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Blind Date

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***

"You got me a date?" Harold stared at Nathan in shock.

"Yes." He smiled brightly at his friend. "You've been cooped up in here for far too long. Need to get out, have some fun."

"You do realize what we're doing here, right?" He moved around the worktable, checking on the computer and servers. "I don't have time to date."

"Well too bad, because you're meeting him in an hour at that adorable tiny bistro just off the 5th Street Park." Nathan tapped his watch to indicate the time. "You have just enough time to make yourself presentable, and get a cab."

"I will kill you."

"The Machine will know about it, and alert me." He smiled patting one of the monitors. "It likes me better."

"Why are we friends?!" Harold grabbed his suit jacket and headed for the elevators. "Wait, why am I even agreeing to this?!"

"Because you know I'm right." Nathan pushed him towards the door, before the computer genius changed his mind. "You'll have fun."

"Who is this person?" He demanded, as he was manhandled into the elevator.

"His name is John." Nathan fixed his coat, smoothed down the lapels, and then secured the top button. "He's in security, you should get along nicely."

"Seriously?" He smacked Ingram's hands away and finished straightening up. "How did you meet him?"

"He was one of the guards at Logan's latest extravaganza." He rolled his eyes, not really liking the businessman. Nathan understood the need for publicity, but there was publicity and then there was the over the top tabloid hoopla publicity that Logan tended to attract. "The poor guy looked ready to toss the billionaire out a window, the fact he didn't when Pierce grabbed his ass, showed a massive amount of restraint. I swept in and saved the poor kid, asking if he could escort me to my car as I was a bit tipsy."

Harold stared at him incredulously. "I'm surprised you didn't bed him."

"I tried, but he was too much of a gentleman. He ignored all my good moves. It was embarrassing, actually." Nathan shrugged, though he was still grinning.

"So you decided 'hey let's throw him at Harold'?" He glared at his friend, contemplating ending a thirty plus year friendship on the spot.

"It gets better."

"I can hardly wait."

Nathan ignored him. "My car had a flat. I was ready to call a tow truck, when he had me pop the trunk, then proceeded to pull out the spare, and change the tire. I may have swooned slightly, because man, that ass…"

"Nathan."

"Oh yes." The elevator dinged, the doors opening on the ground floor. "Trying not to be distracted by his ass, I rambled about IFT, computers, which led me to mentioning you."

"Naturally." Harold still wasn't sure where this was going.

"About half way through some of our stories from MIT, he asked what your name was." He smirked at Harold. "It was his tone. He was intrigued. So I showed him a picture of you, that cute one from Will's graduation, and he was smitten."

"Oh. My. God." Harold turned around to head back to his hideaway, only to be grabbed and dragged out of the IFT building. "I can't believe you did this."

"Here, look." He held up his phone, showing him a picture of John.

Harold opened his mouth to argue, then stopped and grabbed the phone from Nathan. The guard was cute. Tall, which he liked and Nathan knew it, dark hair with some silver along the edges, blue almost greyish eyes, and a slight smirk as if he knew Nathan was secretly taking photos. He scrolled through the images only to pause on the one of him changing the tire.

"Am I right? Isn't that a nice ass?"

"I can't believe you did this." He grumbled as he emailed himself the pictures, before handing the phone back to Nathan. "I'm not talking to you, I have a date."

***

John sat at one of the smaller tables, with his back to the wall watching people go about their business. Bear lay at his feet, perfectly behaved but alert to his surroundings. The owner of the bistro always kept the small, out of the way table for the two of them, especially after they saved him from being robbed a few months back.

Part of him couldn't believe he agreed to a date.

Mr. Ingram had flirted continuously despite the fact John had ignored all of his advances. At least he wasn't crude like Logan, who decided cupping his ass was the way to win his heart. He figured the businessmen got the clue he wasn't interested when he started talking about IFT, his son, the stock market, anything that caught his fancy, but what had caught John's attention were the stories about his best friend, Harold. He shyly asked questions, intrigued by the computer nerd hiding in the server room. When Nathan paused, eyes narrowing at him, he had known the gig was up. Ingram smirked, pulled his phone from his jacket, and started showing him pictures.

He was smitten instantly.

Glancing down at his watch, it was twenty minutes past the time they were supposed to meet. With a sigh, he reached for his wallet to leave money for the beer and breadsticks, as it would seem Harold wasn't interested.

"I'm sorry I'm late."

John looked up, blinking at the sight before him. Harold was even more adorable in person. His hair was spiked, and he had to resist the urge to pet it. His face was flushed, as if he he'd been running. His eyes were much bluer in person.

"Nathan told me at the last minute, and well, traffic at this time of day." Harold sat down across from him, with a hesitant smile. "Hi, I'm Harold."

"John." He held out his hand.

The moment they touched, John knew Harold was his.

"I hope you don't mind dogs." He gestured down to his feet. "This is Bear, he helps me, part of my therapy, kinda like a Service Dog, but not officially."

"He's well trained." Harold smiled at the two of them, noticing the dog was intently watching him. "If you don't mind me asking…"

"PTSD." John shrugged, not really wanting to talk about it on their first date. "We both have it, we help each other."

"You were in the military?" He asked then cringed inwardly, realizing this wasn't the best conversation starter.

"Both of us." He petted Bear's head, giving his ears a good scratch. "I got out two years ago, and one day found this guy, who come to find out was ex-military. We both were in bad spots, and helped each other out." John focused back on Harold, the bright smile fading.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked." Harold softly smiled, hoping that he hadn't ruined the night.

"It's fine." John motioned towards the waiter. "Would you like something to drink? Bear and I are frequent visitors, and can tell you everything is good here."

Harold took the offered subject change, and glanced down at the menu. He had walked by the place a few times, the food had always smelled delicious. Harold was slightly disappointed there was no Sencha Green Tea, but was happy they had one of his favorite wines. After ordering their dinner, he settled into his seat and studied John.

He could tell the man was former military. John held himself in a way that screamed warrior. The table was in a secured location, and he had a view of everyone coming and going. The wait staff made sure to make enough noise to alert them when they were approaching, which made Harold wonder how well his dinner companion knew them. He smiled at the waiter, who gave Bear his own treat, when their meal was delivered.

"Nathan in his rambling, mentioned you worked security." Harold almost groaned at how good his salmon tasted, he was definitely coming back to this place, hopefully with John.

"It's what I'm good at." He shrugged, cutting into his steak. "It's a bit dull compared to what I've done, but it pays the bills and I feel as if I'm doing something."

"Even when drunken billionaires hit on you?" Harold asked, a smirk on his face, as he sipped his wine.

"Nathan was harmless. Logan is an ass." John leaned back, eyes showing the smile that was hidden behind the napkin. "Though I can't complain too much, I met you."

Harold blushed as he set his glass down. "I have to admit I fought Nathan on coming here, but I'm glad I came."

Bear growled lightly.

John put his hand down to sooth the animal, eyes searching the surrounding area. There was a group of teenagers walking by. They were loud and goofing around, but harmless. They didn't give them a glance as they kept moving down the path. He scratched the dog's ears until he felt him relax, then picked up his own beer and took a few sips, noticing Harold watching them intently.

"We have our moments." John lifted his hand to the waiter to get the check. "Would you like to walk a bit, I can let Bear release some of his pent up energy."

"Sounds lovely." Harold smiled reassuringly.

"Dinner is on the house," the waiter informed the couple, then focused specifically on John. "Dad says hi, and mom may have squeed when she saw you had a date."

John blushed, laughing lightly. "They can't keep feeding me."

"Give up." The kid laughed. "You've been adopted, which means they feed you."

John nodded, knowing not to argue. He set his napkin down on the table, as he stood holding his hand out to Harold. "Shall we, there's a coffee cart a few blocks down, I think they have Sencha Green Tea."

"Lead the way."

"Opstaan." John commanded as he took Bear's leash in his hand. "Hiel." The dog settled on his left hand side at attention waiting for the next command. "Lopen." John held open the small exit gate that was next to their table. "He's trained to take orders in Dutch."

"I'm not familiar with the breed." Harold finally got his first full look at the animal. He was tall, strong shoulders, thinner in the hips. His light brown coat was accented with a dark patches along his neck and face, with a white spot on his chest. His ears were large and alert. He was adorable, but Harold had a feeling he was being judged.

"He's a Dutch Malinios, a herd dog, they make great soldiers." John held out his arm, smiling when Harold took it. "He lost his partner in battle, and was sent back to the States. His new owners didn't know how to handle him, and he ended up on the streets."

"Poor Bear!" Harold glanced over to the dog, who was walking happily, tongue out. "He was lucky to find you."

"We were lucky to find each other." John paused, turning to look at Harold. "You need to know that the reason I found him was because I was living on the street. I didn't handle returning to civilian life easily. He was being picked on by some street punks…"

"Hence the small growl at the group of teenagers." Harold could understand the dog's reasoning, given the number of times he got harassed as a younger man, and even now.

"He gets uncomfortable near packs of teenagers, especially boys, like I do in enclosed spaces." He patted Bear's head. "I called out in Dutch, and he came to me instantly, I then told the punk kids to get lost. We both ended up at the police station." John smirked at the memory. "Detective Fusco was trying not to laugh at the fact a homeless man and dog took out the kids - come to find out they were wanted for gunrunning."

Harold smiled.

"Fusco got us to a pet friendly shelter, made sure we had food, and took time to check up on us." John continued walking, leading them through the park to the coffee stand. "A few months later, when New York was having a severe snowstorm, he took us to a friend of his who runs an apartment complex. Trask let me and Bear stay in an old apartment that had been destroyed by the previous tenants. I felt trapped and antsy, ended up repairing the kitchen and bathroom with the supplies that were in the place. I shocked the hell out of him when he found me clean, shaved, and working on the electrical wires. He let me stay. I still live there."

Harold stopped, and turned John to look at him. He took both his hands in his, and held them tight. "You are amazing."

"I had help." He tilted his head down, blushing slightly. "Bear likely saved me, I was heading to the bridge that night…"

"Then he gets all my love." He squeezed John's hand, then let one drop for Bear to sniff it. Once the dog accepted him, he gave him a good scratch behind the ears. "You didn't need to tell me."

"I did." John kept his hand in his, and continued walking. "It's part of who I am."

"My father had Alzheimer's." Harold's voice softened. "I watched him deteriorate, during one of his more lucid moments, he demanded I go to college. With help from our neighbors, especially the local sheriff, we got him in a care facility, and I went to school. Nathan found out about him, our second year in. He found me pacing and upset, I told him that the facility had called, dad had lost his way, ended up falling and hitting his head. Nathan took one look at me, contacted our professors, booked airline tickets and took me home to see him. I didn't know it at the time, but he had his family help upgrade my dad's care and made sure I had more time to visit. We've been best friends since."

"When did you lose him?"

"After I graduated." He leaned into John slightly, enjoying the strength he provided. "Right before he died, he told me he was proud. It's a memory I cherish, and pray I never lose."

"After MIT, Nathan built IFT and you work for him?" John asked. "I couldn't quite make out what you do for him, besides keep him in line."

"Well that in itself is a full time job."

John chuckled as they approached the cart. "One Sencha Green Tea, and a Latte." They sat quietly to the side, comfortable next to each other as they waited for their drinks. Bear sat between them, alternating between getting pets from both of them. They got their drinks, and continued the walk in the park, despite the fact it was getting dark.

"I work with computers." Harold said a few moments later. "I'm very good with computers, actually. I let Nathan work the front office, while I…"

"Hide in the server rooms." John finished, glancing down at him. "He did mention that a few times. Kept saying you needed to get out and have some fun."

"I'm not sure why I'm friends with him."

John laughed. "He has a powerful persona."

"That he does." Harold hesitated, but then took John's arm again, sliding closer to him. He felt John stiffen slightly, then relax into the touch. "The bad part he is going to be unbearable after tonight."

"Is he?" he asked softly.

"I'm going to have tell him that he was right, you were perfect and getting out tonight was a great idea." Harold blushed. "He'll coo and squee all morning, asking inappropriate questions while I try to work."

"So if I happen to come by tomorrow for lunch…"

"He'll swoon." Harold squeezed his arm. "As I'm sure half of IFT will, and I'll get to leave and have lunch with the handsome mystery man."

"Then maybe I should come by tomorrow."

"Maybe, you should."

The two stopped at the edge of the park. The sun was starting to set, the summer day coming to an end. John tossed their empty cups into the trash, the two stood there a bit awkwardly. "I had a nice time, Harold."

"I did too."

"Did you mean it, that you want me to come for lunch?"

"Yes," he answered quickly, not caring if he sounded eager.

John looked down, hand rubbing at the back of his neck in nervousness. "I have a security gig tomorrow evening, so I can come by around 1pm."

"That sounds good."

The two stood there, smiling and feeling like idiots but happy. "Oh before I go." Harold pulled out his phone. "I should get your contact information…"

"It's John …" he paused, for a moment "… Reese." He gave Harold his number, and then chuckled when Harold took a picture of him and Bear.

"Did you need mine?"

"Nathan gave it to me already." He held up his phone showing the information, with the picture of Harold from Will's Graduation Party.

Harold rolled his eyes, but really couldn't keep the smile off his face. "I'll see you tomorrow."

John hesitated, and then moved to the curb to hail a taxi. When one pulled up, he opened the door for Harold. Before he could think twice about what he was doing, John leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, about the same time Bear licked his hand. John gave his dog a look, who sat on the curb, tongue out looking all innocent.

"Goodnight, Harold."

"Goodnight, John."

***

Harold woke up the next morning with a smile, he couldn't keep it off his face, even as he showered, shaved, and got ready for work. He felt like an idiot, but couldn't stop thinking about John and their upcoming lunch date.

He got a few looks from security as he walked into the IFT building, he heard the comments that someone must've gotten laid. He rolled his eyes, ignoring them and made his way up to his server rooms.

The project was about finished, and he was hopefully able to showcase what The Machine could do for the NYPD. He had the idea after 9/11, to help First Responders and Officers communicate better between precincts and departments. He was able to tap into their programs, letting The Machine pull together any case files, fingerprints, previous convictions, drug tests, and even family services, then give back the information to the Officers. The idea was criminals wouldn't slip through the cracks because no one knew the 12th Precinct was working a similar case as the 9th. The only problem he was having, was it was going beyond the perimeters he set, and started to alert them to crimes that could happen. It was something he needed to discuss with Detective Carter, when she came in to look at the program.

He settled in front of the monitors, and dived into the coding to see where it was changing and advancing. Harold wasn't sure how long he was there, getting lost in the beauty of his creation. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a black shape slide in the front of his desk, then disappear. There was the scraping sound of shoes and the distinct squeak of a rolling desk chair being pushed. He looked up just in time to see Nathan settle in front of his desk.

"I brought you tea."

"I have tea." He held up his cup, taking a sip, then went back to coding.

"Oh dear God." Nathan's smile got wider as he studied his friend. "You have the look of a man who's gotten laid."

"I actually didn't." Harold kept scrolling through the coding, copying pieces of it to study it later. "John was a complete gentleman."

"Harold how could you not tap that tight ass." He almost looked disappointed.

"Because unlike some people I know." He gave Nathan a pointed look. "I don't put out on the first date."

"But that ass."

"What did you expect, for us to get it on in some dark alley after dinner?" Harold stared at him over his glasses.

"Yes."

"Why are we friends?" He focused back on the computer. "When are you meeting with Detective Carter? There are a few things I want to research before we give another demonstration."

"Next week." Ingram stood and looked over the monitors. "Is it still showing potential crimes?"

"Yes. What I don't know if this is good or not. Can you arrest someone for thinking about committing a crime?" Harold sat back in his chair, hands across his chest. "We're not Minority Report."

"We don't have cars that will drive us home for one, though John could easily play the handsome cop, you know the one played by that guy, Ethan Hunt…"

"You mean Tom Cruise, who played Ethan Hunt."

"Yeah him, also has a nice ass."

Harold's eyes narrowed. "Is there something constructive you want to add?"

"Your hot date is waiting for you in the lobby."

"What time is it?" He looked down at his watch to see it was five minutes past one o'clock. "Damn it Nathan, why didn't you tell me this when you came in here!" Harold stood from his seat, grabbed his suit coat and headed for the door.

"You are so adorable!" Nathan caught up with him at the elevator. "I had security inform your boyfriend that we're on our way down."

"We are not on our way. I am. You are staying here." Harold slipped into the elevator and kept pushing the close door button, only for Nathan to slide his way in. "I hate you."

"You love me."

***

John waited by the front doors, watching as workers came and went. He could tell the ones were heading for a quick lunch, and those hurrying back from a longer lunch than expected. Then there were the ones in high-end suits, who ignored all those around them, and the young ones who looked half dead on their feet, yet thankful for a job. Secretaries that were rolling their eyes at their phones, maintenance men who took their time not caring if anyone was on a schedule, and the security guards that John could take down in five seconds if he wanted to.

"John!"

Bear barked his greeting as John turned to see Harold walking towards him, a dazzling smile on his face. He noticed instantly that Ingram was a few steps behind him, eyes on the dog that sat next to John.

"Harold." He focused back on the reason he was there. "I texted you, but didn't get an answer."

"I tend to get caught up in my work and ignore the world around me. I'm sorry." Harold reached out and touched his arm, then leaned down to give Bear a scratch behind the ears. "I hope no one gave you problems."

"No," he lied.

"Nice dog." Nathan eyed it suspiciously.

"This is Bear, Nathan." Harold introduced the Malinios. "He's John's Therapy Dog."

"Oh…oh." He nodded at John, then held out his hand to let the dog smell him, then smirked when Bear licked him. "He's handsome."

"And he knows it." John held out his own hand to Nathan. "It's good to see you again, Mr. Ingram."

"Nathan." Nathan wiped his hand on a handkerchief, then shook John's. "So Harold is free for lunch, bring him back when you want."

"I work tonight so I can only borrow him for a few hours." John nodded towards the door. "There's a great sandwich place nearby, you ready?"

"Let's get out of here, before he starts organizing my wedding." Harold muttered moving towards the door, John a few steps behind him.

As they exited the building, John held out his arm to let Harold take it. "I haven't even invited you to my place, and we've got wedding plans in the making?"

Harold chuckled, leaning against John as they made their way across IFT Plaza. "Nathan is a romantic, and despite our own history, including… well including a romantic relationship that didn't go anywhere, he wants to see me happy."

"He's a good man, and a friend." John led them down the path towards the shop. "I meant to tell you, that job I told you, that starts tonight. It's actually a week long, I'm working at the Brazilian Embassy, protective detail on the Ambassador's daughter."

"I won't see you for a week?" Harold hoped the disappointment didn't sound too bad.

"I'm sorry." John stopped and stepped in front of him. "I've worked this gig before. She's a handful, and it would seem I'm one of the few who can keep up with her. I leave Bear with Trask when these type of jobs happen."

"Will you be okay?" Harold ran a hand up his arm, concerned.

"She keeps me on my toes, and despite being annoying is actually a good friend." John took Harold's hand in his, and leaned down giving him a quick kiss. "I didn't want to wait a week for that."

"I'm glad you didn't, Mr. Reese." Harold cupped his cheek and gave him a second kiss before stepping back, not letting go of John's hand. "Lunch?"

"Whatever you want, Mr. Finch."

***

Harold was miserable.

And he took it out on everyone around him.

Even Nathan stopped coming into the server rooms, when he got a text message from The Machine stating that his number was up. He still wasn't sure if it was real or if Harold had sent it to keep him away.

It had been a week since his last date with John. The lunch date had lasted hours, the two lost track of time, talking about a variety of different subjects. He was surprised how learned John was, having assumed, as a soldier, he wasn't educated. Harold embarrassed himself and John when he actually stated that exact thought. John squeezed his hand, stating he wasn't formally educated, he just read a lot. The local librarians knew him by name, and had treats for Bear.

John had walked him back to IFT, and promised to call when he was off assignment. He gave Harold a longer kiss, before giving him a smile and walking away.

He buried himself in work for three days, trying not to look at his phone or calendar. On the fourth day, Nathan had dragged him out of the building to lunch. It was there he saw the news reports of a Brazilian drug cartel that had tried to kidnap the Ambassador's daughter to hold her ransom to get their men out of prison. The bartender turned the channel to a ballgame, getting yelled at by Harold. He had made enough of a scene that Nathan escorted him out of the restaurant and back to his office. Before he could ask any questions, Harold commandeered his computer and looked up all information about the attack.

He found photos of what looked like John fighting some guys in a club, and dark, grainy images of the two fleeing the area. Searching deeper, he found surveillance photos, along with police photos of a car wreck. Three of the drug cartel were handcuffed and sitting on the ground, bloodied and looked a little dazed. Off to the side was John and the Ambassador's daughter, she had his coat on, and was curled into his side looking upset yet pissed.

The days proceeding, had articles stating that the Ambassador was running for President of Brazil. Rumor had it he was offering the bodyguard, who saved his daughter, the Head of Security position.

Harold hadn't heard from John, and had no idea if he had been kidnapped and shipped to Brazil. He was about to abuse John's trust and start digging to find where he lived and show up, but he stopped himself at the last minute.

He took a deep breath and went back to work…

His phone beeped.

'Hi … it's John. Sorry late had rough week. Dinner?'

Harold scrambled for the phone, dropped it on the floor, and then hit his head on the table as he sat back up.

'Yes.' Harold rolled his eyes at himself. 'Dinner would be great. Where?'

'My place? I'm not feeling up to going out.'

He will deny it to his dying breath, but he may have squeed just a bit.

'Sure. When?'

'Tonight. 7. Or do you have plans?'

'I'll be there.'

'Where is there?'

'*laughs* I'll send you the address.'

Harold got an email from John, giving him instructions on how to get to the apartment, along with parking information if he drove.

'Got it. Should I bring anything?'

'Just yourself Harold.' There was a pause. 'I missed you.'

Harold sighed, sagging into his chair, a sappy smile on his face. 'I missed you too. See you at 7.'

***

Harold stepped out on the block and looked up at the elegant apartment building. His insurance mind ran the numbers quickly and came up with figures that would make most New Yorkers cringe. He paid the taxi, and then walked through the archway into the main courtyard, the sound of the city suddenly fading, giving a sense of peace. He hadn't met Trask, but he admired his work in making the apartment complex an oasis from the crazy streets of the city.

"Excuse me."

Harold startled at the voice behind him. He smiled at the young woman who looked about as lost as he did. "Can I help you?"

"I'm hoping so." She smiled. "I'm Sofia, a friend of John Reese, he lives here, except I can't seem to find his apartment."

"You're the daughter of the Brazilian Diplomat, the one he saved…" Harold closed his mouth, hoping he didn't embarrass himself too much.

"Yes. John is a good friend. He gets me. I wanted to give him this before I left." She had a small package in her hand. "But my driver is getting anxious, and we're already running late."

"I can take it to him, I was heading there myself…"

"Oh, you must be Harold." She beamed at him. "John wouldn't stop talking about you. I told him I wanted an introduction, but he blushed and changed the subject."

"He talked about me?"

"You two are adorable!" Sofia clapped her hands together, well as best as she could with the small package. "Good you can give this to him, tell him I don't care if he said no, it's his. He earned it."

Harold took the package and placed it in his pocket. "I will."

"Have a good night, Harold." She leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Take good care of him. If you do not I'll have him kidnapped and brought to Brazil where he'll be loved and adored." Sofia gave him one last wave, then headed out of the complex to a waiting town car.

"She'll do it, ya know."

Harold jumped, spinning around quickly.

"Sorry. I'm Trask." He held out his hand. "I own the place, well most don't know I do, they think I'm the Sup, always good to lay low. John was worried that you would get lost, I said I would keep an eye out for you. And here you are. By the way I'm Trask." He paused. "Wait I told you that already."

Harold couldn't help but smile at the manager as he shook his hand. "You've done a wonderful job with this building."

"I do what I can, I make sure to keep it affordable. Most of my tenants been here for years, especially the college kids." He waved his hand towards one of the entrances. "I'll take you up to John's."

The two, well mostly Trask, talked through most of the elevator ride. Harold got a history of the building, and a few of the tenants. Like Lily, who with John's help, got rid of the creep that was stalking her. Harold couldn't help but smirk at the story of Bear biting the guy in the ass. She now owned a restaurant nearby, where John and Bear were always welcome and food is always provided free of charge. Dr. Megan Tillman owned the clinic on the corner. It would seem that John had got his detective friend to help arrest the sexual predator that had raped her sister. She checks up on John, to make sure he's healthy, and has been known to yell at him, when he does stupid things. Andrea Gutierrez is a lawyer, and has an office across the street, she's also protective of John. No one was sure how they met, but since she moved into the area, she's made sure to be his legal protection. Rumor has it she made some rich asshat cry when he tried to sue John because of Bear.

"He's got some feisty woman around him," Harold observed as they made their way down the hallway, then turned left and kept going. "I'll never find my way out of here."

"Wait till you meet Ms. Morgan." Trask whistled. "That woman is hot." He stopped at the door at the end of the corridor. "They are all protective of him, because he's doesn't treat them like they're helpless. And it helps he's gay."

"Lucky for me." Harold looked at the door then Trask, then back at the door.

"Oh yes. Have fun." He winked. "And if you need anything, it's Trask."

"Thank you." Harold couldn't help the smile, he could see why John liked the Sup, he was genuine. He raised his hand to knock. There was instant barking, then some yelling, a scramble of claws against wood floors, muttering, and the door opened. Harold sighed in relief in finally seeing John. His gaze wandered over his body, not seeing any obvious injuries, but he noticed John looked tired and on edge. "Hi."

"Hi." John gave him a bright smile. "Dinner is almost ready, let me get your coat." He closed and locked the door, then took Harold's coat and hat putting the items in the closet. "Bear, Hiel."

The dog settled down, but still vibrated. Harold reached out and gave him a scratch behind the ears, the dog butted his head into his hand, seeking more attention.

"That's enough." John took Harold's hand in his, pulling him closer. "It's not fair the dog gets pets before I do."

Harold reached up, hand sliding onto the back of his neck, fingers digging into the soft hairs and pulled him down into a kiss. John deepened it only slightly, before stepping back. "Welcome to my home."

Harold followed him from the small entryway into an open area, there was a hallway to his left that looked to lead to the bedrooms, while a large set of French Doors led to a living space. The space was fairly large, containing the living and dining rooms, at the far end of the space was a kitchen that had a bar set up that let the cook talk to those lounging on the leather chairs and couches. The dining room table looked old, made of heavy oak that had been polished for generations, with six chairs around it. It wasn't at all what Harold was expecting, but then everything about John had blown past any of his expectations.

"The only thing I picked out was the couch." Harold shook his head, focusing on what John was saying. "When Trask let me stay, I had only a sleeping bag and a few clothes. There was a rundown mattress in the bedroom I slept on. I had worse so didn't think anything of it. After I got the job working for Anderson Security, Trask pointed out I needed furniture. He brought the dining room table that belongs in the 50's. One of the older tenants had to be moved to a care facility, and donated it for my poor furnitureless cause."

Harold glanced at it, then back to John. "I wasn't going to say anything."

"You're polite, unlike Fusco who mocks it every time he sees it." John headed into the kitchen to finish fixing the meal. "One of my neighbors, Lily donated dishes, silverware, cookware... hell, half the stuff I don't even know what it is. She owns a restaurant and gave me her leftovers."

"Trask mentioned her and the stalker Bear ran off." Harold glanced over to see the dog laid out on the biggest dog bed he had ever seen. He had the best spot in the house, right in front of the fireplace.

"I'm sure Trask gave you my life story." John shook his head, putting on an oven mitt. "I refused to let her cook for me, I think she was surprised how much I already knew how to cook."

"It's not a trait learned in the Army." Harold settled in one of the bar stools, noticing there were two place settings, it looked like they weren't going to be sitting at granny's kitchen table.

"I didn't learn it in the Army." His voice got softer, as he moved around the kitchen pulling out a bottle of wine. "I noticed you preferred this type when we had dinner, so I got a bottle."

"It's one of my favorites." Harold smiled, though was concerned. "I upset you?"

"No…" He pulled the cork, and set it aside to let it breathe. "There's more to my career than just being in the Army." John leaned against the counter, head down as if trying to figure something out.

Harold slid out of his seat, moved into the kitchen and took John into his arms. He pulled his head down onto his shoulders, and just held him. He smiled when John's arms wrapped around him. "You're the best thing that has happened to me." John nuzzled against Harold's throat.

"You haven't seen me elbow deep in a project, at 1am without tea," he muttered jokingly. "No seriously, I'm an asshole, just ask Nathan."

John chuckled, pulling back slightly, hands cupping Harold's face and taking his mouth in a soft sweet kiss. Harold's hands moved down John's back, fingers slipping into the belt loops on his jeans and pulling him closer, deepening the kiss.

John moaned into it, pushing him until he had him against one of the counters, hand slipping down to his neck, holding him steady as he lost himself in the kiss. Harold's leg wrapped around his knee, angling it just right...

Then the kitchen timer went off.

John rested his forehead against Harold's. "That's dinner."

"You should get that."

"I should." John stole another kiss, then stepped away trying to calm his emotions and body.

"Bathroom?" Harold hoped his voice didn't squeak.

"First door on the right, down the hallway." He gave him a smile, and then proceeded to pull their meal from the oven.

Harold made his way to the bathroom. He stared at himself in the mirror, noticing the flushed face, swollen lips, eyes blown. He had known John for a week, and only seen him twice before this, and was ready to not only sleep with him, but practically move in and never leave.

"Don't scare him, Harold!" he hissed at himself. "He still knows little about what you do, or who you are." 'Well, fix that Harold.' It was amazing how his inner voice sounded so much like Nathan. He used the bathroom, washed his hands, cooled himself down, and headed back to the living room, first stopping off to get the small box out of his coat pocket.

"I thought you may have gotten lost." John teased, setting the plates down on the breakfast bar. "I hope you like lasagna."

"I love it." He settled back into his seat, taking a whiff. "It smells wonderful!"

"My mother's recipe." John set down two glasses of wine. "Enjoy."

He smiled at him, and dug in … he can say it was the best lasagna he had ever tasted.

They seemed to settle into an easy conversation, the awkwardness from before having vanished. John talked about his mother, and how most of his memories of her were cooking. The house always smelled good when he got home from school.

"Dad died when I was younger, he was killed in battle protecting his fellow soldiers." John explained, setting his utensils down. "I admired and hated him. I was pretty screwed up as a teenager." He chuckled lightly. "The amount of fights I got into protecting the school geek was legendary. The principal stopped calling my mom after the fifth time."

"Where were you when I was in school?!" Harold snorted. "I was the geek that got picked on until they figured out I could get them through math class, then they were nicer."

"I was the jock, no one expected for me to go to college." John grabbed the dishes as he moved into the kitchen. "And they were right, I joined the Army the day after I graduated."

"What about your mom?" He asked.

"I had lost her six months before." John put the dishes into the sink. "Car accident. I always thought she was happier, back with dad."

"I'm sorry." Harold always hated those words, but never knew what to say in these situations.

"I always wondered if she would've been disappointed or proud." He leaned against the counter arms crossed over his chest.

"I think she would've been proud of the man you are, I'm sure you're a lot like your father." Harold smiled at him. "I'm proud of you."

"You don't know me, not really." John gave him a look.

"I know who you are, even if I don't know all about you." Harold grabbed the small box out of his pocket and set it on the counter.

"Isn't it a little early in the relationship to propose?" John teased lightly.

He blushed. "It's not from me."

"I'm not marrying Nathan."

Harold laughed, though the thought that went through his head was 'hell no you're mine!' "I ran into Sophia in the courtyard, she was about as lost as I was."

"Was she alright?" John straightened, concern showing on his face.

"She seemed okay, she said her driver was in a hurry and wanted me to give you this." He held out the small box. "She also mentioned I'd better be good to you or she would kidnap you and have you brought to Brazil."

John snorted as he took the small box. "The woman is a pain in my ass."

"I saw the news…" He stopped when he saw John's expression when he opened the gift. "John?"

"I told her I didn't want it." He shook his head, closing the lid and setting it on the counter.

"What is it?" Harold reached for it, but paused waiting for permission.

John motioned with his hand. "It's the National Order of the Southern Cross. Brazil's highest honor given to foreigners, this particular class is considered Knight. It's basically a version of the Congressional Medal of Honor."

He looked down at the round medal, the center was a dark blue stone, with five white points surrounding it, accented with a green outer rim. It was simple yet very elegant. "Why didn't you accept it, she said it was yours and you should have it."

"I did my job." John shrugged, turning back to the sink to start rinsing the dishes. "I didn't do anything heroic, just my job."

"But isn't that heroic?" Harold asked. "You put yourself on the line to help others, in my book that deserves a medal. I couldn't do what you do."

"I have a box full." He sighed, hands on the counter as he leaned against them. "All of them come from either at the loss of my men, or me killing another human being."

Without hesitation Harold moved into the kitchen, grabbed a dishtowel and took John's hands, drying them off before pulling him out of the kitchen. "Those can wait, talk to me. I'm here John, no matter what. In a week's time and two dates, you've become very special to me in ways that I'm not sure I can even put into words. And I have a very large vocabulary, Mr. Reese, so that's a big thing."

John smiled at him, hand reaching up and cupping his cheek, thumb running over it. "You are too good for me."

Harold moved his head slightly, kissing the inside of his palm. "Now sit and talk to me."

"And what if I have to say makes you see me differently," he said as they settled into the oversized leather couch. Bear got off his bed, sensing his Master was agitated and upset. He settled next to him, placing his head on John's knee.

"I doubt there is anything you can say to me that would stop me from falling for you." Harold admitted.

John reached down and began stroking Bear's head in even strokes, taking deep breaths to calm down. "I was training for Delta in the Army, when I was recruited by the CIA…"

Harold had to admit, that wasn't what he was expecting. Being the personal guard to an Ambassador's daughter was a good indication John had training outside the regular army. He had assumed he was Special Forces.

"I take it you're retired," Harold said gently.

John smirked, even if it was humorless. "Yes, Harold. I'm officially Retired, not a rogue agent hiding in New York."

"I wouldn't have cared." And he actually meant it. He had enough money to hide John if he had to, and had no qualms doing it. Harold reached over and took John's hand. "You don't have to tell me anything. I can guess that wasn't an easy job. It's likely left scars, and not just physical ones."

"I actually can't legally tell you a lot." He squeezed Harold's hand, a true smile appearing on his face. "My partner, Kara… let's just say the op we were on went south before it began and got worse from there. I lived on the streets because I couldn't stand anything enclosed. There are times even, these walls are too much. Bear and I take a lot of walks."

Bear scooted closer, giving a soft whine at the sound of his name. John gave him a smile and scratched his ears a bit before turning on the couch to look at Harold. "We were captured, the information they wanted we didn't have. I finally broke free of my bonds, but by the time I got to Kara it was too late. I refused to leave her behind. I spent six months in the hospital recovering, during that time I was debriefed, accused of everything, and finally released from service. I was honored with a medal for my dedication to my country, and like all the others I got it because I survived. Kara got a Star on the wall." He looked over to the small box sitting on the bar. "Every single medal I have is because I survived…"

Harold reached out and cupped John's cheek, getting him to focus on him. "I'm not going to be upset you survived or how you survived or what you've done to survive. I can't even imagine the horrors you've seen or lived, and I'm not meant to. But I can state with all honesty, I'm glad you're here, that you survived so I could be here in this moment with you."

John leaned into the touch, a smile slowly appearing, one that Harold would work his ass off to see continually, as it shined through him, making the blue eyes sparkle. And when did he become such a sap in his old age.

"I'll put it with the rest."

"One day I hope you would feel comfortable enough to show them to me." Harold scooted closer, almost in his lap.

"Well, the last one is locked up in Langley. You don't actually get to keep them." John smirked slightly, he did find it humorous that he got a medal for being a good spy, but couldn't show it to anyone because it was a secret.

"Well I did mention I was really good with computers." Harold shrugged settling into John's side, head on his shoulder.

"Harold, have you hacked the Pentagon?"

"Not lately."

John's laugh was low, but it made Harold smile brighter.

"I have a feeling you're not exaggerating." John kissed the top of his head. "Should I be worried, Harold?"

He sat up and looked at the other man. "I'm building a program that will help law enforcement communicate better with each other. Help find the information they need so criminals weren't released, only to find out they're wanted in another precinct. A better system for background checks, one to check if warrants were issued or if there are any restraining orders, past criminal activities… I'm not a hero but I'm really good with computers."

"Does it work?" John asked, intrigued. He knew from Fusco that the biggest frustration was lack of information or getting it too late. Even in the digital world, half the time it was dumb luck finding something or days of research and sometimes it was too late. Nothing ever happens like it does in the movies or TV.

"It seems a bit too well." Harold sighed, leaning back into John's side. "It's starting to anticipate a crime."

"How?"

"I'm not actually sure yet, still digging around the coding to find out where I either went completely wrong or was a genius and didn't realize it." His eyes shuttered closed, at the feeling of John's strong hands running through his hair. "Don't stop."

"Hmmm." John nuzzled into his temple. "If I give you scritches will you be good?"

Harold shifted and pulled John into a heated kiss. He moaned, hips thrusting forward as John laid him out on the couch, covering his body with hard muscle. He wrapped his leg around John's thigh, bringing together their hardening cocks. Hands roamed over his vest, yanking gently at the material until the shirt underneath was pulled from his suit pants. Harold's head fell against the cushions, a deep sigh escaping as he felt warm hands against his skin. It had been too long since anyone had touched him like this. John's mouth moved against his neck, nipping at his ear, before finding his mouth once again. They were lost in each other, a slow grind of bodies, as hands roamed seeking warm skin.

Harold may have whimpered when John lifted up and away from him.

"I want." John's voice was heavy with emotion, his eyes dark with lust and need. "I really want."

"You can have." Harold waved his hand at himself, making John smile that smile again.

"I think we both need more time. Or at least I do."

Harold sat up, resting on his elbows. "We have plenty of time John," he assured him, shifting until he could reach back out and cup his cheek. "I'm not going anywhere."

John shifted both of them, until they were lying back on the couch, Harold curled next to John. "I think I could love you."

Harold felt himself relaxing, "I already do."

***

Harold was on his second cup of tea by the time he got to his server room.

They had fallen asleep wrapped in each other's arms. Neither woke up until Bear kept whining and licking John's hand. When Harold glanced at the clock he realized it was half past eight in the morning.

He was going to be late for work.

John handed him a to-go cup filled with Sencha Green Tea, walked him out of the building, which he was thankful because he would've never found his way out of there. The apartment was tucked into the furthest corner away from everything and everybody. It was probably why he liked it. John gave him a kiss goodbye and put him into a cab. Harold turned, smiling at the sight of John and Bear watching the Taxi leave.

By the time he reached IFT, the tea was gone. He bought a second on the stand on the corner, and ran by the guards, ignoring their comments.

Now all he needed to do was avoid Nathan …

"Harold!"

… too late.

"You're late." Nathan gave him a predatory grin. "And you're wearing the same clothes from yesterday. I take your date ended well."

"We fell asleep on the couch." Harold sipped his tea, booting up his computers.

"Damn!" Nathan grabbed a chair and sat across from the desk, staring at Harold wide eyed. "Hot sex on the couch, I'm jealous."

"No." He gave him a side gaze, and then focused on what he was doing. "We fell asleep on the couch."

"Not after hot sex?"

"We made out." Harold couldn't help the smile, or the small blush. He had practically tossed himself at John, it was a bit embarrassing. Yet the care John took of him, made him want to sit in his chair and just sigh longingly. Harold shook his head and focused, he was an old man for God's sake, not a love-sick teenager.

"I'm not sure if I should coo or buy you a beer in frustration. That man is hot, and still no hanky panky." Nathan frowned, eyes narrowing at Harold.

"He's a gentleman," he answered. "He cooked me his mother's lasagna. Opened up to me about his past. And held me through the night."

"Marry him."

"I've only known him for a week!" Harold pointed out. What he didn't want to admit, was the thought had already crossed his mind twice this morning.

"I knew you for two days and knew we would be best friends." Nathan smiled fondly at him. "And Harold I know you. You've got it bad for him. And I don't mean like a crush or a passing interest. You're glowing." He waved his hand at his friend. "Even without the sex."

"I think I'm in love with him," he admitted quietly.

"Tell me something I don't know." Nathan shook his head. "The beautiful Detective Carter postponed our meeting until Tuesday. Go home, get cleaned up and invite the boy out, get into his pants."

Harold glared at his friend. "He cooked for me. I'll invite him over for dinner."

Nathan's eyes went wide in alarm. "Harold, you can't cook."

"I can…"

"No you can't." He stood, moving around the desk, grabbing his friend's arm and pulling him out of the chair. "Take him out."

"I want him to see my home. You know how private I am…"

"I know." Nathan's voice softened as he pushed Harold towards the door. "You still can't cook. Burning your home down before he arrives will not be a good testimony that you would be good marriage material."

Harold turned and glared at his friend. "Why are we friends?"

"I'm saving you and the New York City Fire Department from a long stressful night. I'm sending over my favorite chef, who will fix a meal and be out of your Penthouse by the time John shows up." Nathan slipped an arm around his shoulder. "Call the future Mr. Harold and invite him over."

"Thank you." He looked at Harold in slight shock, it was a rare acknowledgement. "You introduced us."

"I expect the first born kid to be named after me."

Harold rolled his eyes, before turning and heading for the elevator.

He had a date to prepare for.

***

John stared up at the building, then down at his phone to verify he was at the right address. He sent a quick text to Harold, checking if he had the right address. Only to be assured that the building he was standing in front of was the one, and according to the doorman who was quite helpful, Harold lived in the Penthouse on the top floor.

He had no idea that Harold was … well, was loaded.

He should have, considering Harold was friends with Nathan Ingram, but for some reason it hadn't registered in his brain that sweet Harold was as rich as Ingram or Logan. He didn't have the same attitude as someone with that much money.

John glanced down at Bear who was sitting quietly next to him, tongue out. "I may be out of my league."

Bear whined and scooted closer to him.

The doorman quickly opened the elegant front doors, letting an older woman with her French Poodle walk out of the building. She was immaculate dressed, designer clothes from head to toe, jewelry that would cover most of John's salary for a few years, and not a hair out of place. The Poodle was as meticulous, obviously groomed daily. The fur was soft, fluffy, and not a speck of dust on it anywhere.

Bear huffed, pulling on his lead, following the scent of the Poodle.

"Dude, she's way out of your league." John pointed out, giving his dog a look. "Unless she likes military dogs."

"You can always ask."

John jerked his head up to see the older woman, grinning at him. She gave him a wink, before walking off. The poodle looked back for a moment, then trotted next to her owner.

"I'm slightly creeped out."

"Mrs. Thornton's husband worked Defense Contracts." The doorman smirked over at him. "It was how they made their money. She's actually very active in helping veterans, it's how I got this job."

"Army?" John asked.

"107th Airborne." He held out his hand. "Joey. You're here to see Mr. Finch."

"John." He shook it, noticing the firm grip of a soldier. "I'm supposed to have dinner. I'm having a flail moment."

"He didn't mention the Penthouse?" Joey grinned. "He's like that. I'm sure he would be less likely to tell you he actually owns the building."

"That isn't helping the flailing." John took a deep breath, trying to calm down.

"Hey, he's not like that." Joey assured him. "As a matter of fact, you're the only person I've ever seen him invite over. Except for Mr. Ingram, no one has ever been to his home. He's a very private person."

John nodded. "Thanks."

"I get it." He opened the door for him. "Elevator is towards the back on the left, hit P for Penthouse."

He pulled on Bear's leash, and the two entered the building. The lobby was sophisticated, beautiful marble floors and elegant wood furnishings. It was actually very tasteful. John stepped into the elevator, took a deep breath and hit P for Penthouse.

He glanced down at Bear. "Why would he want someone like me?" he asked his loyal companion.

Bear whined and pushed his head into John's hand, sensing his unease. John gave him a scratch, and then took a deep breath just as the doors opened.

He leaned out, glancing at the small lobby. There was nothing to indicate who lived in the Penthouse, just a black marble floor with blue inlay, along with a scattering of potted plants, and a bench on either side of the elevator.

John gave Bear one last look then stepped out of the elevator, moving across the lobby to the large double doors. He raised his hand to knock, when the door opened, showing Harold and a young woman he actually knew.

"Lily?"

"John?"

Harold shifted on his feet, knowing what this could look like, he paused. "You two know each other?"

"You're his date?" Lily grinned. "Trask told me about your date, but I didn't put two and two together."

"What are you doing here?" John asked, glancing at Harold.

"I can't cook." Harold's shoulders slumped in defeat. "No, seriously. I was banned from cooking after I burned my last apartment down."

Bear whined and nudged Harold's hand.

John smiled softly, moving closer, cupping his cheek. "Take out is fine with me."

"I wanted to do something nice, and Nathan sent over Lily to help me with dinner." He smiled at the petite woman. "I didn't even realize she was your Lily, even though you had mentioned she was a chef."

"I'm sure there has to be a few of us in New York." Lily couldn't keep the grin off her face. "Dinner is still warm, so enjoy." She buttoned up her coat and made for the elevator. "By the way John, I'm telling Trask you had a second date."

"Trask's already told everyone Harold stayed the night." John gave her a wink as she got into the elevator.

"Details!" she yelled as the doors closed.

"Now where were we?" John leaned down and took Harold's mouth giving him a hello kiss. As he straightened up, he ran a thumb over Harold's cheek. "We shouldn't let her food get cold."

"No…" Harold shook his head and opened the door wider. "Welcome to my home."

John stepped into the apartment, and tried not to panic at the luxury, though a part of him felt very comfortable in the large, open floorplan. He unhooked Bear's leash who wandered off, instantly finding the brand new dog bed and flopping onto it.

John stood stock still not sure what to do.

"Let me take your coat." He let Harold maneuver him to get his black trench coat off, eyes following as he hung it up in a closet not far off.

"Do you want me to take off my shoes?" he asked looking at his old boots, and the deep dark wood floors.

"Not if you're uncomfortable." Harold assured him.

John saw a small bench by the closet. He took a moment to sit and take off his boots. He flexed his toes in the wool socks, and stood back up, following Harold through the living area, then moving past him to stand by the large bay of windows. The city was beautiful at night, and the park was dark with some scattered lights.

"I bought it for the view." Harold settled next to him. "It's making you uncomfortable."

"The view, no." John took his hand and held it. "The idea it's a penthouse is freaking me out slightly, the vast space in the penthouse is actually nice."

"I wanted you to see me." He squeezed his hand. "All of me. This is part of it. I made my fortune alongside Nathan. I just show it differently."

"You don't show it all." John turned to face him. "I've guarded a lot of rich guys over the years, and you don't come across like them. Which doesn't surprise me, you're different. I could tell just from the way Nathan talked about you. What scares me is I can't help but wonder why you would want to be with someone like me. I'm just a soldier."

"You're more than that to me." Harold rubbed his thumb across the back of John's hand. "I'm a very private person, Mr. Reese and don't make friends easily, let alone find love. Yet I knew I wanted you here, in my home."

"It's beautiful." John looked around, noticing the elegance yet simplicity. It was rich, but not overtly so. It was so Harold. "Bear loves it." He glanced over to see the dog rolling on the oversize pillow, a chew toy in his mouth. "You didn't have to do that…"

"He's a part of you, and should feel as welcome as you." Harold smiled softly at the dog. He had gone straight to the pet store after Nathan kicked him out, and had asked for the largest bed, telling the clerk it was for a special dog, who was owned by a special person. Then he found some toys for the canine companion. When he saw the camouflage fluffy bone he had to get it.

Squeak

"You got him a squeak toy." John chuckled. "Two minutes and you're going to have fluff and a dead squeaker."

Squeak. Squeak.

Squeak.

Harold started laughing with John. "How about we eat in the kitchen, and let Bear destroy his toy."

"Lead the way." John followed him into the kitchen, eyes going wide at the size. Lily must have swooned over the gadgets and workspace. It was practically restaurant size. "Would it be too forward if I said I could see myself cooking breakfast in here?"

Harold turned sharply, eyes wide, breath caught in his throat. "John…"

John backed him up against the counter, hands resting on his hips. "I haven't stopped thinking about you…"

He leaned down and kissed him. It didn't take long for the kiss to turn passionate. John gripped Harold's hips, pulling them tight against his own. A moan escaping his throat before diving back into for another kiss.

Harold's hands slid up John's chest, gripping his neck and holding him as he devoured his mouth. He squeaked when he felt John lift and set him on the counter, putting him at the perfect height to wrap his legs around John's waist, and slide against each other.

He got John's shirt untucked and half unbuttoned, when his hand slid over rough patch of skin, causing John to still completely. Harold tilted back enough to get a look at John's face. He was standing still, eyes closed, breathing ragged from the passion they had shared and the sudden onset of a panic attack.

"John."

"Don't move," he gritted out, leaning enough into Harold that his fingers slid across the scar tissue. "Bullet wound from a shootout in Afghanistan."

Harold let his fingers run over the scar, wishing he could see it. "Would you show me?"

John's fingers dug into Harold's side, they would likely leave bruises, but he didn't mind, knowing this was a big moment for both of them. John took a step back, his hands moved to his shirt and in short jerky movements, unbuttoned the rest of it, letting it hang open. He then took Harold's hand and laid it on another scar near his left shoulder. "This was a knife wound from an alley fight in Moscow." He then placed it on his right side. "Secondary bullet wound, when I was fleeing captivity."

Harold let his fingers roam over each one. He slid off the counter steadying himself for a moment, before kissing each scar with reverence. "They are part of your story."

"Horror story."

"Survival story." He reached up and pulled John into a soft kiss. "Though I'm more interested in this…" His fingers slid over the nipple piercing, the one thing he had never expected to see.

"Drunk in Tokyo." He chuckled into the kiss. "I got it redone recently, it was something of myself to reclaim."

"I like it." Harold leaned forward, tongue swirling around it, before sucking on the bar gently. The moan that escaped John had him achingly hard. "John…"

"You keep that up, we're finishing this on the kitchen table." He cupped Harold's head and forced him to look at him. "I would prefer a bed."

"I got one of those."

Harold took John's hand and led him out of the kitchen, stopping and quickly making sure the oven was off, before pulling him towards the Master Suite. John chuckled as he followed Harold out of the living room, down a short hallway, and turned onto a longer one.

"Harold, the kitchen table was looking more convenient." John's muttered into his ear, hands working to get the last buttons of the vest and dress shirt undone.

Harold leaned into the touch, pulling John closer taking his mouth into a heated kiss. His back hit the door of the suite, with some fumbling he reached behind him and got the door open, the two stumbling into the room.

John looked up, pausing at the sight of the luxurious suite. The king size bed almost looked small in the space. The nightstands, dresser, and what looked to be a small writing desk all matched the dark oak of the sleigh bed frame. There was two heavy duty trunks at the foot of the bed, with a large quilt folded on top. Like the rest of the Penthouse, it was luxurious, rich, yet simple, showcasing Harold's simple tastes.

"If the bedroom is this big, I'm curious about the bathroom." John muttered focusing back on Harold. "Maybe later you can show me the shower."

"I think you'll enjoy it, Mr. Reese." Harold slid off his shirt and vest, and then tugged at John's sighing happily when it landed on the floor. His hands moved over the scars gently and with reverence. He looked up to see John watching him, there was something in his eyes, he wasn't sure what. "Second guesses?"

"No." He took Harold's hands and kissed them, before stepping forward and wrapping them around him. "No one but a doctor has seen these."

He knew his confusion must have shown on his face, but John only softly smiled before leaning down to kiss him. As Harold's hands gripped his back, he understood. It took him a moment to realize what he was feeling. Fingers gently moved along John's back taking in the texture of smooth and rough, long scars mixed with soft skin. Harold stepped back, his gaze searching John's. With a nod, he turned around.

He was glad John couldn't see his reaction.

Horror.

Pain.

Sadness.

Anger.

Love.

Each emotion gripped him, as he stared at the network of scars. Tears in his eyes, he reached out and touched one, then another, until both hands were gently caressing each one. He traced one from John's left shoulder, down his back, across his side, and disappearing into his pants.

Harold hadn't realized he'd made any noise until John took his hands, and brought them to his lips and kissed them. He then reached out and wiped the tears from Harold's cheek. "I did a lot of thinking today, and realized I pulled back from you last night, in fear. Fear you would be horrified when you saw them."

"Oh John… no. I'm not horrified at them, but angry someone did that to you." He leaned into John's touch. "I'm guessing those are from the mission you lost your partner."

"Yes." He pulled him into his arms, his chin resting on the top of Harold's head. "I never thought I could be with anyone again, that no one would understand the scars, let alone look at them. Then I met you." John stepped back, cupping Harold's face in his palms. "In one date, I wanted to be with you, by the second date, I wanted you. Last night, I realized I loved you. This morning, I knew I could be with you."

Harold whimpered, maybe later he would be embarrassed about it, but right now he didn't care. He reached up, took John's hands in his, then lifted up and kissed him. There was a moment of softness, a shared breath between them, and then it shifted, passions were inflamed.

The rest of their clothes hit the ground, hands roamed over each other's bodies. Touch was soft and arousing. Harold manhandled John, who laughed as he fell backwards onto the bed. He gave Harold a wink, before scooting back onto the bed, lay back against the pillows and spread his legs. He took his hardening cock into his hand and began to slowly stroke it.

Harold licked his lips at the sight.

"Going to join me, Harold?" John gave him a wicked smirk. "I'm hoping you've got the supplies we need, 'cause I really want you to fuck me."

Harold grabbed his own cock, and counted to ten in four mathematical languages to make sure he didn't come on the spot.

When he opened his eyes, John's hand had stilled on his own cock, eyes dark with need. Harold leaned over and opened the drawer of the nightstand and pulled out lube and condoms. John smirked at the string of condoms. "Someone's hopeful."

Harold climbed onto the bed, settling between John's legs, leaning over him. "I don't plan on letting you leave, Mr. Reese."

"Lock me in your penthouse and make me your sex slave?" John kissed him, while his hand stroked Harold's erection.

"I'll let you out to walk Bear." Harold's eyes closed as he pushed into the warm hand.

"So kind of you." John muttered taking his mouth into another kiss. "It's been a while since I've been with a man, so…"

Harold sat back, gaze moving from John's face to his cock. He took it in his hands, holding it, caressing along the shaft. It was long and thick, and he couldn't wait to feel it deep inside of him. But at the moment he wanted something more, with a lick of his lips he bent down and licked along the head, tasting John's essence. His hands moved to push on John's hips to hold him gently as he wrapped his lips around him, it had been a while since he had done this but it's a skill he remembered well.

"Fuck." John fought falling back into the pillows, eyes glued to Harold's mouth wrapped around his dick. His hand reached out, slid into the soft hair, not pressuring just holding. He wasn't going to last, it had been too long since he had felt pleasure instead of pain. "Harold… Fuck…"

He smiled as he took him further down, he wouldn't be able to take him to the hilt, not without practice, though he was looking forward to practicing. He reached down and took John's balls into his hand, rolling them gently as bobbed his head up and down. He could hear and feel how close John was to coming.

John's hold tightened. "I'm going to …" Instead of moving away, Harold swallowed him down further. "Harold!" He thrust into his mouth and came with a pained moan ripped from his throat. He fell back onto the pillows, breathing hard and ragged. He chuckled when Harold sat up and licked his lips, wiping the corner of his mouth gently looking like he just had dessert. John pulled him down for a kiss, enjoying the taste of himself on Harold's tongue.

He reached across the bed and grabbed the lube and put it in Harold's hand. "I need to feel you."

"Keep that up and this will be over before we even get started." Harold rolled on the condom, and then grabbed the lube.

They were both were desperate for the same thing.

"We have all night." John adjusted the pillows, making sure one was under his hips. "But right now I really need this."

Harold poured lube on his fingers, and gently slid them across John's opening. He waited until he felt his muscles began to relax, before slipping one finger in. He watched the emotions play across John's face. The soft sigh, small thrust in the hips, hands clutching at the sheets.

"More."

Harold added more lube, then pushed in two fingers. He slid them in and out, looking for any discomfort, only to see pleasure. He found that one spot, and pushed on it gently, smiling as John's hips thrust upwards seeking more.

"Harold…" John's voice was on the edge, filled with desperation and need.

He pushed in three fingers, watching for any signs of discomfort. John took a few deep breaths, before he began pushing back on the fingers. Before his lover could start demanding, Harold pulled out his fingers slicked up his own aching cock, and positioned himself at his entrance.

John's gaze held his, his hand reached out and took Harold's, fingers lacing together as he began to push inside of him.

It was almost too much.

Harold had to stop and catch his own breath. The heat and tightness was perfect around him. After he gained some semblance of control, he pushed all the way in. Harold leaned down and kissed John, they both took the moment to relish the connection between them.

"Move … please." John begged.

Harold pulled out and thrust back in, both of them moaning at the sensations. John reached and cupped Harold's face, kissing him softly. "Fuck me."

With those two words, he was lost.

Harold leaned back, hands gripping John's thighs, pulling them apart enough so he could settle onto his knees. He pulled out slightly before slamming back into the tight warmth. John's moans added to his burning need. He was soon lost, fucking up into him, relishing the sounds John made. Harold was close to the edge, he wasn't going to last long, especially at this rate. Later he would make slow love to John, seeing how close to the edge he could take him, and then backing off before he tipped over. He was also looking forward to having John buried deep inside of him.

He took John's hard cock into his hand, and with only a few strokes, John's body arched with the power of his orgasm. The muscles clinching around him had Harold slamming into him one last time before spilling his own essence.

John held Harold close to his chest, hand caressing his hair as they both tried to get control of their breathing. He kissed the top of his head as Harold sat up and eased out of him. With some semblance of strength, he pulled off the condom and tossed it into the wastebasket, then made his way to the bathroom.

John got a quick look into the very large en-suite. The soaking tub was something he would have to explore at a later time. Harold got them cleaned up and under the covers. Harold curled into John's arms.

"I have nightmares." John warned, as they drifted off.

"I'll be here if you do."

***

Nathan entered Harold's apartment with donuts and tea. He hoped the date went well, but at the rate the two were going, Harold was going to need something to get through his sexually frustrated morning.

His whistling came to a stop, when he saw a dog sitting in the middle of the living room, watching him intently. It wasn't growling but it wasn't wagging its tail either. It took a moment for Nathan to realize it was John's dog, the one he introduced … Bear.

"Hey boy."

"One word and he'll rip your throat out."

Nathan stilled at the sound of the deadly voice. He lifted his hands, making sure not to spill the tea. "I'm a friend." He sighed in relief when John stepped into his line of sight. "So I take it last night was a success?"

"Do you always just walk into people's homes?"

"Only Harold's." He shrugged, holding up the treats. "I come bearing gifts."

"Are those Auntie Ratties donuts?" John asked.

"Oh, John, this is the start of a beautiful friendship." Nathan handed him the box with a grin. John took the box and headed for the kitchen. Nathan realized he was wearing jeans low on his hips and his shirt was half buttoned up. "I'm going to guess that dinner was good."

"Never had it." He smirked at Nathan as he hunted through the kitchen looking for plates. "Harold is in the shower, he'll be out in a second."

"Lily slaved away…"

"How do you know her?" John asked, studying Nathan for a moment. "I know her from my apartment complex."

"She was catering a luncheon, excellent food and style. I started talking with her, and she mentioned she was trying to get back on her feet after a stalker, so I helped fund her restaurant." He paused. "You're the John who tossed her stalker out a window?"

"You threw him out a window?" Harold asked, as he walked into the kitchen grabbing the tea Nathan had brought. "Wait." He looked at his friend. "What are you doing here?"

"I was bringing you donuts and tea so you can drown your sorrows in sugar and caffeine, but obviously that wasn't needed."

He waggled his eyebrows at Harold, who ignored him and turned to John. With a shy smile, he made his way over and kissed him good morning. "Hi."

"Hi." John kissed him a second time, pulling him closer.

"Hey the dog and I are hungry."

John chuckled, and then finished setting the donuts on a plate. "I should say thank you."

Nathan gave him a rare full smile. "You're both welcome."

Harold blushed, but refused to leave John's side. He sipped his tea and grabbed one of the sprinkled donuts, listening quietly as John and Nathan talked. He was happy. For the first time in a long time, he was truly happy.

John's hand settled around his waist, hand rubbing gently across Harold's back. He looked up at John and saw the love shining through. They likely had a lot to still talk about, but at the moment all Harold could think of was which apartment they would live in, because he wasn't letting John go.

He leaned down and gave him a quick kiss. "Love you."

Harold smiled brightly at him. "Love you too."