The Girl Behind the Desk by THECURSOR
I own Nothing
Two years before the Wombosi Assignment...
"Would you like to get a cup of coffee?" It was a simple sentence, nine words and a question mark, but to Nikki Parsons they were just as rare and as unprecedented as a total eclipse of the sun. Every month, the Treadstone operatives would check into her office as regular as clock work for a quick assessment of their physical and mental health. It wasn't exactly an indepth series of meetings. They'd walk in, answer the questions provided by Dr. Hirsch in New York that would give her a general outline of their current status. Most of them never answered with more then a yes or no and the always left immeadiately after it was over. She usually never even got a goodbye. But this one...he was trying to connect. To reach out for some reason.
"Um..." Nikki was so stunned that she forgot to actually answer him, in the month and a half after Conklin hand picked her for Treadstone she hadn't had a conversation about something other then buisness with anyone. Not even her mother who just seemed to call her from Washington just to ask her how what it was like following in the family footsteps. This sudden desire for companionship from one of the men she had regarded as a robot had blindsided her "I don't-" She really should have said 'yes', if she had the chance all over again she might have. But she was still new to the job, still a rookie on her first major field assignment and she remembered what Conklin had said when she took the assignment 'Don't get friendly with them, don't try and be their buddy. These boys don't play nice with others'
"I don't think that would be a very good-"
She watched with a feeling a sadness as Dr. Hirsch's programming soon clamped down on any possible expression of disappointment or anger. "Forget I asked." said Jason Bourne.
"I brought you coffee." She said as she handed him the steaming mug and he blinked at her with a puzzled expression. For some reason, he looked as thought he'd forgotten all about their exchange at the last status meeting. "You remember? Last month"
He blinked as the wheels turned in his head and she watched as his face scrunched into a sour expression. "Oh." He said. "I forgot." Nikki watched as two hands that could probably end her life faster then most people could sneeze carefully grasped the mug of coffee and brought it to his lips, unconcerned about what temperature the liquid was. His brow furrowed a little as he realized just how often he was starting to forget things.
"Some times, I don't remember things."
"You're only human." Nikki regretted saying it almost as soon as it left her mouth, it just seemed to patronizing and the man she knew as Jason Bourne visibly winced when he heard it.
"Do I have an assignment coming up?"
"There's nothing on the schedule, do you want me to call Conklin to-"
"No, I'm fine." He started to leave, putting the coffee mug back on the table without even bothering to finish it. Part of Nikki knew that she probably should've let him walk out, her standing orders were to report any odd behavior in the Treadstone operatives without actually interacting with them. Interaction was Hirsch's job and this was a definite violation. "Wait."
Bourne just stopped, almost like some kind of robot, and turned around to face her.
"Maybe...I don't have any work right now so maybe..."
"Maybe we could get that cup of coffee."
The conversation seemed to shift into an extremely awkward form of interregation, with Bourne visibly uncomfortable and Nikki even less happy about the situation. "We just had coffee." Bourne muttered, still moving to the door but much more slowly this time.
"You had coffee, I haven't."
"Finish the rest of mine."
"I don't...What I mean is, I'd like to have coffee with you."
"You didn't last month."
"I was busy last month," Nikki was struggling to out think him, he was moving so fast, coming up with reasons why they shouldn't actually have coffee or excuses for why they had already had the previously mentioned coffee. "And I thought you had forgotten all about that?"
He watched her, staying silent for somewhere inside of five minutes before finally acknowledging her victory. "Get your coat."
Six awkward conversations over coffee, twelve uncomfortable dinner dates, followed by a strained series of makeout sessions and Nikki Parsons finally discovered something about Jason Bourne that was neither cold nor inhuman.
And every morning after, while she was rushing to get dressed, she regretted finding out. What seemed strange was that Bourne seemed to be taking this new intimacy much better then she was. The man who was uncomfortable with talking about current events over coffee and was too shy and paranoid to have a polite dinner would offer to cook breakfast, kiss her before leaving to go to the job set up for his cover identity, and even offered to do her laundry. There were few things more strange then watching a professional killer get "clingy". She knew she was in trouble when someone started sending flowers to her office and the other handlers for Treadstone would make fun of her for having a "secret boy toy". Nobody knew it was Jason.
Part of her felt bad for using him. He was getting all gooey and close and all she was worried about was how it would affect her career. She knew at some point, this was going to come back to bite her.
"He botched it!" Nikki blinked has Conklin's voice screamed at her through the telephone, she hadn't even said 'hello' yet and he hadn't even coded in. "Um...please authoriz-"
"I'll authorize this call when I'm good and ready Nikki!" He screamed, "First I wanna know why one of our thirty million dollar wonder boys couldn't kill one fucking drug lord." She had a sinking feeling which 'wonder boy' he was talking about but dared to hope it wasn't.
"Bourne botched the job Nikki, I saw it with my own eyes. He got distracted or something." Nikki winced when she heard that, her mind raced through the very short list of things that could've distracted a living weapon. They all had her name on them.
"His welfare is your job Nikki, find out what's throwing his game off." Conklin had stopped screaming, this wasn't a conversation you really wanted anyone to over hear after all, "Find out what's eating him and plug the hole."
"What if-" She cleared her throat to try and keep the emotion out of it, "What if it's a unknown attachment?" An 'unknown attachment' is Treadstone code for 'girlfriend', a rarely used piece of spy slang that often made Nikki wonder who came up with these code words.
She heard Conklin go cold over the phone and when the man spoke again he seemed much more formal and professional. "Follow procedure." and then there was a click on the other end of the line.
Standard procedure for 'Unknown attachments' dictated that if any Treadstone operative violated the program by having a steady relationship, it was Nikki's job to end that relationship.
With force if need be.
Most relationship handbooks didn't really have the chapter on 'How to break up with your Boyfriend the CIA Super Soldier'. So she figured it wasn't really a common problem. Across from her at the table, Bourne seemed to sense her unease. Nikki entertained the idea that maybe he had seen this coming or that he knew this was going to happen before she did. She wondered just what Conklin had been saying to him in those little pep talks he gave all the Treadstone Operatives.
"Jason," She said as she poured another glass of champagne, "We need to talk."
Life at Treadstone, if it could really be called life, seemed to get back to normal fairly quickly. Bourne took the break up very well. Or if he wasn't taking it well, he didn't let on. He ignored Nikki for the most part and that actually seemed to hurt a little. She was loathed to admit it, even to herself, but she'd come to like him.
Beneath years of conditioning and training, Jason Bourne had a very soft and funny side that seemed very sweet and caring. He was nicer then the other operatives, more polite, much more human. She sighed as she watched him go in and out of the office for his assignments and check ups. It was like he didn't even notice her anymore, like he was already starting to forget her. She wondered if bottling all of that in was really healthy. If there wasn't some major emotional flaw in Dr. Hirsch's super soldier formula.
They spent a year like that, ignoring each other and staying very professional. Before she even realized it, she barely even noticed him any more. He became just another operative.
Something changed one day and she didn't know why but for some reason, Jason Bourne was the first one to bring it up the night before he left to take out Wombosi. "Thank you"
She looked up from her paperwork, puzzled by his remark. "For what?"
"Just..." He struggled with it, got this cute smile on his face, then struggled again, "Just thank you." And then he was gone, off on some other mission that would doubtlessly end with some one, some where meeting their death.
After The End
The grocery bag dropped onto the counter as Nikki Parsons returned to her London town house. Three weeks into her extended vacation, she had decided that going back home to visit her folks might've been more trouble then it was worth since they'd do nothing but ask her questions about along the lines of 'are you okay?' or 'did they hurt you?' and she had more then enough of that during that CNN interview. She just wanted to get back to normal and but it behind her.
Not that it was going to happen any time soon, Landy was pushing her to accept a new position on her team and some spy novelist kept trying to get her to let him write a book about the whole thing. Like it or not, she was going to be the main character in the story of Treadstone for a long time.
Or at least she would be until some one found Jason Bourne.
Landy had made it clear that the Agency was extending a chance for Bourne to come in from the cold, there still a lot of questions about who had authorized Hirsch and Conklin and they wanted Bourne's help finding out who. If he ever came out of hiding, he'd find himself with a cushy instructor's position and a hefty check from years of back pay. But she had doubts that Bourne would ever take them up on the offer. If he wanted back in the game, everyone would've known it by now.
Nikki eventually wandered upstairs, exhausted and in need of a good soak. Undressing as she walked up the stairs, she was about to unbutton her pants when the familar voice addressed her from the hallway. "Need any help?" She froze, unsure of why he was there. She briefly considered putting a shirt back on to cover the gray sports bra.
She decided against it when she saw the puzzled look on his face, like he was trying to remember something and then falling just short of the finish line. She wondered if that girl he'd been living with in India, Marie, had seen that face often.
"David." His voice was hollow and cold, nothing about him seemed relived or happy to see her. He was morose, like some one had died. "That's my name David Webb."
"Oh." She was genuinely surprised by that, she'd never had the clearence to know his real name. "David."
"I went back to my home town, did some digging." She realized he was trying to tell her some kind of long personal story but she kept getting distracted by the way his face looked in the darkly lit hallway. He really was very handsome. "I found out my parents died when I was six, I never had any brothers or sisters, and no real friends." She saw his shoulders shrug as he settled into a sulking state of defeat. "I still don't remember anything, but I guess that's okay since it turns out there wasn't anything to remember. I was a blank slate before I lost my memory."
He was quiet for over five minutes, not even moving or visibly breathing. Finally Nikki had to break the silence before the sheer depth of the quiet drove her insane."W-why...I mean to say, what brought you here?"
He shrugged. Then motioned to his head like it was some sort of misbehaving pet, one of those nusiences you live with but can't fix. "I don't know. I feel like I remember you but I can't..." Bourne looked at her, almost staring right through her. "Did we know each other or were we friends or something?"
Nikki tried to find the right way to tell him, but they all sounded like 'Yes I knew you. I used you for sex until it jeparodized my career and then dumped you.' In the end, a lie seemed better. "Not really, I was your handler but we weren't close."
His face fell in disappointment. "Oh."
She wondered as he got up to leave if this was maybe a second chance, a way to fix a mistake she'd made years earlier but she was too scared to try. Afraid of how this might end up again. He was halfway down the stairs before she actually summoned the courage to take a stand.
"Would you like to get a cup of coffee"