Aaron wasn't a deep sleeper; if you discounted the times he had been heavily sedated and/or recovering from injuries. It had been trained into him early on that a deep sleeper was a dead sleeper. He assumed that Kitsom had slept like normal people once upon a time, but if that was the case it was years and definitely another lifetime ago.
It was the rain that woke him. Grey-blue eyes snapped open at the sound; it was like a million little paws running along the corrugated roof. Sitting up Aaron automatically looked over to Marta's bed. Rumpled sheets and an open mosquito net was all he found. Glancing at his watch he saw it was 6:04 a.m.
Doc?' The ever present heat reminded him of Manila and for one brief second it felt like he was back there, just waking from the virus induced fever, all alone. Aaron rose to his feet and pushed back the mosquito netting that surrounded his bed. 'Marta?!'
The voice came from outside and Aaron hurried to the door. Pulling it open he was surprised to see Marta standing in the rain. Her cotton shorts and t-shirt was soaked as she held up her hands to the sky and spun in a circle, her bare feet already covered in watery mud.
'It's raining.' Marta said.
'Yeah, I can see that.' Aaron leant against the doorframe, crossing his arms.
'Isn't it great?'
'If you say so.'
Aaron looked about the building they had rented for the week. The old couple who normally lived here had gladly taken the opportunity to visit their grandchildren in the city, all expenses paid. While the nice young American and his assistant took the time to finish his thesis on the continuing decline of traditional seed saving in India in the face of multinational corporations forcing their trademarked products on rural farmers. Aaron had figured it might be a subject close to the old couple's hearts. The house was far enough from the little village that they could come and go in peace and quiet but still close enough that Marta could run for help if needed.
Marta pushed back some stray curls from her face. 'Come out.'
'You'll catch a cold, Doc.'
Marta put her hands on her hips and glared at Aaron. 'You can't catch a cold from standing in the rain, Aaron, that's an old wives tale. Now come on out here and enjoy this.'
Aaron shook his head as he continued to survey the land around them. 'I don't think it's a good idea, Marta.'
'Aaron, please,' Marta sighed. 'We're here, we're safe and we're free. Can't you just accept that for now and live in the moment?'
'The way we live, Marta, a moment might be all we have.'
Marta held out her hands. 'Then come out here and have it with me.'
Aaron swallowed. He constantly lived his life trying to be four steps ahead of Outcome and their agents; it was the only way to keep them both alive. But even super agents needed some downtime.
Aaron stepped down off the rickety steps and gasped slightly as the first few drops landed on his bare arms and shoulders. At first they were cold, but as he walked towards Marta they warmed up to body temperature until he barely noticed them at all. He stopped in front of the doctor. 'Well, I'm here.'
Marta swayed from side to side, her feet tapping out some hidden message in the ever expanding puddles. Her dark hair was plastered to her face and big raindrops seemed to be caught in her lashes. Aaron glanced down then quickly looked back up again; yep her clothes were practically transparent. It was hard to compare this fey like creature with the practical straitlaced scientist Aaron had known back at Sterisyn.
'Can you smell that green?' Marta asked him.
Since when did green have a smell, Aaron frowned. 'Are you having some sort of brain aneurysm, Doc?'
'No, I'm talking about that smell you get during the first rain, after a dry summer. It smells green to me. Like the world has woken up again and is coming back to life. Close your eyes, can you smell it?'
Aaron closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. At first all he could smell was wet dirt and the faint perfume that he associated with Marta. Then as he breathed in again he thought he caught a whiff of . . . something. Was that what green smelt like?
'Colours have smells.' Aaron opened his eyes and looked at Marta.
Marta spun on the spot and held her hands out to him. 'Would sir care to dance?'
Aaron smiled as she moved into his arms. 'Thought you'd never ask.'
Hours later Marta and Aaron sat on the old couple's veranda watching the rain. They had changed into dry clothes and Marta was busily drying her hair. 'Do you think this will last?' she asked.
'The rain?' Aaron shrugged. 'It's the beginning of the monsoon season so, yeah, should be around for a while.'
Marta stared out at the rain as she absently ran the towel through her hair.
'Hmm?' Marta blinked and turned to Aaron. 'Did you say something?'
Aaron frowned. 'You weren't talking about the rain lasting, were you?'
Marta smiled a little sadly. She draped the towel on her chair seat and walked over to the veranda railing.
Aaron followed her. 'Doc?'
Sighing Marta crossed her arms. 'This was never going to last was it?'
Aaron blinked at her words. 'You breaking up with me, Doc?' he joked.
Marta shivered and hugged herself tighter. 'I can pretend this is forever,' she looked over at Aaron. 'That we can lose ourselves in the world, but sooner or later someone will find us and it will all be over.'
Aaron moved to stand behind Marta. He rubbed her shoulders, feeling the tension in her body. 'That's a problem for tomorrow, Marta.'
'Is it?' Marta turned to look into his eyes. 'Because I know you think about it every day.' She turned back to stare out at the rain. 'You're always thinking about it.'
'So you don't have to.'
Marta's laugh was short and a little bitter. 'I'm not a child, Aaron.'
'Never thought you were, Doc.' Aaron wrapped his arms around Marta and hugged her from behind. 'Hey, what happened to dancing in the rain and living in the moment?'
'Maybe I am a child,' she said softly. 'Hoping for something more, I had such plans for my life.'
Aaron clenched his jaw. He was pretty sure what those plans had been; a successful career, marriage, maybe children. Plans someone like him had never really contemplated. 'The future's overrated.'
Marta frowned. 'What?'
Aaron kissed the top of Marta's head. 'Marta Shearing you taught me the most important lesson in the world, to just be in the moment. Sure I worry about tomorrow, but all that is nothing if I don't live in today, too.'
'It still won't stop them coming.' Marta whispered.
'No probably not, but until they do we can't just give up.' Aaron shook Marta slightly to get her attention. 'Right, Doc? We keep living, if nothing else it'll piss them off.'
Marta stared out into the increasing rain for a few minutes then took a deep breath and Aaron could feel the tension drain from her body as she seemed to come to some sort of decision.
'What do you say, Doc,' Aaron whispered in her ear. 'Wanna stick it to the man?'
This time Marta's laugh was more genuine. 'Ruin their day.'
'Well now that we've sorted out what we want to do for the next few years.' Aaron turned Marta so he could look her in the eye. 'What about tomorrow, should we go dancing again?'
Marta reached up and brushed some hair from Aaron's eyes. 'Sounds like a date.'
Aaron smiled. 'It's a date. I'll get my tux out of the dry cleaners.'
'I'd like to see you in a suit.' Marta said as she brushed imaginary lint off his shirt.
'And that's tomorrow sorted, but what about now, Doc, what do you want most in the world right now?'
'What do I want right now,' Marta thought for a few minutes, before a bright smile lit up her face. 'Pancakes, I would love some pancakes.'
Aaron kissed Marta on the forehead, laughing. 'Your wish is my command.'