Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine. Title comes from the song of the same name by Florence + the Machine
A/N: So I'm not entirely sure what prompted me to write this story, but here it is anyway. It's dedicated to the wonderful Retwin, who read it first.
"Strangeness and Charm"
"You've got to see this."
Traditionally, Peter Boyd does not like sentences that start in that way. They usually lead to embarrassing or painful moments and trips to the hospital. Or, in his experience, something he doesn't really want to see at all.
This is one of those really did not want to see this moments. Boyd follows his colleague out of his office and into the break-room, where several other employees are gathered around the small TV perched on the counter next to the microwave. They shift to make room for him and Boyd watches the breaking news report as it broadcasts shaky birds-eye-view footage of a house in the middle of the woods in the process of burning down. Something about the whole scene looks oddly familiar and Boyd feels a sense of dread spread throughout his body without really knowing why.
"Isn't that…" One of his co-workers begins but trails off quickly. His head turns in Boyd's direction, as do several others.
Boyd suddenly understands his sense of dread. He knows that house. Intimately. He used to live there with Dr. Marta Shearing, the woman he'd once thought he was going to marry. They'd bought that place together under the assumption that it would solidify their relationship and take them to the next step. About five months after purchasing the property, Boyd had realized that they'd both had different definitions on what the next step was supposed to be.
Boyd can feel the change in his colleagues' demeanor as they realize exactly what it is they're watching on television. Eyes slid in his direction and a few of them turn and leave the break-room.
The man who drug Boyd away from his work to witness the funeral pyre that is his former girlfriend's home pales and wrings his hands. "Sorry, man, I didn't realize."
"It's okay." Boyd says dismissively. He moves toward the TV and turns the volume up so he can hear all the gory details.
At the moment, not much is known about the fire or the cause. All the report is saying is that the home of Dr. Marta Shearing, Sterisyn-Morlanta employee and super-scientist extraordinaire, is burning to the ground, despite the best efforts of the local fire department. Cause of the blaze: unknown. Dr. Shearing's location: unknown. But it doesn't look good.
Boyd turns away when an old photograph of Marta is flashed briefly onto the screen. He retreats to his office and tries not to think about the news. He hasn't spoken to Marta in eight months. Their work has repeatedly sent them to the same conferences and they've kept things professional and both kept their distance but they haven't spoken. Boyd used to think that the worst thing about a break-up was knowing the other person was still out there, going about their daily life and moving on and changing independently. Now he thinks the worst thing is knowing that other person just doesn't exist anymore.
Try as he might, Boyd can't keep his mind off Marta and that stupid house. He was the one who suggested they find a place together. He was always the one pressing for things to advance to the next level. Marta's mind always lived in her laboratory; the only variables she ever seemed interested in changing and studying were the ones she looked at under a microscope. Boyd used to find it charming and endearing; she was his little scatterbrained scientist. But as their relationship went on, he found it annoying and infuriating. He didn't like being second to whatever she worked on in her lab.
The house was supposed to remedy that and bring them closely together. It was a real fixer-upper and Boyd had visions of them working together side by side, making the old house beautiful and new again. That didn't happen. The house quickly became a physical representation of their crumbling relationship.
And now Marta was dead and the house was burning to the ground. Boyd doesn't think it's strange to feel guilty about how things turned out. He was the one who wanted to buy the house. He was the one who informed her frankly that she was the one who was stuck with it seeing as she was the one who had ruined their relationship. Yeah, it hadn't been one of his best moments.
Boyd gets little work done that day and for the next few days afterward. He thinks about calling in sick just so he can avoid the pitying looks from his co-workers. But he's a professional, after all and he doesn't think the Outcome project will understand his need to take off for personal reasons.
When the same co-worker who pulled him away from his work to watch coverage on the fire appears in his doorway once again, Boyd knows he's not going to like what happens next. He's right.
The news is now informing him that Marta Shearing has risen from the dead and started her second life as an international terrorist. Boyd isn't sure what's worse: a dead ex-girlfriend or a fugitive one. Thinking about Marta as a deadly terrorist is not easy but somehow, Boyd can't talk himself out of it. Her cold, calculating attitude and her ability to rationalize almost anything could turn her into a dangerous enemy.
Now that Marta isn't dead, it's a lot easier for Boyd to stop thinking about her. His regret over how the relationship ended is once again replaced with the usual anger and resentment he feels toward her.
Two weeks after seeing Marta featured as a headlining story for the second time, Boyd has managed to pretty much put her out of his mind. He's had a lot of practice with doing this, seeing as it was how he coped with the end of the relationship the first time around.
Work keeps him late most nights and tonight is no exception. He grabs takeout on the way home but by the time he walks through his front door, he wonders if he'll be able to stay awake long enough to actually eat it. Boyd drops the containers onto the kitchen counter and heads toward his bedroom to change, but a knock on the door stops him short. He glances at the clock, which tells him it's nearly eleven o'clock.
Despite his misgivings, Boyd answers the door. He thinks maybe he's already fallen asleep and is dreaming because there is Marta Shearing standing on his stoop. She's soaking wet from the torrential rain and something about her is unfamiliar, different from the woman he knew but he can't put his finger on what it is.
Marta blinks some water off her eyelashes and gives him a forced smile. "Hello Peter."
Boyd doesn't say anything. He just stares at her. It doesn't occur to him that he should be reacting in some way. Marta puts up with his silence for a moment before questioning, "Can I come in?" He barely has time to step aside before she's moving past him to come into the house.
Boyd watches her in silence as her eyes move around the living room and she cranes her head to peer down the hallway. He's seen this behavior before in the agents when they are pulled out of the field and dropped into his office to clear up discrepancies in paperwork or give personal accounts of what happened in a mission. She's checking for threats, looking for exits. Who is this woman?
"Are you alone?" Marta questions, turning back to face him. Boyd nods dumbly. "I need your help Peter."
That's enough to snap Boyd out of his funk. "You need my help." He repeats. "Are you fucking kidding me. We haven't talked in eight months. First, I heard you died in a house fire and then I hear you're a wanted terrorist and you just show up at my house and have the audacity to ask for my help. That's rich, Marta, even coming from you. You know, I should call the police, have them arrest you! I should call Byer, tell him-"
"Don't call Byer." Marta interrupts and it's the first time she's shown any type of reaction to his words. "He can't know I'm here."
Boyd rolls his eyes. "I don't think you're in the position to be calling the shots here, Marta. You have a lot of balls, I mean really. I can't believe this. What the hell is going on?" He's aware that he's rambling but he has a lot of thoughts bouncing around in his head. "You know, never mind. I don't care. I'm calling the cops."
He crosses the kitchen to take the phone off the cradle. Marta is by his side in seconds, slamming the phone back down with a startling amount of force. He gapes at her as she rips the chord out of the wall.
"Please don't do that Peter." Marta says. "You don't know how much of a risk it is for me to be here now."
Boyd laughs in her face. "Oh, it's a risk for you. You're not the one with a wanted terrorist standing in your kitchen."
"I'm not a terrorist. That's just what they're telling everyone so people like you will want to turn me in and make their job easy." Marta tells him. "You really have no idea who it is that you work for. That's fine, I don't blame you, I used to be the same way. But you need to think for yourself now, okay Peter? And I need you to help me."
Boyd continues to stare at her and Marta takes his silence as an opportunity to launch into her story. She explains how the program sent four agents to her home to kill her and how she was rescued by Aaron Cross (a name that doesn't register to Boyd) and how the fire was set to cover up their presence. She begins to detail going with Cross to Manila to viral out and Boyd interrupts her. "Wait, Cross is a program participant?"
Marta scoffs at his terminology. "Participant, yeah. Outcome 5." She supplies and Boyd remembers reading through the man's records and reports. He's good at what he does, one of the best. He's like a weapon with a brain. Boyd doesn't really like the idea of Marta being with this guy, but he's long lost the right to care about who she hangs out with. "His name is Aaron."
"Is he the reason you're in all this trouble now? They want you because you're with him." Boyd assumes. "You know what you have to do, Marta. Turn him in and then they'll leave you alone."
"Is that honestly what you think? That it's all just a misunderstanding? They sent people to kill me, Peter. They sent people to my house to shoot me. They turned one of my colleagues into a murderer in order to kill me and everyone else in the lab. They don't want to kill me just because of Aaron. Didn't you get my termination papers? Or are there some things out of your clearance level after all?" She reaches out and grabs his hand, an act of desperation not affection. "Look at me, Peter. Do I look like a terrorist to you? You know me. Do I really seem like I could do those things?"
"Is that why you came here, Marta? You wanted a sympathetic ear to tell your troubles to?" Boyd pulls his hand away from her. "Why don't you tell it to your new pal Cross." He's not jealous. He's not. But, Christ, it's only been eight months, isn't he entitled?
Marta is silent and these are the moments that Boyd hates the most. When he can see her mind working, when he knows she's choosing not to share her thoughts with him. When she feels so far away from him. There were so many moments like this one during the last few weeks of their relationship, when Boyd knew he was desperately trying to save them and she was thinking about the office.
"They have him." She says finally and her voice is cracked and strained, like she might collapse under the weight of it all. Marta looks at Boyd and he can see the fear and confusion in her eyes. "They got him."
Marta tells him the story of how they made their way to Bucharest after their mad dash from Manila and how she thought maybe they'd be safe there because they were just two people among thousands and hadn't they earned it? But the program continued hunting after them, sending agents to track them as they started to feel safe. It was pure luck that she managed to get away at all. Well, luck and Aaron, who was content to serve as a distraction to ensure her escape even if it meant them finally taking him down.
"I don't even know if he's still alive." Marta finishes and Boyd can hear the tremor in her voice, her refusal to cry in front of him. Even during their most vicious of arguments, he never pushed her to this point. He never made her into a woman who had to fight to control her emotions. Marta was nothing if not controlled. Now he can see raw emotion in her and it makes him feel jealous and petty all over again. Who is this man who can elicit such a reaction from Dr. Marta Shearing?
"I came because I thought…maybe you would know something…" Marta explains, her eyes entreating as she searches his face. "Do you…know something?"
Boyd sighs. "No." Suddenly he feels more exhausted than he ever has in his life. Here is the woman he used to love, the woman a part of him still loves if he's being honest, the woman who is now at the top of the most wanted list. The woman asking him to help her save her new lover.
Marta puts her face in her hands, like if she can just block out the rest of the world then it will just stop turning. "Please Peter."
"I'll see what I can find." Boyd hears himself saying, if only because of that small part of him that still belongs to her. When he'd told her he was leaving it had been to get her to beg him to stay. He didn't expect it to be an ultimatum he'd have to follow through on.
Marta lifts her head and gives him a wane smile. "Thank you."
"But you can't stay here Marta." Boyd says and he knows it's not just because he's worried about what would happen to him if someone found out that she was staying with him. He doesn't like the idea of her being in his guest room, thinking about the safety of another man while he's in his bed thinking about her. "You'll have to come back tomorrow." Yeah, he feels like a total ass because it's raining outside and she's a wanted fugitive and where's she going to stay but a guy has to have his dignity.
Nodding, Marta picks up the bag she set by her feet when she started talking. "I'll come back tomorrow. Same time."
Boyd watches as she slips out the front door and the house it quiet like she was never there at all. It's kind of how he feels about their relationship.
All night, he tosses and turns and listens to the rain beat down on the roof. He wonders where Marta went and whether anyone recognized her. But she seems like a different woman now, someone who knows how to go to ground. Someone who checks for exits and danger when she comes into someone's home.
Boyd mainlines coffee as he gets ready in the morning and sits in bumper to bumper traffic and wonders how he's going to pull this off. He might work for a government agency, but he doesn't have the training to stay cool and nonchalant. That's why he works behind a desk. He feels like the second he walks through the front doors everyone is going to know that he talked to Marta and plans on following through with her request. But no one even bats an eyelash. He wonders if maybe she's onto something after all, if maybe there's so much going on right under their noses and they just can't be bothered to notice.
For the first half of the day, Boyd carries on as normal. He attends a meeting and hands over files to Byer, trying not to look the man in the eye. Even while avoiding eye contact, Boyd can tell how stressed and pushed to the limit Byer is. Is it because of Marta and Cross? What is going on that he doesn't know about?
Sometime after lunch, he casually starts inquiring about a possible prisoner, a guy known to them as Outcome 5. Boyd is careful to ask only people who won't care why he wants to know until he manages to find out that yes, Outcome 5 is still alive and yes, he's being kept several floors below them in a secure holding cell. He's become Byer's pet project; Byer seems to be working out his stresses by 'interrogating' the man, though no one knows what information he's trying to get out of him.
Boyd goes down to the holding area. He's never been down here before, never had any reason to visit anyone being detained by Outcome. His clearance gets him in with no questions asked and Byer and whoever else is taking shots at 5 are absent at the moment. Boyd stands outside the cell, watching Outcome 5 through the glass viewing window. The man is bruised and bloody and one of his eyes is swollen shut but somehow he doesn't look beaten. Just lost. Boyd tries to look at the man like Marta might but can't see anything that would have attracted his former lover. Marta was never the brawn over brains type, she was always the type to go for Q instead of James Bond. Clearly there's something to 5 that he just can't see.
It's still raining when Boyd goes home for the night and he stops again to pick up takeout, this time getting enough for two and ordering Marta's favorite out of habit.
Marta shows up right on time, just like she said she would. Boyd offers her the food but she dismisses him almost before he gets the words out of his mouth. "What did you find out?"
Her causal dismissal of him isn't new. But it's just as annoying, if not more so because instead of being brushed aside for science, he's playing second fiddle to another man.
"He's alive." Boyd replies, even though he has brief, dark thoughts about lying and telling Marta that Outcome 5 is dead. But he can tell she's holding on by a thread and he can't bring himself to crush her like that. "They have him on site."
Marta exhales and almost seems to deflate. She sits on the edge of the couch and lets herself live in his words for a moment. Aaron is still alive. For whatever reason, they haven't killed him yet. She wants him back so bad it hurts. She can't sleep without him, she can't breathe without him. It would almost be sad if it wasn't fact.
"You have to help me Peter." Marta says when she feels like she can speak again. She stands up so she can face him once more.
Boyd narrows his eyes. "I already have helped you. I let you come here, even though you're wanted by the government and I found out what you wanted to know. What else do you want from me?"
Marta looks at him for a moment. "You have to get him out. You can do it. Sign the paperwork, make it look like a transfer, take him out from under their noses."
It sounds so simple when she says it, like he's just checking a book out from the library. Boyd laughs, shaking his head. "You're crazy. Byer is on this guy like a hawk. It's not a pretty sight, Marta." He doesn't know why he says this and immediately regrets his words when he sees the light go out of her eyes and she looks vulnerable all over again.
Marta turns away from him, closing him out and Boyd can see her hands tighten into fists. "Fine. I'll do it myself."
"Don't be ridiculous." Boyd scoffs. "You'd never even get inside the building. And even if you did, then what? You don't get it, this is a big deal. They're not going to take any chances with this guy."
"He'd do it for me." Marta says simply. That's really all there is, as far as she's concerned. Aaron is in danger and he needs her. If this is how it ends, then so be it.
For some reason, it's that simple statement that makes Boyd want to help her. Of course he doesn't like the idea of her putting herself in danger but he's not too worried because the Marta he knew would never actually do such a thing. But he almost feels like her words are a challenge, a way of calling him to the carpet and asking and what would you do for me?
"I'll see what I can find out Marta, but I'm not making any promises." Boyd says with a sigh. "This is above even me. I'm not getting fired for this."
Marta turns back to face him. "Oh, they'd probably just kill you." She remarks dismissively and Boyd can't tell if she's joking or not. Maybe he doesn't want to know. Her face softens and she reaches out to take his hand. "Thank you Peter."
For a moment, Peter lets her hand rest in his and he thinks about what could have been if he hadn't left. He'd wanted to marry her, he'd wanted to be enough of a reason to want to leave the lab every day. He remembers the first time he saw her at a conference; she'd been speaking and he was supposed to report back to his boss about the progress of the project she was heading but he'd been too busy staring at her that he hadn't heard a word she'd said. He'd had to ask another coworker what she'd said just so he didn't look like a complete idiot. In the first few months of their relationship, they'd talked about things outside of their joint work place but he'd slowly started to lose her to her work.
Marta pulls her hand away as though she can tell where his thoughts are going. Boyd brings himself back to the present. "But then what?" He questions and she looks confused. "What will you do if I do manage to get Outcome 5 out? They'll still be looking for him."
"Aaron. His name is Aaron." Marta looks briefly annoyed with him but the expression disappears quickly. It's like she's forcing herself to play nice so he'll keep doing what she asks. "And we'll leave the country, find somewhere to hide, keep moving. We'll just be more careful than we were before." She feels responsible for Aaron being in the hands of the program once more because of her refusal to listen to his suggestion that they'd be safer if they avoided big cities, if they went somewhere isolated. She'd insisted otherwise, unable to wrap her head around a complete lack of creature comforts. She'd blown their cover for a shower.
Boyd gives her a surprised look. "You're going to stay with him? Marta, don't be ridiculous."
Marta narrows her eyes at him. "Don't tell me what to do. You don't understand, Peter. I can't just leave him." The idea doesn't even make sense to her. Without Aaron, she doesn't even know who she is anymore. Dr. Marta Shearing is dead, whoever she is now exists with him. She knows it's dangerous to have her identity so closely connected with someone else but what isn't dangerous now?
"Why not? You left me." The words leave Boyd's mouth before he can stop himself from getting too personal. This is not something he wants to do. He's tired of fighting with Marta, he was over that eight months ago. Or so he thought.
"No, you left me." Marta retorts. "You left me in that shitty house all by myself."
Boyd throws up his hands in a gesture of frustration. "What else was I supposed to do! I didn't feel like I had a choice."
"Now you know how I feel about Aaron." Marta informs him simply. Without another word, she's turning away from him, walking out of the living room and toward the front door.
Boyd moves to follow after her. "Don't leave like this." He hopes he doesn't sound like he's begging but worries that he might. "We can talk. Figure this out."
Marta shakes her head. "There's nothing to figure out." This time, she's the one that leaves.
Boyd feels pretty much like he did when he realized their relationship was over the first time. He's frustrated with himself for saying all the wrong things, for not knowing the one thing that will make her stay or listen or notice him. He's mad at himself for even wanting it to work anymore; hasn't she made it obvious that she's moved on, that she wants to be with Aaron Cross even if it's the death of her? He used to think that Marta didn't even know what it really meant to love someone. Now she's willing to die for it.
In the morning, Boyd goes to work much like he did the previous day: exhausted, tense and paranoid. He finds out that Byer is in a meeting and decides to go pay another visit to Outcome 5 without worrying about running into his higher-ups. Boyd figures that the only thing worse than being used is knowing that you're being used and letting yourself be used anyway. He never would have seen Marta again if she didn't need something from him. But he knows he's going to try and give it to her anyway.
The guards outside Cross's cell grant him access once he provides them with his ID. Boyd thinks Marta's plan might not be so flawed, that maybe he can just simply walk out with 5 after all. That is why she came to him; you don't use someone unless you know they can get the job done.
Cross doesn't pay him any attention when he walks into the room. He looks worse than he did yesterday and Boyd wonders what it is that Byer is trying to accomplish. Why not just kill him? Whatever Cross has done, it's enough to make Byer want to punish him, to make him suffer before he finally dies. Boyd can't help but think about Marta and how she has almost the same air about her that Cross does. The separation is weighing heavily on them both.
Boyd stands beside Cross, leaning against the table with his back to the double-sided mirror and the cameras he knows are constantly recording. He can't keep his presence a secret, but he can try and conceal what he says to the man. For a moment, they're both silent with Cross still looking at his hands and Boyd struggling to figure out what he wants to say and why he came here in the first place.
Finally he just goes to honesty. "I know Dr. Shearing and-" he begins.
Aaron's scoff cuts him off. "You people are really going to need to do better than that." He remarks, continuing to look down at his hands. In all situations, he's always known he could count on his hands to be his weapons, to save his life yet again. Now they're cuffed and useless, the circulation dangerously close to being cut off after days of wearing them. He pictures Marta's face as he always does in these moments, the times when they try to break him, and imagines her somewhere far away and safe.
Boyd is slightly miffed by his dismissal. "I'm not…I'm not one of them." He insists.
Aaron finally looks up at him, taking in his suit and his hands without calluses and his eyes that have never seen real violence. "Really? Could've fooled me."
Boyd leaves after that because there's really nothing more to say. He spends the rest of his day trying to pull Outcome 5's files but finds that most of them are blocked or removed. He's never been unable to access files before, his security clearance is good for everything. Or so he thought. He tries to access Marta's employee records and files but meets the same results. It's like she never existed at all.
Out of curiosity, Boyd tries to access the files for the Outcome project but finds those gone as well. The only information he can get are the agents pictures with the word terminated underneath their names and a date. He assumes it's the date of their 'termination' and is surprised to find them all the same from nearly three weeks ago.
"Boyd." When he hears his name he jumps in surprise, turning around in his desk chair to find Byer standing in his doorway. Byer's eyes narrow slightly. "What are you doing?" He glances past his shoulder, to the computer screen.
Boyd shrugs, trying to go for causal. "Nothing. Something I can help you with, Ric?"
Byer doesn't seem to believe that there's nothing going on, but he lets it slide after a beat. "Why did you visit Outcome 5? He's not connected to anything you're working on." Of course, Byer would know. Boyd gets the feeling that the man knows everything.
"I heard we'd managed to catch him, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about." Boyd lies without pausing to come up with a story. He hopes this is a good one. "He doesn't look like a terrorist." He tries to make it sound like a joke but it comes out almost like an accusation.
"Why don't you leave the profiling to me, okay Boyd?" Byer snaps and turns to leave the room. Boyd starts to breath a sigh of relief but before he can, Byer is turning back to face him. "You used to date Dr. Marta Shearing, didn't you?" He asks in a way that lets Boyd know that he already knows.
Swallowing, Boyd nods. "Yes, but I haven't seen her in eight months." He remembers the look in Marta's eyes when he said he was going to call Byer and feels the need to keep her far away from him.
Byer's expression is unreadable as his eyes search Boyd's. Boyd tries to keep his face impassive, tries to make it look like he has nothing to hide, forces himself to meet the man's eyes. "You'd let us know if you heard from her, right?" Byer arches an eyebrow.
"Of course. She's a wanted terrorist." Boyd does his best to look surprised that Byer could imply that he'd keep that news from him. "I highly doubt that I'd be the person she'd come to see. But what does…wait, she's not…she's not connected to Outcome 5 is she?" Boyd hopes he can try and get more information out of Byer, hopes the man can help him continue to put the pieces together to form a picture of Aaron and Marta's relationship.
"They've been channeling their inner Bonnie and Clyde for the past few weeks." Byer explains after a beat of hesitation. "She used to be his doctor." He can see something in Boyd's eyes that he's pretty sure the man isn't even aware is there. He decides to keep pushing to see what will happen. "We always thought their relationship bordered on inappropriate, that there was something going on there. Clearly, we were right." Byer shrugs and leaves the office.
The words bounce around Boyd's mind long after Byer is gone. He wishes he could pull up Cross's files so he can see how long he'd been a patient of Marta's. Was there something going on between them all along? Had he been naïve in assuming that she was distracted by facts and figures. Had those late nights in the lab really been late nights with Cross?
Boyd is starting to rethink agreeing to help Marta at all. He's inclined to let Cross rot in his basement cell.
Marta waits until night has settled across Boyd's suburban dream before stepping onto his wrap-around porch and knocking on the door. The rain is nothing more than an annoying drizzle now and she can feel the fine droplets collected on her skin and on her clothes. She can hear Boyd moving around in his house, no doubt on his way to grant her entry. She feels a pang of guilt for disturbing his peace, for bringing him into her problems but she couldn't think of anyone else and she wasn't willing to let Aaron die because of a bad breakup and wounded pride. It's almost too easy to separate herself from the Marta Shearing that used to date Peter Boyd. She knows that it's not easy for him, that he doesn't see that she is no longer the woman he loved. Marta has realized all too late that Boyd never stopped loving her, that the moment he had walked out of their home that she was supposed to go after him. He had broken her, but Aaron had put her back together.
Boyd's eyes aren't warm or welcoming when he opens the door for her. He just steps aside and lets her in and shuts and locks the door behind her. Marta worries that something has happened to Aaron, that between yesterday and today she has lost him.
"I saw Outcome 5 today." Boyd begins without preamble and Marta feels relief rush through her like breath. She doesn't even acknowledge Boyd's pointed use of his program identity. "I told him that I knew you. He didn't seem to believe me."
"Of course not." Marta shakes her head. "He probably thought it was a trick. They've probably been using me…" She trails off, unwilling to finish her sentence. But that doesn't make it any less true. Byer and the others have probably been using her to punish Aaron, to try and bend him to their will. He probably saw Boyd as just another agent there to break him.
Boyd hitches a shoulder in a half-shrug, his face indifference. "Well, I tried."
Marta shakes her head. "No, go back tomorrow. Tell him…tell him that you know June Monroe. Tell him I'm going to get him out."
"I'm not going back, Marta. There's no way to get him out. I'm sorry, it's just not going to happen." Boyd says, his voice fierce and heavy. "Move on."
Marta stares at him, uncomprehending. "Move on?" She repeats, unable to wrap her head around the idea. "I'm not just going to give up Peter."
Boyd looks at her, his mouth a thin, tense line. The air is thick with something unspoken hanging between them, so Marta says, "What?" to dispel the tension. She can sense the difference in him, can tell there's something he's just not saying.
"Did you…were you…" Boyd takes a deep breath and struggles to put his feelings into words. He hasn't been able to stop thinking about Byer's comment. "Was there something going on between you two before…before all this?"
Marta still looks confused. "What? Between Aaron and I?"
"Yes!" Boyd can't stop himself from shouting at her. For someone so smart, he's always felt like she chooses to be dense when it comes to life outside of the lab. "Were you sleeping with him when we were together?"
"What?" Marta breathes out the word, her shock apparent. "No. How can you even ask me that?"
"I know you were his doctor." Boyd tells her simply. "I just…I need to know if you were seeing him."
"No!" Marta yells back at him. "I wasn't seeing him. I didn't see him. That's the problem! I never saw him at all, I just poked and prodded and scraped and cut and followed orders and ran tests and did everything they said like a good little girl and I didn't see him at all. He was just part of the program." Her eyes are wet with tears and Marta tries to fight them back. "I just followed orders. All I did was follow orders." She presses a hand to her mouth and closes her eyes, turning away from Boyd before he can see the tears drop onto her cheeks. She has so much to atone for.
Boyd doesn't know what to make of her outburst. In a way, it's a relief because he's never heard her admit that she was blind to anything but the science in front of her. But on the other hand, she still doesn't notice him so what good is her realization now?
"So that's why you're doing this? You feel like you have to make it up to him?" Boyd's tone is incredulous. "You can't live your life like that, Marta."
Marta turns back to face him. "You still don't understand." She sounds almost pitying in her assessment. "He saved my life."
"You don't owe him anything." Boyd wants to yell this at her, like that will somehow help get the idea through her head. "Hell, if he's as great as you seem to think he is, he'd probably want you as far away from him as possible."
Marta doesn't doubt Boyd's words. She knows Aaron, or she's starting to. He would want her to be somewhere safe, making herself scarce so she couldn't be found. Maybe that's what the old Marta would have done: found a hole somewhere and cowered in fear until someone came to rescue her. But she's not that person anymore. This person isn't going to leave him behind.
"I need him." Marta says simply. "If you won't help me, I'll do it alone."
Boyd exhales slowly. Her stubbornness both annoyed and amused him in equal measure. "And if they kill you?"
"Maybe they'll tell him I tried."
Boyd knows that tomorrow he'll head back to the office and try and see Cross once more. He'll try and find out more about the missing paperwork and the blocked files and what Byer and the rest of the big wigs are really up to. He'll do it because he believes that Marta really will try and go in herself and go out in a misguided blaze of glory. He won't let Cross be the death of her.
"Have you eaten? I can heat up some leftovers." Boyd offers, the subject change abrupt and obvious but he can't talk about Cross or evil government agencies anymore tonight.
Marta doesn't comment on the sudden segue. "You don't have to take care of me Boyd." She says, not unkindly. "I'm a big girl."
Boyd smiles at her. "I know. But you're already here so…"
He heats up the food from the night before and pours two glasses of wine and after a moment of indecision, Marta picks up her glass and drains half of it in one swallow. There's very few problems a nice glass of wine can't fix.
They eat in companionable silence and it reminds Marta of how things used to be between them. Back when they'd first started dating and things were simple. She had her work and she enjoyed waking up every morning to go to the lab. She was good at what she did and she didn't have to worry about being killed every minute of her day. When she left the lab, she had the perfect boyfriend to go home to and they had takeout and watched movies and went shopping on the weekends and everything was just so painfully boring and normal.
Almost as though he can read her thoughts, Boyd remarks, "I think we could have worked." Marta doesn't respond, her eyes on her plate. She's thinking of Aaron now and how he's anything but boring and normal and how they'll never sit in a kitchen like this and eat takeout and just relax. She pretty sure that being normal is overrated. If being abnormal means she gets to have Aaron. "I think it was the damn house. It ruined us." Boyd says with a faint smile.
"It ruined a lot of things." Marta mutters. She's definitely not mourning that place. Sure it was beautiful but she almost died there and she'd burn the whole thing down all over again if she could.
Boyd reaches across the counter and puts his hand over herself. "Marta, I want…"
Before he can finish, Marta pulls her hand away and stands up in one fluid motion. "I should go." She doesn't want to know what he wants. What he wants and what she wants (i.e. Aaron) are two totally different things.
"You should stay." Boyd blurts out, standing up and moving around the side of the counter to stand beside her. Marta gives him a look and he quickly adds, "I have a guest room. Never been used." He tries to make it sound tempting and he gives her a smile to try and seal the deal.
But Marta just shakes her head. "I don't think so, Peter."
Boyd trails her to the door. "You'll be back tomorrow?"
Marta turns to face him. "You'll talk to Aaron?" Boyd nods. "I'll be back."
Boyd figures it's not much different than their relationship had been toward the end. He's in one place and Marta's in a completely different hemisphere. All he can do is wait for her to come back to him. This time, he knows it's not going to happen. He feels pretty pathetic but he knows he's not the first man to be made into a fool by a pretty girl.
The following morning, Boyd brings a few extra cups of coffee into the office with him in hopes of convincing the interns in the office to do some dirty work for him under the radar. He keeps his voice casual as he explains what he's looking for: hard copy files dealing with Outcome 5 and Marta Shearing. The connection between doctor and solider is well known by this point, so no one seems to connect him to Marta. The trio of happily caffeinated interns agree to see what they can find and Boyd forces himself to head to his office instead of going straight to see Cross. He's already raised Byer's suspicions and he doesn't want to make his interest in 5 any more obvious.
After lunch, Boyd decides to risk visiting the one and only prisoner in the building. Cross still looks rough, bruised and bloody but Boyd can see the man is healing remarkably fast. His rapidly disappearing injuries probably provide more incentive for Byer and the others to rough him up.
Aaron looks up when Boyd enters the room and rolls his eyes at the man. Sarcasm and a few carefully timed facial expressions are pretty much the only things he has left. "You again? I'm honored." He mutters.
Once again, Boyd arranges himself so he's facing away from the camera. "Yeah, me again. June Monroe sent me."
Aaron can't stop himself from reacting. He sits up straighter, feeling his heart start hammering in his chest as he gives this man his full attention. "What did you say?"
"June Monroe." Boyd repeats. "I believe she's a mutual friend of ours."
"She's alive." Aaron breathes these words like a prayer. He closes his eyes and lets himself get used to the idea. He'd lost sight of her not long after they'd grabbed him in Bucharest, throwing himself into the fray in hopes that she'd use the distraction to run for cover. He'd had no idea if they'd grabbed her later on or just killed her rather than deal with transporting another prisoner back to the U.S. Byer had told him over and over again that they'd grabbed her, that she'd been in the room right next to his, that she'd cried and begged for her life and called out for him before they'd killed her. Aaron hadn't let himself believe it, had tried to block his words out as best as he could. Now he knows for sure and he feels like smiling.
Boyd nods. "Yes, for now." When he says it, it doesn't sound like a threat and Aaron doesn't take it as such. It's just a fact, a statement. Marta is alive, but nothing is ever certain in this world they live in. "She wants to rescue you."
For the first time since he's been in this room, Aaron feels afraid. He's not worried about himself; the worst Byer can do is kill him. But now he realizes that Byer can do much more than that, especially if Marta is willing to risk her own safety for him. He should have known that she'd be willing to try. She is a warrior after all.
"Don't let her." Aaron doesn't know this man but for some reason he's willing to trust him. He's willing to trust him to keep Marta safe. "They'll kill her."
Boyd nods. "I know. But you try talking her out of something." He mumbles. It's weird to be standing here having this conversation. He's talking to the man who has put Marta in so much danger, who is pulling her even farther away from him than she ever was before. He knows that if Cross had the opportunity that he would tear down the walls until he could get out and get to Marta. All Boyd has to do is wait until nightfall and Marta will come to him. It makes him feel a little better; at least he has one advantage over Cross.
Aaron smiles slightly, his split lip throbbing from the gesture. The time he's spent with Marta might have been brief but it still feels like a lifetime. In the two weeks before Bucharest he finally got a taste of what he's wanted his entire life: companionship, someone there to smile at him, someone to hold onto him while he tried to pull himself out of a nightmare. He's selfish enough not to want to give that up, to keep Marta with him for always. But he's not selfish enough to allow her to risk her life for him.
"You have to keep her safe." Aaron presses, his eyes searching Boyd's. The complexities of his relationship with Marta aren't important to Aaron now. He knows enough to know that this man can be counted on, at least to keep Marta out of danger. "Tell her…tell her I'm already dead." He'll give her up if that's what it takes.
"She won't believe me." Boyd informs him frankly. "But I'll tell her what you said." He admires Cross, which is a little bit annoying. He might have brought Marta into danger, but Boyd can tell he didn't do it willingly. And, knowing Marta, she probably never looked back.
Aaron nods, but he's only half paying attention to Boyd. He's thinking about seeing Marta again and how, even though he knows how dangerous it would be for her, he wishes she was the one standing here in this room. It might be a hopeless cause but he's going to put everything he has into getting out of here.
"Is there anything else you want me to tell her?" Boyd questions. He's getting antsy and is ready to be back in his office, where no one can accuse him of sticking his nose where it doesn't belong.
"Yes. Tell her to run. As far away as she can." Aaron meets the man's eyes. "Tell her to leave and never look back."
They both know the words will fall on deaf ears.
Boyd is back in his office no more than five minutes before there's a knock on the open door and he turns his chair around to find Regina, one of the interns, standing in the foyer. She holds up a few thin folders and he motions for her to step into his office. "You're lucky. It looks like someone has been doing some spring cleaning, but left these behind."
Boyd takes the folders from her. They're disappointingly thin. "You're a goddess." He tells her anyway.
Regina looks flattered. "Well…I hope you find what you're looking for."
As soon as she's gone, Boyd flips open the file on top. It's about Cross, detailing his 'assignment' in Alaska. Apparently he wasn't interested in playing by the company rules and had been sent to a winter wonderland to get some perspective. There's a post-it note stuck to the last page of the report, written in Byer's handwriting. At the top is a date nearly three weeks ago and underneath terminated along with Outcome 3. Drone.
Marta's file is a little bit more interesting and by interesting, he means terrifying and shocking. Boyd can't believe the incident at Sterisyn-Morlanta flew under his radar. A shoot-out in a lab should have definitely caught his attention.
The majority of the file consists of the report that Marta dictated to the suit and tie in charge of collecting witness reports. As the only survivor of the shoot-out, her report was the most valuable. Boyd reads the words and can practically hear Marta's detached and scientific explanation of the events in the lab. But he can also imagine the tremor of fear she's trying to hide, the panic and the shock.
Boyd manages to find security footage of the event after a little digging. It's almost painful to watch, but he can't pull his eyes away. He watches as Marta's colleagues drop around her and she struggles to find a place to hide, somewhere she'll be safe. He breathes a sigh of relief when the shooter finally turns the gun on himself. He doesn't know anything about the man who killed his co-workers but the whole scene seems strange, even when he watches it a second time. The shooter shows no emotion, no remorse, not even a hint of recognition for what he's doing. Boyd thinks he might as well be playing a video game or sleep walking. It strikes him as odd. But he's been looking at things more closely now that Marta's shown back up in his life. He's never considered himself to be a naïve person, but now he feels like he's been spending all this time with the wool pulled over his eyes.
Boyd leaves the office early, mostly to avoid running into Byer or anyone else. He takes the files with him, on the off chance that they might turn up missing before he makes it back to the office. He stops by the store to pick up a few things to cook, deciding to skip takeout for once. He used to love to cook, it was a great way to de-stress. But he stopped when the hours got long and cooking for one got to be too depressing.
The chicken parmesan is almost ready when he hears a knock on the front door and calls out a "come in." Marta doesn't look very impressed with him. "What if that hadn't been me on the other side?"
Boyd looks confused. "Who else would it be?"
Marta seems taken aback by his answer and doesn't know how to respond. She misses the days when she wouldn't have thought twice about letting someone into her house or leaving the doors unlocked. She has the feeling that Boyd won't be that naïve for much longer.
Marta doesn't comment on his cooking or what Boyd had been sure were delicious smells emanating from the oven. She just sits at the bar-top counter and looks at him expectantly. He takes the opportunity to look back at her. There are bags under her eyes and she looks tired and skinny and lost. So much like Aaron.
"Yes, I talked to him. Yes, I told him that June Monroe sent me and yes, he believed me." Boyd informs her before she can ask.
Marta's eyes seem a little brighter. "What did he say?" She doesn't expect Aaron to be the type of give Boyd sappy love messages to deliver or to soliloquize their separation. But surely he reacted in someway.
"He told me to tell you not to bother to rescue him." Boyd informs her frankly. Maybe if she hears it from Aaron, she'll actually listen. "He said you should run and never look back."
It sounds so much like Aaron that Marta doesn't doubt the words for a second. "He's stubborn." She says fondly.
Boyd barks out a laugh. "Look who's talking." Marta rolls her eyes at him, looking petulant. "He told me to keep you safe, Marta."
"You can't." She tells him, almost sadly. Only Aaron can keep her safe. "This is bigger than you."
Boyd goes to the fridge and pulls out the bottle of wine they started yesterday. He definitely needs some now. He pours two glasses and then pulls the files out of his briefcase and puts them on the counter in front of Marta. "I'm ready to hear it all now." He tells her. And he is. He's ready to hear who he really works for, what's really been going on under his nose, what's been going on around him while he does his paperwork and signs off on missions and procedures without really reading them. All he needs to know is that Byer is behind it and he puts his signature on the dotted line.
Marta opens Aaron's folder and takes out the picture of him, which has been paper-clipped to the side. His eyes are colder in the picture than she remembers them but everything else is still Aaron. If she were alone, she thinks she'd hold it to her chest and imagine it was him.
Once Marta puts aside the picture, she tells Boyd everything, starting with her early encounters with Aaron and going from there. She tells him about the shooting at the lab and the house fire and being on the run in Manila. She tells him what she's learned about Outcome from Aaron and her own realizations about the people she worked for. Boyd doesn't interrupt. The only time he even moves is to take the food out of the oven, setting it on the counter to cool and then promptly forgetting about it while he loses himself in Marta's story.
It's almost hard to believe. Almost. But he's seen the footage of the shoot-out, the missing files, the air of secrecy around the office. It's not hard to believe that he's just been willfully ignorant, that he hasn't seen what he hasn't wanted to see. Boyd had always comforted himself with the knowledge that his work was important, because it involved the defense of the country. Now he wonders at what cost that security has been achieved.
When Marta is finished, Boyd gets up once more and moves around the kitchen on auto-pilot. He gets out plates and dishes up the food and sets out the silverware. Marta stares down at the plate when Boyd sets it in front of her like she's forgotten what she's supposed to do next.
"We're running out of time." Marta says, watching as Boyd starts eating like everything is perfectly normal. Like she didn't just tell him the dirty truth about their once shared employer. "They aren't going to keep Aaron alive forever." To be honest, she's surprised he's still alive now.
"I still think you have tunnel-vision, Marta." Boyd wishes that they could just not talk about Aaron for five minutes. It makes it hard to pretend that things are the way they used to be. "It's going to be impossible to just walk out the front door with him."
"Then go out the back door." Marta doesn't seem impressed with what Boyd considers to be a pretty rational argument. "You said you were going to help me."
"Actually, I never said-" Boyd's protests are quickly interrupted.
"Then what have you been doing! You've been talking to Aaron, you're asking me what really happened, you have files." Marta gestures toward the papers on the counter. "If you haven't been helping me then what the fuck have you been doing!"
Marta gets out of her chair so fast that she knocks over her glass of wine but neither of them seem to notice or care. She turns and moves toward the front door. "I don't need you Peter. I never should have come here. I've just been wasting my time."
Boyd can't help but wonder if she's just talking about tonight or their relationship in general. That doesn't stop him from following after her, reaching out to grab her arm. "Wait, Marta. Can't we just have dinner and-"
Marta whirls to face him, pulling her arm free. "Why? What's the point in pretending like everything is normal? Nothing is normal, things are not normal between us Peter." She takes a step away from him. "That part of my life is over now. I'm not that person anymore. I don't belong with you or in this world anymore."
"You belong with him, is that it?" Boyd questions, moving toward her to close the distance between them once more. "Don't you get it Marta? This is your chance! You don't have to live that life anymore! He's dangerous, he's the one they want. They have him. You're free."
Marta scoffs and shakes her head. "You still don't get it, do you? Aaron saved my life, he didn't endanger it. I was already dead."
Boyd exhales and scrubs a hand across his face. "Christ, Marta. Let's go now. Let me help you. We can run from all this. I have a summer home in-"
"I don't want to run with you Peter." Marta says, her words heavy with finality. "I never did."
Boyd feels her words sink in and he feels like they're breaking up all over again. It's his fault that he feels this way. He never should have let her in. "And you want to run with him." He says simply. He feels more exhausted than he has all week, completely drained and beaten down. Byer was right to try and use Marta to break Cross. She's a powerful tool. "No matter what."
Slowly, Marta nods. "No matter what." She repeats. She wants to say those words to Aaron, to hold him to her and promise to stay with him, regardless of what happens. She'd been trying to live with her feet in both worlds; a part of her had longed for that normal life that Boyd seems to be convinced still exists. The other part of her wanted only to be with Aaron. She can't have both and now she knows which one she wants. "I need him. He makes me feel safe."
And you never did. That's what Boyd hears, whether Marta means the words or not. It doesn't matter. She's not his, she never has been. He was just wasting his time with a woman who needed something more.
"You should just go Marta." Boyd says softly, avoiding her gaze.
To her credit, Marta doesn't ask him about Aaron. She doesn't push him to help her or ask if she can come back tomorrow for another progress report on her solider. She just turns and moves toward the door.
Boyd stands in the foyer, not watching Marta as she opens and closes the door. He's thinking about her words and her request and her desperation and the program and the truth that was never there before and the danger to himself and Byer and all of it. It's all swimming around in his head in an uncomprehending mess and he's starting to feel something like fear as he thinks about how he's already implicated himself in this crazy plan. And suddenly, he knows what he has to do.
Boyd pulls the door open and spots Marta's form as she retreats into the darkness. He calls her name and she stops, tense and alert, turning in his direction. "I think I know what to do."
In the morning, Boyd by-passes his own office and heads straight to Byer's. The man is on the phone but quickly ends his conversation when he sees his visitor. "How can I help you, Peter?" He questions, his voice terse, expression far from welcoming.
Boyd swallows and steps into Byer's office, shutting the door behind her. "Sir, I haven't been completely honest with you." Byer arches an eyebrow and something in the man's face makes Boyd feel like this isn't news. "I have been in contact with Dr. Shearing. She's been trying to use me to help free Outcome 5."
"And where is Dr. Shearing now?" Byer questions. He's ready to jump into action now, to grab Shearing and kill her and Cross and finally be done with this whole mess. But he forces himself to remain impassive so as not to scare Boyd off. He had the feeling the man would come around and prove to be an ally.
"I'm not sure." Boyd replies. "But I know where she's going to be."
When Boyd leaves Byer's office, his body is a live wire, his heart thumping wildly in his chest. But he feels confident, like he's doing the right thing. In less than fifteen minutes, Byer is going to be personally leading the team to apprehend Marta. Byer has too much riding on this and Boyd has the feeling that he wants to be there to see the look on Marta's face when they finally grab her.
Byer is gone right on schedule and the news of his intentions spread throughout the office like wildfire. Good to know that you can always count on water-cooler gossip, even in secret government facilities.
Boyd goes into his office to drop off his briefcase and write up a quick memo. Once he's sure the attention of the office is elsewhere, he heads down to the cell where Cross has spent the majority of the last week. He wonders what type of shape Cross is going to be in after being hand-cuffed to a chair for days on end. That's definitely something he didn't account for. Hopefully his super-solider skills will keep him from being completely useless.
"Order from Byer." Boyd hands the memo to the guard standing guard over Cross's cell. "Transfer."
The guard glances over the paper, his eyes narrowing as he studies the signatures on the bottom. Boyd tries to look nonchalant and bored. He's seen Byer's signature enough times to sign it as well as his own. He's confident in his work and he knows that any trace of fear will tip the guard off that there's something amiss.
Finally, the other man nods. "Need assistance, Mr. Boyd?"
"No, it looks like he'll come quietly enough." Boyd glances toward the cell. "He seems pretty submissive."
Boyd gets the key from the guard and steps into the cell. He kneels down beside Aaron's ankles and starts un-cuffing him. "I need you to trust me, okay?" He mutters without looking up at Cross. He moves to the other ankle and then his wrists, though he cuffs his hands together once more.
"I don't know you." Aaron protests but he's thinking about Marta and how he might be able to trust this guy anyway. He doesn't know how they've all come to be connected but he really doesn't feel like he has anything to lose.
"Just trust me anyway." Boyd entreats.
Aaron allows himself to be led out of the cell and toward the elevator. The guard barely gives them a second glance. Aaron's muscles protest the sudden use and change in position but he ignores the pain and focuses on the burn. He focuses on putting one foot in front of the other. He could be walking into a trap, he could be willingly letting himself be marched in front of a firing squad but it definitely beats the hell out of just sitting around waiting for something to happen.
"We don't have a lot of time." Boyd says as they ride the elevator up to the main floor. "More like a significant lack of time." He's starting to feel less good about his choices. This choice might prove to be particularly painful and could end in sudden death.
"Do you have a plan B?" Aaron questions as the elevator doors slide open.
"No." Boyd admits. "I barely have a plan A."
Aaron follows the man out of the elevator and into a wide, sterile hallway. "I can work with that."
By the time he and Aaron have left the building, Boyd understands how Byer and the other higher-ups are able to get away with as much as they did. He works with a group of self-absorbed, hyper-focused individuals who apparently don't notice a fugitive being walked right past their offices and out the front door. It seems too good to be true but Boyd isn't going to take the chance. They're out of the building and heading toward his car. He's going to go with it.
"Where are we going?" Aaron gives Boyd a dubious look when he's instructed to get into the passenger seat. His instincts warn him against getting into a vehicle, even though he knows he could take Boyd down in seconds. Still, the last thing he wants to be in a car accident after being escorted out of a custody.
"Away from here." Boyd assures him, getting behind the wheel. "Don't you think if I was going to kill you, I would have done it already?" He questions when Aaron still hesitates.
Aaron gets into the passenger seat and watches as the building disappears in the rearview mirror. He almost can't believe it. It was laughably easy just to walk right out the front door. Clearly there's something to be said for having friends in high places.
They leave the heart of the city and drive for nearly an hour in silence. Aaron slowly begins to recognize landmarks and bits of his surroundings. The woods begin to grow thicker on either side of the road and before long Boyd takes a turn-off that puts them on a dirt road, winding precariously through barely tamed trees and undergrowth. Aaron knows this place. He came here looking for chems and answers. What he got was Marta.
The home where he used to live with Marta comes into view and Boyd takes in the burned out husk, the crumbling beams and the ruined frame. Caution tape flutters around the perimeter but it's been torn or tattered by the elements and clearly no one has been around recently to put up more. Boyd thinks that in a few years, when hikers or kids looking for a place to party stumble upon the house that they'll never know the real story of what went on here. They'll never know about the people who lived here together or the woman that survived yet another attempt to put a bullet in her head. They won't know anything at all, except for the stories they might make up in their heads.
Boyd parks the car and Aaron gets out without hesitation. He scans the area around them, looking for any signs of life. He can hear the sound of the breeze rustling the undergrowth or animals moving through the trees and across the ground. He turns around and sees her there, concealed in the colors of the woods. Aaron is proud of her for hiding herself so well and remaining hidden instead of just blinding trusting both him and Boyd. They could have been followed (even though he knows they were not; he'd been looking for a tail ever since they left the city) and she's smart to get a read on the situation first.
But then Marta is moving toward him, throwing herself into his arms and Aaron manages to catch and hold her despite his weak muscles and the way she throws him off balance. He holds her tightly and feels like he can finally breath again. Marta presses her face against his neck and Aaron can feel her tears against his skin. When she whispers his name, it's like a prayer and Aaron feels like he's come home. The world could fall down around them and he'd be content to live in this moment.
When they finally do separate, it's grudgingly but out of necessity. After all, they can't just stand here forever, as promising as that sounds. Marta rests her hand gently on the side of his face, her brow knitting at the sign of the abuses he's endured during their separation. She's sure there are more that she just can't see and she wants to keep him safe and protect him from ever being hurt again.
Aaron turns his head to check the movement on his right and sees Boyd walking in their direction, his hands stuffed in his pockets and his face a mix of emotions. The suspicions that he'd had about this man's relationship with Marta are pretty much confirmed in this moment and Aaron's curiosity piques but now isn't the time.
"I'm not sure how long Byer is going to be out of the office." Boyd says, trying to sound as business-like as possible. He's trying to ignore the way that it felt to see Marta fling herself into another man's arms with a sort of abandon that he never saw on her before. He's trying to ignore the tears on her cheeks, because she never cried for him. "Or how long it's going to take him to put all the pieces together."
"Unfortunately not long." Aaron tells him. "You can't go back." He's a selfish person. He almost can't bring himself to care that this man has ruined his life to help him. Because now he has Marta back and it seems like a fair trade.
Boyd glances at Marta. She told him all of this last night, when they laid the groundwork of this surprisingly simple plan. He didn't see any other option that didn't involve Marta getting shot, which was why he ultimately agreed to help her. He's never been the type to act first and then deal with the consequences, but there's a first time for everything.
"I know, gotta lie low and all that." Boyd acknowledges. "Hopefully Byer will be too busy chasing you two that he'll forget about me." He means it to be a joke but it suddenly doesn't seem very funny. Marta is still in danger, despite the role he played in rescuing Cross. He's going to wonder for the rest of his life whether she's alive or dead. Boyd locks eyes with Aaron. "You have to keep her safe." He says, echoing Aaron's earlier words.
Aaron's grip tightens around her waist. "I will." Marta feels safe in that moment, in that promise, because she knows he'll do whatever it takes to keep it.
For a beat, the only sounds are those coming from the woods around them. Boyd doesn't want to leave Marta, he never did, but he knows now that their time together is over and there's no use in prolonging the inevitable.
"You two should get going." Boyd says. "Get out of here before Byer starts looking for you again."
Aaron nods and steps away from Marta. He holds out his hand for Boyd to shake, giving the man a curt nod. "Thank you. For everything." He owes this man his freedom, his life, his time with Marta. They've all made sacrifices, but Aaron isn't sure he could have made the one that this man has.
Marta puts her arms around Boyd and hugs him tightly, giving him a light kiss on the cheek before she pulls away. "I knew you could do it." She says softly, giving him the first real smile Boyd has seen since she first showed up on his doorstep. "Thank you."
Boyd watches as they disappear into the woods surrounding the property and eventually vanish from sight completely. He knows his life is never going to be the same, that the security footage will point to him as the person behind the loss of Outcome 5. He knows that Byer will kill him if they ever cross paths again. The world as he knew it is completely changed now. But as he watches Aaron and Marta disappear, hand-in-hand, he feels a lightness in his chest. Boyd wonders if it's odd to fell optimistic in this type of situation. He hopes not, because he's always been a fan of happy endings.