Even Monsters have a Social
Harold Finch's narration over the intro:
You are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people. The Government considers these people "irrelevant". We don't. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You'll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number's up... we'll find you.
John stood on the roof top from where he had a good view on Rachel Martin's apartment. He watched her hurrying from one room to the other, getting dressed and ready to leave her place.
Her name was Rachel Martin and her number had come up. That was what John knew about her, that and the fact she wore pink underwear and at some level John knew he should feel like a stalker but this was part of the job and he was probably here to save her life, so if that meant he had to spy on her when she came out of the bathroom in pink underwear than be it.
"Rachel Martin." Finch's voice was loud and clear over the ear piece. "Age 37, single, lives alone."
"I figured that much, Finch." John replied and shot another picture of her grabbing the keys. The apartment was small and so far he hadn't seen any sign of another person. She didn't even have a cat. "Looks like she's ready to leave."
"Her shift at the hospital starts in about an hour." Finch supplied.
"I'll have a look around her place before I follow her to the hospital." John turned around to get to the street in time to get close enough to her to get the connection to her phone. She didn't spare him a second glance when he passed her. She was late, the drive to the hospital would take her forty minutes at least, if she was lucky.
John watched her while she got in the car and then pulled out of the lot in front of the apartment complex.
When she was out of sight he entered the building, searching for her place.
The lock was no problem and seconds later John stood in the middle of her living room.
"Any idea what she's involved in?" He asked into the empty room.
"So far I found nothing indicating a reason for her to be in trouble." Finch answered immediately. "I had a look at her history. Mother died in a mugging when she was nineteen, father is unknown. Rachel became a nurse and now works at the Nightingale Hospital Center. No crime records, no financial problems, not even a speeding ticket."
"Maybe something at work?" John suggested and finished his round through the apartment. The place was small but neat. Somewhat minimalistic, it didn't feel like a home, more like a place to stay at for a while. But maybe that was just him.
"As a nurse she has contact with many different people." In the background John heard him tapping on the keyboard. "It'll take a while to go through all the records. It may be wise for you to keep an eye on her at the hospital, Mr. Reese."
John nodded to that, not that Finch could see it. "Found her laptop."
He turned it on and had a quick look but Finch would do the thorough search as soon as the connection was established. Nothing sparked his interest, though. Like in the whole apartment there was little personal stuff. Some things work related but it didn't look like Rachel was the social type on the internet.
John finished his search through Rachel's place and came up with nothing. No hidden papers, money, drugs or weapons.
"Place's clean, I'm heading over to the hospital." John informed Finch and locked the door behind himself. Rachel wouldn't even know he'd been here.
"I can access the personnel files and patient records from here but I need you to have a look at Ms. Martin's more recent patients, they may not be in the system yet."
"I'm on it."
It took John nearly forty-five minutes to get to the hospital and every minute was too long. Rachel didn't have that much of a head-start and he doubted, hoped, nothing would happen on her way but he always felt better when he'd eyes on their number.
During the ride Finch did his thing and fed John every bit of information he could find about Rachel Martin. Which wasn't much. She'd hardly left an online trail which was suspicious by itself these days.
"After her mother died Ms. Martin went to nurse school and has worked as a nurse ever since." There was a pause. "This is odd."
"What, Finch?" John prompted when Harold didn't continue.
"In the last fifteen years Ms. Martin has worked for seven different hospitals all over the country."
"Bad records?" John asked when he reached the hospital and parked his car in the visitors' lot.
"Not that I can see. But like I said, it will take time to access all those personnel files."
"Maybe she's running from something." John mused and got out of the car.
"Maybe." Finch sounded unsure.
John ended the call and went to have a closer look at Rachel's workplace.
Until they knew more about the situation this was an observe mission only and John spent the next few hours doing just that.
Rachel worked in the stroke unit where patients came in transferred from other stations with paperwork and all that so surprise encounters were unlikely.
When John first had heard she was a nurse he had been worried about somebody high on drugs starting shooting in the ER or something like that, he'd no idea if or how the Machine could predict something like that but it wouldn't surprise him if it did.
This station was way calmer than a hectic ER ever could be but it made it more difficult for John to keep an eye on Rachel without being noticed.
Stolen scrubs made him almost invisible, though, and John got access to the more recent files without trouble. Rachel even gave him a small nod and a smile when she found him in the nurse's station.
"New here?" She asked when she didn't recognize his face.
"First day." He answered with what he hoped was a shy smile. "I'm John."
"Rachel." She clasped a clipboard with one hand and reached the other one out to him for a handshake. "If you need anything, just asked." Rachel wanted to say more but was called way.
"I will." John answered but he doubted she'd heard it.
John didn't go farther into the past than the last three weeks because whatever the threat was, it was happening now. Most of the patient had been released or transferred elsewhere by now, two had died of another stroke and only five of the current patients had been here for longer than a week.
Three had come in over the last two days and those were the ones at the top of John's list. He sent the data to Finch and even snapped pictures of the three patients to confirm they were who they said they were. Finch couldn't find anything suspicious about them at first glance but he promised to look farther into their history.
During all that John had a watchful eye on Rachel. One of the patients, a co-worker or somebody else entirely, until he knew more everybody was a suspect.
In a calm moment Rachel chatted easily with another nurse over a coffee, she joked with one of the doctors and when things got hectic she barked out orders, sure and confident, showing that she'd done this job for fifteen years now and knew what she was doing. As far as John could tell, she was good at her job.
She may not be the type to put down roots but the woman John observed was self-confident and had found her place in life. Nothing he saw indicated a reason why her number had come up.
"Any luck with the patients and the co-workers, Finch?" John asked but by now he doubted this had something to do with the hospital. It could be more helpful to see what she did in her spare time.
"So far nothing, Mr. Reese." Came Harold's prompt answer. "But I keep looking."
So will I, was the unspoken response on John's end.
"Here, you look like you could need one." Rachel came over and offered him a cup of coffee. "This can be pretty confusing at first." With her own cup she gestured at the files John had in front of him.
"I hope it gets better over time." John accepted the coffee. "But the people here are nice."
He wasn't sure what she thought he was doing here but as long as she didn't call him out on it, John played along.
"They are." She came closer with a grin. "Don't worry, nobody's going to bite your head off."
"And the patients?" John prompted. "Any troublemakers?"
"Nah." She made and finished her coffee. "Not worse than elsewhere. Most of them try to be pretty calm, you know, to keep the blood pressure down. One stroke is more than enough."
She threw the empty paper cup in the trash, gave John a sympathetic pat on the forearm and went back to work.
They never knew if their number was a victim or the perpetrator, however, in this case it seemed pretty clear. John just needed to find out who he had to protect her from. And why.
John knew he could be wrong. She could be too clean to be good, Elias came to mind.
When he watched her with the other nurses and doctors and with the patients everything about her screamed innocent woman who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Near the end of Rachel's shift two men entered the station. Both tall and dressed in neat suits they didn't look like they wanted to visit somebody. They had an aura of authority around them but they moved more like soldiers than paper pushers.
They went straight for the nurse's station and flashed their ID at Rachel.
Rachel made a call and while they waited the slightly shorter one of the two had a flirty eye on her. She didn't seem to mind and nothing in her posture suggested that she was uncomfortable with the situation so John kept his observing position. The other man just rolled his eyes and the way he swept the area told John he was more than just casually looking around while he waited.
John wasn't sure what to make out of them but before he could do anything one of the doctors took the two men to his office.
"Who was that?" John asked Rachel when they were gone.
"CDC." She answered and the playful smile left her face.
"What do they want?"
"Didn't say." She chewed her bottom lip but shrugged it off when one of the patients gave her a call. "Sorry, gotta go." With that she hurried to get to the patient.
"Finch?" John asked, shifting his gaze from her to the closed door of the doctor's office. "The CDC has just arrived."
A/N Harold Finch's little speech at the beginning is from the actual intro of the show. He can explain the situation better than me.