So I was reading my old poetry notes and came across Percy Shelley's Ozymandias. It's repeated at the bottom of this fic and I think it's the one that's stayed with me the longest time and it's inspired this chapter about sins and penances. I love poetry so much.
Thanks to everyone who's read this fic and thought it was good. There's only one chapter left in these trilogies and we have to let things get worse before they get better... IF they get better. Please keep reviewing.
Amongst the shadows of his past, the sin eater Aaron falls to his knees next to her. She's strong but even warriors bleed through cracks and fall down dead in times of war. He could have prepared her for nearly anything; except this. His own anger still twists his gut around and around, manifesting into a seething hatred for one man, for one organisation, one government that led him to their destruction instead of his. Aaron's a dead man walking already, what's another bullet in his head if it gets him his son and Marta safe? He feels her stirring, fingers twitching like crawling through glass; he knows the way too well. He gets up and grabs the wash basin, filling it full of cold water from their supply and comes back over to her, wiping down the blood that's congealing at the base of her head and down her neck. He's not going anywhere until he knows she's safe. It's his fault and his responsibility to put right, but he needs to know she'll be alive when he sends Jackson back to her. It's priority number one. Outcome wants him dead in their hands in exchange for his son? No brain needed, no thought required; as long as she was there to raise their boy, he'd die a happy man.
She groans a little under the wash cloth, her breathing getting quicker. Oh god. He almost wants her to forget, to have amnesia or some shit, just anything to escape what's coming. Marta. She's going to hate him, scream, cry, punch him… he has no idea how to handle a hysterical woman. He's planned so much of their lives out in his head. There was something he'd been meaning to do but that dream's over. Survival is their only goal. "Marta?" he mutters as she pushes herself over, "Marta can you hear me?" he looks down at her, his eyes quickly scanning her for any other signs of injury. God forbid.
"Too loud." She rubs her temple. "Why are we still here?" she groans as she tries to stand on shaking feet. "We need to get Jackson. Where's the guns?" she keeps a hand on the side of the wall, "Aaron, where's the fucking guns?"
"Marta…" he grunts and loops her arm over his shoulders as she starts to go down again, "You've got a head injury. You're not going anywhere."
"Oh like hell I'm not." She shoves him and reaches under a loose floorboard, kicking another dead agent out of the way. She'd have cringed at that a little while ago, he's sure. "My son isn't here. I am not letting him go."
He shakes his head and takes the sniper rifle from her hand as she pulls it out, "Stop it, you'll get yourself hurt even worse." He grunts, sitting her down on a chair. "I am not losing both of you in one day, Marta."
"You do not make that choice for me." She snatches the rifle back. He looks at her and sees nothing but fire in her eyes, revenge fuelling her desires. Aaron closes his eyes and pulls out handguns and ammo, everything they've stock piled crashing to the wooden floor.
"Pack the bag. We're going to meet a man who can help." He pulls out maps and new passports, plus what was left of their money. She gets up and reaches for the backpack, pulling it open and packing the canned food, energy bars, anything they needed. They're both old hands at this now, grabbing what they needed to get the job done and getting out of a place. Only, this time more's at stake.
"Who are we meeting?" she asks, grabbing all of the medical equipment she could fit in.
"Emergencies only. Extreme emergencies." He cocks a gun, "I'd say this is as extreme as it gets, Doc."
"Don't forget Jackson's bunny." She points to the crib in the corner, zipping up the backpack.
Aaron turns his head and looks at the empty wooden crib he'd made himself. It's too empty for words. He bends down and picks up the stuffed toy rabbit from inside, the one they'd given to him when Jackson was firstborn. He's not even old enough to miss it but he should have it, he should have something familiar, of home. It could be the only thing that keeps Aaron going because he's got this sinking feeling in his stomach that they're both walking to their deaths a long way away.
Aaron and Marta grab whatever they can scrounge and head for the mainland in their rickety boat, Marta still trying not to throw up from her head wound and Aaron still worried in the pit of his stomach. He pickpockets a phone and drags her down a back alley he'd memorised well, away from tourists, "Marta," he says quickly, shoving a gun down the back of her jeans, "You need to go and get us a car. Steal it, find one with the keys in, target a dumb tourist and meet me in eight minutes on the dock." He presses a kiss to her lips, a desperate, last chance kiss. "Go."
"But-" she's so pale.
"Go." He almost yells, his anger seeping out at the seems like stuffing. She closes her eyes for a second, running off to complete her mission. If she wants to be a warrior, wants to be a woman for the ages, the fighter, this is her chance to prove it. Every action has a cost. Every chance has a risk. Every moment means another second off a life. Aaron pulls out the stolen phone and walks in the opposite direction, away from Marta. "Alpha Charlie 22705. I'm calling it in; you owe me, Captain." He murmurs, running swiftly along the back streets towards the docks, "They took my son, I need money and a back-up plan. There's only one way out of this one and it's not a return ticket."
"Where are you?" a gruff voice on the other end of the line grumbled. Aaron knows he's desperate to do this but if he had any chance, it's Captain Jameson.
"Heading for Base Line 4. ETA 1 hour, 45 minutes."
The man sighs, "I can make it in 2. Hide out, use the cache on magpie. It's enough to keep you safe until I get there. This is the end of it, okay?" Aaron catches sight of the police and turns, "No more help."
"I'll take what I can get, Captain." He shuts the phone off and tosses it out, down a drain. It's a hell of a sacrifice to make.
"Where is this place?" she asks; her voice is shaky and quiet. The past two hours, she'd been getting worse and worse. Her skin's still pale and getting paler as he looks at her. She'd vomited twice and he'd had to carry her since they docked. How she managed to get them a car in her condition by her sheer force of will was a fucking miracle. There was no way she'd be able to make it back to America in her condition. Fuck. He'd have to go to back up.
"It's uncharted, purposefully. It's fully equipped. All the agents put something in when they could: ammo, tech, guns, maps, money. We call it Base Line 4, the magpie cache, for extreme emergencies only." Aaron pants as he carries her up to the base, the building buried in the verdant green landscape so just a grey steel door is showing, "Hold on." He scans in his thumbprint into a scanner and hauls her back up to his chest, "There's also med equipment." He smiles and sets her down on the cot inside the building. "We also had a cache in Alaska, but they knew about that one and blew it-" he looks down, her eyes closed, "No, no, no, Marta, wake the fuck up, MARTA!" he taps her cheek with his palm. "Don't fall asleep yet, come on." Her eyes drag open and he breathes, "Just a little while longer, Doc, can you do that?"
She mutters, trying to sit up, "I have a concussion. Have to stay awake."
"There's someone coming to help you." He gets up and scans his thumb print into another door, the steel plate clicking open, "Stay awake." He stares at her, leaving Marta on the cot and goes into the belly of the beast. Aaron sighs as he walks up to the wall of computers and laptops, turning one on and positioning the camera. If he's going to walk into Washington, placing the noose around his neck, he has to give her something to remember him by.
Aaron comes out of the store and sees her prepping a needle, "What are you doing?" he asks, "Marta?" He dumps his tech on the floor.
"It's morphine. I'm coming with you." She pulls the cord around her arm tightly and taps the crook of her elbow, sticking the needle in and depressing the plunger.
He sighs, crouching down on the floor and going through inventory. "You're not coming, Marta. This isn't a negotiation. I'm just not letting you do it."
"Don't give a shit about my health, Cross. They have my… my baby…" she frowns, "This… this isn't morphine, is it?" she pants quicker, "What the fuck did you do?!"
"It's not morphine." He bows his head. He has to do this. Get through it Aaron, make her safe. He can still save something. "It's a sedative and a paralytic." He looks at her and it kills him that there are tears streaming down her sunken cheeks. He's the one who's broken her after all. "I couldn't take the chance, Marta, I know, I'm sorry. Actually, you know, I'm not sorry. I love you and this is what I'm doing to make sure you have Jackson and a good life. There's no plan. I'm walking in there like they want me to, on the condition that they give up Jackson to you and let you live alone with him. I have a friend coming. He's… he owes me, put it like that. He'll make sure you're safe." He cradles her cheek and presses a kiss to her forehead.
"You… bastard." She chokes back tears as her body starts to go limp. "When I get out of this place, you'll wish it's just the government who wants your balls." She looks into his eyes and it kills him all over again. "I love you!"
"I know. That's why I'm doing this." He strokes her tears away, "If I have to say this one more time, Marta Shearing… God…" he looks down and then back to her, "It's all been worth it. Every single bullet, every second, to spend it with you." He kisses her as her eyes close slowly. "Goodbye." He stands up and looks at her one last time. If he's walking to his death, like he's always been walking towards, he's glad he found a beautiful woman to love him, a family and a home.
But all empires must fall.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
AN: I'll be taking any requests for Aaron/Marta fics soon, so if you have an idea, pop it into me and I'll see if I can write something :)