(Sniveling Disclaimer:) Do not own. Would like to. Property of the late Robert Ludlum as well as Universal Studios.
For this story, which I started as a ramble but suddenly realized had a plot, there will be both movie-verse and novel-verse, since I found that there were good sides to both. Exposition setting is right after the end scene in the Bourne Supremacy, shortly after discussion between Bourne and Landy.
Just a little tid-bit of info: The disorder that Bourne suffers from is not, per se, "amnesia"...it is a side affect of both multiple personality disorder scribbled in with a dissociative fugue. A fugue is frequently characterized by "actual physical flight from an environment and amnesia", and is usually triggered--in MPD's, that is--by certain memories (frequently traumatic) that cause the brain to shut-down and allow the usually passive personality to overcome the waking self. In the case of Jason Bourne, the passive personalities are both Cain and Bourne, and the waking self is the not-yet discovered Webb. With this in mind, the story might be a little bit...different from the usual fare.
Well, hope you enjoy. Please review and tell me if anything is wrong.
That was the thing he loved about New York.
...Loved and hated.
The second that Bourne was down the elevator, sweeping out of one of the many monstrous skyscrapers that hovered over the bee's nest of New York City, he was no one. Just another face in the crowd, periodically hidden as taxis, the rare civilian car and people swept by, oblivious to his presence, his name...even who he was. No identity. No knowledge.
But Jason knew better.
He knew a lot better.
He knew as his feet hit the first step of the stairs, heading through the yawning chasm of the subway entrance that he was no longer an anyone. He knew that the second he was down in that subway, someone was watching him, observing his actions, and wondering what he was and what he did for a living. Though the muted colors of the clothes, the short—now brown--hair and not-too striking face was not a different sight in New York, Jason knew that he was still a prime thing to watch.
Simple human curiosity. A curiosity fueled by intelligence and the need to understand what someone was, and who they were.
Unfortunately, both those things were objects that Bourne could not grasp. They were just barely beyond his reach, gloating at him. Fragments of memory would dart by, telling him that they knew what he was, and who he was...but they all refuse to tell him the truth, and to let him in on reality.
Cain mocked him.
Who is David Webb, Jason? Can you tell me?
I don't know.
Cain laughed, cynically ripping across his brain.
Of course you don't know. You don't know anything at all...
The train barreled along the tracks, screaming in its metal fury and bringing with it the hot breath of machinery, a man-made breeze that flooded the dreary settings of the station and caused a few coats and hair strands to flutter in the breeze. Grinding to a halt, and barely making the mark in the process, the train slowly jerked, and the doors slid open with a slight hiss.
First, it is courtesy. Those waiting to get in move slightly to the side, expectant from attack from the inside. When they get none, they seize the chance, shoving their way into the cars and grabbing at a seat or pole in the proud declaration that it was theirs. No one can take that seat from them. No one.
...That was, until their stop came up.
Then it was fair game.
Jason didn't bother to wait for those in the car to come out–it is ten in the morning, and though the lunch buzz would soon accelerate, right now traffic below the grounds of New York had steadied down to a quiet hum.
He would find a seat. There was no need to rush it, no need to hurry. There was no real place Jason had to go, no real home to flee to, so the best he could do was take his time. Washburn, in the few moments when he was not completely drunk, told him so frequently.
"Rushing the mind will not make it come back any faster for you."
"Then what will?" The unnamed man–Jean-Pierre--sat defensively, eyes watching the doctor's pacing with a sharp observance. As Washburn walked over to the sink and turned on the faucet, Jean-Pierre responded what again.
Moment's pause. Washburn reached for a paper-towel, and ripped it off the dolly before spinning around, eyes glittering.
"Patience." The towel flew into the trash before Washburn continued, "The mind goes at its own pace...not yours."
The unnamed man leaned forward in his seat, unsatisfied with the answer, and made a low sound in the back of his throat. "That's not going to do."
Washburn snorted, and turned towards the door before stopping, and pivoting his head.
"It's going to have to work for you, my friend. You are only crucifying yourself by thinking. Don't think. Let go."
Washburn shrugged, opening the door and moving through the doorway.
"Only you can figure that out, Monsieur." He stopped once again, and a faint smile perched itself on his lips. "My only job is to get you out of here."
So, he had to let go.
He could do that, in the subway, can't he? He could let himself let go amid the rocking motions of the train car, the screech of metal on metal and the suffocating heat, right?
You don't know unless you try, Jason. So let go.
Jason slouched in the seat, and tried to back out of his own racing mind, taking deep breaths and focusing only on the darkness that surrounded the subway. Slowly, the mind allowed itself to submerge. Memory began to ascend to the surface, just barely floating.
Who is David Webb?
Landy wouldn't have told him that to bait him on, to goad him. It wouldn't have been in her best interests to do such a thing–even if it was to somehow get him wound up in yet another goose-chase. What she had said seemed real. The words had jolted memory...and nothing fake could do that to the mind.
David Webb. Who?
Think, damn you! It's not that difficult. Who is he to you?
What? What are you writing?
I don't know.
That's not going to cut it. Think harder!
The memory glided to the top, barely making contact–
It's paper, a contract. There is his name, scribbled messily on the bottom of the sheet, in his hand but not in his name. He sees it, acknowledges it.
"Are you sure you are willing to go through with this?"
Jason knows that voice, that gravelly tenor filled with cynicism and a sharp intelligence. It followed him and haunted him for years.
Jesus, he doesn't want to go through this again, doesn't want to see another killing. Not here...not now...
But there's no murder. There's only him. Only this paper. Only Conklin leaning across the table and watching him, face seemingly ten years younger, but just as cold.
Words. This man–his name that Jason recognizes but doesn't know--replies to the question in a low monotone, reminiscent of today:
"I told you...I'll do anything it takes."
Conklin's eyes search him, scanning for lies and for truth. He sees something of a paradox, and leans backwards, lips pinched.
"So be it." Conklin reaches forward and gently takes the paper from Jason's grasp. He glances at the signature on the bottom, and then over the sheet at the man sitting across the table, then back down at the paper.
Visible sigh. Conklin pushes himself away from the table and motions towards the door. It's then that Bourne notices how white the room is–how sterile.
It's like home.
"Come with me, Webb." Conklin reaches for the doorknob and throws the door open. "We have a lot of work to do–"
Something jostled his foot. Jason reacted instantly, jerking backwards and throwing his eyes open.
A little girl with a huge lollipop in her mouth stared at him, eyes wide in something resembling fear. Bourne glanced down to see one of her tennis-shoe clad feet positioned where his foot once was.
Are little girls enemies now, Bourne?
An apologetic smile. Bourne inched his foot backwards and moved away from the frightened kid, who now stood in the shadow of her mother. The woman shot him a half-apologetic, half-wary glance before ushering her child towards the door. Within seconds the duo had rushed out, fleeing from the strange man and from the strange place called the subway.
Mind blank for the most fleeting of moments, Jason blinked and tried to reorient himself, glancing down at his watch and then narrowing his eyes to analyze the sign of the station outside.
Forest Hills and Seventy-First.
The park wasn't as famous as Central, granted, but Flushing was, in it's own way, a small slice of nature amidst man's concrete jungle.
Get off here.
Jason obeyed mechanically, pushing himself off the hard-plastic seat and slipping through the subway doors right before they squeezed themselves closed. The platform was in somewhat of a hurry, with voices filtering down from the world above and people moving up and down the staircase, but not as flustered as one might imagine.
Up the flight, out into the sunlight Bourne went, backpack slung over one shoulder. As he stepped outside, a gust of muggy, hot, New-York-summer air slammed into him, momentarily sending the man off balance, and he blinked. Cain was guiding his movements, now, and he did not know why this–of all places–had been his stop.
Once again--blindly--Jason obeyed, not thinking nor reacting. He allowed Cain—the voice--to guide him, allowed Cain to tell him to avoid the man on his left, to be careful for the young kid tailing carefully behind him (possible pickpocket, the voice whispered), and allowed Cain to drag him towards the heart of Flushing Meadows, and towards a somewhat simplistic bench near the vast globe that was now the new "soul" of the park. Jason sat down, instinctively giving looks to all flanks before relaxing slightly: "blending in".
He was, after all, the Chameleon. The famed monster that had been Conklin's blue-ribbon winner for a good ten years and had been Treadstone's million-dollar-baby. He was invisible, non-existent…a part of the scenery.
Such a gift was not to be wasted.
Conklin had known that.
Abbott—the arrogant bastard—had known that as well.
So now Bourne would blend in. Cain had receded out of his skull, leaving him with the ever-present shadow of instinct and with the ghost of memory flickering behind the temporal lobes, and now Jason was alone. He would take in the sights around him, analyzing and evaluating each motion made by every human being, and he would bask in a quiet solitude.
…If such a thing could exist.
"When you watch these people, Bourne, what do you see?"
The two are seated on a bench at Dulles International, observing the sights and sounds so discreetly that from a distance, it will entirely appear that they were complete strangers, stranded on the same seat with no previous arrangement except with destiny.
Bourne's eyes flicker at the question, scanning over the nearest carousel quickly before glancing down at the newspaper in his hand.
REPRESENTATIVE LUCA NEICKAO ASSASSINATEDit reads, headline screaming of a cruel crime against humanity. Jason allows his eyes to float over the subtitle and the photo accompanying it—car bomb wreckage—before shooting his mentor a sideways glance.
"I see organized chaos," Bourne says after a moment of silence. Conklin gives a grunt—he never liked that chicken-soup bullshit—before idly allowing the rolled-up magazine in his hand to hang. He leans back on the bench and puts an arm on the back, eyes still scanning like a never-ending camera.
Yet another beat of silence.
"That bullshit, Jason, is not needed here." Conklin uses the magazine as a discreet pointer, flicking it to his left before switching his gaze to his protégé. "Do you know why?"
Bourne has heard this lecture before, and has become so used to it that almost mechanically he replies in monotone. "No."
Another angry grunt. Bourne keeps himself from looking at Conklin, and instead violently jerks open the paper, eyes blindly scanning over the articles while he waits for a reprimand.
"Again, you tell me bullshit." Conklin's drawl becomes sharper and louder as he continues, though he still manages to keep his mouth almost motionless while speaking.
"I don't expect lies from you, soldier, and I don't like when you decide it's time to fuck with Daddy. Do you understand?"
A sigh. Conklin's rage has been deflated by such a dull answer, devoid of emotion, and he leans backwards, anger shrunk for the time being.
He has created a machine, and he knows that. No emotions are shown in his creation. It is a walking "yes" or "no", with nothing in between.
In spook-world, such a android is revered. It never responds with opinion, never sees gray, and lives in the existence of black and white.
But Bourne is different. He is not like D'Anjou, nor the Professor or Castel. The Professor is indeed a marvelous creation—non-responsive, unfeeling, non-reactionary. And Castel, --in his own brutality--is an excellent killer, but Jason is different. His background—now all but burned or buried deep in the limbo of Langley—is substantially separated from the violence and cruelty that most of Treadstone's finest immersed themselves in. It is not peaceful, by all means, but it has a different edge to it.
An edge that brings forth a mind.
Conklin knows there is a mind in there, and knows that it keeps to itself, but wants to find out what is in it.
...Because something tells him that if he does not understand that mind eventually, it will kill him one way or another.
And such a thing is unacceptable.
Bourne coughs-- a dry hacking sound- before folding up his paper and bracing himself in a motion to leave. The sound of impatience pulls Conklin from his introspection, and he allows his eyes to focus carefully on his prize pupil, who now is standing up and shouldering a backpack slowly.
"Where?" Bourne asks, sounding as dull and plain as ever.
There is that flicker of intelligence again, hiding itself but still on the move. Already Jason knows where he's going. He knows the international terminal, has memorized the gates. Nonetheless, surprise does sneak into his voice.
"Prague?" It is both a question and statement, asked succinctly and without pause.
The ticket and file information lie rolled up in the magazine—the most recent Time—that currently is held loosely in Conklin's hand. As though Bourne does not exist beside him, he slides the magazine across the bench and near Jason's reach, speaking as he does so.
"I thought the change in scenery would be nice. America isn't as easy going about assassinations as Europe, especially when the target happens to be a well-loved Congress member."
Jason knows the drill. Before any passerby can see, the magazine is suddenly gone, vanished into thin air and stuffed into a coat pocket. He gives Conklin the least-perceptible nod of acknowledgement before turning on his heel and striding away towards security. Conklin watches for a second, waiting for that moment—ah, there it is—when Bourne evaporates into the crowd, then slowly stands up himself, wincing at the bite of arthritis that sneaks into his left knee.
Damn old age.
The wind rustled through the trees idly, ruffling the collar of Jason's jacket and pushing him back in reality. It was a muggy wind, but somewhat cooler than the surrounding atmosphere, and Jason momentarily embraced the cooler feeling before it slipped away.
Now he was back.
…Still no sign of Cain.
It was funny, that the one being he hated more than the entire corporation of Treadstone, more than that bastard that killed Marie and more than even himself he was now relying on so intently. He had not known this being—Cain—for a long time, but the voice spoke with such a knowledge and control that Bourne felt he was almost obliged to obey it. It had never been wrong, never turned him in a foul direction, and though he didn't trust Cain, he knew when to listen and when to turn a deaf ear.
Now, alone with his instinct and memory, Jason felt rudderless.
What do I do?
You watch, you damn fool. You watch and wait for what I want you to see.
…Which is what?
Silence from the other line.
Jason sat, mind blank as his eyes took in the people marching to and fro, some with business suits on and others without—as well as the occasional tourist. Though most of the "outer-world" traffic drew itself up towards Times Square and Avenue of Americas, the infrequent tourist who—by luck or by some strange curiosity—did manage to drag themselves towards Queens never ceased to amaze Bourne, no matter how inconspicuous they tried to appear.
This one, camera discreetly held near the armpit, kept her eyes veiled in sunglasses and her badly colored brown hair held up arrogantly in a pony-tail. She didn't seem natural at all but held an arrogance that almost instantly fit in. Red-lacquered nails clutched at the neck of the camera and her head constantly swiveled about, as though looking for primary targets of shooting as she strode by, gait confident and very alone.
Once again: strange. Jason told himself to watch that one; no intelligent visitor—especially female--to the Fair City of New York would go alone unless they had a death wish or had a secret agenda playing beneath the big picture. This camera-woman would be no different.
Bourne kept his eyes discreetly tailing her before she pushed herself behind the globe, then abruptly found himself pivoting his head wildly.
Maybe it was instinct—or possibly memory—that suddenly demanded he do so. Cain continued to mute himself, sitting quietly in the back of his skull and watching the entire scene with amusement, but abruptly something was screaming at Jason to look.
Look there, dammit! Look now!
Jason moved without thinking, jerking his neck to the side and suddenly finding the breath in his chest constricted, as though he himself was being slipped through a vise. Memory ripped its way into brain matter, tearing and gouging in an explosive headache that raced through the nervous system, and the body froze itself.
It was a man. Walking somewhat stiffly—not in the best of shape--and with his business coat draped over a shoulder, he entered the corner of Jason's vision and continued to trail by, seemingly oblivious to the stare emanating from a form naught ten feet away.
The man looked familiar.
Jesus, he looked familiar.
Who? Who is it?
The man was leaving Jason's line of sight. That figure that suddenly sparked memory was leaving.
He could not let a key get a way. Memory just exposed itself, and he couldn't let it run. Not here. Not now.
But WHO is it?
Bourne pulled himself up from the bench, inhaling sharply at the lingering pain that suddenly came from his leg, and tried to keep the mysterious memory-opener in sight. He couldn't lose this person. Not here. Not now. Not rudderless and without a place to go.
Jason started walking, abruptly entering the easy room of shadowing. He wanted desperately to run, but knew it was out of the question. Instinct forbade it. Cain forbade it.
So he began to gently pick up speed, all the while shifting and using his eyes to keep the man in sight.
The brain fought with itself.
WHO is that?
Names suddenly flickered in front of the screen, racing through the inner eye at an incredible speed. Nothing was matching. Nothing was clicking. But then…
Jason stopped at once, once again feeling something squeeze at his lungs, and heard a mild exclamation of surprise from an unsuspecting bystander behind him who just barely kept from running into his back.
That's it? You just give me a fucking first name?
Memory shrank back, feeling wounded, as Cain slid onto the scene, smiling.
You don't want to know the last name, Jason.
Fuck you. What is it?
Do you REALLY want to know?
Yes. God yes.
Blinding light struck at Jason, and he took a step backwards as memory once again immersed itself in his brain, shoving images forth at a brutal pace. Jason outwardly shook his head, trying to comprehend what he had just been told, trying to understand…
Cain slapped down the confused inner brain, taking control.
You're brothers, dipshit.
Jason felt himself falling, felt himself getting ready to faint, and moved backwards.
Do you believe in coincidence, Bourne?