i learned to live, half-alive
and now you want me one more time
She passes through four different countries her first week, after.
Three passports, three names, three hairstyles and outfits and accents. Her French is impeccable, her German and Spanish passable. Only once does she get a second look from those on border patrol.
In Basel, in a bar near the Basler Messeturm, she watches MSNBC.
It's tempting to return to the States. Landy, she knows, will protect her, and ostensibly the CIA only has jurisdiction on foreign soils. She's New York born and bred, even if she hasn't lived there for a decade or so. She could look up her grandmother, her cousins.
Two blocks from her hotel room, a car backfires. She's off the sidewalk and into a shadowed alley, SIG in hand, before the sound can finish echoing.
She thinks maybe she'll stay away a little longer.
She finds Bourne in Genoa.
It's not intentional on her part, finding him, and the look of surprise on his face when she stops short in front of him suggests he wasn't searching for her either.
"You're here," she says, inanely.
He reaches out and grabs her arm, pulling her in close. For a split-second, anticipation. Her eyes widen and her heartbeat accelerates and a breath catches in her throat.
He turns them and starts walking along the promenade. She follows, feeling his hand slip a little on her bare skin. The sun is high in the sky, glinting off the water to their right, and she reaches up with her free hand to adjust her sunglasses. She's been playing at tourist, here, and she has no idea what Bourne's identity is but he looks the same as he did the last time she saw him.
He looks good. Maybe even better.
They leave the Corso Italia and disappear into a maze of winding streets. She tries to keep track of their path and fails, miserably, the warmth of his body beside hers a distraction. She finds it maddening that he still has this power over her -- that around him she'll never be anything more than his observer -- and thinks about stopping and pulling away and running.
She was running, she knows. She just didn't realise it was in a circle.
Bourne takes her to his place, a hotel room high enough up for her to still glimpse the sea, distant enough that it'll take her close to an hour to find her own hotel again.
"Who knows?" he asks as soon as he's locked the door behind them. "Who's here?"
She blinks once, slowly, and realises -- oh. "No one," she says, standing in the middle of the room. "Just me. I'm alone."
He looks her up and down, staring, and she backs up a half-step nervously. The foot of his bed brushes the backs of her knees.
"I'm remembering," he says, but his tone is a hard tone and not entirely convincing.
When he moves towards her, she closes her eyes.
He still tastes the same, moves the same, touches her the same.
When he rolls onto his back, when she sits up and arches her spine, seating him deep inside of her, his hand grips her arm, strong and steady.
He has nightmares, still.
Sitting at the small table underneath the window, she hugs her knees to her chest. The window is open, a south-easterly rippling the curtains and playing across her bare skin as she watches him frown and twist beneath the bed sheet. He doesn't groan or cry out, but his breathing is shorter, quicker. She's heard him do this before, on too many nights to remember, and has seen it once, a long time ago.
When he wakes and sits up, fast, eyes already scanning the room, she tosses him the bottle of painkillers that had been sitting on the table. He catches the bottle with one hand, and swallows two tablets dry.
Before he can say anything, she says, like it's three years ago, like she's nothing more than a voice in his ear, "report."
He tells her his dream in excruciating detail, every blow he struck, every bullet he fired. The pattern on the necktie his target was wearing, the vehicle registration number of the car he was driving. What he heard, smelt, touched. His location. The target's wife's name, the target's secretary's name, the target's mistress' name.
The target's name.
When he's finished speaking, there's a moment of silence. He shakes his head once, twice, as if to clear his thoughts. Then --
He says, "I remembered." His tone is wondering now, almost breathless.
This time, when he gets up and walks over to her, when he leans down to kiss her, she keeps her eyes open.
She sleeps, a little, and dreams of starlight and soft music and laughter. Someone is holding her arm and there's warmth all around her. She's happy, content, safe.
Loved even, maybe.
When she wakes, Bourne is gone, but the window is still open and his bag is beside the bed. The gun he'd had under the pillows isn't there, but her own SIG is on the bedside table. He's gone for a run, she realises, or for coffee, or a newspaper, but he hasn't gone. He'll be back.
Four countries in a week. He was right -- it does get easier.
It was probably time she left Europe, anyway.
She spends some time in South Africa, some more in Singapore. It's easy to play the tourist in Asia, but harder to pretend she's a local. She heads south.
In Australia she gets a job, changes it, rents an apartment in the suburbs, moves. She scours the networks, public and not, for code names and keywords. She looks for Bourne and doesn't find him, looks for herself and finds nothing. It's a relief but not one she'll bank on. She builds up five new identities.
The dream persists. She ignores it.
She's eating lunch in a park near her office building when her cell phone beeps, and she opens it up and watches a live feed from the camera hidden in her apartment as Bourne sits down at her kitchen table.
She goes back to the office and tells them she's not feeling well, and needs to go home, and instead heads straight to the airport. On her way there, she buys three tickets online, one domestic and two international, and boards a flight to Canada. When it stops over in New Zealand, she double-backs to Sydney.
Bourne is gone, and she tells herself that's a good thing.
She moves again.
Australia to Madagascar to Mauritania to Venezuela.
She finds Bourne in Buenos Aires and that's close enough to where she is in Rio de Janeiro that she physically leans away from her laptop for a moment.
Run, she thinks.
Over the next week, two weeks, three, she narrows in further. It's almost like he's been waiting for her to find him -- in quick succession, she discovers where he's living, where he runs every morning, where he buys his newspapers and groceries.
Run, she thinks, to herself, to him.
When she realises she's not the only one watching him, she does run.
She cleans out his apartment and finds enough cash and weapons to run on for a decade, finds half a dozen passports for him and three for herself. As she waits for him on the beach where he runs, she thinks about those matching surnames on their passports and wonders.
When he sees her, he grabs her arm, his fingers fitting around her bicep, familiar and right.
"They found you," she says, "idiot."
He smiles and leans down, kissing her breathless. He's sweaty and sandy and beautiful and she's glad for his grip, for the way he keeps her standing.
"Doesn't matter," he says, and, "hello, Nicky," like it's four years ago, like he knows her.
Idiot, she thinks again, but she smiles too. "Hello, Jason."