When Harold and Grace land at JFK, Harold releases a breath he did not know he had been holding perhaps for all their months in Italy. He may be from Iowa but New York City has always felt like his real home, the place he was always meant to be. The city skyline welcomes him like an old friend, like a memorial to every person he misses.
Grace chuckles at his new identity. "Raven? Like a writing desk?"
He smiles. "I suppose I have a bird affinity."
She raises her eyebrows. "What, are there more? Are you also 'Harold Swan?'"
"Actually, I did use Mr. Swan once to inform the NYPD about an illegal gambling ring."
Grace laughs out loud. Harold does not find quite the right moment to tell her that 'Harold Martin' was an alias too. The name 'Martin' jumps out far less as bird related than some of his others.
Harold and Grace's return to New York took less time and planning than the usual transcontinental move would take.
Harold searched for some sort of residence while Grace gave notice and wrapped up all her current projects at Palazzo Pitti. The two of them could easily live in either a house or an apartment. The only 'hoarding' between them are Grace's paintings. Harold spent so much time changing names, moving into secret bases or fleeing from some sort of threat against his life that little personal possessions remain to him. He wondered if it would be safe to return to the library, regain some of his first editions. However, the site was likely still under some sort of NYPD observation. Then again, the war ended. All he has left to fear now is a treason charge he has run from most of his life.
Just for some sort of whim or maybe he had a suspicion, Harold checked on the status of Grace's old house, the one they shared for a few years.
"It's on the market?" Harold started in surprise as Grace spoke over his shoulder looking at the laptop screen. "Can you believe that?" She made a surprised noise. "I just left it with a real-estate company when I had to run. Did it not sell?"
It was too convenient. Harold hacked into Trulia and Zillow to learn more. Through the posting real-estate firm, he found a corporate name on the lease which proved to be a shell corporation. As he dug through the financial records of the shell corporation, He already knew the answer.
"Thornhill Industries," Harold whispered.
Had the Machine saved their home this whole time or was this another part of Her final deal with John? Did the two of them set up a perfect life for Harold to return to? Harold wondered how far this deal between them went? How often beyond the worn transcripts in Harold's drawer did the two of them speak to each other?
Harold put in an inappropriately low offer on the house – he needed to be sure. It was accepted the next day.
"We have a house, Grace," Harold told her, "your house."
Grace smiled at him. "Our house." Then she laughed. "Home sweet home."
The house the Machine held in trust for them. Harold wondered just how many steps ahead She planned. (He also considered a second option).
When Grace abandoned the United States, she left a friend in charge of moving all her things into storage – furniture, boxes of memories, flower pots, old paintings, everything she left behind. Grace kept up the payment on the storage facility so, when the two of them return, furnishings wait only to be unpacked.
"I think my taste has been influenced by Italy," Grace says as the two of them start to work on unpacking the boxes sent from the storage site. "Maybe we should go antique shopping."
Harold only nods absently. He did not realize how unsettling it would feel to stand inside this house once more. John stood here more recently than Harold did. What did John think about Harold's past life just from this house? How did four walls change Harold in John's eyes?
"Oh god, I found my lake period." She pulls a canvas out of a boxy portfolio. "I went through about six months where I wanted to capture every type of lake; something about still water and light on the surface." She huffs as she looks at the painting. "I don't think I ever sold a one."
Harold stares at the empty walls; he remembers every specific painting of Grace's which hung on the walls. He sees a line on the floor made by Grace's easel from years of shifting over the same two inches. He sees a nick in the doorframe to the study where Harold remembers hitting a chair he carried once. The small table by the front door already stands back in place, no wrapping to remove, and ready to receive their keys after Harold coming home from IFT or Grace from a freelance meeting.
"You plan on helping out, Harold?" Grace asks as she starts to pull plastic and movers tape off of the couch. "If you'd rather be on your computer we still have to order some things for the kitchen. I didn't keep all of that."
Harold feels nauseous. "It's like we turned the clock back five years."
Grace pushes hair out of her face as she stands up straight. "What?"
"It's exactly the same." Harold looks over at her. "Like I never… like I never lied to you." Harold shakes his head. "I made you leave this, your life."
Grace crosses her arms. "Yes, you did." Harold swallows once. "But it's what happened. We can't change that now."
"And you never knew why."
Grace frowns at him. Then she tilts her head. "After those men, after… well I guess you do have to call it a kidnapping." She huffs a laugh. "After that and when all their questions were about you." She shrugs. "I don't know, I thought there must be something more. You always had secrets."
Harold remembers John and Ms. Shaw finding him sitting on the stoop of the house after his futile attempt to warn her.
"And that tall man, the fake detective and his friend. For them to suddenly scoop me up, arrive with a new name for me and a new life." Grace sighs as she paces around the couch closer to him. "Maybe I thought you had some CIA connections or something."
Harold laughs breathlessly. "Not too far off the mark."
"Maybe not. But I didn't spend too much time thinking about it because I would never know. You were dead."
"And that's why you should be angry with me Grace, you could have known!" Harold insists. "You should have known. You should be angry."
Grace frowns. "I'm going to get angry if you keep telling me what I 'should' feel."
"I…" Harold sighs then takes a step toward her and grips her hand. "I don't understand how you cannot be angry with me."
Grace purses her lips. "I was angry, back then, angry that the world would take you from me when it was so unlikely that we found each other at all." She lets his hand go. "Before you I'd reached a point in my life where I expected to be alone. I was fine with that. I know society thinks women can't be." She snorts. "I've always been a loner. But to have you and then lose you, at first it felt like an injustice. But… well, like I said when you came back," She smiles, "I'd rather have had you even if it was just those four years."
"But it's one thing to be angry at the world, that's a concept," Harold says carefully. "I'm real. I'm a real person who betrayed you." His voice lowers. "I want you to angry with me. I deserve it."
Grace shakes her head. "Harold, I don't want to waste time being angry with you. I used up that pain years ago. I want to move forward." She raises her eyebrows. "I choose to be happy."
"Choose to be happy?" Harold repeats.
"You can hold on to anger or let it go," Grace explains. "You can react one way or another. You can allow yourself to be happy or shut yourself down with despair." She sounds like a philosopher and now Harold smiles a little. "I am not wasting my life, Harold. I want to be happy. So I will be."
She nods. "And you should too."
Harold nods back at her. "I may not find that as easy as you seem to, Grace." Her smile lessens. "But… I have lost many people in my life." He stares at her eyes, eyes that always meet his, that do not shrink from hardship and believe in forgiveness over pain. Harold smiles. "At least I got you back."
"And I'm keeping you, Harold. You can't leave me again." Harold knows she does not mean physically.
"You can be angry with yourself if you like," Grace says. "But if you really want to make it up to me, then you have to live and stay and be glad to be with me." She whispers. "And not disappear."
"I know there are five years' worth of time and pain and where you have been, what all happened still in there, Harold; You're waiting, mourning I think, but this time you can't wait forever. Everyone is allowed secrets but you know which ones you need to tell me." She tilts her chin up. "I think I'm allowed some demands now."
Harold swallows once and nods, not trusting his voice.
"Florence is over." She waves a hand in the air between them. "We are back in New York. I want to start our life again, all right?"
Her meaning is unmistakable, at least to him. Harold needs to figure out how to move on because she is waiting right in front of him. This time she won't wait forever. Harold nods again. "All right."
Harold starts rebuilding a self. He collects the various aliases only known to Samaritan. (Harold looks into Decima's organization to ensure its proper demise, dissolution of any real presence, and finds traces of familiar code). Harold has a number of names and assets which can be reclaimed. Harold spends a few weeks coordinating bank transactions, moving money into investments for Harold Raven while others go into new bank accounts. He bankrupts old aliases while building up Harold Raven. He sells a brownstone belonging to Harold Crane and a condo belonging to Harold Gull. (He notices how the transfers go through just a bit too smoothly, less questions than there should be).
Harold sells the condo which used to belong to Nathan. His mourning period for Nathan matched his estrangement from Grace, though he would not have called it such during those years. If any pain deserves release, it is Nathan. Nathan would have asked him why he waited so long. (Harold notices how the condo sells for fifteen percent more than it should).
Grace finds work with The Boroughs Magazine again, entirely on her own merit and history with the publication. Harold decides not to tell her about some of his past influence.
"They want the Hudson river." She smiles at him in a sad way. "I should pick the spot where we met."
Harold makes his own meeting with IFT.
"Harold?" Monica Jacobs stares at him in surprise as Harold walks into her office. "I…" She laughs once. "I'll be honest, I never thought I would see you again."
"I think most people who meet me think that."
She stands up from her desk and comes to shake his hand in the door. "I still can't thank you –"
"No need," Harold says. "You seem to be doing well at IFT. The new OS designs are elegant."
She grins with pride. "It is an excellent company; perhaps not as quick in pushing the boundaries as I would like but I'm working on that. Bureaucracy exists everywhere."
"It certainly does. Good luck."
He turns to leave but Monica's voice stops him. "Wait. What are…" She glances out through the glass walls of her office. "Should I be worried? Is something wrong here like with…."
Harold shakes his head. "No, not at all. I simply have a meeting to attend."
She frowns. "A meeting, with who?"
Harold resurrects Harold Wren if only to give a face to the name. While Harold and the rest of the team hid from Samaritan, Harold's 'Harold Wren' alias did not die so much as becomes inactive. His investments and silent partnership in the company stayed in place only inaccessible to Harold due to AI observation. Now, he can recoup his position and the small amount of influence he provided in the company. Harold preferred the sidelines; Nathan was the one with grace and charm and a public face.
Harold reminds the board of the silent partner name on their books from the inception with Nathan Ingram.
"I am not bringing myself to your direct attention to take over any sort of management," Harold admonishes. "I simply wish to change some of the arrangements."
He removes Harold Wren from the docket and puts Harold Raven in place instead. However, he slides in a few other names as shareholders under his partner umbrella including Detective Fusco, Ms. Shaw and, of course, Grace. (And when Harold accesses the IFT database he notices changes, shifts in code in new products and alterations to IFT historical files; the name 'Harold Wren' beside Nathan's in the founder file).
"Some of our first software, the giants from the eighties," a forty-something board member asks, "those were yours, weren't they?" Harold only smiles at him. Then the forty-something asks, "Do you know what happened with the company in 2001?"
Harold's smile tightens and he glances up at a security camera. Then he looks back to the man and hands him a sealed envelope. "The next time Will Ingram visits the office give him this." Harold looks at the letter for a moment. "I imagine he will be rather angry but tell him I'll be waiting if he wants to see me."
Securing their future is the easy part; finding new jobs, painting and programing and investments rebuilt, moving money and property around. The hard part is saying goodbye.
Harold stands in a section of graveyard with every white stone the exact same size, large enough to fit a number and nothing more. The grave stone in front of Harold reads 050313; Ms. Groves' grave.
"Root," Harold corrects himself out loud.
He may have used her legal name as a shield for a time; a farce of his own etiquette in order to protect himself from the traumatic past between them. Yet, if he has the right to choose his own name, many times over, then Root has the right to choose hers.
The grass around the graves is recently cut. No flowers or mementoes of the deceased lie on these uniform graves. Harold glances at the other numbers which try to reorder themselves into dates under his scrutiny instead of basic cataloging. Harold cannot decide if Root would care that her place of rest labels her numerically instead of by name.
"Perhaps you would say it matters more who visits your grave or who continues to remember you."
Is that not true for all people? Once those who remember you are all gone, who visits your grave regardless of the name carved in the stone? Perhaps human beings place too much stock in burial rituals. On the other hand, Harold has heard it said that how we treat our dead is what differentiates us from less evolved creatures. Perhaps that is why she is given a headstone to mark her space in the earth. Even the unnamed deserve a grave.
"But you are remembered, Root," Harold says.
Harold glances up at the surrounding graveyard. He sees a man sitting by a grave in the distance, too far to see much more than that clearly. The air chills Harold's bones through his coat which feels appropriate for a farewell.
Harold breathes in deeply then clears his throat. "I know I never told you this, and perhaps you never felt it was needed, but..." Harold breathes out slowly and smiles in a tight line. "For everything that happened when we first met, everything you did... I forgive you."
Harold smiles again, more real, more for the Root he grew to know and care for then for the Root she started as. Then he turns on his heel and walks away from her grave without looking back.
He walks through the lines of stone, past names and dates which hold no meaning for him until he passes by the caretakers shed. Something moves as he passes by. Harold pauses and glances at the shed. A camera on the top corner of the roof points in his direction. Harold stares at it for a moment then turns and walks on toward the gate.
Harold sits with Grace in Washington Square Park; she paints him in his chair, their house in the scenery behind him. He thinks about the tea stand he frequented with John standing beside him, 'Sencha Green' written on the side of Harold's cup. The tea vendor is long since gone now and so is John, ghosts in the air.
"Harold?" Harold's eyes tick to Grace. "You can move if you want now."
He smiles, only shifting slightly as he watches her paint. He promised her answers, promised her his secrets but he has one thing left to do.
Harold stands beside a bench under the bridge in Queensbridge Park. The last time he stood here, the five of them prepared for the final battle with their foe. However, that time is not the one Harold thinks about now. He thinks about long before, when all they worked to save were the numbers and only two of them stemmed the tide alone; when it was just Finch and Mr. Reese, not Harold and John.
Harold side steps once then sits down on the bench. "I know this isn't a grave yard or even…" Harold blows out a breath. "Or even where you last were but… well, it's where we first really met, John."
The bench feels familiar like an old friend though he has only sat on it less than a handful of times. A green metal guard rail blocks the embankment from the rest of the park. Harold recalls when he and John first sat here the fence had yet to be put in. At the time, the visitors to the park were protected from the water by unsightly cement barriers instead.
Harold chuckles once. "A lot has changed."
Their first case started with Harold zip typing John to a bed, manipulating his emotions and John slamming him up against a wall for the trouble. Not strictly the best of starts but they won the day on that first try. It was after that first number when they sat right here together, side by side; Harold promised not to lie to John and told him they would both probably wind up dead.
"I don't know what to say to you, John," Harold says. "We both had a chance at good byes, hurried though they were and under duress. We both wasted those moments trying to stop the other from what we planned." Harold smiles. "I think maybe you won out on eloquence if we compare the two; not usually your strong suit but as last words go, I..." Harold has to stop and take two breaths before he can speak again. "I think they were good ones."
"I think about you a lot. Not really surprising. We were all each other had for a while. Not to mention what you did for me on that roof." Harold rubs his hands over his thighs, staring at the water. "You said you wanted to pay me back all at once. You should know you never needed to. We saved each other enough times. I wasn't keeping a ledger, though maybe you were. Maybe you knew all along that it was borrowed time and you just needed the right moment to finish what time I supposedly gave you."
Harold swallows a lump in his throat, breathes out and shakes his head. "But that wasn't it, John. I didn't give you that time; all I gave you was an option. You are the one that chose it." Harold huffs a breath. "You never gave yourself enough credit."
Harold wipes a tear from his face. Then he pulls off his glasses and fists them in one hand. He looks at the blurry world around him, soft edges and just an impression of the city beyond the water. He thinks this is what the roof top felt like, not quite believable as reality. Then he unclenches his hand and puts his glasses back on his face.
"John, for… for a time you were the most important thing to me and I know… I know you thought it didn't matter if you lived or died, that you could just be the one who was shot and left behind but until you left me no option I never let that happen. I hope you remembered that. I hope you remembered that I always came for you, you…" Harold sighs. "You weren't just a trigger finger or an agent or… you were a friend when I had nothing. You might have thought you were low when I found you but I was in a cage I built for myself and you let me out."
Harold shakes his head. "I'm not…" He sighs again. "I'm not saying this right." He sighs heavily in frustration. "Maybe I don't know what I really want to say. I'm better at lying than telling the truth." He laughs. "Maybe that says something too."
Harold reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out an envelope. He opens the envelope and pulls out familiar folded pieces of paper with blood spots on them. He unfolds them once but folds them right back up again without reading them.
"You and the Machine, you cared for me and you saved me. So thank you for that. Perhaps you would say I should remember I have worth in your eyes as well." Harold taps the edge of the pages on his palm. "I never thought myself necessarily unworthy of life, just that I should finish what I began. But you wanted me to live so I will. That's what I'm doing."
Harold looks down at the pages for a moment. He wonders if the blood is a Rorschach test which could tell the truth of his feelings, of his past, of his reasons, of his John lost to him now.
"I have to say goodbye to you, John." He thumbs a corner of the pages. "Goodbye doesn't mean forgetting though." He looks up at the city across the river intently as if he could see John there, standing on a rooftop. "I will never forget you or stop thinking about you but… but goodbye means I have to stop living in that moment. I have stop remembering that you died but that you lived too and that matters more."
Harold's hand fists around the pages briefly. He blows out a breath and stands up from the bench. He walks across the grass and down to the fence by the river. A breeze blows and makes waves over the water's surface. Harold stares down at the pages. For a moment he wants to put them back in the envelope, turn around and walk away with the memories still held too tightly. Then he rips the pages and envelope in half. He slides the two halves on top of each other and rips them again. He presses his lips together tightly as he stares at the torn paper. Then he flings the remains into the river, the wind taking them far enough so they hit the water instead of the muddy shore.
"Goodbye, John," Harold says. "Thank you for everything, for agreeing to work with me, for staying, for coming back, for believing in me, in Her, in…" He shakes his head. "Just thank you. I hope death brings you some peace and I hope I brought you some in life… because you did for me."
Harold watches the ripped pieces of paper for a moment as they soak up the river water and begin to sink. It is not a proper grave but neither is Root's and neither is Harold's. It is, however, a place of memory and Harold hopes somehow it means something. As the pieces of paper start to disappear, Harold forces himself to turn around and walk away.
As Harold nears the park path, he looks up at a surveillance camera mounted on a post. He stands still for a moment then he smiles up at the camera – at Her still alive and still watching.
"Thank you," he says.
When he reaches the path, Harold steps up beside Grace waiting for him. He takes her hand firmly in his.
"Grace, I want to tell you about some people who were very important to me." He glances at the river. "One especially who maybe I saved but…" Harold finds himself smiling as he turns back to Grace. "I believe in a way he saved me too and not just at the end."
Grace gives him a quizzical look then nods. "Good, tell me everything."
Harold leans forward, kisses her once then turns them both away from the river – from the memory of a first meeting and this final goodbye. They walk down the road, hand in hand, and Harold lives.