Dangerous to Love
Aaron and Marta had made it. They had defeated Ric Byer. He was dead, killed by the bare hands of Aaron Cross. The two stared at each other from across the Treadstone examination room. All was still, all was quiet. The turmoil around them was all they saw, for there was no chaos, no noise. No one was there, except Agent Aaron Cross and Doctor Marta Shearing.
Aaron walked across the room to Marta and squeezed her hands. "Marta," he whispered, intertwining her hands with his. "We have two options. We either continue to stay off the radar and know that we will probably never get caught, or we go about our regular lives with the risk of being seen again by Byer's colleagues. Staying off the radar requires you to, um, lose all contact with your family and friends forever," Aaron said, gazing intently into her eyes.
Marta held his stare. "But will I have you?" she asked in a whisper.
"Always," Aaron smiled.
Marta sighed. The only family she had was her mother, who she was never really close to, and her dear, dear sister. All of her friends were gone, the few she had had.
"Aaron, I want you," she whispered, stepping closer to his body.
Aaron Cross breathed a sigh of relief. "I have no one to go home to," she continued. "No one I want to go home to more than you."
"So you're okay with us living and running together?" Cross asked.
Marta smiled. "As long as you don't do anything stupid when you fight."
"When have I ever done anything stupid?" Aaron wondered, a smile threatening to appear on his face.
"When I'm in love, Aaron, I tend to do stupid things."
There was a silence in the room. Aaron pondered Marta's words. Had she said what he thought she said? Had she, in a very subtle way, admitted she was in love with him?
"Are you-are you in love with me?" Aaron asked gently.
A million thoughts fluttered through Marta Shearing's mind. A million thoughts of what she should say in response to that. The answer could be dangerous, fatal even, and threaten their lives. But it could also save their lives, and give them the strength and determination to continue to fight the forces around them. She decided to be honest, and let whatever would come from it, come.
"Yes. I love you, Aaron Cross," Marta responded.
Aaron Cross had heard many words in his lifetime. He had seen things many people never see. He had felt more inner turmoil and mental distress than anyone ever feels. He was a "sin eater," and he questioned the morality of that. He had murdered over a thousand people as an Outcome agent. Aaron Cross had heard and seen it all. But the one phrase he had never heard directed at him, the three words no human being had ever said to him in his entire lifetime, were the words Marta Shearing had just uttered. I love you. Aaron Cross never knew what it was like to love. He never knew what it was like to hear those words, overflowing with compassion and joy. He never knew he'd hear them from his doctor.
Those words had meaning. Those words had the power to change his life. You fell in love. He remembered teasing one of the agents in the Alaskan mountains over this, the reason for him being sent out to live in the mountains, in isolation, and the reason for his death. It was a tease then, and a vow by Cross to never fall in love. To never meet the same fate that agent in the mountains had. To never endanger himself. It was a selfish tease. But the words themselves, I love you, were not selfish at all. They were the most unselfish words any human being could say. Aaron didn't quite know what he was feeling, but he knew he had never felt this way before. He knew it was dangerous to feel this way, and he was scared of it.
He gazed into Marta's eyes and pulled her closer to him. One hand left hers and he stroked her cheek with his hand, admiring her beautiful complexion and gorgeous eyes. He had never been this close to someone before, felt so connected, so loved by one.
"Marta," he whispered, stroking her jaw line. "I-I…" But Aaron Cross was rudely cut off.
Pow. Aaron heard it before he saw it. He heard the loud pop of a gunshot, the piercing sound that left his ears ringing. And then he saw the result. His Marta, his doctor, fall to the floor.
Aaron didn't have time to think. He whipped around, and began to run after the masked shooter who was already making his way out the door. He was fast, but Agent Aaron Cross was faster. He tackled the man down the hallway and beat him with his own gun, then he jerked him up, gripping tightly to his collar.
"You listen to me," Aaron said through gritted teeth, "She dies, I'm not only coming after you, but I'm killing your family too. I will come after everyone you love and take them from you." With that, Aaron threw the shooter against the wall, knocking him out cold.
Aaron Cross darted back to the room where his Marta was shot. She was twisting in pain, but was not unconscious. Aaron examined the wound on her shoulder. It looked bad, but with the proper care, it would heal.
"Marta, Marta, it's okay. It's okay," Aaron whispered, removing his jacket and wrapping it tightly around her shoulder to stop the bleeding. "I'm here and I won't let you go."
Marta was breathing heavily and whimpering. "Aaron," she whispered weakly.
"Ssh," Aaron commanded gently, picking her up. "Don't talk. I'll keep you safe." Aaron lifted Marta off the ground and walked briskly out the door. He passed the gunman on the way to the elevator, still knocked out. With one foot on the man's neck and the other on his midsection, Aaron snapped the neck.
"I need a room right now!" Aaron said urgently to the woman at the front desk of a local motel. The woman handed him a key and Aaron gingerly carried Marta upstairs, who was now drifting in and out of consciousness.
Aaron pushed open the door and gently laid Marta down. Marta groaned. It had felt good to be carried by Aaron Cross, his muscles flexed against her back, his hands lovingly holding her up around her waist.
Aaron pulled back the covers to the bed and laid Marta under them. She had lost a lot of blood, he noted, examining the wound. Aaron quickly tugged his shirt off and wrapped it even tighter around her shoulder. Marta was weak, but she was awake. She gazed at Aaron's tan, muscular body. His large, broad chest and his strong abs. Sweat was dripping down his chest and his face as he worked to stop the bleeding.
"Aaron," Marta whispered.
"Ssh," Aaron whispered again, wetting a washcloth and gently stroking her face with it.
"No," Marta fought him and opened her mouth again. "Thank you," she whispered, placing her weak and trembling arm on his cheek, stroking it lovingly.
It took all Aaron had not to grab Marta in an embrace, to let her know everything was going to be okay. It wouldn't be good for either of them. Aaron had allowed himself to fall in love with this woman and it may have cost her her life. And if she died . . . well, Aaron was certain he would. She was his reason to live, his reason to press on. He couldn't tell her how he felt, not yet. It was too dangerous to love.
"When the bleeding stops, I'll put in some stitches," Aaron told her. "That won't be till the morning though. Try to get some rest," he said gently, trying to fight his feelings for her.
"Don't leave me," Marta said weakly, her face twisting in pain.
"I will never leave you," Aaron reassured her passionately, as he crawled in to the bed to sit beside her. He wrapped his arms around her and leaned back in the bed. "I'm always here," he whispered again, stroking her arm, as the two drifted into an uneasy sleep.
The next morning, Aaron was up before the sun to check on Marta's arm. He was pleased to see the blood was clogged and the bullet wasn't that deep. Aaron immediately grabbed his tweezers and began operating on the doctor.
"Hey, Doc," he whispered, gently stroking Marta's arm. She stirred and her eyes fluttered open.
"Hey, it's okay, honey," Aaron said, looking into her confused face.
Marta doubted Aaron had even heard what he had called her, but she did. And she found comfort in that word he had referred to her as, "honey."
"I'm going to remove the bullet from your arm. It might hurt a little, but the pain will only last for a minute," Aaron told her soothingly. Marta only nodded, too weak and tired to respond. Slowly, Aaron began to operate and pulled the bullet out as fast as he could. He used thin cloth to stitch up the wound.
"It will be better in a few days, Doc," Aaron assured her, washing the tweezers in the sink. "You're doing great."
Aaron turned around and started to walk back to the room, but he stopped when he saw Marta standing right in front of him in the bathroom doorway. Without a word, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pushed her body to his. His bare chest was warm and moist against her tank, and his arms were gentle, yet strong at the same time, as they wrapped around her waist. The two stood there for minutes, completely safe in the other's arms.
When Marta was with Aaron, she knew nothing could hurt her. And when Aaron was in Marta's arms, he knew he had a reason to live, a reason to keep fighting.
Marta finally broke the hug and rested her sweaty palms against Aaron's cheeks. "I wouldn't be here without you," she whispered, bringing his forehead to hers. Aaron melted into her touch, and allowed his head to droop down into her neck, exhaustion taking over him. He allowed himself one moment of relaxation, a moment to take in her scent, to rest in her body.
Marta was more than willing and more than happy to be Aaron's comfort for once. To be his peace, his savior, after all he had done for her. As he fell into her neck, weakness finally overtaking him, she pulled his head in closer and ran her fingers through his wavy hair.
"It's okay," she murmured softly, stroking his face. "I know, you've done so much. You've done so much for me. I will be here for you," she promised, placing a light kiss on the side of his face.
Finally, Aaron looked up, with that puppy dog look in his eyes that Marta couldn't resist. "I will always protect you, Marta," he whispered, pulling her into an embrace. Marta loved to rest against his chest, breathing in his scent which always smelled good, no matter how much he had sweated. His firm arms wrapped around her body, and she was safe. Aaron placed a tentative, light kiss on her forehead and the two stood there, in each other's arms, for what felt like forever.
Aaron couldn't take it anymore.
He pushed Marta back, and gripping her shoulder, gazed deeply into her eyes. "Marta, it's dangerous, dangerous for me to give myself to you. I've never given myself to anyone, never admitted how I feel to anyone, because it's too dangerous. Coming clean about my feelings results in unexpected plans," Aaron gestured to Marta's shoulder.
"But as long as I'm with you from now on, I will make sure you don't get hurt. I will be sure you won't die. Marta, I will always be here for you. You need me, but even more, I need you. I'm not entirely sure what I'm feeling and I don't know where these feelings will lead me, but I'm willing to take the chance. It's dangerous, Marta. But I want to be dangerous with you. I-I…"
Dang it, why couldn't he say it? Aaron Cross could do anything! Why couldn't he mutter the three simple words he wanted more than anything to say to this beautiful woman right in front of him?
Marta gripped his face and brought it close to hers. "You what, Aaron? What is it?" she said softly, like a mother to her child.
"I," Aaron melted in her touch, in her gaze. "Marta, I love you."
Aaron's world had so much more meaning now. He loved a woman, this woman he was set to protect, set to lead and direct. He loved her. It was dangerous to love, but they had each other. And when you love someone, each other is all you need.