Reese/Finch, either POV. “Go away & don’t come back.” He said the words but didn’t mean them. He was angry but now he is filled with regret.
OK, so this prompt completely preyed on my brain and has run away with me. About 1200 words under the cut, or read it on the AO3
Harold understands why Reese is angry. It’s not nearly about the sold laptop so much as it is his own flat refusal to explain, to give John any reason to trust him, to believe in him, as John so very much wants to do.
The real explanation can’t be given, not yet and perhaps not ever in his lifetime. But of course, Harold doesn’t need to give John the real explanation, or for that matter any explanation at all. He could simply ask John to trust him. He could tell John that when and if he ever learned the truth, he would understand. That would be more than enough for Reese’s hungry and deeply loyal heart, for his love, to anchor upon; he would forgive everything.
It would be so very easy, and so utterly a betrayal. Because Harold can’t convince himself it’s true. The long road of choices that took him to China — and to a great many other places, which Reese doesn’t yet and must not know about — was by no means an obviously good one. Harold is quite certain that when the full scope of what he’s done becomes clear, there will be many, many people of good character, people he respects, even people he loves, who will look at him with outrage if not horror.
He will have very little defense to offer them. None that most people will be able to understand. He told Nathan they weren’t going to be playing God; he almost wants to laugh at his own folly. He’s been playing God since the first day he turned on his creation, his magnificent and beautiful and terrifying child, so powerful and so fragile at once. And since then he has taken life and death and possibly the entire shape of the world into his own hands, and he knows perfectly well that he had no right to do so. Only the power.
So he won’t tell John to trust him. He won’t abuse John’s love that way. All he can offer John are the same things he has offered him from the beginning. A job. Honesty, though not openness. And his own life, for whatever small worth that has.
And if those things have ceased to be enough — if John has indeed left him for good — Well. That is John’s prerogative, after all. Even if his absence leaves a hollowed-out ache in Harold’s chest. He won’t change his mind. He won’t pick up the phone to tell John a lie.
He looks down at his hands stilled on the keyboard. There’s a great deal of work to be done if he’s to have any hope of helping the next number when it arrives. But he can’t quite seem to begin. John’s voice, desperate and furious, loops in the back of his head, drowning out other thoughts. We’re through. Don’t call me again.
Harold takes off his glasses, leans forward and puts his face in his hands. John.
He doesn’t move for a long time. The library is quiet and still around him, empty. He doesn’t sob, but his face is wet when at last he sits back and wipes it with the palms of his hands and presses them hard to his hot eyelids. He gropes for his glasses and not finding them, looks up; he nearly jumps out of his skin. John is sitting in the chair two feet away, perpendicular.
Even the jolt of fear and adrenaline can’t compete with the power of desperate relief. Harold says nothing, choked with hope, though John’s face is utterly blank.
"The thing is," John says after a moment, as though they’ve been having a conversation, which Harold supposes they have, "it’s not enough.”
"I understand," Harold says, almost inaudibly even to his own ears. Of course; John has most likely come back only for the numbers — for the job that gives John solace and purpose. A job he wants even if it requires him to work with someone he despises. And Harold can’t abuse John that way, either. He’ll have to offer John a new arrangement, one that minimizes contact between them.
He draws a breath, but John is going on as though Harold hasn’t spoken.
"It’s not enough," John repeats. He rises and comes closer, too close. Harold stares up at him, blankly. He supposes he should be afraid, but he can’t conceive of John hurting him, not even when John has gripped the arms of his chair, looming.
John doesn’t move for a moment; even without his glasses Harold can see the clenched misery of his jaw. John draws one harsh breath, loud in the library’s silence, and then he leans down.
It takes Harold an embarrassingly long time to understand that John is kissing him; and then he can’t understand anything else whatsoever. John is kissing him, and that seems to be all that matters; John is kissing him, and Harold shakily pushes himself up out of the chair to meet him and to be nearly dragged to the couch, his sight still narrow and blurry.
John is pushing him down, jerking with angry desperation at Harold’s vest and shirt and tie, at all their clothing. Harold tries to help him, awkwardly, but John is moving too quickly and his own hands seem mostly to get in the way. He gives up and lies back and lets John arrange them. He is already trembling with urgency himself, hungry for John’s hands on his skin and uncertainly, achingly hopeful: if John can only read Harold’s own love and trust and faith through this, if this could be enough —
At first he thinks it won’t be. John fucks him almost savagely, with only just enough restraint to spare Harold pain; his hands are rough, stroking him to completion, and his kisses are punishing. He does spare Harold pain, though; works to give him pleasure, as though John cannot help but be careful with him, even in anger. But that anger is still there even after John is spent and panting; his shoulders taut, his head hanging, and he doesn’t meet Harold’s eyes. Harold longs to touch him, to stroke the back of John’s neck, to draw him down and kiss him again; he isn’t sure if he is permitted that liberty.
John stays that way, braced over him and breathing in deep gulps, for some time. Harold doesn’t speak. There’s nothing for him to say or give. And then John lets out one final long breath and the tension bleeds out of him, and Harold’s eyes are smarting even before John says, low, “I’m guessing I’m going to be really angry when I find out whatever it is you’ve done.”
"It’s entirely likely," Harold manages.
John nods a little. He says nothing more, but when Harold reaches up a shaking and tentative hand, John bends with it and kisses him back, with a more gentle hunger, and it seems that they’re going to weather this, after all.
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