Disclaimer: Nope, no way, doesn't belong to me.
Timeframe: Opens during Supremacy, with references to Identity, by the second chapter it is into Ultimatum and will move beyond.
AN: This is all from the movies, and my imagination. No books or deleted scenes used.
Off The Grid
Ch 1 – A Sin With No Name
It's a sin with a name,
Like a hand in the flame – Dangerous Game – from Jekyll & Hyde
Berlin - 2007
Nicky Parsons jumped as the door slammed shut with a crack that echoed like a gunshot. She was crouched against the cold green wall of a metal storage room under Alexanderplatz Station in Berlin. Her body shook and tears ran down her face. She had known they were dangerous, every one of them, but she'd never in a million years believed that Jason Bourne would hold a gun to her head.
She bit her lip hard to try and get her emotions under control, but it was a battle she couldn't win. For two years she'd locked all her feelings away, now he was back. His warm strength had pressed against her and she'd been surrounded by his scent, but this time he'd been filled with anger and hate. It was too much, too much. She gave in and let huge sobs rack her body.
She hadn't cried when his last mission had gone south and Bourne had disappeared. She'd kept her emotions under tight control when she'd gotten the news that Treadstone was being dismantled. She'd hung on by a thread when Jason had invaded the Safehouse and pointed a gun at her from across the room. He'd been lost and confused, his mind broken. Her fear that rainy night had been that he would say or do something in front of Conklin that would give them away.
A small hysterical sob escaped her lips and she clamped two fingers against them. "I didn't realize then. I didn't understand the extent of the damage. Oh Jason, I'm sorry," she cried at how foolish she'd been.
Nicky wrapped her arms around her body and held on tightly. She knew that the signal from the microphone hidden beneath her clothes wasn't transmitting. If it had been, she would have heard gunfire when Bourne had left. Armed men would have rushed in and the room would have been filled with chaos as they pulled her through the door that led to the outside world. For the moment, she was safe, in a hidden place, off the grid, and could give vent to years of pent up grief, before she had to face Pamela Landy and Ward Abbott.
She didn't know how long she sat crying, but exhaustion finally began to take the pain away. Her eyelids grew heavy and if it hadn't been for the cold dampness that seeped through her coat, she would have fallen asleep. Gripping the handrail, she pulled herself stiffly to her feet. Nicky didn't need to check the small mirror in her purse, she knew her make-up had long since been washed away and there would be no hiding red puffy eyes that told their own story.
The last thing she did before she opened the door was reach under her coat and sweater to pull off the tiny microphone attached to her bra. After burying it deep in her handbag, she rewrapped her scarf and walked carefully back into the world of death and deception.
"Tom, what's the name of that hotel?" Pamela Landy turned to her assistant as he hung up the phone.
"Hotel Breker, they say Bourne checked in there about half an hour ago." Cronin was quickly writing down the address as he spoke to his boss.
Landy looked around for Ward Abbott and his assistant Danny Zorn, but they were nowhere to be found. "Great," she muttered. "All right people, we've got him. Let's go." As she grabbed her coat, the elevator doors opened and Nicky Parsons moved sluggishly into the hall and pushed open the glass doors that separated them. "Thank God, Nicky." She didn't have to tell Tom to call off the search for the missing agent. She could hear him giving the orders in the background. "Are you all right? Did Bourne hurt you?"
"I'm fine, fine." The girl's voice was flat as if each word was an effort. "He didn't harm me."
"We've found him and are headed there now." Landy moved quickly to the elevator impatiently dragging Nicky with her.
"You have to know, he didn't…" She was cut off as Pam tightened her hold on her arm and pulled the startled girl away from the crowd of agents gathering for the kill.
"We already know, we heard." The older woman studied the younger one carefully.
"You heard?" Nicky began to tremble, if they'd heard her breakdown, what else did they hear? What game were they playing with her?
"Well, we heard he claimed to be thousands of miles away. I've got people checking his story. Do you have more to add to that?" Landy probed.
"Pam, the elevator is here," her assistant called out. Parsons eyes fluttered closed. The momentary distraction gave her a chance to think before she responded, but she was tired and unsure of whom to trust or how much they already knew.
"Hold it for me, damnit! I'll be right there." The task force chief was frustrated. Too much was happening at once and suddenly her priorities weren't as clear as they had been. It was obvious the girl knew something and was leery of speaking openly about it. But they finally knew where Bourne was hiding and no matter what; she didn't want to let him get away again. "Nicky…"
"Yes…" She jumped. The warmth in the hall had wrapped her in a cocoon and was making her sleepy, slowing her reaction time. "You're…I think…you're hunting the wrong man. He insisted he was in India when your men were killed… and…he…he…kept asking about Berlin from years ago...but he never worked in Ber-"
"Nicky, listen to me," Pam demanded as she cut her off. "Go to your room and wait for me there. Get some sleep if you can. You look like hell." Hammering the exhausted girl with questions was wasting precious time. "You aren't to talk with anyone until I've debriefed you, not anyone." The glazed look in the girl's eyes was sending off warning bells. "Nicky, did you hear me?"
"Yes, sorry Ma'am." She forced a smile on her face and hoped she looked more normal than she felt. "Only you, I'm not to talk..."
"That means no one," she emphasized each word. "Do you understand what I'm telling you?"
"Yes, I think I do." For the first time all day Nicky felt some hope. Maybe there was one other person who believed that Jason Bourne hadn't killed the two men who had been trying to buy information in Berlin a week earlier.
"Can you make it back to the hotel by yourself, or should I send one of the local staff with you?" A small part of the senior agent was wondering if she should send someone to keep a discreet surveillance on Parsons. Something was very wrong.
"No, no Ma'am, I'm fine, just cold and…tired. I'll take a cab. I don't need looking after."
Landy nodded still unconvinced that more hadn't transpired at Alexanderplatz station then Nicky was letting on.
"Good-luck…" Parsons called out as the elevator doors closed. "…Jason," she added in a whisper and then said a silent pray that he was as careful and prepared as he always used to be.
Nicky stood under a hot shower and let the water beat down on the top of her head. They had pulled her out of Amsterdam so fast she hadn't had a chance to grab her go bag. She kept one in the back of her closet and another in her car for just such emergencies. She'd made a quick stop in the gift shop upon returning to the hotel and purchased a few necessities. Now she didn't have to sleep naked in a cold city and when she woke she'd have a change of underclothes.
She was too exhausted to think straight. She'd been riding an adrenaline high since Landy and Abbott had shown up outside her office twelve hours earlier. The second she'd seen Ward; she'd known that she was finally face to face with her worst fears.
On autopilot she dried her hair, ripped open the package containing a pair of draw-string sleep pants and a tank top. She'd chosen the outfit quickly. Her only thought being how easily she would be able to run wearing it. "Yeah, but where the hell am I going to run, dressed in this? It's winter in Berlin!" she muttered as she checked to be sure she had a full clip in her weapon.
The cool weight of the Glock was familiar in her hand, but it hadn't always been. She'd been able to shoot well enough to pass the CIA's basic course, but she had never intended to learn more than that. They had never intended her to learn more. It was Jason Bourne who had insisted that she improve her skills.
Nicky stood unmoving in a cold hotel room in Berlin and remembered an early morning in Paris almost four years ago.
Paris - 2003
The sun was just coming up and Nicky Parsons was running her usual four-mile path when Bourne moved quickly past her. He was focused on his workout, his arms pumping as his stride tore up the ground. The next thing she knew he put on more speed and disappeared around the next bend. It wasn't the first time in the twelve months since she'd taken her post with Treadstone that she'd seen him out and about the city. Like all those other times, he had given no indication that he recognized her, though she was sure he could describe in complete detail everyone around him.
An hour and a half later Nicky was in her office at the Safehouse, going through the morning correspondences, when something made her look up. She jumped, caught off guard. Jason was standing on the other side of her desk.
"What are you doing here?" her voice squeaked slightly, but she picked up steam as anger replaced fear. "And how the hell did you get in?"
"I've been told, I'm pretty good with locks and disabling security equipment." It was an understatement and they both knew it. "Besides I've got an appointment, remember."
"You're not due for another forty-five minutes. Next time please…."
"If I'd waited these would have gotten cold." He dropped a sack of sliced, warm baguettes on her desk and handed her a steaming latte.
"How did you know…?" The boulangerie next door had been closed when Nicky had arrived almost an hour ago. Madam Dupree usually opened early, but today the elderly lady was running late.
"Along with my other talents, I'm also observant." He grinned and sat in the chair across from her as he reached into the bag and pulled out a warm toasted slice of French bread.
"I guess you are," she laughed. Bourne had had an appointment with her every four weeks for the last year. She was sure that during any number of those visits there had been a latte and a half eaten baguette sitting on her desk. "Thank you for bringing my breakfast."
"You're welcome. I figured you'd be hungry after your run. You've got good form," he acknowledged and bit off an edge of his baguette
"Thank-you…uhh so do you." Her brows beetled over dark eyes as she tried to figure out what was happening. It was on the tip of her tongue to suggest that they run together sometime, when she remembered exactly whom she was speaking to. "Have you been watching me?"
"No, I'm sorry I didn't mean to frighten you." His eyes clouded and he frowned.
"You didn't frighten me. I was surprised that you'd acknowledge having seen me outside of the office, or anywhere for that matter." It bothered her on a level she'd never admit. She'd always thought Jason was attractive and she'd had to work hard to think of him only as a colleague.
"We live in the same city. On the surface Paris seems large and crowded, but in many ways it's very small." He shrugged. "No matter how hard we try to make it appear otherwise, we run in the same circle because of what we have in common: this place and the reason for it. You'll discover it's that way in most of the world."
"That puts a new perspective on the situation, when you think about it that way." She smiled gently and changed the subject. They had things to do and she was sure he had more important places to be. "Now we need to get down to business. Any trouble with headaches since we met last?" she asked with as much professional detachment as she could muster. It took them twenty minutes to go through the usual list of questions.
"That about does it." Parsons looked up at the man across from her. "It sounds like you've had a good four weeks."
"I've got a question," he looked her straight in the eyes and sounded grim.
"Sure, anything I can do to help." She watched him expectantly.
"What would you have done, if I'd had a gun in my hand instead of a bakery bag when I came in here this morning?" It had bothered him ever since he'd broken in and she hadn't done anything to protect herself.
"I guess I would have died." She paled, caught completely off guard. "Basic CIA training isn't a match for yours."
"No, no it's not." He didn't like frightening her, but she needed to know the truth. "You're too vulnerable the way you are. I'm surprised Conklin didn't make sure you were more proficient with a weapon and had more protection before leaving you alone here."
"It still wouldn't be enough…" She shook her head not wanting to think about what would happen if any of the Treadstone men, who she watched so carefully, decided she knew too much about them.
"After the first three seconds no, but it's those seconds that usually decide the outcome. If you add in the element of surprise, it could tip the balance in your favor." He stepped quickly around her desk and opened the top drawer. "Where the hell do you keep your weapon?"
"In my field box, exactly where I'm supposed to keep it." She was getting angry. Who did he think he was? First he frightened her and then he tried to boss her around?
"It's not good enough." He glared at her. "Do you even keep it loaded?"
"Of course I do." She stood quickly and gripped him by the shoulders in an attempt to get his full attention. "Jason, you have to remember our jobs are very different."
"True, but they're intertwined. What I do can affect you and your ability to do your work affects me. You think I'm being paranoid, don't you?" He saw her eyes fill with doubt that she wasn't quick enough to hide. "You think this goes along with the headaches, and all the other symptoms you've been monitoring?"
"It had crossed my mind." Nicky knew that all of her charges were very careful about their surroundings. She'd seen it happen over and over. Each time any of them would enter a room, they would quickly scan it to identify all the doors and windows. Check to see if anything had been moved since the last time they were there. She was sure Jason knew where every potential weapon was in her office, which was the deadliest and which could be reached the quickest.
"Being careful is what has kept me alive." He met her steady gaze and hoped she understood. Did she even have a clue that sometimes the CIA hunted its own? "I'm trying to do the same for you."
"Why?" she whispered. It was the second time that morning he'd stepped past the careful professional barrier they'd built between them. The first time had been when he brought her breakfast.
"Because for the last eighteen months you've kept me healthy." There was more, but he wasn't about to explain it to her. He'd been part of Treadstone before she came aboard and he knew that she treated the agents differently. He'd heard her fight with Conklin on one occasion. The boss wanted his men to be nothing more than automatic killers, Parsons had argued that in order to keep their cover and their sanity, they needed to be human beings as well. For that, alone, he felt he owed her his life.
"Oh, oh, all right then." It hadn't been the answer she expected. And from the cool look on Bourne's face, she wondered if there wasn't something more to it. "What did you have in mind?"
That was how it started. Jason and Nicky met the following Saturday and snuck into the countryside. He gave her a Glock 9mm Compact that was unnumbered and untraceable. It had a smaller grip and was lighter than the standard issue Glock the CIA had given her. They spent hours at an old farmhouse, kilometers from the city, improving her skills.
All the time she was shooting, he talked. He talked about pull weights, wind sheer, and lines of sight. He talked about the need for secrecy, hiding, policing her brass so the gun could never be traced and the necessity of weekly practice that no one would know about, especially Alexander Conklin.
"One more time, Nicky," his voice was hard, and emotionless as he pushed her. "I know you're cold and tired. Your arm hurts and your head is about to explode, but this is when it is most important to be able to hit what you aim at."
"I can't do this any more!" she screamed at him in frustration. All the information he'd given her swam together in her mind until nothing made sense. Thick clouds, that had been building all afternoon, chose that moment to open up and cold rain pelted them.
"Yes you can!" He gripped her shoulders and turned her toward the target refusing to give into the angry woman or the weather.
Tears mixed with rain and filled Nicky's dark eyes as she took aim. The lines of the target blurred and refused to take shape. With determination she bit down on her anger and supported the smooth deadly gift Jason had given her with both hands.
"Now! Do it now!" he harangued from behind her.
Her anger slipped its leash and she gave a harsh gasp from deep in her throat as she pictured Jason Bourne's face in place of the target. Without thinking she pulled the trigger once, twice, and a third time.
"Oh my God," she moaned as she realized what she'd done. Her knees buckled and she would have fallen, but Jason was quicker than she was. He wrapped one arm around her waist and pulled her tightly against him as his other hand reached for the weapon.
"Easy there," he murmured in her ear while he pulled the Glock from her limp fingers. Once it was slipped securely against the small of his back, he picked her up and carried her into the farmhouse.
The old living room smelled musty, as if it hadn't been used in months. Jason pulled a dustcover off one of the overstuffed chairs and carefully put Nicky down. Kneeling he set a match to the pile of dry kindling in the fireplace. Once that caught he slowly added larger pieces of wood until he had a roaring fire. "Wait here, I'll be right back."
She hadn't moved when he returned with the spent casings and metal fragments he'd dug out of the old tree behind the target he'd hung. He could see her shivering beneath her jeans, turtleneck sweater and quilted vest.
"You should have let me help you gather up the mess I left behind." Nicky's voice was hoarse and muffled because her face was still buried in her hands.
"No, I pushed you too hard. I'm sorry, but it could be important, it could save your life." He knelt by her chair and caught his fingers in her hair at her temple. "Please, look at me."
"It wasn't you," she gasped as she slowly lifted her gaze to meet his. "I…I…was angry…I looked at the target and saw you…that's when I pulled the trigger," her words became a whisper as she spoke the last. She gently stroked his left cheek and brow.
Jason felt something break loose inside of him. In his attempt to help her protect herself, he'd pushed her until she'd brushed up against the dark being that lived inside of him. "That's all right. Use whatever you have to. If you can make your anger work for you, you're that much ahead."
"It hurt," she gasped and slipped off the chair to kneel closer to him. Suddenly she was aware of his desire pressing against her belly. Her eyes widened and she couldn't catch her breath.
"Hurt is better than dead." He pulled back so their bodies were no longer pressed together, but she gripped his sweater to keep him where he was.
"Jason," she whispered as she trembled.
"I'm sorry. It's only adrenaline, it'll pass." He'd seen her pupils dilate and her nostrils flare and knew exactly what she was feeling.
"No, it's not," her words were husky with feelings and they made his head swim. "I've been attracted to you for a long time."
"All the more reason it would be a mistake." He tried to sound harsh, but he'd wanted her from the first moment he'd seen her and she wasn't making this easy on him.
"Yeah, it would be, but don't you ever make mistakes?" She bit the side of her lower lip and let is slip between her teeth nervously.
"Not until today!" he gasped. Strong hands grabbed her shoulders and pulled her mouth to his. He rolled them to the floor pressing his body into hers. He moved roughly against her in an attempt to frighten her away, but she met each hard touch with gentle caresses that made his skin burn, until he was as lost as she was.
His last coherent thought as he stripped her sweater from her body and pulled her jeans over her slim hips was that if this had to happen, at least he'd chosen well, they were safe, in a hidden place, off the grid.
Nicky moaned as desire shook her. She blinked her eyes and realized that she'd been standing beside her bed with the Glock he'd given her held tightly in her fist. It had been a mistake to remember because she was not safe and she was not hidden. Once she was, she could indulge in all the memories of her eighteen-month affair with Jason that she liked.
She carefully popped the clip out of her weapon, checked it and put it back in place. What she needed most of all was sleep. Then maybe she could keep her mind out of the past.