"Every so often I come across something of value that someone else has thrown away," Elias explains, with a tone that’s gentler than his eyes. "And that’s because I’ve learned to see what others look at first."
Elias doesn’t know how Finch and his associate aren’t aware of Ingram. Maybe Finch has made an effort to disconnect himself. Unlike the woman - Elias knew about the woman, too - no one kept tabs on Nathan.
"You know," Elias says, shifting a chess piece. "He owns all your old companies."
"I never really owned them," Nathan says, hooking a knight dangerously over and around the line of pawns that neither had bothered with since the lines met in stalemate. "It’s always been that he owned them - just now, it’s through a dozen or more different shells he owns under a dozen other names."
"It was probably easier when it was all through you," Elias encourages - he finds flattery a valuable tool. Nathan was decent at chess, but more valuable at painting a picture of John’s hidden handler. There’s a sort of abandoned bitterness there that makes Nathan less likely to watch his tongue - even over a ‘friendly’ game of chess.
"He told me it was," Nathan answers, moving his knight again in response to Elias’ play. It’s a sound move, but made in the moment. It’s almost listless. "For a while, I believed him - that we were equals. Even when I knew a little better, I believed him as long as I could."
Elias looks up from his consideration of the board, and takes in the player instead. Ingram has leaned back, crossed his arms over his chest and tipped his chin down so that strands of his bangs have come free to swing in his eyes, and he sighs.
"He doesn’t get that I did all this to protect him. He seemed so insistent that we shouldn’t get involved, shouldn’t try to patch the official gaps. I never thought he would - get hurt. But he did, because of me… and that’s when I knew I was making the right decision."
"Most people don’t take the loss of friends too well," Elias consoles, putting the picture together in his mind and trying not to laugh about it when it starts to be clear.
"Well, he never would have let me continue doing what I wanted," Nathan continues, tipping his hand as to his selfish reasons for the decision as well - at least he admitted them. "Once I got over the lumps, once I figured out it was possible, I didn’t want to give him the opportunity to talk me out of it."
"You both made the same mistakes, separately. You know, you could always just show up. Tell him you faked it, the same way he did," Elias leads.
"We’ve both changed," Nathan isn’t playing anymore. "He wants to do this and keep his hands clean. I think it’s better to have a redundancy in the system that he’s not in control of, for those times when that’s not possible."
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