Hello :) I have to give some kudos here to retwin for her comment on my other fanfic, Anchored. The inspiration came from the brilliant comment that Aaron and Marta are basically living a noir rom com-esque life and I went with it. This is separate to Anchored, however (the next chapter of that will be up before Monday night, promise!) Until then, I had to get this out of my system and see what you guys think. Special mention to Jack E. Peace too. Those comments made me want to write something new.
If you like it, please review. One shots are basically my mind thinking and then me typing it down...
Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall
It's been a year, a whole year. A year without any sign of bullets, violence, danger… nothing. The last time something had happened, the last battle they had fought side by side, the unthinkable almost occurred. In the midst of dead government snipers, bullies, agents and Outcome, Marta had been stabbed. And that…that changed everything for him. Aaron Cross would take no more. No more bullets. No more violence and danger. No more innocent blood spilt on his shoes. Especially not the lost blood of Marta Shearing. He destroyed it all. Took no hostages and blew it wide open while the blood was still wet on his feet. It took the near-death of Marta to turn Aaron into the oncoming storm.
Now he stands by a sink in the early morning, where dawn hasn't quite broken through the darkness. The sink is filling with cold water in their tiny cottage somewhere on the far coast of England. For fifty miles, they're isolated; their beautiful old house is surrounded by rich, dense woodlands and covered from above so no satellite can detect their idyllic bit of land. Maybe it's paradise of sorts but to Aaron it's a training ground. Every day he heads out into the woods and practices his skills. In his head, there's less dexterity in his moves, longer response time from his ears when he hears deer and rabbits bounding around in their back yard. The changes he's gone through are meant to be permanent but he makes sure to keep himself in check every day, religiously cataloguing everything he does to make sure he can keep her safe this time. She deserves a life again.
Aaron turns off the faucets on the sink and sighs, hunching over it with the weight of a world on his aching old back. A whole year without an incident is unprecedented. He isn't sure if they're safe or if there are people out there lulling them both into a false sense of security, just biding their time until they catch him unawares and destroyed it all as he did to them. As it turns out the easy part is hiding; the hard part is believing you're well hidden. His roughened palms scoop the water up and splash it across his face, rubbing the tiredness from his eyes. The cottage is little more than stone and cement, with wood holding it together: an abandoned castle. Aaron had kissed the ground when he discovered it had running water from an old reserve nearby; a luxury in the world of people on the run-and-hide of living. It'd become their home. She's planted vegetables, picked apples in the Fall and cherries in the Summer. She's looking after the chickens and she wants a goat next. He can't help but indulge her fantasies of a rural arcadia. It's taken Aaron a few months to fix up the cottage so it's liveable but the smile on her face every morning as it came into being is still worth it. A few battered corners and a leaking roof are easily fixed when there aren't people hunting you.
He grabs the bar of soap from the shelf and starts washing, rinsing a cloth over his naked torso. He glances over through the open door to Marta, asleep on their makeshift bed, and smiles. It turns out that something that should have been complicated, that should have been messy and challenging had turned out to be… simple. Loving Marta is the easiest thing Aaron has ever done. Hand holding, kissing, having sex, laughing, sharing his past and learning hers is just so easy. She is so beautiful and fierce; he can't help but fall in love with her, like no man could either. He turns back from her form, tangled in the sleeping bag. This life is complicated but at least there is one thing they can't take away from him anymore: the love of a good woman saving a broken man. He rinses off the soap from his body and runs his fingers through his damp hair. Who'd have believed they'd been here a nearly a year and had no one barge themselves into their perfect little world?
Aaron drains the sink and grabs a ratty towel from the side, drying his face and torso. He closes his eyes and hears the wind rattling the trees and birds whistling. Then, ever so lightly, he hears footsteps. Soft little footsteps trying to catch him unawares. She did it intermittently, tried to catch him off-guard and sneak up on him. He appreciates the challenge but he knew her footsteps too well. It is always easy. Arms wrap themselves around his stomach and lips press on a scar on his shoulder.
"Did I at least get a footstep past you?" she murmurs, looking into the rusting old mirror bolted to the wall in front of him.
He opens his eyes and chuckles, "Nearly. Better luck next time."
Marta smiles and kisses his neck. "You're more brooding than usual today." So nothing slips by her after all.
"It's been quiet." He threads her fingers with his and runs a calloused thumb across her palm. How she's managing to keep her skin softer than silk, he's got no idea. "I'm not sure it's good."
"We haven't had anyone come near us since Japan. They think I'm dead."
He turns in her arms and looks at her, a hand threading through her dark hair and holding the side of her face in a cradle. "You were dead, Marta. You died."
"For twenty seconds –" she starts. She always starts this.
"Twenty three seconds, Marta. Your heart stopped beating for twenty three seconds. I cracked your rib doing CPR." He remembers.
He remembers shooting a man-in-black in the stomach. He remembers turning and seeing Marta land a confident punch on another one like he taught her to. He remembers seeing a knife and being too slow. Aaron remembers seeing it slice into her abdomen like she was made of snow. The blood that immediately bloomed down her stomach incensed him. He shot that man in the head and rushed to her side as she collapsed to her knees. He remembers the pallid calm in her eyes and hated how resigned she was to her own death. He felt her fall into his arms and remembers refusing to let her die for his mistakes. He remembers too much, it seems. Too much death and pain and violence on her part. She was dead for twenty three seconds before he got her heart going again and stemmed the blood flow from her stomach with his own shirt. It took her months to heal properly. He still can't forget her ashen dead face cradled in his elbow like a child.
"Aaron." She says softly, fingers gripping his wrist. "Stop remembering it."
He opens his eyes again and rests her forehead on his, his breath heavy. His other hand swipes across her stomach absently. She had come so close to the end and he had come so close to his. "I can't, Marta."
Her fingers drift to his arms. "You will one day."
"But not today…" He mutters, leaning in and kissing her violently hard. He had to claim her again. Make himself believe they're hidden and alive. They have to be alive.
"Aaron." She moans against his lips. "Aaron it's…"
"Stop talking, Doc."
She smiles, "Stop bossing me around."
Marta brings him back to her lips and he sighs happily. The memories melt away into nothing but a bad dream. She's here. It's all that matters now.
"I love you." Marta whispers. Aaron's alive again.
A/N: So, what do you awesome people think? Special hugs all around!