AN: Wow, this is officially the last chapter of the actual story although the epilogue is nearly half way complete. I know I speak for Jack E. Peace when I say it has been a wonderful ride and we appreciate each and everyone of you for reading and reviewing our little fic.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO STUCK WITH US TO THE END!
Even before the hearings started two days ago, Pamela Landy knew that she was going to get fucked. After years of working for the very company she is now trying to take down, she has first-hand experience of what happens to the people who stand in the way of their best interests. Unfortunately, she is now that person. To be honest, Landy considers herself lucky that she is not dead yet. She has the feeling that Vosen, Kramer, Byer and the others are going to let her humiliate herself in public, let this whole thing blow up in her face and then kill her. Landy has not decided yet if the judge is in their pockets, but it does not really matter. Everyone else is, including her own lawyer, so the judge is going to believe whatever they want.
That morning, Landy had the feeling that this whole thing was going to be over before it really started. For the past day days, Vosen and the others have made her look like a pandering idiot and a traitor to the nation. Her first hand testimony, her anecdotes and conviction just are not enough to back the program into a corner and tear it down. The only person who is going to pay for Treadstone, Blackbriar and God only knows what else is her.
Landy did consider it a small victory when Byer walked into the court room this morning looking like he had not slept in weeks. His eyes betrayed that he was experiencing some pain that was purely physical and Landy watched him favor his left arm and shoulder, wincing whenever anyone got too close. She wished that she knew the story behind whatever had happened to the man, who had also been absent from yesterday's proceedings.
Unfortunately, Landy's private victory and flash of optimism did not last very long. She has been sitting in this court room for nearly an hour and she can tell from the expression on the judge's face that he feels like they are just wasting his time. In his mind, the only solid case is the one for her being a terrorist, a traitor and certifiably crazy. Landy doubts they will even make it to lunch.
Vosen is in the middle of defaming her character when the sound of desperate shouting drifts in from the hallway and catches everyone's attention. Gennaro, the judge, narrows his eyes, an irritated expression crossing his face. He looks at the bailiffs standing by the door asking sternly, "What in God's name?"
One of them shrugs. "I'm not sure, Your Honor."
The bailiff reached for the door just as it bursts open and a dark haired woman runs into the court room with Nicky Parsons hot on her heels. Landy almost can't believe her eyes. Out of all the things she expected from the congressional hearings, this was not one of them.
A uniformed guard comes running in after them, his shouts for them to stop seeming a little irrelevant at this point. Byer turns to see what the commotion is and his face pales when he locks eyes with Marta Shearing. She narrows her eyes at him and Byer is glad that she is not carrying a gun because he can see in her eyes how badly she wants to kill him. Cross has definitely done a number on her.
The judge pounds his gavel so hard it sounds as though it might crack. "What the hell is going on here," He shouts, looking at the assorted group now in his courtroom. He looks at Marta and the blood on her shirt and skin. "Do you need medical assistance?" Marta shakes her head. "Then you better start explaining yourself."
"Your Honor, my name is Dr. Marta Shearing." Marta is finding it hard to catch her breath, but she's forcing the words out before she misses her chance, "I used to work for Sterisyn-Morlanta, as part of the Outcome program, under the direction of these men." She feels like there's so much she needs to say but thinking about Gemma lying in the back of the ambulance is making it hard to think and to keep her composure. "That man," she points at Byer, "killed my sister."
Byer's lawyer jumps up and starts yelling about objections and the other men working for the defense start chiming in and once again, the judge bangs his gavel down, the crack echoing through the courtroom.
"Miss, that's a hell of an allegation," The judge informs Marta sharply, "And I don't have time for stories in my courtroom."
"Trust me, it's not a story." Nicky speaks up, moving to stand beside Marta. "My name is Nicky Parsons and I used to work for these men as well, as part of the Treadstone program. We have irrefutable evidence that these men are terrorists using the government funding and policies to hide murders as government sanctioned black operations and line their own pockets."
"These files," Marta pulls the duffle bag over her shoulders and drops it to the ground with a satisfying thump. "Detail every aspect of the programs we mentioned as well as some even more disturbing scientific experiments paid for by the American tax payers."
"Most of them signed," Nicky chimed in, "by Noah Vosen, Ezra Kramer or Eric Byer."
The man acting as Vosen's lawyer gets to his feet once more, "Objection your honor." He points to the bag. "Whatever might be contained inside that bag is not admissible as evidence. All evidentiary claims must be made using evidence that has been filed and entered before the proceedings begin." He looks smugly at Marta and Nicky. Nicky has to refrain from giving him the finger.
"Thankfully," Judge Gennaro said intercepting the barrister's conceited look and giving him one of his own earning Landy's respect as he adds, "I, too, completed law school. So, please save the lectures for when you are standing in front of a mirror."
While the Honorable Judge Patrick Gennaro is calling his courtroom to order, Aaron and Jason are busy handcuffing the last of the Supreme Court's lobby police to their guard post.
"Jackson," One of the men's walkie-talkie is being paged, "Report."
Aaron pulls it off the desk and presses the button saying gruffly, "Area secure."
"Good," the voice acknowledged, "Lock down the building no one in or out."
"Ten-four," Aaron muttered then added, "We have reports of a wounded woman in an ambulance at the edge of the parking lot."
"She's being taken care of and will be going to the hospital soon," the voice informed them. "You lock down that building and make sure it stays secure."
"Roger-Willco," Aaron signed off and tossed the radio into a waste basket Jason took from beside the desk to gather all of the guard's radios, firearms and keyrings. When they were sure everything was as secure as they could make it Jason tied the plastic bag shut and left it down the hall out of the men's reach.
Aaron studied the scene; the men were handcuffed in such a way as to appear that they were diligently guarding their post. It wasn't perfect but he figured they should consider themselves lucky that they are being restrained and not killed. Or they could have been in the hands of people with a shoot first, ask questions later school of thinking. Looking out the glass door he can find no trace of the men that had been pursuing them. They vanished, along with the bullet ridden black Honda.
The news reporters are still on the scene, cameras rolling, desperately trying to figure out what the hell is going on. The morning, previously believed to be a boring day spent sitting outside the court house watching for Landy or one of the defendants to emerge is quickly turning into a career making assignment.
Aaron glances toward the ambulance and is glad to see the voice wasn't lying about Gemma being taken care of because someone apparently called the real EMTs; there is another ambulance parked catty-corner to the curb and orders are being shouted out by the professionals on scene. Aaron hopes this is because Gemma is still alive and fighting to stay that way.
"I've never been arrested before." Jason remarks as Aaron locks the door. "Not by American police anyway."
"I have," Aaron replies, "Twice. I was sixteen."
Jason wants to press for the story, but they have too much to get done and he doesn't want Nicky out of his sight any longer than necessary. Both he and Aaron remain silent as they approach the courtroom. If Jason had to guess, he'd put money on the fact that they're both thinking about Marta and Nicky and whether they were able to get into the hearings. For the first time in his life, Jason feels optimistic.
It is rare dealing with this type of inquiry and after days of having the slick as snake oil lawyers blowing smoke up his ass the Honorable Judge Patrick Gennaro has had enough. Letting his eyes survey the scene before him he motions for the guards to stand down. The guards are still standing uncertainly behind Marta and Nicky, ready to take them into custody at any second. Pamela Landy is looking at Nicky with a mixture of surprise and relief on her face and he can tell that she is just bursting with things to say. He can see the way that Byer is guardedly watching Marta, his face pale and his eyes betraying his fear and the duffle bag resting on the bench in the middle of it all. It's the fear in Byer's eyes and his own curiosity that prompts the judge to call a recess so he can have a chance to sort everything out.
"Dr. Shearing and Miss Parsons," he nodded to each woman as he says their name, "You may join these proceedings; please have a seat. The bailiff will bring the bag to the bench so that I might take a moment to consider how we will proceed."
In the commotion Eric Byer tried to slip from the courtroom but he was stepping through the door he came face to face with Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross. It was interesting to see the man pale and backpedal as if the devil was after him and Gennaro thought it might not be too far off the mark. Observing the courtroom is something he has grown accustomed to doing. It is amazing what you can learn when people were just sitting in the room or tripping over themselves to move out of the way of two ordinary looking men.
"Mr. Byer," the Honorable Judge Gennaro barked, "I don't believe I have released you from these proceedings."
"Your Honor," he stammered, "I—"
"You," the judge said, "Don't need your mouth to find a seat in my courtroom, Mr. Byer."
"Your Honor," Aaron called as respectfully as one could be covered in blood and barging into a courtroom during proceedings, "We would like permission to enter the courtroom."
"We have first-hand information that is pertinent to this matter," Jason added.
"Well," the Honorable Judge Gennaro shook his head gesturing for the men to enter, "Mr. Bourne and Mr. Cross I certainly never expected either of you to walk into my courtroom."
"We never thought we would have the opportunity to present our case and receive a fair trial," Aaron said, "We understand that there are things we will have to answer for, but it was too important that the actions of Eric Byer, Noah Vosen and Ezra Kramer were brought to the attention of the proper authorities."
"Your Honor," Vosen stood from his seat and gestured toward the new arrivals, "These men are enemies of the state and should be arrested."
"I see you have something in common with your lawyer, Mr. Vosen," Patrick Gennaro scowled down at the man, "You both think you can tell me how to do my job. I suggest you sit down and button your yap unless you would like to find yourself in contempt of court."
Turning back to the men who have graced his television screen and every government website's most-wanted posters and it is hard to believe the allegations being levied against them. However, they are standing in his courtroom and there are no other guards rushing in to subdue them.
"The guards in the hallway," he asked.
"Safe," Cross assured him.
"Handcuffed to the front desk," Bourne added.
Nodding he gestured for the men to have a seat and was intrigued when the women stood and shifted so that the men could take up positions beside them in a boy-girl-boy-girl fashion. The men sat on the edge of their seats ready for action and the women angled their bodies closer to them, but did not hamper the men's movements by clinging to them as Patrick's own wife might have done in a situation like this.
He watched as Cross leaned over and brushed Dr. Shearing's hair away from her face and whispered something in her ear that made her dry and laugh all at once. These for new arrivals had seen some terrible things in the last few days and if what they said was true their lives had been filled with such events for many years.
"We are going to take a recess," Patrick announced, "While my colleges and I discuss how to proceed." Seeing the shifting start among the usually self-assured group of men he added, "No one leaves this room; I don't care if Jesus Christ, himself, comes down and opens the door…Understood?"
The murmured consensus agreed to his mandate, but he was pretty sure that there would be one or two trying to weasel out of the room while his back was turned. He decided to leave any policing actions to the two men that seemed to be itching to get their hands on anyone that even thought about making their lives hell.
During the recess, the Honorable Judge Patrick Gennaro read through a few of the many files in the bag. It makes him sick the things he reads and his decision is made pretty quickly. There is more than enough evidence in that duffle to give credibility to Nicky and Marta's stories. Taking a moment to throw-up in his en suite Patrick Gennaro rinses his mouth and meets his own eyes in the mirror over the sink. The bag of rattlesnakes Nicky and Marta tossed in his lap are eating at him with their poison dipped fangs, along with a strung together abridged account of their experiences with NRAG, Jason Bourne, Aaron Cross and near death experiences.
His life is about to get interesting and probably not in a good way. Wiping his face Patrick returns to his desk and picks up the picture of his late wife and he is thankful, for the first time that she is no longer here because he knows if she was he would have a weakness. She is a weakness that these bastards would exploit to keep their traitorous acts and inhumane science experiments secret. Gently stroking his fingers over her smiling face he sits the frame down and pulls his robe on.
The bailiff calls the court to order and the Honorable Judge Gennaro sits down in his chair and shuffles a few papers about, stalling for time. He is unprepared for the anger that sweeps over him when Noah Vosen speaks, "Your Honor if I may speak."
"No," he snarls, "You may not! I believe I asked you to keep your mouth shut Mr. Vosen or suffer the consequences. Mr. Vosen you will be held without bail until these hearings are at an end. Due to the magnitude of the information contained in these files the following people will be remanded to custody without bail Eric Byer, Ezra Kramer and Noah Vosen. Bailiffs, please, take Mr. Vosen, Mr. Byer and Mr. Kramer into custody and don't forget to advise them of their legal rights." The room exploded with activity and shouting as all three of the men was summarily handcuffed and lead away.
"Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross," Judge Gennaro said as he turned to the two most sought after fugitives in America, "You will voluntarily stay here until you have given statements so detailed you will rival only JRR Tolkien and God in verbosity; is that understood?"
"Yes, Your Honor," the two men answered in unison as they shifted nervously in their seats.
"Dr. Shearing and Miss Parsons you may remain here," he gestured to the courtroom, "until Cross and Bourne have completed their statements."
"Your Honor," Aaron called respectfully, "Dr. Shearing's sister, an innocent bystander dragged into this mess by Eric Byer, was shot this afternoon and has been taken to the hospital. Marta needs to see to her sister."
Patrick listened to the man and watched as the doctor in question placed a hand, still bloody, on Cross' arm as if to thank him for thinking of her and her sister. "Very well, I will arrange a ride for Dr. Shearing to go to the hospital."
"This hearing will reconvene in two days' time, so that the files provided have time to be admitted into evidence and Jason Bourne, Aaron Cross, Marta Shearing and Nicky Parsons can be added to the witness list." With that being said Judge Gennaro banged his gavel and muttered, "The court is adjourned for the next fifty-six hours."
Standing to exit the courtroom Patrick had a good view of Pamela Landy firing her lawyer. From his place at the bench he called out to her, "Ms. Landy," and gestured her over to his side. "If you want to press charges against your former attorney I would be happy to assist you."
Glancing at her pale and shaking lawyer Pamela Landy smiled, "Thank you, Your Honor, I believe I will avail myself of your very kind offer."
Marta can't get any information on Gemma's condition over the phone, but the fact that she is in the hospital and not in the morgue is some of the best news that she's heard all day. Nicky agrees to wait with Aaron and Jason just to make sure they don't forget themselves and try to reenact a scene from The Great Escape and Marta finds a police officer who agrees to drive her to the hospital.
Word about the events at the courthouse is finally starting to catch on. The story is spreading like wildfire when people realize that Jason Bourne is involved and that all four people who went charging into the courthouse are wanted fugitives. Though, Marta isn't entirely sure what their status is at the moment. Judge Gennaro is a hard man to read, but she's already gotten the feeling that the tide has changed as far as the hearings are concerned. Proof that Byer, Kramer and Vosen know a lot more than they are letting on has become pretty obvious and she hopes that it is going to be enough to exonerate her and Aaron and Jason and Nicky, just like they hoped when they first put this whole plan together.
Of course, earning their freedom was second to rescuing Gemma but if Gemma is not going to be okay, if there is nothing she can do to save her sister after all, then Marta does not want this whole thing to be for nothing.
Marta takes the elevator up to the fifth floor and finds her sister asleep in a hospital bed. Her room is a single, which is a relief, and Marta shuts the door when she steps into the room. Gemma is nearly as white as the sheets tucked around her body and is hooked up to several monitors and wires, one of which is feeding plasma into her body. Marta's eyes prick with tears as she looks at her sister. She looks so small and vulnerable, words she never thought she'd connect to Gemma. Gemma was always her support system, her rock, her mother and father and guiding star all rolled into one.
Marta gently takes Gemma's hand, careful of the tubes that are taped down to her skin. Gemma doesn't stir but Marta takes comfort in the steady rise and fall of her chest and the constant beeping on the monitor beside her.
Marta isn't sure how much time passes with her just sitting there, holding onto Gemma's hand and letting herself become lost in her thoughts. It's weird to not have to do anything but be still. She doesn't know what happens next. No running, no hiding, no lying and no one trying to kill them. She thinks. Because as mad as Byer and the others are, she can also tell that they are scared and if the judge had not arrested them they probably would have been half-way around the world in a few hours' time.
Gemma finally stirs, her eyes fluttering open and her hand squeezing Marta's on reflex as she starts to wake up. Marta can't keep a smile off her face as she watches Gemma register her surroundings and focus on her little sister. "So," Gemma finally manages to croak out, her voice scratchy, "I'm not dead."
"Not today," Marta informs her, "So let's keep it that way." She squeezes Gemma's hand. "Don't scare me like that again."
Gemma manages a small smile. "I'll do my best. Though, I guess I could say the same about you. Your life seems to have gotten a lot more interesting lately."
Marta wrinkles her nose slightly. "I could do with a little less interesting," she replies.
"Well you don't have to worry about that anymore." Gemma assures her sister. "You can come back to Montreal with me and just start over."
Marta lets Gemma's words sink in, trying to imagine them applying to her life, but she cannot imagine it because that is not where her life is headed any longer. How many times has she wished for things to be different; to just be able to relax and be stable and in one place, without worrying for her safety? How badly has she wanted to be the person that she was before: just a scientist, lost in her work? The ability to start over now seems like an obtainable possibility.
Aaron and Jason are released without complications after Judge Gennaro finishes listening to their scrupulously detailed statements and Aaron finds it strange to just be able to walk out of the door instead of having to break his way out. Nicky is waiting for them in the lobby and instantly Aaron feels himself tense, "Where's Marta," he demands. He expected her to be back by now.
"She is still at the hospital," Nicky explains. "I spoke with her an hour ago and she said Gemma is still sleeping. She does not want to leave her until she regains consciousness."
Aaron feels himself relax and fill with relief. The possibility of Gemma almost seems too good to be true. But he is not going to question it. If Gemma is indeed alive and well, then he'll consider this whole ordeal to be a success.
Nicky fills them in on what took place in the court room as they walk out of the precinct. Her words are quickly lost in the din of people shouting for their attention, holding cameras and microphones and trying to capture the infamous Jason Bourne and his associates on film. Aaron has no idea how so many people heard about their whereabouts so quickly and he has to push down his first impulse, which is to fight his way out of the pack and run for cover. He can tell Jason is just as uncomfortable, if not more so, since he's the real focus of everyone's attention. It's a real front page: wanted terrorist now suspected to be innocent. Aaron hopes he can convince Marta to head somewhere small and remote, where people aren't going to care that they were on the news and involved in this whole mess.
Aaron finally manages to break away from the group and hails a taxi to take him to the hospital. After a little bit of flirting, he's able to convince one of the women manning the front desk to tell him where to find Gemma and takes the stairs instead of the elevator out of habit. He walks quickly and keeps his head down, not meeting the eyes of the people around him. He wonders if he will ever unlearn the things drilled into him by the program, if he will ever become the type of person who does not care about cameras and who might recognize his face. Somehow, Aaron doubts that. He will always know his escape routes, especially when he has something worth protecting.
He can hear Marta's voice even before he reaches Gemma's room and Aaron hesitates in the hallway, not wanting to interrupt Marta's reunion with her sister. Gemma sounds exhausted and drained but still strong somehow and Aaron can tell that she's going to be okay.
"Well you don't have to worry about that anymore," Gemma is saying, "You can come back to Montreal with me and just start over."
Marta doesn't respond right away and Aaron is surprised when he feels himself grow tense and uncertain. This is something he'd never even thought of. The possibility that Marta wouldn't want to stay with him once they'd earned their freedom. He feels stupid for letting the reality of their situation escape him for this long. Marta was his doctor, he was her patient. Fate and circumstance threw them together and even though it seems hard to believe, they've only truly known each other for a little more than two weeks. To Aaron, the possibility to losing Marta or being without her was impossible to consider, something that just couldn't happen. He needed her. He feels like an idiot for just assuming that she felt the same.
"I never really had a choice in all of this," Marta says finally, her voice soft but not too quiet that it's hard for Aaron to hear her. "I couldn't even think for a second. I just had to react. It was leave with him or stay, and get killed."
Aaron realizes that this is why love and other human emotions are discouraged in the program: they make you weak, vulnerable and stupid. He's glad that he's never had attachments to people in his life, especially if this is how it all ends. And he knows that everything ends.
"I…I have the choice now" Marta continues and Aaron can hear her voice wavering slightly. "I'm sorry Gemma. I love you. But I choose him."
And just like that, Aaron can breathe again. It's that easy. He wants to hold Marta and never let her go again. He wants her to know that he chooses her too.
"Marta…this isn't you." Gemma says and Aaron can hear the hint of disbelief in her tone and just a little bit of hurt. "He's dangerous…you're a scientist. I don't want you to get hurt or God forbid get killed. I'd have no idea if anything happened to you."
"Things will be different now." Marta promises. "The whole program is on its last leg, they won't come for us anymore. And Aaron isn't dangerous; he's the safest thing I know."
There's another moment of silence and Aaron thinks about choosing that moment to walk into the room. He doesn't want Marta or Gemma to catch him lurking outside. But Gemma speaks again before he can make up his mind.
"I just don't want anything to happen to you." Gemma says softly. "I watched him kill a man—a scientist. He broke his neck," she frowned, "just like you see in the movies. That man wasn't even armed."
Marta was silent as she listened to her sister and Aaron knew she was remembering other times when he reacted violently. "Was the man going to help you or hurt you," Marta finally asked.
"I—I don't know," Gemma muttered, "He saw me and I asked him to help me. I said please; but one minute he was reaching for something on his desk and then he was dead."
"Then he made his choice," Marta replied, "This is about survival, Gemma, them or us and I choose us. Every stain on Aaron's hands is on mine, too. I loaded the gun, me and my science."
Aaron closed his eyes he had told her that on the side of the road in Maryland hoping to shock, hoping to wound. Now he wishes he could take the words away pluck them out of the past and keep them from cutting Marta Shearing too deeply.
"I don't want anything to happen to you," Gemma murmured and there were tears in her voice.
"Nothing will." Marta sounds so certain that it almost makes Aaron smile. "He'll keep me safe."
"Good, because you definitely do not want to get shot trust me on this. It hurts like a motherfucker," Gemma remarks.
Marta laughs and the sound brings a smile to Aaron's face. "I can work with that."
Aaron decides that now is as good a time as any to interrupt and he walks into the hospital room, his smile still on her face. "Gemma, I thought you were a goner there for a while."
Gemma smiles at him and it seems genuine, despite her earlier reservations. "I think I was for a while."
Marta turns to face him and the sparkle is back in her eyes and Aaron considers himself lucky to be on the receiving end of the smile she gives him. For the first time in his life, he knows what it feels like to be someone's first choice, not an afterthought or a job. He could get used to this feeling.