Author's Note: Here's the second installment! I'm kind of in love with Jason Bourne. It's okay. I'll give him to Nicky and just live vicariously through her.
I'm obsessed with your paint job!
When an asset begins dreaming, a handler is supposed to report immediately to Conklin. It's the first thing they tell you during training: these men are not men, they are machines; and when a machine starts to think for itself it must be shut down, reprogrammed, and rebooted.
So when David tells her that he dreamed of his mother Nicky immediately picks up the phone.
But she can't do it.
Six years of training and she can't do it. She can't send him back to them and then have to start all over; she can't bear to have him not remember her; she can't bear to lose the man who's finally found her the perfect cup of coffee, the man who refuses to leave her side when she's sick, the man who kisses her on the nose and looks at her with those grey eyes that have the ocean in them.
But of course she loses him anyway.
"Wombosi," she's saying, mouth full of churro. "It has to look like he was murdered by a member of his own entourage. I don't think that should be too hard; just get in, get done, and get out. They couldn't possibly tie it back to you unless you leave a picture ID."
He rolls his eyes at her stirring the soup and bringing the spoon to her mouth for a taste. She nods, pleased. "Ten more minutes and we're golden," she informs him, and then adds sternly, "Keep stirring."
He's quiet tonight, which makes her nervous. On nights when he's introspective he dreams, he talks to her about memories, he has memories. (He graduated from North Springs Memorial School. Every day she learns these details and she knows she has to report them, but. She can't. She can't she can't she can't.) "Nicky," he says slowly, thoughtfully, wrapping his fingers around her own, "Do you ever … regret things? Doing what you do?"
She freezes. They have entered dangerous waters, tumultuous seas that could drown them both. "Why?" She asks carefully. "Do you?"
"Yes. No. Sometimes." He tosses her a rueful smile. "I don't know."
She looks at him, long and hard. And part of her wants to tell him, then let it go. Wants to tell him to just leave, run, hide forever. She'll tell them he was killed, she'll tell them she killed him, she'll take the blame if that's what it requires. She loves him. She doesn't care what he does or how they met or why he sleeps with a gun under his pillow and a knife in his sock. She just. doesn't. care. She can't bear seeing him like this.
But it won't work, she knows that, she can't give them a body and the CIA won't leave any ends untied. They'll hunt him and kill him and she can't bear that, either.
So she comes to a decision, and takes his face in her hands, looking at him right in his eyes. "No, David," she murmurs softly, but firmly. "I don't. We're saving lives. Well—you are. Every day. And I am so, so proud of you for that."
She doesn't tell him that she loves him. They haven't crossed that line, and she isn't going to be the one to put the first foot forward.
He smiles at her, pressing his lips to her nose. He takes the file. "So, Wombosi, huh?" He asks.
She turns off the burner. Dinner's ready.
He kisses her goodbye while she's still half-asleep and slips out the door; she gets up and makes breakfast and gets ready for school.
It's a normal day. She goes off to pretend to be Rebecca Nichols from Des Moines, Iowa and he goes to terminate a life. Just part of the routine.
Except that two days later he still hasn't returned. She hasn't heard anything from him, or Conklin, or anyone at Treadstone; she's going to classes with one hand on her cell phone, waiting.
They finally call her in, and it's Conklin's stern face and arms crossed over chests. "Where is he, Parsons?" He asks, putting his palms on the table and pressing their faces together.
She shakes her head, breath ragged. Did he run? Is it possible that he just—left? Left his job, left the agency, left her? "I don't know," she breathes, trembling. "I don't know, I don't know, I sent him after Wombosi, I gave him the file and he said he'd get in touch two days ago—"
"Has he been displaying signs of unusual behavior?" Conklin asks, turning a sharp eye on her. She feels like he can see her all the way down to her bones, like he can see every lie she's every told.
But she knows what will happen if they think he's deserted, if they think it was intentional. So she shakes her head and her voice shakes as she whispers "No. None. He's just a well-oiled machine, sir."
Nicky Parsons is unassuming, sweet-tempered, and has the biggest blue eyes you will ever see.
So they believe her.
"Memory loss," they tell her.
She takes a deep breath and clenches her fists at her sides. "How bad is the damage?" She asks, trying to sound calm, trying to sound like a handler discussing her asset and not—not— "What doesn't he remember?"
The answer, of course, is everything. He's forgotten that he's an assassin, that he's a thirty million dollar investment, that he's Jason Bourne and David Webb and that they like to spend Saturdays that he's not working curled up in front of the television drinking wine and eating Tostitos.
And there's more. It's almost like they enjoy telling her, like somehow they know that it's killing her just sitting here listening to it, because it's said straightforward and without kindness: "He's been traveling with a woman. Marie Kruetz. We think there might be a relationship."
The words aren't a smack, they're an anvil; less than a week has gone by and already he's found someone else. Her mind flashes across a dozen different images: David sleeping, David eating, David laughing at stupid cartoons.
She won't get to see those again. Marie Kruetz will get them all.
"He has to be terminated."
Her head shoots up so fast she pulls a muscle in her neck. "What?" She splutters. "Terminated? Can't he just be—caught? Reprogrammed?"
The secretary shakes her head, handing Nicky a thick file that has all of the arrangements inside. "Afraid not," she says boredly. "He's caused too much damage to the agency. Your boy is toast."
She holds it until she gets to the bathroom. Then she hurls.
She's in the middle of shredding papers when it happens. Car alarms go and the light shut off and she tries hard not to smile. "It's D—Bourne, isn't it?" She asks Conklin quietly, trying to still her racing heart.
She's ecstatic and she's terrified and she doesn't know what she's going to do when she sees him. It's inconceivable that he doesn't remember her. As soon as he sees her, something will click. There's no way it won't. He'll look in her eyes and say something like, Miss me, Nick? and it'll be just like it's always been.
The moment takes an hour. He points a gun at her head and his eyes barely flick over her and she can see it in his eyes: he's labeled her as the goon, the crony, unimportant and therefore unworthy of his attention.
"What did you do to me?" He snarls at Conklin (at them). And she can't speak, she can't say anything. She just stays huddled behind the desk, half-hoping he'll look at her and half-hoping he won't. She squeezes her eyes shut as he knocks Conklin unconscious. She's never seen this side of him; he was always careful to keep it locked away in a special part of him reserved for work.
And she thinks: he hates this, he hates us, he hates me.
He looks at her for a long moment. She knows her mouth is hanging open, knows she's panting and barely standing on her own. He keeps the gun pointed down, eyes sizing her up, calculating.
She wants to say I'm glad you're okay but her throat is closed, her mouth is dry, she can't even make noise much less formulate sentences.
Just like that. One second he's looking into her eyes and trying to determine if she deserves a bullet to the chest and the next he's simply gone, leaving her alone in the apartment. Nicky's hand goes to the desk and she leans on it, heaving, knees weak.
Two weeks ago they were curled up on her couch drinking coffee. Now they are something less than strangers.
She goes home and stands in her empty apartment. It smells of David, and little hints of him are everywhere—his razor on her sink, his boxers in her drawer. His number in her phone.
She spends three days cleaning, obsessively, deleting him from every aspect of her life. She buys new sheets and new clothes and scrubs down every surface. She stops eating pasta and cuts her hair and even stops being Rebecca Nichols.
Somewhere Jason Bourne is living with Marie Kruetz. Somewhere they are happy together. (She gave Jason to Marie but she will always keep David. He's hers and hers alone, now.)
They reassign her to a young agent called Lucy Shaw (real name Molly Saturn, born 5/16/74). They don't become friends and they don't meet in her apartment; she schedules quick rendezvous at cafés where she drinks tea and doesn't smile. Shaw has been having trouble sleeping.
Nicky tells her to take two Sudafed and read before bed.