After lunch, John and Harold parted ways. Harold returned to the library while John made his way to his apartment to change. They’d eaten lunch, celebrated another number saved, and John was itching to go for a run. As he walked he glanced at a pay phone and quietly hoped that the Machine would give them another little break. It had been nice to take a break and engage in the mundane. First a walk with Bear, then lunch with Finch, and now he could go for a run and perhaps do some much needed grocery shopping. It was nice to be ordinary.
He let himself into his apartment and immediately relaxed. At first the place hadn’t been his. Even though the gift was a thoughtful one, John hadn’t been sure what to make of it. It was a strange apartment, with a lot of windows, and a lot of space. There wasn’t much he could do to fill it because he simply didn’t do décor. Meaningful decorations were often an indication that an occupant planned to stay in one place for a while and John couldn’t remember the last time he had a place where he intended to stay for any prolonged period of time.
Yet the initial discomfort passed and he started to stay in his new apartment more often. It became a sanctuary, even with its bare walls. He had the floor space to do yoga when there wasn’t a class to attend. There was a closet full of his artillery, guns and other weapons he kept neat and organized. At some point someone had slipped in and put a James Bond poster on the wall, which John suspected was Shaw’s doing. He’d been amused enough to leave it up.
Then there was the furniture that had arrived. Just a couch and a love seat but they were both covered in supple black leather that screamed Finch. They had slate grey pillows on each end and a warm, soft, grey blanket to match draped over the back of the couch. At some point Carter had found out about his apartment and gifted them to him for Christmas. Her death made him cherish the items all the more.
Fusco contributed a framed picture of himself that sat in the middle of the small dining room table. John was certain the detective hadn’t meant for him to keep it since it had been a joke, but he’d been reluctant to throw it out. There was a little bit of everyone represented in his apartment and while a part of him knew it was potentially stupid to get sentimental, he couldn’t help it.
John liked to blame it on the fact he was aging.
He stripped off his construction worker get-up and left the clothes in a pile on the floor. Padding over to his dresser in his boxers, he pulled out running pants and a solid black t-shirt and slipped into them. Once John switched out his shoes for running shoes, he was set to go and grabbed the iPod sitting on top of the dresser and shoved his cell phone into his pocket. As he walked out the door he pushed the ear buds into his ears, locked the door behind him, and made his way down the hall.
A young woman – Angela from down the hall, if John remembered correctly – walked by with two bags of groceries and smiled at him as she passed. He smiled back and inclined his head slightly before he continued on his way. Down the stairs and out the main door to the building, he was on the street and ready to run. With Florence + The Machine blasting in his ears he took off down the street, hastily tucking his iPod into his pocket.
The cold air whipped against his face and it felt invigorating. He inhaled deeply as he found a pace to match the music and settled in for the long haul. While he preferred to run at Central Park, or somewhere less crowded, there were days he loved nothing more than to run through the crowds of people. It amazed him how quickly people moved out of the way for runners. At a normal pace no one noticed their fellow man trying to push through a crowd of meanderers, but pick up the pace and look like you’ve got somewhere to be and the sea of people parts. John didn’t miss the looks from ladies and men alike as he dashed past them but he didn’t dwell on them. Instead, he allowed them to just rest in the air around him as he pushed through the first mile of his run.
By the third mile he felt like he had settled into the running groove and allowed his mind to go blank. Everything was about the motion of his body. One foot was placed in front of another and he bounced slightly with every stride. He took a turn down a less crowded street and picked up the pace slightly, enjoying the deep burn in his calves as he made his way up a small hill. When he made it to the top he slowed again and inhaled, jogging, enjoying how free he felt in that moment.
His phone vibrated and he decided to ignore it as he ran.
Then the phone began vibrating insistently against his thigh. There would be a pause and then it would pick up again and John resigned himself to his fate. He slowed to a walk, panting softly as he fought to regain his breath. John yanked the ear buds out of his ear, pushed them into his pocket, and pulled out the phone.
“Hello?” He answered, breathless as he walked forward and came down from his running mindset.
“Mr. Reese. You sound out of breath, have I interrupted something?” Harold’s tone contained equal measures of concern and curiosity.
“Just a run, Finch. What do you need?” John kept it short and sweet as he directed the microphone away from his mouth and breathed in before exhaling slowly. Now that he was no longer running his body finally registered the cold air and a chill set in over his sweaty, bare arms.
“I have something I need to discuss with you in person. It isn’t a new number or anything that is terribly time sensitive, so please don’t feel pressured to get here right away.” Harold insisted, but something in his tone piqued John’s curiosity.
“I’ll run to the library, Finch. See you soon.” Before Harold could protest, John hung up the phone and dumped it into his pocket. He stuck his ear buds back in his ears before he turned and began a leisurely run to the library. When he arrived he jogged up the stairs, his body tingling pleasantly as a result of his work out, and at the top of the stairs he slowed to a walk and strolled into Harold’s line of sight.
At that point John was sweaty, his visible skin glistening in the dim library lights. His chest was rising and falling rapidly, his cheeks red and wind bitten. John was quite certain his hair was somewhat displaced too, but at that moment he wasn’t interested in his appearance. No, he was more interested in the look Harold was currently giving him. The other man was staring, eyebrows raised slightly in surprise, though his eyes were raking over John’s body and he wasn’t sure whether or not he should be flattered or uncomfortable.
There was a strange yet familiar look that flashed in Harold’s eyes that pushed him toward uncomfortable as he felt warmth rush through him.
“So, ah, what did you need to talk about, Harold?”
All he received in return was silence.