Title: Never Been Alright-er

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: PG/K+

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not.

Summary: It's astounding that the evening had ended without more severe consequences. 500 words.

Fandom: Person of Interest, 1.18 - "Identity Crisis"

Notes: I know, I know, I'm late posting this. Title from the episode. Really interesting, comparing the end-scene of this episode to half a dozen episodes ago...


A life spent minimizing his own footprint- and deliberately exposing that of others to scrutiny- has left Finch, as Reese is so aware, a very private person. Information is power, in a very real sense, in their digitized world; and he who controls that information controls people. The case of Jordan Hester is but one of the more blatant examples of that maxim in modern society.

Yet even the information available to the all-seeing eye of the Machine has its limits; even a man who has spent his entire adult life manipulating such power cannot always remain at the helm. It had taken him longer than it perhaps should have to learn that lesson; taken Nathan's death, his own injuries, and the Irrelevant List to teach him. But he had not been able to stop trying to give the power available to him purpose; and that had led him to Reese. And ultimately, this latest loss of control.

When the false Jordan had drugged him, he'd lost control of himself. There is a reason Finch does not drink to excess; a reason he avoids recreational pharmaceuticals and refuses pain medication beyond the minimum amount necessary to function. The Ecstasy had stripped that last defense from him; and as a result, his life, his identity, and things he held still dearer had all been put at risk. It's astounding that the evening had ended without more severe consequences than mere loss of dignity and increased physical discomfort the next morning.

And yet. There are cultures that use mind-altering substances as a means of achieving enlightenment; and he has, indeed, been enlightened as a result of this latest misadventure.

The fact that he'd been in a position to be drugged in the first place... Finch had not even argued with Reese that morning when the man he'd employed to act for him had casually directed him to act. How many times between Nathan's death and employing Reese had he exposed himself to physical danger? And how many, since? Among how many other ways knowing Reese has changed him?

While the ebullience and urge to communicate induced by the drug had resulted in an offer to hack the Pentagon for Fusco, around John, he hadn't simply been gregarious and easily amused: he'd been open in a way he'd only really allowed himself to be for one other person. He would have answered any question John asked- had even begged him not to leave. That was more intimacy than he'd ever intended for this partnership.

But John's refusal to take advantage has revealed one additional thing: an answer to a question that has been on his mind for some time. When Finch had been completely vulnerable, Reese's first impulse had not been to look out for his own interests: he had protected him.

That is one piece of information the Machine could never have given him, and may even- once the lingering effects pass, at least- render the experience a not entirely unfortunate event.

-x-