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Sine Labore Nihil

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John lances through the silence as he stares at the television. "You aren't used to this? I'm surprised."

If it's supposed to piss Jack off, it fails. He leans against the bars to feel some semblance of open air at his back and wonders what John is trying to get at.

"If you couldn't catch me, who else do you think would have?" Jack asks, and he sees with some amusement that the TV screen is blue - John is watching public access.

"I wondered if there were any mistakes you might have learned from," John answers distantly

"How about you? This seems pretty old-hat," Jack pushes back, because there's not exactly anything else to do. "You been in?"

"Never for real," John answers, watching the screen and allowing his tone to go vague and suggestive.

"Let's just hope this isn't 'for real' either," Jack answers, glancing at the TV and watches a familiar ad scroll past, surprised to see it still airing -

LOST DOG
Shepherd Mix
"Answers to John"
Missing since 11/11

"That's a long time to hold out hope for a missing animal," John says, faintly amused.

"Must be a really good dog," Jack agrees, knowing the ad is a duplicate of his earlier one - he'd only paid for it to run two weeks. Seems like they had noticed, after all.

"Or a really lonely person."

Jack refuses to be provoked, wills the screen to move on to the next message.

STRAY FOUND
Turned into local shelter.
For information call 555-3700
after 4/16

"That's tomorrow," Jack says, and then drags his eyes back up to the phone number. "Is that a go ahead or a wait?"

"That's a phone number," John says, with a gentle sarcasm. He touches his ear, and for the first time Jack notices the tiny device situated behind it, the clear tube running into the ear canal.

Jack admires the ingenuity behind falsifying John's records to include a disability. Technically the bluetooth earpiece should require a phone paired with it, but likely they're piggybacking any available device. They aren't quite as alone as Jack thought.

"Finch," John says, after a moment and his eyes focus upward, visualizing. "No I don't know how many other calls you've gotten," John says, his voice even, soft. "Does it really matter?"

The other end of the conversation is silent, not even the usual punctuated syllables of a cell phone, and Jack tunes John's voice out so he can play lookout, leaning into the bars and looking out into the pristine white hall, the green floor tile. It smells like antiseptic. Jack misses fresh air, and perversely, cigarettes.

He hangs his hands through the bars and watches - a half dozen other guy s are in the same pose, looking bored and broken down, hoping for anything to break up the monotony. As a punishment, surely this works. He wonders how Elias has endured it. Jack's pretty sure by now he'd have strung his shoelaces together and hung himself.

Kolitz rounds the corner up the hall and Jack is suddenly wary of the soft muttering conversation going on behind him as John relays information. And the guard hasn't forgotten Jack, either. He alters h is course threateningly, hand on his baton. Likes to wave that thing around, in Jack's opinion.

"You ever gonna let us out?" Jack taunts, shifts his position to direct his attention clearly toward Kolitz, so John knows something is coming and from where. The quiet conversation behind him ceases.

"Your lucky day asshole," Kolitz answers, looking malicious, but Jack notices that as he approaches he's careful to pay attention to where John's at in the cell, too. Maybe that's personal, Jack hopes so anyway. "Put your hands through the slot."

Jack doesn't like it - the rest of the cell block is attentive, watching. None of them have guards approaching to take them outside or even make preparations.

He glances back at John who gives no sign. Well there's only so much he can lose, and he's not afraid of the risk. Jack offers his hands to let Kolitz close the cuffs on his wrists.

"Nice knowing you, shorty." One of the other inmates taunts. "Have fun with the toughs on the quad."

"Oh is that all." He backs up from the door, making eye contact. Kolitz is watching him, waiting for Jack to spook at the information, so Jack doesn't.

They leave John behind, and Jack wouldn't have imagined before this that there was a situation where he'd rather have the man in the suit at his back, but this is it.

It's sunny outside, leaving long chain-link shadows and for a moment the light makes Jack squint against it - the high flourescents in the prison are hardly any match. Then he's outside in the yard - and he turns around to put his hands back through the slot in the door absently, hoping - maybe foolishly - to see Elias. His eyes are scanning back and forth, taking in the area when there's a hard yank on his wrists through the slot and he grunts involuntarily and pulls back on instinct. He's too late and there's no give - Kolitz has looped another length of chain through the connecting piece of his cuffs, and tied him there with his hands stuck to the elbows in the handcuff removal slot.

Jack has just enough presence of mind not to shout a threat through the door. The toughs - guys who had a reputation for fighting - haven't seen that he's trapped yet.

"Kolitz you son of a bitch," he hisses, and pulls back, tests his range, pulls until he gets the chains taut against each other. He twists as far as he can and then arches his back, braces a foot against the door for leverage, and then the laughter starts behind him and he knows he's got about twenty seconds to break the chain or he's in real trouble.

He hopes John has used the time to get his shit together with Finch and pulls harder, until the bones in his wrists threaten to give, and the chain doesn't. His foot slides and he only just keeps himself from thrashing uselessly then. He doesn't have time to reset himself for enough leverage, so he glances over his shoulder and finds two or three guys just out of range. They're waiting for his guard to lower, for him to panic - but it's a familiar face that catches his eyes.

In one of the isolated yards, a single figure. Not so tall, balding, glasses. Elias. He looks impassive when his eyes meet Jack's, not surprised, but Jack can see the anger there - how upset Elias is to have his 'hands' tied. Jack could almost laugh because he's probably about a thousand times more pissed that his are.

He can tell how close the others are behind him by how tightly Elias' fists curl, but he refuses to look away for a second, just waits until someone lunges for him to throw his head back, chains clanking against the slot, and kicks out. He connects with both, but it doesn't do him much good. He's just going to have to hold on as long as he can - and he makes it maybe two minutes by vicious flailing and twisting until the cuffs cut into his forearms before someone connects with the injury in his side and he loses his footing in the shock of pain.

As he's going down the tension on his wrists disappears, but his hands come out through the slot still cuffed and he doesn't hear the fight siren start until after he can't find a direction.