Author's note: All of the dialogue in the first part of this is transcribed from the final scene of Cura Te Ipsum (1.04) of Person of Interest. I strongly suggest watching the whole episode if you haven't already seen it – it's a real cracker and this really won't mean much if you haven't seen it. The interpolations are my own interpretation of what's happening inside Andrew Benton's head. The alternate endings are original work, but the usual disclaimers apply: I don't own the characters and this is written purely for amusement.
Andrew comes back to consciousness slowly. At first unable to move, he's only aware of sitting in a straight backed chair. Light. His head's tilted back at an uncomfortable angle. Mouth dry and sticky. Ugh. He blinks his eyes open, shifts in the chair. A big window, morning light. Yachts on water. Seabirds calling. Opposite him, across a table, a man dozes in another chair, his hands in his lap.
"Where am I?" Andrew mumbles.
The man opens his eyes. He has a graze on one cheek. His stare is unfriendly, but then he shifts his gaze away, looking up at the sky out the window.
"That woman in my loft. She...tazed me." He's still forcing the words past the glue in his mouth.
The man huffs a breath out. "Don't worry, I told her to leave," he says softly. "She's not cut out for this. She fixes people. Not like us. We break 'em." The man shifts his gaze back towards Andrew and makes eye contact. It's a jolting feeling. There's no emotion at all in those blue eyes. It's like looking into the eyes of a tiger. He suddenly notices the gun on the table in front of the man.
"I don't understand. I'm, umm...Who...who are you?" He tries to make it sound like social niceties, like they've just met in a bar or some business meeting. I beg your pardon, have we met before? But his heart is beating faster.
The man's gaze has hardened. He's hardly moved, but suddenly he's become truly frightening. His silence is a threat in itself.
"What...what are you going to do to me?" He has a bad feeling, but surely things aren't what they seem. This is a nice place, clean and peaceful. The threat of violence must be a sham, some kind of unfunny joke.
"Honestly, I haven't decided yet." The words are flat, devoid of intonation. But those eyes...there's knowledge there, and a simple, comprehensive rejection.
"Let me ask you a question," says the man softly. "Do you think people ever really change?"
Andrew doesn't understand.
"I mean you, you hurt innocent people," the man continues. "And I...Well, for a long time I...killed people like you."
He can't quite believe this is happening. There must be some way out of this nightmare. He can negotiate, surely? Persuade, yes, he's good at persuading... "Please, I'm not who you think I am." Yes, yes, it's all a horrible mistake, you've got the wrong man... "This is a mistake."
For the first time there's a flicker of emotion in the man's eyes. Anger. He places his hands on the table. On either side of the gun.
"Wait, oh, wait..o- okay." The fear is growing. Something is going on here, something Andrew doesn't understand. His gaze is riveted on those two hands, placed very deliberately either side of the gun.
He nods his head vigorously, waves his hands in front of himself, trying to give this terrifying stranger what he wants. "I've done some things. Um... I've crossed some lines. But I won't do it again. I, I swear." There, let's be reasonable, we're both reasonable men, right? But there's no change of expression in the man's eyes. "Please. Let me go." The fear is still growing stronger, his heart hammering. There must be something he can say, some way to talk himself out of this situation...
That soft, calm voice again. "I could let you go. 'Cause you'd know for the rest of your life, that I'd be watching you."
He nods, relief washing through him. Maybe it's going to be okay, maybe he's off the hook.
"If you hurt anybody, I'd stop you," continues the man. "Maybe you could change." His gaze becomes less hostile, almost hopeful, but somehow even more scary, as though the man is gazing into far distances at something Andrew can't see. "And maybe so could I." Why are there tears in his eyes? "But the truth is, people don't really change, do they." It's a statement, not a question.
He has the sense that something is slipping away. He tries desperately to get it back. "No, they, uh, they can. I can, and, uh, you..." The man settles in his chair, listening politely, like someone listening to a child making their excuses. Oh God, this isn't working. A different approach.
"I, uh, I don't think that you're going to kill me." He tries for firm conviction in his tone.
"No?" The man looks genuinely interested.
"No, because, I can see inside that you're a...good person. You're a good man." There, that's how it works in the movies, right? The stone cold killer proves to have a heart after all, he just needs a little understanding and empathy from the victim. Empathy, project empathy.
The man gazes past him again, wry amusement softening his features. "Good? Huh." A hint of a grin, but then his smile fades, his eyes flickering down to the table, those hands either side of the gun. "I lost that part of myself a long time ago." The man swallows, moistens his lips. He's got that faraway look in his eyes again, as though searching for something, some dot on an inner horizon. "Not...sure if I can... find it...Not sure if it matters any more." The man's eyes flick up, making contact again, his expression open and friendly. "Maybe it's better this way."
Oh God. Andrew is shaking his head in denial. This can't be happening.
"Maybe it's up to me to do what the good people can't. Or maybe there are no good people. Maybe there are only good decisions." The stranger's expression has hardened again. His hands move closer to the gun.
"Please. You don't want to do something you're going to regret." He's babbling now, half crying.
"Which do you think I'll regret more - letting you live? Or letting you die?" The tone is that of earnest entreaty. "Andrew, help me make a good decision."
At last he understands. It's Judgment Day. Finally he has met someone who knows it all, who can't be persuaded or bullshitted. In a way there's a funny kind of relief. No more posing, no more pretending. Nothing worse can happen, now that the worst is here. He almost welcomes the bullet.
He's now completely lost for words. All he can do is gape and make little incoherent sounds of terror. But the hands leave the gun and reach into a pocket. There's something in the man's hand, and Andrew has a fraction of a second to recognise it as another taser. Then buzzing darkness claims him.
A long time passes. He's vaguely aware of noise, vibration. He's woken once or twice to drink something, and to piss. But always the darkness roars up again to engulf him.
But now he's groping his way back to full wakefulness. He's lying in a heap on a cold, hard surface. Everything feels dirty. His skin is slimy with old sweat and maybe worse things. He stinks. The whole place stinks. There's a babble of noise, voices shouting, singing, coughs. Stale cigarette smoke. As he prises his eyes open he can see a short stretch of cracked concrete floor, ending in metal bars. Feet outside the bars.
He blinks. His eyes track upwards: feet, trousers, a belt with a gun on it, sandy coloured uniform jacket. Flat brown face, black hair. The man says something to him... in Spanish? Andrew gapes. The guard changes to heavily accented English. "Awake now? Good. All the cocaine you had with you, you gonna be here a long, long time. Welcome to the rest of your life." He grins, spits and moves off.
Andrew rolls onto his back, taking in the rest of his cell. Five other men on bunks, some sleeping, some staring apathetically at him. But one sits up, leers at him and says something Andrew can't understand. The others laugh. The man gets up and moves toward Andrew, unbuckling his belt as he comes.