It was the third night they’d spent hunkered down in that cramped, colorless motel, the third night John found Harold wedged in the same confined office space in the corner of the room, minute scowl aglow in the laptop glare as his fingers raced across the keyboard at a near unfathomable speed.
John turned on the light as he entered and dropped the bag of warm Chinese on the desk beside the laptop. There was a slight, almost imperceptible reduction of swiftness with which Harold’s hands moved; he at least still had the capacity to respond to outside activity. John supposed that was a good thing.
“Any new info?” he asked, sitting down on the corner of one of the two double-sized beds with his container of lo mein. He was careful to keep as much of his suit from rubbing against the cheap material; after all, Harold had bought the suit for him, and it seemed only fair that he make the conscious effort to not completely destroy at least one.
“Unfortunately, it appears Mr. Baker is a man who values privacy almost as much as we do,” Harold replied, without looking up. John opened the container, the greasy, familiar scent of Chinese noodles washing over him, and breathed out a pleasant sigh. After spending three days locked in a motel room alone with Harold, he’d discovered two things; never undervalue the existence of stylized American takeout, and never try to reheat a filet of steak in a six hundred kilowatt microwave.
One of these, in retrospect, he already knew.
“You should take a break, Harold,” John said, between mouthfuls, and Harold paused for barely a microsecond before returning to his typing.
“We have a number, Mr. Reese,” Harold replied, resolutely ignoring the food beside him.
Reese watched him work, chewing thoughtfully, and didn’t reply. William Baker, their newest number, was more of a recluse than any of the others had been, and it seemed entirely possible to Reese that he was both victim and perpetrator; how could someone go three days cooped up in their bedroom, without the slightest desire to go out for a breath of fresh air?
Looking at Harold, it occurred to him that he dealt with such a man every day.
“How do you do it?” John asked suddenly, and Harold paused again.
“I can’t imagine that you’ve suddenly developed an interest in coding, Mr. Reese,” Harold replied, and John smiled vaguely.
“I mean this,” John clarified, gesturing around him at the dreary motel room. “You haven’t left the motel room in seventy-two hours; how do people like you and Baker do it?”
Harold was silent long enough to turn his head and glance at John. “I think, to be fair, there is a profound difference between myself and Mr. Baker.”
John leaned forward, intrigued. “And what would that be?”
“I am not alone; I have you, Mr. Reese.”
He sat back on the bed, floored by the admission. Clearly, Harold didn’t see it as such—he would have never said it if he had. But it felt a lot like one to John. And it was startlingly true, when he thought about it. Harold did have him. In many ways.
Lo mein finished, he got to his feet, threw away the empty container, and approached the desk. He leaned over Harold’s shoulder, peering at the screen. The numbers meant nothing to him, of course, but the proximity was nice; he enjoyed sharing space, especially with Harold. He smelled familiar, like expensive cologne and aftershave, like old books and the warmth of running computers.
Harold shifted beneath him, the sleeve of his jacket brushing John’s as he stretched to tap out a series of numbers on the pad. John raised his hand to glide around the curve of Harold’s shoulder, not quite close enough to touch, but just near enough to imagine the fabric brushing against his hand.
“Is something wrong, Mr. Reese?” Harold asked, his voice barely above a whisper. John smiled softly, leaning down so his breath ghosted over Harold’s ear.
“No, Finch,” he said, “I just enjoy watching you work. Is that alright?”
“No,” Harold replied, surprising him, “It’s really quite distracting to have you breathing over my shoulder as you are.”
“What are you doing, anyway?” John asked, finally placing his hand—ever so gently—on the edge of his shoulder. Harold’s fingers stilled.
“Nothing very important,” Harold said, softly. He turned his head, and they stared into one another’s eyes for a long, silent moment.
“Maybe it’s time for a break,” John said. Harold broke their stare, cheeks reddening.
“You really have no idea what you’re doing to me,” Harold said quietly.
John leaned forward just enough to touch the tip of his nose to Harold’s temple, and he breathed in that familiar, wonderful smell, the feel of the rough fabric of Harold’s jacket rubbing against his fingers.
“John,” Harold gasped, hands splaying across the keyboard. John pulled away, aware that he’d crossed a line, that he’d crossed it the second he leaned over the table to look at Harold’s computer screen, but somehow it hadn’t felt at all wrong.
Harold turned suddenly in his chair, grabbing John’s hand before it slipped from his shoulder, and looked up at him, eyes wide and surprised. Confused.
Maybe, even a little wanton.
“I could say the same thing,” John croaked finally, gazing at Harold with undisguised want. Harold took a while to process the look, almost incredulous when he finally pieced it together, then looked away, his eyes shifting as if he were tracking changing numbers on his computer screen, trying to crack the code, find the formula.
Trying to figure out why.
“Why…?” He finally asked, at a loss. John stared at him, helplessly, his heart and stomach fluttering.
“Harold,” he whimpered, his legs shaking. He went down on his knees, and Harold jumped, shocked, as John pulled him closer, until he was looking up at Harold, bracketed between his legs, searching his eyes for a sign. A sign to stop, to keep going, to change direction—
“Can I?” John asked, leaning up, his mouth mere inches from Harold’s. Harold wavered; he could feel him, shaking, uncertain, this new territory almost too much for him to handle.
“If—if you want,” he breathed, shakily, and John leaned up to press their lips together, chaste and soft.
There was no explosion of fireworks, no sudden earth-shattering revelation that hit him like an oncoming truck rolling down the interstate, but John felt like that was because he was too afraid to move closer, lest he scare Harold off, and at the same time too afraid to back away. He could have misread the situation, put too much into a simple touch, overestimated Harold’s interest in him—if he lost what they had, at this point, he wouldn’t survive. He knew that.
Harold was stiff, unyielding yet not refusing, until John finally got up the nerve to pull away. As soon as he began to recede, two hands rose to cup his head, pulling him back in, deeper. He keened, leaning into the touch, opening his mouth pliantly when Harold’s tongue pleaded for entrance.
His arms wrapped around Harold’s hips and he leaned in, pressing their bodies together, and Harold let out a soft, desperate sound, far too much for John to deal with.
“Harold, can we—”
“Yes,” he said, yanking at John’s jacket to pull him to his feet. “Yes, John.”
They fell into bed, John landing to Harold’s side and rolling on top of him, straddling his hips and kissing him deeply, protectively. Harold clung to the fabric of his jacket, abbreviated attempts at pulling it off stifled by his desperation to keep him close.
“Here, let me—” John sat back on his knees, shedding his jacket and unbuttoning his shirt with a vicious speed. He threw off his undershirt, savoring the tiny gasp from the man below him.
“Oh, God,” Harold gasped, as John bent down to kiss him again.
He could feel Harold’s hands hovering just over his exposed sides, and he smiled into Harold’s mouth, pulling back a little.
“You can touch me, Harold,” John said, leaning down to press a row of kisses along his jaw. “I really want you to touch me.”
Harold’s hands ran the length of his back and sides, and John unraveled his tie, and when the two top buttons of his dress shirt were unbuttoned he had to sit back, to look down and fully absorb the man beneath him.
Just two unfastened buttons and a loosened tie and Harold seemed completely undone, cheeks flushed pink and eyes wide and desperate, glasses askew on his face. John reached down and plucked them off, drawing in a startled breath at the sight of Harold’s naked face beneath him.
“John, please,” Harold said, grasping for his glasses, and John reluctantly handed them back. He was pleasantly surprised when Harold folded them up and placed them on the nightstand, his hands returning to rest cautiously on John’s hips.
“Can you see me?”
“I’m not that blind, Mr. Reese,” Harold chided him, with a gentle glare, and John beamed, leaning down to press his lips back onto Harold’s, to lick into his mouth and suck out tiny little gasps while he unbuttoned the rest of Harold’s shirt and rucked up his undershirt, hands roaming over Harold’s chest hungrily.
“Oh—John,” Harold gasped, his fingers grasping at John’s head, carding them through his hair.
John hummed pleasantly against his neck, nuzzling just beneath his chin and kissing the soft skin. It felt so good, pressing against Harold, feeling his arms wound around his neck and shoulders. John straddled Harold’s good leg and rocked forward, just slightly, and the traction was enough to make them both moan, Harold’s grip in his hair tightening and loosening feverishly.
John kept rocking them back and forth with a gentleness he wanted Harold to recognize and savor as much as he was. Harold kissed him, constantly; every time he moved away to reclaim his neck or shoulders he was eventually pulled back, long-fingered, familiar hands exploring every inch of him while his mouth was occupied by a mindful, perfect tongue.
“I want to taste you,” John whispered into Harold’s mouth, feeling him shudder.
“John,” Harold said, which seemed to have become the only word he could manage to say, and John took it as an affirmation and moved down on Harold’s body. He kissed his chest, his sides, mouthing at his stomach while he worked Harold’s shirt up over his head with all the care he could, to avoid aggravating his injuries. Harold’s hands found their way back to his head and he went down, unbuttoning Harold’s pants and working them down over his hips.
He placed a soft, delicate kiss on Harold’s still covered cock, and Harold bucked up, making a noise that didn’t quite sound like Harold.
“What was that?” John inquired, pulling at the edge of his boxers.
“I said ‘holy shit’,” Harold repeated, with a soft, scolding whap on the back of John’s head when he couldn’t contain a surprised laugh.
“My my, Harold,” John murmured, pulling his underwear down, “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard you use such filthy language.”
“Well, the next time a charming, gorgeous man purrs into your ear that he wants to give you head, I’ll give you a thousand dollars not to swear to high heaven,” Harold snapped, breathless, and John shivered, because Harold just said—Harold thought he was gorgeous?
“Gorgeous, huh?” he said, teasingly, pulling at the elastic of his underwear.
“Guhh, yes, John, you are unequivocally beautiful, now, would you please—”
John obliged zealously, drawing out another half-shocked moan from the man above him as he drew him into his mouth.
He hadn’t done this sort of thing in a long time—the last time had been on a mission, just getting close to the target, and once he thought about it he realized that he’d never done it with a man just because he wanted to. But, oh, with Harold he wanted to.
He sucked and teased at his cock and Harold gasped over him, one hand gripping his shoulder and the other knotted in his hair, almost painfully, and it was driving him crazy to know that he could make Harold this unraveled, this pleasured. His body was almost shaking with want and it made John want to just wrap around him and consume him, every piece of this man he so respected and trusted and adored, and god, all he wanted to do was keep him safe and give him pleasure like this, over and over until he melted into his firm grasp.
Harold suddenly tugged John’s hair with an unexpected force, and he pulled off, Harold’s wet and straining cock slipping out of his mouth with a wet pop, and he looked up at Harold, panting and desperate.
Harold was staring down at him, almost incredulous, and upon seeing the desire hot in John’s eyes he groaned, falling back.
“John,” he said. It was so startlingly beautiful to watch him tense and suddenly liquefy as he came, every muscle relaxing at once with release. The sight, the sound of him gasping John’s name, sent John over the edge so suddenly and violently he barely had time to let out a choked “Harold, fuck,” before he too was coming in his slacks.
He collapsed back into the bed, cheek resting warmly against Harold’s thigh. The room was hot and sexed and filled with the sounds of them breathing, and John found himself smiling uncontrollably against Harold’s leg.
“…John? Are you all right?”
The quiet murmur above him brought him back a little, and John was faintly aware that he was still shuddering.
“…Been a long time,” he admitted, nuzzling Harold’s groin and extracting a soft little huff from the man above.
“I assure you, it has been quite a while for me as well,” Harold reminded him. “…Just to be clear, that was exceptionally wonderful.”
Then hands were back running through his hair and yes, oh, it felt so good to get that kind of approval from Harold. So, so good.
“Mmmm,” John sighed, crawling up Harold’s body and tucking his head underneath the man’s chin.
“Oh, I… all right.” Harold’s hand eventually came back to nestle into his hair, his free arm reaching to lie atop his own as it stretched across Harold’s stomach, holding him close. They were sticky and sweating and it was disgusting and John knew it, and he knew that Harold, so studious and proper, was at least mildly uncomfortable laying in a bed soaked in come, but all he wanted to do was hold him and breathe him in and realize that he was actually allowed to do this. Harold was actually letting him do this.
“…we really should be getting back to Mr. Baker,” Harold said, eventually, though his hand didn’t remove itself from John’s hair and his fingers didn’t stop running small circles along John’s arm, so he didn’t seem to be feeling all that urgent.
“Yeah,” John agreed, and he tucked his head further under Harold’s chin. There was a soft exhale of breath, and then Harold was laughing, softly and gently like he wasn’t entirely sure that he should be, but it was real laughter. And John reveled in it.
They remained there, curled together, until Harold’s violently beating heart slowed and his breathing deepened until John knew that he had fallen asleep. He could feel himself drifting off too, and struggled to glance at Harold’s computer screens without moving his head from the man’s chest. He saw no changes in the data, no movement from their number. It was nearly midnight; the chances of Baker leaving his apartment in the middle of the night were slim to none. John thanked the Machine—or whatever had chosen such a kept man as their current target—for being so kind to him. To them. Because clearly, Harold was just as content with what had transpired between them.
“You’re beautiful,” John told him, and Harold sighed sleepily, patting his arm.
“Talk tomorrow,” Harold mumbled, pulling John’s arm further around his waist. “Sleep.”
John smiled into the crook of his neck, snuggling as close to Harold as he could manage, and did just that.