Word count: 786
Fandom: Person of Interest (TV)
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Harold Finch/John Reese
Characters: John Reese, Harold Finch
Additional Tags: Topical crack, humour
Summary: Concealing the Machine is never easy
CHANGE OF PLAN
John’s face is shuttered, more unreadable than ever. Finch waits for a response, touching first his glasses, then his tie, in nervous distraction. Finally John speaks.
“You said you wouldn’t lie to me. Not anymore.” He still hasn’t looked Finch straight in the eye.
“And I won’t,” Finch breaks in quickly. “Not about the essentials, not about important things.”
John’s lips thin.
“I would say this is a pretty damn important thing to have lied about.”
“Not a lie,” Finch blusters, “I submit, John, not a lie. I never said I didn’t know where it was, only that it would not be found if it didn’t want to be found.”
“And your reasoning being…”
John’s studied coolness unnerves Finch even more. He has to mentally rally himself, remind himself why this whole strategy was a good idea in the first place. And as he does so, a modicum of righteous indignation starts to reassert itself over his initial embarrassment.
“In the main, to try to keep you, and our other friends, safe. The Machine has laid a pretty good false trail all by itself, but there is such a thing as too clever, Mr Reese, even in our paranoid world. The Machine is safest with a physical footprint than it is buffeted by the four winds in cyber-limbo.”
John looks at him disbelievingly.
“And I’m going to be safer because it’s in your apartment?”
“You are aware of the concept of hiding in plain sight, Mr Reese? If the Machine is to be anywhere, why not somewhere where you yourself are unlikely to be?”
John looks at him archly.
“Only because I don’t get invited.”
Finch’s eyes go wide.
“Mr Reese… John… I never expected….”
John reaches out a hand.
“Can open it?”
Still wearing a startled expression, Finch gives him a confused shrug. John presses the handle and the door swings wide. Finch watches his face, now bathed in the unnatural glow of the Machine, for a reaction. He thinks he sees the barest flicker of a smile, and thinks he may be able to relax a little.
“The main processors?” asks John. Finch gestures towards the upper door.
“Freezer compartment. I never keep much in it anyway, apart from Bear’s Kongs.”
John puts his hand in and pokes at the packages on the upper shelf.
“Well, these don’t contain high security-clearance data, not unless the NSA is now into groceries as a sideline.”
“Ah, no, you’re right, Mr Reese. That’s fillet steak for Miss Shaw, and the other one is that smoked salmon you particularly liked last time.”
John straightens up again.
“Under the eggs.”
John looks at him in surprise.
“What if I wanted an omelette?
Finch thinks now he just might be being teased, so he responds in kind.
“We just get more eggs, John. It’s a simple process.”
John nods thoughtfully, and shuts the door. They are left in the gloom of the unlit kitchen.
“So why is this now a problem?”
Finch sighs, takes off his glasses and rubs his hand wearily across his eyes.
“Early this morning I received an unexpected delivery from the Carnegie Deli – the steak and the smoked salmon? It appears the Machine has taken to doing its own online shopping. I checked further and discovered that it has set up a number of email accounts via which it has been sending messages purporting to be able to supply high quality… um … medication for budget prices. Then only an hour ago, just before I called you, I received a package of… well … what can only be described as pornography. Quite tasteful it would seem, but of the … um … gay variety. Why on earth the Machine thinks I have a need for that…”
A smile is twitching at the edge of John’s mouth for definite now.
“You want me to take a look….?”
Finch starts back.
“No, I most certainly do not, Mr Reese! I just want you to … um… advise how best to recycle this particular white goods article so that I can move the Machine elsewhere.”
John ponders for a moment.
“Okay, I’ll call Leon to go get a truck. We’ll need those coveralls from, you know, that other job.”
“Of course, Mr Reese. Thank you.” Finch turns to go and fetch the specified items. John takes out his phone, but pauses before dialling.
“Hold on, Harold. So, where’s the Machine going to go next?”
Finch halts in mid-step, turns carefully and judges that he is probably now at a safe enough distance.
“Well, John, you recall that you were talking about a new expresso machine…?”
Author’s note: inspired by this news article
Cross-posted to POI fic on LJ and AO3