Fandom:Person of Interest
Rating: Mature for violence and descriptions of injuries
Word Count: ~37K
Warning: violence and descriptions of injuries and treatments
Spoilers: all of season 1
Summary: Following an explosion, Reese loses parts of memory including everything to do with Finch and the Machine. Not sure who to trust, John evades the FBI, CIA and Carter as he attempts to remember who he's become and why he's drawn to this strange man with a limp.
Author's Note: So this fic was originally started as part of pod_together, but then it kept getting longer...and longer...and longer. And then I saw the announcement for PoI Big Bang and decided that would work better. This fic would never have been written without the initial cheerleading from podcath. I'd also like to thank togsos for her awesome, awesome art. She captured the scene exactly as I'd pictured it in my head. Final thanks go to sevencorvus for letting me participate in the Big Bang at the last minute.
Carter let the sedan idle on the street outside Casey's address, considering her options. She didn't want to just knock on the door and ask the man why he'd been following a woman, but waiting for the man to make his move wasn't a favourable option either. There was a brown 4x4 outside the run down structure that looked like the man's primary transportation.
As she was trying to decide on her next move, the man in question exited the house and threw a duffel bag into the passenger side. He looked around and Carter ducked below the dash to keep from being spotted. He returned inside for a moment before stepping out and locking the door.
He was easily six feet tall with brown hair cut close to his head. He was dressed casually in jeans and a denim jacket over a solid forest green shirt. If she had seen the man on the street, she would probably walk past him without a second glance. Now, as she took a closer look, she realized that something was off about the image he presented. His jeans were pressed and his boots were spotless. The jacket was too clean, like he'd just bought it this morning.
When he started the truck, she was expecting a roar from the old beater, but it revved easily with as much noise as a sedan. No, something was definitely not right about this. She wondered if he was a hit man of some sort but dismissed that thought. The information she'd gotten from Finch suggested that the only person who had any reason to hurt her was a loan shark and they tended to avoid actually killing their clients. After all, a dead client couldn't pay back the money they owed and they certainly wouldn't have any legal recourse to get money from the estate.
He backed out of the driveway and headed into Manhattan. She waited a few seconds before pulling past an old Trail Blazer she'd parked behind. Sending a quick text to Finch with the plate number and vehicle description, she also typed the information into the NYPD-issue laptop that sat in the passenger seat. Vehicle registration returned to a different name and address, but it had not been reported stolen. Frowning at the deepening mystery, she followed at a distance through traffic as Mr. Casey approached the bar where Tara Spencer worked.
Half an hour later, he parked eight blocks away from the bar and Carter kept going for another half block before parking her own vehicle and waiting for Casey to walk past her. He had rummaged in the duffle bag for a few minutes before leaving the vehicle and the bag. There was a barely perceptible bulge under his left arm that hadn't been there before leading Carter to believe he'd armed himself. What else was in that bag, she wondered.
She pulled out her phone just in time to answer Finch's incoming call.
“John is ready to intercept him if need be,” he man said without preamble.
“You know I can't do anything until he commits a crime, right?” asked Carter, exiting her vehicle and walking down the street, Casey's dark head easily seen through the crowd.
As they approached the bar, Carter scanned the crowd for John's face, but found nothing. Casey stayed on the opposite side of the street as the bar and found a seat at the small cafe, ordering coffee and a small salad. Carter slipped into a corner to watch the scene unfold. If he was going to be there for awhile, she didn't want to tip her hand and sit for the same length of time, especially since she didn't have anything to use as a prop to keep her there.
They waited for nearly an hour, Casey sitting at the cafe and flirting with the waitress, Carter finally taking a seat a few tables away some time later and John heaven only knew where, but she was confident he was still there.
It was nearly seven in the evening when Tara came out of the bar, a cigarette in one hand as she dialled her cell phone. While Casey didn't exactly perk up at the sight of her, there was a sudden tension in his body that said he was aware she was there. She was smiling at the phone as she spoke for several minutes. Carter couldn't hear the conversation from this side of the street and she'd never been able to read lips, but she suspected the other woman was talking to her kids, if the softness in her eyes was anything to judge by.
Casey stood, nodding his goodbye to the waitress and casually crossed the street. Tara had been pacing back and forth outside the bar and had moved so she was partially in the alley. Her back was to the street so she didn't see Casey approaching. Carter crossed the street and unbuckled her weapon, leaving it in the holster for now, but ready to pull the pistol. Where was John?
As Tara put out the butt and hung up the phone, Casey struck, grabbing the woman from behind and pushing her further into the alley. Carter jogged the last few steps, her weapon drawn.
“Police! Let her go!” she yelled, rounding the corner in time to see Casey slap Tara hard across the face, knocking her into the wall and stunning her.
Casey turned to face Carter, a startled expression on his face as he turned his own gun to her. Carter ducked behind a dumpster as two shots rang out. She heard the man swearing colourfully and Carter saw him turning the gun on Tara.
“Don't do it,” she called before ducking back as another shot came whizzing past her.
She heard something crash and peeked back around to see John grappling with the man for the gun. She wasn't sure where he'd come from but was grateful for the assistance. As she came around the corner, John finally got the upper hand and knocked the gun to the ground and knocked Casey back with a sharp fist to the sternum.
“Freeze!” repeated Carter, her gun aimed at Casey as John turned his attention to Tara.
Casey's eyes darted back and forth like he was considering moving to escape or for his gun, but Carter's presence kept him still. When she had him cuffed, she turned to thank John, but found he had disappeared again. Sighing, she pulled her phone out and called for an ambulance and backup. As she hung up with dispatch, a new text message appeared from an unknown number.
She shook her head, a smile creeping onto her face despite herself.
Harold blew out a long breath as John left the alley. He'd seen the man in hand-to-hand combat on numerous occasions and, while he worried every time, this one had been so much more nerve-wracking. He pulled his glasses off his face and rubbed at the bridge of his nose, letting himself relax now that Casey was in custody and John was safely away.
When he replaced the frames, he saw that John was a good four blocks away, no apparent destination in mind. He was tempted to call the other man and ask after his welfare, but assumed he would only get silence or a stare at the camera. Instead, he tracked his friend's progress and tried not to let himself feel anything when he realized the other man was not returning to the library. If anything, he appeared to be headed back to the 8th precinct.
Harold wanted to tell John that he would answer any questions the man had. He wanted to tell John that he would provide whatever footage or other recording John needed to feel confident in his recollections. Harold wanted John to return to the library and simply stare at him, the silence finally forcing Harold to reveal too much about himself if it only meant that he knew the other man was safe. More than anything, Harold wanted John to let him treat his wounds. Now that he'd been able to observe the other man for hours at a time, he'd caught the small winces, the moments of discomfort when something pulled or twisted against still healing flesh and bone.
Instead, John climbed the roof of the building opposite Carter's precinct and took a position near the edge. He'd watched John on surveillance for hours and knew the signs when the other man was digging in for the long haul. This, it would seem, was one of those times.
Sighing at John's stubbornness, Harold rolled up his sleeves and prepared to wait John out. He'd be here when his friend was ready to talk. He'd be here if John ran into trouble. He could wait this out, as long as he needed.
John let his attention wander as it would. He'd thought about returning to the library after helping Carter with Raymond Casey, but something had held him back. He'd had snatches of memories in the hours he'd been here on the roof, though these were certainly less striking and none of them had produced the near debilitating migraines like the others. He wasn't ready to talk, he thought. If he returned to the library, he'd start asking questions and that would give away so much of his current mental state. As much as he felt he trusted Harold, he wasn't ready for quite that much trust.
He'd returned to the precinct with the idea of keeping an eye on Carter and Fusco, but without eyes in the station, he was effectively blind. So he'd taken to watching the goings on around the precinct. Cops came and went, some with criminals in tow, others escorting witnesses. Lawyers were the other common sight and he had no trouble separating out the ADAs and the private lawyers. There was a coffee stand just outside the building and he spent some time observing the man behind the counter as he did a steady business. The man was something of a flirt, but John thought that was more to increase business than any real desire to step out on his wife if the way he pulled away from more than casual flirting back was anything to judge by.
The hours passed quickly and he was considering whether to find a place to stay for the night or return to the library when movement on the opposite roof caught his attention. He thought about calling Harold to find out what was going on, but held himself still and silent. Doubt was tickling at his subconscious as he saw another small movement on a second roof top.
The sun had set some time ago and the darkness covered their movements well, but there was a distinct glint as street lights reflected off of a barrel.
Trust is a dangerous thing. It will always be betrayed. The only person you trust is yourself.
He closed his eyes for a brief moment and let the knowledge wash over him. Without all of his memories, he was vulnerable. He'd wanted to believe that he'd found someone he could trust implicitly. He shouldn't be surprised. He pushed away the sadness and carefully slid from his perch and fell into the shadows.
“John,” said Harold's voice in his ear, the first words to him since John arrived. “Something's wrong,” he continued, the sound of typing just audible.
John bit back a sarcastic comment and checked the roof he was on. There was an access door across the expanse and he could just see it creeping open. His eyes moved smoothly across the rest of the background. There was an old fire escape to his right that ran close to the edge of the next building. He could slip down that far enough to drop the remaining distance to the ground. There was a small gap between the next building and the one behind it that John had used once or twice before that would lead him to a utility junction. Once there, neither the CIA nor Harold would be able to find him.
He took a steadying breath as Mark's form appeared at the door, hands at his sides as a tactical team spread out behind him. John would have to move quickly if he wanted to get to the edge.
“Easy, John,” said Mark, raising his hands a bit to show that he wasn't holding his weapon, though they both knew he was armed and could pull his gun in the blink of an eye.
John took a few steps from the shadows and the tactical team slowed their movements and raised their weapons at him. He knew the snipers had him targeted as well. From what he remembered of their last encounter, Mark wanted him alive if possible. He also knew John was injured and would likely have given the order to shoot to kill only as a last resort.
“This didn't end well for you the last time,” commented Mark, as they both approached each other cautiously.
John narrowed his eyes and tilted his head, feigning uncertainty in the hope that Mark would allow him to get closer if he thought John wasn't sure of what he was talking about. Mark took another few steps and paused as a flicker of calculation crossed his features.
“I know you're wounded,” he said and waited for a response. John kept his silence and let Mark make his own conclusions. His old friend was just as versed in the tactic and should recognize it fairly quickly. He held his hand in a staying gesture at the tactical team and John knew he had Mark hooked.
Even if they could convince him that he still worked for the agency, they would never trust him again. But Mark would want to know what happened in Ordos and he wasn't above playing on John's vulnerability to get that information before retiring him for good.
“Do you remember how you were wounded?” asked Mark, taking another step forward and John let the doubt he felt fill his gaze. He didn't remember how he'd been wounded, had assumed he would either get that back or would ask Harold—he pushed thoughts of the man out of his mind. Harold had sold him out and there was no use thinking of him now.
“John, let me help you,” said Mark and John took a tentative step toward the man. They were only a few paces away now, close enough for Mark to see the line across his temple where he'd taken the head injury. As John had expected, his gaze focused on that and a spark of excitement shone for just a moment. John was sure he wasn't supposed to see that, but he worked so closely with the man for so many years, he knew what to look for.
John opened his mouth like he wanted to say something but snapped it shut before any sound escaped. Mark took another two steps and John held himself carefully at ease, not wanting to give himself away before he had a chance to strike.
“You're confused. We've been worried about you, John. We can make this right.”
John shuffled his feet forward and Mark took that as a sign to take the last few steps. As soon as Mark was within touching distance, John's gaze sharpened and his head snapped up. His arms whipped out, one spinning Mark so his back was to John while the other pulled the sidearm John knew Mark carried at his back. The barrel of the pistol was at Mark's temple and John's arm was wrapped around the agent's throat, keeping the other man slightly off balance.
“Don't shoot,” ordered Mark, speaking to his team and the snipers behind them. If any of them took a shot right now, it would travel through John's body and into Mark's.
John began moving them to the right, the gun steady. He remembered hesitating to shoot Kara but he knew he could pull the trigger now and never lose sleep over it. Mark had told them both the other had betrayed their country, may even have given the order to fire on their position in Ordos. He'd grieved Kara's loss. For Mark's death, he'd breath easier knowing anyone they sent from here on out would not have the same advantage Mark had.
“What are you doing, John?” he asked, one hand coming to rest on John's forearm for balance as he continued to hold the other out in a staying gesture. “I'm your friend. I'm just trying to help you.”
“Just trying to help me into the grave?” growled John. They were only a few feet from the precipice now and John had to decide if he was going to take Mark with him over the edge or not. If he did, he ran the risk of Mark righting himself and being able to follow. If he shot the man, though, he'd have to account for the body and that could throw John off balance and he wasn't ready to sacrifice his own life just to get rid of Mark.
Mark spotted the fire escape and tensed, seeing at least part of what John was planning to do, forcing John to push harder to move him which, in turn, pushed against John's own injuries. Both men took deep breaths before all hell broke loose.
John turned them both, pushing Mark down to the ground and firing. It wouldn't kill the man, but it would put him out of play at least for tonight. At the same time, one of the snipers fired, catching John across his back and sending fire down his spine. Pushing through the pain, John leaped over the short lip of the roof and slid blindly down the side of the fire escape, grunting as the manoeuvre jostled his body and sent a new spike of agony racing along his nerves.
He wasn't sure how he made it to the ground, hadn't felt himself make the crucial jump to the opposite building to make this whole stunt work, but he did feel the impact as he hit the ground, crumbling on himself as gravity worked against him.
“John!” said Harold and he'd honestly forgotten he was still wearing the earwig.
He's scared for you, said a little voice in his mind that he shook away. He's scared for what I'll do to him, he answered it.
“You set me up,” he said out loud, speaking to Harold for the first time as he stood from where he'd crumpled on the ground. He could still hear the agents on the roof, scrambling to get down to where he was. Impossibly, they hadn't had anyone waiting in case he escaped.
He just heard Harold's vehement denial before he pulled the earwig out and stepped on it, cutting the man off mid-word. Brick scraped against his new wound and he couldn't hold in a cry of pain as he finally made his way through. He was gasping as he moved to the utility tunnel and it was only sheer force of will that allowed him to lift the grate covering it enough to drop down.
He was ready for the impact this time, but still couldn't contain the sound that escaped his lips. He took a few shuddering breaths as he pulled the phone from his pocket and smashed it against the concrete wall and dropped it in the pool of water at his feet.
It was time to disappear for good.
Harold's eyes had begun to drift shut for longer seconds when an alert had brought him suddenly back to full awareness. One monitor was flashing a warning that it had detected a threat to John. He'd had multiple camera angles on his screen and could just make out movement on three roofs with easy sight lines of John. Another alert sounded and the system threw up footage of Agent Snow entering the building where John was hiding.
“No,” he muttered to himself, typing frantically as he tried to find a way out for his friend. He was so close to getting the man back, he couldn't lose him again. “John,” he said, keying the transmitter as he continued to type. “Something's wrong.”
John remained silent and Harold took a moment to glance at the monitor. John had disappeared from view, but Harold was confident he was still on the roof. A few seconds later, the access door opened and Agent Snow exited with five men in full tactical gear behind him. Each of the masked men held assault rifles aimed at John and Harold's heart seized at so much fire power.
He briefly considered calling their detectives, but dismissed the thought. There was nothing they could do against the CIA and calling them now would just reveal their hand and put their lives and freedom in jeopardy.
The camera feeds all abruptly turned to static causing a renewed typing frenzy. They'd cut the feeds, he knew, likely at the source. He was left staring at static-filled monitors and listening to Agent Snow attempt to lure John away from him. He didn't think John would believe the man, but he couldn't be sure. He still didn't know what John remembered. Did he think Harold was CIA? Did he think Harold was an asset that he'd been working? He didn't know what assumptions John was operating on because the infuriating man had refused to talk to him.
He closed his eyes and listened, terrified. He had a moment of hope when there was a scuffle and Agent Snow was suddenly clearly at John's mercy. If he didn't trust the CIA, then his mind was clearly somewhere after he had left and Harold could work with that. He knew that John.
A shot rang out clearly and for a long moment that was all Harold heard.
“John!” he cried, unable and unwilling to censor the blind terror that his friend might be bleeding on a roof, surrounded by CIA agents ready to kill him without a second thought.
Grunts of pain answered him and he had a temporary moment of relief when he realized that John, while wounded, was clearly alive. He would go to him, help him. He'd stood without thought, grabbing his keys and ready to follow John's GPS tracker.
He froze as John finally spoke to him before dropping back into his chair, unable to stand. “You set me up,” growled John and Harold had heard that same tone just before John killed someone.
Harold immediately denied it, willing John to remember their relationship, that he could trust Harold. They may have begun this whole affair as two strangers with freight trains filled with baggage, but they'd grown together, formed what he'd thought was an unbreakable partnership.
His words trailed off as his system told him that John had destroyed his phone, the signal dead. John was lost to him now. After this, he wasn't coming back. John would disappear from the city and probably even the country and Harold was left all alone.
Alone with only his machine and the numbers he was sure would drive him mad.