John pushed the glass door and a little bell rang as he entered the discreet store off of the 5th Avenue. His boss, the mysterious and vaguely eccentric Harold Finch, had recommended him this store after suggesting he upgrade his wardrobe, to one that would suit his new career. Finch had also certified that John Anderson's brand new bank account was largely supplied and that he shouldn't worry about expenses.
John was still a bit wary about this new situation. It all still felt too surreal to him. One day he was a homeless drunk about to make the jump, and the next day, he was getting recruited by a reclusive and nerdy billionaire on a secret mission to save the world. He still wasn't sure how much he could trust Finch. John liked to know who he was working for. With the CIA, he knew he was protecting his country – at least that's what they were supposed to do. It wasn't always clean, and they certainly abused his trust more than once, but at least he knew which side he was on. He had tried to find info on Finch, and had come up empty-handed, which, apart from the fact that his boss was clearly competent in hiding his tracks, didn't tell him much about him.
And that so-called Machine predicting a crime before it happened? That sounded like science-fiction. And even if it really existed, how could anyone trust a computer?
But it wasn't like John had much to lose, nor any particular place to be. If he didn't like the job, he would just walk away. A nerdy billionaire was not exactly a serious threat for a veteran CIA operative like him. And in the meantime, he could certainly get a couple of new outfits. At least, Finch had shown good tastes in clothes. And maybe they could even save a few people, like Harold had promised.
John slowly meandered through the store, his fingers lingering on the carefully folded shirts, and the suits hung in rows. He enjoyed the touch of the soft fabric and the view of the perfect cut of the suits displayed on mannequins. It had been quite a while since he last bought new clothes, not to mention high quality clothes. Wearing a simple pair of jeans and a plain gray t-shirt, he suddenly felt consciously underdressed.
A clerk approached, interrupting John's thoughts. "May I help you, sir?"
John smiled politely. "I just got a new job, I need to upgrade my wardrobe."
"May I ask what kind of job?"
That was a damn good question. What even was his new job? Mercenary? He didn't like that word. He wasn't for sale. He would never kill for money. He only agreed to work for Harold Finch on the promise they would be saving people. No executions, ever. Not anymore. What was he then? Some sort of vigilante? That sounded right out of a comic book. But lycra was out of the question. How does a vigilante dress, in real life?
John made a contrite face. "The ultimate New-Yorker kind," he said evasively.
"I see," replied the clerk, who wasn't seeing anything.
John's work would likely require some physical activity. He needed something that wouldn't hinder his movements. Something sturdy too, that could resist close-combat, possibly able to hide a weapon or even provide bullet-proof protection. But also, just like when he was working for the CIA, he figured one of the key parts of his job would be his ability to blend in the city landscape, make himself discreet, be invisible.
John walked to the suit section and started looking at the suits on display. "I'm looking for something classic and practical," he mused. "Modern, simple…"
His old CIA self would have gone for something simple, generic and inexpensive. But he was a new man, and his new self had an unexpected longing for something a little fancier. Maybe it was the sight of Mr. Finch and his fancy three-piece suits.
"Something elegant," he added.
He had the unique opportunity to reinvent himself, define his new self, find his new uniform. So, who did he want to be?
A suit caught his attention. It was a simple black suit, but with a nice soft fabric and a modern cut.
"That one," he said, pointing at it.
The clerk gave him a good look-over, then brought him the pants and jacket in the right size. John picked a white shirt and went to the dressing room to try them on.
He took off his boots, slid out of his old clothes and put on the shirt. He cautiously buttoned it, and flattened the fabric against his body. After six months of thrift shop hand-me-downs, it was nice to feel the smoothness of the fabric against his skin, to smell the freshness typical of new clothes. He tried on the pants and holding the shirt's cuffs with his fingers, he put on the jacket. Then he turned around to look at his reflection in the mirror and smiled. The image the mirror was sending him back wasn't half bad. He tugged on the shirt's sleeves to adjust them on his wrists and pulled on his collar to make it stand properly. Inspecting his reflection from head to toe, his gaze fell on his feet and he wiggled his toes in his socks. He'll have to invest in nice shoes to go with that suit.
Looking up, he brushed his chin with the tips of his fingers. He was just getting used to being clean shaven again. But he was quite happy to be rid of that thick beard. It was a convenient disguise but he liked himself much better clean shaven. He passed a hand through his hair that he had cut himself just a few days before. It had been a while since he had taken the time to look at himself in the mirror and it seemed he had gotten a little grayer on the temples in the past few months. The cut was approximate but after a stop by a barber shop, he'd look damn fine.
Satisfied, John picked up his t-shirt and jeans, put his old shoes back on and stepped out of the dressing room. "I'm taking it," he said cheerfully, walking through the aisles. "And five others, just like this one. And the white shirts, make it ten. Maybe a couple of those dark gray ones, oh and that lavender one."
His arms full, John grinned at the clerk and dropped everything on the counter. He paid with his brand-new credit card, not without an incredulous look at the ridiculous amount of money he was spending, and gave the clerk his current hotel address so that he'd get everything he wasn't currently wearing delivered.
He stepped outside and looked up, turning his face to the sun light. He tugged at his jacket's lapel, took a deep breath and stuck out his chest, a brief smile brushing his lips. Agent Reese was gone. His days as a hobo were finally over. This was his new self. This was Mr. Reese.