It's never laid out with the same delicate negotiation of terms as is the pay, or the danger, or the cover identities. It is an implicit understanding; at the end, Harold will be there. So when the hallway goes dark in a hail of bullets and plaster and blood, all Harold can do for Sameen is watch and bear witness.
The locked gate and closing elevator doors separate the living from the dying.
Root is alive. She shouldn't see this. But like Harold, and Lionel, and John, struggling vainly for a foothold, she won't look away. He pries her fingers from the cage and pulls her back from the fluttering dance of Sameen jerking with each center mass shot, spinning. Falling.
Harold holds her hand as the doors bang shut and the elevator lurches upward and there is nothing else but the crack of the single gun shot and Root's answering wail to fill the space.
In grim comparison, the ferry bombing had been mercifully quick.
◦ ◦ ◦
It's when the howling stops that Lionel starts to panic. When Root's dying animal scream cuts out abruptly and she collapses back against Finch's legs. Lionel doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to know that the FBI/DEA motherfuckers from the subbasement are in the stairwell now, racing the elevator to the lobby.
“What's the plan?” he asks because, despite all of his Alamo talk, Lionel really doesn't want to die like this, pinned down in a cargo elevator.
“At the moment? Survive.” There's a hitch in Finch's answer.
Root's gone quiet and John's stopped kicking his heels against the floor and Glasses is out of ideas.
The lobby is a no-go. Lionel remembers the layout to the service entrance, remembers that he's got a car parked on the back dock and guesses Reese has at least one more clip on him.
If he's going to die today he's going to do it getting these three to safety. He owes Shaw.
Lionel crosses the elevator and punches in the new floor number.
“Are you hit?”
“Get her up on her feet,” Lionel says as he ducks behind Harold to pat down Reese's body. There's a lot of blood but he's still breathing and he has a BUG strapped to his ankle. “Once we hit the service floor we gotta' move. You got that, buddy?”
“Yes. Moving sounds good.”
Good. There's something stronger than terror driving Finch's voice now, something that gives Lionel hope that they have a chance. The car is slowing down and in just a minute this day is gonna' either take another fatally weird turn, or, they'd get stupid lucky. Lionel drops a shoulder and hoists Reese up to his feet. He tries to ignore his partner's wet gurgling breaths against his cheek. Lionel makes his stand at the front of the elevator, the little .38 aimed true at the gap where the doors open.
Nobody shoots at them as they step out into the empty hallway. Stupid luck.
Lionel can hear Finch's queer shuffle-step a little further back, dragging Root alongside him as they hustle out of the building. She's walking at least. Reese is dead weight.
Out on the loading dock there is an unmarked van with tinted windows that wasn't there before, parked next to his sedan. The carpool. This party is going al fresco any minute now. He breaks out into as near a run as he can do with Reese draped over his shoulder and Finch limping behind him.
Lionel factors in a lot of stupid luck because they make it to the car and even though he has to juggle the gun while he fumbles in his pockets, he finds the keys, and he shoves Reese inside then they are all in the car and speeding away.
◦ ◦ ◦
Harold is jammed awkwardly in the back seat, John's head resting in his lap, his coat and shirt ruined and through the ragged holes he sees how much of a beating the Kevlar underneath has taken. There is still a pulse. Weak, but beating. New York Presbyterian is close but he can't risk going to the hospital. Too open, too bright, and too exposed. Too many opportunities for a waiting patient or staff member to notice and remember the Machine's band of battered troops shuffling through the emergency entrance. “90 Chambers Street,” Harold says over the din of the police radio. “And do hurry, Detective.”
In the front seat, Root is staring out the window at the phalanx of first responders racing in the opposite direction towards the Exchange. She hasn't said a word since they left. He wonders if the Machine is talking to her right now or if she's all alone in this moment.
Harold digs through his jacket for his phone. He has blood on his hands. While his means are still limited, thanks to the Machine's recent intervention, they are extensive and liquid enough to reestablish some of the more essential contacts from their previous lives. The arrangements are quickly made over the secure network and when Fusco screeches up to the building, Dr. Madani is waiting inside with a gurney and a calm young man dressed in scrubs who, at first glance, is obviously Madani's son, recently immigrated to New York with the rest of the family. They get Reese loaded onto a gurney and up the stairs. It's Fusco who notices the sticky dark mess of blood staining Root's jacket so the detective cradles her slight, slack body in his arms and marches to the top floor behind the doctor. Once everyone is inside the converted building Harold slides into the driver's seat and drives Fusco's unmarked car to the parking lot down the street.
There has been no communication from the Machine. Since, despite near incalculable odds, he's still alive, since Ms. Groves is still alive, Harold can only take the silence as a sign that this part of the mission has been a success and the Machine is pulling together the pieces for the next step. Even after the congressman, and Sameen, and John and Ms. Groves bleeding out in the rooms upstairs, Samaritan is still a threat and he's still taking orders from a machine.
Harold slips into the building and locks the door behind him before clambering up the stairs. Root is laid out on the hospital bed . The younger Madani is setting up her heart rate monitor.
“I'd hoped not to see you again so soon, Mr. Rail. You've expanded your operation,” Madani says as he checks Root's vitals. “She's lost blood but the bullet missed the vital organs. He got off lucky too, better than last time.” the doctor says, turning to John's gurney. “His vest took the brunt of the damage. I would need to run an X-ray to confirm, but I'm pretty sure at least four of the ribs are broken. And, there is still a bullet lodged in his shoulder.”
“How quickly can you stitch them up?”
Madani works on John and Root for the next two hours. After he has them both settled and sedated the doctor turns his attentions to Harold and Lionel. Bruises and muscles that will scream come tomorrow. They will live.
“Rehab will take some time. The floor has been outfitted to your specs so here will be more than adequate. I'll come by in the morning and check the dressings. In the meantime, Percocet, food, and sleep for you two.”
Of course. With John and Root stabilized, the next priority is the detective.
◦ ◦ ◦
Lionel has two missed calls from Captain Moreno when he finally gets around to checking his personal phone. Glasses and the doc are across the room, hovering over the sickbeds while the kid hooks up the IV tubes. Finch looks like he's back in charge now. Probably trying to figure out how long they're going to have to hole up here while Wonderboy and Fruitloops recover.
He hasn't made up his mind yet about asking.
Finch is neck deep in it, and it is an it, because if it was a they, some kind of undercover government operation, they would have sent fresh troops years ago. Hell, Root might be it, for all he knows. John works for it, and so did Sameen, and so did Carter. Lionel doesn't need much of a map to connect the dots. Sameen knew. Carter? Who knows, but either way they both wound up dead. John and Root have been on the operating table all afternoon because of it and Lionel still can't shake the feeling that under his cool, Finch is terrified.
He's not sure that he really wants to know.
Turning his back to Finch and the doctor, Lionel dials the station to check in. “Me and my partner are still out in Oyster Bay. Chasing down a lead on the WITSEC case ...Captain? Captain? ...Geez! It's been like that all day, rotten reception! ...Hey, hows that situation down at the Exchange? ...Feds, huh? ...How many bodies? ...Not a one? With that kinda' firefight? ...Yeah, tell me about it. Weird. ...Okay, here comes our CI, gotta' go.”
No bodies. Whatever they are up against is powerful. Capable of plunging the city into chaos at the flip of a switch. Mighty enough to bring down the world financial markets. Something took out the power to half the city, who's to say it can't take out the entire electric grid? The government?
Lionel's head starts to throb.
He's got more questions than answers but he is pretty clear on one thing, he can't go back to his kid, or the 8th until this business is settled one way or the other. He won't run out on his team now. He's got lots of debts to repay.
◦ ◦ ◦
“Detective,” Harold begins, after Madani and his son clear out. “Might I impose on you once again?”
“Sure. You need me to pick up the dog? Grab some food? Hey, if we're restocking I should probably pick up some more ammo, a change of clothes for all of us, and maybe toothbrushes or something.”
“No.” Harold limps across the room to meet the detective's eyes. He presses a sealed manila envelope into the detective's hands. “I need you to go home, Lionel.”
“Right,” Lionel snorts, turning the unmarked envelope over. “I'm going to catch up on my beauty sleep while your friends from the Exchange are still on the loose?”
“I can assure you, Detective, our friends are still out there and we will need your help when we meet them again . But, right now, I believe that our friends haven't made the connection between you and ...our little venture. So, the best way I can protect you is to get you as far away from here as possible.”
“Come on, Glasses. Wonderboy'll have my ass.”
“I'll be fine, Lionel. I still have a few tricks up my sleeve.” Harold taps a finger against the envelope. The faint smile that plays over his lips does little to belay the intent behind his next words. “This is... an insurance policy of sorts. In the event my sleeves aren't long enough. I have complete faith that you'll know what to do with the contents ...if it comes to that.”
“I'm not asking, Detective.”
“And I'm not going.”
Harold's mouth opens and then closes like he's going to keep up the protest but nothing comes out. He's only got one argument left.
“Lionel, you have a son that needs you. Please, go home.”
“Lee is alive because of Sameen. And I'm alive because you, John, Joss, hell, even Nutella... you guys kept me alive and gave me a reason.” Lionel passes the envelope back to Harold and shrugs. “I'm not going to be any safer at home if our friends decide to hit again. So I may as well stay here and help you guys finish this.”
“There is a good chance we'll all end up dead.”
“Yeah, well... We all gotta' die sometime. May as well make it count for something.”