This is my new story. It's a sequel to Small Things and you really have to read that first! It takes place between that and the movies.
I hope you like it and I REALLY hope you leave a review. There's not a lot of traffic in this community so I'd love to hear each reader's opinion!
"How'd you get this scar?" he asked, lightly running his thumb along the thin white line spanning almost the entire length of her inner right forearm. He'd seen it dozens of times; she made no effort to cover or hide any of the scars scattered across her body, but it caught his attention today and he asked about it for the first time.
"Her eyes met his, searching them for some meaning hidden behind the sudden question. She saw nothing other than simple curiosity and although it twisted the invisible knife that she carried lodged deeply in her heart to do it, she answered the question as he'd asked it, simply stating the facts.
"I went through a stained-glass window in Barcelona."
He knew that she was telling the truth. Her answer had been direct and there was not a hint of dishonesty in her response. But he also recognized that she was withholding something from him. He saw the hesitation that came before her answer and the pain in her eyes as she'd spoken was as evident as the truth that she was telling.
His eyes hadn't left hers since he'd asked the first question and although his tone of voice remained gentle, she understood that he was asking her for what she'd left unsaid. He wanted to know why she'd hesitated. He knew she was hiding something from him and that whatever it was was intensely painful for her and he was still requiring an answer from her.
She wasn't ready for this.
She had expected questions from him, about his past, but as the months had passed and they never came, she had grown accustomed to this new relationship with Jason. He seemed oddly content with the gaps that he had to recognize were there, in his memory. She'd never hinted about their past to him. She was afraid of how much it would hurt her to press him for those precious memories of them that he no longer had. And she was outright terrified of what it might do to him to realize the enormity of what had been lost to him. But most of all she knew that if he ever discovered the reason that had prompted him to voluntarily walk in to that building that she'd lose him again and she'd decided to hide it from him at all costs.
If and when the questions finally came, she'd answer them factually, truthfully, but she'd keep their relationship a secret from him. She was determined that he'd get no chance to walk away from her again. She would not allow him to discover the reasons he had turned himself over to them for retraining. Those dangerous memories belonged only to her now. He'd thrown them away when he'd made the terrible choice; not once, but twice, to leave her.
They'd been together for a few months. But their time together was so precious and so scarce that they'd not had much of a chance to talk. It had begun with an evening flight to Naples followed by a single night in a hotel before an early-morning rendezvous with a local contact. She'd returned to Paris immediately following the meeting while he stayed to complete the assignment.
It had been the first time he'd been alone with her outside of the confines of the office since he'd returned and he hadn't been able to resist the feelings that he had for her.
He'd recognized how risky their encounter had been and she had still been fighting the temptation to restart a relationship with him so they'd each decided, separately, that it could not happen again.
But then he'd come back from the mission. And neither of them could deny the pull that they both felt when he sat in her office for the debriefing. He was careful, waiting almost a whole week before slipping into her apartment in the dark of night and back out again before dawn.
Almost all of their time together was closely monitored and they dared not say or do anything that would betray their relationship while under the watchful eyes of Treadstone but they were each adept at reading the other's face, sensing the meanings hidden behind the innocuous words that they traded in front of other people, and Jason knew that his simple question had rocked the usually steady Nicky. He just didn't know why.
He waited for an answer that he slowly realized wasn't coming. What was it about his question that upset her so? Her face had fallen, not when he'd asked the question, but when she'd failed to find whatever it was that she was looking for in his eyes. What had she been hoping to see so badly? What had he failed to give her?
The silence stretched out between them.
"I should remember." He spoke softly but with certainty. "There are gaps… things I know I should remember… that I don't." His words tipped the tears that had been pooling in her eyes down her cheeks and he knew he was right.
"I'm sorry." He whispered. She didn't answer, couldn't really.
"I... was there" his words came out as more of a question than a statement despite his feeling of near certainty that he was right.
When she finally spoke her words confirmed his belief. "We went through that window together." She looked away from him as she spoke, her eyes losing focus slightly, remembering. "You wrapped your body around mine and threw us both out that window. My arm caught a shard of glass on the way out, but you saved my life."
"Why don't I remember?" He looked at her and saw the pity that was etched in her face as she answered his question. "They took you to New York... for retraining." She reached for his hands. "I.. I don't know what they did to you, but you were gone for six months and when you came back, you didn't remember anything. It was like you were meeting me for the first time. They told us... we should behave like you were new to the program... you weren't the first to go through that and I knew what to expect, how to act, but it was... difficult.. for me."
She braced herself for the next question. He'd ask her why. He'd ask her why he had had his memory wiped and she knew that he wouldn't miss the lie that she was determined to tell him. But he didn't ask.
Instead, he returned to the scar on her arm. "Why? Why did we jump through a window?"
She took a deep breath. You can do this. This is the easy part. Just stick to the facts exactly like you planned, and you'll get through it. "We were running from a Serbian agent trying to kill us… well, me. But we got away and we made it to a hotel room." He interrupted her. "Why was he trying to kill you?" This little piece of information worried him. He had always thought Nicky perfectly safe when he left her each time for one of his assignments and it was jarring to realize that, maybe, he had been wrong; that her job was more dangerous than he realized.
"I had just completed an assignment in Belgrade, with another agent, and I hadn't had time to go home before they sent me to Barcelona to set things up for you. I didn't realize that the file I had downloaded contained a tracker virus. As soon as I opened it, it activated." She was still frustrated at herself for failing to detect the virus. She had run it through the software on her laptop and although it had come back without any evidence of malicious programming, she still should have waited until she was back in the office and had the IT guys take a look at it before she opened it. But she'd wanted to stay in Spain with Jason and had decided to risk it.
"They found you." he prompted when he realized that she'd gotten caught up in a memory.
"No." She corrected, "They found you. I was staying in a hotel and had already left to check in but I'd accessed the program in the apartment that you were stationed in and that's where he went looking for me. You killed him and then you called me. We met outside at a cafe... and they found us again."
She had cursed her stupidity in opening the file and had been relieved to find Jason unharmed when she sat down across the table from him. It hadn't occurred to her to tell him about her time in Belgrade or the file that she'd accessed in the apartment. The two of them had always maintained a purely professional relationship despite their evident interest in each other and she hadn't had a professional reason to talk to him about her work with another agent. The surprise attack he'd just endured at the apartment could have been avoided had she just opened up to him, but she knew that the real fault lay in her desire to stay with him in Spain. She should have gone home but the ridiculous little crush she had developed had caused her to linger and led to a mistake that had almost cost him his life.
She filled him on what happened. She'd copied the file onto a secure hard drive and deleted the active program as soon as Jason had called her then she'd packed up all her stuff and run out the door.
She never saw the agent following her. But Jason did. He'd yanked her around the corner and they'd run, finding a church with an open door just a block away. The agent followed them in to the darkened church.
Jason and Nicky kept close to the wall, dropping low to hide behind the pews. They slipped quietly around the corner and into the transept just as he caught up to them. It was a dead end; he had them cornered.
"Give me the file." His gun was directed at Nicky but he kept his eyes on Jason, who he recognized as a threat. Jason's gun was trained on him, ready to put a bullet in his brain the second he made a move toward Nicky. "Put the bag down and back away, Nicky." he ordered her.
She hesitated. This file was important, much more important than they'd initially thought. They wouldn't have put so much effort into getting it back it if it wasn't and she didn't want to lose it. She clutched the bag she'd packed in her hotel room more tightly.
"Nicky..." Jason spoke quietly, but the warning was clear in his tone. He needed her to back away from the other agent. If she would cooperate, distance herself from the guy, he'd be able to take him out safely. She heeded his warning and reached for the strap holding the bag across her shoulders but before she could lift it over her head someone burst through the door of the church and when the agent turned Jason took his shot, dropping him. Then he wrapped himself around her body and threw them out the window.
They hit the ground hard, but Jason was up and running, half carrying the stunned Nicky, before the second attacker could make his way to the window.
Nicky paused her story. She'd answered his question and prayed that he'd be satisfied without hearing the rest of the story but he motioned for her to continue.
"We made it to a hotel room and called it in and the extraction team gave us orders to sit tight while they dealt with the target, but..."
"There was so much blood." Jason whispered. A half-remembered image floating to the surface of his mind. "You needed stitches. We couldn't wait."
He can't remember this. Nicky felt the delicate stirrings of hope deep in her chest and it scared her. She knew that what she hoped for so desperately wasn't possible and she had learned to quickly push those feelings back down before they had a chance to grow into something that was too big for her to control. Something with the power to hurt her. But Jason continued speaking, feeding that feeling, and this time she couldn't stop it.
"You had a med kit in your bag." He pulled her arm towards him as he sat facing her, subconsciously recreating the position that they had taken as he'd stitched up her injury that afternoon in the hotel room. Then he was silent for a moment as he struggled to remember.
"Twenty-three". He didn't offer any explanation for the number but looked at her for confirmation. She nodded. He does remember her mind stubbornly insisted, even as she struggled to squelch that dangerous thought. "I put twenty-three stitches into your arm, with no Lidocaine, and you never made a sound." He bent down and kissed the scar gently and her mind spun. He'd done the same thing when he'd finished sewing up the wound two years ago. He'd bandaged it and then… he'd kissed it.
That had been the beginning of it all, for them. It was the first time they'd broken through the strictly professional boundaries of their relationship. It was a small thing, that gesture, but its meaning had been profound.
And he remembered. Somehow, impossibly, he'd remembered them.
Alright. Let me have it. Reviews! I'll add some more to their story once I get some... :)