A/N: In Episode 1.02 “Ghosts,” Reese went to the software design company where Finch (known as Harold) was working as his cover. One of his female coworkers seemed very curious about Reese. This story is from her POV.
I’d never really spoken to Harold. He was a quiet, mousy man with a pronounced limp who came in quietly to do his work, ate his lunch in the breakroom without joining in the conversation unless it was necessary, and left just as quietly after he’d put in his hours. He usually came in at the same time every day, but as a programmer he had flex hours and would sometimes come in an hour or two later. He took a lot of personal days, too, but someone had once suggested that he probably had to go to physical therapy, which seemed reasonable enough. I’ve worked at IFT for seven years, five as the office manager for our division, and he’d been a fixture for as long as anybody could remember. Frankly, I’d never really thought much about him. Computer geeks aren’t my type, and Harold practically had a giant “L” for Loser tattooed on his pasty forehead.
I’m on the lookout for Prince Charming, you know? Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Someone who could make a girl melt with just a look. Not that I ever expected to find him at work – aside from the geeks, there were managers like Dave who made you want to run screaming from the building, and of course the few nice guys were already married. Although some of them were willing enough to have some fun, if you know what I mean, but nothing serious. Not anything like a permanent relationship.
So imagine my surprise when Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome walked into the office. Nice suit, no tie, but he pulled it off like a Calvin Klein model and made it look professional to boot. Long legs and an ass to die for (I checked). Of course as office manager, I went up to him right away.
“Can I help you?”
“I hope so,” he smiled. God! His eyes sparkled like jewels. His voice was smooth and sexy as hell, too. “I’m looking for Harold.”
“Oh!” I couldn’t hide my surprise. “Of course. His desk is over there, but I don’t think I’ve seen him yet today…”
“I’ll just wait at his desk if you don’t mind. He should be coming in soon.”
I could listen to him read a phonebook!
“Of course. Can I get you some coffee while you wait?”
He smiled, and I swear I almost wet my panties!
“Well, just let me know if you need anything.”
I watched as he ambled over to Harold’s little cubicle (again, great ass) and sat down, hidden from view. Too bad! He was definitely eye candy – I could lap him up for hours. But now I couldn’t help wondering what he wanted with Harold. He wasn’t an IFT employee, that’s for sure, and I think I would’ve remembered him if he were one of our clients. Besides, Harold was just a low-level software programmer – why would a client go to him directly? And Harold had never had any visitors before, at least in all the years that I’ve been here.
My curiosity was piqued, but just then I saw the top of Harold’s ridiculous, pointy hair as he came out of the elevator with his distinctive gait. I walked towards him and stifled my first impulse to demand the sexy Mystery Man’s name on the spot, settling for greeting him with a simple “Hello, Harold,” instead. He looked taken aback and mumbled “Hello.” Okay, so maybe I hadn’t been all that friendly to him, but come on, I had said “hello” to him once or twice before!
I wanted to see his reaction to finding Mystery Man in his cubicle, so I walked down another aisle parallel to his. He got intercepted by Dave, poor guy – that man could give a slave driver tips! But when Harold finally got to his desk and found his visitor, he looked about as startled as I’d expected him to be, and sat down awkwardly. I couldn’t see either of them from this angle, so I went to the printer next to the pillar and pretended to be collecting some documents.
When I peeked around the pillar, Mr. TD&H (Tall, Dark, and Handsome, of course) was talking to Harold and – oh my god – smiling at him! Those dark, blue-gray eyes were glittering with humor as he made animated gestures, even showing him the little bandage on his hand (I’d noticed that when I’d checked for a ring). He looked so eager and excited, transforming his already-handsome features into a truly heavenly sight, that I wondered how Harold could be exposed to it in such close proximity without turning into a puddle of geek, even if he didn’t swing that way.
I know I was ready to melt into a puddle by the time Mr. TD&H pulled out a small black box. No, not a jewelry box or anything, just some sort of mechanical device – something technical and geeky. Harold took it and slipped it into his briefcase after looking at it. He obviously knew what it was, and kept talking to his friend for a few minutes. Their conversation seemed rather intense from that point on, so I wondered if they were talking business. Even then, with his serious game face on, Mr. TD&H had high Melt Potential.
He left rather abruptly, so I didn’t have time to get back to the entryway to greet him again as he left – it would’ve been too obvious if I’d run, of course. But there was Harold, still looking somewhat shell-shocked (although honestly, with that hair he almost always looks shocked) in his cubicle, so I went up to him while keeping one eye on the retreating figure (okay, ass) of Mr. TD&H.
He gave me a blank look (which might be just his normal expression, come to think of it) and turned to look down the aisle where Mr. TD&H was all-too-quickly disappearing. He opened his mouth to say something but at first nothing came out.
“He’s a… a consultant for a private security firm,” he finally managed. “I’ve been helping him with some software issues.”
“Oh, is he a client?” I asked, feigning ignorance. I knew damn well that he wasn’t.
“Uh, no… just a… personal acquaintance. I didn’t expect him to come here. I will discourage him from distracting me during work hours in the future.”
Of course he must’ve thought that I would report him for moonlighting, especially having his sideline business associate stop by the office, but as long as he put in his time for the company, what did I care?
“Well, don’t discourage him on my account,” I told him with a meaningful smile. I didn’t know if he would get the hint, but Mr. TD&H was welcome to drop by anytime in my book!
However, the startled look that Harold gave me then let me know that he did get my drift, and also – belatedly, I realize now – made me consider for the first time that maybe, just maybe, I might be barking up the wrong tree. He stared at me like I’d just made a pass at a married man, or someone equally unavailable. In fact, he was looking at me like I’d made a pass at his boyfriend!
Feeling a little dizzy, I went back to my desk and tried to sort out my impressions. Impeccably dressed – check, but not necessarily an indication that he was gay. No ring – check. Beautiful eyes – irrelevant, but check. Lovely ass – also irrelevant, but check. Gentle, soothing voice – again irrelevant, but check. He had been rather animated when he’d talked to Harold, leaning in towards him and talking in low, earnest tones, but his hand motions hadn’t looked that faggy… but what did I really have to go on? I hadn’t watched him long enough to make any definitive judgments about his sexual orientation, or even his marital status – just that he wasn’t wearing a ring.
But then, the more I thought about how happy he’d seemed to talk to Harold – how excited he was to give him that black device, even to show him his bandaged hand – the more I realized that whatever business he’d come to do had been an excuse. His real purpose in coming to the office had been simply to see Harold. Of course! He had smiled so sweetly, with an endearing hint of shyness, at our unassuming Harold; he had talked so eagerly with him, almost as though he were anxious to win his approval. His eyes had practically sparkled when Harold had shown up, his pleasure at surprising him obvious, and his whole demeanor had changed from businessman to naughty little schoolboy.
Oh. My. God. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome was Harold’s boyfriend. That little mechanical box might have been the equivalent of a bouquet of red roses for a computer geek like Harold. Thanks for a good time last night? Don’t worry about my hand where you bit me? Ewww!
There is no justice in the universe. How could such a fine specimen of a man be interested in a geeky guy like Harold? He was practically a cripple, and even when he’d been talking to Mr. TD&H, he hadn’t so much as smiled to acknowledge his attentions. What charms could Harold possibly possess to attract a man like that?
Life is so not fair!
A few days later, the first thing I heard when I got upstairs was that Harold had cleaned out his desk early that morning. There were rumors that he’d been transferred, but Dave claimed (rather nastily, like he enjoyed the thought) that Harold had been fired. I wondered if his moonlighting had been found out – of course I hadn’t said anything about it to anyone, but I wouldn’t put it past Dave to have bugged Harold’s phone or had IT check his e-mails to uncover something like that. Harold was a good performer, but he didn’t know how to stand up for himself, and guys like Dave seemed to have an instinct for bullying guys like Harold.
I was surprised to see Mr. TD&H come back to the office, looking for Harold, but I was happy to inform him of what I’d heard. He seemed just as surprised as the rest of us that Harold wouldn’t be here anymore – and almost heartbroken, as though he felt responsible. I might have read that into his expression, but his eyes were so soulful and sad when I told him about Harold that I couldn’t help but think that he regretted having come to the office before, in case that had led to Harold being fired.
I wondered, though, that Harold hadn’t told him yet about what had happened, regardless of whether he’d been transferred or laid off. Was it perhaps too traumatic for him to process? Or maybe, did he not want his friend to feel responsible for it? But somehow I felt sure that Mr. TD&H would get to the bottom of it. It was obvious (in retrospect) that he cared for Harold very much, and I got the sense that he was a man of action and determination.
So, Harold… wherever you are, whether you’ve been transferred or laid off or simply decided to quit, I hope you appreciate your tall, dark, and handsome friend. It’s a rare gift when anyone cares about you, truly, and even more so when someone that good-looking cares for someone as unremarkable as you and me. Maybe you do realize that, and maybe you actually quit of your own volition to make your sideline business your main occupation – so that you could work more closely with Mr. TD&H. I hope that’s the case. And I do wish you luck and happiness, even though I have to admit to more than a twinge of envy. But I hope, if you ever think of me, you would wish me the same.