Word Count: 469
Rating: PG for some angst
Fandom/Pairing: Person of Interest pre-slash starring John Reese/Harold Finch, Harold Finch/Grace Hendricks and hints of John Reese/Jessica Arndt
Disclaimers/Warnings: Series spoilers. Also? No animals (or money unfortunately) were harmed during the writing of this ficlet. :)
Author's Notes: What can I say? I love writing about longing. It doesn't make any sense to me either...
Summary: It's quiet today in the library.
It's quiet today in the library. They have no number at the moment so Bear naps with his head warming Harold's left foot while John stares out a window. He'd already cleaned and inventoried his arsenal once, taken the dog out for a walk twice and grabbed lunch from the deli a few blocks over. There isn't much left to do but think as Harold works on keeping their covers current. He considers mentioning a trip to the loft to relax only that wouldn't settle John's obviously twitching nerves.
"You wonder what life would've been like if you'd gotten married?" John suddenly asks, his tone soft in the silence.
Harold's fingers hesitate in surprise. Though it lasts a second he knows the ex-operative has noticed. "I tried," he answers, opting to say more than the usual non sequitur. "It wouldn't have worked."
"You wished it had."
Harold smiles sadly at his computer. He can't deny it, and he promised not to lie. Of course he'd wished. Grace's grin still thrills him even if it's seen from a distance anymore. Then he thinks about the bomb. Nathan dead. Pain. Grace doesn't know him. Not the part that matters. How could she? John, on the other hand...
"That's the difference between me and you." If he were capable he'd raise his head quickly, rush over, show the younger man how wrong he is. That there isn't any difference at all. "I didn't try."
"You're not the monster they've made you out to be."
John turns his head to look at Harold, really look at him, and it hits him then that it's not the violence inside John that scares him. It's everything else he's willing to give, every part of himself if Harold chooses to take. There and gone in the blink of an eye is the sum of all his experience, his curiosity, his desire. When an alert sounds on one of the monitors and a number scrolls across the screen Harold sighs in relief, in startling regret.
John blinks again, his lips caught on the name as he's afraid in his own way. Exhilarated. Harold's first instinct is to find out what it means. "We have a new number, Mr. Reese," he replies because it's safe, ignoring how his chest aches at the shutting down of John's expression.
His partner takes a deep breath, his features smoothing out until they can't be read. "Lay it on me."
His voice is flat, even, and it makes Harold want more than he ever has before, more than must be humanly possible. When his hands return to the keyboard he pretends it's all he is supposed to touch, to need. He types letters, letters that become words, and fights to remember when this stopped being enough.