Person of Interest and all character names therein are owned by Warner Brothers, Bad Robot, and Kilter Films. All characters are fictional and resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental. No copyright infringement is intended.

Chance Meeting
by Sailor Chronos

Chapter 1

March 2014

Spring in New York City was fickle. Some days the weather would be agreeable with warm sun and an earthy scent in the air. Other days the sky would be a sullen gray with a cold wind that cut through all but the most robust clothing.

Irene was enjoying a rare day off from her job as a massage therapist. Normally the business was completely booked with executives and computer programmers whose long hours of sitting in flimsy chairs wreaked havoc on their backs and shoulders. However even therapists needed time to themselves, and this day was almost perfect. It was a bit chilly on the East River waterfront. The sky was a brilliant blue with the occasional cloud scudding by in the breeze, and while the trees were still bereft of leaves there was a definite whiff of flowers blooming nearby. Boats of all sizes crisscrossed the choppy water.

She noticed that a man who stood at the low steel fence watching the waves seemed out of place. Although he was of average height and slim build, the three-piece suit and long overcoat that he wore practically shouted "wealthy". He started at the snapping of a pigeon's wings as it took off over the water. Everything about his stance and movements showed tension, as if he expected an attack to happen at any time.

Intrigued, she walked casually to his side and followed his gaze to the opposite shore of the river. Addressing him in an even, non-threatening tone, she said, "Sit in reverie, and watch the changing colour of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind."

"Longfellow," he responded in a similar tone, acknowledging her presence without moving. His light baritone voice was smooth, as if he spoke frequently. Perhaps he was a university professor. "All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action," he said then, almost as a challenge.

She recognized the quote. "J.R. Lowell."

"You're familiar with the works of the Fireside Poets." It was a statement, but she heard the inquisitiveness in his voice.

"In passing; my mother was an English literature teacher and she made sure that I had a grasp of the basics." She looked at him and smiled. "Irene Ashby. It's nice to meet you."

He faced her, not by turning his head but by shifting his entire upper body, his brows knitting briefly as he did so. She could see that it was a much-practised movement, but his discomfort was evident. Obviously at some point in the past he had suffered a grievous injury and he was in pain.

Now that she had a clear view of him, her impression of the man grew. A pair of thick-rimmed glasses emphasized his blue eyes. He had a long oval face with short, spiky dark hair, and sideburns with a few flecks of gray. She judged his age to be mid-fifties.

"You may call me Mr. Wren." His phone warbled; after answering it and listening to the person on the other end, he slipped it back into a pocket. "I'm sorry, but I must be leaving. Good day, Ms. Ashby." He walked away with a pronounced limp.

That brief conversation served to whet Irene's curiosity. This Mr. Wren appeared to be an interesting man: wealthy, well-educated, and decisive. And given the injury he had, he could benefit a great deal from physical therapy, but it was possible that he never had time to seek it out. Idly she wondered if it would be a good idea to approach him with the suggestion.

That is, if she ever saw him again.

Several weeks passed and she had all but forgotten about the enigmatic Mr. Wren due to her busy schedule. However by some random chance, she happened to spot him early one morning as she made her daily loop of Roosevelt Park on her bicycle. He was sitting on a bench reading a newspaper.

She stopped in front of him and the squeak of the bike's brakes attracted his attention.

After a brief moment of recognition he nodded politely to her. "Good morning, Ms. Ashby," he said as he began to fold up his newspaper.

"Good morning to you also, Mr. Wren," she replied with a smile. "There's no need for you to get up; I need a break." She dismounted from the bike, set it upon its stand, and removed her helmet. As she did so, several locks of her greying blonde hair blew across her face, and she brushed them aside. "I'm glad to see you again. Forgive my presumption, but do you have a few moments to talk?"

He indicated that she could sit with him. "Please make it brief, Ms. Ashby. I'm currently engaged in a... rather difficult task."

Irene could see nothing difficult about reading a newspaper, unless he was referring to his job. However it wasn't her place to ask that. She sat next to him and pulled a business card from the pouch belt that she wore. "I noticed your limited range of motion the last time we met, and I thought you might benefit from therapy." As he glanced at the card she continued kindly, "Although it won't restore complete functionality, it can ease undue stiffness."

"Your concern is appreciated, Ms. Ashby," he said somewhat flatly, "but it's unnecessary." The set of his mouth made it clear that he found the subject distasteful.

She snorted quietly, being very familiar with this reaction. "I don't do 'that' type of work, Mr. Wren," she assured him while trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice, "and I find it unfortunate that many people equate massage therapy with sexual favours. The business is legitimate and I have multiple references should you choose to inquire."

His expression softened and he consented to put her card in a pocket. "I cannot guarantee anything, as I am extremely busy."

"A man who dresses so elegantly and has an abiding interest in literature surely can appreciate the extent of human talent," she observed, and in further defense of her profession she added, "Massage is as much of an art form as sculpture or playing a musical instrument." She rose, smiled at him, and then put her helmet back on. "All I ask is that you consider it."

His eyes met hers and he gave the slightest of nods before picking up his newspaper and standing. The action was plainly meant as a dismissal of the type a professor or CEO might use, but it didn't ruffle her. She had dealt with many such people through her business; once they came through the door they were all the same to her. Kicking off her bicycle stand, she nodded to him. "Thank you, Mr. Wren," she said before riding away.