Title: Floating Neither Up or Down
Fandom: The Bourne Trilogy (films)
Rating: PG-13 for slight cursing and sexual situations
Spoilers: For the film.
Disclaimer: Not mine! Title from the song Death by White Lies.
Summary: Written for r_h_r_d's prompt 'he always catches up with her just when she thinks she's getting over him' for the halfamoon Impromptuthon. I hope it fits! Let me know what you think!
Nicky can't believe that in all her time with Treadstone, she's never been to Vienna.
She likes it. And that's reason enough to leave, right there. Because, liking something leads to attachment. Attachment leads to vulnerability. Vulnerability leads to a bullet in your forehead.
Or a broken heart by a man who doesn't even know you anymore.
There are days Nicky would truly prefer the bullet, thank you very much.
She takes a tiny little flat in the Turkish part of town and blends in well with the art students. Her skin is smooth enough to pass for the young woman she still is, but soon she'll have to figure out another angle.
Her German is good and she gets a job in a cafe that has gorgeous wooden booths and even more gorgeous coffee. Nicky goes to work every day, comes home, eats enough to sustain her and tries to forget everything she knows.
Her days aren't filled with grand adventures; her evenings aren't spent plotting. She lives quietly, talks to her neighbours occasionally, gets on well with the wait staff at her job and reads. A lot. The library has become her sanctuary and she has cards to several different ones all over the city. When she feels like splurging, she goes to the university and spends her Sunday afternoon in their poetry section.
Nicky measures her well-being by her dreams. After leaving Tangiers, after he put her on a bus, she'd had dreams of him every night. Some were filled with violence, in some he just had a slight cameo, but always, always there. She hated the ones where he made love to her, kissing the length of her spine and sliding into her so smoothly. Those made her afraid to sleep.
She knows she's getting over things when he disappears from her dreams. The first time she dreamt that she was naked in front of her high school algebra class, Nicky woke up laughing and relieved.
Of course, this would be the time he turns up in her section at the cafe, his face impassive and eyes trying so hard to be cold, but only ever managing lukewarm.
"You have to leave," he says to her when her shift is over and he's walking her home. "They're cleaning up a mess they made in Budapest and this is too close. You're still a loose end."
The loosest, she thinks bitterly.
"How did you find me?" she asks.
"According to your file, you were never stationed in Vienna," he said. "It was a logical choice."
"You have my file?"
"Swell," she says with a roll of her eyes. He actually looks taken aback.
They leave Vienna that night on a bus headed towards Frankfurt, Nicky's library cards smouldering in a garbage can near the Danube.
He leaves her the next day.
It's a smallish town. And that worries Nicky at first, but the university is popular and the steady flow of tourists help her keep her anonymity.
She has a job gardening, if you can believe it. It's hard work and she relishes how deeply she sleeps after a full day of work.
Her hair is lightening and she helps it along with some blonde dye and her arms are tan.
Marc, a student working part-time as a landscaper, asks her out and she says 'yes' without hesitation. Which, upon reflection, was probably not wise, but he's nice and has a beard and smiles easily. He shyly kisses her on their date and Nicky considers going to bed with him, but it's been so long, she's afraid she won't remember what to do. Not to mention how vulnerable that particular act makes a person. She's still bitter and grasping at normality, but she's not stupid.
He shows up after her third date with Marc.
"I need to know more," he says after scaring her half to death just sitting there in her living room with all the lights off. "Tell me, exactly, the names you remember."
God, she wants to hit him. She wants to scream at him. She wants to tell him that she almost fucked a man earlier tonight for the sole reason that he wasn't him.
But it wouldn't mean anything to him, so she makes them both some tea and tells him everything he wants to know (and nothing she wants to tell him).
She is close to accepting that she is just a resource to him; a walking, breathing reference book of dark and dangerous secrets. Nicky understands this. She even sympathizes with his need to know.
But, he still drinks Earl Grey with milk and it's so familiar and makes her heart hurt.
Nicky leaves Brno on her own.
Helsinki is expensive.
However, it's large enough to get lost in. She works in a coffee house (again) and takes up jogging. She jogs in the morning and in the evening; always in different, random parts of town. She keeps no discernable pattern and simply runs.
Today, it's the Helsinki Central Park and Nicky's in the process of cooling down when she sees him sitting on a bench watching her. Resigned, she walks over, her calf muscles burning and strands of her (for the moment) brown hair are sticking to her neck and temples. She props a foot up on the bench next to his thigh and stretches.
"You never liked jogging," he says.
"Yeah, well," she starts to say and then stops, his words registering with her. Nicky squeezes her eyes shut and whispers, "What?"
"You never liked jogging," he repeats. "You preferred yoga and cycling."
"Oh, god," she says.
"You never liked making the bed, either," he says. "And you asked me to never say good-bye when I left, to just go, because that was easier somehow."
She shakes her head, her eyes still closed.
"Nicky," he says and she stumbles over a breath at the sound of his voice saying her name.
Nicky opens her eyes and looks at him. This time, his eyes are far from lukewarm.