Characters: Reese/Finch and Bear, past Grace/Finch
Word Count: 2,559
Summary: Harold's mother loved paint by number.
Harold remembered very little about his father Earl Birdman. One day he was there the next he was gone. When Harold tried to picture the man all that came into focus were a pair of strong hands with a golden ring on one finger. He didn't even have a picture of his father. His mother had cut Earl out of every single one.
Harold's mother Faith Birdman was much easier to remember. He could picture her smile and hear her laugh with very little effort, but what he remembered most about his mother was her favorite hobby- paint by number.
She would always start by setting her paints and brushes on the kitchen table, they were in neat rows like soldiers and only then would she start to paint. She would paint anything from kittens in a basket to Elvis. He always knew which ones were her favorites because they would end up framed and put on the walls.
After she died, Harold packed up each painting and put them in storage. He couldn't bear to throw them away. Years later when he met Grace he thought perhaps it was true that men fell in love with women like their mother.
During the four years Harold and Grace were together his likeness filled up several of her sketch books. Sometimes he would sit for her, but other times it was much more spontaneous. She used to call him her muse.
Harold never had the desire to paint, he preferred computer code, he liked to think that ones and zeros were his paints and computers were his canvas. Sometimes he thought that if that was the case than The Machine was his masterpiece.
Now, Harold was sitting in a diner a book was in front of him, but he was focused on John. John was enjoying his eggs; every time he would take a bite a smile would pull at the corners of his mouth.
He spent most days watching John on computer screens, but this was much more intimate. He could see the lines on John's face and even the lines around his eyes.
John looked up. 'Something wrong, Harold?'
'Of course not. Are you enjoying your breakfast?'
'Yep. You were right about the eggs Benedict.'
'Good. I'm nothing if not helpful.'
Suddenly the sun came out from behind a cloud and John was bathed in golden light. Harold gasped. It was almost as if sun was caressing John skin.
Harold quickly paid for his untouched food and left. He walked as quickly as he could and stepped outside and surround himself with noise the of the city. It was strangely comforting. He took a deep breath let it out slowly, trying to push his feelings down. The last thing he needed was an infatuation on John. It was ill advised on many levels.
He walked home. The journey aggravated his bad leg, but the physical activity was welcome. Even the pain was welcome, it gave him something to focus on.
He walked up stairs to his apartment and opened the door. It wasn't his most expensive apartment, but the light blue walls and plush yellow carpet made it feel comforting. The air smelled of dust and he would have to remember to open the windows.
Walking to the bathroom, he loosened his tie and unbuttoned his shirt. Once in the bathroom he turned on the tap and splashed cold water on his face. He looked at himself in the cracked bathroom mirror. He decided that his feelings for John would just be another secret he kept. He was good at that.
He walked into the kitchen and made himself a cup of tea. Once he was settled in his favorite chair he took a sip of tea and let the warm liquid sit on his tongue. The more he thought about it the more he thought it was best to ignore his feelings for John.
It wasn't just that they had a very dangerous job, he would be shocked if they both didn't end up dead sooner or later, but they also had a friendship. He had already lost Nathan and Grace, he couldn't lose John too. Especially if it could be avoided.
That night he went to bed and fell in a restless sleep.
Harold was flying through a blue sky. Suddenly he felt pain in his back, he reached up and pulled out an arrow. The sharp point was red with blood. Another arrow stuck into his leg.
The sky turned black and empty. Harold was falling and icy shards hit his skin. He tried to slow his decent but if anything he only fell faster and faster through the darkness.
Wind whistled past his ears and cold wind hit him. He saw a shape rush up from the darkness. Its white teeth shown with a light of their own. It opened it's mouth and Harold fell towards it.
Harold startled awake. His breath came out and pants and his pajamas were stuck to his skin with sweat. He laid in the darkness until his heart beat slowed.
He tried to fall asleep, but sleep wouldn't come. It might have been illogical to be afraid of falling, but he was. After a while he got up and put on his clothes and went to The Library; if he couldn't sleep at least he could get some work done.
Once he arrived at The Library moonlight was streaming through broken windows casting shadows on ruined carpet. Bear met him at the door and followed him as Harold walked through the building.
Harold sat down and booted up his computer.
Bear walked over and rested his head on Harold's knee. Harold combed his fingers through soft fur. Bear had an uncanny ability to know how Harold was feeling.
'It's been quite a day,' he said with a sigh.
It had indeed been quite a day and quite a night too. Sometimes he wished he could delete his feelings as easily as computer code.
Over the following days, Harold worked with John as if nothing had happened and he convinced himself that it had been a fluke. One day he had to dress one of John's wounds and if his hands stayed on John's skin longer than necessary no one had to know.
Everything would have gone well if not for a germ.
Harold walked into The Library and saw John laying on the floor. Visions of John bleeding and injured filled his mind as he moved to him as quickly as possible. Bear was sitting next to John and whimpered.
He sunk to the floor and looked at John. His eyes were closed and his skin was pale, but there was no obvious sign of injury.
Harold patted John's cheek. The skin was cold and clammy. 'John. John.'
John opened his eyes. 'Finch? Why are you in my apartment?'
'You're in The Library. Did something happen to you?'
John struggled to get up, but he couldn't seem to make it. 'I don't know. All I remember is feeling dizzy.'
'Oh, dear. I think you're sick. Is there anything I can do?'
'Could you get me a pillow I don't think I can get up.'
'Of course. Let me take care of everything.'
Harold went to John's apartment and pulled a pillow and blanket off his bed. He thought it might be help speed John's recovery if he had his own bedding. As he rode a cab back to The Library he was surround by John's scent. It was the smell of soap and cologne. He tried to ignore it.
He walked into The Library and while John hadn't moved, Bear had laid down next to him.
'It's okay. He'll be okay, Harold said. He wasn't sure if he was saying it to Bear or himself.
Harold covered John with the blanket and put the pillow under his head.
'Thanks,' John said as he snuggled into to the pillow.
'You're very welcome. Get some rest.'
'Okay. Love you.'
Harold's eyes went wide. 'What did you say?'
John was already asleep and all Harold could do was turn over what he had said. Perhaps John didn't know what he had said because he was running a fever or perhaps he hadn't even said it and it had just been Harold's wishful thinking. The more he thought about it the more he convinced himself that the former was true.
He went over to his computer and did some work. Even though there was no new number, the click of computer keys was comforting.
After several hours John stirred. Harold went over to him and kneeled down. Bear was still at John's side. John opened his eyes.
'How are you feeling?'
'Better. Thanks for taking care of me. I must have been really out of it, huh?'
'It was fine. Bear seemed very concerned.'
John laughed. 'I bet.'
John sat up and rubbed the back of his neck. He suddenly looked nervous. 'Did I really say I love you or was that some kind of hallucination?'
'Come again?' Harold managed to say. John couldn't possibly be saying what he thought he was saying.
'Forget I said anything. I guess I just dreamed it.'
Harold should have left it at that, it was for the best, but something deep inside told him to tell the truth. He had once told John he would never lie to him and a lie of omission was still a lie.
'You did say it. Is it true? Are you in love with me?
John shrugged. 'I have feelings for you, but damn if I know if it's love. It doesn't have to change anything, we're both adults.'
'Ah I see. Perhaps that is for the best. Our work is dangerous enough without involving our deep feelings.'
John's eyes went wide and he grinned. 'Ourdeep feelings? Finch are you in love with me?'
'I don't know. I do care for you, isn't that enough?'
'Fair enough. What if we acted on our feelings, would it really be so bad?'
'I don't know. Perhaps we could try, but if it effects our work we will stop.'
'Agreed. How do you wanna start?'
Harold thought about it and decided maybe kissing would be a good place to start. He leaned forward and brushed his lips against John cheek. When he broke the kiss John was grinning.
'Oh, I like this plan. Come here, John said as he pulled Harold close and their lips met.
That night, they went to Harold's apartment. As they walked up the stairs John kept his hand on the small of Harold's back.
Harold opened the door and they went in. John was standing close behind and his breath was hot on the back of Harold's neck.
Once the door closed, John's arms came around Harold's waist and he kissed Harold's neck. Harold breathed deep the scent of soap and cologne.
He always thought John would be interested in his apartment, but John only seemed interested in kissing and touching. He ran his hand up and down Harold's thigh and Harold mirrored his movement; John's dress pants were soft under his fingers.
Harold turned around and their lips met. It was a wet, sloppy kiss that made Harold hard. Judging by the bulge in John's pants, he wasn't the only one.
Breaking the kiss, they were both panting and John reached up and unbuttoned his shirt. He dropped the shirt on the floor and all Harold could do was watch. John's chest was tan and lean, dark nipples stood out against the skin.
Harold reached for John and pulled him into an embrace. He rubbed John's warm back and kissed his shoulder, skin was salty on his tongue. John groaned as Harold nipped at skin. John pulled at Harold's tie until it fell to the floor. His fingers worked on vest until it was open.
'Can we have sex?' John asked.
Harold continued to kiss John's shoulder. He couldn't seem to get enough of the taste and warmth of skin. 'Of course. Did you have anything particular in mind?'
John shrugged. 'Not really I'm new to this whole gay sex thing. You got any ideas?'
Harold did indeed have many ideas of what they could do, he had read quite extensively on the subject, but he decided to start with something simple.
'Take off your pants and lay down on my couch.'
As John undressed so did Harold. He shivered as cool air hit his skin and shivered again when he saw John naked. His muscular back lead to pale ass cheeks and thick, tanned thighs. The last thing Harold removed was his glasses, they world went blurry.
John laid down and Harold followed. Once he was on top of John he reveled in the feeling of skin against skin. They kissed as Harold reached down and gripped both of their hard cocks in his hand. He stroked up and John groaned, burying his face in Harold's neck.
Harold varied the speed and tightness of the strokes until John cried out.
'Yeah! Yeah! Just like that!'
He stroked faster and faster, enjoying the noises John made. He drank up the noises.
He tightened his grip and John entire body shook as he came. Several more strokes and Harold shut his eyes as he came.
He sunk into John's sweat damp skin.
They kissed lazily until John fell asleep. Harold thought about getting up, the couch wasn't really made for two grown men and there was a wet spot between them, but decided he wanted to stay in John warm embrace. He fell asleep still being held.
That night he dreamed of flying through a purple sky. Warm air blew against his face. It was a strange dream but not unpleasant.
In the morning, Harold woke up and stretched against John. He put on his glasses and watched John sleep for several minutes. John looked content, his face had smoothed out and his graying hair was a mess. Harold reached out and gently combed his fingers through that hair. John nuzzled into his touch.
After he felt like he had watched enough, he got up and picked his clothes up from the floor. They were wrinkled and mixed with John's clothes. His tie was nowhere to be found.
He went to the bathroom and splashed warm water on his face. There was a bite mark on his shoulder, it looked like a dark ink stain on crisp white paper, but what was surprising was the grin on his face.
The grin changed his whole face and his eyes were shining. He had the same feeling as when he took the first bite on a vanilla ice cream cone.
Going back to the living room he stared at John who was still asleep on the couch. Morning sunlight was shinning through the window hitting John face and shoulder.
Harold had the sudden urge to capture the moment. John looked so peaceful and content. He couldn't drew or paint, but he could take a picture. Maybe he would even keep the pictures with his mother's water colors. It seemed fitting.
That very day he bought a camera and that's exactly what he did. His favorite was a blurry snapshot of John and Bear smiling.