Author's Note: Ummm… first of four. I can't help it. Hand me an undeveloped subplot and I'm like a druggie in a meth lab. There will be one that's preseries (this one), and then one for each of the movies.
Yeah, yeah, I know. I just can't help it.
I freakin' miss you.
Nicky Parsons is unassuming, sweet-tempered, and has the biggest blue eyes you will ever see. When she turns them on you, it makes even the hardest of killers want to tell her everything, want to confess, want to be held by her and told that it's okay. That everything's okay.
Nicky Parsons is smart, she is funny, and she is likeable. After ten minutes she can make you feel like you have been friends all your life.
This is why she is so good at her job, and this is why they give her Jason Bourne.
"Normally we don't like to pair male assets with female handlers, or vice versa. But we needed the best, and we've been told the best is you. Were we misinformed, Miss Parsons?"
"Good. Here's the file. The asset's name is Jason Bourne, previously David Webb, born 9/15/70. Recently he's been having trouble sleeping, getting headaches … it's made him sloppy. I'm sure you understand why that is unacceptable."
"Yes sir, of course."
"You'll go to Paris, posing as a student. Your alias is Rebecca Nichol, the only child of Peter and Sandy Nichol from Des Moines, Iowa. You are twenty-two, single, and studying to become a teacher. Are you following?"
"Bourne will contact you within a week. Any questions?"
"No sir, Mr. Conklin. None."
Jason Bourne is nothing like she expected. For a man who hasn't slept more than 24 hours in three weeks, can barely see through the pain in his head, and has committed more murders than possibly any other human being in the country, he's almost unbelievably put together. He asks quietly, politely, how her day is going; does she like Paris; would she like some sugar for her tea.
"Mr. Bourne," she interrupts gently, "Maybe we should talk about you for a bit."
"It's Jason," he responds. "What should I call you?"
She debates, chewing on the bottom of her lip and flashing those blue eyes up at him. He's unmoved for a moment, but then offers her a tentative little smile, almost as if he's humoring her. "Let's stick with Rebecca for now," she tells him. "It'll be good for me to get used to it."
"It's a pretty name," he murmurs, almost absently, playing with the fringe on her tablecloth. "Did they let you choose it?"
Nicky shakes her head. "Nope. They just handed me a file and a passport and shipped me off to France. My accent is so horrible, I'm sure everyone thinks I'm one of those ignorant Americans they keep hearing about."
He doesn't laugh, but gives a fair impression of a smile, which she takes as a good sign. "So, Mr.—sorry, Jason. I hear you've been having some trouble with headaches?"
Jason nods, looking down at his hands. "Yeah. I think they come from not sleeping."
"Well, that would certainly make sense. I get a headache if I don't have naptime every day, much less not sleeping for days at a time. I'm impressed you're still a functioning human being and not sobbing, curled up in the fetal position." This time he does laugh, more just a quick breath of air than anything substantial, relaxing a bit against the back of his chair, and then shrugs.
"In my training they once kept me from sleeping for five hundred and sixty hours."
Nicky stands, walking over to her kitchenette and to get him some more warm tea. "Five hundred?" She asks, trying not to think of how inhumane that sounds. "Move aside, Superman."
He takes the cup and asks if she wants some; she shakes her head, a sheepish smile on her lips. (She's learned to make use of her innocence. They swallow it whole, most men and even most women, and it turns her into their little sister or naïve best friend and they tell her everything she needs or wants to know.) "I have a confession to make, Jason. I have never really liked tea. It's just that good coffee is so hard to find around here, I've sort of given up."
"You can find anyone if you look hard enough, Rebecca," he tells her, raising his cup in an ironic salute.
She chooses not to correct his use of 'anyone'; she simply takes a mental note of the mistake and smiles.
Usually they meet in her apartment; it's easier and safer than meeting in public. She knows that he's been living out of a hotel, so there are too many cameras there. But sometimes he is too agitated to remain indoors, and then they go outside; they walk through the city, meandering into shops or sitting on park benches.
He looks over at her with a grin in the corner of his mouth. "That kid to your left has been eying your chest since we first sat down," he tells her before taking a sip of his coffee. (This has been their latest mission: find a decent cup of coffee somewhere in the area. So far it's been a failure, but Nicky remains hopeful. You can find anyone if you look hard enough.)
She blushes, folding her arms across the objects of fascination. "Maybe you should beat him up for me," she suggests, tossing him a light grin. "Actually, I was thinking that physical activity might help you with your sleeping."
Jason raises his eyebrows. "You think I don't get enough physical activity?" He asks incredulously, sounding half-offended and half-amused.
Nicky laughs, shaking her head. "I don't mean that," she assures him with a hand on his arm. (He already trusts her enough to let it stay there. They are making progress.) "I know you do; I've read your file. God, I send you on your missions, I know how complicated they are. What I mean is that maybe some less … stressful physical activity. You know—maybe going for a run before dinner. Something like that."
He nods, leaning over to steal one of her French fries. "I'll give it a try, Rebecca," he promises. "Get back in a few days." Then he's up and gone.
Her cell phone goes. She gets up and opens it as she walks, taking orders as if she were merely talking to a friend.
Conklin's voice crackles on the other end of the line. "What have you got for me, Parsons?"
"Well, sir, the headaches are obviously a result of his insomnia. Unfortunately, none of the medicines prescribed are strong enough to knock him out. You've really created quite the assassin here, sir."
"What do you recommend, then, for the insomnia? We can't prescribe him anything heavier, in the event that we need him at a moment's notice."
"I understand, sir. Give me a couple weeks to research and see what I can figure out."
After their first few weeks together, he asks her to call him David. She still hasn't told him her real name; she doesn't think she ever will. They don't like it when a handler becomes too attached to their asset, anyway; she can't imagine Conklin being too excited that they're on real first-name-basis.
Things are easier if they are Jason-and-Rebecca. Jason and Rebecca have no personality, no history, no memories. Nicky is nothing if not professional, and she knows that as soon as Jason Bourne becomes David Webb he will become human—to her, and to himself. And that is the most dangerous thing an assassin can be.
She calls him David anyway.
"I think I've figured out how to cure your sleeping problem," she tells him, dishing out pasta onto his plate. His file is splayed out on the coffee table, and she has his new mission outlined on a piece of paper in her back pocket. "Conklin's not going to like it, but he'll just have to deal if he wants you cured."
David quirks his eyebrows at her, gaze following her as she takes a seat across from her and helps herself to some dinner. (She cooks and they talk about his problems; he does dishes and she gives him his latest targets. This is the routine.)
She says it in a rush, not wanting to embarrass him or herself. "Ithinkyoushouldstarthavingsex."
He blinks, momentarily stunned, before letting out a harsh laugh. "You think I should have sex. That's your big idea?"
She frowns at his tone. "Look. I promise you, if sex and sleeping pills don't knock you out then nothing will. It's the only option we haven't tried, aside from heavy medication, and I'm sorry David but I'm just not willing to turn you into another Judy Garland."
He doesn't say yes, but he doesn't say no; he simply turns back to his pasta and they start talking about anything else. While he does dishes she sits on the counter and tells him about his new target—the CEO of a company that's been funding terrorists in Iran. It's got to look like a heart attack. She'll get him thirty ounces of a poison that will halt his heart but not show up during the autopsy. It shouldn't be too difficult; the hardest part will be getting close enough to administer the drug without being noticed.
She's right in the middle of telling him that he's been registered as a waiter at the target's favorite restaurant when he kisses her, full on the lips.
She jumps, startled, but he steadies her with one hand and wraps the other around her waist. "What are you doing?" She asks breathlessly as he toys with the bottom of her shirt. (How could she have not seen this coming?)
"Well," he tells her slowly, teasingly, "My handler told me that if I want to start sleeping I'm going to have to start having sex. And I figured—here's this incredibly pretty girl that has almost nothing better to do than hang out with me, and I thought that together we might be able to test this sex versus sleep theory."
She stares at him, mind whirring, arguments for no slamming against every corner of her skull. But she can't help it—he's hers, her asset, her Jason, her David, and she's his handler. If she isn't going to help him, who is?
So she leans down and kisses him, wraps her legs around his middle, and they leave the dishes for tomorrow.
"What's the update, Parsons?"
"Well sir, Bourne seems to be sleeping much better. The headaches have died down, and he's gotten twice as much finished this past month as the month before. I think we may have found a solution."
"What is it?"
"He … exerts himself right before bed. The activity knocks him out, so to speak."
"Excellent work, Miss Parsons. Bourne is the best weapon we've got."
She doesn't know how long they can go before they get caught; most of her doesn't really care. Sometimes she's not even sure what they are, exactly. She's still his handler, he's still her asset, but—there's more, too.
Suddenly he's become David Webb, who wears his socks to bed. David Webb, cover hog. David Webb, who sleeps with one arm around her middle as if he wants to protect her even during dreams.
It begins to hurt every time he calls her "Rebecca". But she still does not tell him her name.
The first time it happens they're just … out. He's in one of his antsy moods, so she takes him to their latest coffee shop (only to be disappointed once more) and she's getting extra cream when a man comes up and quietly asks her name.
"Rebecca," she tells him, on autopilot, not really paying attention. "Can I help you with something?"
"Yes, actually. I was hoping I could take you to dinner."
She almost drops her coffee in shock and her mouth falls open as she stares at him; that's when David comes up behind her and places a possessive hand on her shoulder. "I'm afraid she's taken," he says, voice firm and angry in a way that only she recognizes.
The man apologizes, says he should have known, and walks away. But David spins her around and kisses her, right there in public, absolutely throwing away the fact that if anyone sees them then she'll be taken from him forever.
"What was that for?" She asks, too breathless to scold him.
He doesn't answer for a second, just looks at her. "Let's get out of here," he says.
She caves when he stumbles into her apartment, blood streaming down his right cheek, ankle severely twisted. (It's the first time she's ever seen the consequences of the places she sends him. She thinks, I did this to him, I as good as did this to him.) She cleans him up, trying to keep her heart from beating right out of her chest, and wraps his ankle up to give it support.
"Thanks, Rebecca," he murmurs drowsily, woozy from blood loss. "Know I shouldn't have come here. Hate hospitals."
She's fighting tears when she says, "Nicky. It's Nicky."
"My name, you idiot. My name is Nicky Parsons."
He falls asleep on her couch, holding her hand.