The Necessary Disclaimer: I don't own Jason Bourne or any of the precreated characters used in this and following chapters. Wish I did! But I don't. Thanks in advance for reading!
Albert Hirsch's heart was racing into the dangerous triple digits. He had reason to be nervous. His life, his career, and his cause were crumbling right before him. He could still feel the cold, hollow barrel of the gun glaring right at his third eye. The hair on the back of his neck was called to attention while rivers of sweat trickled down from his temples. A dark-clad figure raced past him to follow the fleeing Bourne and the breeze left in his wake chilled Dr. Hirsch to a distinct awareness: a determined Jason with answers was far more dangerous than a confused Jason with questions ever was.
"I remember everything," Bourne had said.
Hirsch didn't want to explore the depths of that statement. Instinct told him he was done, but his mission extended further than himself. He was only one part of an extensive network and as his own power essentially went up in flames just outside the hospital walls, he had one goal- to pass the torch. It was all for a purpose far beyond himself, and that purpose would not fail. Not if he could help it.
He maneuvers his way out of the training room, brushing past the officers and medical staff that had suddenly flooded his hallowed floor. Waving off a question of assistance, he punches a code into the security box, turning the knob following an echoing click, and squeezing himself inside. The door falls heavily shut behind him and he takes a break to catch his breath and mentally regroup. The sound proof door thankfully eliminated the frantic shuffling and shouting from the hallway.
Pulse slowing with renewed purpose, Dr. Hirsch crosses to his desk, settling into his overstuffed chair with a weary grunt. His thick fingers fly to the keychain nestled into his deep pockets and he picks through them one by one, the metal jangling with his shaking hands. Adrenaline was coursing through his veins, but in his case adrenaline was the enemy. He worked far better in controlled circumstances and this was light-years away from being considered "controlled."
He finds the correct key and forces it into the old-fashioned lock in the bottom left drawer of his desk. Yanking the drawer open, he immediately hoists out a hefty rolodex, the small cards flapping until he finds the business card he's looking for. "World's Best Subs," the card boasts, with a generic sandwich icon embossed in metallic black.Still trembling, he picks up the telephone and waits to hear a dial tone, immediately punching in the number pressed into the card. Fingers fumbling, he's forced to waste precious seconds hanging up and redialing but finally the blissful jangling ring registers twice in his ear. A gruff male voice answers.
"Implement Attica procedures immediately. Authorization code Charlie Alpha two-two-nine," breathed Hirsch into the mouthpiece. "Pull and activate her. Blackbriar is burned. We can't let this get out of hand."
He held his breath until his lungs burned. The cold river water created waves of spasms deep within his core, making the task of remaining motionless near impossible. A quick mental calculation told him he had approximately twelve minutes to escape this freezing waterway before he was as good as dead, but before acting he first had to wait.
Taking advantage of the physical inaction, his brain sprung into engagement. His mind performed a brief body check. He knew he'd evaded the bullet, felt it whiz past the top of his head, but the fall itself into the winter water was far enough to cause any number of injuries. He wiggles his quickly numbing fingers and toes. An ankle was sore, as was the small of his back. His chest ached deeply, but due to circumstances it was difficult to determine whether it was a product of his current oxygen-deprived state or a sign of injury itself.
Ultimately, it didn't matter. The heat was being leeched rapidly from his body. He couldn't wait any longer and risk the most dangerous extremes of hypothermia. Twisting and turning, he finds the direction of the current and begins to swim. The physical action draws more and more oxygen from his blood, but supplies his muscles with movement related heat. It was only when the darkness in his view began to be produced by dying neurons instead of the murky water that Jason Bourne surfaced for a gasping breath of air.
"No," he thought calmly. He was no longer Jason Bourne. He was David Webb. But after a moment of staring back at the rooftop he'd plunged from, grasping for a plan of action, he realized that he still needed Bourne. Just for now.
He filled his lungs with a fresh supply of air and sank back down into the water. He could tell his muscles were beginning to fail and it was only a matter of time before he'd really be a sitting duck. Another hundred yards down the river and he turns to fight the current, veering toward the slippery banks. His mind on autopilot, conscious thought banished to background noise, he pries himself out of what was determined to become his liquid coffin. Nearby was a street and near that, a bank of stores. A sopping wet man would not blend with the rest of New York's nightlife, and this particular man could not remain wet much longer in the chill.
Jason propelled the body across the road way at a deceptively leisurely pace, eyes alternating between unfamiliar faces and store signs. The sensation in his extremities was failing and the fierce shivering he had come to experience was starting to fade. He was in trouble. Pressing his numb hands against his thighs, he slides past an oblivious mother and curious child into the heat and fluorescents of a third rate Laundromat. It was a shady locale, but shady is what worked for him best. Those with things to hide rarely bothered to ask questions. He paused, sizing up the inhabitants. The flushing warmth from the machines and heating system buy him the luxury of an extra bit of time to think. If he stayed here long enough, he would be able to dry his clothes and regain a viable body temperature, but he knew he didn't have that kind of time.
Motion caught his attention instantly and he watched as a flirty couple abandoned their tumbling clothes in favor of the illusive privacy of the ladies' room. A part of his mind registered their wedding rings and- coupled with their behavior- he reasoned they were either newlyweds or caught up in an extramarital affair. That knowledge was, for now, irrelevant except for the fact their lust gave him a momentary opportunity.
Pushing away from the wall, Bourne casually approaches their noisy dryer, alert for any signs of any undue attention. With cold, trembling hands, he yanks the dryer door open and roots around. An "XL" label catches his eye and he grabs for it, pulling out a pair of thin but large enough track pants. The wool braiding of a sweater is the next to call to him and he snatches that as well, flicking the dryer closed again to trigger it to return to its mechanical task.
Jason, himself, was just as mechanized as he weaves through the bank of washers s to retreat into the bathroom, pushing in through the door marked with the ambiguous silhouette of a man. Locked fast in a stall, he begins to shed the dripping set of clothing, draping them over the back of the toilet while he tugs on the pilfered set of replacements. The pants were a tad loose and the sweater too small. From the collar's cut he notes that the sweater must belong to the woman, but it was a dark and neutral color and he had no time to exchange it. His shoes and socks he had to keep, but emerging from the stall he drops the wet and useless wardrobe into the trashcan. He allows himself two pumps of the electric hand dryer to warm himself and make his footwear more habitable. Then he deems it time to move again.
Looking forward and moving swiftly, Bourne slips past the customers, noting the couple has yet to return. That was good. There was no chance they'd happen to question him wearing their clothes. He heads straight for the door, hand flicking out automatically to snatch a jacket from the coat rack. With a jingle of the door's bell, he exits the establishment and yanks the puffy generic brown jacket onto his still-chilled body. Its benefits were twofold: supplying extra insulation against the winter breeze and changing his shape to the view of outsiders. He looked shorter, stouter, and flicking the hood over top of his head he adopts a slightly more waddling gait. Within minutes, Jason Bourne disappears into the cityscape of New York City… exactly as he was taught.