Lines in the Sand
It's been almost 8 months since Jason returned for her, and things have just now settled down. Honestly, she had given up hope almost as soon as Eamon stopped the car to let her out in France. She had been lost there, but she just couldn't stand being cooped up with her normal brother and his sweetly normal children any longer. She was tired of the look in his eyes, the one that said "Well, Marie, look at the mess you got yourself into this time. This guy isn't just some unemployed loser, he's a fucking assassin. A real step up." So she had ordered him to stop the car and let her out.
She had spent a few month traveling, not really sure where she was going. Waitressing in Spain, Modeling in Berlin, always looking over her shoulder. Looking for him, but afraid to admit he was never coming back. Really, it would be better if he didn't. He had given her the only thing he could, her freedom back. If he came for her, her life would be one long chase after the other, constant worry, and an eventual early death for one or both of them.
She didn't care. Despite the risks, she would rather have a few years with him than a lifetime without. But after six months, it was hard to hang onto even the last slivers of hope. So she had settled down and used Bourne's money to open a scooter shop in Greece. To her surprise, the money came pouring in. By now there was more than enough to take her around the world if she wanted to. In her private moments, she had fantasies about closing shop and trying to find him. It was a ridiculous thought, she new she would never find him. Bourne had been run to the ground, he wouldn't be found unless he wanted to.
So it had been a shock when he had magically appeared on her doorstep, grinning and asking for a ride. She had rushed to him and thrown her arms around him, comforted by his warm, solid presence. Yes, it was really Bourne, the man she loved. She had kissed him then, so happy that he had managed to find her.
If they had been in a movie, she supposed that would have been the end of it. They would have built a beautiful life there by the beach. They would expand the shop and maybe in a few years they would be a little Jason playing by the water. But this was no movie, nor was it any ordinary life.
Jason had finally pulled away from her, his eyes restlessly roaming the shop. Their conversation in the diner came back to her and she knew exactly what he was doing. He was looking the exits, for any possible weapons. Let's see, if they came in the front door, he could either bolt out the back or go through a window. The keys for the scooters could be used to gouge or cut. A quick turn would take him to the kitchen where an assortment of knives was just waiting. She knew all this because she had thought about it before she bought the shop. She had walked the empty building, trying to see it through his eyes, trying to plan for any eventuality.
He must have been pleased with what he saw, because he breathed out a heavy sigh and relaxed slightly. It was only then that she drew back and got a clear look at him. He looked horrible. There were not visible cuts or bruises, but he was pale with extremely tired eyes. Had he slept at all since leaving her? Not very well, apparently. He had the same lost look he had had that night in Zurich, a bone weary exhaustion that just screamed 'I'm so very tired and my head hurts. I can't do this any more. I need help, but I don't know how to ask.'
So she wrapped her arms around him again, laying her head against his chest to hear his heart. Leaning over, she whispered. "Why don't you go lay down for a while? I'll close up for a little bit and you can tell me about it. The bedrooms right through that curtain and to your left. You rest and I'll bring you some aspirin."
He had obeyed her in silence, heading to the back on nearly silent feet. By the time she found a clean glass and some painkillers, he had undressed down to his boxer shorts and was lying quietly on the bed. She stripped off her shorts and cuddled up next to him, holding him as tightly as she dared. "Is it over?"
"For now. I-"
She didn't him finish. He had killed the men who were chasing him; there was no doubt in her mind. This wasn't a game, it was kill or be killed and Jason Bourne was nothing if he wasn't a survivor. At least two bullets and he kept on running. "That doesn't matter now. You're here, and you made us safe. That's what counts."
So they laid together in silence, each absorbed in their own thoughts. She hummed softly under her breath, doing her best to soothe him. Just like in the car, he fought sleep off, and just like in the car, he finally succumbed, curling his hand around the back of her neck.
This was it. Her very last chance to run. The keys to her old car were on the table, if she jumped up now, she could beat him to the door. Something told her he wouldn't chase her once she was gone. He would let her go, disappearing before she could make it out of the driveway. Smoke and shadows, that was her Jason.
He slept all afternoon and most of the evening. She didn't move, even though she had two scooters out and there was no way for her renters to return the keys. She knew that it was over, that it no longer mattered.
By the end of the week, the shop was sold and they were a thousand miles away. First it was Wales for a few weeks, then China for a month. They moved quickly, never staying in one place for more than a few nights. Sometimes Jason spooked and wouldn't even permit them to stay the night. He seemed confident in their path, but when she asked where they were going, she was met with a blank stare. So she followed mutely, comforted in their shared ignorance.
That wasn't to say that things weren't difficult. She missed her family, Eamon and the kids, her grandmother. Did they think about her? Did they even know she was still alive? She cried sometimes, curled up into a miserable ball on the bed. Jason would watch her in silence, his blue eyes worried, but somehow uncomprehending. He had no family of his own, and thus no one to miss. She wasn't sure if she should envy him or pity him for it.
Jason, too, could be hard to deal with. She knew that he loved her deeply, in his own funny way, but he had too many bad memories without the good ones to back them up. Even though no one had bothered them yet, he was on a constant alert, never seeming to blink. His sleeping habits remained sporadic; he could rest normally for weeks, and then not lay down for 3 days.
The other odd thing was that he was starting to have nightmares. The first time she tried waking him and ended up on the floor, with his arm across her throat. He nearly managed to choke her into unconsciousness before waking up completely. He slept on the floor next to the bed for a few nights after that. Now she knew to just keep quiet and let him wake up on his own. Then she could quiz him about the dream before he lost it.
It was mostly an exercise in frustration. Jason could apparently speak several languages, while she was limited to German and English. So while he might actually be giving her very good information, she was unable interpret it. He never got upset with her for not understanding, but she could feel his silent aggravation. Very occasionally, she would get a phrase or location. He seemed particularly taken with the US, New York specifically. Another favorite place was Moscow. Neither place meant a thing to him when he was awake.
In the end though, they managed. A month passed, then two. No one chased them. No one even looked at them twice, and she could almost feel some of the tension surrounding him dissipate. He began to let her pick their next destination, although he still set the pace. She was finally seeing the world, the way she had always dreamed of.
He took her picture at the Great Wall in China, in the Buddhist temples in Nepal. She cherished the photos, although they were of her and her alone. Jason refused to allow her to take his picture. Occasionally he would allow another tourist to take one of them together, but only if the other person insisted. It was for show, of course, to avoid that person remembering his resistance later and wondering. He always destroyed the pictures later. He allowed her to keep a single picture of them together, and even then she had to beg. It wasn't a very good picture of either one of them. He was looking to the side and she had a curiously blank look on her face, but she wanted it anyway. If something happened to him, it would be all she had to remember his face. Of course, if something happened to Jason, she didn't stand much of a chance on her own, but she didn't like thinking like that.
They were now in India, in a rented shack that looked like it could fall down on top of them at any second. At first she had been afraid that they would stand out, particularly Jason with his blond hair and light skin, but no one really took notice of them. At first, Marie had hated it there. It was dirty and the amenities were sorely lacking. It didn't help that she had been sick for the first week after eating something sketchy from a roadside vendor. She had been counting the days before Jason decided it was time to leave.
Then slowly, things had changed. Their second week there, her change had been stolen by an enterprising monkey. Whether there was a human behind the theft, or the creature was just attracted by the shiny coins, her money was gone before she realized what had happened. Even more shocking then being outwitted by an ape was what had happened next. Jason had started laughing. Hard. It was a merry, unfettered sound, one she had never heard before. So she had laughed with him, making a mental note to keep a better eye on her money. Now all she had to do was whisper "evil thieving monkey, evil thieving monkey!" to him and he would smile.
It was getting easier in other ways also. She had discovered that Jason liked a routine and the more strictly she adhered to it, the better he did. It was enough to make her wonder if he had been in the military before he had been…wherever he had been. Up at 5:30 for a run, breakfast at 7, shopping until noon, then lunch, work until 6:30 (she didn't like thinking about what he did, she just contented herself with the money he was bringing in), Dinner at 7:30, bed at 11. Once they got the schedule going, he became much less stressed. It was a comfort for her too, to know what was exactly what was going to happen day after day. The outside world would disturb things soon enough, there was no reason for them to upset things themselves.
Together though, they managed. She learned to walk heavier, always giving him some warning about where she was. She kept the routine as best she could. He was becoming more and more tolerant of the every day upsets that characterized life in the real world. It was slow going, but they were getting used to each other. Really, they were bonding in a way that most couples never did, a bond forged by being able to trust only each other, by both physical and emotional separation from almost every other person on the planet.
Her thoughts were disturbed by the arrival of Jason himself. He bounced through the front door, finding her like a homing beacon. This was all part of the routine; he couldn't relax until he knew exactly where she was. Their bungalow only had three rooms, so she wasn't hard to find. She had once made the mistake of being out when he got home. Somehow, he managed to track her almost two miles down to the beach. By the time he found her, he was in a panic. Not an outward panic of course, outwardly Jason Bourne was a blank as ever, but she could read it in his scared blue eyes. He had hugged her tightly before dragging her back to the house and yelling at her for a solid hour, reminding her over and over again that this wasn't funny and it wasn't a game. He had been terrified that someone had taken her, that she was raped or dead and he would never see her again.
Any other woman might have been afraid then, of this snarling demon who had replaced her Jason. Marie wasn't. He wasn't angry with her at all, he was afraid. If he was angry with anyone, it was the people who had put him in this position, those people whose faces haunted his dreams. He was like an alpha wolf, determined to protect his mate at all costs to himself.
"In the back, Babe!" He could find her easily, but she liked letting him know she was aware of his presence. He appeared in the doorway, smiling broadly at her. His smiles had become less and less rare as he settled into his new life. He knelt next to her in the small room, wrapping his arms around her and nuzzling her neck. "I missed you."
It was times like this that she wondered who he had been before Treadstone got a hold of him. Was he this tender, compassionate man that she only caught glimpses of? The man who always brought her flowers, almost every day. The one who hunted all over the village for her favorite chocolate? The one who slept snuggled up to her every night, unable to rest unless his body was pressed up against hers.
Or was he that other man? The one who killed an intruder without a flinching. The one who had no more compunctions about jumping out a third story window than most men did about walking down the stairs. The one who couldn't rest until he had scouted out every possible escape, each potential weapon. The one who had no idea what sort of man he had been, and was afraid to find out?
Most likely he was neither of those men. Or more accurately, he was both of them. He had his good side and his bad side. In his other life, so many years ago, he had probably been a gentle man, one who kissed his mother goodnight and hunted out that perfect gift for a girlfriend. He had also probably been a hunter, or at least comfortable with a gun. Maybe even done a tour in the army.
These thoughts passed through her head in an instant. It was never in anyone's interest to be so focused on the past and in this case it was worse then useless. Jason (was he really Jason? Could he be John Michael Kane, or a Lucas, or a Matthew?), might never know what sort of man he had been. The more time that passed without him getting his memory back, the more likely that they would never know. All she could do now was love him for who he was, right now.
"I missed you too." Jason's voice was amused; after all, they had only been separated for a few hours. He retreated back to the front, returning with some chips and a single flower. "I brought these for you." He held out the item, offering her a tentative smile. It was that same smile that convinced her to give him a ride in the first place, and the same one that convinced her to wait while he explored what he thought was his apartment in Paris.
She smiled and put her arms around his neck, kissing him on the throat. He grumbled and leaned down to kiss her softly. Marie took a moment to be thankful. With all the problems they did have, at least the sex was good. No, that was a lie, the sex was fantastic. She liked to think that sexual technique was something taught to him in Treadstone, not that he had had that many lovers before her. She didn't expect virginity out of him, but no girl liked to think that she was just one in a long line.
"Well, I guess dinner could wait a little bit, if you're thinking like that…"
He almost knocked a chair over in his haste to get up and turn off the stove. Marie had to suppress a giggle. Sometimes now he was showing flashes of clumsiness, or not hearing something that she did. She thought it was a good sign, a sign that he was beginning to relax, to forget some of his training. She didn't want him to be unprepared for an attack if it came, but it would be nice if he stopped jumping awake and out of bed every time one of those stray dogs made noise outside.
Well, alright, apparently he was thinking like that. He was back in an instant, easily lifting her into his arms. She squealed, delighted as always at the brute show of strength. He laughed with her, blue eye shining with amusement. In that moment, they could have been any normal couple, in any place in the world. It was a dizzying thought to have as she was carried off to the bedroom.
As it turned out, dinner was more than a little late that night. Jason had gotten into an affectionate mood after a marathon sex session and had wanted to cuddle up to her and be held. Those moods were far and few between, so she had been glad to oblige him.
Finally, she convinced him to get up and eat something. They sat together in the kitchen, at a rickety card table that would collapse if you bumped it wrong. Dinner was burned, and a little gross from sitting out so long, but they both ate well. He caught her eye across the table and cocked his head gently. She cocked her head back and smiled, overwhelmed with a sudden rush of love for him. Sure, he was damaged, a little scratched and dented, but he was hers. She knew full well she was no prize either, she was flighty and stubborn, and knew she could never settle for anyone else. They were together and alive and for the moment, that was enough.