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Before: Ten-Ninety

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The duplex on Fargo Street is bigger and nicer than the safe house in Toledo, and after the security details leaves, Finn—or Isaac, as he really needs to start thinking of himself—really does feel almost like a free man. A lonely man, with a small suitcase of clothing he’s owned for less than two months and furniture that came with the rental, but there’s no handcuffs, no guns, no armed agents or officers. He can walk across the street to the park, drive his newly-leased truck if he wants to, go to the grocery store, go to work.

Agent Harris felt, and Finn agreed, that continuing in education wasn’t the best course of action for him. He’d never given much thought to construction, but he’s a big enough guy, it doesn’t require a lot of math or book smarts, and he gets along well with people, so with a little bit of work history from the Marshals, Finn finds himself the newest man on a residential construction crew.

Finn enjoys the work. He likes working with his hands and being out in the sun, and after over a month of being functionally housebound, he rolls up his sleeves and starts working on his tan. He gets asked out for drinks at 13th Street Pub with Doug and Cliff most Fridays. It feels good to make friends, even if nearly everything he tells them about himself is a lie. Isaac isn’t from Lima, Ohio. Isaac doesn’t have parents, a brother, a best friend that he’ll never see again. Isaac never did something so stupid, or got himself in so deep, that he had to leave the people he loved behind, crying over a wooden box with nobody in it.

When Finn shows up to the job site sporting a fresh bandage on his shoulder, Doug peels down the corner for a peek, then asks him what it means. Finn shrugs and shoulders a two-by-four.

“Means what it means,” he says, because even if he could explain about what and who he’s left behind, he still can’t really explain what the tattoo means. He shrugs a second time and adds, “My heart on my sleeve, man.”

Finn’s favorite part of working construction is making the runs to Capital Lumber to pick up wood, tools, anything else they’re running short of at the job site. The guy he usually deals with, Jerry, walks Finn through the items on his list if he doesn’t know what they are, which isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility, despite Isaac’s work history in construction. Finn likes driving the construction truck with the windows rolled down after he’s been at Capital, smelling the pine planks on the flatbed behind him.

The duplex still doesn’t feel like home, and maybe it never will. He’s still got a few months before he has to find his own place, but with what he’s saving and the good credit history the US Marshals gave him, he might be able to buy his own duplex, or maybe even a little house he can fix up. He knows how to do that now. He can make something new here for himself, a home, even if he’s the only one who’ll be living in it.