“I’m pretty sure I’d be dead already if you hadn’t found me.“
-- “That’s hard to say.”
2x13, Dead Reckoning
John can only feel the weight of the bomb strapped to his chest.
He almost wants to ask Harold to touch him, actually touch him, before the world dissolves into an explosion of light.
John can feel the tension radiate off Harold in waves. He hesitates, corrects the code.
John closes his eyes.
The air is cold on his face, and he can still feel the ghost of Carter’s touch on his arm, trying to hold him back, trying to save him: John tries to hold on to the feeling, the rush of affection he felt when he realized that she cared whether he lived or died.
And this, too: Harold in front of him, brilliant, stubborn Harold, who would rather be blown up by three pounds of semtex with John than walk away from him.
“Pick a winner, Harold,” John says.
As far as he is concerned, this is not a bad way to go.
They don’t die.
John walks down the stairs with his knees shaking, the adrenaline making him lightheaded and slightly sick, and Harold holds on to his arm, both guidance and support.
They don’t talk, but Harold keeps sneaking glances at him, and the grip on John’s arm is tight, as if Harold is holding on for dear life.
John hopes that it will leave marks.
They made it.
Harold keeps a wire cutter and an array of metal tools in a box at the library.
He motions for John to sit down in the chair while he finds what he needs, pulling his own chair up close and starting to peel off the wires and the rest of the trigger mechanism with steady hands.
John leans back in the chair, his eyelids drooping with exhaustion. Even with the phone trigger disabled there might be a chance to set off the explosives, but Harold is there, removing every wire, every last part of Kara’s death trap, and John can’t will himself to be afraid anymore.
“That should do it,” Harold says, and helps him to strip off the vest, handling the explosives carefully.
He walks away, moving around the library, probably locking them away somewhere safe.
When John makes himself get up, he has to grip the back of the chair for support, he is swaying on his feet.
Kara had him busy all the time running errands, he doesn’t remember sleeping for a while: He was busy watching her, trying to find a way out, fear prickling at his neck like cold sweat at the thought of what she was going to make him do.
John starts to make his way to the back room with the spare mattress when he hears Harold’s footsteps again.
“Just… going to sleep for a moment, Finch,” John says, leaning heavily against a bookshelf.
Harold mutters something that sounds suspiciously like “Unacceptable”, and the next thing John knows is that he’s walking down the stairs in his coat next to Harold, sitting in the back of a cab, setting foot on the pavement on a busy street.
John blinks a little when they walk into the entrance hall of the Ritz-Carlton and the desk clerk hands Harold a maroon keycard without a blink and wishes “Mr. Gull” an enjoyable stay.
He blinks even more when they take the elevator upstairs and get out in a stunning luxury suite with two large windows with view of what must be the Central Park at night, surrounded by skyscrapers with their windows glittering in the darkness like little diamonds. There are fresh flowers on the polished coffee table and a whole bunch of fluffy pillows stacked on the king size bed.
“Harold?” John asks, feeling like he might collapse from exhaustion any second, which might not be a problem after all: Even the carpet looks soft and comfortable under his feet.
Harold walks through the suite without sparing the furniture a single glance, busy typing something on his phone before he pockets it and switches on the lights in the adjoining room.
It’s a spacious marble bathroom with soft lightning and a large bathtub in the middle, and there’s a whole tower of perfectly fluffy white towels stacked in a corner.
“The room is paid for until tomorrow morning. I ordered for breakfast to be delivered to your room at ten so you can sleep in, if you want to change the time or have any other requests, just phone the reception, they should be more than accommodating.”
John stares at him blankly.
“Mr. Gull gives very generous tips,” Harold says by way of explanation.
“I could have slept in the library,” John says, his smile hidden behind his hand.
“Certainly not,” Harold says. “You have been in a number of uncomfortable situations in the last few days, Mr. Reese, to say the least, and you look about dead on your feet. A shower and a good night’s rest should be a good start to change that.”
John has the sudden urge to fall down on the soft-looking bed, except he has been wearing the same suit for days and there is blood and gunpowder on his hands.
“I’d love a shower, actually,” he admits.
Harold gives him a decisive nod, like that proves his point, and takes his coat.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll spend the night on the bathroom floor if I try that now, though,” John says, feeling vaguely embarassed by the admission.
It’s true: He’s pretty sure he will simply lose consciousness as soon as the first drop of hot water hits his skin, or unceremoniously drown in the bathtub.
Harold stops and looks at him, all startling blue eyes and intense focus.
John was trying for light, to turn it into a joke so he wouldn’t have to think about how Harold has not only saved his life but essentially dropped him off at a luxury hotel and told him to enjoy himself.
“It’s fine, Harold, I’ll just get cleaned up at the sink and go to bed,” John says, too quickly.
Harold looks at him like John is some kind of mathematical proof that he just figured out.
“Give me a second,” he says and walks away for a moment before returning without his coat, the sleeves of his dress shirt rolled up.
“Well?” He says to John, looking at him expectantly.
John wonders if he is having some kind of sleep-deprivation induced hallucination, but he lets Harold guide him to the bathroom anyway, leaning against him for support.
The shower looks appealing, a walk-in with glass fronts separating it from the rest of the room, but John opts for the large claw-foot bathtub in the middle of the room instead.
Harold turns on the faucets, carefully checking the temperature and retrieving a champagne-colored bottle from one of the cabinets and pours some of the content into the water, watching it dissolve into scented foam.
John undresses and leaves his clothes folded by the door, while Harold busies himself with the towels, his back turned to John.
John lowers himself into the water, warm enough to relax his limbs instantly but not scalding, and lets himself sink in all the way until the water is nearly up to his chin.
He is content to let himself drift, his eyes occasionally falling shut, inhaling the fragrance of the foam, vanilla with something spicy underneath.
“Mr. Reese?” Harold says, softly, when John feels himself slipping out of consciousness.
His eyes open again. Harold is sitting on a chair in the corner, his vest unbuttoned and the first two buttons on his shirt undone, watching John intently.
John is too tired and blissed-out to question any of it, Harold bringing him here, Harold staying, the way he looked at him on the rooftop as if -- as if --
John leans back a little to get his hair soaked in the water, and Harold gets up, chooses another bottle, and drags his chair over so he can sit somewhere outside of John’s peripheral vision.
“Here, let me,” Harold says, and oh, then his hands are in John’s hair, spreading a small drop of shampoo over his scalp.
John leans his head into the touch, little shivers of pleasure running through him when Harold’s fingers comb through his hair with just the right amount of pressure.
Harold lets his fingers trail down all the way into his neck and then back up again, and John is too far gone to care about the little sounds of pleasure that he makes.
After a while, Harold takes the showerhead at the side of the tub, adjusts the temperature and carefully rinses his hair, a hand near John’s forehead to keep the stream of water away.
When he’s done, he gets up and dries his hands on a towel and puts out two of the large, fluffy ones for John, his back turned again so that John can get out of the tub and dry himself off.
“You’ll be alright by yourself from now on, I assume?”
Harold asks from the door without looking at John, towel slung around his hips, hair dripping wet.
John could swear that there is a blush on Harold’s cheeks, but it might just be the warmth inside of the bathroom.
“No danger of drowning, at least,” John says.
Harold nods and closes the door behind him.
When John exits the bathroom, there is a selection of clothes spread out on the bed that Harold must have ordered from god-knows-where: What place sends out two suits, a selection of underwear and socks and a pair of soft-looking grey pajamas at four in the morning?
“Are you hungry?” Harold asks.
He is sitting at the desk in front of the windows, paging through what must be the room-service menu. John would assume that it’s the kind that doesn’t have prices on it.
“I’m okay,” John says. “Mostly want to go to sleep, actually.”
Harold takes a breath and gets to his feet.
“Well, should you need anything-“ He gestures to the phone.
“Reception desk,” John says.
He feels rather idiotic standing in front of Harold shirtless and in just a white hotel towel, and if he doesn’t lie down soon , he will certainly pass out, but Harold seems weirdly hesitant, as if there is something he hasn’t said yet but needs to.
“Thanks, Harold,” John says.
The for saving my life on the rooftop, for everything, stays unspoken.
Harold looks at him, really looks at him, and then he says:
“I was afraid that I was going to lose you today, Mr. Reese.”
“I thought of something,” he says.
Harold, who has gotten up from his chair and is standing right in front of him, probably on his way to the door, stops.
“I thought of something that I need,” John says, and he’s wide awake suddenly, his heart beating like a running engine in his chest.
“Would you please stay with me,” John says, nearly dizzy with it, and Harold says “Yes, of course,” very quietly and puts his hands on John’s arms, his shoulders, showing him the way.
The first touch of the cool, smooth blankets on his skin must be what heaven feels like, and John sighs and lets himself sink deeper into the mattress.
Harold climbs in on the other side, taking one of the pillows and positioning it behind him so his back will be supported before putting his hand on John’s cheek, his thumb stroking over his skin.
“John,” he says, wonderingly, and John curls up closer to him so they can kiss, the warmth of Harold’s body against him.
Harold’s fingers caress the side of his throat, the line of his jaw. His hand comes up to rest at the nape of John’s neck where his hair is still wet.
John draws Harold as close to him as he dares, Harold sighing into his mouth when John is running his hands over his shoulders, his chest.
Harold moves back a little so he can tuck in the covers behind John’s back and press his lips against John’s temple, and John lets himself sink into the nest of soft blankets around them.
Harold is safe and warm and real, and John wants so much:
He wants to kiss Harold for hours and press his body against him and make him feel good, but he can already feel himself drifting off to sleep, his whole body heavy with it.
“It’s alright, John, we have time. It’s alright,” Harold says, John’s eyelids fluttering shut at the sound of his voice, and finally, blissfully, John sleeps.