Title: Same Mistake Twice
Author: IronyRocks
Summary: As efficient as he was, he was only human.
Characters/Pairings: Jason Bourne/Nicky Parsons
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, none
Ficathon Recipient: amatia, over at livejournal for the Bourne Series Ficathon 2007
Spoilers: heavy uptil The Bourne Ultimatum, the movie.
Beta: ed84
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine.
Author's Notes: This is not the fic I originally intended to write, but um, yes, time constraints cut up on me and this turned into an interesting one-shot. I may actually end up doing another Bourne fic in the near future, so I can actually get my original plot bunny outta the way. Until then, enjoy this one!

--x--

The questions that haunted him for the last three years still haunted him today, even with his memory back. He refused to be Jason Bourne anymore. He wouldn't be again because that man was born of Treadstone and Hirsch, Conklin, born motherless under the flag of patriotism. Except of course it wasn't that easy to distance himself from the name.

The first time his identity had been killed off, it was at the cost of weeks' worth of torture, sleep deprivation and one innocent man's execution. David Webb died, and Jason Bourne was created. Now if Jason Bourne was dead, what was left? Who was left? Not David Webb again, as once dead was always dead. His job had taught him that much. So what did that make him now?

Finally regained his memory and he still didn't know.

--x--

Tripoli

This was risky; not at all what Jason should have done under the circumstances.

The rendezvous with Nicky was, in a certain light, entirely unnecessary. There were risks inherent in this a mere six months after the fall of Blackbriar. Yet here he was, sitting opposite of her in a dimly lit restaurant with yet another conversation that choked on pregnant pauses and stilted sentences.

"I didn't expect you to come find me so soon," Nicky remarked, fingers tracing the rim of her cup like she had done before, so many months ago in Madrid. It was difficult for me… with you. "I thought, at best, you'd wait a few more months."

Jason's eyes flickered away for a second, resting on the small man that sat in the corner booth. Expensive watch – the type you'd only get traveling abroad in western Europe. Cheap shoes, though. The contradiction threw him, and Jason shifted his gait so that his line of sight kept him within visual.

Sometimes a man was just a man, though. Jason had trouble remembering that every now and then. He was like a machine that never shut off - a computer that accredited data and produced the logical permutations; conclusions based on a hundred little details taken in with just a glance. Thirty million dollars worth of training and years' worth of experience made sure that he was efficient, always learning and never making the same mistake twice. Like some goddamn A.I.

Artificial and intelligent. That was him in a nutshell.

"Landy made heads roll in Washington last month," Nicky continued when Jason said nothing. The fallout from Blackbriar was massive, but by now the only ones feeling the burn were the sacrificial lambs that the CIA had hand chosen to be gift-wrapped for the press. Nicky was smart enough to know that, which is why Jason wasn't surprised when she settled back and a hint of annoyance escaped as she exhaled sharply. "All of them were middle-level management, though. None of the upper echelons were touched."

Except for Kramer, Jason noted. But that was old news.

"You've spoken to her?" Nicky asked. "Landy?"

"Not since New York," Jason replied. "There's been no need yet."

Nicky paused, head cast down for a moment before she glanced up at him, gaze hooded under short black bangs that reminded him of Marie so much that it threw him still, even months afterwards. The question in her eyes was obvious, though silent.

What was his reason for finding Nicky, then?

The silence stretched between them and spoke volumes. There was no reason to seek her out when she had done a well enough job of hiding herself amongst the masses. It had taken Jason months of deliberate and methodical searching to find her, but then, Nicky had the advantage of knowing how the CIA tracked people. For the longest time, her primary specialty was surveillance before she had climbed the ladder and become a handler. It was one of the things he remembered knowing, from before, during that nebulous period before his amnesia.

He had no rationale to being here, yet here he was anyway.

It was Marie all over again, except this time he should have known better.

--x--

The first time he slept with Marie, he woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, the haze of memories choking him with the taste of gunpowder and screaming. She'd been curled up on her side of the bed with her body half exposed from the midriff up, the smell of hair dye still clinging to the bed sheets. He hadn't known, then, that she'd be sleeping by his side for the next two years. Hadn't known that while this was the first nightmare he'd suffer in her bed, it wouldn't be the last.

Thinking back, Jason realized he should have slipped out of bed and never looked back. Taken the car, left the cash, and disappeared from Marie's life with only a note detailing her best options at lying low. It would have been the best for her, but as efficient as he was, he was still human and made mistakes; felt emotions.

The only time those emotions shut off was when he was in danger.

--x--

Jason ducked the punch, popped back and sideswiped the assailant's legs from under him with a low kick. He fell and Jason moved back, caught the fist of the other's mid-air and twisted at the elbow, heard a pop and a scream (and an expensive watch break), and propelled the body across the floor. A bullet whizzed by his head and thudded into the wall, and Jason whirled, palmed the nuzzle end of the gun and yanked it free. Twisted the weapon in his hands to rotate 180, and fired once, twice.

He started striding out the door almost before the body had even hit the floor.

Nicky's eyes tracked him, eyes wide and fearful, cradling a blood soaked arm against her chest. He was right. This had been reckless. Now he'd blown her hideout, or she'd blown his. Either way it didn't matter. Both of them in the same place had been tactical error he shouldn't have made.

"You alright?"

She nodded mutely and moved to wrap a cloth over her arm, pressing tightly against the wound. "How long before they send back up?"

Jason glanced out the window, and spotted two black Sedans pull up to the curb. He took a split second to assess the situation before he saw the fire alarm affixed to the far wall. Quickly walking over, he pulled the trip and tossed a quick look through the oval window of the kitchen doors, into the restaurant. The blare of the sirens immediately caused panic among the patrons, and Jason pulled back and turned back to Nicky.

"Where's your car?"

--x--

Back when he was still David Webb, there was a corner coffee shop that he used to visit every day in his hometown. The barista there used to flirt with him. Jason remembered flirting back, though that was a concept that was foreign and novel to him these days, an exploit he found he could only achieve when there was an ulterior motive to the exchange.

Marie used to laugh at him about it. Said he was hopeless when it came to the simplest of things, and that was why he needed her so badly.

He always had trouble relating to people.

--x--

Jason swerved around the corner and vaulted the car onto the highway onramp, flashing a quick glance towards the rearview mirror. No one was following them, yet. He turned his attention back to the brunette seated beside him, studying the splash of blood on her arms before reminding himself that it was a minor injury.

Nicky didn't say a word, just strapped the seatbelt in place and craned her head to glance back. Her breath came in short, jagged bursts, and for a moment, a memory played over in his head. Another woman. Another car ride. This was another disaster waiting to happen, he just knew it.

"We need somewhere to lay low."

Nicky didn't miss a beat. "I know a place."

--x--

After Webb had died and Jason was still young - infant young - he met Nicky Parsons on the third floor of the operations building on the corner of 71st street. The office was small, the table between them rickety, and he remembered Nicky's nervousness; the shy persona that he thought worked to her advantage. No one would look twice at her and suspect - all they'd see is a pretty girl with pretty blue eyes, not someone who would come to know some of the darkest secrets in the building.

The first time he met Nicky Parsons, he realized that people would underestimate her and her significance.

He didn't realize at the time that he'd be one of them.

--x--

He got the water going, scorching hot and pouring out so hard that when he tested it with his fingers beneath the faucet the force knocked his hand back. He spun the cold tap — just enough to ensure he didn't scald her on top of everything else — and turned the showerhead on, watching it sputter to life before it became a full blast.

"Nicky," he called, but she didn't respond.

He strode out of the bathroom and through the white-walled corridor, coming to stand just outside the bedroom doors. Nicky had her back to him, carefully shrugging off her unbuttoned shirt so that it fell to the floor, left clad in a black bra and cargos, dark blood already drying in flakes on her arm. He stood frozen in the doorway, caught staring at the sight of pale flesh and red blood, and it took a millisecond to recover.

She turned, caught his gaze, and he remembered.

--x--

Headaches. Nausea. Insomnia. He checkmarked the first and the last, and flipped over to the next page. Nicky sat opposite of him, silent and unobtrusive in that manner she had, and reached across the table to slip another medical survey into the pile he had to fill out. He was a secret killing machine, and there was still paperwork to be done. Jason almost found that amusing.

"You ever try reading before bed?" Nicky supplied quietly. "Always helps me get to sleep."

Jason paused, ballpoint pen still on its last stroke on the page, and glanced up. "What?"

"Reading before bed," Nicky tried again. "It gets your mind off things. I know you've got… other issues that make insomnia a problem, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the best."

"Thanks," he said at length.

"Don't mention it," Nicky replied, then shrugged, glancing away. "Seriously. It's probably best if Conklin never finds out that I'm suggesting bedtime reading to you. He'd find it too…"

Jason nearly smiled. "Prosaic?"

"Human," she answered bluntly, and then immediately backtracked. "I'm sorry. That was uncalled for—"

"Don't," Jason cut in, leaning back in his chair. "It's true."

Nicky paused, and Jason could hear the internal struggle in her head as clearly as if she was thinking out loud. She wasn't supposed to be having this conversation with him. It was supposed to straightforward and clinical, give the survey, ask the questions and leave. Conklin would be upset about even one toe being stepped out of line. He was a stickler for protocol.

"Don't you have a problem with that?"

Jason gave her an assessing look. "With you being honest with me?"

Nicky shook her head, brushed back a curl of her hair with a finger, and locked gazes with him. "With Conklin treating you like you're not human?"

--x--

"Why are you here, Jason?" Nicky tried, voice tinged with exhaustion and confusion. She dropped the blood soaked cloth to the ground and seemed entirely untroubled by standing before him, half dressed. "It took me two years to forget you and move on, and then you come back and… and then again, now. Why are you here?"

Pointblank, no beating around the bush anymore and letting the silence speak for them. Jason had to admire that, even as he struggled to bring the answer to his lips. He didn't know, and that… that was so unlike Jason Bourne and David Webb. Both men had always known what they were doing, had always felt the strength of their convictions.

It was difficult for me… with you.

When he first heard the words from her, the explanation had left less-than-subtle implications flooding his mind. It was obvious that there was a relationship or some connection between the two of them prior to his amnesia, but Jason hadn't had the luxury to give it focus at the time.

Months later, though, he understood the words better and it made things difficult for them both.

"You remember, don't you?" she breathed, eyes blooming with recognition. "Do you remember…" she stopped short, paused. "How much? Do you remember anything about me?"

He knew a lot of things about her. He could dredge up the memory of their first meeting now, had vague recollections of their last one before the Wombosi op in Marseilles had gone sideways. Mostly, he remembered scattered details about her.

She had a PhD in Behavioral Psychology from NYU. She could speak three languages the last time he'd asked (four years ago), and he knew her well enough to know she'd make it her business to pick up at least one more since then. She liked Chinese food, but hated fortune cookies. She had a coffee addiction that she joked about it. Had two older brothers and one younger sister, and none of them had any idea what she did with her life.

He also knew that her fingers always used to seek out things to curl around when they made love – the bedpost of her canopy bed, or the metal railing in her shower. He used to enjoy watching the flex of her fingers before they'd flicker up and stretch when she'd come.

After everything he'd been through – after Marie, for God's sakes. Marie, beautiful and full of life. Marie, the woman that had kept him from eating his own bullet the last few years and had paid for that loyalty and love with her life. After all of that, it was unforgivable for him to seek out companionship again. It showed frailty and weakness, and he had no right to it, not with his past sins and certainly not with his current circumstances.

And still, despite that, knowing everything he did, being everything he was, he was here anyway standing opposite of her. That was, he supposed, what proved him human after everything he'd been through.

Only a human would make the same mistake twice.

"Everything," he answered softly. "I remember everything."

--x--