The first atomic bomb had farther reaching affects than anyone could have predicted. Starting in 1950 half the babies in the world were born with wings. People of course thought they were monsters, and many babies were killed or their parents had the wings removed but it just kept happening, finally by 1960 99% of babies in the world were born with a set of wings. The first generation of winged people had small wings that could only get them a foot or two off the ground. Though as the nuclear age continued to progress, the wings started to get larger and larger making flight possible for these individuals. There are still people born with small wings today and a rare few born without wings at all. Though they are shamed because as time progressed the wings became a sign of status. Large colorful wings were prized in most societies around the world. Large and colorful wings on a man show him to be strong and virile and the same on a women show her to be elegant and a good mother. Flirting had changed as well and wing displays have become the go to when wanting to make a relationship more permanent. There are still those born in a time before wings that are against such an abomination against nature. This is the world that has been created after the atomic bomb.
When John first met Harold he thought Harold was one of the people born in the 50s without wings. John felt sorry for the man, his own wings gave him a 16 foot wing span and were black with gray, white and blue feathers mixed throughout. He could never imagine not being able to fly and felt sorry that Harold had never known the sensation. He was dirty and hungry and in pain then this man calls him by as close to a real name he has anymore, and said he knows everything about him and he stops caring about the wing issue.
John was immediately suspicious and all thoughts of sympathy fled. He unfurled his wings from his back into a defense position, the armed guards did the same though there wings (a slate gray and a rusty brown respectively and significantly smaller than John’s; about an 8 foot wing span each). Harold simply motioned them off. When John was cleaning himself up in the motel that night, wondering why he was even bothering, preening his wings and all. He thought back over what Harold said and wondered if he hated people with wings especially people like John, who had experiments done to his wings. The compound they gave him when he joined the CIA made his wings bullet resistant and at will he could make the feathers as sharp as knives.
John regretted that decision even if it made him a better operative in their eyes. The amount of time he had to use his own feathers to kill someone was better left uncontemplated. They had turned something he loved into something he hated.
As time wore on and John started to get to know Harold, he didn’t seem to resent those with wings at all. Not like any other person without wings he had ever met. It wasn’t until Harold had to go undercover as Harold Partridge that John found out differently. John didn’t see Harold till after the case was finished and he had seen Zoe safely off.
Walking into the library John was completely blindsided by what he saw. The fancy suit and cane were minor details compared to the wings on Harold’s back. They were beautiful and horrible at once. The coloring was peacock blue and emerald green. There were silver and red eyes along the tops of the wings. It looked like the tips of Harold’s wings had been removed and there was scarring and feathers missing from the left side.
The scarring was the the horrible part, but given Harold’s age the clipped wings were more common. The first 10 years the wings started appearing many people removed the winglets from their children not realizing the wings would keep growing just without the part removed. He saw why Harold had hid them they did revel a lot about him and were rather rememberable. His wing span with the tips removed was about 6 ft, large for someone his age if John was guessing right. Most people with clipped wings ended up wit a 4 ft wing span.
Once he remembered how to talk he called out. “Hey Finch”
It got him hot under the collar seeing the wings flare in surprise (not that he hadn’t been attracted to Harold before but his wings were truly beautiful.)
“Mr. Reese, I didn’t here you come in.” Harold turned and it looked like he was blushing.
“I guess this is what you meant when you said not to worry about you going undercover.”
“Yes, the implied virility that the wings even clipped give me in certain situations outweighs the risk of someone remembering them and linking them color pattern back to another identity.”
John lost focus for a second think about Harold’s virility but quickly back on track.
“They are quite impressive I have to say, and the fact you can hid them so well is something have haven’t seen done that well before; I didn’t suspect a thing.” John said impressed and trying to hid just what exactly had him the most impressed. (The gorgeous multicolored wings that John wanted to preen and give a rub down to.)
“Yes well I’ve had quite a few years of practice and much less wing to hid than most now a days.” Harold said.
John let the subject go, sense Harold didn’t want to talk about it and he knew better than to push his luck. Given how hard it was for Harold to admit he like a certain type of breakfast food John knew that even this much was huge.
After John was shot by Snow (in the gut, leg and wing to keep him from flying away) with special rounds designed to counteract the bullet resistance of his wings. Never let it be said that the CIA wouldn’t find a way to hurt an asset in the same way they try to protect them. Harold and John both were too paranoid to let someone someone either come stay or visit twice daily to take care of John’s injuries so the job fell to Harold.
Having Harold’s hands on his wing to take care of the wound was the worst kind of torture. John hadn’t felt the desire to perform a wing display since Jessica (she had just said yes when they found out the towers fell and John knew he had to go back no matter how much he wanted to stay). He wanted to show off and impress Harold pull him close and surround him in the shelter of his wings.
The numbers continued on and Root happened the first time. When John caught up to them in the train station he had never wanted to maim and kill so much before. Harold was in wheelchair with his wings out and she had her hand resting on the top of one. John wanted to remove her 10ft violet purple wings from her body for the offense as Harold had not gone to meet their number with his wings out. She clearly had to as brought them out of hiding herself or forced him to reveal them and it made John furious that she would violate Harold like that. Once the rescue was complete and John had Harold somewhere safe he started to clean Harold up starting with his hand. Once that was finished Harold spoke.
“Thank you Mr. Reese, I’m hesitant to ask but would you mind terribly preening a few of the feathers on the left side. I wouldn’t ask but with the scaring there having feathers out of place is uncomfortable to say the least.”
John was stunned but he had a few scars like that, dead nerve ending surrounding live ones making the already sensitive skin even more so were there is still feeling.
“Of course Harold, anytime.” John said hoping that he was able to disguise the reverence in his voice at being able to touch Harold in an personal way.
Smoothing down the feathers and pulling any loose ones made John wish that Harold would come to him for his wing needs instead of the highly paid, very discreet wing grooming service he most likely uses.
They made it back to New York and continued on. Then Shaw joined the team and Root happened again. Shaw was able to stop Root from killing Harold in the warehouse by using her own alterations thanks to the government. The serum they gave her turned her midnight blue with red and orange mixed sparingly throughout, feathers sharp like John’s but her’s wing had grown an extra layer of feather that were projectile. At will she could cause her wings to shot out those feathers with quite a bit of accuracy. The down side was that unlike John, her feathers were always sharp making preening a dangerous task for anyone that wasn’t Shaw.
The feathers had hit Root in the shoulder and upper arm making her drop the gun she was holding to Harold’s head. As soon as she was disarmed John leapt from the upper level and let his wings glide him down to safety as he didn’t want to waste anytime in getting to Harold.
“Harold are you alright,” John asked once again patting him down looking for injuries.
“Yes John, I’m alright. I do wish you had listened and not followed me but at the same time I am glad you came.” Harold said primly but John could hear the tremor of adrenaline in his voice.
When the alarm sounded and John took care of bandaging Root for Shaw, at Harold’s behest as he still hated the women for taking Harold twice. When Harold flared his wings in a display of dominance with all his feathers puffed up talking to Hersh and the government agent it took all John had to not do a courtship display right there.
While Harold was settling Root into the asylum he and Shaw were standing by the car waiting for Harold to come out so they could leave. When Shaw brushed her wing against his.
“You need to tell him otherwise things are going to get messy and we don’t need that.” Shaw said with no build up then went back to watching the front entrance for Harold to return.
John thought it had already gotten messy but he kept that thought to himself and scanned the perimeter before returning to watching the door as well.
Once they were back in New York everyone was exhausted especially Harold and after sending Bear with Shaw, John escorted Harold to one of their safe houses. On the trip back John had decided for better or for worse Harold had to know. So after his standard perimeter check John finally looked directly at Harold, which seemed to be what Harold is waiting for.
“Mr. Reese…” Harold trailed off, his mouth dropping open and a look of astonishment on his face.
For as soon as he started speaking John had flared his wings as wide as they would go but had the tips pulled in slightly. It was a very common position for declaring romantic interest and John didn’t want Harold getting any wrong ideas about what he was doing. John waited a moment for Harold to react with words or wings but John seemed to finally stun Harold speechless. Unfortunately for John it would take more than just actions for Harold but he most certainly was worth it. Sucking in a deep breath John started.
“Harold when we first met I was wary of you and thought you maybe one of those people that hates wings. But I was so desperate for a job..a purpose some atonement, that I took what you were offering. I have never regretted it, not once. When you told me in a subtle way what your favorite food was at a diner I knew I was attracted to you.”
At this Harold sucked in a gasp but John continued, Harold loved words after all so he was going to get all that John had.
“When I first saw your wings it just made me want you more, they are beautiful and are such a testament to your strength and willingness to survive. God and that time you asked me to get a few of your feathers back into place, you have no idea how hard it was to stop there. I wanted to make sure that every feather was in place and perfect. I want to curl around you and kiss you, keep you safe. Harold I love you.”
John had picked up steam at the end and the final confession just burst out of him. He hadn’t meant to tell that to Harold yet…hell he didn’t even know if Harold was interested dammit!
Though Harold seemed to have come back to himself and with a smile mirrored the position John’s wings were in though it must have pained him. John couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face and crossed over to Harold folding his wings around them so Harold’s wings and Harold himself were safely cocooned in his wings.
“I must admit John you have driven me to distraction,” Harold said reaching up to stroke a few feathers, making John groan as the sensation rocked through him. “I am glad I am not the only one. I love you too John.”
That was all John needed to hear, he pulled Harold as close as he could and kissed him.
Later that night
John and Harold were tangled together on the large bed in one of the safe house’s bedrooms. John had one wing draped over Harold and was running his fingers though the feathers at the top of one of Harold’s wings. Harold was practically purring in contentment.
“Just so you now that thing you did with Hersh and that government shill was really hot and I half prepared to do a courtship display in front of them.” John said pure teasing in his voice.
Harold just gently pulled on a few feathers in his reach.
“Hush, I’m basking” Harold said with equal teasing and started petting the feathers he had just pulled on. John thought that basking sounded pretty great.