A.N.: I honestly had this idea watching the first conversation between these two in the pilot episode. The idea kind of boiled over the past few weeks and then this popped out. Hope you enjoy (also, I have no idea what Jessica's last name was so I gave her one)!

Disclaimer: Nolan and Abrams own it all, I can only borrow the characters for my own non-profit gain.


Like everything else involving the Machine, it started with a number. That number led to a man. That man led to a mystery.

Miles away, in his comfortable seat behind the monitors, Finch watched as the gang members turned their attention to the bum in the back of the train. A customary flash of fearful doubt momentarily sent a spark of pain shooting along his spine as they moved to surround him. He ignored it though, intent on watching the events as they were to unfold.

It had been nine weeks since the number of the man who called himself John Reese was brought to his attention. The identity originally belonging to the number had, of course, been long since dead and buried. As the country lost a loyal soldier the CIA had gained a well-trained specialist. Several years of (mostly) blotted out reports (the ones he could get his hands on) told Finch the story of a dangerous albeit perpetuatly loyal man performing un-nameable actions for the good of his country. But it wasn't until the end of that chapter in his life that things became interesting.

Suddenly and inexplicably, Mr. Reese went from go-to man of his division to missing and presumed dead. A disappearance coming at the tail end of the un-solved murder of his CIA handler and (Finch eventually deduced) the woefully incomplete police report into the death of a Ms. Jessica Williamson.

Now, after tedius amounts of research and long nights with his self-designed facial recognition software, Finch had finally found him. In truth, he had found him weeks ago and managed to keep an eye on his movements by tapping into the city's various monitering systems. Reese had not made it easy for him. His training and current state (intentional or not) did not lend itself to remaining in the radar for long.

Finch watched as the leader of the group reached for the bottle in Reese's hand. Without realising he was doing so, the billionare held his breath, once again ignoring the pain his tension was causing. He doubted this event was the one the Machine was warning him against. There was always an intent behind the patterns it saw as oppose to random chance. Of course, that had never stopped chance from intervening to help destiny along. Finch had learned that lesson the hard way.

Not for the first time, he wondered why the Machine had chosen this man? It was presumptuous to assume he wasn't a target for danger. There was no guarantee his status as a dead man would hold forever; though Finch had taken discreet actions to ensure it would last as long as possible. Despite his training making him more then qualified for dealing with the internal scuffles of the city's forgotten citizenry, Reese was still human. He could be hurt or killed. Even now, though, his ability to defend himself (leaving the gang members injured but alive) put insurmountable doubt on that scenario. It was easy (and equally presumptuous) to assume he might be the culprit of a future crime, but Finch doubted that was the case. Save in self-defense, Reese had made no overtly hostile actions or plots towards anyone. In fact, the only danger Reese seemed to pose was to himself. A man driven in his one-man-quest to drink himself to death.

No, the workings behind the Machine's choice were far more complicated then simple life and death. Finch wasn't sure yet if that thought scared him or not. He would probably analyze it more directly at a later date. What mattered now was protecting Mr. Reese. Though he never would or most probably never could vocalize why, Finch knew he could not fail this time. He could not fail this man. And even as he monitored the calls to the police and watched as the officers rounded up the gang members followed by the man as still and patient as Jesus Christ, a small thought began to form. What if (implications aside)...what if the Machine had set him on Reese's trail for a reason? What if, instead of crime and the dangers inherent in everyday life, the Machine had a particular intent for driving them together? What if (hypothetically) each was meant to save the other from themselves?