Specific spoilers for 1.11, 1.14 and 1.17. Most of the dialogue comes from those episodes.
"Turn around, Detective," he tells her. After spotting him in the window at the bar, she stares and then hangs up the pay phone.
Walking to his table just inside the bar, Carter looks like she's going to smile for a moment. It's not the reaction he expected, considering the circles he had her running in all day in order to meet here. Finch, on the other hand, can't decide whether to look away or glare. Neither is satisfactory. He understands exactly why she made the choice to call the CIA; it doesn't make it feel like less of a betrayal, though.
He's been listening to her conversations and examining her work for weeks now - in part because of the danger posed to her when the Machine gave them her number, in part to mitigate what she might find about John Reese. Harold has to admit that part of his anger is directed at himself, for not guessing that she would go to the CIA when she did.
"How's your friend?" asks Carter.
When he doesn't answer, she flashes a sarcastic smile. "You're going to have to tell me something. Like who the hell are you and what exactly is going on here."
This is the step Harold has been debating all day, even after he laid the trail that would bring her here. He tells her about learning to swim - a true story, but not his. Nathan told him about his older brothers tossing him into a pool decades ago; it seems a fitting analogy for the situation.
It's not just her, though. He's tossing himself and Reese into that same pool by meeting with her, by giving her information about the next number.
Time to jump in. "You see that man, detective?" Following his line of sight, she turns her head to look at the man at the bar. "His name is Derek Watson, thirty-nine years old. Eighteen months ago he lost his job. He tried to keep up with the mortgage as best he could, but the money ran out eventually. Lost his house and his wife left soon after. Derek Watson is about to be involved in a violent crime. I don't know what exactly, but believe me, something is going to happen."
He's reassured when her reaction is just as he anticipated: a skeptical laugh. "You can't know that," she says.
He knows a lot more than she'll ever find out. It all came together perfectly: Watson showing up at the bar rather than staying at home this evening, Carter arriving without anyone following her. Judging by the man's jacket she's wearing instead of her usual tailored coat, this took effort. Finch is pleased at how well the plan worked, even as he still questions letting her in.
"Did you bring your service weapon, Detective? Sorry to toss you into the deep end. But as you know, my friend is indisposed."
Finch stands up and walks away; he'll need to keep tabs on her as well as help Reese with Trask's number.
John asked him to keep an eye on Carter while he was 'resting up.' He didn't specify how.
A full schedule again today: his attention is divided between rebuilding his computer system, using the pseudonym Wren to play the mostly enjoyable role of doting uncle to Will, catching up at that office, watching Fusco tracking him, and trying to stay on top of the information about their current number.
He expected John Reese to have questions about him, about the Machine, but he hadn't expected so many. In Finch's experience, people rarely learned... and slowly, at that. So Reese gained at least one thing from his time working for the government: question who is giving the orders. His curiosity is a sign of personal growth; however, it could become problematic.
As for the current number, Reese is making more dubious choices than Harold would have liked - although even without the distractions on his time, he isn't sure how he could have stopped John from offering to help Darren McGrady get justice for his brother's murder.
Harold has a lot to catch up on, but he listens in anyway when Carter calls Reese. She says, "You and I need to talk."
"In the middle of something, Carter," answers Reese.
"I heard about your little traffic accident. What have you gotten that kid mixed up in?" A good question indeed.
"Don't worry, he wasn't in the car." John sounds almost cavalier; Harold knows that isn't the case, but he's not sure the man is planning ahead far enough. Something he didn't foresee when he recruited Reese - the depth of the emotional connection the man forms with so many of the people they're trying to help. It's both an asset and a drawback.
"That boy is a minor. You're responsible for his welfare." Though her voice remains even, Carter's frustration is unmistakable.
"You still have Brick?"
"Yeah, Womack thinks I released him last night. What about that other guy you slammed into last night?"
"He's about to debrief us on Travis McGrady's murder."
Carter isn't breaking the law by keeping Brick in custody - not yet, anyway - but she's going against her captain's direct order. Finch has observed her bend the rules before. That moral compass John admires in Carter doesn't mean she's inflexible; she's not the paragon of perfection that John sees. Yes, her motivations are unclouded by desire for personal gain, but the pedestal Reese has her on means that he hasn't noticed how pragmatic she can be.
Finch's own resentment at what he saw as Carter's betrayal burned brightly, but he finally let go of that. It fascinates him that the two police officers they're using as assets create a reflection of Reese's own character. Carter's courage and impetuousness - not to mention the tendencies to charm and intimidate in turn - and Fusco's loyalty and obedience.
Harold wonders whether Fusco's next move will be connected to him, or to the McGrady case. He'll have to use another tactic to evade the detective before Will has his meeting with Alicia Corwin. Finch would like to be there to listen in to that particular conversation.
The only way Finch could get Leila to stop crying was to hold her - not easy on a good day. Today hasn't been a good day, nor was yesterday. He can put behind him the difficulties of travelling with a large truck, a crying child and no baby supplies; the stress on his body isn't so easily ignored. Nonetheless Harold keeps Leila close to his chest as he limps into the library and contacts John.
"Are you there, Mister Reese?"
After a moment John answers. "I'm here. So's Carter."
Finch's first reaction is relief, but then Reese says, "Oh no."
Finch listens to Detective Carter make the request for an ambulance to be sent to the safe house; then she says, "Officer down with a gunshot to the abdomen. I repeat, officer down."
Reese asks what is uppermost in Finch's mind: "Moretti?"
"They got him," Carter replies. "How did Elias know?"
"I told him. I had to give up the safe house to save the baby."
"John, why were you even talking to Elias?" Carter's voice is quiet, her tone stunned.
"I had no choice. We lost the kid." Finch closes his eyes for a moment as he appreciates the warmth and weight of Leila in his arms.
Carter takes a quick breath. "You say there was no choice. But there was, John. It's called the police. It's what we do." She pauses before adding, "I can't do this anymore. I can't. You and-and your friend. I'm sorry." Her voice trembles, something he's never heard in their conversations before.
Harold feels no compunction about listening in. Right now he wishes - not for the first time - that he had video as well. No verbal response from Reese; Harold doesn't know how the man is reacting.
"Go on," Carter says. "This place'll be swarming." Still no response from Reese; Carter repeats the order for him to leave.
Another couple of seconds pass before Finch hears Reese's footsteps. Already sirens are sounding in the background.
Leila has a serious look on her face - a mirror of Finch's reaction, and then she starts chewing her fingers again.
John asked Finch to look after Carter when he was recuperating from the gunshot wounds she was partly responsible for causing. The attachment has only grown stronger since then. Perhaps it stems from their shared experiences: both spent time in the military, both lost someone they loved.
Her husband's death didn't break her, possibly because she had a child depending on her. Paradoxically, that strength makes her far less useful to him than John Reese is. Finch could never recruit and use her the way he employs Reese.
He assumes that Reese is returning to the library, but the man still isn't talking. Balancing Leila on the desk top, Finch turns on the microphone to Carter's cell. He listens as she tells Szymanski to hold on, that his daughter needs him. She doesn't speak again until the paramedics enter.
Finch isn't drawn to the detective the way Reese is, but he regrets this break. He could have predicted it, though. Reese and Carter had this pattern of behavior: he would start something, Carter would complain about it with good reason, and then Reese would succeed thanks to luck, talent and sheer nerve.
Leila is safe in Harold's arms, but this isn't an unqualified success. After she starts to fuss again, Finch goes to prepare a bottle for her.
He'll need to track what John does about Carter. Perhaps Reese will find a way to persuade her to work with them again, but Finch has good reason to distrust some of John's rash choices. Would it be better to let her stay away? She's too curious, too willing to ask questions. But she already knows about them and she is, in fact, useful.
They could use some kind of leverage to force her to help again, but it would be preferable to find the right case to pull her back in, like he did when he first recruited Reese. Finch had chosen Diane Hanson's number because of her resemblance to Jessica.
It's only a matter of time, he thinks. Something will lead Carter back to them soon enough.