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Shelter

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In the end, of course, the only thing to do with a dog in New York City is to buy a bottle of wine and go back to Reese’s loft. It’s what they both prefer – neither one of them wants to sit in a crowded bar, making awkward conversation over the music.

The loft is still nearly as spartan as when Finch had it furnished; Reese’s personal belongings are hardly enough to fill a box. The space is so big – big enough for pacing, Finch had thought, to drive out the thought of countless cramped motel rooms, but now he wonders whether it isn’t too big for one person. Bear walks in as though he owns it, naturally, and flops down on a rug by the bed. The ranks of windows are black squares punctured by the streetlamps, empty and vulnerable.

Reese leaves the overhead lights off, switches on the lamp by the sofa and the strip lighting in the kitchen area, reaches for the wine glasses that came with the loft. “Have you eaten?” he asks.

Finch thinks back, decides the answer is no. “You don’t have to...”

Reese cuts him off. “Spaghetti all right?” He puts water on to boil, chops an onion and opens cans. The cabinets are well-stocked with non-perishables, Finch notes, as though Reese is expecting to survive a snowstorm or a siege. He perches on one of the dining chairs and observes.

“I didn’t realise you could cook,” he says, as he had wanted to earlier, listening to Reese make eggs for Sofia.

Reese half-smiles, in profile. “So there is something you don’t know. I don’t usually have time to. But it’s better than hot dogs.”

Abruptly Finch can’t look at him, with his shirtsleeves rolled up making pasta sauce, that new gentle note in his voice. He fears it may be pity.

Gazing about at the walls of windows, he mutters, “This loft...I’m sorry, I ought to have realised.” One can’t see out, but with the lamps lit, everyone can now see in – see the two of them in all their mock-normality. “You need blinds – curtains –”

“I should probably get some,” Reese agrees, apparently unconcerned. “Where’s the best place to go for curtains?”

Finch names a few, pulling out his phone to check. He suspects Reese may be smiling at him tolerantly. “You should come with me, Harold,” he says, and yes, Finch can hear it. “You know a lot more than I do about...fabrics. Colors. Things.”

Finch ruffles himself up. “You want me to go shopping for curtains with you, Mr. Reese?”

“Why not?” Reese asks easily. “If there’s no new number.”

He serves up the bowls of pasta, pours out the wine, and they eat in comfortable silence. Bear comes sniffing under the table and is shooed away. Finch is thinking that he can’t let himself get used to this, that he ought to set boundaries – surely it isn’t too late to do so, even when here he is after midnight, eating dinner in Reese’s apartment. When Reese clears away the bowls and suggests they move to the sofa with the rest of the bottle, that ought to be the moment – he can take Bear, go back to the library, get some work done before morning. Get some work done on tracking—

He is sitting bolt upright on the leather cushion, not touching his wine glass, and though the sofa is approximately a mile long, Reese is right next to him, one arm stretched across the back. Finch feels the panic set in again, the way it did in the crosswalk earlier, roads stretching out in every direction and making him dizzy, too exposed, too much space...

“Hey,” Reese says quietly, and his hand is now on Finch’s shoulder, and there’s a weight across his feet where Bear has laid his muzzle, two warm points.

“I’m perfectly fine,” Finch says.

“I know you are,” Reese replies, and Finch has to pivot to look at him, so that they’re turned toward each other, sitting far too close. He can’t help being aware of the windows at his back, but John is looking only at him, eyes far too soft for such a hard man. His fingers trace over the side of Harold’s face, as though mapping it, and Harold blinks and blinks again, almost but not quite in terror. He knows terror, now.

“Come on, Harold,” Reese whispers. They’re nearly sharing breath.

“Mr. Reese,” he attempts, his own voice gone humiliatingly reedy. “John...”

“Come on,” he says again. He presses his mouth to Harold’s temple. “I was lost without you. I would be lost without you again. I can’t – I can’t say it any clearer than –”

Then they are kissing, soft and unhurried except for the grip of John’s hands on his arms, holding him there, anchoring him in place. And for the first time in days, Harold feels that he is all there with him – that there is not a piece of him left behind, still tied to a chair in a house in Maryland; that he is home.