His cell echoes, magnifying the sound of every small move he makes. (There are no other people moving or speaking.) So he stays still, listening to his own breathing for lack of any other noise.
Almost seventy-two hours and whatever Finch arranged—a switch of the DNA samples, at the very least, since John wasn't a match—isn't enough to satisfy Donnelly.
"These men have all been classified as unlawful combatants by the AUMF. Until we can establish that they're not a threat to national security, they're not going anywhere."
John glances at Carter, who is watching Donnelly tell the warden to put them all back in their cells. The expression on her face makes it clear that she had no idea this was coming.
One of the guards moves behind John to cuff him. Out of the corner of his eye he can see Carter's mask go up just before Donnelly turns to talk to her.
A damn shame that Finch's machinations weren't enough to satisfy the FBI. Reese can't say he's surprised, though. Donnelly is capable; he would know that there are forces at work, that there are reasons his arrests have gone pear-shaped.
Finch, Carter, and Fusco: they're behind what's going wrong with Donnelly's case. At least the parts that pertain to him. Who knows if the other men arrested have anything more going for them than their cover stories?
John watches Carter as the guards cuff him; Donnelly whispers something to her and she keeps her face still, ostensibly calm.
Unlawful combatants. Carter. While John can't hear what Donnelly is saying to her, he can guess.
"Start with him," Donnelly says more clearly, and Carter's eyes go to John's, losing her mask again for just a moment.
Then the guards lead him away again.
Solitary confinement is different than his previous experiences with prison. Right now he doesn't have to fight anyone for a moment's rest. He's not worried about being jumped, not even by the guards; Donnelly would ensure that.
It's just so damned quiet, though. He's worried that Carter will go in tilting at windmills. She's an unknown quantity in this. Aside from when she first met him after that fight on the subway, he hasn't watched her interrogate anyone. This isn't like the stakeouts or leaving perps gift-wrapped for her to arrest.
Maybe she uses the sympathetic style all the time. Maybe she switches it up. He knows it's more than a little ridiculous that he's worried about how someone with her training and work experience will do her job, but...
Too little noise, too much time to think.
He'll use his Warren ID, of course. That's what they've planned for a situation like this. John will play the innocent bystander; he's already plotted his story, using the military background they've created for Warren.
Knowing Finch, he'll be doing something to support John's stories. Reese has never worked with someone so capable of creating something out of nothing online.
All of this work for him. John doesn't deserve it, but he knows he can't deter Finch, that he can't make Carter stop trying to help him.
At least Abby and Shayn are safe. He regrets getting caught, but he's not sorry for helping them.
Maybe he doesn't deserve the trust of the people who work with him, but he's not going to throw it away. He can't do anything else about the Warren ID right now, but if he and Carter can manage this careful dance successfully...
Dance partners who don't get to hear all of the music, and who are performing for a bloodthirsty audience. It's not just Donnelly; other agents will be watching, looking for the slightest misstep.
The set-up is what he'd expected. Carter has her back to the mirrored window and the camera has a close-up of John's face. The door behind him has one small window, placed high; unlikely that someone will spend much time there to watch Carter instead of him.
He lets go of some of his fears once they start. She walks around him once, then sits and makes him talk. Snowball questions at first; he plays up exasperation, then pleading, aware of the eyes watching.
The second session is where he starts thinking of it as a tango. His cuffs are gone. Carter presses in with the right questions, he adds in twists, trusting that she'll follow as much as she can. As much as possible with someone wanting to cut in; he noticed the ear piece within moments of her entry. Donnelly giving his advice, no doubt. Reese knows her well enough to catch the tiny change in expression when the man chimes in.
Their moves are all flamboyant show, calculated to please.
The mirror isn't an appreciative audience for him taking the lead for a few moments, though; after Carter answers him, telling him about her deployment, there's a determined knock on the glass.
When she returns, it's another round of numbers and names, details he committed to memory long ago.
The prison yard: this part is more familiar from his two other stints in jail. The US has laws that attempt to keep the prison population safe, but the law of the fishes still applies: Big fish eats little fish. Elias is the biggest fish of all, but John Warren wouldn't benefit from an offer of protection.
After John makes his request—a photo of the tall man, sent to Finch—Elias says, "You and me working together. Very exciting, John." His tone is downright chipper; apparently prison agrees with him.
It reminds John of the man he met first, Charlie Burton. He walks away without looking back at the mob boss.
After the yard, Carter rejoins him, light dance steps in interrogation that are interrupted, presumably by Donnelly.
He's left alone in the room; moments later the fire alarm sounds. Reese smiles as he's led out. Whatever was going on must have needed a well-timed interruption, and Finch didn't go for subtle when time was short.
Too much of succeeding at this dance depends on the others, and he can't control that.
After the prison yard, it takes some time for Carter to make it back to interrogation room number four. Still asking questions, which means that Donnelly isn't satisfied yet with any of the other three filling the role of the Man in the Suit.
Reese watches her, trying to figure out how the music is going to change for this round. She starts out asking him about leaving the military; he parries. Donnelly does his usual interruption, same as before. She switches to the topic of foreign business trips; he uses the dates for his trip to Mexico with Marshal Jennings.
"Ever been married?" she asks.
"Live with anyone?"
Her face is so serious as she goes through her questions; he decides that Warren can afford to play a little and says, "Why, you interested?"
She smiles briefly, looking down. On the other side of the glass, Donnelly has to be giving some order to keep John on task, or what to ask next, or...
He watches her changing expressions and hand gestures and realizes that Donnelly can't be the only voice in her ear, because she looks like she's stalling. Of course Finch would take advantage of the ear bud she's wearing. Clever. John knew the man would be listening in, but the audacity of hacking in to give orders to Carter as well? It's breathtaking. It's encouraging and a bit frightening—emotions that Finch has inspired before.
He can help her with stalling. "I'm sorry, how many more questions am I going to have to answer?"
She changes the topic to the first time she killed someone. John Warren would be interested, thanks to their shared military background. Reese doesn't have to feign the interest, however. He doesn't doubt that this is the true story of her first kill.
"To this day I don't know if he was a terrorist or... just some guy who woke up at the wrong time," she concludes.
He knows more than he would like about feeling haunted by the deaths he's caused. Some of them are like her experience; too many of them haunt him for other reasons, though.
No stalling anymore. "Ever been in love?"
"Once. Allison West. There's your answer, by the way."
"Why I left the military." He tells a thinly veiled version of that day in Mexico with Jessica. Yet again, the emotions he displays are real, and Carter's reaction reflects her knowledge of the true story. This can't end like New Rochelle, she said to him months ago.
She let him go that day. Didn't call for backup to get him arrested, didn't cut off ties again. Trusted him to do what he had to, even though she thought it would result in the marshal's death.
Jessica. Ally. John Warren made a different choice than him. "If I had re-upped when the towers came down, who would I be now?"
When he's trying to help people, most of the time he can't allow himself the self-questioning. That part of him stays walled off as much as possible. In here, though, it's been bubbling up to the surface. Too many minutes alone, with nothing to do but think and plan.
Donnelly can't let go of his obsession. Reese knows that the man doesn't have proof, otherwise he would already be somewhere else. Instead Donnelly takes advantage of all of the big fish around here to push for a revelation. It's obvious, glaringly so; John will have to take a beating.
Bear's former owner has enough friends to make this look convincing. One of them grabs him from behind. He catalogues the ways he could break the hold if he chose while Blondie throws a couple more punches and then lets his friend with the shaved head step in. It doesn't take long for John to make a convincing fall to the ground. He can hear the shouts of the appreciate audience—if it's not them or their friend at the receiving end, they're glad to have the spectacle.
John does his best to track who's where; it's not until the big man starts walking over that Elias intervenes, one sharp whistle sufficient to stop the action. "He's had enough," is all that Elias says, and then the guards come to collect him.
Count this as a favor he owes Elias, then, for waiting long enough without letting the big man get too close. (It wouldn't take long, he muses. Not long at all, if the big man is as good as John suspects.)
The guards help him to the infirmary; he lets himself put most of his weight on them. It's more needed than he wants to admit.
The two people who check on him don't seem to be interested in why; they do their work without conversation other than to ask what hurts, and what's the pain level. Reese doesn't try to cover up how much it hurts; John Warren doesn't have any motivation to lie about it. It would be more suspicious if he downplayed the pain too much.
They tape his ribs and treat the scrapes on his face. No cruelty in their actions, but no caring either. Fine with him; it's better treatment than he had in the other two prisons.
Then it's over, apparently. The guards start to lead him back to his cell, but one of the FBI agents shows up with the warden's second-in-command, and he ends up being taken back to the same room where he was searched after his arrival.
The suit they hand him is clean. No doubt that Finch is responsible, although how the man pulled that off, Reese has no idea. John Warren would have to thank Howard French.
Breathing the air outside fills him with relief and regret. It's another cold December night; the city is the same as always, though he looks at it with more appreciative eyes. He walks, taking in the sights. Familiar but new—the bodegas and the synagogues and run-down apartments and taxis filled with tired clients all fill him with a quiet pleasure.
After the CIA, he didn't think he would ever feel like he belonged somewhere, but it happened without him noticing.
At the next open store he passes, he buys a disposable cell phone. He'll call Finch when he's ready to go back inside, make sure their paths will cross tonight. (Back home, he thinks. The library—where he hardly ever stays to sleep—is the specific place in the city that he identifies as home.)
When he gets to the bridge, he's unsurprised to see Carter there. It's why he let himself wander in this direction: a place that they've shared more than once.
She's leaning against the railing, staring at the water, her coat collar turned up against the cold. A dramatic frame for her face; he appreciates the esthetics of it.
He joins her at the railing, watching the shifting lights on the river. "Looking for someone?" he asks her.
Out of the corner of his eye he catches the tiny smile that crosses her face. "No one in particular," she says.
"Fusco didn't want to celebrate my release?"
"Finch has him tied up with something."
He starts walking and she stays at his side. John starts talking, words not carefully measured at first. "I just want to say thank you. I couldn't have done this without—" Without you, he thinks. That's too personal, too revelatory. "A friend to talk to," he says instead. Still more than he should say, but he can't keep the words inside right now.
He doesn't have to look closely to see her curious expression. He knows this look. She's about to ask him a question.
It's the same look he saw on her face the day they met. Curious, compassionate. John wonders how different their tiny group would be without her tempering them. She saw something of value in what they're doing, and chose to help.
He should have known that day that she would be the type to join a daft quest. The man he'd been then would never have accepted her offer of help, in spite of her sincerity. She's always Don Quixote charging at windmills.
Charging in on an unsteady steed. Maybe that's Fusco.
Maybe this comparison has gone on long enough, he thinks, and waits for her question, waits for her to fill in the silences around them.
The quiet doesn't bother him right now, though.