Harold moved as fast as his aching hip would allow him. He was late meeting Grace for dinner. The latest number had been more difficult than he anticipated. It had taken him some fast thinking and a lot of cash to get the young computer geek out of trouble with the mob.
It was time like this he really could use a partner, one who could do the physical elements of the job.
He stopped at the street corner, and took a breath. This wasn't the time to dwell on old memories. He swallowed down the ache in his heart, and kept walking. He moved on, he had to, though it hurt every damn day.
As he rounded the corner he smiled, even if it was a bit sadly, when he saw her sitting at the bench where they had met for their first date. He had been lucky to meet her. She became a light in his world of darkness. He knew The Machine manipulated for them to meet, and for the first time in a while, he had been thankful for it. It was her good heart and nature that kept him going. He would've been lost in despair long before this if he hadn't met her.
He startled when his name was called from two different directions.
Grace grabbed her purse, along with her art bag, and started walking towards him. She knew just by his stance, his hip was hurting.
Harold turned around searching for the secondary voice, and found himself staring at a dead man. He blinked and then took a step towards the one person he had never expected to see again. "John…"
"Harold." Grace called out as she stepped up to him, taking his hand before kissing him on the cheek. She paused seeing the other man, and then smiled wondering if he was a friend of Harold's. "Oh, hello."
Harold pulled his hand from her grasp and reached out to John, who stepped back shaking his head, then turned and practically ran out of the park. Harold quickly followed, calling out to him, begging for him to stop.
As he got to the edge of the park, he saw John opening the door of a cab. "John wait!"
He looked at Harold, eyes shifted towards Grace, then back. "I'm sorry." He slipped into the cab and was gone.
Harold growled about stubborn CIA Agents and pulled his phone, demanding The Machine to track the cab.
"Harold who was that?"
He paused, eyes closing in dread. His past was coming back to haunt him, but he owed her the truth. "That was John, my husband."
"You're what?" She stared at him in shock. "I don't understand."
"I thought he was dead." He frowned, glancing down at his phone as the text messages starting coming in, tracking John through the city. "I was told he was dead."
"Harold." Her voice dropped, he could hear the pain in it, but he wasn't sure if it was hers or for him. "Well, you should go." He looked up to see her smiling at him. "Well go on, find him! You know where I am, come talk to me afterwards."
He leaned over and kissed her cheek. "I am sorry."
"Don't be." She cupped his face and gave him a soft kiss. "I always knew there was someone you missed terribly, you would get this faraway look and it was filled with so much pain. It broke my heart, when I would see it. I was determined to love you, even if I knew a part of you belonged to someone else."
"You're too good."
"Probably." She laughed through the tears. "Just come see me, please. I would like to know what's going on."
Harold nodded, then took a deep breath and went to find his husband.
The Machine tracked John to a small bar in midtown.
Harold sneered at the shady place, usually John had relatively better taste. His heart gave a lurch when he saw him, sitting at the bar fiddling with a glass, and a bottle of scotch in front of him. Harold wasn't sure how much he had already drunk, the bottle at least looked full. He approached him with caution, he knew what his husband had been trained to do, that he could kill a man with ease.
He had aged over the past few years.
They both had.
There was silver running through John's dark hair, more prominent at his temples, and it was starting to show through the scruffy beard. The suit was cheap and looked lived in, he wondered when the last time John had slept or showered.
Harold settled into the seat next to him, requesting an empty glass from the bartender. He turned towards John. "Care to share?"
John tilted his head sideways, gaze landing on Harold. He bit back a gasp at seeing the far away almost dead look in them, something had happened – more than John seeing Grace. John gave a shrug and pushed it over.
He couldn't help but think back to the first time they had met.
It was in 2001.
Nathan ordered him on vacation, booked him to some cheesy resort in Mexico. The first two days, Harold had been miserable, and was ready to pack up and go home. He decided to give it one more night, and went for a drink.
John was leaning against the bar, drinking by himself. It was the nice ass, in the threadbare jeans that had caught Harold's attention. Noticing the younger man wasn't paying attention to the half-naked college girls, he did something he normally wouldn't have.
He walked up to the bar, and sat down next to him…
'Can I buy you a drink?'
The younger man glanced at him, taking everything in one look. Harold felt weirdly exposed and excited. Then he smiled, and Harold knew he had made the right decision.
He ordered two shots of tequila, they were in Mexico after all. 'I'm Harold.'
'John.' He turned, giving him a grin. 'And it looks like this trip finally got interesting.'
'I know the feeling.' Harold lifted his glass. 'To new beginnings.'
'I can drink to that.'
They downed the shots, and Harold ordered another round.
'So what brings you to Mexico, Harold?' John pulled up a bar stool and sat, taking the second shot into his hand.
'Vacation.' He downed the second one. 'You?'
'Needed to get away. I had hoped to meet someone, but they bailed.' He looked down for a moment, eyes darkening slightly.
Harold couldn't help but wonder who had hurt him. 'Well I guess it's my gain.' He would look back at this moment, and realize that it was John's laugh that had reeled him in. 'I'm not as young as I used to be…'
'I think you're perfect, Harold.' John reached over and took his hand, thumb running across his knuckles.
He blushed, but didn't move his hand. 'How about some dinner and …'
'Dinner is good.'
They drowned the last of the tequila, and Harold tossed a few twenties onto the bar before they headed out. Part of him was shocked such a young handsome man would talk to him. 'I'm not sure...'
'Is this when I point out the great restaurant a few blocks away, the one locals only know about or ask about room service?' John kept a distance between them, he understood the expectations, fears, and cautions.
'How about dinner at this 'great' restaurant, and we can order desert from room service.' Harold gave him a coy smile.
He nodded. 'I'm good with that.'
Dinner had been excellent, a place they would visit frequently when they met in Mexico. Harold couldn't help but blush at the memory. By the time the door had closed on his suite, John had him up against the wall devouring him with a passionate kiss. He had lifted Harold with ease, holding him against the wall as he licked a path down his neck. Harold wrapped his legs around the slim waist, feeling the impressive hard on pressed against him.
"What do you want, Harold?" John asked, pouring himself another glass.
"What do you mean, what do I want!?" He glared at him. "I want to know what you're doing here?"
"Oh I don't know Harold, I thought I was coming home to my husband." The agent snarled back. "But I guess the 'wait for me' had an expiration date!" He slammed the bottle down, picked up the glass downing the contents.
Harold reached out and grabbed John's hand, holding it tightly when he tried to pull it away. He knew if there was one thing his husband wouldn't do was hurt him, and he was right - John gave in. The ring Harold had given him was still on his pinky. It was cheap, nothing but a small token. The real set of rings were locked away at home.
"You still have it."
"Of course I do, you gave it to me." John pulled his hand away.
He wasn't going to tell Harold how he had killed a man to get it back. Or how during an op, he almost broke Kara's hand when she tried to remove it, stating it didn't fit their cover. Or when he was at his loneliest, at his darkest, those moments when he was scared Harold wouldn't recognize him he would play with it and reminded himself that he was waiting.
He had known Harold was his everything the moment he sat down next to him at that bar.
He was supposed to have been meeting up with Jessica, one of the nurses at the hospital near the base. He had met her when one of the soldiers from his unit broken his fingers in a bar fight. She just ended a long term relationship with an officer from the base, and John was pretty sure he was just the revenge fuck. But she kept taking his calls, and when he suggested a weekend trip to Mexico she said yes. Only to call the night before, telling him that her ex, showed up at the hospital, and she realized she still loved him.
John decided to go to Mexico anyway.
He hadn't expected to find the love of his life.
They had talked for hours, yet all he had learned was that Harold worked with computers. John was purposely vague about what he did, just telling him he was from Washington, and had lost his parents before he graduated high school.
John had walked him back to his room, and though he really wanted to feel every part of Harold, he would be the gentleman and walk away if he had decided a fling in Mexico wasn't what he was looking for.
'Desert?' Harold smiled at him as he pushed the door open.
John barely noticed the suite, only took in enough information to know where the bed was in relation to the front door. He had Harold up against the wall, lifting him easily so he could kiss him. He moaned when he felt the strong legs wrap around his waist.
'Tell me you want this.' He braced his hand against the wall, stopping for a moment to make sure they were on the right page.
'You wouldn't be here if I didn't.' Harold cupped his face with his hands and kissed him hard. 'The only problem I'm seeing is that I have no condoms.'
'I got two in my wallet.' John chuckled into the kiss. 'I hope you're not expecting a third performance.'
Harold laughed wiggling enough to get John to let him down. He took his hand and pulled him through the suite to a large king size bed. He pointed at it, and then disappeared into the bathroom.
John pulled out his wallet, took out the two condoms and put them on the nightstand, then set the wallet on the dresser, along with the money from his pocket and hotel key. He sat down on the bed, pulled off his boots and socks. Squishing the toes into the soft carpet, the suite was much more luxurious than his cheap room over the kitchen.
The bathroom door opened to reveal Harold wearing nothing but a robe.
John smirked giving him a come hither gesture with his hand.
Harold set down a bottle of lotion next to the condoms, and tossed a towel onto the bed. 'It's been a while.'
'Same here.' John pulled him closer kissing him softly, gently untying the knot in the bathrobe, running a hand over the slightly plumb stomach, enjoying the feel of warm skin, he then caressed up the firm chest, digging into the greying chest hair, tweaking both nipples. He leaned forward and took one into his mouth, nibbling lightly. Harold's hands went into his hair, pulling tightly at the short cropped hair, moaning at the sensations John was creating.
'You're overdressed.' Harold panted, hands reaching for his shirt.
John ripped it over his head, tossing the item of clothing to the side. He stood, and with a grin that Harold would do anything to see again, unbuttoned his pants and shimmied out of them.
'Do you always go commando?' Harold swallowed looking at the fine piece of human specimen in front of him, and it was all his to play with.
'Only in these jeans.' He slipped the bathrobe off Harold. 'Not enough room.'
'I'm going to like those jeans.'
'I'll make sure to wear them for you.' John leaned down and kissed him, deepening it as passions began to rise. John reached down and took Harold's dick in his hand, fingers closing around the thickness, he really couldn't wait to feel this deep inside him. He stroked, learning quickly what he liked, when he felt Harold's hand on his own aching cock, he knew they wouldn't last. With a few more strokes, they both came with a moan on their lips.
John sat down wearily on the bed, brought his hand up to his lips and licked Harold's cum off his fingers.
John poured himself another drink. "Don't you have a wife to go to?"
"No!" He snapped at him. "Do not bring her into this, Grace is an innocent victim."
He tilted his head, giving his husband a vicious smirk. "I'm the bad guy for coming back. Poor innocent Grace is blameless for stealing my husband."
"You were dead!" Harold choked on the words.
John shifted in the seat and stared at him for a few moments. "I told you I would come home. You said you would wait, and with that I promised to come home. You didn't trust me when I said that."
"They told me you were dead, Mr. Reese."
Harold's eyes widen at the dark expression that crossed John's face. He knew he was seeing the CIA Agent, not the young soldier he had fallen in love with.
He had been so shocked to find out John was military, that he almost called off the relationship before it even began.
They had spent the night making love, and really even as corny and romantic as it sounded, it was the only words Harold had to describe their first night together. He had gotten the best night's sleep he had in a while.
He had woken up to the morning light, curled up in John's arms.
He slowly slid out from under them, and made his way to the shower. He couldn't help the eyeroll at the sappy smile on his face. Nathan was right, he had needed this vacation. Halfway through the shower, the curtain pulled back to show John standing there in his full sleepy naked glory.
Harold reached out to pull him into the shower. It was John's quick reflects that kept them from falling onto the floor and breaking something. The deep laugh, sent shivers down Harold's spine, at that moment he didn't care how, he was going to make sure he kept John in his life.
'I'm too tall for us both to fit.' John helped Harold stand. 'I'll wait.'
'No, it's okay, I'm done.' He pulled him down into a kiss, then slapped his ass on the way out of the bathroom.
'Condoms.' His voice carried from the bathroom. 'Buy some. Also lube, the proper stuff.'
Harold quickly got dressed, grabbed his wallet from the dresser, and left the room. It wasn't until he got to the local pharmacy when he realized his mistake. He had grabbed John's by mistake. Cringing at his stupidity, he at least hoped there was enough cash in his wallet to buy the condoms.
He would pay him back.
He ignored the cashier's smirk, as he dug out the few bills that were stashed away. He fumbled for the bag, and dropped the wallet. With an exasperated sigh, he bent down to pick it up and saw the ID.
Sergeant John Tallis
John was military.
No wonder he hadn't said what he did for a living.
Oh God he could lose his job over Harold.
His mind raced with every bad case scenario, and by the time he got back to the room he had already decided to let John down easily …
When he walked back into the hotel room, there was a serving cart and the table had two place settings. John smiled brightly at him. 'Since we didn't get desert I figured breakfast would be good. I was starting to wonder if you bailed on me…' He paused noticing Harold's expression. 'What's wrong?' He took a step only to stop when Harold lifted his hand up, John's wallet in it.
'I grabbed yours by mistake. I don't usually snoop, but I didn't think you would mind if I used some cash to buy supplies.'
'A worthy investment.' His hands moved to his hips. 'Want to tell me what's got you upset, and I doubt they harassed you that much over a box of condoms.'
'You're in the military?'
John startled at the venom behind the statement. 'Is that a problem?'
'You should've told me!' He tossed the wallet and bag onto the dresser. 'Did you think how it would look?'
'Last I checked Don't Ask, Don't Tell only works in the military.' John snapped back. 'Unless you're working for the government with your computers you don't have to worry about being caught.'
Harold snorted. 'We're not that far out of the 80's.'
'No, the military is still in it.' John sighed and ran a hand through his hair. 'This isn't a problem for me. In one night, I'm willing to walk away from my career for you. I've not felt that with anyone.'
'But it says you’re a Ranger. Even I know that's not easy.'
'I want you Harold.'
'But what about Don't Ask…' He slumped, suddenly feeling very tired.
'You don't ask, I won't tell.' John moved across the room, pulling Harold into his arms. 'We'll figure this out. I don't want to lose you.'
'I was planning on leaving.' He settled into the taller man's arms, taking comfort in his presence. Even though he had thought about leaving, stopping what this could become, he didn't think he could do it.
'I would have found you.'
Harold was pretty sure he would have, and sometimes he wondered if he should've left. Though the years had been good, there'd been a lot of heartache mixed in.
John had made him eat, as they talked about who they were, and what they wanted from each other. He didn't want John to give up his career, he worked hard to get where he was, and they would figure something out.
When it had come time for them to part, Harold gave him the small silver ring. It was thick, yet unobtrusive perfect for a man. There was only one size and he hope it would fit. They both laughed when it ended up on John's right pinky finger, and even that was a bit tight.
They agreed to meet in three months. John would have a long weekend by then, and Harold would fly back from New York. He had been distracted for those three months. Nathan had not stopped teasing him, demanding information about his hot lover in Mexico. He only told him, his name. Nathan had paused for a moment, blinked, then shrugged. He hadn't cared who was making Harold happy - he was just thrilled someone was.
It was their third trip to Mexico when their lives came crashing down.
"Sorry Harold, but I'm not buying it." John pushed the glass away, as he stood and tossed some money onto the bar. "No one knew about you. I had only put you down as next of kin after I got shipped out to Afghanistan, so someone would give a shit about me if I died in combat."
Harold choked at the no care tone, he was using.
"Those got wiped when I was recruited. Hell, even if they had you listed as next of kin, you were written down as my uncle. And if I had died in the line of duty, I would get a Star on the Wall, nothing more. They wouldn't have contacted you or anyone. I would've just disappeared." He looked at Harold, face void of expression. "So why don't I just do that."
John pushed away the stool, and stepped back. Harold's hand reached out to stop him, grabbing onto his jacket, gripping it tightly.
"I'm not letting you go."
"You already have." He pointed out with a vicious smirk, when Harold refused to let go, he sighed. "It's for the best Harold. I'm not the man you knew. He died years ago." He gave him a humorless snort. "Forget you saw me, go be with your wife. Tell her the truth, I wasn't the man you married. I'm the monster that was made in his stead." With that he pulled off the ring and laid it on the bar top. "Goodbye, Harold."
"No." He refused to let go, still banking on the fact John wouldn't hurt him. "I don't know why I was told you were dead, and it makes me angry that I was lied to."
John reached up and took Harold's hands in his prying them loose. He kissed his knuckles, biting back every last emotion he had left. Seeing Harold with someone else hurt, but it was the reality check he had needed.
He should've left him years ago, and not have let Harold convince him, that he had a home to come back to. He wasn't meant for that life, and being in the CIA had shown him the truth of that.
"Did you consider they told you to save you from me?" John looked down at him, a sad soft smile barely forming. "That I was dangerous to you."
"You are not dangerous to me." He reached over to the bar and grabbed the ring, taking John's hand in his and putting it back where it belonged. "If there was one person on this earth who would never hurt me, it's you John."
"Are you sure about that," he asked. "You have no idea what I've done."
"I know more than you think." Harold refused to let go of him, and his ploy was winning as John hadn't made a move to leave. "You're not the only one who's done things, in the name of good."
"I've killed people, Harold." John spat angrily, trying to get him to see reason.
"And I'm pretty sure I sent you to do it." Harold held his gaze, showing the truth in his own words. He wasn't naïve to think that the numbers the government was given - had lived. "I promised you a home to come back to."
John's eyes closed, his body began to shake from fatigue, his injuries, and the alcohol. "I should've walked away all those years ago."
"Like you promised me, when I discovered your Military ID, I would've found you." Harold gripped his hand, feeling the metal from the ring warm in his hand.
They had expanded their latest vacation by two days. He was supposed to fly back on Sunday, but he just couldn't leave. 'Hey Nathan, not sure why I'm getting your voicemail, since when do you not take my calls. Anyway, yes I'm still in Mexico. I'll call you later.'
John laughed pulling him back onto the bed. 'So will I ever meet this Nathan?'
Harold kissed him, running a hand over the bare shoulders, one finger sliding over the scar. 'Not if I can help it.'
'You ashamed of me?' John kissed him quickly then sat back up.
'Not you, him!' He laughed moving the pillows so he could lean against the headboard. 'Ever since his divorce he's been living vicariously through my sex life.'
'It's a good one.' He settled down in the blankets next to him. 'I hate it when you leave.'
'So do I, but it's what we have.' Harold ran his hand through the dark hair, enjoying the softness between his fingers. 'I'm always afraid you won't be here when I land. That you decided it wasn't worth it.'
'I think the same thing.' John sat up, taking in everything about him.
'I will always be here…'
'Ask me to quit.' He moved closer, hand cupping Harold's face. 'Ask me to come home with you.'
Harold frowned, trying to figure out what John wanted from him. 'John?'
'Quit, come home with me to New York.' Harold searched the younger man's face, looking for anything that would tell him what was going on.
'I already did.' He leaned forward and kissed him. 'I put my resignation in two weeks ago. I have a few weeks left, and then I'm no longer held back by Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'
'What?' He ran a hand over John's face, amazed at his smile. 'You quit, but what about…'
'It wasn't worth it, not being with you.' He kissed him again, laughing lightly. 'No idea what I'm going to do. Am I supposed to get a boat and sail the world or something, with you as my navigator.'
Harold laughed, hitting him with a pillow. 'I know some security firms in New York.' He pulled him close, kissing him deeply. 'Or you can be my house husband.'
'Get a dog…'
John kissed him again, and then reached for the phone. 'This demands some tequila.'
Harold chuckled, his heart soaring with the very idea John would be home with him, in New York. He grabbed the remote for the TV, wanting to check the morning stock news. The screen was filled with images from New York.
'Harold what is it?'
'Looks like…' He stared as the image showed a plane crashing into the Trade Center. 'A plane, two planes…'
He wasn't shocked when John re-enlisted, he wouldn't have been the man he loved if he hadn't. John was always one to do what was right, protect the innocents - be the hero. It was one of the things he loved dearly about his husband, his selflessness to others.
He was also one of the reasons he created The Machine. He told Nathan, it was to do something. Make sure 9/11 never happened, but deep down it was to keep John safe, to bring him home.
"I'm not letting you out of my sight until we figure this out." Harold felt the small trimmers in John's hands. He reached out landing on John's chest feeling more of his body shake. "Let's get you home…"
John jerked back, knocking into the bar stool, reflects had him catching it in time before it crashed to the floor. "I'm not going to your home…"
"It's always been ours." Harold cut him off, reaching out to grab his hand.
"So where did you stash the wife?" He needed to get out of the bar, away from Harold. He needed time to think. He shouldn't have tried to find him, if by chance they did tell Harold he was dead, that would mean they knew about him and his connection to John.
Which put Harold in danger.
The one thing he swore never to do.
"Grace is my fiancée, we're not married." Harold snapped at him. "Stop being stubborn."
"Oh 'cause that makes all the difference!" John crowded Harold up against the bar, eyes darkening in emotions he couldn't identify.
Harold yelped when John grabbed the back of his head, and pulled him into a hard kiss. He leaned into the touch, opening his mouth under the assault, not caring where they were, but enjoying the taste and feel of his husband. His hands slid under the suit coat, wrapped around John's waist to pull him closer.
Only for John to hiss, pulling away, barely containing a pained groan.
Harold's looked down at his hand to see blood. "John?!"
"Nothing to concern yourself about." He stepped a few steps, giving Harold a view of the bloodied shirt under the suit coat. "Please, Harold just …"
"Fucking fags ruining my beer." An angry voice called from further down the bar.
Harold almost felt sorry for the man.
He had seen John deal with bigots over the years, and it never ended well for the loud mouth. And it looked like this wasn't going to be any different.
John turned eyes narrowing, as a vicious smile graced his face. "Really?"
"This is a good ol' fashion bar, don't need no pansy asses. Go find one of your uppity fag joints." He stood from his barstool trying to intimidate the two 'fags', with his impressive size.
Harold grabbed John's hand. "It's not worth it." He could feel the tension run through his husband's body. He couldn't tell how bad the wound was, but Harold knew the last thing John needed was more injuries.
"Listen to your sugar daddy." The heckler sneered.
John snorted as his body relaxed. "That's not actually an insult."
Harold couldn't help the chuckle that escaped, it really wasn't. In theory, Harold had always been John's 'sugar daddy', anytime John came home on leave he stayed with Harold who paid for everything.
He tugged at John's sleeve, wanting to leave the bar and get him to a doctor. As he turned, the heckler swung, Harold wasn't sure who he was aiming for, but before he could respond to the threat, John moved. The agent shifted, placing his body between them to protect Harold, his hand reached out catching the fist, and twisting it around, until the heckler was face first down on the bar. The sound of his wrist breaking made a few patrons cringe, as John leaned in shoving the bigot's face into the wood surface.
"Bad idea." He hissed into his ear.
"I'll have you arrested." The guy spat back, blood dripping from his broken noise.
"You swung first, I was just defending myself against a bigot." John pushed down, causing the guy to cry out. "You're lucky there's witness…"
The agent stood back, eyes taking in the room. Everyone was watching him, but it was Harold's concerned expression that had him fleeing the bar. He stepped out into the street, pulled his coat around him, and walked away from the sirens.
He turned the corner, and headed up the next street. He needed to get his head together and figure out what to do. There were a few cache's in New York he could empty. He had made one before he joined the CIA, and another … the last time he had seen Harold.
The ache settled back into his chest.
The best thing he could do was disappear.
Let Harold have the life he deserved, not tied to him.
A black town car stopped a few feet ahead of him. He didn't have to guess who was in the vehicle. Harold stepped out of the vehicle and held the door open. "Get in."
"There are moments I'm not sure why I agreed to marry you." John gave him a devilish grin, as he slid into the backseat.
"It was my charming personality." Harold snarked as he slid in next to him. He turned slightly and pulled back the suit coat and shirt to look at the wound. "What happened?"
"My partner shot me." John closed his eyes, head falling onto the headrest. "The CIA decided to retire me permanently." He breathed through the pain, though the bullet had been removed, the wound was not healing properly. Likely had to do with the fact he hadn't stopped moving since he ran from Ordos. "What's wrong with your hip, don't think I didn't notice."
Harold laid the clothes back down, shifting until he could lean against John without hurting him. He took his hand into his. "You're not the only one they tried to retire, Mr. Reese."
John looked at his husband, eyes darkening. "Why would they go after you? Is it because of me?"
"No." He took John's hand in his. "It was due to my own creation."
"Harold…" There were times he hated Harold's ability to talk around any given situation.
It was like that when he had re-enlisted. He had tried to break it off, it wasn't fair for Harold to wait, when it was possible he would come home in a box. Especially the way gays were treated in the military. He wasn't able to even put Harold down as a spouse on his list of next-of-kin instead he was his 'uncle'.
He had flown to New York to spend the weekend with Harold and tell him goodbye.
It was the first time he realized how wealthy Harold actually was, the penthouse off Central Park awed and terrified him.
For two days, they never left the apartment.
What he hadn't told Harold was that he was flying out Monday morning, and when he left for work, John wrote him a goodbye letter. He listed out all the reasons it was best if they parted now. Harold wouldn't have to deal with the inevitable phone call. It wasn't fair that he would have to hide, because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
It had been all planned out. He would be gone before Harold came home, except he had come back early, after telling Nathan he was taking time off to spend with his boyfriend.
Harold had found the letter and tracked John to the airport.
John had just checked into his flight, when he turned around and saw Harold.
'What the hell do you think you're doing?' He glared at the younger man. 'You thought it would be okay to just leave?'
'I left you a letter…'
'You mean that piece of bullshit, I burned.' Harold grabbed his arm and pulled him away from the desks and towards a quieter corner. 'You think it would be easier for me to not know. I would worry every day, and it would be worse because I wouldn't get the phone call or knock on the door.'
'I don't know if I'm coming back.'
'What are you more afraid of?' He hissed at him. 'Dying over there, or actually coming back. Coming back would mean actually having a relationship with me.'
John ran a hand through his hair, looking down at his shoes. He didn't know what to say to that, instead he kept staring at his old sneakers next to Harold's hand crafted leather shoes. 'I don't belong in your world.' He still couldn't make eye contact. 'If anything these two days have shown, is I'm so far out of place here…'
'You belong with me.' Harold cupped his cheek, forcing John to look at him. 'I understand your need to be a soldier. If there was anyone who was made to be a protector it was you. But you were also made for me.'
'You once told me to ask you, so I'm doing it...' Harold took his hand, and held onto it tightly, finger sliding along the silver ring on his pinky finger. 'Come home to me.'
His breathing shuddered.
'I promise John, you will always have a home. Just promise to come home to me.'
He fought through every fear, every doubt, every instinct, everything. 'I promise Harold I'll come home to you.'
Harold sagged in relief. 'I…'
'Take me home now.' John gave him a half smile. 'I'm not due back on base until next Tuesday. I tried to leave early because I knew if I stayed to long …'
'I wouldn't let you out of our bedroom.' Harold smirked teasing him gently.
'I wouldn't want to leave.'
Harold nodded and took his hand, as John picked up his bag. Luckily he hadn't brought a lot, and had no luggage checked in. He led John out of the airport and back home.
When the car stopped John slid out of the backseat, and smiled. He was standing in front of the same penthouse located off Central Park.
Harold turned to him, still holding his hand. "Welcome home, John."
The doorman nodded as he held the door open. Harold politely told him John would be staying with him. 'Yes Mr. Partridge.'
The CIA Agent didn't say anything, instead gave his husband the side-eye as they stepped into the elevator. As they closed, he couldn't help the grin. "So what last name have I taken?"
Harold snorted, biting back the grin. John discovered his tendencies for aliases while he had been on leave from the war. He had asked for Harold Wren, the doorman had no idea who he was talking about, and refused to let the exhausted soldier into the building. He was about to call the cops, when Harold stepped out of a taxi, shocked to see him.
It was a pivotal moment between them. He told John the truth about where he came from, and the fact he was on the run from the government. John had taken it with his normal ease, only to ask what was with the fetish for bird names.
Two weeks later, there was a glass wren sitting on Harold's desk, a parting gift from John.
"I built you aliases to go with mine, as you know!" He glared at him, as they exited the elevator. "I put them into dormant status afterwards … it won't take me long to bring them back online."
"Are you sure you should?" John asked as they entered the Penthouse.
Harold had updated a few things, but overall it was the same as he remembered. He took a deep breath, taking in the smell of leather and books, everything he associated to Harold. John slipped out of his shoes and socks, put his coat across one of the high-back chairs, and wandered towards the large expansive windows. The view was as spectacular as he remembered. He had spent nights standing in front of the windows with Harold wrapped in his arms, planning a future.
"I'm not letting you out of my sight." Harold stood next to him, his own jacket, scarf and hat put away properly.
"And your fiancée?"
"I'll deal with Grace when the time is right." He sighed not wanting to think about how he was going to explain all of this, but he wouldn't lead her on. He always belonged to John, as the soldier belonged to him.
"She has to be something special for you to have fallen for her." He glanced down at his husband. "You don't open up easily."
"She was there in my worst moment. I had learned of your death only months before the Ferry Bombing…" He paused then turned to John. "There's so much you need to know."
"Are you sure you want to leave her for me?" He pushed. "If the CIA finds out I'm not dead, they will come looking."
"We'll know about it, believe me John, we'll know." Harold reached up and cupped his cheek, thumb running along the scruff. "I love Grace, I won't deny that, but I'm in love with you. There was a part of me she never got, because even in death it belonged to you."
"Harold…" He breathed his name bending down to take his mouth into a soft kiss. It was like coming home. He pulled him closer, tipping his head back deepening the kiss. John could've stayed this way, just relearning everything by touch. The moment came to a screeching halt when Harold hit his wound, causing John to hiss.
"We need to get you looked at." Harold gently pulled away. "You know where the Master Suite is, why don't you get cleaned up I'll call a doctor."
"Just get me a first aid kit…" John shut his mouth, when he saw the narrowed eyes. He knew that look, even after all these years, he still knew the 'don't argue with me or I'll empty your banking account' look. With a chuckle he leaned over kissed Harold on top of his head and made his way to the Master Suite.
Memories assaulted him, the moment he stepped inside.
Nights they made love.
Breakfast in bed.
Harold reading to John, while stroking his hair.
The room hadn't changed. The bed was still a wooden four poster king size. The one Harold had got specially made to make sure John's feet didn't dangle off the bottom. The comforter set was different, more muted greys, instead of the rich browns he remembered.
Going by instinct he walked over to his side of the bed, and opened the drawer. Inside were his medals, the ones he sent to Harold, along with his father's bible, and mother's locket. "Oh Harold…" He closed the drawer, biting back the tears that were threatening to fall. He pulled his gun from the back of his pants and laid it on the nightstand. He knew Harold wouldn't like the weapon in the house, but he couldn't take the chance of not being armed, especially now that he would need to protect his husband.
A quick stop into the closet, assured him Harold was still a clothes horse. He wasn't surprised to find his uniform in a garment bag in the back of the closet, and he was pretty sure a few of the darker suits were in his size.
Flicking on the light in the bathroom, he approved of the remodel.
The shower looked like heaven, especially after being on the run for the past weeks, barely finding a working water source let alone a running shower. He stripped out of his clothes and dumped them into the corner. They would need to be burned, all evidence of Ordos and his DNA needed to be destroyed.
The hot shower was heavenly, the only way it would've been better if Harold had joined him. But he knew they both needed some time to come to terms with the past few hours. He took his time, washing way weeks, months, hell it felt like years of grime.
After the water finally stayed clear, he exited the shower found shaving gear and got rid of the scruff. His hair needed trimming, but he could deal with that later. The wound was angry and red, blood sluggishly flowed from it. He grabbed a small towel and pushed against it, while wrapping a larger one around his waist.
When he stepped out of the bathroom, he was surprised to see a young dark haired woman, wearing a white doctor's coat. "Did he kidnap you from an ER?"
She laughed lightly. "I was just coming off shift. I owe Harold … so here I am."
"Megan." She answered, moving to take the small towel and look at the wound. "This is clearly infected, and why isn't it stitched."
"I didn't have time or the essential tools." John looked down at her as she poked around the wound. "How did you meet Harold?"
She pushed him back towards the bathroom. "I need better light." John perched on the counter, giving her better access. She set her bag down then dug through it, pulling out a syringe and stuck into the wound, causing John to yelp. "That should numb it so I can stich it closed."
"Did you meet him after the Ferry Bombing?" He tried to get answers from her.
"No." She responded, while taking his pulse and then listened to his breathing. "I don't like the sound of your lungs, they're labored."
"I've been on the street for a few weeks…" Megan gave him that doctor's look. "Six weeks max."
"Once I stitch this, I'll give you an antibiotic shot, and a prescription for pills. I'm going to skip the pain pills, as I have a feeling, like Harold, you won't take them."
"You know us so well." He smiled, liking her attitude and protection she obviously felt towards Harold.
"I knew he lost someone." Megan set out her suture kit along the bathroom counter. "He didn't talk about it, but I could tell. It was why I trusted him. He knew what it was like to lose someone you cared about."
"He helped you?"
She gave him a look, and saw the care in his own eyes. "Don't breathe too deeply." She began to stitch the wound, not shocked her patient didn't even flinch. "I don't know how, but he knew I was planning on killing the man who raped my sister. He told me there were other options. My sister was dead, my life was ruined and that monster went along with his daily business."
"I'm sorry for your loss."
She tied off the stitch, cutting the thread before shifting to look at him. "He ruined him." She couldn't help the smirk. "Stock portfolio crashed, his car was towed, penthouse foreclosed, lost his job… everything. And he let me watch. It wasn't enough yet it was. He lost all his tools to hurt another woman. So when Harold comes to me with someone who needed medical help no questions asked … it's the least I could do."
"I know a prison in Mexico that doesn't ask too many questions. The bastard sounds like the perfect candidate."
Megan looked at him, and saw the wicked truth in his eyes. "I think I'm going to like you, John."
Harold found the two in the bedroom, chuckling. "I see you made friends."
John gave him a smile, one that crinkled the side of his eyes, it was one of Harold's favorites. "You've got assets all around New York, Harold. I'm finding this fascinating and hot as hell."
Harold blushed, yet slightly preened.
Megan closed her bag, handing a script to Harold. "Make sure he takes all of them, he has a slight infection."
He nodded, looking over to see the white bandage in contrast to John's skin. "Anything else, he won't tell me?"
"He's about ten pounds underweight. Feed him." She gave Harold a kiss on the cheek, then a nod to John. "Take care of each other."
"I plan on doing that for the rest of my life." John's gaze never left Harold.
"I'll see myself out." Megan shook her head a smile formed at the two so obviously smitten with each other. She was happy for Harold, and was sure John would be able to protect him on this crusade, he had taken on. She quickly made her way out of the bedroom and penthouse.
"There's some sleepwear in the dresser drawer…"
"You know I don't wear anything to bed." John studied him for a few moments, gaging his reaction, seeing the small blush and hesitation was enough. "But I'll make an exception." He made his way to the dresser, opening a few until he found boxers and sleep pants. "When did you get these?"
"After you showed up unannounced, when you told me about the CIA … I made sure to have extra clothes, prepped." Harold shrugged, moving his way to the bathroom. "I'll get cleaned…"
"Do you want me to sleep in the guest room?" John asked, dropping the towel and slipping on the pants.
Harold turned eyes catching the lean muscular form. Age had settled well on John, his body was still in fit condition, but he could see some of the abuse from job. There were new scars, and a few good meals would not go amiss. He looked up to see John watching him, waiting patiently. "No."
He made his way over to his husband. "This isn't just awkward for you."
Harold sighed, as he leaned against the strong chest. "I don't like be awkward around you."
"A lot has changed, we've both changed." John held him close, resting his chin on the top of his head. "You've made it clear to me, that I'm still welcome in your life, hopefully in your bed."
"I want nothing more than to wake up next to you." Harold pulled back, pulling him down for a quick kiss. "But I've got scars…"
"As do I, and not just physical ones. Honestly, I don't sleep well anymore. I've seen and done too many things to rest peacefully." John rested his forehead against Harold's, closing his eyes for a moment. "But I'm here with you now, and I don't want to be anywhere else."
"Let me go clean …"
John kissed him, and then stepped back.
Harold nodded, and then made his way into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. John let out his breath, and ran a hand through his hair. His mind wandered back to that moment he showed up unexpectedly. He had needed to see Harold before he was shipped off to his first assignment. Everything had happened so fast, and he wasn't sure where he was going.
The elevator dinged, alerting John to Harold's return home. He was surprised at how late it was, he had known IFT had cut back on everything, including employees. Harold talked about the regrets of letting so many go, but when John had asked why, he had been dodgy with the answers, so he dropped it.
He had never been one for business, so he left that to Harold and his partner Nathan.
Irony, he still hadn't met the famous Nathan Ingram, and he was pretty sure he wasn't going to in the near future.
'John what are you doing here?' Harold asked, suddenly not has tired as he was a few moments ago. 'You should've told me you were coming.'
'It was last minute thing.' He stood, taking the few steps to kiss him hello. 'Is it a bad time?'
'It's never a bad time to see you.' He opened the Penthouse door, settling his jacket, bag and shoes. He glanced over to see John, slip off his shoes and socks, along with his coat, then wander to the windows.
Every time he had come to the Penthouse it was the first thing he did.
Harold watched him for a few moments, before making his way over to stand next to him. 'The last time we talked, you said something was going on, and you would tell me later.'
'That's why I'm here.' He looked down at his bare feet, toes digging into the soft carpet. 'I've been recruited out of the Army.'
Harold moved to stand in front of him. 'What does that mean?'
'It wasn't like I was doing anything useful as a soldier. I just seemed to lose more men, and the ones they kept sending me only got younger.' He sighed and looked up. 'I just spent the past six months being trained at Langley.'
'The CIA recruited you.' He gasped in shock, stepping away from him. 'You're an Agent now?'
'I'm heading out for my first mission, in a few days.' John watched him intently. 'If I could stop terrorists before they attack, maybe I can save more soldiers.'
Harold snorted, and then laughed. There were times they were so suited for each other. 'I guess I can't argue your thinking when I myself have been working for the same goal. Except you were the soldier I wanted to save.'
He frowned, gaze focused on Harold. 'I thought you would be angry.'
'Oh I am.' He sighed. 'But part of me isn't surprised. You are good at what you do, John. I have your medals to prove it.'
'The same promise stands.' Harold turned towards him. 'Come home to me.'
'I promise you, I will fight with every fiber of my being to come home.' John reached out and took his hand, pulling him into his arms. 'I've got some shiny new skills that will help me with that.'
'I'm sure you do.' He wrapped his arms around John's waist. 'There's something you need to know…'
'What?' He kissed the top of his head.
'What I've been working on for the past five years.' He stepped back, and took a deep breath.
John stood quietly taking in everything Harold was telling him. How he was creating a machine, gather information and root out terrorists. He had stated he did it to stop the next 9/11 but deep down he also hoped it would protect John and bring him home.
Even more so now.
'And Nathan sold it to the government for a dollar?' John snorted. He spent all his downtime at Langley reading on everything, including their theories and failures in getting a working system to read all the info from the NSA. 'That didn't make them happy.'
'No, but there's nothing Alicia Cornwall can do about it… ' He paused at John's expression. 'What?'
'She, along with Mark Snow, recruited me.'
'You think they know about us?' Harold asked concerned.
'No, she didn't get really involved, just handed me off to Snow. And believe me if that boy knew I was bisexual or had a boyfriend he wouldn't have spent the awkward hour of explaining to me that my country will ask me for everything, including learning to suck dick.'
Harold wasn't sure if he wanted to laugh or not. John was very good at sucking dick, his own was starting to come to attention at the very thought. What he didn't like was that beautiful mouth on someone else's dick.
John reached over, pulling Harold into his arms. 'I love you. I can't tell you what will happen in the field, but I can promise that you are the reason, for everything.'
Harold kissed him passionately. 'How long until you have to leave?'
'Two days. I hope you don't plan on going back to work on this machine.'
'It can wait.'
Harold stepped out the bathroom, wearing dark blue silk pajamas. John still found them sexy as hell, even after all these years. He shyly climbed into the bed, arranged pillows for his hip and settled down. It took John seconds to plaster himself to Harold's side. The older man laughed lightly, his own hand sliding into John's hair caressing it instinctively.
John's hand moved across the silk, pulling a soft moan from Harold. He was tempted and his body felt the beginning of arousal but between the gunshot wound, the alcohol, emotional reunion, and six weeks of running from the CIA his spirit may have been willing, his body was more interested in sleep.
He paused when he felt metal under the silk. Shifting onto his elbow, he unbuttoned the first two buttons, and gasped when he saw his dogtags. He had given them to Harold, when he left for the airport. He knew John Tallis would no longer exist, and he had officially died when Kara called him Reese.
"You kept them."
"I've never taken them off."
Harold hated to leave John, but he needed answers. He kissed him gently on the forehead, happy to see that he was sleeping peacefully, especially since John had stated he didn't sleep well anymore.
Despite wanting nothing but to crawl back into bed with him, his need for answers was stronger.
He needed one question answered, specifically.
Why had The Machine showed him John's death?
It was a giant calculation machine, so in some aspects he could understand counting John for dead on an assignment, but the moment he reappeared, it should have contacted him.
It had made a decision not to tell him.
He left a note stating that he had some work to do, and left instructions of how to get to the Library. John knew the concept of The Machine, but he didn't know the full aspects of what it was capable of, or what Harold was doing.
He couldn't help but think back to when John surprised him in New York. The Machine was just about ready to be shipped out, though he had already made a back door into it. He had not told Nathan about the Irrelevant numbers, let alone the fact he was trying to help them.
It had started with Jessica Arndt.
When The Machine had given Harold her number, he had stared at her picture in shock.
He knew her.
Well he had never met her, but knew of her.
She was the nurse who had dumped John the day before they were supposed to go to Mexico. If she hadn't done that, Harold would never have met him.
He pulled up all her information, trying to find out why she would be in trouble.
The Officer she had been dating at the time was killed in Afghanistan, and two years later she met Peter Arndt, they were married six months later.
Harold was horrified at Peter's lack of business sense, and his financials were on the brink of ruin. But there was nothing to indicate, why her number came up.
And then it disappeared.
But he couldn't get it out of his mind.
This was a woman that John had known and cared for, maybe could've loved.
When her named reappeared six weeks later, he decided to do dig deeper this time. He even took a trip out to New Rochella, to see things for himself. He couldn't believe he was faking a medical emergency, and manipulating the system to get her as a nurse.
She was beautiful, with a bright smile, and kind eyes. She assured Harold throughout the visit, and talked him through each test. Harold couldn't figure out why anyone would want to hurt her. And just as he was getting paper work to reduce his stress levels, Peter Arndt came by the hospital to see his wife.
Harold watched the smile fade, eyes darken, but the worst moment was the tiny flinch when he reached out to cup her cheek.
He sat in his car horrified.
That was why she had disappeared and came back. The threat to her was her own husband. He knew then he had to do something. Two weeks later, when Peter went on a business trip, that Harold had arranged, he showed up at her house. Proceeding to scare the crap out of her, but once he explained what he was doing there, she decided not to call the cops on him. When he told her, he knew John … she listened. It took some time to get her to admit about the abuse and her own fears, including that for her mother.
Harold assured her it would be alright.
He got her and her mother out of the state, new IDs and lives.
He then left enough of a trail of financial crumbs to the IRS and FBI that got Peter Arndt investigated and subsequently arrested.
Before Jessica had boarded the bus, she told him that she always regretted never going with John to Mexico, but she was glad to see John had found someone.
When he returned to New York there was a new number waiting, and he knew he had to help. Every one of the numbers was important to someone. He couldn't help the one he knew and let the others to fate.
He had been in the middle of buying a closed and abandoned library, when he heard footsteps in the server room. He shut the computer down, and turned expecting Nathan, only to see John.
'When you said you worked with computers, Harold, I didn't think you meant this many.' John gave him a smirk. 'Though you look right at home.'
'John!' He jumped out of his seat and into his arms. 'What are you doing here?'
'Something illegal, but my bosses kicked me out, so I figured I would come see my boyfriend.' He answered honestly, before bending down and kissing him deeply. 'Tell me you have a couch or something nearby or I'm fucking you on this desk.'
'I have an office, but it's too far away.' Harold pulled him towards the desk, pushing the chair and keyboards out of the way as he climbed onto it.
John's suit coat and tie was tossed onto the chair as he settled between Harold's open legs and kissed him hard. He needed to feel him, bury himself deep inside of him. Needed the connection to humanity.
Harold got John's shirt open, hands roamed over the muscular chest. He paused long enough to slide over a new scar. He took a deep breath, then leaned forward and ran his tongue over it. John's hand slid into his hair, pulling him back to take his mouth in an open kiss.
It didn't take long for the rest of their clothes to be removed or shoved to the side. John pulled out a condom, and a small package of lube. He leaned Harold back against the computers, spreading his legs obscenely wide and fingered him until Harold yelled at him to fuck him already.
They both sighed when John was buried deep inside him. Harold wrapped his legs around the lean waist and thrust upwards, just as John slammed down into him. His eyes about rolled back in his head at the spikes of pleasure that went up his spine.
John took Harold's aching cock into his hand and stroked it how he liked it, his thumb running over the head, just as he thrust hard into his tight hole, brushing across that perfect spot. He had Harold screaming his name as he came.
He came buried deep in Harold, his name on his lips.
It took them a few moments to come down from their high. John drew Harold up into his arms, kissing him softly, while hands caressed cooling skin. He pulled out of him, depositing the used condom and lube packet into the trash. The two kissed and touched while they got re-dressed.
John found himself sitting in the computer chair, Harold on his lap. 'So this is your machine?'
'It will be leaving soon.'
'It really works?' John glanced around the servers, shaking his head. His boyfriend was a genius.
'I'm surprised you haven't been given Intel.' He sat back looking at John.
'If we have been getting better Intel, Stanton and Snow kept me in the dark about where it was coming from. I'm more their grunt.' He gave him a half smile, but Harold could tell the job was taking a toll. 'Let's enjoy this moment and not talk shop.'
'How long are you here?'
'A few more hours and I'll have to leave. Probably stop at a bar, get some cheap booze and perfume on me so they'll think I was bar trolling.' John ran a hand through Harold's hair. 'So now that your baby is off to college, now what?'
John stared at him, brain not registering exactly what was just said. 'What?'
'Marry me.' Harold stood up looking down at him. 'I love you. I know you love me. Marry me.'
'Honey, you do realize I work for the CIA and you've just built the government a mega computer.' John sat up in the chair and stared at him, seeing the sincerity in his expression. 'Is it even possible? Last I looked they just got rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, letting gays get married is a whole different fight.'
'It's legal in Massachusetts.'
'We're in New York.'
Harold pulled him out of the chair and stole it, moving in front of the computers. He grabbed a keyboard from the floor, and rescued a mouse from dangling down the back of the desk. He then pulled up background information on a few of their aliases, along with webpages for the Boston Courthouse. John leaned over his shoulder and watched Harold essentially marry at least two of their aliases. 'I technically didn't say yes.'
Harold snorted. 'Think of it as an incentive Mr. Reese.'
'I should be surprised that you know that, but I'm not.' He kissed the top of Harold's head. 'Yes.'
He turned in the chair and gazed up at John. 'Yes?'
'I'll be your husband.' John knelt down in front of him, taking his hand in his. 'I already wear your ring.' He held up his right hand, showing that small silver ring was still being worn. 'Just promise me, no matter what - you'll be here when I come home.'
'Not much of a honeymoon, but tell me your office isn't too far. I really need you to fuck me.'
Harold got them back to his office in less than five minutes - it was a new record.
Six months later John was dead.
And now he needed to find out why.
Harold sat down in front of the bank of monitors. He had only communicated with The Machine through phone and text, once he set the backdoor. He hadn't talked with it directly, for a while.
"I need to know why you told me he was dead. I inputted his information, as Primary Asset for you to protect. How did you lie to me? Even if you placed the odds of John dying in that mission, you would have discovered he wasn't dead when he resurfaced. So why? Tell me why? Damn it, why would you put me through that heartache."
He glared at the camera, watching it blink.
'Auxiliary Admin stated John Reese could be a possible threat to Admin. After analyzation, John Reese was classified as a threat, and subsequently removed as Primary Asset.'
"Nathan told you John was a threat, so you decided to lie to me!"
'Auxiliary Admin commanded I show you his death, so you could move on.'
Harold watched horrified at the video footage of Nathan talking to the computer, telling The Machine that the CIA knew John had visited Harold. That he was now a threat to Harold's safety. He then went on to suggest that John be removed from Harold's life.
'The odds of his survival were low. Best option was to inform you of his inevitable death. When you weren't recovering from grief, I introduced Grace.'
Harold stood up from his desk, calmly put on his coat and hat. Informed The Machine John had full access, and will be coming to the library. He instructed it to update John on this new information, and to explain about the Irrelevants.
He had someone to see.
John showered and dressed in one of the black suits Harold had in his closet, grabbed his weapon and headed for the location the note indicated. He got out of the cab a few blocks away, being cautious as he approached the building. Once he neared it, he took his time scouting the location, before finding the entrance.
He cringed at the amount of books scattered around the floor and stairs, he knew it must pain Harold every time he walked by them. Though understood the need to keep the 'abandoned' look, especially if any homeless man or drug dealer came looking for shelter.
Which made him think about looking into better security. He had a feeling Harold's cameras and this Machine was watching intently, but John had a few tricks up his sleeve.
He walked through the gate, staring at the computer set up, along with glass board that had a photos and files taped to it. He found a small kitchen, and a barely working bathroom. Frowning he made his way to the computers, finding a note on the keyboard.
'It will explain everything'
John sat down, hitting the keyboard, watching as the screens came to life. He should've been more shocked than he was to see the whole of his dossier across the monitors. He knew Harold was good at computers, it would seem he was very good with computers.
"Am I supposed to talk to you?" John felt weird talking out loud to seemingly nothing. The camera's red light blinked, and then he watched as a black box popped up.
'Admin informed me that you are now Primary Asset.'
"What does that mean?" John asked.
'Your job will be to help save the Irrelevants.'
"The what?" He had no idea what it was talking about. John blinked as images, and information filled the screen. Starting with a familiar face he had never expected to see again – Jessica. It took some time and more questions but he started to see what his husband had been doing these past years.
"I'm not sure I want to kiss or kill him." John muttered, awed at what Harold has accomplished and horrified at how much danger he put himself in. "Last question who told him I was dead? Did the CIA know about our relationship?"
'Calculated risks stated you would not survive.'
"So you figured to let him deal with the inevitable. How very human of you." John rolled his eyes. "You should know there is nothing I wouldn't survive or do for Harold."
'I understand now.'
'Matching Parameters: Protect Admin.'
"I'm glad we've come to an understanding." John nodded at least they could agree on that protocol. "Where is he?"
Nathan Ingram walked into his office, and came to a halt.
Harold was sitting at his desk, hands resting on the surface, clasped together. He was still wearing his coat, which indicated that this would be a short meeting and not in Nathan's favor.
He had not seen Harold in over a year.
The Ferry Bombing had taken a toll on both of them. Nathan had walked away with a broken arm, and dislocated shoulder, only because Harold grabbed him at the last second. If he had been standing in the location he had been originally the bomb would've likely killed him. Instead Harold took more of the blast, spending months recuperating and he still had a limp from his injuries.
At first Nathan thought their friendship would settle back on track, once The Machine had left the building. And for a moment it had, but then the bombing took place, and Nathan kept pushing on how Harold knew it would happen. He let it go, once he realized Harold wasn't going to say anything about it. So they settled into a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.
And then everything fell apart.
A few months after Harold started seeing Grace, Nathan made the biggest mistake of his life.
'She's good for you.' He held up a glass saluting his friend for finding love.
'Grace is an amazing woman,' Harold agreed.
'What are you hesitating for, she's smart, an artist, adores you, and kinda hot in that geeky artist way.' Nathan winked at him.
'I can never truly give her all of me.' He pointed out, sighing slightly. 'She's figured out there was someone else, but I haven't told her about John.'
'Harold you need to let him go. He's dead.' Harold looked at him, eyes narrowing. 'Besides Grace is better suited for you, John wasn't. I never really liked him.'
'You never met him.' His tone hardened.
'Which tells me you really didn't trust him. I mean why else wouldn't you introduce the two of us.' Nathan argued reasonably. 'I mean it was one thing to have a fling in Mexico, but settling down with him wasn't an option. It's not like the two of you could get married.'
Harold stood up, tossed some bills onto the small table to pay his drinks and looked his friend in the eyes. 'Now that The Machine is gone, consider this my resignation.'
That had been about a year ago.
"What brings you here, Harold?" Nathan asked, moving to the small bar and pouring himself a drink.
"John." He leaned back in the chair staring at his friend. "Or more importantly why you told the Machine to remove him from my life."
"Why are we discussing this?" He downed the drink and poured another. "You're marrying Grace and he's dead." Though they may have not really spoken to each other, he still kept some tabs on his friend, usually through his son Will. He was the one that told him Harold had proposed to Grace a few weeks ago.
"You want to know why I never introduced the two of you?" He stood up and moved around the desk. "It wasn't because I didn't trust him, I trust him with my life. I didn't trust you with his, and it would seem I had good reason."
He picked up the remote and clicked on the TV. The video of Nathan talking to the Machine, telling it that John was a danger to Harold, began to play. He watched as Nathan's eyes widened in shock. "You ordered my machine to kill my husband."
"He was dangerous."
"He is my husband." Harold snarled tossing the remote down. "And he would never hurt me."
"He was working for the CIA. They knew he visited you." Nathan argued back with his friend. "The Ferry Bombing was proof…"
"You were the target!" He snapped, finally telling his friend the truth. "They never knew about me, they were aiming for you. The Machine sent me a text to warn me. John never put my life in jeopardy, Nathan. You did."
"Why would they target me?" It didn't make sense, he was to high profile, killing him would make people question … unless it was in a terrorist attack and he happened to die with in the midst of hundreds of innocent citizens. The smile faded as the horrified thought settled into place.
"Because Nathan, you couldn't keep it in your pants and decided to screw Alicia! And when she disappeared, you were her last contact. They had no idea what she told you! It was easier to get rid of you, than find her. Who cares if they took out 400 people in the process. So tell me again how John is a threat to me?"
"I didn't kill him!" Nathan yelled back, lashing out at his friend. "He died at the hands of a terrorist. All I did was tell the machine to help you get over him."
"Well that tells me how little you really knew me." Harold shook his head. "One doesn't just get over the love of your life."
"Harold aren't you being a little over dramatic, besides it's a mute point you have Grace now." He shrugged, pushing past him making his way over to his desk. "So when is the wedding?"
Harold walked to the door, then turned and looked at his friend. "I've called it off."
"Why?" He demanded. "Grace is perfect for you."
"Because I'm already married!" He opened the door, and slammed it behind him as he stormed out.
Harold stood outside Grace's door for at least ten minutes, trying to figure out what to say. He still loved her, but if he was honest he was never really in love with her. He should've never even started a relationship with her, especially considering his latest career choice, but she had made him smile.
In a way The Machine was right. Grace would be perfect for him, if he had never met John.
They had met while he was recovering from the Ferry Bombing. He has always been honest enough with himself to know that those months after losing John, were some of his darkest. When the doctor told him, he would always have problems with his hip, thoughts of suicide had gone through his head, quickly followed by a very disappointed look from John.
So he locked a part of himself away and focused on the Numbers. There was little he could do while recovering, but he used his money and skills to help as many as he could. He had been in the garden, typing away on his laptop when he saw Grace. She was sitting behind her easel, frowning.
He wasn't sure why he said anything, but he asked what she was painting, and a friendship was born. It took him a while to realize she had become someone important to him, someone to protect. He never told her about the Numbers, and had even created a whole new ID. He probably would've been perfectly content spending his life with her, but he wasn't sure he would've been happy.
"Are you coming in any time soon?" She stood in her open doorway, staring at him. "John is already on his second cup of coffee."
His smile faded. "What?"
Grace laughed lightly, as she reached out and pulled him into the house. "He showed up thirty minutes ago, looking for you. I told him I hadn't seen you since you ran off after him."
Harold stood in the living room, staring at his husband, who was sitting on Grace's yellow floral couch, wearing the suit he had made for him, two years ago. He frowned at the fact it draped too much, showing that his husband had lost more weight than Megan had mentioned.
"Hello Harold." John smiled at him. "Grace and I were getting to know each other."
"Really?" He looked between them, not sure what to say or do.
"I told him he has to take care of you, and if he hurt you I would be very upset." Grace patted Harold's shoulder, before moving towards the kitchen to get her ex-fiancée a cup of Sencha Green tea.
"I thanked her for taking care of you, but you now belong back with me." John patted the seat next to him. "Then promised to help find her a good man …"
"To get over losing you, Harold Martin." John's eyes crinkled with humor, he was going to have a discussion with his husband about his obsession with aliases. Martin was a new one, as was Crane and Burdett. "Sit Harold, we're not going to gang up on you."
"Really?" He took off his coat, scarf and hat, hanging them up in the closet like a normal human being, giving John a pointed look, then at the long overcoat that was over the high-back chair. "You're having tea, and discussing me."
"I'm having coffee." John held up his mug. "And we're discussing all types of subjects. Grace is very talented artist, and I was telling her about the frescos of St. George I saw while in Jordan."
Grace handed Harold a cup of tea, then sat down next to Harold, patting his knee. "I'm not one to hold grudges, and this wasn't your fault. The government lied to you, and I can't even imagine if I had been told you were dead only to find out you weren't." She took a deep breath, and gave him a bright smile. "I can easily see the devotion between the two of you, and I would never want to get between that, but I don't want to lose you, and I like John, so I'm hoping we can be friends."
Harold looked over at John, wondering what the hell he had told her about his job, but figured they would discuss that later. And by the look he was getting from his lover, there was a lot they would be discussing.
He looked back at Grace, smiling at her. She was and will always be a bright spot in his life. "You are too good."
"I know." She leaned forward and hugged him. "I will always love you."
"Same." He held her close, barely noticing John taking his cup of tea.
When they both pulled back, Grace wiping away the tears with the handkerchief Harold gave her, as John wiped the ones from Harold's cheek with his thumb. "Thank you for taking care of him."
"I still say you should sue the government, but I doubt that would work." She took a deep breath, and decided to focus on other things. "I mean who takes a soldier and makes them work undercover, and tell their husband he's dead."
Harold gave John a side-eye, but kept a neutral expression.
"Well in the government's defense, they didn't know Harold was my husband, Don't Ask, Don't Tell had only just been repealed." John gave her a small shrug. "And I regret not getting word to him, but I knew I would come home, somehow."
"And you never took off your ring." She reached over and took John's right hand. "Can I paint you two? I mean your hands, especially the ring…" She stood up and went to her art bag, and pulled out a sketch book, sitting back down on the couch cross-legged. "Such a beautiful symbol of your devotion."
"How about we come by for dinner, later this week?" John smiled at her, he could see how Harold fell for her. She was a bright spot in a very dull and dark world. Her enthusiasm for art, her ability to see the good in everything, and capture the beauty of the world around her was almost addictive. "We need to go by the courthouse. Being declared dead wreaks havoc on your paperwork."
"Oh yes." She nodded, still sketching for a few moments, before putting her pad and pencil down. "I've got an interview end of the week to showcase some of my art, so how about next Thursday?"
"Sounds lovely. I'll let you two work out the arrangements." John stood, then leaned down, kissed Harold on the top of his head, before grabbing his coat and headed out the front door.
Harold opened his mouth, then closed it.
He shifted and looked at the woman he almost married.
She cupped his cheeks and kissed him softly. "I'll be okay, Harold."
"I'm not quite sure what to say," he admitted.
"There's nothing to say. I'm not going to lie and say, my heart is breaking, but at the same time I'm so happy to see you happy. I've never seen you this alive. You light up when he's around. And he has heart eyes, I never thought I would see a living representation of it, but the moment your name came up, he just got this soft adoring look. And I realized I want that. I want the one I'm with to look at me like that. I love you, and I know you love me … but he will walk through hell for you, and I'm sure you would do the same."
"And you know that makes the heart ache a bit easier. Not many get to see true love, in front of them. I only have a few conditions." She sat back, hands in her lap. "I want to be there when you get married, don't look at me that way, Harold. You both deserve a wedding, not a quickie in front of a judge."
Harold couldn't help but think they didn't even get that.
"I reserve the right to draw, paint, photograph and marvel in your adorableness. I wouldn't even be a miss to paint John nude…" She gave him a wicked smirk. Harold tried to be offended but he knew a fine piece of human physic when he saw it, and his husband had it. "I want you in my life, both of you, but especially you. You're still my friend."
"You are too good for this world." He leaned over and kissed her cheek, then stood. "Dinner next week, and keep me posted on this art show."
"I will." She helped him into his coat, wrapped his scarf around his neck and put the hat on his head. "Goodbye Harold."
He knew that particular goodbye was for more than him just leaving. "Thank you for being there for me."
"I do not regret meeting you." She smoothed down the scarf than stepped back, he was no longer hers to take care of, at least not in that way.
"I'll see about convincing him to pose nude."
She laughed softly, holding back the tears.
Harold wanted to reach out, but it wasn't his place as despite the good nature, he was the one breaking her heart. With a last nod, he turned, opened the door and stepped out. John was standing at the end of the stairs, watching the people in the park. With a deep breath, he closed the door behind him, walked down the stairs and took John's hand.
"You okay?" He asked, looking down at him.
"I will be."
"She's lovely." John looked back at the closed door, then squeezed Harold's hand as they headed out the gate and into the park.
"She is." Harold nodded, not turning back. "So now what?"
"We have a number."
A few months later, John found himself back in front of Megan.
She was stitching up the shoulder wound he'd received when trying to save Sam Jr. Harold had done a good job treating it at the time, but it was starting to ache and figured it was best if she took a look at it.
She had given him her patented glare. "This is at least a few days old." The good doctor gave him lecture on treating wounds appropriately. "At least you've gained some weight, not enough but we're getting there."
"It was for a good cause, the son of a judge was being kidnapped." John gave her a quick rundown on the Gates family.
"Is he safe?" She asked concerned. "Do they need medical treatment?"
"I gave Judge Gates your number, he may bring his son, Sam, to get him looked over, as he doesn't want to try and explain any of this to their normal doctor." John buttoned up his shirt, before sliding off the table, and reaching for his black suit coat. "But I'm really here to invite you to a small gathering." He pulled out a thick parchment card, and hand it to her.
Megan set her tools down, and turned the card over, smiling when she saw the wedding invitation. "You two are adorable."
"We're saps and we know it." He slid on his coat, cringing slightly on the pull in his shoulder. Megan did good work, and he had no doubt he would easily be back to work in the next day.
"I'm glad he has someone to help. I was so worried for him. Harold is good at what he does, but not all of those he helps can be influenced with reason." She tucked the card into her bag, with a mental note to get that day off, she wouldn't miss their wedding for the world.
"He doesn't need the violence in his life." His eyes closed, pushing back against his own dark memories.
"I can probably guess what you used to do." She laid her hand on his arm. "I've seen your scars, and skills. I also know Harold doesn't love just anyone, take that as a sign that you are a better person that you give yourself credit for."
"I don't deserve him, but I've always known that." John gave her a half smile. "But I've been gifted with Harold in my life, and will damn make sure he is safe, loved, and happy."
"That's all anyone can ask." She pulled opened the door to the small back room in the ER and escorted John out, where Harold was waiting. "I noticed he's less stiff and moving easier."
"I started him on an exercise program." John commented. "I slept in the guest bedroom for four hours, before he crawled into bed with me."
Megan chuckled, turning into John's arm to try and hide her amusement.
"I see you have totally won Dr. Tillman over to your side." Harold looked his husband up and down to check to see if he had somehow been injured between the waiting and exam rooms.
She took a few steps and kissed Harold on the cheek. "I was admiring the fact you're standing taller, and looking fit."
"Yeah well, my husband thinks yoga is a good thing." Harold huffed. John doing Yoga was a good thing, Harold liked to watch the body bend and contort. His body didn't bend nor contort.
"Might also have to do with less stress, along with eating and sleeping better." Megan gave them both a look, then focused on Harold. "He needs at least ten more pounds, so don't have him running around New York without a calorie filled diet." She then made sure John was paying attention. "Walking and stretching is always good, but be careful not to overdo it. And guys I'll be honored to attend your wedding."
"Thank you." Harold took her hand and squeezed it. "You have been a dear friend."
"I can never pay you back for what you did." Megan smiled at him.
"Oh about that prison." John leaned towards her slightly. "It has a new inmate. It would seem someone decided to flee to Mexico to start a new life of crime … a good citizen alerted the local authorities. He was found with a kilo of cocaine. Such a shame."
Megan couldn't stop the smirk. "I may actually sleep tonight."
John took her hand, making she looked up at him. "He'll never hurt anyone again."
She nodded, wiped her cheeks, hugged John then Harold, and walked down the hallway.
"Why didn't you tell me he was in Mexico?" Harold glanced over to the Agent.
"The Machine alerted me, I called in a few favors." He held out his arm, letting Harold take it. "Remember that restaurant we went to when we were in Mexico?"
"Yeah. I miss their carnitas. Never found anything like them anywhere else." Harold had enjoyed the place it had some of the best food in the small touristy town.
"It is owned by the retired Police Chief, and usually filled with local cops. It was why we never were harassed, the Chief's son was gay and he had a tolerance level for bigots about the size of a gnat." He escorted Harold out of the Hospital towards the waiting town car. "I helped a few of them out over the past years, a couple of my assignments coincided with a few of their drug cartels. They owed me a favor or ten."
"Any other friends I should know about?" He asked shocked and in awe.
"I recruited Josef." He opened the car door and held it for Harold. "And I think we should introduce Megan to Grace."
Harold stared at his husband, eyes going wide. "We'll talk in the car."
John knew Harold would be upset if he had any idea where he was, but this was something brewing. It helped that The Machine backed him on this particular endeavor or Harold would've already have known what John was up to.
The security in the building sucked as bad as it did that night he had stopped by to see Harold, when they essentially got married. He had walked straight past the guards without an issue, took an elevator up to the mid-range floors, then made his way to the top floor via the back staircase. He only had to wait for a few moments, before the secretary was distracted enough for him to slip into the corner office.
Nathan Ingram was sitting behind his desk, back to the door staring out the window to the city below. John could easily kill him, and no one would be the wiser.
But Harold would know, and John wasn't the killer Stanton trained him to be.
He sat in one of the expansive leather chairs, which was designed to be uncomfortable and make the person squirm while sitting across from the 'boss'. He lounged in a way that made it look as if he had no cares in the world.
Harold had never introduced them, and for a while he wondered if it was because John was just a lowly soldier. In time he began to not really care, he had Harold when he was in town and that was what was important.
When he'd been confronted by Stanton about being seen at IFT, he suspected there was more going on, but played dumb. He played dumb a lot with Kara, she enjoyed being smarter than him. She wanted a killer puppy, so he played the role. His mistake was that he took camaraderie for partnership and ended up with a bullet as a parting gift.
He had returned to the cheap hotel, their guest still in the bathtub. His gut knew the mission was off books, and likely to go south but he kept his mouth shut. The CIA didn't hire him for his brains, he was pretty and shot straight.
'What were you doing at IFT?' Kara laid in on him the moment the door was closed.
John gave her a slow blink. 'What?'
'You were spotted at IFT.' She stood moving towards him in a menacing manner. It was a small hotel room, there wasn't much room for him to maneuver.
'What the hell is IFT?' He shifted around her, making his way to the window with the table between them.
'The building you were in.' Her tone indicated he shouldn't lie to her.
'The office tower downtown?' John frowned, shaking his head. 'What the hell is that to do with anything? You told me to go out, have some fun.'
'So you decided to break into a corporate building that happens to have a government contract?' She folder her arms over her chest, which meant she wasn't reaching for her gun.
'I had no idea where I was. I picked up some secretary at a bar, she was at least two sheets to the wind. She had a fantasy about having sex at work. Some accounting firm on the seventh floor. I got laid she got her wish.' He shrugged casually, knowing he probably smelled like sex, since he only washed up and not showered. 'If that's a government building it's security sucks. No guard asked me once what I was doing there.'
Kara lowered her arms. 'Well at least you got laid.'
He smirked, giving her a wink. 'Twice. She was good to go. She's not going to be able to set in front of her boss' desk without smirking.'
She chuckled. 'We have the room next door, take a shower you reek, and it's making me horny.'
He gave her a wink, and a slap on the ass on the way out the door.
He had always wondered who saw him, and told the CIA. He had scoped the place out an hour before he got up to Harold's area, to have a cover story just in case. He had seen the secretary on the 7th floor doing her boss on his desk.
A nagging part of his brain, had thought it was Nathan. After he discovered that he had convinced Harold's machine to remove John from his life, that nagging suspicion had grown.
He barely shifted, when Nathan finally turned to see him sitting there. He gave the older man credit, he flinched but didn't flail or start screaming. The two stared at one another for a few moments.
"Well it's finally good to meet you, John." Nathan relaxed when he realized the Agent could've killed him a thousand times before now.
"Nathan." John shifted only enough, so if he needed to move he could in seconds.
"What brings you to IFT?" He went for casual, as if they were old friends.
"You don't seem to shocked that I'm alive." John gave him a pointed look.
"I figured it out, when Harold screamed at me he was already married. So how is poor Grace?" Nathan snarked.
"Good. She's got a date with a nice doctor this Friday. She's Grace's guest at her art showing." John smirked.
One of Nathan's eyebrow rose. "Touché."
"One question and then we can move on." John stood, hands laid flat on the desk surface as he leaned over it. "I know you convinced The Machine to declare me dead. I even get it. I really do. My question and answer wisely, Nathan. Did you tell them I was here that night? Did you put Harold at risk for some petty need to be the only man in his life?"
Nathan held his spot and looked John straight in the eyes. He had been through enough business deals with the government, military and foreign entities to know not to back down.
He also knew that if he was ever to get near Harold again he would need to be honest.
John nodded and sat back down. "Then who did?"
"I was having an affair with Alicia."
"And you're still alive?" John whistled appreciatively.
"Thanks to Harold and his Machine."
"You were the Number, at the Ferry bombing, when Harold was injured." His eyes narrowed, a part of him wanted to hurt Nathan, but he had a feeling his pride and loss of friendship was more punishment than anything he could dish out.
"She was at my office that night, I'm guessing she saw you leave." Nathan stood and made his way over to the bar. He grabbed the good scotch and two glasses. "Everything I did, it was for Harold."
"I learned early in our relationship that what you think is good for Harold, and what Harold thinks are usually two different things." He stood and took the offered drink and sipped it. "He misses you."
"I miss him." Nathan leaned against the bar. "It was my own fault. When he met Grace, I hoped my guilt would ease for killing you or close enough to killing you. I should've realized he wasn't really happy. The only times I saw him with that true smile, was when he was with you."
"I don't deserve him." John downed the rest of the liquor. "I know that. I'm blessed, thankful, and downright humbled he wanted to be with me, let alone stay with me, even now. And because of that I'll do anything to protect him. I will also see to his happiness, and he won't admit it but fixing this between you two would make him happy."
"I've been stubborn and my ego is a bitch." Nathan smirked, chuckling darkly.
"We're getting married, next weekend." He pulled out the invitation and handed it over to Nathan. "Be there."
He took the heavy grade parchment, smiling softly.
It was so Harold.
"I wouldn't miss it for the world." Nathan only nodded when John passed him and patted him on the shoulder. He called out just before he got to the door. "Thank You."
"It's Black Tie." He added a hand on the knob.
Nathan laughed. "Of course it is." He turned and looked at the CIA Agent, realizing now he was the one meant for Harold, as much as Harold was meant for him. "So where are you registered?"
"The Machine will tell you." He gave him a smirk before leaving.
Nathan poured himself a second glass, sat back at desk, fingers sliding over the hand calligraphy invitation. His computer came to life, internet windows popping up with gift options. He took a glance, laughing when he saw the prices. He was sure The Machine was making him pay, not just emotionally, but also with his wallet.
The wedding wasn't a big affair, at least with the guest list.
The setting and decoration were elegant yet simple.
The flowers were rich with aroma.
Dinner was superb.
No expense was too much, yet it felt like a small family get together.
It was Harold in a nutshell.
John had showed up where sent. Stood still while being measured, and re-measured. He made sure to save vendors from an irate Harold, and sooth the ruffled feathers of his husband. All while, helping the numbers, and if he took out a few extra kneecaps to save his own sanity it wasn't as if they were going to complain too much.
Harold had rented out the Manhattan Penthouse on 5th Avenue. The view had been spectacular or so John was told, he never saw anything past his now official husband.
They had opted out of being escorted down the aisle instead just made their way to the small alter, in front of the expansive windows that overlooked the city.
Judge Gates performed the ceremony, keeping it simple, letting the two of them express their love for each other. Harold had held John's hand, his fingers caressing over the small silver ring still on his pinky finger. His vows were beautiful, 500 words when 50 would have sufficed. John hoped Harold never asked him what his favorite part, well even if he did he would be honest and say … 'I do'.
John was never as elegant as Harold, so when it came to his vows, he had panicked for days trying to find the right words. Even the Machine had tried to help, by sending him love poems, romantic movies, and at one point porn. He may be having too much influence on it.
When Gates looked at him expectantly, along with their guests, John took a deep breath and said what he was feeling. "I'm not anything special. I'm a simple soldier who lucked out when I met you in a bar in Mexico." That had got some chuckles from audience. "We have been through rough times, filled with good times. I don't regret a moment, not even the heartbreaking ones. I gave you my love and soul ten years ago, today I promise you my life. I do not promise until death do us part, because there is nothing beyond you. I'll love you from now until death and beyond."
Harold reached up and pulled him down into a searing kiss.
"Well usually that comes after the rings are exchanged, but we can improvise." Gates smiled at the two men. He still may not completely agree with what they do, but he is thankful for them. When the two finally parted, he gave them each a look and continued with the ceremony.
Harold had bought the rings years earlier, and stashed them in the dresser when he had received word of John's death. When they decided to officially get married, he had pulled them out, handing the box to John. He smiled at the platinum rings with a thick onyx inlay, high end yet durable for the jobs they do. What no one knew was the GPS tracking system Harold had placed in each of them, along with the app he created so they could track the other if need be.
"Now you can kiss…" Gates chuckled when John pulled Harold into his arms, kissing him deeply. He glanced out to the small group of gathers. "I am honored to official introduce Mr. and Mr. Finch."
John pulled back slightly, resting his forehead on Harold's. "We're going with Finch?"
He laughed, taking Harold's hand in his and turning towards their friends. He felt Harold tense next to him, he knew his husband had seen Nathan. John lifted his hand and kissed his knuckles. "Go talk to him."
Harold wanted to give him a scathing look, but knew John wouldn't put him in harm's way. He kissed the small ring on John's pinky and then walked towards his oldest friend.
John kept a discrete eye on Harold as Zoe approached him. "You look happy."
"I am." He gave her a soft smile. "He makes me happy."
"Good." She took his arm, leading him away from Nathan and Harold. "Ingram, that shouldn't surprise me. I thought I knew all the secrets in this town."
"I'm sure you know more than you let on." He escorted her to the stocked bar. "Whatever the lady wants."
"I'm so thankful Harold paid for a suite." She ordered her drink and leaned against it. "So how many here are those you've helped."
"A few." He looked behind her to see Megan, sitting quietly with Grace. Judge Gates was helping his son to the desert table, despite dinner haven't been served. He wasn't too sure yet on Andrea dating Josef, but the young feisty lawyer seemed to keep the former gang member in check.
He had been surprised to see Jessica. The two hadn't much time to talk, but he was eager to sit with her, find out how she was doing. He had also every intention of letting The Machine check on her date, make sure he wasn't going to hurt her.
"You look good." She straightened his bowtie. "I don't like being indebted, but well if I have to make friends, real friends, I'll take you two. You're just too adorable."
"Thanks." John chuckled. "Well after Harold and Nathan yell and make up, I can always introduce you to Ingram."
"You just want him settled away from Harold." She sipped her drinking calling him out.
"And you wouldn't mind having someone with his power and influence in your pocket." He sipped his own drink. "Or bed."
"It's too bad Harold won't share." She purred, giving him a wink. There was a small cough behind her. "He's behind me isn't he?" John just took another sip. "And there goes at least ten grand to some charity."
"Friends of the library, Ms. Morgan."
Zoe turned and smiled at Harold, leaning over and giving him a kiss on the cheek. "Fine, snag your handsome husband, at least let us have the eye candy."
"He is pretty isn't he?"
John was leaning against the bar in a casual pose, showing off his strong build. The long legs stretched out in front of him, white shirt stretched across the broad shoulders.
"Oh yes." She shook her head, at the glazed expression on both men's face. "You two are so sickening in love. I'm going to go find the rich dude, and seduce him."
"Just show him your boobs." Harold tossed at her. "Nathan's easy that way."
John laughed, as Zoe adjusted herself to highlight 'the girls', before turning to stalk Ingram. "That was mean."
"I'm not sure which one deserves the other more." Harold slid into John's arms, resting his head on his shoulder. "I hate and love you for inviting him."
"You two needed to clear the air, even if nothing came of it." He kissed the top of Harold's head. "Are you okay?"
"We talked, and agreed to talk more. I don't think we'll have the friendship we had, but I'm hoping maybe a better one will emerge from it." He reluctantly stepped back away from his husband. "We should mingle and enjoy our reception."
"Here I was hoping to sneak you off for a quickie in the bathroom."
"That's Mr. Finch now." He leaned over and gave him a kiss. "Come on, the sooner we say hello, have dinner, cut the cake - we can leave so I can have my wicked way with you."
"On second thought, where is the bathroom..."
John never thought he would finally get Harold alone. He crowded him against the door the moment it was closed, kissing him deeply, as his hands began unbuttoning the small pearl buttons.
Harold looked handsome in his tuxedo. John was looking forward to seeing it on the floor. Without breaking the kiss, he pulled Harold from the door, the hand sewn tuxedo jacket landed on the floor, followed by the vest and the shirt was soon to follow.
"John." Harold pulled back slightly taking his husband's hands in his own. "We have all night."
"We have are whole lives." John slipped his hand from Harold's wrapping it around his waist bring them flushed together. "But I've wanted you from the moment I saw you walking towards me, knowing you were officially going to be mine."
Harold kissed him deeply, sliding his own hands over John's shoulders shoving the jacket to the ground, the tie had had gone missing somewhere during dinner. He shouldn't have been too surprised, he knew John hated ties.
They left a trail of clothing through the posh suite, into the main bedroom. The large four poster bed dominated the room, the sheets were already turned down, and the pillows were stacked against the headboard.
With ease John lifted Harold into his arms and laid him out on the bed, grabbing a few pillows to ease the ache in his hip. The sigh of relief was enough to have John hovering over him, not letting his own weight add onto the stressed limb.
"You are so beautiful." Harold reached up and caressed his face lovingly. "And so very much mine."
John chuckled before kissing him softly, he straddled Harold's body lifting up slightly to look down at his husband. He couldn't help but to think about all that happened to lead to this moment: Mexico, 9/11, CIA, and The Machine.
He wouldn't change one moment of it.
He ran his hands down Harold's chest, sliding across his nipples, smirking softly at the barely moan escaped.
He had to work on that.
He lowered his head, licked across one giving it a small nip before moving to the other. He spent a good amount of time lavishing attention to each one. He could feel Harold's hard on throbbing against his thigh, it was already leaking desperate for release. John sat back up, licking his lips.
The plan was to draw it out, make Harold squirm under him, the problem he was to desperate to feel his husband. Later he would take his time, and drive Harold to the brink before pulling back. Knowing full well he would seek his revenge later.
John reached over to the night stand, smiling when he saw the requested items in the drawer. The hotel was really top notch. He sat up, straddling his husband giving him a wicked grin as he popped the lube top. Squeezing some on his fingers, he leaned back knowing fully well what this position did to Harold, and worked his fingers inside.
He wasn't going to need much prep. Harold had fucked him last night, both had been desperate for the other, neither getting much sleep before the wedding. He was pretty sure they wouldn't be able to look at the dining room table the same again, after John had his future husband laid out on it, eating fresh fruit off him before claiming what was his.
Harold's hands roamed up the strong thighs, settling on John's hips. He was happy to say that John had gained all the weight Megan had demanded and a few extra beyond. Though he had to make sure there was plenty of food and goodies for his husband, especially the days he ran around New York, literally.
He moaned as John slid down his aching erection.
Hands roamed over John's sides, fingers caressing each scar with a loving tough. They were grabbed by John's powerful hands, and held onto as he lifted up and slid back down, leading both men to moan. The two held onto each other as John worked himself on Harold's cock. There was something about watching his husband ride him, such a powerful man lost in the pleasure of Harold's dick inside him.
Not to be passive in the endeavor, Harold timed his thrust to slam into John just as he sank back down, angling to hit that perfect spot. John stilled then came with a long out moan, sending Harold right over the edge.
He woke up to the feeling of a warm wet cloth. Harold shifted enough, to let John know he was back with them. His husband only chuckled and kissed him on the nose. "We've had a long few days, how about a small nap, and then we can go for round two."
Harold soon settled into John's arms, finally content.
It had been six months since they were officially married.
Six months of dealing with the Numbers, building assets, and the CIA.
Harold wasn't thrilled Nathan had gotten involved in their little scheme, but he had to admit he had taken to helping the numbers with gusto. Nathan became their ace in the hole, much like Zoe, the fact the two were still dating shocked him.
Lionel was starting to show his cop colors. He was a good man - John just needed to drag him out of the corruption of HR.
Elias was something neither wanted to talk too much about, especially his interest in John. Harold took to growling when the man's name was even mentioned.
Joss Carter had proven a good asset, understanding over time the need to slide across the line to get things done. Unfortunately, her realization came with almost handing John over to the CIA.
They hadn't realized that John's prints had been run through the system, after the bar fight on the night they were reunited. They sent enough flags up, that she'd been assigned the case.
It was enough to alert Snow that one John Reese was not nearly as dead as they had hoped. As they wove their tale to Carter, she had been suspicions about the whole thing. She had seen the wedding ring on John's hand, when he had saved her from her informant, and knew this wasn't a 'cold blood' killer they were making him out to be. Their mistake had been when they mentioned he had killed his partner … lover Kara Stanton.
If there was one thing Carter had figured out, John was loyal. She at that moment didn't know who he was married to, but knew there was no way he would betray them.
When he had called to hand over the suspects at St. George hospital, she warned him, only to find out the CIA had bugged her phone. That night she learned who wore the matching ring, and part of her wanted to laugh at how obvious it was … Burdett aka Finch.
Harold had snatched his bleeding husband from Snow, while Nathan picked up Megan and got her to the safe house. She patched him up, and while he recovered she yelled at him for scaring Harold.
John just held her hand, while she ranted.
Their friendship fascinated Harold.
The fact she was dating Grace still threw him for a loop.
In a few weeks he was back working the Numbers.
Then came Caroline Turning.
John found himself in the back of the squad car with Fusco and Carter, both yelling about the fact they didn't knowing about the other. He introduced them, getting double glares, and with a smirk he blew the HR car behind them.
"It's been a pleasure how about coffee later?"
Carter shifted in the driver's seat to stare at him. "What I can't tell is if you're being serious."
Lionel snorted. "Well at least he talks to you more civilized. I get the creepy stalker voice."
"Seriously, coffee, next week." He got out of the car, and made his way towards a parking lot, in search of a car.
Just as he slid into the nearest Camry, his phone started going off. He glanced down to see the 'Admin Locator App' going off.
"Harold?" He opened the application, street map popped up showing a car moving out of the city. "What's going on?"
'Caroline Turning aka Root.' The Machine sent a text message. 'Did not see threat until too late. She used my system against me.'
'Quickest route to intercept.'
"I'm going to need a bigger car." John looked out the window to see some skinheads get out of their hyped up truck and head into some dive bar. "That works."
Harold sat in the back of the town car, wondering exactly how he ended up in this situation. First there was Alicia, who did not deal with the concept of The Machine well at all. Though he had no love loss for the woman, seeing her shot in front of him had shocked him. Enough of one that Miss Turning had been able to get him out of the car, handcuff and pushed him into the back seat … well at least she put on his seatbelt.
Which was good, for him, because he had no idea how John was going to react to his kidnapping.
No, he took that back.
He knew exactly how his husband was going to react to his kidnapping, and it wasn't going to end well for Miss Turning.
Harold knew how he reacted to the CIA shooting John. He broke a large amount of traffic laws, and hadn't really cared. John on the other hand … traffic laws were the least of his worries.
"This is going to be great Harry!" She smiled over her shoulder at him. "You'll see we'll be one happy family, you, me and your machine. She's so beautiful. So much better than humans."
"I'm already spoken for."
"You mean the redhead that dumped you?" She gave him a smirk. "I know all about Grace, and that she broke up with you."
"Oh you mean your puppy." Root rolled her eyes. "He's good and all, but he's got no real bite. By the time he figures out I'm not a sweet and innocent victim, we'll be out of the city. He won't be able to find you."
"Obviously you don't know anything about Mr. Reese." Harold's eyes narrowed at the woman.
"Harry. He's a grunt, a dime a dozen…." She turned her head to face him, ranting off about the inability for someone like John to think ahead. He was only meant to point and shoot, and look pretty if you liked that kinda of thing.
He saw the impact coming, and tried to relax his body.
Root frowned at Harry's expression forcing her to focus back on driving, only to see a large black truck in the middle of the road, she slammed on the brakes skidding straight into its side, rocking both vehicles.
John watched impassively as the car slammed into the truck, he cringed only slightly at what the impact would do to Harold. He was moving towards the sedan before it came to a shuttering stop. Without thought he pulled his gun, and shot through the driver's side window, finishing off Miss Turning. He settled the gun at the base of his spine, and made his way around the car, opening the back passenger door.
Relief flooding through him when he saw Harold was relatively un injured. "Hey honey."
"John." He looked up at him cringing.
"Let's get you out of here, and take a trip to see Megan. She can yell at you this time." He gently helped Harold out of the car, unhooked the cuffs and slipping them into his coat pocket. "What did she want?"
"Me and The Machine."
"You're already spoken for." John wrapped an arm around his husband leading him across the street. He steadied him against an old Pontiac as he shimmed the lock to get Harold inside.
Root hadn't noticed that the lights and signs had led her into a deserted area, straight into John's trap. The Machine was also spoken for, and didn't appreciate its Admin being kidnapped.
He buckled Harold in, ran a hand down his chest and side, making sure there were no broken or cracked ribs.
"I'm fine," he assured him.
"I'll let Megan answer that." John stood up and whistled.
Harold watched as a big brown dog came from around the corner, straight for them. John opened the back passenger door and commanded him to get in. He then made his way to the driver's side, and slid behind the wheel. A few seconds later they were leaving the scene, all footage from the cameras in the area deleted.
Harold looked at the panting dog, then at his husband.
"I stole the truck from some white supremacist. Bear was in the back seat, I decided to keep him. Figured, I could train him to eat people who try to hurt you."
Harold looked at the dog, then at his husband.
"He needs a bath."
Bear whined, laying his head on Harold's shoulder. He only sighed, before reaching up and petting him softly. The grin on John's face was enough to make him take the dog in. He couldn't help the snort, only married six months and already with a kid.
John got out of Megan's way as she pushed past him to get to her patient. "I'm going to be working for you two full time if you keep this up!" She gave Harold a glare, shutting him up instantly. "Did you have to ram the car with him in it?"
"I didn't." John shrugged. "She wasn't paying attention to the road."
Megan wanted to be pissed, but she was more scared that someone had actually kidnapped Harold. "Well at least you had your seatbelt on."
Harold just nodded, knowing not to argue with his doctor.
John looked down at his buzzing phone, stepping out of the small exam room, moving towards the front lobby. Harold had set Megan up with a clinic in an area that needed it. Andrea was working next door, for legal purposes, and Josef had taken to guarding the area. John was kinda proud of the guy, so he didn't mention that between the cameras and security system Harold set up - no one was breaking into the growing clinic.
"Carter, didn't I just talk with you?"
'I'm going to take a wild guess that the stolen truck and dead woman has nothing to do with you?' She barked into the phone.
"Why would you think it would?"
'Description of a man in a suit who beat the crap out of some white supremacists, who said you stole their truck and dog.' He could hear the exasperation and humor in her tone. 'And look I find the truck at a scene of a hit and run.'
"Wow Detective seems like you're having a bad day."
"The woman took Harold."
There was a pause, then cursing. "I'm not going to find any evidence."
"No." He answered honestly.
'Where's the dog?' She asked with a sigh.
"Getting a checkup and a bath. He's ex-military, you know how Harold is about taking in former military."
She laughed. 'Is Harold okay?'
"He's in good hands detective."
'You owe me more than coffee!' With that she hung up.
John chuckled, he was halfway out the door to talk to Josef, when his phone buzzed. He glanced down to see a picture of Kara Stanton.
'Regency Hotel Room #334.'
'What does she want?' He typed back, as he moved towards Josef, knowing he was going to need more weapons.
He couldn't blame her not really, but she was a threat to him and Harold. He texted Megan telling her he had a Number, and to take care of Harold, and then grabbed Josef, told him to watch the place before taking a few of his weapons.
The Machine guided him through the hotel, avoiding detection. He easily slipped into the room, slightly startled to see Snow tied up to a chair. Mark's eyes narrowed at him, and then he began to demand John to release him.
He gagged him instead.
It was an hour later, when the door opened.
He gave her credit for not flinching outwardly, only way he knew she was startled was by the way her hand gripped the door.
John was sitting in the chair gun resting on his bent knee, he gave her a big smile. "Hello Kara."
"Reese." She covered her surprise nicely. "What brings you to New York?" She asked, moving into the room, making sure the bed stayed between her and her former partner.
"I have such found memories of murder and mayhem."
She chuckled, if there was one thing she liked about Reese was is dry humor. "So you decided to settle down? Does the little wife know you're a killer?" She pointed at the wedding ring.
"I can understand this…" He motioned towards the tied up Snow. "…but I'm not sure what your end game here is in New York."
"What does it matter to you?"
"If you are going to interfere in my business or go after me, it matters a lot." He answered simply. "After all I still have the scar of your last parting gift."
"You tried to kill me."
"No, I tried to warn you." It was his mistake, one he wasn't planning on making again. "You were too dedicated to have been turned."
She frowned. "I thought the same about you."
"Yet you still shot me."
"Survival of the fittest John."
"Yet, I'm here." He stood, making sure his weapon was held loosely in his hand. "What are you looking for?"
"The son of a bitch who betrayed us." She snarled. "I want revenge."
"So your end game is to kill Snow. Kill me?"
"You were just as much a victim. We made a great pair, John. Help me."
"Help you do what?" He chuckled, a wild grin on his face. "Kill Alicia. She's already dead. Killed this morning, very tragic."
"You killed her."
He didn't answer her question. "What's next, Kara? Director Weeks? Head of the CIA? House Majority Leader? The President? How far do you want to go up the food chain?"
"They made us irrelevant!" She began to pace her agitation coming through. "I heard rumors about a new system. Our Intel went from half-assed to top notch."
"And that was bad?" He tried to figure out what she was aiming for, stiffening slightly at the mention of The Machine.
"It made us agents in the field pointless." She turned towards him, eyes narrowing. The two had worked for years together, and John had a small tell, it was barely noticeable. "You know."
"About the system!"
"This is pointless. You had the opportunity to disappear. You, like me, like every agent around the world, have caches hidden. They assumed you were dead, why come back."
"I was picked up by a man named Greer, he told me why they tried to kill us. That they had got the system to work, and were eliminating everyone who had any contact. He offered me a job, find the creator…"
"Wrong answer." He pulled his gun and took the head shot, then turned and put a second into Mark.
He pointed his gun at the door, when he heard the knock.
John slipped the weapon into the back of his pants and opened the door.
"Got a text that you needed some help." Elias' bodyguard looked around the room. "Maybe they meant clean-up."
John shrugged. "Loose threads."
"Understood, one has to protect those important to us." Anthony gave him a smirk. "I'll get some guys in here, they can join our friends at Oyster Bay."
"No one will come looking. They've already been declared dead."
"I heard your husband had a hard day. Go be with him, let me deal with this." Anthony pulled a cellphone to call in a crew.
"How exactly did you know?" John questioned.
"Elias keeps an eye on you two. He likes you, John. Sees you as family. You were the only person who helped him with no question, he knows good when he sees it. Plus he knows you will do what needs to be done …" he glanced around the room "… to protect your family."
John nodded, then headed out the door.
He needed to see Harold.
By the time he got back to the clinic, Harold had been poked and prodded. He turned the moment John walked in, gaze begging to be rescued.
"Is he good enough for me to take him home?" John asked the concerned doctor.
"Yes." She gave Harold her patented glare. "A hot bath, with some Epsom salt would do him good, and then bed. Make sure he takes some form of pain killers. He'll need rest for a few days."
John helped his husband off the table. "I promise to follow your orders directly."
"Oh so you can follow them for Harold, but not yourself!" She shook her head, shooing them out of the clinic.
Neither said anything as they were driven home. John ushered Harold into the Penthouse, stripped him, and had him relaxing in a hot bath before the man could blink. He put some pain killers by the bed with a glass of water, and then cleaned up Harold's clothes.
When he stepped back into the bathroom, Harold was completely relaxed in the tub. "Join me."
He couldn't pass that invitation, he stripped out of his own suit, and with gentle ease he moved Harold forward sliding in behind him, letting Harold rest against his chest. The warm water felt good on his own bruised and battered body.
"We don't have to worry about the CIA." John didn't lie to him. "But, I am worried that someone out there is looking for you."
"The Machine kept me updated via text on what was going on, and is looking into this Greer person." Harold settled into John's arms content right where he was. "We'll deal with it like we do everything else."