samaritan is live. their cover identities are keeping them safe for the time being, but between maintaining them and working numbers, john and harold have virtually no time to themselves. everything they want to express to each other has to be hurried—a hand on a back, a fervent glance, a murmur from miles away. but harold wants john’s body now, here, warm and solid and real, he wants to feel him, to breathe in the scent of his skin—
harold abruptly halts this line of thought and takes a breath. it’s been months since they were able to be together, and fantasizing about john is becoming a more frequent occurrence. pleasant as it is, though, it is not helping him focus. and if they are going to survive, he has to focus.
reluctantly, he pulls his mind back to their current number. “silva comes from a middle-class family in rochester; bachelor’s in criminal justice, 3.0 gpa; everything suggesting that she’s quite average.”
“i’d call her unconventional,” john says into his earbud.
harold has been hearing john’s low purr in his ear for months with no opportunity to do anything about it. flirting via earbud is usually john’s territory, but harold throws caution to the wind and quips, “sounds like someone i know.” he smiles at his own boldness.
he doesn’t get to see john’s eyebrows rise in delight, but he hears the warmth in his chuckle and tells himself it’s enough. this is how they get by: taking crumbs and pressing them together, savoring them as though they’re a fresh loaf.
harold can’t tear his eyes from martine’s face on his screen. she spells doom for all of them—she very nearly killed miss shaw—and she is getting far too close. detective fusco shakes harold out of his cold shock by asking, “you haven’t seen my so-called partner, have you?”
“john’s working a case,” harold explains.
harold pause is pregnant. his heart gives its familiar tug at the idea of john in danger. he never gets used to it. he allows himself a brief daydream: he and john are together far away, out of harm’s reach.
when he replies, his voice is soft.
“let’s hope not.”
harold can cover more ground if he updates miss groves and miss shaw on the way to john—they are, after all, together, while john is alone and vulnerable, a state harold intends to remedy as quickly as possible. as he fills bear’s water bowl, he tells shaw, “i’ll be in touch when i can, but for the moment i need to assist john.”
shaw catches the note of panic in harold’s voice and pauses. “assist—how? you mean with a number?”
harold ruffles bear’s ears and says, “that’s none of your concern, miss shaw.”
shaw can’t help herself. if they’re all about to die, she’s damn well going to take advantage of her last chance to give harold a hard time. “oh—so it’s a sex thing.” root gives shaw a quick grin. in their earbuds, they hear the familiar sound of harold’s most long-suffering sigh.
bear lays on the subway floor near shaw’s prone form, head on his paws. john and harold stand farther away, talking in somber whispers.
“how do we proceed now, harold?” john asks.
harold gives a small, resolute sigh. “with extreme caution.”
john gently places his thumbs on harold’s furrowed brow. he traces the outline of harold’s face, moving his hands to his jaw, and then kisses him slowly—their first real kiss in months. he holds back his aching urgency, taking his time, letting himself feel the warmth of harold’s hands through his shirt. john teases harold’s mouth open with his tongue, remembering how good he tastes, how long it’s been. harold is melting in his arms.
when they come up for air, the look john gives harold is pure longing. he strokes harold’s cheek and whispers, “it’s been forever.”
john’s words go through harold like electricity, and their mouths meet again. “please,” harold whispers.
desire burgeons between them, but they know their days of running to a hotel or a safe house or even the library are gone. they separate slowly, breaths deep and measured. harold has john’s lapels in his fists. he releases them reluctantly.
voice full of regret, john whispers, “caution.”
the basement of the stock exchange is nothing but impressions blurred by terror. harold and john orbit each other like twin stars, harold curling his body toward john’s for safety—until the moment john throws himself in front of harold, catching a bullet in the back.
harold’s world stops as john falls to his knees.
this isn’t happening.
nothing else exists, just john’s agonized face, as harold lowers him gently to the ground. as if from miles away, harold hears himself say, “here, i’ll put pressure on it.” he does so.
“i’m all right, harold,” john says faintly.
harold’s eyes fill, his face crumples—he’s useless, useless, he can’t make this stop—
he hears miss shaw’s voice—miss shaw?—an explosion, more gunshots—he and detective fusco are half-dragging john to the elevator—they’re laying him down—
shaw is firing, and falling, and root is screaming, and harold’s mind is numb with shock, and he’s trying to help, to move root away from the chain link separating her from the woman she loves—but his heart is leaden with the knowledge that he has lost john and shaw in one move, that it is his fault they are dead—
the elevator door clangs shut.
neither of them is sure how the argument started. john and harold are stricken and spinning out on leftover adrenaline and they are both so glad the other is alive that the only thing they can think to do is yell at each other.
they have never yelled at each other like this before, but it seems like the right thing to do. the gravity of their circumstance demands a dramatic response.
they stop yelling after harold yells, “i can’t lose you, john! not like her!”
after harold yells this, they share a horrified look. harold covers his mouth. john closes the distance between them, and takes harold’s hand away from his mouth, and kisses him. when he pulls away, harold’s tears cling to john’s face.
“i will never not come for you,” john whispers. “i will keep you safe until the day i die.”
harold shakes his head desperately and begins to weep in earnest. john takes him in his arms and kisses the tears as they course down his face.
harold chokes out, “it’s my fault,” and john whispers, “no, no, no,” a litany of denial to echo the one in his own heart. shaw can’t be dead. no. no. no.
time is still not passing correctly. one second they are standing up, wrapped in each others’ arms, heart pressed to heart as if they could share the weight of losing shaw, and one second they are lying down on a thin pallet inside the subway, shirtless, drawing promises on each others’ skin with hot fingertips.
it is not luxurious, not comfortable, and not the way either of them imagined being together like this, after waiting so long—but it feels right. to be hidden away together, beneath the earth, feels like death, and safety, and time enough at last.
john moves his hands to the buttons of harold’s trousers, and harold feels a stab of fresh guilt. after everything that’s happened, he’s just going to let himself feel pleasure, let himself forget?
john notices his hesitation and stops. harold, his voice soft, asks, “how did we get here?” and john knows he does not mean the subway. he holds harold to him as he trembles, stroking his back and whispering, “it’s okay, it’s okay.”
eventually, harold calms. he finds john’s mouth with his own, and this time his lips are greedy, his hands on john’s hips demanding. when john moves to undo his trousers again, harold nods desperately. john takes harold in his hand and harold’s desire crests, pulsing against john’s slow strokes. a soft “ah” escapes him. john increases his rhythm, lets harold get close, then stops. harold breathes in sharply as john traces both hands down harold’s rib cage. john rests his hands on harold’s hips, placing hungry kisses on the sensitive skin of harold’s lower belly, and then he puts his mouth on harold, and harold buries his hands in john’s hair and moans. for the first time in months, harold lets himself go; he doesn’t think of their danger, doesn’t think at all. swiftly, john removes his own trousers and dives back into harold. harold is clinging to john, and john is rocking his length against harold’s thigh, and their breath is coming fast, and at the last moment they take each other in hand and coax out a sudden, gasping climax.
they stay in each others’ arms for hours. when the air around them finally cools, they retrieve trousers and shirts, and sit close together, and wait.
when root returns to the subway, she finds john and harold huddled together, looking lost.
“i wanted to give you some time,” she says to them. then she fixes john with her stare. “but we have to get to work.”
harold looks at her, startled.
“you’re not ready to be separated from john,” she says, “and i relate.” harold drops his eyes, abashed. his heart is pounding at the thought of john leaving, but he will not begrudge miss shaw john’s help, nor john his opportunity to save his friend.
“we’ll find her, harold,” john says softly. harold wants more than anything to believe him, but his heart is so heavy. he feels responsible—he is responsible.
he and john stand. john gathers up a few necessities while harold seats himself at his computer. “i’ll do what i can from here, of course,” he promises.
before john goes, he puts his hand on harold’s shoulder. he whispers something that root can’t hear. harold watches them go, and for the first time since losing shaw, he allows himself a wild hope that they find her and bring her back. if anyone can, it’s them.