Fusco's Day Off
Person of Interest is the creation of Jonathon Nolan and JJ Abrams. I do not make any money from writing this and am only playing in the rich universe they have created.
Author's Note: This is set very early in Season 2, so spoilers and all that, if you haven't watched Season 1.
The annoying electronic beep announced Fusco's presence as he walked through the doorway of the little coffee shop, and shook the raindrops from off his coat. The detective winced slightly at the sound, that must be annoying first thing in the morning when the coffee starved drones rushed en masse into the building, unless the staff were smarter than he gave them credit for and turned the damn thing off until later in the day, when it became quieter. Assuming the mornings did get busy, of course. It was only just after nine and the place wasn't exactly hopping with customers.
Not that he cared what time it was, this was supposed to be his day off. He had it all planned out, starting off with a nice well deserved sleep, then a long afternoon of absolutely nothing, then the evening with his kid – if his ex remembered what day it was. A guy had to recharge his batteries especially after the crap week he'd had so far. Was it asking too much, one lousy day?
But no, no he had to get rudely woken up at eight in the morning by the blue-eyed bane of his existence. He checked his phone again looking for the address that had popped up earlier this morning. Yeah this was where the Wonder Boy had insisted they meet. Guess it made a change from the usual places. It was better than the Suited Assassin appearing like a bad fart in the back of his car trying to scare him into a heart attack, or in some seedy alleyway or occasionally, if he was in a good mood, they'd meet walking down the street or strolling in a park like normal people.
Fusco tucked his cell back in a pocket and looked around. Three nannies studiously ignoring their snotty, crying charges as they sipped frothy lattes and exchanged gossip sat near the front of the shop; some old fart nursing a cup of coffee and trying to avoid the latest downpour hunched over his half eaten croissant nearby; two teens sat enjoying the free Wi-Fi on offer, fingers flying over their keyboards, competing music leaking out of their earbuds, chances were good they were talking to each other over the internet. Fusco sighed, what was with this generation, his kid was just as bad. Was it asking too much to unplug once in a while and talk to the person sitting in front of you?
The detective looked towards the back of the shop. There he was, sitting with a perfect view of the whole room; especially the entrance. The doorway to the kitchen angled just to his right so no one could sneak up on him yet still give him an easy exit if needed. Not that Fusco had ever seen the guy need one. He'd seen this one walk into bars full of the toughest nuts in the city and leave virtually unscathed. If truth be told Wonder Boy scared him more than a little and that was on his good days.
Feeling a touch self conscious Fusco hitched up his trousers a little and straightened his jacket as he began walking through the shop, why did he feel like he was about to meet the principal? Why did he let this guy get to him? So what if he had saved his bacon; got him out from under HR and arranged for him to have a pretty good partner in Carter? That didn't balance out the fact he had Fusco dancing to his every whim, encouraging the detective to bend the rules on a regular basis and putting him in harms way more times in the last few months than he had ever encountered in his entire career. Dammit, he'd gone from being HR's lapdog to the Suited Wonder and his four-eyed friend's resident gopher. He was pretty sure they did not treat Carter like this.
Tall, Dark and Deadly was sitting casually at a table, suit jacket neatly draped over the back of his chair, white shirt unbuttoned at the throat and the sleeves rolled up a couple of times. Left elbow resting on the table, coffee cup in hand like he was just about to take a sip when his attention had been caught by some article he was reading in the newspaper laying on the table. Wonder Boy looked like he was posing for some photo shoot or something; all that was missing was some snotty nosed photographer taking snap shots for some fancy men's magazine.
'You rang?' Fusco asked as he stopped before the table.
'Actually I texted,' the hand holding the cup waved gently towards the chair in front if him. 'Have a seat.'
Sighing theatrically Fusco dragged the chair out and sat down heavily. 'I hope you have a good reason for this, I do have a proper job you know?'
Cool, blue eyes rose to meet Fusco's. 'I know, but I thought since it was your day off you wouldn't mind helping someone,' Reese said quietly as the cup clinked gently on the saucer. He reached under the newspaper and pulled out a single sheet of paper and slid it across the table to Fusco.
'Who's this?' Fusco picked up the sheet and looked at it, 'Who's Ashley Biggs?' he read the name printed under the grainy photocopied picture of a young woman.
'You tell me,' Reese picked up his coffee and took a sip.
Fusco eyed off the picture again, she seemed nice, looked like a school teacher or librarian. Knowing his luck she'd turn out to be some sort of drug runner or granny killer. 'What she do?'
'You tell me,' Reese repeated, his eyes drifting past Fusco to take a quick scan of the room.
'Why isn't Carter looking into this for you?' Fusco asked. 'Seems more her style.'
Reese's cool eyes zeroed back in on Lionel. 'Detective Carter is busy.'
'Yeah, doing something for you, no doubt.' Fusco folded the paper in half, then in half again before slipping it into his jacket pocket. 'Am I ever going to be paid for any of this?'
Reese clutched the delicate porcelain cup in both hands and smirked at the detective. 'Good deeds are payment enough. Besides I let you live, remember?'
How could he forget? If you call totalling your car and shooting you in the back several times, saving your life. Okay, okay he asked if Fusco was wearing a vest first but still, Lionel wouldn't have put it past the Suited Assassin to have shot him anyway if he had said no to the vest question.
'Well could you at least buy me a coffee?' the detective asked.
'Already have, decaf Cappuccino with Soy milk right?'
Fusco almost choked at the thought.
Reese actually laughed at the expression on Fusco's face. 'Relax, Lionel, I know you take it black with three sugars.'
'I'll have you know I only take one sugar, wise ass.'
'Only after noon,' Reese turned his head slightly and nodded to the barista. 'Before noon you take three sugars. Do you really think that will make a difference to your weight, who are you trying to kid, Lionel?'
Fusco turned in his seat to see a young woman who looked exactly like the Ashley broad in the photo walk towards them, oh wait of course, Fusco mentally slapped himself on the forehead. This was typical Wonder Boy mentality, just assuming you had already said yes to the job before even asking.
'Here you go,' she said brightly, placing a take away cup in front of the detective.
'Thank you, Ashley.' Reese said, turning on his full charm offensive on the poor girl.
'You're welcome,' she giggled. 'Shall I bring the other thing?' she waved vaguely behind at the counter.
'Give us a few minutes.' Reese replied.
'Sure thing,' Ashley smiled at Reese and walked back to the counter.
Fusco felt like groaning, she'd actually giggled. A grown woman giggling at the Suited Wonder and she hadn't even once looked directly at Fusco, it was like he wasn't even there. It was bad enough Suit Boy scared the crap outta him with his deadly ninja skills and he had the tall, dark and handsome thing down pat. And then you put him in one of those suits that looked like it was hand crafted by ancient Chinese tailors who only lived to measure poster boys like him. While Fusco felt like the poor second cousin in his ill fitted off the rack suits. But then you throw in the 'aw shucks, ma'am' smile and the sexy quiet voice and it was no wonder every female in a four mile radius no matter their age or marital status wanted to throw themselves at his feet. It made Fusco want to puke; some guys had all the luck.
Even Carter wasn't immune to Wonder Boy's charms. Lionel used to think Carter had a secret boyfriend or something the way she used to scurry off whenever she received certain phone calls on her cell; the way her body language would change in an instant. Although he could never work out how a person could look happy and pissed off at the same time. Now he knew it was Tall, Dark and Deadly asking for a favour. He always asked Carter, never bothered to ask Lionel just told him what he wanted and expected the detective to jump straight to it. Kind of like right now.
'Fusco!' Reese's voice was sharp and insistent.
Fusco blinked and realised that Him in the Suit was talking to him.
'Am I keeping you from something, Lionel?'
There was that quiet, intense voice that the Suited Wonder only seemed to use on the bad guys . . . oh and him.
Fusco grimaced a little, 'Nothing, nothing, you were saying?'
Reese was sitting with both elbows planted firmly on the table; his hands were clasped in front of him, hiding half of his face. One long finger jutted out to point behind Fusco as Reese raised an eyebrow.
Turning Fusco jumped in surprise to see Ashley quietly standing behind him holding a large chocolate muffin with one lonely, lit birthday candle jauntily angled in the frosting.
'Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you,' Ashley sang in her best Marilyn Monroe serenading the President voice, 'Happy birthday,' she glanced from Reese to Lionel, 'Detective Fusco, happy birthday to you.'
Giggling at Fusco's expression Ashley placed the muffin in front of the detective and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before walking away to the applause of the old guy with the croissant.
What the hell?!
Fusco looked up from the muffin to see the Blue Eyed Wonder laughing at him, laughing.
'Are you going to blow out the candle, Lionel?' Reese asked.
Closing his mouth and clearing his throat Fusco puffed on the candle. 'What no gift?' he asked, trying to gain back some control of the situation.
Reese shrugged. 'I thought about buying you a doll but . . .'
'How'd you know it was my birthday,' Fusco wanted to know, 'my real birthday?'
Reese leant back in his chair and casually scanned the room again. 'Carter told me.'
'Carter?' Fusco pulled the candle out of the muffin and absently tossed it in Wonder Boy's general direction. 'How'd she know?'
'She's a detective, Lionel, how do you think?'
'She read my personnel file?' Fusco took a bite of the muffin, making an appreciative noise, it was pretty good.
'And you didn't read hers?' Reese pointed towards Fusco's coffee. 'That was put in a takeaway container for a reason, detective. I need that information now, not tomorrow, not in a few hours.'
Fusco swallowed the last of his muffin, so much for the rest of his day off. 'Fine,' he huffed and picked up the cardboard cup.
Wonder Boy didn't even look up from his newspaper as Fusco left the coffee shop.
The precinct was pretty quiet considering the time of day, Fusco decided as he walked towards his desk. Well that's just typical of all the days in the year the bad guys had to decide to take his day off too.
Fusco fielded a few 'hellos' and 'what are you doing here?' from his fellow detectives as he weaved his way past their desks towards Carter.
'Fusco,' Detective Carter looked up from her paperwork in surprise. 'Isn't it your day off?'
Fusco huffed as he tossed the now empty coffee container in the trash and pulled out his chair to sit down. 'That's what I thought, too, had my day all planned out and everything, then Wonder Boy called.'
Carter looked about the precinct at the mention of Fusco's nickname for Reese. 'Why would he do that?'
'Seems to think you were doing something more important.' Fusco looked at Carter's desk. 'You doing something important?'
Carter casually pulled some files into a neat pile. 'Nothing out of the ordinary.'
'Typical,' Fusco pulled out the photocopied photo from his pocket and reached towards his keyboard. 'Hey, and what's the deal telling He Who Shall Not be Named, it was my birthday?'
'It's your –' Carter looked at Fusco in surprise. 'Are you telling me it's your birthday?'
Now it was Fusco's turn to be surprised. 'You mean you didn't know? But he said, sonofa –'
'Hang on, wait a minute,' Carter frowned, 'did you just compare John to Voldemort?'
Fusco paused as he flattened out the photocopied picture. He'd almost forgotten his previous comment. 'Wait, you know who Voldemort is?'
Carter shrugged. 'Taylor went through a Harry Potter phase a few years ago. You have a son you know what it's like.'
Fusco cleared his throat. 'Uh, yeah, yeah, that's it.'
'What have you got there?' Carter nodded at the paper Fusco was fiddling with.
'You know who, wants some information.'
Carter smiled in sympathy. 'They always want information.'
'Tell me about it,' Fusco pulled his keyboard closer, 'we got real jobs, you know.'
'I know.' Carter's cell phone began to ring. She pulled it out of her jacket pocket and glanced at the screen. 'Blocked caller.'
'Ah, jeez,' Fusco said. 'You don't think he heard that Voldemort joke do you?'
'Only one way to find out,' she answered her phone. 'Yes?' She looked over at Fusco, 'He's right here.'
Lionel grimaced as he reached across the desk for Carter's phone.
'Relax,' she said, 'its Dumbledore.'
'Do I want to know what Detective Carter is talking about?' The cultured tone of Harold Finch's voice echoed in Fusco's ear.
'Like you don't know already,' Fusco watched as Carter picked up a couple of files off her desk. 'Listen, tell our mutual friend that I haven't gotten that information for him yet.'
'About that, Detective. I feel I must apologise for John's deception.'
Fusco frowned at the words. 'For his what?'
'Deception, pretence, subterfuge –'
'Yeah, yeah,' Fusco interrupted, 'I know what the word means, but I don't know what you're talking about.'
Carter stood up, an armful of files resting on her hip. With a tilt of her head she silently asked him if everything was okay. Fusco gave her a nod as he rolled his eyes and gestured towards the phone. Deciding he had everything under control Carter nodded at Lionel and walked away.
'– it was a necessary ruse to get you into the precinct.'
'What was necessary?'
'Detective,' Finch's tone sharpened. 'Were you even listening to me?'
Oh and where did we learn that tone from? 'Is this Biggs woman in danger or not and what did you mean you needed me at the precinct?'
'To answer your first question,' Finch's voice lost its sharp edge. 'As far as I can tell Ms Biggs is in no danger, unless you count her appalling taste in music and falling grades in Biochemistry. Personally I think the only reason she's taking that class is because of her crush on the teacher if the rather stilted poetry on her laptop is anything to go by.'
'What?!' This conversation was becoming increasingly surreal. Fusco pinched the bridge of his nose. 'What exactly are you saying?'
'Your decision to take today off made things difficult.'
'Well I'm so sorry for screwing up your plans.' Fusco said without the slightest hint of sincerity.
'Not knowing exactly where you'd be, I was forced to improvise. You know you should really consider investing in an iPhone or at least a Blackberry, detective.'
Fusco scrunched up the photo and tossed it in the general direction of the nearest wastepaper basket. It missed, of course. 'No thanks, you're beginning to sound like my kid. I like to write things down, consider me old school.'
'Duly noted,' Finch continued. 'But it left me in a bit of a dilemma, how could I make sure you received your birthday gift if I didn't know where you were.'
'Birthday gift?' Fusco looked around suddenly half expecting Tall, Dark and Deadly to come striding through the door with a bazooka wrapped up in garishly bright wrapping paper.
'Yes,' Finch's answered. 'Getting you to the precinct seemed the easiest way to find you, therefore Mr Reese's deception in the coffee shop. It should be on your desk, blue envelope.'
Fusco looked around his desk. 'Nothing's here.'
'Look closer, detective, it should be there.'
'I'm telling ya –' Fusco pushed some message slips to one side and revealed a blue envelope. 'Never mind, I found it.'
'I know we don't pay you as you reminded Mr Reese, earlier today,' Finch said as Lionel slit open the envelope and shook out two tickets into the palm of his hand. 'But I like to think there are some perks to helping us out.'
Fusco found himself staring at two tickets to the Celtics/Knicks game next month. 'No, way,' he breathed.
'Floor seats at the free throw line,' Finch was telling him. 'I believe those are the best ones, I'm not an expert.'
'One for you and one for your son. I chose the Boston Celtics because I believe you are quite the fan, although I'm not sure why. From what I've heard they aren't doing so well this year.'
'My old man, was a fan. He came from Boston.' Fusco explained as he admired the tickets, half believing they couldn't be real.
'Well,' Lionel could hear Finch clearing his throat. 'I also took the liberty of making reservations for you and your son tonight. I originally thought about reservations at Scarpetta but decided that Il Buco might be more your style. I highly recommend the spare ribs, by the way.'
'Not as expensive as my first choice but the bill is on me. Just don't get too carried away, detective, there are limits to even my generosity.'
'Yeah, yeah,' it was Fusoc's turn to clear his throat now. This was totally unexpected; he didn't think Wonder Boy even liked him. 'Hey, tell the big guy thanks for me okay?'
'Who do you think thought of the basketball tickets?' Finch's voice held a hint of laughter. 'I was only going to give you a watch.'
'Hey, that woulda been nice too. I guess what I meant was I didn't think you guys cared.'
There was an awkward silence before Finch answered. 'Caring is what we do, Detective Fusco. Now, enjoy your cake.'
'Cake?' Fusco listened to the dial tone in his ear as Finch hung up. 'What cake?'
'This cake, Lionel.'
Turning Fusco saw Carter and the rest of the detectives he worked with standing around a large chocolate cake cut in the shape of a police badge.
'Did you really think I didn't know it was your birthday?' Carter asked a little indignantly. 'I am your partner after all.'
'Aw, you guys,' Fusco smiled as he slipped the basketball tickets into his pocket.
'Anyone gotta light for all these candles?' One of the detectives asked.
'Yeah, and a fire extinguisher to put them all out!' another joked.
Carter sidled up to Fusco as the other detectives began lighting candles on the cake. 'Everything alright?'
'Sure,' Fusco patted the pocket containing the birthday gift. 'Turns out Wonder Boy doesn't hate me as much as I thought.'
'Course he doesn't hate you,' Carter slapped Fusco hard on the chest before turning away. 'Happy birthday, Lionel.'
'Yeah.' Fusco smiled as he looked around the room.
Okay so he didn't get that sleep in and his plans were screwed for the day. But he had friends here to celebrate with and maybe he'd turned a corner with the Suited Assassin. His eyes slid towards Carter and the smile slipped a little. Now all he had to do was find out when Carter's birthday was and hope like hell it was after his. Otherwise he was pretty sure he'd find himself in both Carter's and Reese's bad books again.