Title: Home is (wherever I’m with you)
Author: MF Luder
Pairing: Harold/John (Rinch)
Keywords: fluff, domesticity
Word Count: ~2,400
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: The revelation hits Reese so hard he sits down in the nearest chair on impact: turns out, they're married.
Author’s Notes: Betaed by kat_lair who did a lot of hefty work to fix my characterization. Thank you, hun! Remaining mistakes are mine as I’ve sat on this for months and then did last minute changes. Set vaguely somewhere in season 2.
One day, sunny and cool, a perfectly standard autumn day in New York, the revelation hits Reese so hard he sits down in the nearest chair on impact.
Two hours later, Finch walks back into the library, a brown bag full of groceries resting in the crook of his arm. He finds Reese still in that same chair, absent-mindedly playing tug-of-war with Bear and Bear’s squeaky toy.
“Mr. Reese. Are you alright?”
Reese, so lost in thought, doesn’t notice at first. It’s not until Finch repeats himself, a little louder, and Bear’s nails go skittering across the hardwood that Reese emerges from his mind and blinks.
“Hey, Finch,” he says.
“Mr. Reese. I asked how you were. You seemed adrift.”
“I suppose I was. I’m fine, Finch.”
Finch looks him up and down skeptically, still holding the bag of groceries. “Well, if you’re sure.”
He starts to head to a backroom John long figured out houses a spare bed and a kitchenette. For some time at the start of their partnership, John had wondered how Harold inevitably beat him to the library, fully suited, nearly every morning. It seemed that most of the time Finch simply stayed at the library. It wasn’t technically where he lived, so over time, Finch had stopped keeping the backrooms secret – had even revealed the actual hidden door in the bookshelves – and allowed John to figure out that one small mystery.
Reese quickly stands and grabs the bag from Harold’s hands. His action receives a put-upon sigh in response, but Finch allows him to follow, pausing as the hidden latch springs open and the shelf rumbles aside to reveal the tiny suite.
“I’m afraid I don’t have a new number for you, yet,” Finch says.
“That’s not why I’m here. Why I’m still here,” John corrects.
Finch reaches into the bag that John has set on the counter and begins to slowly unpack it, placing brie, cherry tomatoes, grape leaves, and what looks like a very expensive bottle of wine into his own system of fridge organization.
Reese smothers a smile at that. If nothing else, he’s learned cheese goes in the crisper drawer.
“Why are you here then, Mr. Reese? I didn’t pick up the beer you prefer, not expecting your company this evening,” Harold remarks, “Although I don’t mind sharing the wine, I suppose.”
Finch begins to run hot water in the sink, presumably to do the two sets of dishes – left over from last night when Reese stayed for dinner – sitting alongside it.
Reese takes off his jacket and rolls up his sleeves. He vaguely wonders if Harold notices. He likes to think he has nice forearms. Jessica certainly liked it when he showed them off. He picks up the drying towel and throws it over his should while he waits for the first dish.
“Finch. You do realize we’re basically married, don’t you?”
The comment draws a laugh from Finch as he finishes scrubbing at a plate. “We most assuredly are not. I think I would have noticed that.”
He pauses, handing the plate over to John. “Well, we are not married. Mr. Robin and Mr. Ricks of course are.”
That makes Reese pause. “Wait. They are?”
“Yes. Don’t you recall, the case with the Jewish matchmaker? She wanted to set you up with…What was her name…”
“Rachel,” John supplies. The number had been Alicia Washington, fifty-four and a noted matchmaker in New Jersey. A former client who failed to treat his wife in a deserving manner had filed a…grievance against Mrs. Washington, when his wife sued him for half his money after finding out about his affair – claiming it was Mrs. Washington’s fault his wife wasn’t more suited to his needs. Mrs. Washington, upon happening to notice John following her one day, became very interested in his love life and while Rachel had seemed like a lovely woman, he wasn’t exactly in the market for a wife.
After today’s revelation, it all made a little more sense. At the time, the logical choice had seemed to be to present himself as already taken, rather than disinterested. He’d dropped a few “my partner” – not exactly a lie – and Alicia had immediately extrapolated, insisting she must meet the man who’d stolen his heart. Harold had drawn up some paperwork, in case the matchmaker had been exceedingly curious. Apparently, he’d married them.
“I had forgotten,” John says as he dries the two forks presented to him.
“Well, if you had forgotten that, I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘we’re married,’ then.”
“Harold,” John murmurs, allowing his elbow to brush against the other man’s side. Harold doesn’t shy away from the touch. In fact, he does nothing but hand over a glass.
“Make sure there are no spots this time, Mr. Reese. They’re unsightly.”
John sighs, heavily. “Finch. Harold.”
Finch stops and turns his body to better look at John, eyes steady on his, brow slightly furled.
“Harold. Look at what we’re doing.” John gestures widely, meaning for Finch to take in the dishes, the towel and the cupboards where he’s been putting things away. He waves to include Bear who has settled on the floor behind them, tail thumping occasionally and currently looking at Reese with a stare that seems to say ‘don’t get me involved’.
“We have a dog, Harold. I’m drying the dishes. I eat here, with you, more nights than not. I went to the opera with you two weeks ago-“
Finch interjects. “That was for a case, Mr. Reese.”
“I wore a tux, Harold. Everyone there thought we were together.”
“What other people think has rarely bothered me,” Harold says, sounding mildly indignant.
“One of Mr. Wren’s lady friends pulled me aside and congratulated me on snagging such a wealthy man.”
Finch sniffs. “I wondered what Gertrude whispered in your ear. I assumed she was flirting.”
Reese mock glares. “Had she been, thanks for the rescue.”
“You’re an adult. What you do in your spare time is your business, as long as it does not interfere with our work.”
“That’s what I’m trying to say, Harold. My spare time? When I’m not sleeping, ninety percent of that time is spent with you.”
Reese dries his hands on the towel, leaning against the counter, staring Finch down. He’s torn between amusement and frustration. “Even some of that sleep time has happened here, with you clacking at the keyboard.”
Finch gives the impression that he is suffering a moron to speak, giving a whole body sigh as he lifts the drain out of the sink. “Mr. Reese. What other people think about us, what a fake piece of paper in neither of our legal names says, and a general sense of domesticity do not a marriage make. I honestly don’t understand your point.”
“First of all, I don’t believe you,” John counters. “In fact, I’m fairly sure such a revelation would have hit your brain far sooner than mine. Now, maybe it didn’t leave you as breathless as it did me, maybe you see it as an extension of our partnership and nothing more-“
He’s cut off once more as Finch moves away from the sink and back into the library, beginning to fuss a bit with computer cords, doing everything he can to not look at Reese. Which means there is something to it. Harold seems to develop some resolve, the slightest shifting of his shoulders under the light gray suit indicating he is girding himself for something.
“Yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I admit, our partnership is socially odd, and other people might read it differently. I’ve never said I was good at human interaction. In fact, I’ve admitted quite the opposite. So, if that’s all…”
Harold sits at the computer desk chair, opening a program to begin typing code. But Reese can see his reflection in the screen and his eyes are blinking more often than usual. His posture is stiffer than normal, too, which John might have blamed on a particularly pain-filled day, but Finch had been rather relaxed coming in the door hardly twenty minutes ago.
John ends up spinning the chair around and leans down into Harold’s personal space, watching a small look of surprise flicker across his face. John presses forward, placing one hand on either side, effectively blocking Harold in.
Harold’s mouth drops open just the tiniest bit and John’s eyes dart to his lips.
The thought hadn’t particularly crossed his mind before. It also hadn’t particularly not crossed his mind. In the beginning, it had been a meeting of purpose and payment that had eventually evolved into a meeting of the minds. Over time John has grown more attracted to Harold’s genius and awkwardly expressed compassion. Meeting Grace had made John understand something about the lengths Harold would go in order to protect the people he loved, knowing he’d failed once before.
After Root, John had come to appreciate the man more, even if he still didn’t know the mundane details like where Harold actually considered home.
Today, when he’d stopped by to drop some photographs off and Harold had breezed past him, when Bear had laid down and whined at the back of his throat once Harold left, when John thought about going back to an empty apartment with nothing but the news for a companion, he had realized that he too missed Harold. And it wasn’t the same feeling one had for a good boss or even a good friend.
The thought of a lonely night in and Bear’s whine had made him realize he’d been kidding himself this whole time. As every interaction zipped through his brain like a video in fast forward mode, it became glaringly obvious.
So, while before today, John hadn’t exactly held detailed fantasies about Harold’s mouth or touching the back of his neck, just a light brush of fingers to show he was there, and he certainly hadn’t pictured dropping to his knees in front of the man who employed him, it was all suddenly there. Leaning over Harold now, his bottom lip glistening, it was all John could do to keep his knees from giving out.
“Harold. Let’s not be coy. At this point, the only thing left is to consummate.”
Reese lets a little drawl slip out on consummate and is rewarded with a small eye twitch and the other man’s mouth dropping open ever so slightly more before his lips purse. He suspects Harold is getting poised to tell John he’s read this all wrong or thanks-but-no-thanks in his own polite way.
John steps back and gently lowers himself to his knees. He grips his thighs in an effort to keep his hands to himself. He’s trying to convince Harold, but he has no interest in pressuring him. “Christ, Harold, we have a dog.”
Finch gulps – audible even if John had been halfway across the room – and adjusts his gaze downward, maintaining eye contact. Harold’s pupils are blown wide; his hands clench around the chair’s arms.
“I do believe it was you who brought him home, John,” he says, breathlessly.
John closes his eyes, emotions rushing through him, knowing Finch understands. They are on the same page. Home. Like where they are – the library – is maybe the address Finch has been keeping from him all this time.
Emotions aren’t the only thing running through him; a pool of lust grows rapidly in his belly. The scent of the faint but woodsy cologne Finch wears invades his senses. John feels surrounded, ensnared, and happy for it. He wants so badly to loosen the purple tie from Finch’s throat. But.
“Harold. I think you know by now, words are not my strong suit.”
Finch’s gaze turns incredulous for a flicker. Then his eyes do the briefest of glances up and down John’s kneeling form – Reese doubts Harold fails to notice the suit pants Reese are wearing are somewhat more restrictive at the moment. Harold shifts in the chair ever so slightly, his breathing more labored.
“So I’m just going to put it out there,” Reese says, ticking the points off on his fingers. “We have a dog. I’d rather eat dinner with you than anyone else. I turned down Rachel and apparently we are married, even if it’s just one of our many covers. We act like a married couple and I am fairly sure it isn’t just Gertrude who’s noticed, but Carter, too. Hell, even Fusco probably assumes. Now, if sex isn’t your thing, if my gender isn’t attractive to you, I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed, but I assure you, it won’t change anything. I’ve gone without for a number of years over my lifetime and if it’s what you want, I’m fine with that. But at the very least, I think we should stop fooling ourselves when everyone else can see it.”
He stops and takes a careful breath. Finch takes one right along with him.
Harold looks flustered for a moment longer before his features settle into an expression of confidence. “For a man of few words, that was quite the declaration. And probably in part unnecessary. You don’t need to be told that you’re a very attractive man who cuts a nice figure in a suit. Regardless, I think your heart – the way you care for others – captured me a long time ago.”
The tips of John’s ears feel like they’re burning hot suddenly. Finch’s eyes bore into John’s as he whispers: “Good code.”
Without getting up off his knees, Reese rises into Harold’s space – who is no longer backing away, but leaning down toward John. Mere inches separate their faces. He fleeting considers whether Harold is as aroused as he is.
Bear, of course, picks that moment to come clicking across the floor into the room and settle his head on Harold’s knee, squeaky toy in mouth, letting out a sound that jars them both. It sends both men into tension-breaking huffs of laughter.
“Mr. Reese. John,” Harold says, looking away from Bear and back into Reese’s face. His eyes are soft now, but as bright as ever. “May I kiss you?”
The rest goes unspoken, but John understands it as the declaration it is. They’re married, after all. Not all things need to be said out loud; sometimes they’re better spoken through a touch.
“Shucks, Harold,” John says, grinning as he closes the distance. “I thought you’d never ask.”