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Seeking Solace

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John—and it’s always John, in the safety of his own head, never Reese—had slumped into a graceless sprawl against the side of his desk fifteen minutes ago. He’s yet to move. Harold would normally reprimand him for it. Too many wires, too much delicate machinery, too much risk.

Frankly, if his spine had allowed it, he’d be doing the same as John. Both of them are so tired these days, and their most recent number had not helped that at all. It’s good that John, at least, is getting some rest.


Or not.

Harold turns his chair to the side, pushes forward. He thinks John is still sleeping, but the other man’s head is shaking from side to side, babbled phrases in English, Arabic, Mandarin, spilling from his lips. A nightmare. Something in Harold’s abdomen twists itself up into a knot.

“Mr. Reese,” he whispers. His hand is halfway to John’s shoulder before he realizes what he’s doing. He stops. Then frowns at himself. Finishes the motion and curls his hand over the dark silk of John’s shirt.

John tenses, waking almost immediately. A trained response. Harold should have expected nothing less. He goes to pull his hand away, only for it to be pulled back down by John’s.

Correction. John pulls it down and places it on his neck instead. His pulse is still beating far too quickly. Harold’s hand is shaking.

“Please,” John says. “It helps. Save the overthinking for the morning.”

His pulse is slowing, a steady drum against Harold’s fingertips. He just listens for a moment, to the slow rasp of John’s breathing, Bear’s canine snores, the distant heartbeat of their city.

“Very well,” Harold says, and leaves his hand where it is.