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Posted October 27, 2011

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Series: Knowledge is Not Their Problem

Title: Benefit of the Doubt

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Rating: PG.

Summary: Reese can do a lot of things, but he can't rescue someone he doesn't even know is in danger. 500 words.

Spoilers: Person of Interest 1.5 "Judgment"

Notes: A serious episode tag, because positive resolution or no, there were a lot of ruffled feathers in this one.

The moment when Reese realizes he's protecting the wrong Sam Gates is the first time he's seriously doubted Finch since coming on board with him. Whether he'd intended to or not, on some level he must have actually believed Finch when he'd said he'd never lie to him.

Human beings always lie. To themselves, if no one else; it's the polite little fictions that keep the civilized world turning. But despite the fact that he knows the machine is a human creation, he's found himself trusting the data it spits out-- taking what Finch says about its programming for granted. He hadn't even considered that it might rank a schoolkid's life below a judge's, all other concerns being equal.

What's the point of sliding through the shadows to pick up where the government leaves off, if the most vulnerable people still end up paying for it? Reese can do a lot of things, but he can't rescue someone he doesn't even know is in danger.

He grits his jaw as he walks to the Library to patch up the bullet wound in his shoulder, trying unsuccessfully to leash his temper. It's unreasonable to expect anyone to be infallible. Reese has, in fact, repeatedly stalked Finch in an effort to uncover evidence of the human being behind the shield of mystery. So here is proof: Finch is not a perfect chessmaster; the balance of power is equal.

It's just that Reese has started to rely on Finch these last few weeks, and now he's wondering if his instincts have failed him. He should have been expecting an eventual conflict of priorities. But he hadn't. And if he'd been wrong about that, what else is he wrong about?

What are Finch's reasons for hiring him? How much good are they actually doing? If the system scans the entire country, how many people are dying while Finch's system cherry picks New York social security numbers?

It helps, a little, to know that Finch has reservations, too. He'd noticed the title of the book Finch was reading: It Can't Happen Here, a cautionary tale about a dictator coming to power in America. It doesn't take much imagination to guess what might happen if an unscrupulous politician got his hands on Finch's Orwellian machine.

In that sense, it can be argued that it's a good thing the government lets lesser crimes slip in favor of terrorism prevention. Reese is more than familiar with such justifications. But he can't look away from the human cost any more.

"I won't let him wind up alone."

And that's the one thing Reese keeps coming back to: that at the end of the day, he isn't alone anymore. When his bargaining chip fails, when the odds are stacked against him-- Finch comes through.

So maybe they don't have the same perspective. But maybe they don't have to, if they keep covering each other.

And maybe it's finally time Reese actually thanked him for giving him a job to do.


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