His hands shake. In his line of work, that's a death sentence, trembling hands and sweaty palms a luxury he can't afford. But so are people—people the world can't afford to lose, people he can't afford to lose, one small and fragile and beautiful person he'd tear the world to pieces for without regret.
His hands shake on Harold's tie, as he tries and tries and fails to unknot the strip of sky blue paisley with care even though it's wrinkled all to hell. Silk slips through his fumbling fingers. Adrenaline tears through his veins. Beneath him, Harold breathes, stares up at him with huge, bare blue eyes, his crooked mouth parted, his soft lips kiss-flushed and swollen and shining, his hands roaming over John's naked and heaving chest like he can't believe he gets to touch. A bruise stains one cheek, livid and dark. His glasses are gone, crushed beneath some dirtbag's heel—he looks so different without his glasses. But he's here. He's alive. He's breathing.
Breathing. Harold's breathing, in and out, loud over the pounding of John's heart. Harold's still breathing. Harold's still breathing thanks to him.
The knot gives way beneath John's awkward fingers, and he discards the tie, and Harold doesn't protest him tossing it carelessly off the bed. There are things that matter and things that don't. Tonight threw that into sharp relief. He came so, so close to losing everything that matters.
John dives in for another kiss, cupping Harold's precious bruised face in his shaking, awkward, undeserving hands, and Harold moans into his mouth, grabbing the back of John's neck and drawing him in, kissing him hard and hot and deep, thrusting the firm bulge of his cock insistently against John's with an aborted arch of hips. A shiver runs through him. Kissing Harold—being kissed by him—is such a thrill, a joy, a privilege. He lets Harold take over, mouth moving where Harold wants him to go, tongue tangling with Harold's, and he drowns in the taste of Harold, the heady smell of him, the warmth of his living, breathing body under the shield of his own battered one. For the millionth time, he vows to protect this, to protect him. No one will take Harold away from him. No one. Not as long as he's alive.
Taking a final bullet for Harold would be an honor.
Getting to touch him is another. Harold breaks away, breathless, and in a near growl, says, "Off, off—get these wretched clothes off..."
"Thought you liked clothes," John teases, voice as tremulous and rattled as his hands.
Harold wrinkles his nose, his glare full of fond exasperation, and John can't help kissing him again, smoothing the irritation away with his lips. But if Harold wants the clothes gone, off they'll go.
Only, his hands still shake.
They shake when he slides them down to Harold's collar, bound for fine pearlescent buttons that shine as they catch the golden lamp light. They shake as he struggles to pop the first one free of its hole without snapping fine delicate threads like necks, and the next one, and the next. John pauses, taking a deep breath, filling his lungs completely, and Harold's hand moves through his sweat damp hair, slow and gentle and grounding.
John can't help himself—he presses his forehead to Harold's, clenching his eyes shut, and he tries to catch his breath. Too close. Tonight was too close. Too many guns, too many lowlife fucks who wanted to put bullets in Harold's brilliant brain or his generous heart, and the greedy CEO at the head of it all who wanted John to be his. John took them all out, rich guy and all, kneecapped every last bastard without mercy, nearly took a few shots himself—the bandaged grazes on his arm and over a rib smart pretty bad—and still it wasn't enough to ease his mind.
"Oh, goodness," Harold says. "I'm here. I'm safe now. You don't have to worry about me right now."
John lets out a mirthless laugh. As long as he's breathing, he's not going to stop worrying about Harold.
But Harold wants to be touched, wants their clothes off, so he has to put that worry aside for now. He makes himself sit back and slip another button open, and another and another, moving down Harold's chest, baring the flushed column of a throat and a bobbing Adam's apple, graying brown curls and delicate pink skin peeking out of his undershirt, a fragile chest, a soft belly. So many vulnerabilities, ever-hidden beneath the flimsy armor of wool and cotton and bravery. So many ways someone could take Harold from him, if he's ever too slow, if he fails...
He lays his shaking hands on Harold's chest, and runs them over Harold, appreciating the shape of him, the warmth, the contrast of soft flesh and hard bone. Harold smiles, small and sweet, in approval. All the things John would do for him—it's dizzying, overwhelming. He'd do anything for Harold. So many possibilities.
Touch, though? Touch is easy. Simple. He lets his hands wander, molding them to the shape of Harold's body, to pecs and ribs and the curve of his stomach, then back up again, mapping the feeling of Harold beneath his palms. He loves Harold's body. It yields so easily to the pressure of his hands, fits so perfectly in his hold, looks so beautiful under his touch. And it's Harold's. It's amazing just because it's Harold's, and Harold lets him touch it, lets his blood-tattooed hands roam over breakable ribs and fragile insides, all with a tiny sigh and him relaxing into the mattress, every trace of impatience forgotten.
Until John's hands find a spot that makes him tense and hiss.
John freezes, just for a second, then shoves Harold's clothes out of the way. There, on Harold's stomach, ugly and mottled and dark, is another bruise. John stares, rage building up in his chest, in his gut, wild and hot. A punch. Someone punched Harold before John got to him. The one on Harold's face was bad enough, enough to make him want to put his feet through a few bad guys' faces, but another hidden blow...
"I'm fine," Harold says, jerking him from his reverie with his soft voice. John looks up at him, startled. "I'm fine," Harold repeats. "One of them used his fist to subdue me before they took me into their custody. It was quite effective, I must admit." His hand flits, briefly, to the bruise, then he lays it over John's fingers. "I'm alright. I'm assuming that, if I were hemorrhaging, I'd be showing some signs by now. But I am not."
John nods, numb, and Harold's smile comes back. "Thanks to you." Harold lets go and pushes himself upright with a groan, and his voice is slightly strained when he says, "Thank you for saving me." With a self-deprecating eye-roll, he adds, "Again."
"Always." John looks him in the eyes, his own wide and serious. He will always come for Harold, for as long as he's still breathing. Harold needs to know that.
After a moment, Harold nods, and softly repeats, "Always."
Satisfied, John's hand drifts back toward the bruise, and he traces his fingers over it, feather light, anger fading into distress. "Sorry I didn't get there faster." It's a minor injury, he reminds himself, moving on to the hem of Harold's undershirt and finally, finally making quick work of baring Harold's torso. They could've done so much worse, tried to do so much worse when he came storming in, and John's a hell of a lot more banged up than him. But Harold's okay. Harold's alive. Harold's safe.
Shirts gone, body half bare, Harold lies back down, splayed out on the bed, smiling and content and inviting, waiting for him. Something in John's chest twists. Thanks to him, Harold is safe. Thanks to him, he gets to keep this.
John drops a kiss over Harold's heart, making him shiver, and moves down the length of Harold's torso, leaving a trail of kisses in his wake. Harold's muscles twitch with each one, so he adds more, peppering chest and belly with presses of his lips, moving over smooth skin and shining hair, over pink peaked nipples and flecks of white scars, over the body of the man who makes his heart race and ache so much, drinking in every beautiful noise Harold makes and the feel of him beneath him. He gentles his touch at the edge of the bruise, skimming his mouth over the cloud of green-purple-red beneath Harold's skin before kissing the center of it, then he makes himself move on, makes himself move down, until he finds the hot bulge tenting Harold's fine blue trousers.
His hands are less shaky now, figuring out Harold's belt—just a belt, just an ordinary brown leather belt—quickly, but not as quickly as he'd like. Buttons are still a minor mystery, the dark navy ones on Harold's fly scurrying away from his fingertips, but Harold seems to like the lingering accidental contact with his cock, pushing impatiently toward his touch, as much as his aching body allows, with a few jerks of his hips that it doesn't seem to like all that much.
After one too many thrusts leaves Harold groaning with muffled pain instead of pleasure, John gives up on the buttons and pins down Harold's hips, cradling them gently with hands that feel so large on Harold's body. "I'll take care of you," he says, determined and firm, and nuzzles Harold's cock with his nose, catching a hint of the heady scent of him through the cloth. He'll take care of Harold here and everywhere, will take every bullet and blow, will hit and hurt and protect for him, will be good for him. "I'll take care of you."
"Please," Harold says, a breathy note in his voice. "Please do."
John kisses the heat of Harold's cock, and Harold's breath catches, a tiny sound that goes straight to John's own dick. He kisses Harold again, and gives the buttons another try, the urge to be even closer to Harold building. There. He gets Harold's fly open and finds his firm, warm cock hidden inside the softness of his boxers, his need staining the inky midnight blue silk almost black at the tip. Curious, John licks the damp spot, tasting salt and sex, and Harold murmurs, "Oh, god," and pushes up against John's lips.
With a smile, John shushes him, and drags his tongue along the outline of Harold's length, soaking the smooth fabric. Harold hisses. Excellent. John teases him through the cloth, drawing aimless patterns with the tip of his tongue, savoring the hints of him tasted through the silk, the rich smell of him, most intense down here, in this private space, and all the muffled, frustrated sounds escaping Harold's throat.
But it's not enough. Harold needs more, he needs more. Touching him with great care, John frees Harold from his underwear, baring his cock. It's a great cock, John thinks, sturdy and cut, a little crooked, flushed and eager and wet. He wants to hold it in his mouth, wants to care for it, wants to show it and Harold all the things he's too much of a chickenshit to say out loud. He settles for kissing the head, soft and reverent, earning another quiet gasp from Harold and the return of a gentle hand in his hair.
Encouraged, John kisses him again, drops tiny kisses down the length of Harold's cock, then back to the top again. Harold cards his fingers through John's hair, hand twitching slightly with each kiss, and John can feel the affection, the care, radiating from Harold's fingers with every stroke. He only hopes Harold feels his own, that Harold can tell how far gone he is for him, that the man who once claimed to know everything about him knows this, too.
Kissing gives way to tasting, to running his tongue over soft, soft skin, to tracing the veins and ridges and licking away the salty wetness beading at the tip. He's always been good at this, at using his mouth, and he sinks into it, deep into a space where all that matters is this: his tongue on Harold, the scent of Harold in his nose, the sound of Harold breathing and gasping in his ears, the sight of him filling John's eyes completely.
Harold's hand guides him further, a little insistent nudge in the right direction. John gets the hint. With a smile glowing warm inside him, he takes Harold in, surrounding him with the wet heat of his mouth, settling his hands on Harold's hips. Harold swears, a low whisper, and John chuckles. That gets him another uncharacteristic swear, and, filled with glee, John starts to suck.
This is the part John likes best: making someone feel good, making Harold feel good. The weight of Harold on his tongue, thick and salty and heavy, settles the part of him still itching for fight. The noises Harold makes, the words he says, curl up hot and good in his gut. He moves—his mouth, his head, settling into a slow, easy rhythm that soothes his nerves and ignites his blood all at once. Harold is here, flooding his senses, close and safe and having fun, petting John's hair, pushing into his mouth.
John uses all he's ever learned about focus, pouring all his attention into this one near-sacred task. Here, he is a loyal worshiper, not a living weapon, but he feels just as powerful doing this. He knows where to move, where to touch, how to use his body in the name of something greater than himself, someone greater than himself, Harold. His only goal, his purpose here tonight, is to make Harold feel. And he's gonna do it right.
Harold has no complaints. Restraint, yes. Harold's groans are quiet. His thrusts are modest, in deference to John and the limits of his body and his tendency to hold himself back. Every now and then, he whispers, "Oh," or "Oh, god," or an occasional stray word of pleasure, but his tendency toward chattiness dies down, pushed aside by the onslaught of sensation John's sending through his body.
One day, John hopes to make him get loud, wants to make him feel so fucking amazing that all of his hard-won restraint snaps in a torrent of overwhelmed moaning and yelling. What will it take, John wonders—licking him open and fucking him on his thick fingers, playing around with a toy or three, fucking him properly?
Or maybe he can get Harold to come without warning him first? Harold's so polite, even in this. If he could make Harold feel good enough to forget himself completely...
Harold's hand directs him back to the present, pushing him down gently, with a ragged, "John, please." Right. More is a matter for later. Here, now, John pulls back and kisses Harold again, then swallows him all the way down to the hilt.
That gets him a small moan out of Harold, a needy, beautiful, broken sound that goes straight to John's own cock. He presses a hand to himself, just for a moment, just to calm his need, and turns his attention back to Harold. He'll feel this in the morning, the memory of Harold deep inside him in the soreness of his throat, a new roughness in his already raspy voice. The thought sends another pulse of want straight to his throbbing cock.
No, he can't let himself get distracted. This is about Harold, not him. But even with his focus, it's all starting to blur together, the overwhelming beat of Harold, Harold, Harold in his brain entwining with the arousal crackling through his body. Once he gets Harold off, it won't be long. Hell, that might even be enough to get him there on its own.
He gives himself over to Harold, to the wet, slick pressure of his mouth on Harold, sucking hard, choking himself on Harold's length. Beneath him, Harold squirms, the motion of his hand in John's hair becoming more and more uneven with every fall and rise of John's mouth. It won't be much longer. The more Harold's control of himself slips away, the closer he is, and he's losing more of it with every lick and swallow and suck.
John doesn't draw it out. Every trick he knows, everything he's learned about Harold goes into this. The swipes of tongue, the hot suction, all of it. He closes his eyes and takes Harold in and out, not caring about the mess ruining Harold's silk boxers or the ache in his jaw and his throat and his own sweat-soaked body. He's so hard he could break something with it, if the hot and painful throb doesn't break him first, so in need his head swims and his heart races and his body trembles and twitches for friction that's not nearly enough.
A ragged, "Close," breaks through the fog in his head. "John, I'm—"
John sucks harder, and Harold breaks off with a gasp, hand falling from John's hair and landing on the mattress with a thump. John glances up, peering over the arch of Harold's belly, and finds Harold touching himself, his lovely fingers toying with a nipple, teasing it in stumbling little rubs and twists. That gives John an idea. He takes Harold's balls in hand, making Harold murmur, "Oh, goodness," and he runs his thumb over the soft sac, the sensitive firmness inside. Harold's other hand falls, too, and he lets out an incoherent hum. John smiles around him, pleased, so in love he thinks it might kill him.
That'd be a bigger honor than taking that last bullet.
Now's not the time to think about bullets. He swallows Harold all the way down again, massages his sensitive balls, aiming for one clear goal. Harold is close. After everything, John will be damned if he makes him wait to get what he wants.
It works. With one last insistent warning, Harold comes, spilling fast down John's throat. Eagerly, John swallows and swallows, catching every last bit. Soon, Harold will insist on getting him off, too, but for now, John's happy with this, with drinking down the salt taste of Harold and listening to him fall apart and come down from the high.
There's no place in the world John would rather be than right here. And when he finally lets Harold go, and lets Harold's soft cock slip out of his mouth, his hands aren't shaking anymore.