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Points of Departure

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He can't actually point to one moment, a specific point in time where everything is done. Instead he realizes one Friday that it's been two or three days since he last uploaded a major software update. He wasn't entirely sure--his sleep cycle had been off for weeks as they'd gotten closer to their goal.

So he waits, greeting each new offering from his machine with fear and anticipation. Will this be the information that proves to be incorrect? Did he miscalculate somehow, write bad code somewhere? As each piece of information pans out--some more quickly than others--it's a slow descent from the mania of creation. He misses it but his relief makes up for it. He's done it. Only a handful of people in the world know what he's accomplished; that's more than enough.

He continues to monitor the information closely for another month: a group of men arrested in Florida, a man in Beirut... It still takes people to interpret the information, to dig for the evidence and act on it, but his machine sees it, sees what he taught it to see.

The information he coded as irrelevant catches his interest. One night when he couldn't sleep, he tracked what had happened to some of those numbers; it confirmed what he believed already about the success of this work. Too much risk to his machine to do anything with the information, though.

He tells himself that it's the way of the world and sends Ingram to represent them both in yet another meeting with the NSA.

Maybe the man he had been died en route here, gasping his last breaths.

Stanton brings out the photo of Jessica and he realizes that the moment he saw her was an entire lifetime ago, another self who still bore the traces of history, of a 'normal' life. Jessica was a reminder that he wasn't that man anymore.

He let Jessica walk away at the airport because that's not him: the man who Jessica once loved.

Stanton did the christening; new name for a new man, ready to do anything. He's doing it because someone has to do the dirty stuff.

John Reese, American expat who says he speaks only minimal Hungarian, who is in the country on business.

Reese, who takes lives and tries not to blink at it and tells himself not to feel.

Joss cleared the table, wrapping the last of the birthday cake and putting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. A familiar activity; her mother's apartment was full of memories of moments like this. Mama was sitting on the couch, ostensibly watching the late news; Joss had told her to watch for the weather, but really she just wanted Mama to sit for a bit. Taylor had only invited a few close friends at her insistence, but Joss knew it was wearing for her mother to have that many children around for the party.

Her little boy turning nine; hard to believe how tall he was getting. She didn't know yet if Taylor would get his father's height, but he was certainly a beanpole at this stage.

She went and sat next to Mama on the couch; Mama gave her a smile as she slumped in a similar pose.

"What are you going to do with your day off?" she asked. Taylor was spending the night here; something he did often enough. Tonight he'd be too excited to fall asleep right away, anxious for his special post-birthday Grandma time tomorrow.

"Sleep in a bit," she said. "Maybe go clothes-shopping."

"Buy something nice for your date," her mother said. Between Mama and the women from her church group, Joss suspected she could have a first date every weekend of the month, if she allowed them free rein.

Leaning against her mother's shoulder, she said, "Mama? The new clothes are because I got promoted. It's official."

"Detective?" her mother asked. She looked both wary and proud.

Joss had been debating telling her mother the news; Mama hadn't approved when she chose not to use her law degree after all and went to work for the NYPD in two thousand four. Taylor had already caught Mama's attitude about her work, even though he was only nine. But she'd wanted to do something real, to create a safer world for her son.

"Detective, third grade," Joss said with a deliberately self-important tone.

Mama laughed, as she'd hoped. "I'm--I am proud of you, you know that."

"Yes, I know," she answered.

"You be careful, though."

This was what she'd been waiting for; it was routine after this amount of time, but going from officer to detective made it tangible. She was going to do this.

Joss sat up and looked Mama directly in the eyes. "I'll do better than that," she said. "I'll be smart."