The way back to the library was hart, John had lost the confident he had found in working the numbers with Harold. John had thought he could get rid of the monster Kara had woken, what he had made himself. John couldn’t believe Harold that he doesn’t mind. He had nearly killed him. He can’t remember it clearly but the hand on Harold’s neck and the sound of his back hitting the wall was burned into his memories. How could he have thought that Harold was an enemy, someone who wants to hurt him? The man had never done anything to deserve this treatment.
John takes the last steps slowly, avoiding the moment he has to face Harold, when his friend has to see the monster again. Harold sits at his computer, typing. John steps closer but stays out of reach. "Good work with Mrs. Hernandez, Mr. Reese." At Harold’s neck were still his finger prints, clearly forced into the older man's skin, they had changed colour over the last days, becoming more greenish and yellow. John felt suddenly sick again and leaves before Harold can stop him. He would just want to talk about it, telling him he was not to blame and guilt would help no one. The prints are prove enough how close he had come in snapping Harold’s neck.
If John had normally spend his day with Harold or in the park close to his apartment he had locked himself away in his bathroom, the only room that he could lock and was sure no surveillance was installed. It never bothered him before that Harold and the Machine could see every move he takes. It gave him security, made him feel protected, cared for ... a home.
"Mr. Reese we have a problem. Our number left through the back door." John cursed the man and runs around the building. Liam McCarthy was son to a low member of the local mafia, his father, unknown to their number disappeared with nearly one million dollar, now the life of his son is in danger and this was the third time the man slipped away.
John had to be honest, the last two times were his fault. He wasn’t concentrated and distracted by dark thoughts. But not this time, he couldn’t watch every entry alone. Fusco needed another few hours to finish up before he could help them. So John was on his own for now.
"Finch, I got him." John had catch up and decided it was time to tell Liam why his life was in danger. "We are heading for the safe house." Liam was not happy about John’s treatment but his attitude changed fast as the third group of armed men came to get him. The first two were eliminated without his knowledge.
John pushes Liam behind a dumpster with a growled 'stay'. It was much easier to stop them without having to watch someone. He pulls the gun and shoots the first one in the knee before the mop could react; the second loses in finger as John shoots the gun. The screams of both and were pain filled and loud. Screams he had heard before of his victim. And suddenly he freezes, for the first time in his life John couldn’t fight, as the first fist hit him, he couldn’t defend himself. The screams where still there and he couldn’t move. His vision gets blurry.
"JOHN!" Harold’s voice pulled him out of the darkness before it could swallow him completely. "John fight back, now." It was as if the voice at the other end of the coms could read his mind, listen to his thoughts and knew exactly what to say to make him come back.
John fights back. Breaking the one in front of him the nose and knocking the next one out, to surprise to react. One unconsciousness, three bleeding on the ground.
"Tell your boss Liam here has nothing to do with his father, try New Mexico." John punshed the man with the broken nose in the face again and knocked him out.
"Mr. Reese, I have prepared a new set of papers for Mr. McCarthy, I will wait for you at the safe house. Also I think we have to talk." John just turned the coms off and concentrate on bringing Liam to safety.
Nothing out of the ordinary, John brings Liam to the safe house, Harold gives him the paper for a new life under a new name and they bring him to the airport.
"We could have tried something else before we chase him out of his life." John says but didn't sound very confident.
"I might have suggested a few thinks, Mr. Reese but for them I would have needed you to be 100 percent in the game." John would like to argue but he has nothing to defend himself.
They arrive in the library and Harold leads him to a chair. John sits and waits. Harold returns with a first aid case. "You don't need to do this, I can do it." John reaches out for the case so Harold wouldn’t come closer.
"I will do it." Harold’s voice was hard and determent but John get up to flee and lick his wounds alone. "Sit down." This was an order. "You have never seen me really angry but I am now so sit down." Yes, Harold was angry, angry with John, so John waits patiently in his seat until the treatment was over, so he could disappear.
While Harold starts to clean his wounds John avoids looking at his neck. "Do you know why I’m angry with you?" He asks. John shakes his head. "I can over see many reckless thinks you do. Is it jumping into a river from a bridge or running into a burning building. These acts have a purpose but letting yourself be hit by men that have only one goal has no use at all." John listened, sometimes he wonders how Harold could watch and listen from afar. John couldn’t do it. He needs to react, to do something.
"John listen." His voice got softer. "I’m fine, you didn't hurt me, we are both fine and you are not a monster. The circumstances you had to live in forced you to protect yourself because you were alone and no one else would do it. But you are not alone anymore. You have me; it will take time until it had settled in. I don't blame you for protecting yourself, I’m glad you do it. Your survival instinct makes sure you come home at the end of the day."
Harold had finished the treatment with disinfection the wounds. John had listen, his hands were shaking lightly and he flinches as Harold takes one in his own. He lifts Johns hand and places it in the greenish marks in his neck. "I never felt threated with you, I feel protected, because you are not a monster. You are the man that survives and comes back."
A single tear appears but both men ignore it. Harold smiled at John and let him takes his hand back after a minute, it was enough for now. "You look tired." Harold notices the heavy bags under John’s eyes. "You could lie down a bit."
And John does just this. He gets up, lays down on the sofa with a clear sight to Harold’s work place and closes his eyes. Harold returns to his computer so John would see him when he wakes up and continues to work on a program he was creating.