Many thanks to all who have been so supportive of this little story. This is the last chapter and I hope you enjoy it as much as the others.

Title: Adjustments
author: Cindy Ryan
notes and summary: see part one

Byer smiled as he lowered the night vision binoculars. Finally things were coming together and he was that much closer to closing the book on Treadstone. Things had gotten way out of hand and that was partially his fault. After tonight it'd be back to business as ususal Byer clicked his handheld radio to an open channel.

"Make sure our guest finds his way."The former colonel ordered.

"Yes, Sir."

Byer looked through the binoculars once more at the Junk. He was sure Cross wouldn't have any trouble locating them. That's why he had picked this location there was nowhere to hide. No aid within a hundred miles. Setting aside the binoculars Byer turned to his captive.

"Time to see how much you really mean to Aaron Cross."Byer stated.

Shearing shook her head. "You don't have to do this. He's no threat to you."

Byer stroked a hand down Marta's right cheek. "You both know too much. Knowledge in the wrong hands is always a threat."

"Aaron you're a hard man to find."Byer commented darkly."Made me use tactics I normally wouldn't."

A few minutes later Aaron arrived escorted by the Asian hired gun.

Cross shook off the grip of the henchman and looked at Marta. "Did they hurt you?"

Marta met Aaron's gaze for too long of a moment before shaking her head. "No."

Aaron got the unspoken truth. Nothing deliberate. No blows that didn't come from a struggle.

"I assure you the good doctor is unharmed."Byer said as he leaned against a stack of crates gun held lightly at his left side.

Cross met his former commanding officer's gaze. "Let her go."

"As I informed Marta."Byer replied. "You both know too much."

"Make a deal then."Aaron suggested. "Me for her."

"Aaron."Shearing protested.

"That's why you took her in the first place."Cross continued. "Between you and I we can get Marta a new identity….she'll disappear; get a new life. Off the grid….no threat to you or Treadstone."

Aaron saw Byer nod but it wasn't in agreement. Before the former outcome agent could move the Asian hired gun walked over to Marta and roughly yanked the doctor to her feet. Aaron caught sight of a flash of metal as the younger man pressed a wicked looking knife against Marta's throat.

"You must think I'm stupid."Byer snapped.

Cross shook his head. "No."

"The doctor has proven she can't be trusted. That she'll go to great lengths to protect you and bring justice to her friends.."The former colonel stated as he raised his gun at Aaron. "There will be no negotiation."

Aaron held up his hands. "You're making this harder than necessary. You can still get what you want without blood on your hands."

"I gave up caring about the blood on my hands a long time ago. Innocents get caught in the cross fire it's how things are."Byer replied.

Suddenly the small metal table toppled over taking the other chair with it. Both hit the nearby rocks with a loud crash. Aaron glanced up to see Marta had used her own chair as a weapon. She'd twisted around and shoved the Asian man back.
Aaron moved towards Marta's captor but the younger man was faster. Faster and mad. The henchman unlocked Marta's handcuff kicking the chair away with a loud clang. He whipped the doctor around so her back was to him and pressed the knife to the base of her throat. Cross backed off raising his hands.

"You are a fighter, Doctor Shearing, I will give you that."Byer stated as he walked towards his captive. "And you're loyal. Both qualities will not serve you well today."

"Byer."Aaron pleaded.

"You put her at risk, Aaron."The former colonel snapped as he turned.

Byer was right. Aaron had put Marta in danger by taking her with him. He'd had no choice. She was the only one that could free him from the meds.

"No! I wanted to help."Marta protested. "To put an end to Treadstone."

"There have been many sacrifices for Treadstone."Byer stated calmly. "You did ground breaking work for the project. It's a shame no one will ever know about it."

An airplane skirting the island broke the tense silence startling the henchman slightly. It was just enough for the knife to move away from Marta's neck. She ducked out of the Asian man's grasp and scrambled away from her captors. Aaron took advantage and hit the younger man with a swift right uppercut. The blow sent the hired gun staggering but he was still able to regain his balance and took a swing at Cross. The former outcome agent dodged and lashed out with his left foot landing a blow to the henchman's right thigh. He bobbled and toppled into the metal table. The table collapsed under his weight and turned sideways and landing on top of the now unconscious Asian man.

"That's more than enough."Byer snapped causing Aaron to turn.

Cross saw Marta was in the same spot she'd been earlier but now Byer was holding a gun aiming it at her heart. Aaron saw Byer pull the trigger back. There was no time to think, no time to plan. All he could do was react and pray it was enough. Cross launched himself at Byer and they landed in a tangle of arms and legs. The gun between them went off at the impact. Aaron heard Marta call his name. Beneath him Byer gasped in pain his eyes bulged before turning the glassy stare of death. Gingerly Aaron pulled away and saw the gun laying across Byer's chest. The bullet had went into the colonel's heart.

"Aaron!"Marta cried as she skidded to a stop next to Cross. Rocks and sand scattered.

"Oh God."Shearing whispered as she saw the blood on Aaron's shirt.

Gently Aaron stood and pulled Marta away from Byer's body.

"It's not mine."Cross assured his companion."I'm okay."

Aaron tucked Marta into an embrace. "He's dead…it's over. You're safe."

Marta melted into Aaron's arms with a choked sob.

"You're safe."Aaron whispered once more as he turned to look at the henchman's still unconscious form.


"Are you sure the man Byer hired won't report us?"Marta asked the next day as they sailed to one of the northern islands.

Aaron nodded as he reached with his free arm and pulled Marta close tucking his arm around her shoulders.

"I paid him well."Cross commented. "Almost all we had left but it was worth it. Plus with what Byer paid him he's set for awhile."

"It's just sad that this project turned so many good people against the values they once stood for."Shearing said softly as she rested her head on Cross's shoulder.

"They made their choices."Aaron replied as he turned forcing Marta to raise her head and meet his gaze. "And you have a choice to make too."

Marta blinked in surprise. "What?"

Aaron swallowed hard as he used his free hand to caress Marta's right cheek. He'd never had anyone in his life like her. He didn't want to lose Marta but Byer had been right. Aaron had put her in the line of fire. Tredstone may have taken the life she'd known but Aaron hadn't given her much choice either. Marta was beautiful and brave she deserved the best life he could give her even if that didn't include him.

"With what I confiscated from Byer…."Cross began quietly. "I can get you a new identity. You can disappear."

"Without you?"Marta asked sadly.

"They'll figure out why Byer died."Aaron explained as he looked back at the ocean to keep their course steady. "They'll keep looking for me…..I'll always be a danger to you and I can't let you get hurt because of me. Not again."

"It's my choice though."Marta replied as she reached over to cover Aaron's left hand that was on the wheel. "When this started you promised I wouldn't be alone. That's what I would be with a new life."

"Marta."Aaron protested.

Shearing shook her head. "Even with the risks I like this life, Aaron. I'd rather take the risks with you than be somewhere alone and constantly afraid. "

Aaron smiled and leaned in to kiss Marta. He had hoped she'd stay but after everything she'd been through he hadn't been sure. Call if fate or luck it was amazing how things worked out The rest of it they'd figure out Marta broke the kiss and Aaron turned his attention once more to the ocean. Marta nestled against Aaron and he draped his free arm around her waist.

"I love you."Marta said quietly.

"I love you too."Aaron replied the words easier to say than he expected. "We'll figure things out."

"I know."Shearing commented as she rested her head once more on Aaron's right shoulder.

end