It's the fire in the sky, in the blinking of an eye,
Up there somewhere
"Yeah." She is shy and sassy with her smile, watching him light up with pleasant surprise.
"You got that tea kettle?"
"Yes, I got that tea kettle!"
He's smiling like he still can't quite believe it, like something about it is just so bizarre. "Yeah? For me?"
"So you could have tea!" She replies, shrugging her shoulders playfully. "That's what tea kettles are for!"
"I like-I liked tea?"
It's a simple thing—insignificant, to anyone else. But nothing is insignificant about the uncertainty in his voice, the falter in his smile, the pleading in his eyes. She knows the hidden question like the back of her hand, and she ready to answer at once.
"You loved the way I made tea," she explains, keeping their eyes locked. "At first I made it at my place and brought a cup over for you, but by the time I got here, it would be room temperature, and you wanted 'the full experience,' as you put it, so..."
Nicky gestures to the kettle, its copper illuminated in the cloudy daylight. Jason looks down at it, his fingers hovering over the black handle. She can recognize the calculations on his face, the persistent attempts to pull broken puzzle pieces together in his mind.
They've had a vastly growing number of moments like these in the past few months; passing through an obscure town, him recognizing his past in a sunset or a flower or song on the radio, and her, with context, explaining the memory of what they were doing in front of a sunset, after he greeted her with flowers, before they fell in love with the song on the radio. The routine takes its turns, winding through the thicket of memories, from the refreshingly lighthearted to the horrifyingly brutal. The latter can leave him shattered on the floor, so she inserts herself as the unweathered rock he clings to, leaning all of his weight on her shoulders until the emotions pass and he is ready to stand on his own again.
And after any memory is recovered, good or bad, he flashes her a grateful smile and his cheeks flush with relief, and only then can she feel her heart break.
"You like yours with milk," his quiet voice shakes her out of her thoughts. He is still staring down at the kettle, not quite touching it yet.
"You liked yours with milk," he corrects himself. "I liked it bland. No milk, no sugar, no honey, just. . .straight tea. I liked the bittersweet taste of it." He looks up at her. "Right?"
She nods, careful not to let her emotions overcome her. "You tasted my cup once and said it was just hot sugar. You never liked sweet stuff. I'm the candy addict, you've got a bland tooth." She smiles at him again, to let him know there's nothing wrong with a bland tooth.
After a few frozen moments, he nods a little helplessly, and looks back down at the kettle.
"You should make some," he declares, "the sweet kind. I want to try it."
"Trying to get sick?"
And then that crooked smile that wobbles her knees as he says thoughtfully, "I want to know if I've changed."
His hand grabs the handle. The movement is sure. The moment is over.
And if you're looking for the high, well I surely got the guide
Let me take you there
It's hard to remember a time when car rides with Jason Bourne were tense and frightening. He would break speed limits, scrape the sides of other cars, and push his vehicle to the highest of limits until it collapsed under the pressure.
With Nicky driving, there is intent, but no desperation. She is alert, but calm. Ever since she first started driving, her principle was to do her best and not overthink it. Whereas every other facet of her life was tightly wound and meticulous, with double and triple checks for her own sanity, driving has always been like breathing—second nature. She can look one way and sense the activity on the other. She can fiddle with the radio, glance at a car accident, and keep one hand steady on the wheel at the same time. She'd go so far as to say she's more of a pro at driving than computers.
The first time he let her drive them somewhere, he nearly had a heart attack. Nicky, you're going to slow, that car looks like it's following us, Nicky, turn right, no turn left, Nicky, just drive through the red light, Nicky— She finally turned to him with an impassive face and boldly declared, "Shut up." He was shocked, but still unconvinced, so she'd added, "I know what I'm doing." It took two more drives for him to relax.
Tonight, on her fifth turn driving on a highway in the middle of nowhere, he is leaning against the window, his eyes closed, his breathing steady. She feels a rush of triumph witnessing his trust in her, his willingness to let her take the wheel and drop his guard at the same time. She can't help but smile at the road ahead, letting her mind drift back to the days before Marseilles, when she was blonde and baby-faced, and he could shed his bulletproof vest in time to love her gently. They were so young then. . .knowing but not understanding what they'd signed up for. Somehow, through all their sin, they'd found an untainted piece of themselves and joined together to preserve it. With every kiss and caress, every genuine laugh, they held up a middle finger to forces that tried stifling them.
"You're remembering, aren't you?"
His voice, low and smooth like silk, sends a thrill of shock through her body. She exhales shakily, giving herself away. Glancing at him, she finds him observing her from his spot against the window, a hint of a smirk on his face. Her indignation at being caught out is overwhelmed by her embarrassment; is everything written all over her face?
And how much does he want to know?
"It's okay," he insists. "I like remembering, remember?"
They share a breath of laughter. The knot in her stomach loosens. She doesn't have to say everything, just the lighter bits.
"I was just—thinking about this time in Paris when...we wanted to go out that night, but we didn't want to get caught." She lets her cheeks flush at the memory. "We spent weeks planning and prepping until we decided on this shitty little bed and breakfast outside the city."
She pauses, but he doesn't have anything to say.
"You were teaching me a little bit," she bit her lip, "about how to be invisible. I got a wig from one of the students at the school where I was supposed to be learning. I had to cut up some old clothes to look the part. You had this old leather jacket in the back of your closet. You said it was an impulse buy from a year ago, you just never wore it."
Another pause. Still, no response.
"We had the ID, we had our names, we had our cover stories, all of it. You had a week off, and I was supposed to monitor you during that week to make sure your health was intact."
"Un Petite Monde."
Nicky's heart skips several beats, and thank God she can multi-task, because she's staring slack jawed at him, and he's just sitting there, staring ahead, lost in memories pulled from the darkness of his mind, and she can't believe he can remember.
"That was the name, right?"
She nods quickly and alternates between looking at him and looking ahead, blinking rapidly.
"The food was kind of stale," he goes on to say, a hint of wonder in his tone. "You didn't like the bread. I just had a beer. We. . .wandered around the hills a little, but we mostly just. . .stayed in."
She remembers the rain against the window as he pushed her up against the glass, kissing her like her lips held the answers to all of his questions.
"I didn't want to sleep." HIs voice is quieter now. "I wanted to stay up and look at you. You look even more innocent when you sleep. And your wig was off by then—I tried to comb it for you."
She remembers waking up to a neat wig hanging on the hook of the door, and his hands massaging the sleep out of her body. Everything smelled like fresh rain and grass. He looked so peaceful, greeting her with kisses. His eyes were so much warmer than usual.
"That was the first time I had good night's sleep," Jason finishes, leaning his head back against the chair.
"When I wasn't even trying."
The words bubble up to her throat, hard as a lump and stubborn no matter how many times she swallows. She has to let them spill.
"I'm sorry, Jason."
He looks confused. "For what?"
"Everything. The missions, Wombosi, Paris, India, Berlin, all of it, I just stood by and helped." The road is getting blurry; she feels ashamed for getting emotional over her crimes against him. "I thought I'd be doing something good for my country and I ended up being—"
The air is thick with tension. Her hand is still steady on the wheel, her other hand is shaking between her knees.
"Nicky." His voice is curt, but not cold. It is requesting her attention, not demanding it. She's only just gotten used to this side of him. It's still unnerving: a mixture of the man she fell in love with before and the man she's just getting to know.
There's virtually no one on the road now, so she slows down, musters the courage to look him square in the face, and there he is. He's David and he's Jason all at once. He wears eyes that are both haunted and serene, chained and free. And when he opens his mouth, the words are coarse and soft, striking her in the heart.
"I'm not an innocent man. I chose this program. I chose to lose myself. I chose to kill. We both chose the same thing, thinking it was something different—you more than me—but we still chose it. And we've paid the price." He reaches out and tucks a lock of hair behind her cheek. "And now we're choosing something else."
"I know you're sorry. I'm sorry. I'll always be sorry for leaving you behind, for forgetting you. I'm sorry for killing, I'm sorry for putting people in danger, I'm sorry," he says the last part in a whisper, his fingers still hovering over her face. "And I'm choosing to make it right. That's why we're here. To make it right."
They've come to a complete stop, past midnight on an empty road, the silence sizzling between them. She wants to kiss him, she wants it so badly she can barely breathe, but they don't have time for what she wants. They barely have time for this.
Silently, she offers her free hand to him, and he takes it. She interlaces their fingers and squeezes before starting the car up again focusing on the road once more. Five minutes in, she feels him lift their fingers to his face.
His lips brush against the back of her hand. The movement is tender. The moment is over.
You're like my only reason why I can never say goodbye
Try there somewhere
"Jason," Nicky treads carefully. "You don't have to hold back about her, with me."
He glances at her in shock, the lines of his face still wrinkled with memories. She knows he is searching for an explanation. They are sitting on a rock, overlooking a raging ocean, the wind nipping at their cheeks. He is holding a crumpled photograph of him and Marie, the only one he has left.
"You spent two years on the run with her," she says softly. "First you sent her away and then you went looking for her, and then you spent two years with her. That means something. For anyone to pretend that it doesn't is an insult to her memory."
His hands grip the photograph even tighter. "I was only with her because I forgot about you."
She shakes her head violently. "That doesn't mean anything!"
"You still loved each other. You still had something. It still hurts that she's gone." She takes her upper arm, squeezing gently. "And you need to—you deserve to talk about it. You remember everything about her. Honor that."
His face is smoothing out, replaced by a lost and forlorn expression. "I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't," Nicky lies. He catches it and glares at her. Sighing, she explains, "I was hurt knowing you were with her, but you were okay, and you were alive. If it couldn't be me, I'm glad it was her." She looks down, her face flushing. "I want to know about her."
Still in disbelief, Jason pushes, knowing he shouldn't, "About the other woman I love?"
She meets his gaze as steadily as she can manage. "About the woman who did what I couldn't for the man I love."
In his eyes, she can see the walls they've been deconstructing, brick by brick, for months. This barrier protects the humanity of Jason Bourne, the heart of his world, the catalyst for his violent return to the grid, and if he can't break this barrier down, they will never make full progress and he will never find peace. What Nicky wants has nothing do with it—although she means it when she says she wants to know. This photograph captures a smile that he rarely showed her before the Wombosi mission. If Marie is the reason, Marie deserves more than a hidden memorial.
"That's not her real hair color."
Nicky hides her sigh of relief and moves closer to him, listening.
"She was a redhead when I met her. She had this eclectic kind of style. . .like she traveled the world or something. I only picked her cause she needed the money and I need a ride out. I had no idea I'd like her talking so much."
It takes 20 minutes to get through their first weeks together, the moment he sent her away, and their reunion on the Aegean Sea. It takes 15 minutes to get through the two years they spent off the grid, and another halted 20 minutes to get through their last days.
The hardest part by far is the aftermath.
He tells Nicky that he wishes he wasn't so selfish with Marie, that he'd had the strength to let her go sooner, but she refused to leave him behind. He says that every time he woke up with her in his arms, he was surprised. He says if it hadn't been for her, he would have lost his mind. Without her, the pieces of his fragmented humanity would have never come together. He owes her so much, and he'll never be able to tell her, and that hurts the most. If he thought she was going to die so fast, he would have squeezed in one last, "I love you." He would have thanked her for everything. But all he did was yell at her to move the car, that they didn't have a choice. Her last words were wasted on him and his redemption: "Yes, you do." And it's not fair. None of it is fair.
He ends the story with his hands clenched into fists, the photograph in danger or crumpling further. Nicky is perched on the edge of the rock, watching him intently, inwardly surprised at how much his words haven't broken her heart.
After a minute of silence, he turns to her apologetically. "Nick, I'm—I hope that didn't—what are you thinking?"
Her voice comes out calmer than he expected. "I'm thinking about how much I owe her."
He blinks, frozen.
"If it wasn't for Marie, you would have murdered Conklin, and Abbott. You would have never documented your dreams to where you could ask the right questions when you came back. If it wasn't for Marie you would have been alone for two years, never getting close to anyone. If it wasn't for Marie. . .you would have shot me dead in the subway station."
He flinches violently, the truth of it knocking the wind out of him. "I would have never forgiven myself if I did."
Nicky pats his fist. "But you had a choice. And you've made the right ones ever since."
The fist unclenches just enough to slip her hand inside. He is looking at her with a mix of gratefulness and guilt. She keeps holding his gaze, trying to tell him without words that everything is okay, that he doesn't need to worry about her.
But he does. "How do you feel? Knowing all of this?"
His thumb rubs circles over her hand, encouraging the same honesty from her that she encouraged from him. It doesn't take long to find her answer.
"You love us both, equally. Just in different ways." She's never felt more grown-up.
Slowly, he nods and looks back at the photograph, holding it at arm's length in front of the ocean, and she knows what he's thinking.
"Keep it," she says, and it sounds like a plea. "You know you want to."
He sighs heavily. "Couldn't let go of it if I tried."
His hand stuffs the photograph back into his pocket. The movement is brisk. The moment is over.
I wanna show you what I know, if you really wanna go
We can take it there
He has never said her full name before. She's never even reminded him of her full name since they've been on the run together, which is why she stops and stares at him, her hair damp from her shower, the lights flickering in their tiny motel room.
He holds the syllables lightly on his tongue, like a delicate ornament. This mouth of his, that has only ever spread the worst of mankind, is careful with her name. He was the same way with Marie, except the two names...they represent different things.
Marie was the first name he'd learned after his lost memory, the first familiar soul he could remember. Saying, "Marie" to her face had been a privilege he counted his blessings for every day. Nicolette is a veil lifting, eyes opening, ears hearing after years in the dark. Nicolette is the girl he loved, back when he wasn't sure if he still could. He cannot truly remember her, cannot truly encapsulate the whole of her love until he says her full name.
And all this from catching her walking out of the bathroom in a dingy blue t-shirt and pink boxers. On any other night, it's a tank top or a nightgown. But he knows that shirt.
"Jason?" She calls out his name, full of unwilling hope.
"You..." he swallows hard. "You used to wear my shirts to bed." He knows he's right by the way her cheeks redden and her eyes well up. "You said it suited you better than it did me. I started leaving you my shirt on the nightstand just in case, but you always preferred the ones I was wearing." He sees her shaky sigh more than he hears it. "Why? Why did you always want the shirt I was wearing?"
She answers him at once, which throws him off. "Because it smelled like you. I just wanted to have you around me."
His chest tightens painfully at the tremble in her voice. It's hard not to feel dazed at this blatant display of affection from times long past. As overwhelming as it is for him, he realizes it must be much more so for her.
"I remember that shirt." He whispers, walking towards her with purpose. "That's my shirt."
He takes her face in his hands just as it begins to crumble, pressing their foreheads together as if to send her his thoughts through skin-to-skin contact. They are here now, after ages of unsaid words and missed kisses. There is no turning back after this.
"Say it again," she stammers through her tears.
His skin comes alive with fire and ice as her request registers with him.
It is no surprise when their lips meld together with ease, the heat between their bodies unbearable. It makes perfect sense that his hands know where to know to make her sigh, and that her fingers scrape lightly over all the right places, drawing gasps from his lips. Nicolette, Nicolette, he mumbles into the crook of her neck, the bone of her elbow, her belly button, the crease between her hip and her thigh. He says it again and again, because the more he says it, the clearer the images in his mind become. He can see her smirking as he pulls a shirt away from him, he can hear her laughter, he can feel his own amusement. The images run in HD, surround sound, blending with the very current moans of the woman beneath him.
"Jason," she gasps, her tears dried on her cheeks. The voice is heavy with lust and desperation.
He looks down at their bodies, warm and bare on the bedsheets. "Are you sure?"
She opens her eyes and looks up at him with a touch of uncertainty. "Are you?"
He has never been a man of hesitation. Not when he is sure. Instead of saying so, he kisses her harder and lowers himself until he covers every inch of her body with his own, the sensation sending all the blood rushing to where it needs to be. His last coherent thought is an image of them under the covers in his Paris apartment, years ago.
But now, her legs wrap around his waist and pull him into her. The movement is swift. The moment is theirs.
Fire in the sky, blinking of an eye
Up there somewhere
"Do you ever think we should just stop doing this? This running and hiding and...stuff?"
They're lying tangled in bedsheets, him on his back, her on her stomach. They haven't said a word in half an hour; the silence is too comfortable, too relaxing. She almost abandoned the thought of asking him such a question right now, but the desire was too overwhelming.
He licks his lips and looks at her through half-closed eyes. "I'd get lazy, I'd settle down, and I'd take you around town with no disguise. I did that once before." They don't acknowledge the edge in his voice. He just sighs a little and adds, "I don't think I can live alone again."
Her heart aching, Nicky reaches out and traces the scars on his chest softly, at a loss for words.
"But," he says suddenly, forces his eyes to open fully, "if it's what you really want, we'll stop running."
Maybe he'll never stop shocking her. Maybe he waits until she gets comfortable in her knowledge of him and then strikes from her blind side.
"...Really? You would do that?"
He places his hand over hers, pulling both over his chest; his heart beating powerfully beneath their palms.
"I would try. For you."
It's too early to take him up on this; she's not quite ready to settle down anyway, and especially not here. She's thinking somewhere warm and sunny, where they can blend in and keep to themselves, somewhere they could change their names and faces until it was safe to have a child. (If it's boy, she'll name it David. If it's a girl, Marie.) For now, however, the fact he would be open to settling down is enough for her.
She smiles widely at him, pressing their hands further over his heart. "I'm with you, regardless. As long as I live."
His lips tighten against a swell of emotion and his eyelids flutter. "I know." There's something else he wants to say, probably paragraphs worth of overthought mess, but thankfully, he settles on his greatest fear.
"I don't want to disappoint you."
"You won't." She's learned his quirks, traits, and flaws, both familiar and strange.
"I'm not the man I once was."
He's improved, he's regressed, he's evolved, he's remained, and he loves her, in a new, hardened and strengthened way.
"I don't want the man who was. I want the man who is."
The expression of his face takes years of suffering off his skin. He's never looked so overwhelmed with gratefulness, not before amnesia or after. This is a new fragment he is sharing with her, one of many new fragments to discover in the future, and she wants all of it.
He positions her hand so her palm is directly over his left chest, his eyes still searching her face. She understands the meaning: Jason Bourne is offering his heart. Gratefully, she takes it, with a warm kiss to his mouth before she drops her head on his chest, listening to the steady rhythm of what has always been rightfully hers.
The movement is hopeful. The moment has just begun.
And if you feel it in the air, let's go away somewhere
I wanna feel it in the air, let's go away somewhere
And if you say you really care, let's go away somewhere
I wanna see you over there, let's go away somewhere
Let's get together