My God! Another chapter! I apologize for the stupidly long wait, I just finished my first year of university and I've been to busy to even breath, let alone write. I had written half of this chapter right after I published the 5th chapter, it's only now that I've gotten my act together and finished it off. The good news is, we are now 60% through the story! 6 of the 10 planned chapters are done, and the 7th chapter will be very quick to finish off, considering the main scene in it was written...God, it must be years ago now, and that was how the whole fanfic started: a quick scene that I wrote and then started expanding on.
But yes, in any case. The sixth chapter has cometh! This one isn't as action-packed as the last ones, I apologize for that, but we get lots of interaction between Nicky and Jason, and a whole lot of car scenes. Actually, I just realized every scene in this chapter is inside a car. I will shut up now, enjoy the chapter!
Jason Bourne was walking along a beach. It was foggy, but there was so much light and warmth that he did not mind. He saw a figure walking towards him, and squinted to see better. It was non-threatening, small and slender. It wasn't until he could see the blonde hair and the tattoo on her shoulder that he recognized her.
Jason sprinted across the last few feet separating them and pulled Marie into his arms. To his relief, she did not disappear, but kissed him back. Somewhere, a part of him sadly acknowledged that he was dreaming, but he didn't care. Just for a moment, he had her back.
A small noise interrupted his perfect moment. He ignored it, but then a slightly louder one came: like a sob. He pulled away from Marie for a moment, wondering if she was crying. She was not, but the quiet sobbing continued. It wasn't obnoxious, but heartbreakingly sad. Confused, Jason looked over his shoulder.
Directly behind him, as if his back was in a completely different place than his front, was a concrete room. Blood covered the floor, and there were smudged handprints on the walls, as if someone had tried to climb out and failed. There was a bare light bulb attached to the ceiling, but somehow the light did not quite reach the edges of the room: in the shadows, movement and outlines of figures were just noticeable. On the floor, in the middle of the chaos, was a small, shivering body. As he watched, its head raised to look at him, a pair of tortured eyes begging for help.
Suddenly, he realized that Marie could see all this horror as well. He whirled to shield her from the darkness, afraid he would turn to find her gone. To his intense relief, she and the beach were still there, as untouched as ever. However, the look of joy on her face had been replaced with a look of quiet knowing, and a touch of sadness. "Jason," She whispered. "You have to let go."
"No." He shook his head stubbornly. "No, I can't...I can't, it was my fault...I love you." With these words, the quiet sobs behind him escalated into a wail of pain.
Marie's soft eyes held his gaze, powerful in their own way. "I don't need to be protected anymore, Jason." Her soft hands wrapped around his shoulders, and spun him around with surprising force. The frail body on the floor had put its head down, and Jason had a feeling that it was dying.
Marie's voice whispered in his ear. "She needs you now." Then he was pushed forwards.
Jason bolted upright in a cold sweat. He looked around, panting, for a moment, then leaned backwards against his seat. He was in the drivers seat of the car he had used to escape Marina, which was subtly parked in the County Fair Grounds in Paso Robels. It was about five in the morning now, he had slept for a good three hours or so. He sighed: he had finally got some sleep. That was good.
Suddenly, a sobbing noise cut through the air. Jason jumped and whirled to look in the backseat, half expecting to see a bloodstained prison. Instead he saw Nicky curled up, her face twisted into a frown and body quaking, clearly in the grip of a nightmare. As he watched, she whimpered, rolling and clamping her arms over her head. His ears, sharp from years of picking up even the subtlest of noise, could pick out a few words amongst the sobs, the most used phrases being "I swear I don't know!" and "Please!" His gut suddenly twisted as he realized that she had used the same phrases when he had pushed her to the ground and held a gun to her head in Berlin. No sooner had he wondered if the dream involved him, she violently kicked out and cried out, "Just kill me!"
He's standing over a screaming, thrashing girl sleeping on his couch, shaking her and trying to wake her up. She bolts awake just as she screams "Just kill me!" They stare at each other for a second, and then he pulls her into his chest, stroking her hair as she cries into his shoulder. He glares straight out the window over her, wishing he could kill something.
Jason blinked the sudden flashback away, trying to focus. Nicky was still thrashing, and suddenly he didn't want to watch anymore. He leaned over the seat and grabbed her shoulder.
Her eyes flew open.
A pair of feminine hands, powerful with adrenaline, grabbed his arm and pulled him forward. Reacting on instinct, he jumped into it and within seconds had her pinned to the backseat, straddling her abdomen and holding down her wrists. The small woman yelped and fought back, but to no avail. Jason calmly held her down, looking into her eyes. They weren't fully awake yet; she was still trapped in her own head. "Nicky. Wake up."
Finally she shook herself out of it, and stared at him. Then, in perhaps a bit sharper of a voice than she intended, "What the hell are you doing?"
Jason suddenly realized that he was straddled over her, holding her down. He quickly released her, "You attacked me, I reacted." He defended.
Nicky sat up. Now that the adrenaline had worn off, Jason could see she was just as embarrassed as he was. Avoiding his eyes, she looked around. "W-where are we?"
"Paso Robel: about two hours away from Los Angeles." Jason responded, getting out of the backseat and walking around to the driver's, as Nicky did the same on the other side. Jason steered the car out of the parking lot, Nicky staring out of the window at the faint glow on the east horizon.
The awkward silence in the vehicle was so thick that Jason - the man who lived and breathed silence - was seriously considering firing off a round to break it. As he began to contemplate the positive and negative outcomes of actually doing it, a quiet voice spoke up from beside him. "Why did you come and find me?"
Jason stayed quiet for a moment now that the awkwardness had somewhat passed, considering how much he should tell her. Finally, he settled on the truth. "I remembered a few things... from before Treadstone. I thought you might be able to help figure them out."
Nicky blinked. "We didn't really know each other before Treadstone. I'm not sure how much help I'll be."
"You were in it."
Nicky stayed quiet for a moment. Finally, she spoke up. "What was in the memory?"
Jason revisited the image. "I'm stationed somewhere, and there's a man with me. About my age, red hair, I call him Rob. He's talking to a girl over a webcam." His eyes shifted to her. "You."
There was nothing hugely different about her facial expression or body posture to suggest that he had hit a nerve, but he could see her eyes and the sudden emotion that blazed through them. It was there and gone in the same period of time as a lightning flash, but that was long enough. Jason backed off slightly, focusing on the road; she wouldn't say anything if he pushed her too hard. Nicky stayed totally still for a moment, then leaned back, clearly deep in thought. "Do you remember the conversation?" She finally asked, quietly.
"No. Only him apologizing: the webcam wasn't working properly." Another flash of recognition. She knew exactly what he was talking about, all that was left was a matter of coaxing it out of her.
She stayed silent for some time, perhaps waiting for assassins to return and save her from answering the question. Or perhaps coming up with a story. Finally, she sighed. "His name was Robert. I was doing a project on soldier psychology for university; He was a friend of a friend and I had met him a couple times before. I got a hold of him and asked if I could interview him, and he let me. The webcam was necessary for me to see his expressions and body language." she explained quietly. She paused. "I had been first approached about Treadstone that morning." She added almost to herself.
Jason looked at her. She looked quiet, reflective, pondering past mistakes. He would have felt close to her, had it not been for the fact that she was lying to him. The story about the interview, although perfectly conceivable, was completely false. Nicky was talented at lying, years of service in the intelligence community had made sure of that, but Jason was even better at deciphering truth: years on the run had made sure of that. The cold, dispassionate way in which she told the story, not to the explanation itself, contradicted that brief flash of expression he had caught. When a given explanation and a break in self-control conflicted, the break was always the truth: Lies were either openly passionate or cold and impersonal. A part of him wanted to pull over the car and force her to talk to him, but allies of Jason Bourne were an endangered species and he had no wish to escalate that particular status to extinction. "Do you know where he is today?"
Nicky drew her knees up to her chest. "Yes: buried in a military graveyard outside of New York." Her voice was sad, and this time he knew it was the truth.
Jason felt himself sink a bit. He had been counting on talking to this 'Rob'. He was all he remembered of David Webb and the sole link to the only question he had left to chase: why in the Hell had he volunteered for Treadstone if he knew exactly what it meant for him? He couldn't have been stupid enough to not know that he would be taking American lives more than he would be saving them. So why? Why become Jason Bourne?
He looked over at her. She was looking past the windshield, eyes moving slightly, clearly deep in thought. He turned his eyes to the road and waited for her to speak.
Nicky was in something of a state of shock. He could remember Rob. That was baaaad badbadbad. He probably at least suspected that she had lied, if he wasn't already completely aware of it. How much more could he remember? Had he remembered Riley? If Rob was the only thing that he could remember from before Treadstone, than she was in trouble. He was going to be dead set on finding out the truth, whatever it was.
But how much did he know? Nicky glanced over at him. He looked to be focused on the road, but she could see that he was looking past it. Might as well give it a shot. "Did you find anything in New York?"
"Found out my name isn't Jason." He answered curtly.
Oh yeah. "I saw...on the news. They called you David Webb and said that you had fallen six stories into the Manhattan river."
"Got it right, for once."
Nicky chewed her lip. "Did...did you find out who was behind it all?"
"Vosen. White. Myself." He changed gears, face set. "I volunteered."
Nicky's entire digestive system flipped. Oh my God, he does know. She examined his face as subtly as possible. Wait. Maybe he didn't. "Why?" She asked, sounding as disbelieving as possible.
Jason stared out the windshield. "I was hoping Robert could tell me."
If Nicky had been behind an opaque, soundproof wall, she would have collapsed with relief. He didn't know. She kept up her emotional shield, "Oh. There must be someone with answers, it couldn't have been just you and him in that platoon. You'll find out."
Jason tossed a sideways glance at her. He suspects something. she quickly averted her gaze, trying to think. He would make her talk to him sooner or later. She closed her eyes and fought the dread welling up in her stomach. Good thing she had slept earlier: she wouldn't be getting any more.
Jason wasn't sure what to do. Nicky had information he needed to know, and she probably knew it too. Something had happened to him to make him want to chase Treadstone, and he knew he couldn't rest without knowing what. And now Nicky's involvment was becoming more pronounced: her face on the webcam, the cryptic 'it was difficult for me' hint she had dropped, and now the memory of her waking up from a nightmare on his couch. Her role in his life was clearly a large one, but he still couldn't understand what it was. He needed to chat with her, but he could see now wasn't the time. Glancing over at her, everything about her posture was closed: crossed arms, knees drawn in, chin drawn slightly towards her chest, and rolled slightly towards the door, away from him. In all, a crystal clear message he wasn't getting another peep out of her tonight. He turned his gaze back to the road, a little angry that she was clamming up and not helping him, but trying to think of reasons behind the silence. Something about Robert must be painful, and she doesn't want to discuss it. Or maybe something in her past in general.
He put on his turn signal to merge onto the freeway. I need to find out where "just kill me" came from.
About a mile ahead of them, a series of electrical impulses inside an old cell phone signalled an alarm, causing it to buzz softly in it's owner's pocket. The alarm could have been easily written off as white noise, but even in his sleep, Bravo recognized the sound and opened his eyes. It was 5:59 am. Perfect timing.
He pulled the phone out of his pocket and turned off the alarm, stretching and yawning. He was strapped into the passenger seat in the van, which was hurtling down the freeway towards Los Angeles. Shortly after the controller's call, Sierra pulled up a traffic cam that put the two targets on Freeway 101 - which ran through Los Angeles. All five of them had leapt into the van after the targets: Alpha had figured that if they drove non-stop, they might be able to get to the city before the targets did. Alpha was driving now, but he was looking over his shoulder slightly at the seats behind them.
Bravo was instantly suspicious. Out of all the assets in the group, he slept the best...and the deepest, causing him to become something of a target for Charlie. He quickly turned in his seat as Charlie suddenly popped up from behind his seat, equipped with a pot, a loaded handgun magazine, and a grin that immediately fell as he saw Bravo's face. "Oh. You're awake."
Bravo tapped his phone. "Set an alarm." He couldn't fail to see the irony: he had killed countless men without so much as batting an eye, and yet he almost felt guilt at the comical, yet genuine look of disappointment on the on the other asset's face. He pointed at Sierra, whom was snoring away in the seat behind him. "But he didn't."
The grin returned instantly. "Bravo, out of all the cold-hearted assassins in this group, you are my favourite." He unloaded the bullets from the magazine into his hand, and almost silently placed them in the pot, covering it with the lid. Charlie leaned forwards until the pot was directly over Sierra's head, all the while humming something that sounded a suspicious amount like the 'Jaws' theme. Then he shook the bullet-laden pot as violently as he could.
Bravo watched in amusement as a now wide-awake and very angry Sierra fought to cause the hysterically laughing Charlie serious injury past his seatbelt, as Echo watched with a cold look of distain behind them. "Alpha, I believe we are all awake."
Alpha looked over his shoulder with an equally amused look. "Let's go over the plan one more time. Sierra, release Charlie and start your computer." Sierra reluctantly released Charlie from the headlock and pulled out the slim laptop, booting it up as Charlie strapped himself into the seat on the other side of the van, snorting.
Alpha began to outline the plan as Sierra pulled up a map of the Los Angeles area. "The targets will most likely head for the city center: lots of crowds to blend into and places to hide. Finding them, naturally, will be fairly difficult: Target A was an asset himself and knows how to be invisible. So, we'll be splitting up once we reach the city. Sierra, you will set up in the safehouse set up by the controller, and throw a net over the whole area. The rest of us are going to spread out across the city and patrol as subtly as possible. Charlie, you will stay in the downtown area; Echo, the industrial district; Bravo, the apartment developments to the west; and I will handle the hotel area. If any one of us, including Sierra, find even just one of them, inform everyone of the location via text message. The asset closest to their location will tail them until the rest of us arrive. If Target A and B or only Target A are found, our priority is to terminate. However, if only Target B is found, first tail her to see if she leads us to Target A. If she is clearly alone, or becomes aware of the tail, then it's back to plan A: capture her alive. Should this happen, she is to be brought to the safehouse. Remember, we want Target A to know we've taken her, so we can expect an attack on the safehouse soon after. Terminate them both as soon as Target A is revealed, and remember, discretion is everything." Alpha's black eyes surveyed them. "Questions?"
Silence reverberated around the vehicle as each man considered his orders and his plans. "Have your phones on vibrate and on your person at all times. Make sure we do not fail this time." He growled, glaring over his shoulder at them.
Bravo pulled out his gun in response, and started checking it over. The pack was more than ready to hunt.
The trip from Marina to Los Angeles was 264.04 miles long. Luckily, she had slept through about 150 of them, or else Nicky figured she would have lost her mind. Neither she nor Jason had so much as coughed since they had left Paso Robel, and there was obvious tension between them although, thankfully, not really enough to make her overly uncomfortable. Now they were driving into Los Angeles, and Nicky was orientating herself in the new surroundings as the sun slowly cleared the eastern horizon. She didn't mind the enormous city feeling; it reminded her of New York, her beloved home.
Finally, she turned to Jason. "What's our plan?"
Jason shifted gears, looking up at some of the buildings. "We're going to blend in here for a day. I need to contact Landy and see what's happening."
Nicky blinked. "Have you had contact with Landy? I would have thought she'd be underground by now."
"She is: NSA and the Secret Service." Jason's blunt reply explained a surprising amount: if both of those agencies were involved, the CIA would be completely locked out. "President extended protection in return for selling out BlackBriar."
"But not to you."
It was more of a statement then a question, but Jason gave her a look that almost could have been a smile. "If they can't even find me, I probably don't need their protection."
Nicky inclined her head. "Point taken."
They drove for a few minutes in silence. Suddenly, Jason pulled a right turn into a parking lot and stopped the car. Alarmed, Nicky looked over her shoulder at the road. "Are we being followed?"
"Not to my knowledge." Jason answered, pulling the car into park and turning off the ignition. "But I need you to answer a question before they catch up, and I would rather not be distracted for the answer." Nicky had a sinking feeling as his piercing blue eyes turned to her. There was a pause, then, "When you fell asleep earlier, you started screaming 'just kill me' in your sleep. I remembered being in Paris, you sleeping on my couch and doing the same thing. Where did that come from?"
Nicky slowly let the air that had been saved in her lungs. Those memories might be painful, but it was nothing compared to what she had thought he was going to ask. "That...that was from something that happened in my first year of working for Treadstone. Your first year too." She bit her lip. "It's a long story."
Jason gestured to the dashboard. "I'm not going anywhere."
Nicky ran a hand through her hair. Just start from the beginning, Nicky. "There was a rogue agent, Connor Reily, who had a nervous breakdown and defected from the CIA, hired five mercenaries and started going after Treadstone assets. He was going to be in Paris, and Conklin made me tail him because I looked young enough to pass for a teenager." She saw a flash of recognition in Jason's eyes and looked up. "Remember something?"
"When I was in India, I remembered arguing with Conklin about a woman. I only remembered part of it, but I said that she looks like a teenager because she still was one."
Nicky nodded slowly. That made sense. "You told me after it happened that you had tried to talk him out of it. That must be it." He nodded at her to continue. "Reily showed up, but he knew exactly who I was and everything went wrong. You had followed me and you took out a few of his men, but they got me anyway. Reily thought I knew the identities and locations of the assets."
Jason looked at her. "Did you?"
Nicky closed her eyes. "No. Not the ones he was after. But it took twenty-four hours to convince him otherwise." She took a deep breath. "They had me for three days."
Jason actually looked surprised. "Three days for the CIA to find six men with a hostage?"
"The CIA didn't find me: didn't look. Conklin changed anything I did know and could tell them, and left me to die."
Jason was obviously confused. "You escaped?"
"Not from a lack of trying, but no. You tracked them down, stormed the place, and rescued me."
His eyebrows raised. "Without Conklin's permission?"
"Yeah - believe me, he was pissed off at first, but he swept it all under the rug when he found out you killed Reily. Wrote it off as a ruse, CIA got their rogue, everyone's happy. Only bad thing was one hired gun that escaped; the police were coming and you didn't have enough time to chase him."
"Was he ever found?"
Nicky shook her head. "No: we had no record of him, I never even found out what his name was." Nicky shook her head to clear the memories that were beginning to surface. "You took me directly to your apartment and patched me up. I stayed there for a few weeks while I recovered."
Nicky shifted her weight slightly. "You hated them. So did I. And...I had panic attacks. You were the only one that could snap me out of it." She paused for a long moment "I...still have nightmares occasionally." The words sounded bitter leaving her mouth. She didn't like admitting her weaknesses.
Jason shifted. "One more question."
Now she blinked. "Why what?"
"Why did I disobey my orders and save you? I thought assets always follow orders."
Shit. She focused on the laces of her shoes. "That...that was a puzzle for me too. I thought it was because I was your handler, and you didn't want to loose the one person in your life you saw regularly and didn't have to kill." She shrugged, not looking at him. "But you never told me if that was the case."
Jason looked away. She could almost hear the gears in his head whirring as he processed this new information. "Thank you."
"For what?" Nicky rubbed her forehead and screwed her eyes shut, fighting back the memories that she really did not want to see.
"For telling me."
Nicky looked up. He was looking at her with an almost soft expression. Guilt nearly swallowed her alive, and for a small second, she considered telling him the truth. But her instincts clamped down on it again, and she broke eye contact. "I owe you my life several times over. It's the least I can do."
Jason looked at her for a moment longer, and then started the car. "You're going to have to tell me the truth sometime, Nicky."
Nicky winced. Of course he knew she was lying. "You remember parts of that story, it's true."
"Yes, the story is true, but you know exactly why I thought you were more important than orders."
She could feel the blue eyes drilling burning holes into her. "...I will tell you." She finally cracked. "Just...not right now. I can't right now. But I swear will."
Jason looked at her for a moment longer, then put the car into drive and pulled out onto the road, apparently satisfied with that much.
What was she afraid of? Him being angry? Yelling at her? It wasn't like that hadn't happened before. No, she realized. She was afraid he'd abandon her: walk away and leave her for the wolves. Was there actually a chance that would happen? She examined the situation mentally, and to her own terror, found that there was probably a 50/50 chance that he would just leave her behind. After all, he was trying to punish those responsible for his sad story, and she was certainly one of the guilty parties. She covered her eyes with her hand. Well, she reasoned, I swore I'd tell him the truth. I'll tell him tonight, and then at least if he does walk out I won't suffer for very long, with the pack of assets after us.
She looked over at Jason. He was scanning the streets ahead of them. "Tell me if you see any pay phones in the alleys or somewhere hidden."
"Got it." She leaned slightly more forwards and scanned around as well, glad there was something she could do for him without fearing his reaction.
And the plot thickens once again! Who is this 'Rob' character, and what is Nicky's connection to him? Why did Bourne disobey orders to save Nicky? Why does Nicky seem to blame herself for Jason's situation? Believe or not, all these questions will be answered in Chapter 7, when all shall be revealed. Even better, I promise I won't leave you hanging for 6 months this time!
Normally this is the part where the author begs for reviews and other forms of love, but you guys have all been really awesome for me, despite my takes-way-too-long-to-update abuse. :D Hope you guys enjoyed the chapter, and I promise I'll have chapter 7 up soon!