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Title: Sine Labore Nihil
Fandom: Person of Interest
Pairing: Eventual Jack(Scarface)/Reese
Rating: PG-13 so far
Word Count: 4,306
Status: In Progress
Summary: The information flows more slowly and gets more indecipherable as it becomes harder to find save channels. Jack gets more and more frustrated with this game of penitentiary telephone, forced to take his own initiative more and more often. He wonders if it was ever any easier to get information to and from maximum security prison. Not for someone like Elias. They don't give his boss a television in his cell, even. Jack knows this because he ran an ad on the local public television channel for two weeks in code so simple a child could figure it out, his own decision, and not even a rebuke had come his way. He's flying solo, operating under a bond of trust only.

The information flows more slowly and gets more indecipherable as it becomes harder to find save channels. Jack gets more and more frustrated with this game of penitentiary telephone, forced to take his own initiative more and more often. He wonders if it was ever any easier to get information to and from maximum security prison. Not for someone like Elias. They don't give his boss a television in his cell, even. Jack knows this because he ran an ad on the local public television channel for two weeks in code so simple a child could figure it out, his own decision, and not even a rebuke had come his way. He's flying solo, operating under a bond of trust only.

Even the other guys had missed it, the hovering guardian angel wannabe with all the hardcore tech and his sharp eyed, lean and hungry attack dog. He'd never expected them to ignore the low-tech, but they had a blind spot for analog - which meant that it was definitely called shots, and the trained muscle listened. Because Jack knows his training might have been less classical - six years in the military hard and then ten more years in the quiet squads, and finally he'd worked the quietest of them all. Family - which was what that was always be about but then - then there were the ideas.

He knew it was dangerous to have them, because asking questions was dangerous too. People were so attached to status quo. Him, too, if he's honest with himself. And he was, to a fault. It was part of how he was so good at keeping quiet, his inner knowledge that words wouldn't matter too much, coming from him. Not until his actions had gotten him into position. He let Elias do the talking.

Jack does the communicating instead. So he knows that his training included all manner of ways to accomplish that, and he knows how to interpret Morse code if it comes to that. He knows the man in a suit knows it too. So it's with a rising realization of how little internal initiative that John actually bothers to have that Jack understands that there is no subtle way to communicate with just him. It makes him mad, for some reason. He acknowledges that he wants to grab the man in a suit and tear him free, shake him until the muzzle falls off and he thinks for himself again, but he doesn't understand why he wants that.

The man in a suit has his ears and eyes closed except to what his boss points him at. He's a seeing eye dog. Jack actually laughs a little at the thought, aloud. On the street.

People move out of his way, but he's used to that, even in NYC. He knows where he's going, passing giant screens without looking up, sliding through the people milling around tables and costumed entertainers. There's a police car parked on the median in Times Square, the officer is on the other side posing with tourists for pictures, like always. Jack audaciously reaches out to pass his fingers over the motto on its flank.

The city's changed - is always changing, he allows, passing a shop selling post cards and 9/11 tribute merchandise. Since he moved here and learned his way around, learned to be invisible even when hew as in a uniform, it's been changing. It rubs him the wrong way, what he's about to do - how visible he's about to become, but he's tried everything else.

He stands at the statue of George M. Cohen, and first looks up at the resting people on the worn steps below the screens, then down at the pavement. There's a square in yellow paint, like a road marking, and he stands on it with his hands in his pockets and looks up. There's a pole, with cameras here, a whole series of them with official NYPD markings, but only one swings toward him as he remains in place.

He pulls off his hat and stares at it, oblivious to the people passing around him, until the stopwatch his free hand is curled around in his pocket shakes out the communication that five minutes have passed. He puts the ball cap back on - Yankees - and moves away into the crowd.

Ball's in their court. He doesn't move invisibly, lets the cameras keep him and keeps his path simple. He doesn't know how long he'll have to wait, how to tell if it even worked. If this doesn't, he's not sure what to try next. Jack makes it a point not to get ahead of himself. Instead he ducks into a Starbucks - comfortably anonymous - pays too much cash for a cup of coffee and settles in to wait.

He discovers he hates Starbucks coffee. Also, in the men's room, he finds - not the man in the suit, but he'd guess a cop. Maybe detective. Soft around the middle and with a cheap tie that to Jack suggested the man was a father. The sort of thing you'd only wear if you were under pressure from your younger, less understanding and more adoring family. He carried his weight easy, but Jack knows when he's being looked for. The detective eyes the scar by Jack's eye, and makes a face that suggests Jack is recognized. He's not sure from where.

"The hell?" New Yorker. Definitely. Jack arches his eyebrows wordlessly, washes his hands. Nobody has a conversation in the men's room, and he has even less desire to talk to the hired help. "They didn't tell me it was you," the detective accuses, but at least has the sense to lower his voice.

Jack shakes his fingers out, notes that this is one of those forward thinking bathrooms that eliminates paper waste with air dryers. He pushes the button hard enough to show it he means business the first time and the detective' s protests are drowned under the rush of air.

If this idiot is too stupid to follow him out and talk outside, he's going to have a much lower opinion of the man in the suit and his boss. Maybe he does anyway, because the only reason the detective seems to follow Jack is because he's not done talking at him. The patrons stare at him - them really, since Jack's quiet under the whole tirade, as they make their way out of the coffee shop.

Jack holds the door for the detective, who doesn't even notice, because he's reached "...Give me one good reason why I shouldn't haul you in right now for impersonating an officer and obstructing the law."

Jack shows him his badge. Quickly, without fanfare. The detective shuts up, having no response to that.

"You really a cop?"

Jack suppresses the urge to grab this guy by the lapels and educate him on why it's a bad idea to ask stupid questions, instead he hooks his hand hard into the detective's elbow and yanks him around a corner, off the main street where hundreds of people are passing.

"What'd they ask you to do?" Jack says, sticking his hands in his pockets to be somewhere between non-threatening and terrifying.

"They who?"

He looks at the detective frankly, and tries for a patient tone. "Man in a suit. Tall guy. Kneecaps bad guys. Saves the innocent. Batman, you know. And a shorter guy. Glasses. Stole a baby, once."

It's the most words Jack's strung together in a while. People spoke more if he was quiet, and they thought he wasn't smart. It served him, except when mouthy detectives took personal offense to actions he didn't remember.

"What the hell do you care?" The detective asks, sounding aggravated. Out of the loop. "Last I checked you were in cahoots with the big bad guy."

"Cahoots?" Jack isn't sure if he should be amused or annoyed by how simple this guy seems, how amiably backwater. He's... quaint. If one could be quaint and still live and work in New York City. "Detective, what did they ask you to do."

The detective frowns, shows all his emotions on his face and looks lost before he just fails to come up with a lie fast enough. "They told me to pick you up. Find out what you wanted. Only it wasn't they..."

Just one then? He's not sure which to expect - then he realizes it has to be the handler.

"I wanna talk to them," he answers, knowing that'll be the way to get just the man in the suit. John's boss won't expose himself like that, will limit his presence to just a device.

"What? Well you got me. You can talk to me."

Jack takes the detective's wallet before the man can protest, spins his grab into a fall and kicks his shins out from under his overweight center of gravity.

"Hey, you son of a bitch!" Fusco - Detective, Jack was right - protests Jack's methods for introductions. Jack doubted the man in the suit was any politer.

"Relax, Detective Fusco." Jack glances only far enough into the wallet to learn his address and see a picture of him and his kid before he drops it onto Fusco's chest and takes his foot off the man's middle. Lionel, he thinks with a little amusement. It's an unusual name - doesn't quite suit him, but it settles on him in an odd way anyway. Permanent.

"Yeah, yeah," Fusco is getting up in a resigned way, an obedient way that suggests he's' been through this before and is used to eating his own pride for breakfast. "Now you know my name, do I get yours?"

"No." Jack finds it best not to lie. "How'd you get tangled up in this anyway, Detective?"

"You hit me." Fusco bluffs - insistently though, so Jack knows it's true, even though it's not an explanation. "I haven't forgotten that."

Jack has. But his face is a little harder to forget than Fusco's. "You want to try your luck at returning the favor?" He dares, putting his hands back in his pockets and watching expectantly . Fusco stares at him and realizes he's serious, that Jack would stand there and let himself be hit. Fusco also realizes what a bad idea it is.

"No," he says, angrily. Reluctantly, almost. Meaning 'yes' he wants to, but he knows better.

"Tell them I'll be here again tomorrow, and I want to talk," Jack says, and steps off the curb, out of the alley. Loses himself in the mass and moves off camera, changes his hat, reverses his coat. Vanishes. He takes the roads with no cameras home, but expects company when he opens his front door anyway, draws his gun and feels disappointment when all that greets him is the angry yellow reflected light of his cat's eyes.

The cat doesn't have a name either, but he's trimmed neatly in black and white, as if he wore a dark suit over a white shirt with the top three buttons left undone.

Jack knows the man in a suit's name is John. He knows because Elias had told him, and he knows the name is real, at least the first name, because that's the way you gain trust. He hasn't been given the man's name yet, officially, though they've met. Exchanged death threats. Nothing personal - he learned not to take anything personal or make anything personal early. It's why he's still alive and at the top, in combination with any number of other effective traits he's nurtured.

So having a name for someone he doesn't know, personally - a real first name - that makes this game a little strange. He's not sure exactly how personal he should take it when no one meets him the next day. He drinks his shitty, expensive coffee and considers the line cast anyway. The rest is patience - eventually they'll get curious or creatively desperate. Or they'll decide they need to know which one he is. He can wait.

He's done drinking Starbucks coffee in the meantime. There's nothing in that $5 cup he can't get out of his own coffee maker. Jack's hardly poor anymore, but he likes living lean. Expensive made you soft. Made you forget to go places.

On his way out he notices the security camera turns away from the register to follow his exit and counts that as victory.


"I'm expecting your invitation to speak is still open?"

Jacks patience is finally rewarded nearly two months later, as he's watching the Yankees in his apartment. He has money tied up in the game, but when the ID on his cell phone had told him that it was delivering a 'blocked call', he'd muted the TV to answer it.

Opportunity didn't usually knock twice.

"I kinda get the feeling you want me to listen," Jack answers the voice - not the man in the suit. The man behind him. Finch.

"I'll be honest, you're not my first choice of conversational partners, no."

"I was hoping to speak to someone a little lower in the food chain," Jack agrees, watching the score numbers only, so the game couldn't distract him. He doesn't want to dance around too much, give the guy too much opportunity to reconsider. "Something must have changed."

"I'll be frank. We wouldn't be talking if I had any other option."

Bad news then. Jack finds it a little humorous, but keeps his peace. Waits.

"Can we speak in person? You'll understand if I'm a bit wary of cellular transmissions."

Jack doesn't like it. He'd trust John to follow the rules, but Finch doesn't even know the game. "With your track record of arrests, I'm 'a little wary' myself, Finch."

The conceding silence is short enough that it's not suspicious.

"Your choice where, then. I have your location, of course-" Finch implies he could have already done what Jack worries about, but he knows the bluff is only partial. He'd disabled the GPS in his cell phone a long time ago. "So I hope you'll pick someplace more accommodating."

"You like coffee?"

"Not particularly."

Jack brushes aside the thought that that would make Starbucks the best place to meet. Finally his mind settles. It's New York, there's plenty of public places to meet that it'd be inadvisable for either side to make a scene at.

"Well I don' t think we're at a stage where I feel comfortable asking you out for real drinks," Jack voices forth into the resounding silence, allowing his tone to turn honeyed with humor. John's boss really doesn't get out much. "Can you find something acceptable to drink at Petrie Court?"

The coffee there is at least drinkable.

"Since drinks are hardly what matters," Finch begins, but there's a sort of relieved smile in his voice. Jack answers the assent in his tone without waiting for him to complete the sentence.

"I'll see you there," he says. Central Park is neutral ground, outside both their usual territories. He pushes the issue. "I'm on my way."

"I'll be a little while."

"You got an hour. And no outside influences." Jack means Fusco, or any police for that matter. He doesn't give Finch long enough to construct a trap or have second thoughts, or himself for that matter. Honestly, he's already thinking about it, but he doesn't want the hired help in on this, and he won't risk loyal guys or the way they gossip.

Even if that'd be the quickest way to have a chat with the man in the suit, holding his Boss until he showed up.

"I'll see you within the hour, then," the voice answers, and the call terminates before Jack can voice that he doubts he'll see Finch.

The guy's not very tall, going for nondescript, but his suit was too nice, the coat looked like it had walked in off a tailor's mannequin - too close fitting and too clean to have come off a shop rack. He sits still and straight, with his eyes on the entrance in a posture of obvious expectancy. He doesn't want anyone else to think he's there to be social, risk looking unoccupied.

The Met's quiet this time of day, but there was always the chance. So his eyes, behind glasses, affix themselves to the glass door into the museum lobby and wait expectantly for Jack to come through it, oblivious to the fact that he's already sitting in one corner with a newspaper, and had been there nearly fifteen minutes before Finch had come in. He had watched the man come in and taken note of his order - green tea.

He looks vulnerable and exposed and Jack's instinct is to put a hand heavily on the man's shoulder as he passes, but he doesn't do it. He startles Finch with proximity instead - less directly threatening, he just passes with Finch on his right, taking his hat off to leave no question who he is before he drops into the chair opposite.

"I'm surprised to see you." Jack allows. He expected he would talk to John, to relate on the same level. He has no idea how he's supposed to deal with someone obviously in the next pay grade.

Finch mops tea out of his lap and spares a withering glare in Jack's direction for the surprise that had caused him to jump mid-sip. It rolls off without so much as dent in Jack's armor. The man looks about as threatening as a small rodent. Maybe a chipmunk, like the kind his cat sometimes dragged in from god knows where in the city and left on the kitchen floor with it's innards exposed.

"Here I am," Finch says, and drops the wad of wet napkins on the table. "This is just as unusual and unpleasant for me, I'm sure. "

He reaches for a dry napkin - can't stand to have even slightly sticky fingers. Strange habit for a handler. Jack just waits.

"I'll be honest. I'm in a bit of a desperate situation - which I suppose you had gathered from my willingness to contact you at all. Now that you're somewhat more at liberty..."

Finch fishes for information with a trail in his voice, waiting for confirmation or denial. Jack gives him neither but implies with his silence.

"...You might be able to help me."

That's a surprise, even if that was the only place this could be going if it wasn't a trap. If it wasn't still a trap. Jack's willing to stick his neck in the noose and find out. It beat waiting around.

"I was given to believe," Jack lets his city accent ride heavy on the words, 'work' words he thought of them. Business was always spoken properly in his background, but it didn't make him more than he was, the fact he could use the English language properly "That you already had all the help you could need in the sort of capacity I have."

Finch's eyes change - when he realizes that Jack is likely educated. That his intelligence extends beyond an animal cunning and creative cruelty. He likes it when his patience plays out like that. Apparently Finch doesn't like underestimating others about as much as he doesn't like having sticky fingers or surprises that increase his dry cleaning bill.

"That's exactly the trouble," Finch says, his eyes are cold wells of determination, his back and neck rigid. He's swallowing a pill that he very much dislikes. "I can't get to him."

"You lost him?" Jack asks, unable to stop his amusement. Even dogs got lost, he guessed. Or maybe John was just finally showing some of his own initiative, growing back into what he had been before (what Jack had seen in him the twice they'd fought), and Finch didn't like the feeling of his fingers slipping on the leash.

"Not exactly... It's not a question of finding him," Finch's sentence ends a little abruptly. The space is for a formal name, a parental chastisement, and Jack realizes that he doesn't have the information. He doesn't supply it. "It's a question of manpower."

"You can't get that from your pet detectives?" Jack arches his eyebrows.

"Not in the quality and quantity that I need - our - friend, John," Finch stresses the word oddly. "He's on a few lists that mean I have to be careful of the sort of company he falls into. That includes rescue parties."

So what was so bad that Finch would risk Jack's help over that of the police? Or what was the opposing force? Jack won't get the information without signing on. He folds his hands together and rest the sides of his joined fists on the table, leaning forward.

"I was hoping you'd be a little more reasonable to deal with than your - employer." Finch reminds him that he hasn't forgotten the last time they'd asked for help. "And seeing as you recently tried to contact us, I thought you might be interested."

Finch is putting the bone on the table now, but not throwing it like he would to a hungrier, less intelligent animal. He's adaptable. Good.

"I am," Jack doesn't beat around the bush - or explain himself. He doesn't need to, doesn't have to make Finch believe. He has the upper hand - and it so happens a genuine desire to be of assistance. "Where is he?"

"You understand that I'd like this accomplished with a minimum of bloodshed?"

"But you're gonna leave it up to my discretion as to what a minimum is, yeah?"

Finch doesn't like it, but he nods. He passes the folded napkin - he's been holding it in his hand the entire time - across the expanse of the table. He presses it flat to the surface of the laminate with two fingers on one edge and extends his arm all the way out until the opposite edge of the napkin touches Jack's folded hands.

Jack makes no move to take it early, to see how far Finch will extend himself. Not far enough to risk contact. Smart - he looked like the sort who had been bit a few times, putting his hand out to strange animals.

"The CIA has him. This is the last location, and so far as I know they haven't moved him."

Jack closes his hand on the paper napkin, then makes a sudden motion as Finch begins to draw his hand back, lunging with just his hand. He traps Finch's hand against the tabletop.

"I'll get him back," Jack promises. Where he's from, you sealed those with contact. Skin on skin. He lets Finch go - the man had winced when Jack touched him, but not in pain, exactly. He doesn't look at the address as he stands up, puts the napkin in his pocket tight against his thigh. "If you can makes ure he's expecting me, it might make my job a little easier."

Jack moves around the table, getting ready to go - Finch is looking up at him like he never expected the answer he got. Like he's trapped himself in a box of his own desperation and lunged for a solution he's now not sure he wants. Too bad.

"Wait," Finch gathers himself enough to throw a question out as Jack is passing him by. "What do I call you?"

Finch hates having to ask, both his hands now clenched in his lap on either side of the damp spot the spilled tea had left on his thighs.
Jack chuckles.

"I'm a stray, Finch. Call me whatever you want."

"I'll be paying attention, Mr. Stray," Finch warns, bitterly. "Very close attention>"

Jack lifts two fingers to his brow. Salutes. "Heard and understood, boss."


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