well and smirks back at him, and John nods silently in assent; though it has never been acknowledged out loud, both of them have always known that one of the things they have in common—aside from their former work as government operatives and trained assassins—is that they’re both bisexual.
Their similarities have helped forged an odd bond between them as they continue to work together under Harold’s direction now, their relationship akin to that of sibling rivalry. There’s always been an unspoken one-upmanship between them that has become a sort of ongoing game, and John can tell Sameen is interested in making this one a competition between them as well.
In this case… who between them is going to be the one their current Number will be attracted to the most.
John lets his body fall into a relaxed posture on the couch, spreading his legs suggestively, his leather pants tightening invitingly over his crotch. Sameen, from where she’s sitting primly on a stool by the bar, arches an eyebrow at the move and deftly crosses her legs, making the hem of her short black dress hike upward, hinting at a teasing view of her lingerie.
Sameen is looking more threatening than seductive though, and John has to bite his lip to stifle his amused laughter.
He supposes it’s not the strangest situation he has ever found himself in, and that something like this is bound to come up sooner or later in one of their cases. Their current Number happens to be an active member of this highly-exclusive sex club, one that’s apparently also top secret and off the record—which is why it’s only someone like Harold, together with his all-seeing Machine, who has been able to both verify its existence, and gain access to it.
The fact that Harold seems to have been enlisted as a long-time benefactor is something that John tries very hard not to think about.
As if on cue, the comm in his ear bursts into life. “Perhaps we should consider ourselves fortunate that Mr. Williams has chosen this particular club to be a member of.” Harold’s voice pitches low in his ear, and in the dim lights of the club, John lets an involuntary shiver wash over him. “It makes keeping track of his movements more terribly convenient for us.”
Sameen chimes in, voicing the question John can’t dare himself to ask. “Do we want to know why a bored rich man like you is financially supporting a sex club?”
He hears Harold sniff prissily through the comm, and John smiles despite himself. “For practical reasons of course, Ms. Shaw. It allows me to ensure a safe haven for civilians who feel a need to perform sexual acts without fear of judgement, repercussion, or health risks.”
Finally, John gets it. “You want to make sure you can protect them,” he murmurs approvingly.
“Well,” Harold sounds almost flustered over the comm, and it warms John from the inside out. “Yes. Of course. People need to be protected even in this. Especially in this, I think.”
Sameen rolls her eyes. “You always have a do-gooder reason, Harold.”
Harold’s voice is amused and dry. “You sound almost disappointed, Ms. Shaw.”
John sees Sameen accept a drink from the bartender, who is eyeing her with an interest that she returns with a strained smile. “It’s just that you’re missing the point of a sex club, Harold. You’re not here to be selfless.”
“Oh? What should I be here for then, Ms. Shaw?”
From across the room, Sameen catches his gaze, and holds.
“You’re here to take what you want.”
Sameen is addressing Harold, but she’s speaking directly to him, and John swallows around a suddenly dry throat.
“Focus on the Number, Ms. Shaw,” Harold murmurs, “especially because he’s already headed your way.”
Williams has already purchased a drink from the bar and is running his gaze appreciatively all over Sameen’s body—from her bare arms, to her dipping décolletage, to her long, oiled legs—before he tilts his glass at her in acknowledgement, smiles gently, and walks away.
Sameen throws a deadly glare at the back of his head.
“Relax, Shaw,” John drawls. “You’re here to save him, not kill him.”
“We’re not even sure if he’s the victim or the perpetrator yet, but that’s not the point,” Sameen hisses. “Don’t I look good? Because I think I look good, damn it!”
“You look fine, Shaw,” John murmurs reassuringly. “It’s just that maybe…”
Williams is now approaching him with a look and a stance that screams predator, every bunch of muscles under the criss-crossing leather belts across his bare chest moving with intent, and John smiles as he leans both arms over the back of the couch and reclines, letting his unbuttoned, crisp white shirt fall open and reveal his own sinewy torso, matching Williams strength for strength.
“…maybe women aren’t his type.”
Sameen scowls at him, and John enjoys a moment to bask in winning this round of their game—before he blinks in confusion when Williams walks straight past him.
“Perfect Pearl Manhattan,” Williams speaks smoothly. “Rich, classic, and elegant. Just like you.”
John feels ice pouring in his veins as he hears Williams sliding into the booth behind him: a tucked away corner of the club, hidden from view of most of the patrons, in front of which John has strategically positioned himself to shield the booth’s previously solitary occupant.
Apparently, it hasn’t been enough to avoid the keen observation of their Number, who seems to have had one target all along.
“Well, what do you know, Reese,” Sameen’s voice is both surprised and awed. “Looks like our Number has exactly the same taste as you.”
Behind him, Harold’s speaking voice overlaps with that of the digital one in his ear. “You’ve been paying attention.”
The spike of almost painfully wistful déjà vu is doused chillingly with Williams’ nearly identical response. “Relax, it’s just a drink. I haven’t guessed your favourite flowers yet, or else I would’ve gotten them for you too.”
“Reese?” Sameen’s voice is tinged with worry now. “Hey. You okay?”
Belatedly, John realises that his hands have balled into fists on his lap, and he forces himself to unclench them. “This isn’t part of the plan, Finch,” he hisses through gritted teeth.
“Time to change the plan, then,” Sameen says matter-of-factly. “If our Number’s the vic, we can now scout the area for potential perps. Let Harold be the distraction and bait, for once.”
John growls under his breath, not liking that idea at all. “If our Number’s the perp, then that means Harold might be the potential victim.”
“And that’s why he has both of us, Reese,” Sameen answers with a patience that is illogically getting on John’s nerves, because she doesn’t understand. “Look, if he’s the perp, it’ll be stupid for Williams to try anything here, Harold practically owns the place.” Sameen pauses. “Come to think of it, that may be the reason…”
Harold seems to take that as his cue. “And what else do you know about me, Mister…?”
“Williams. John Williams.” He pitches his voice lower as he murmurs, and over the comm John can hear him whispering in Harold’s ear. “Call me John.”
Sameen isn’t even bothering to hide the surprised “o” of her mouth.
Unable to take not seeing anymore, John fluidly repositions himself on the couch so he can finally view the ongoing developments.
The sight that greets him makes his blood suddenly boil, bubbling right beneath his skin, and his fingers suddenly itch for unreasonable violence.
Williams is leaning toward Harold, right into his personal space.
“John,” Harold murmurs, and John starts, because the sensual inflections injected into that one syllable seem to speak to him as well. “What do you know about me?”
Williams smiles and drops his hand onto Harold’s arm, delicately caressing the expensive fabric of his sleeve, and John has to violently shove away visions of the multiple ways the CIA has taught him to hack off a person’s fingers.
One by one.
(Harold won’t approve of the direction of his thoughts. John desperately clings onto that reminder.)
“Nothing of consequence, really,” Williams answers lightly. “I don’t even know your name.”
Harold smiles back and covers Williams’ hand with his own, squeezing gently; John feels the same sensation happening to his heart. He feels like he can’t breathe.
“You can call me Mr. Crane,” Harold says cordially.
Williams tilts his head, blue eyes gazing at Harold from beneath half-closed lids. “We’re not on a first name basis yet, Mr. Crane?” he asks teasingly.
It took surviving several life-threatening situations together and continuously saving each other before he and Harold even got to first name basis, John thinks bitterly. If Williams thinks he can get it that easily—
“If I tell you my name, John,” Harold says, and oh John hates the easy way his name rolls off Harold’s tongue in that manner, knowing it isn’t him Harold’s addressing, “will you tell me what I want to know?”
Williams grins, flashing all of his pearly-white teeth. “Fair enough.”
“Nice,” Sameen can’t help but comment approvingly on Harold’s interrogation technique. John scowls, disapprovingly.
“Very well. You can call me Harold.“
Oh that’s just not fair.
“Harold,” Williams murmurs with something akin to reverence, and John feels his gut twist, because that—that’s painfully familiar. And something he desperately understands.
He sees Williams swivel his hand beneath Harold’s grip and thread their fingers together—before his next words punch the air straight out of John’s lungs as Williams gives voice to the one secret John has been feverishly harbouring for so damn long:
“I’m all yours.”
John’s heart is hammering so wildly against his ribs that he’s surprised the ruckus inside his chest isn’t echoing over the comm. He sees Harold brush Williams’ strawberry-blond bangs away from his forehead, the action both tender and proprietary, and it takes all of John’s willpower not to whimper helplessly as he sees Williams’ eyes flutter close with pleasure.
From his peripheral vision, he sees Sameen raise her eyebrows as she looks at him, finally catching on.
“And you all say I look angry,” she quips wryly, and John doesn’t even dignify that with a reply; he won’t be surprised if he looks just as murderous as he currently feels.
Without letting go of Williams, Harold’s other hand migrates to Williams’ ear, caressing the outer shell, before running the back of his hand over Williams’ cheekbone. Williams lets out a satisfied sigh as he rubs his cheek against Harold’s fingers, blindly seeking more contact.
John feels the blood rushing hotly to his own cheeks with a noxious cocktail of helpless arousal and overpowering jealousy.
"Reese," Sameen murmurs over the comm, "aren't you going to stake your claim?"
Harold’s fingers slip beneath Williams’ chin, urging the other man to look at him. Williams’ eyes flutter open dazedly as Harold murmurs, low and utterly perfect: “Are you truly mine, John?”
Hearing the special inflection on his name that he’s heard countless times from late nights working close with the one man who’s been the source, fuel, and target of his fantasies all these years… John is suddenly, undoubtedly certain that it isn’t Williams Harold is addressing.
He would be an utter fool not to answer truthfully, and his own voice overlaps with Williams' as they both answer—Williams with eagerness, and John with absolute possessiveness: