It’s the same high, fluting voice that John has had in his ear for the better part of two years. The same voice that has calmly directed his every move, given him his every mission, restored to him a sense of purpose, of life beyond walking in the dark.
John knows his own body. He’s had to - his body, as so many people have told him over the years (sadly, sneering, righteously - in the end, is there a difference?) is a weapon, and any good soldier or cop will tell you the first thing you learn on the job is how to take care of your weapons. He has only one minute left of the ten he gave himself to find Quinn and extract Simmon’s exit plans. He’d hoped to make this clean, to get it finished and over with before Harold found him, but he should know by now that Harold is always going to find him.
Harold is talking now, voice so much softer than it usually is, and John can’t tell if it’s because Harold is trying to be kind or simply because his hearing is finally giving out. That would make John sad, somehow, to have his hearing go before he dies. He’s thought for quite a while now it would be good to die with Harold’s voice in his ear, a last seal of absolution for a lifetime of violence and death. He’s saying something about Joss, about how she wouldn’t want this.
The thing is, John knows she wouldn’t have wanted this, but he’s doing it anyway, because it’s all he knows how to do. He’s a weapon, and his own rage and grief have pointed him at Quinn and not even Joss’ own wishes will halt him now. Besides, he promised Quinn he was going to die, and he keeps his promises.
(except he’d promised joss too, hadn’t he, promised her he’d have her back, keep her safe, and that he’d look in on her son, and he’s going to be dead, so he won’t be able to keep that one, which is inconvenient, but then again harold will take care of it, probably, harold always takes care of it, take care of him- )
“We save lives.”
“Not all of them.”
He’d kissed Joss. He remembers that. But it wasn’t the kind of kiss he’s shared with Jessica, or Zoe, or any of the countless honeypot missions he’s been assigned to (he’s not thinking about Kara, he can’t think about Kara, she’s dead, don’t think about her). It felt more like - coming home. Like a warm bath after the end of a long day in the field and the pleasant burn of muscles worked to just the outside edge of endurance. Like making dinner with Harold fussing over Bear in the background, the rhythmic click of Shaw stripping and cleaning guns to his left.
And now he can only think in overblown cliches and metaphors, apparently. He really must be dying.
“Let us help you.”
Finch. Always trying to help him, since years before John even knew he had been. Poor Harold. Somehow he hadn’t given up, even in the fact of impregnable evidence that John was beyond help. He raised the gun, blurring eyes struggling to focus on Quinn, numb fingers barely registering Harold’s fingers over his own, attempting to stop him from doing the one thing he’s good at.
But here, at the last, his body fails him, the machine he’s honed his entire life breaking down when he needs it most, and he only dimly hears Harold’s voice fussing in his ear as his vision goes dark and his gun slips from fingers grown too weak and wet to hold it.
Harold’s here, though. He knows that at least, however the rest of his senses have failed him. Harold will tell him if he needs to wake up and kill someone. Harold’s here. He can - let go.