10 months ago. (6 months before ‘Project Insight’)
I walked in carefully through the doorway, my eyes already have been adjusted to the dark. I made sure not to make a sound so as to not wake her, along with holding back tears. I knew that if I started, I would immediately start sobbing, I’d wake her, and my whole plan would be ruined. Tonight was the night I had decided to leave Hydra for good. I was risking everything doing this…And yet I didn’t have much to lose anymore. I could lose my life, but at least I would die trying. I couldn’t do what they wanted me to do anymore. I couldn’t handle what was to take place in the next 6 months,’Project Insight’. They didn’t know that I knew. There were a lot of things that they didn’t know I knew after I had snuck into their files. That’s of course exactly what happens when you create a top-notch spy in a top-secret organization based on what I now know is corruption, and lies. I heard Emelia stir around in her covers. I froze hoping that I wasn’t caught, but I knew I was in the clear when her normal breathing patters resumed and she remained still. I couldn’t risk her waking up, or knowing that I was in her room at all. I very quietly opened one of her drawers placing what I wanted to leave for her. It was a little bird necklace that I had bought years ago while we were on a mission in India together. When I had bought it, the lady at the table who was selling it said that it symbolized freedom, and happiness. At the time, I didn’t really care about what she had said, I just thought it was pretty. But now, it was something that I thought that I should leave for her. A message that she would understand. She didn’t know about my plan…But I couldn’t leave her with the assumption that I had gone rogue, or that I had gone off and killed myself. Leaving that small message to her, I knew would at least mean something for the history that we had. That she would know that I was safe, happy, and free at last. Even if it were only for a little while. A huge part of me wanted to tell her. I was very close to telling her at some point, but I knew that could be a huge risk for her. I couldn’t have anybody else die because of me… I carefully closed the drawer with the necklace inside and made my way out, taking one final look to the most important person in the world to me. The person I had called my best friend, and in many ways my sister. My Emelia.
… Two hours. It had been two hours since I had run into the soldier. Two hours since I should have let him go, or gotten the hell away from him. Two hours since I once again probably shouldn’t have let my curiosity get the best of me. But there was something that kept me drawn to him. I couldn’t explain what it was. Maybe it was the odd familiarity of who he was, and how he was connected to a time where I felt sure of who I was, and wasn’t alone. Or maybe it was because I never had a certain fear of him that anybody on the other side of Hydra was meant to have. Maybe it was because I knew that we were in the same situation. I couldn’t explain it, but what I couldn’t explain more is why he stuck with me for so long. “So…You just got away from the scene after that?” I asked, absolutely in awe of his story. “Yeah. After I left I just never looked back…” He looked down at the ground once again. We were sitting on the edge of the roof, with our legs dangling off the edge. Even though we had no real reason to trust each other, when the situation of me pointing a gun at him calmed down, we both developed a mutual interest for what each-others situation was. He told me about how he had been under mind control for what could be over 70 years, and how he could barely remember any of it. He told me how when the plan for Hydra fell and what was known as ‘Project Insight’ had failed, he just walked away. He didn’t say many details about what exactly had happened, how the whole plan when the shit, and what made him just decide to get up and leave just like that. But it wasn’t a stretch to imagine why he would want to get out when he had the chance. I knew there was a lot more that he didn’t tell me, but he had just met me. And honestly by what looked like years upon years of pain and torture, I wasn’t sure I wanted to open up that wound. “So what about you?” He asked. His bright, blue orbs looking right into mine. My heart skipped at the thought of my own story. It was so long, confusing, and something I had never really talked about before to anyone. Sure, we had talked about many other things in relation to our experience with Hydra, but not so much what the breaking point was for me. That thought gave me a certain heaviness come over me thinking about my last moments before my grand escape plan. “I uh…I just started to realize that I wasn’t with the right people. People I had known and loved died, and I started to wonder if the people they forced me to kill were actually bad…So I made up a plan to leave and hopefully never be found.” “You’re lucky, you know?” He shook his head in almost disbelief. Although I was quite vague about my story. “Knowing Hydra, they probably searched heavily for you…” “Hence why I had a gun pointed at your brain.” I mumbled lightheartedly. He chuckled lightly. I turned to him, watching his features lift a little bit at my remark. I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by how human he seemed now. How real, and alive he was. “So…” I softly interrupted our moment of silence. “We sit here for two hours on a roof-top, you tell me huge parts of your life story and I don’t even know your name.” He knitted his brow, and his nostrils flared his features beginning to fall slightly as if he was really thinking. “That makes two of us.” he replied. “I’m pretty sure I asked you first.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “No…” He replied. “I mean…I’m not entirely sure who I am.” I took my eyes away from the view of the city back to him, narrowing them. “What do you mean? How is that possible?” “You completely accept the fact that I’ve been assassinating people for Hydra for about 70 years under mind control, and you can’t grasp the fact that I can’t barely figure out my own name?” A feeling of sadness washed over me after he said that. There were some terrible things that had happened to me in my time with Hydra, but none of them could be compared to that. I wasn’t entirely stripped of my identity, I completely unaware of what I was doing, or unaware of what era it even was. Much less physically unable to make my own decisions. “So you don’t even have a clue?” I protested, wanting to not believe how horrible they were.I expected an immediate answer, but something told me that it wasn’t that simple by the way that he was holding back from me. I didn’t mind though. It’s not like I didn’t hold back a lot from him either. “I think…” he hesitated. “I think it’s James…” I felt the right side of my face start to curl into a little smile. I wasn’t even sure where it was coming from. “What is it?” I saw him noting the little smile. “Nothing.” “It’s a nice name, that’s all. You should definitely have one of those.” I stated awkwardly. His lips curled into a slight smile at my awkward ramblings. “And what about you?” This time, I was the one to hesitate. I wasn’t sure that I was ready to give out my name. Much less to a stranger of sorts. I mean, he had trusted me enough to say so much already…I just wasn’t sure that I was ready to actually be Scarlette to anyone that wasn’t me since I had left Hydra. “It’s um…” I stuttered. “It’s Scarlette.” A flash of anxiety came over me after my confession of sorts. My entire body was hot, and I suddenly felt a little relieved. It felt incredibly intense on the inside, but I still managed to look calm on the outside. “You okay?” His brow knit in a little bit of concern because of my mild expression change. “Yeah,” I exhaled. “It’s just…I haven’t really told anyone my real name since I left. It’s just weird that’s all since it’s been part of my cover.” “Well…It’s a nice name. You should definitely have one of those.” I rolled my eyes. This guy had jokes now. “So, James. What’s your next step?” I sighed, suddenly feeling my eyes grow heavy as hints of the sun coming up started to manifest in the horizon ahead. “I don’t really know.” he answered. “I guess I’m just going along with wherever I take myself at this point. Laying low. Trying not to get caught, I guess. There’s probably of a lot of people after me, as you can imagine.” I couldn’t really imagine how he could be so calm about what was happening, or what could possibly happen. When I first left, all I could feel was constant paranoia. For months, I could barely look anybody in the eye, much less take my hood or sunglasses off if I was anywhere outside of wherever place I was staying in. I also jumped around different cities, and states for 3 months, along with changing my name multiple times for different ID’s and credit card companies, in hopes that it would make me harder to track. Eventually I settled down to my current apartment in Oregon for the past month. It was the longest I had stayed anywhere since leaving. “If you need somewhere to hide out…You can stay at my place.” I said, shyly. I noticed him thinking about it for a second, but very unsure. “No, I really shouldn’t. I don’t want to get in anyone’s way.” He answered. “You won’t…I mean, it’s a three-bedroom apartment. We’d probably barely even see each other. And nobody’s found me yet so I guess you’d be safe too.” I didn’t know why I was so insistent. Maybe there was just part of me that just didn’t want to be so alone anymore. Especially since I had spent quite a long period of time barely speaking to anybody. And here I was now, talking to this person about my life, and inviting him to live with me. I watched him think about it for a moment. His brow knitting, and his nostrils flaring a little bit as he seemed as he was deep in thought. “So. What do you say, Soldier?” He thought about it for another minute or so before nodding his head lightly, as if he was still conflicted. “Okay.”