Removing All Doubt
Tag to Pilot and spoilers for Risk 1.16
As usual I'm late to the fandom, but this has become my new obsession and I'm binge watching this awesome show with great intensity. As always, these characters and world does not belong to me, I'm just playing. Hope you enjoy it and don't forget to let me know what you think.
Harold Finch sat at his computer and sipped at his tea while he reflected on the events of the last few days. He wanted to be enormously happy, after all, he no longer had to impotently watch as The Numbers met their fate, a life had been saved, but the question was at what cost?
He knew why they'd assumed Diane Hansen was the victim. It would have been more straightforward that way, a damsel in distress that they could swoop in and rescue from the clutches of evil. Harold had to admit, that despite believing himself to be a modern man and a feminist, it was a far easier scenario to swallow, becoming the protector of a tough yet vulnerable woman. He knew his new partner had made the same assumptions, based on the same unconscious bias.
But reality had been quite different and it had been a harsh wake up call; that seemingly innocent victims would be not what they seemed, the cops could not always be trusted and women were just as capable of being cold-hearted killers. Considering Mr Reese's previous history with a certain ex-partner of his, this was something that they should both have been aware of, but was easy to forget when being caught up in the role of hero. The whole scenario had Harold feeling quite discombobulated, and the realities of just what they were trying to accomplish were slowly sinking in.
No, suffice it to say, things had not gone as planned, and it was clear that it would be naive to think they would in the future. Which in a roundabout way, was Finch's self-justification for what he was doing now.
Of course he'd done his research on his latest employee, but his performance over the last few days had been both exemplary and wholly unsatisfying. Yes, they'd solved the case, rescued Wheeler and made sure Hansen was convicted for her crimes, but he'd also killed a cop and acquired a dirty detective as an accomplice. Neither of those things had Mr Reese discussed with him before implementing and they both had Harold feeling very uncomfortable indeed. When Harold had handed over the cash that was to be Mr Reese's first pay check, he'd almost cut ties with him then and there.
Instead he'd decided to see what the homeless veteran would do with the money, telling himself that his spying was necessary to get the measure of the man he'd shared at least some of his secrets with. So that was what he was doing now, watching him on the security feed from the NYPD traffic camera down in Brooklyn, listening to him by tapping into the new phone he had given him.
The man had been given enough money to get a room anywhere in the city, in fact he'd been given enough to lease an apartment and the fake IDs to do it, so why he'd tracked all the way back to skid row was beyond the comprehension of the immaculately dressed smaller man.
Once there, Finch had been incredibly disappointed to watch Reese disappear into a liquor store. It took only a minute to hack into the stores cameras and watch him buy sandwiches, prepackaged pasta salads a carton of orange juice and a fifth of bourbon. He smiled at the cashier and made a light joke about the football game that was playing on a television. He looked for all the world like someone who had just had a long day at the office, not spent the last four months sleeping on a pallet in an abandoned warehouse.
Harold sighed to himself, "well, you may be an alcoholic but at least you're trying to avoid scurvy."
When Reese came out Harold was expecting him to move on but he just stood on the corner as though he was waiting for someone.
Harold rolled his eyes, "In that suit in that neighbourhood, you're looking to get robbed," he muttered. "Is that what you want? Would a fist fight make you feel better?" He was aware he was
talking aloud to an empty room, but he'd done it so often when designing The Machine, that it had become almost second nature. Besides, it kept the sometimes oppressive quiet of The Library at bay.
Eventually a middle-aged woman in a tatty brown coat and pushing a shopping cart walked up and almost walked right by him. He reached out his hand towards her but stopped short of actually touching. "Joan!" he said, his voice low, almost a whisper.
The woman stared at him a moment, clearly not recognising him clean shaven and suited. "John?" She said eventually. Harold couldn't see her face but she sounded happy to see him. "Look at you! I can't believe it."
"Listen, I came into some money. I want to pay you back for the last few months. Come with me."
Together the odd couple walked a few blocks until they came to a cheap motel, the kind Harold wouldn't be caught dead in. Reese told her to wait and went into the reception. As he did, cell phone service dropped out and Harold missed what was being said but he came back a few minutes later brandishing a key. He walked across the parking lot to a ground floor room on the far side, going to the door he unlocked it and stepped aside to let Joan in, shopping cart and all.
That was where Harold lost picture, so to compensate he turned up the microphone on the cell phone.
"I got us some food." Reese was saying to the sounds of the plastic bag from the liquor store rustling. "And I thought you could use a proper bed for a change. There's some bourbon too, I know you get jittery without it."
There was a tiny noise, like a sob coming from the woman, "John, I don't know what to say. You've always been so kind."
But then the tone of Reese's voice changed, "woah! No, no, Joan what are you doing?" He sounded horrified and upset.
"I thought you wanted..." Joan's voice sounded small and hollow.
"Joan, it's not about that. I've got my own room next door."
"Really?" Joan's voice sounded hopeful yet disbelieving. "Because most men want... I have no other way to pay you back."
"This is me paying you back remember?"
Joan burst into full blown sobs then. Harold imagined her sat on the edge of the bed, her head in her hands. "You've always been too good for this world John. How ever did you end up on the streets with the likes of me?"
Reese didn't answer that, just waited until the crying subsided before the sounds of packaging was being opened and they started to eat. Their conversation turned to various people they
knew from the warehouse, most with colourful nicknames like One-Eye Lenny and Ratface Rick. When Harold heard John turn down Joan's offer of the bourbon, he turned the microphone down and picked up a book, only half listening until eventually John wished his guest goodnight, telling her that she was welcome to stay as long as she liked, that the room was already paid for, and that he'd see her tomorrow. As he heard the door close and he briefly glimpsed Reese enter his own room, Harold switched the computer off and made his own preparations to go home, feeling decidedly better about his new employee.
He should have left it at that, Harold knew. It was unfair to keep spying on the man, but after years of watching other people's lives, it had become second nature and he'd found himself switching the tracking software back on.
They'd had a long day with a new number but this time had been a lot more straightforward than the last, it had been relatively easy to break up the underground gambling ring and prevent the organisers from taking what was owed to them in blood. Mr Reese had handed it over to the police after only a short though vicious fist fight and had slipped away without even being seen by the authorities.
Now he was back at the motel, a large package under one arm and a bag of Chinese takeout for two. Harold watched him knock at Joan's door and wait. There was no reply.
"Joan, it's me, John," he called, knocking again and putting his ear to the door. When there was still no reply he kicked at the door, high up, popping the lock expertly without even causing any damage, and strode into the room, package and takeout in one arm, drawing his sidearm with the other. A quick sweep of the room, although Harold couldn't see it, clearly came up empty and he was soon out of the door, locking it behind him.
Harold tracked Reese's movements as he wandered back to the warehouse that Harold knew he'd been living in and he walked in as though he belonged there. He asked a few people if they'd seen Joan and when everyone replied in the negative he left. Harold picked up his image once he was back out on the street and watched his purposeful mission as he went down to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The images were grainy in the dark, but The Machine knew who to follow and soon Harold was watching him sit down on a bench beside a woman and her shopping cart.
"Hey," Reese said quietly in greeting.
"Hey John." The woman's voice sounded meek, not the same voice that had laughed at him over dinner the night before.
"What happened to the motel?"
"Oh, I..." she sighed. "I didn't like it. I couldn't breathe in there."
Reese nodded and waited for her to elaborate.
"There were too many people, I could hear them all, could hear their thoughts, judging me, through the walls." She was getting quite worked up.
"I'm sure no one was judging you Joan." he replied calmly.
"They were. I could hear them. All of them. They were so loud. I told them to shut up and they wouldn't listen."
"Shh," Reese soothed. "Okay, it's okay. They're not here now."
"I'm sorry, I know you wanted to do something nice for me."
Reese shrugged, "That's okay. Is there anywhere I can take you where you would feel safe? A hostel? They have staff to look after you. A hospital maybe? You liked that nurse that one time at that clinic remember?"
She shook her head. "No, you know I hate those tablets John, they're trying to control my thoughts. I'm better off here."
Reese sighed in resignation but didn't seem frustrated. "Okay, well, I brought you some Chinese food. It's probably cold now as I've done a bit of a tour of Brooklyn tonight, but hopefully it'll still be good." He set the takeout down on the bench between them. "Got you something else too." He handed over the package.
Joan unwrapped it from its plastic bag and held it up for inspection. It was a pale blue long padded coat, ideal for the harsh winter.
"If you're going to be out here I at least want you to be warm." Reese explained. "There's a hat and gloves and warm socks too. Are you sure I can't tempt you with a hotel?"
"You're kind John. But no, I don't need you looking after me. Now, you should go get some rest. You look all beat to hell."
Reese didn't argue. Instead he fished into his pocket and scribbled something on a piece of paper. Harold already guessed what it was before he said anything.
"This is my new phone number. Hold onto it. If you ever need anything, no matter what it is, you can always call me okay?"
"You going to be my guardian angel John?" she smiled.
"I hope to be. It's kind of my new job description." He shrugged, before standing up to leave. Joan stood up with him and wrapped him in a strong hug. They stayed that way for a moment, both relishing in the physical contact, something Harold guessed was lacking in both their lives. When Reese pulled away, Harold couldn't see his expression, but he imagined that wan smile that never quite made it to his haunted eyes.
"I mean it!" he impressed upon her. "Any time."
"Look after yourself John." she called as he walked away, turning his collar up at the bitter wind coming in off the bay.
As Mr Reese left, Harold sat back in his chair, contemplating what he had just witnessed. He'd hired this man for his skill set, hoping that his guilt over Jessica and his need for redemption would be enough to motivate him. He'd found others before him, the military it seemed was good at turning out loners with a need for atonement, but for one reason or another they had never worked out. But as Harold watched his newest operative exit the park on his weary road to a cold motel bed, he knew he'd found who he was looking for.
"Thank you Mr Reese," he muttered to himself, "for removing all doubt."