Aaron is injected to become something he wasn't. Something better, stronger, but different regardless. Her change is slower.
It happens while fidgeting in line with a fake passport. It happens the sixth time she has a gun pointed in her face. It happens when she stays with Aaron instead of sinking into the Philippines and possible safety. It happens when she kicks a man off of a motorcycle for self preservation.
One day, Marta is standing on a boat in the middle of nowhere, learning the basics of hand-to-hand combat, and she knows she isn't the same person anymore. She doesn't know if she's better, or worse, or just different. She supposes it doesn't really matter.
Aaron shakes his head and tells her the thousand things she's doing wrong. He puts his hands on her hips and shifts her. He stands in front of her and nods for her to come at him again. Aaron Cross, superhuman super spy, is telling her to try to attack him. And he's her partner. She isn't sure which is more absurd.
He's here because of science she perfected, and she's here because of his protection. They're two sides of a coin.
She moves, and he has her pinned against the nearby railing in a second. She huffs. “Is there a point to this?”
Aaron releases her. “We'll go again,” he says.
“You do know you're a highly advanced soldier, right?” she asks. “And I'm a scientist?”
“Science won't save you when the next guy comes after us, Doc,” he says. He's so calm about it, as if telling her what she needs to get at the grocery store instead of that an armed assassin will find them again.
“I'm not going to be able to fight another you,” she says.
He frowns. “You could still take the money and go,” he says. “They would forget about you.”
“No,” she says. It's a little bit survival (they're better together,) and a little bit Aaron, and a lot of guilt. She never knew the details of how her work was used, not really, but she isn't stupid. She knows the science she has helped uncover is great and can do great things for the world. She also knows the toll that has come with that greatness. Seeing it upfront makes it a lot harder to rationalize.
He rubs a hand over his newly-grown beard. “Maybe you should go for the science, then. Injections, gas. Could you use those?”
“I'm not trained in biochemical warfare,” she says.
“Could you use them?” he asks. She sighs. “Then we'll get some.”
He moves away from her and looks back down at the map. He's been planning for the last couple of days, and she isn't sure she even wants to know what's in store for them. It'll come soon enough. She sits beside him and takes his hand in hers. He intertwines their fingers, but doesn't look at her.
“You're getting a little distracting, June,” he says. He hasn't told her who June is yet, maybe never will, but the name itself never seems to bother him. June is someone, and she's someone important, but whether through training or personality, the name just doesn't stick to him.
“Marta,” she says.
“I am,” she says. “Here, with you.” He looks at her then. She must look desperate, because he squeezes her hand. Her family thinks she's dead. No one in the world knows where she is, or who she is, or what's happened to her. No one except for him. Her identity has to be alive, between them.
He nods. “Aaron,” he says, as if introducing himself. Then he smirks. “Or Five, as some people like to call me.”
She ignores the jab. “Not Kenneth?”
He shakes his head. “Kenneth died. Aaron.” She nods. She doesn't want to lose her identity, he wants to keep his very specific.
Dr. Marta Shearing. She was a doctor who ignored the moral implications of her job, and now she is something very different, but she's still her. She will change, she will adapt, but she won't lose herself. Did he feel like he was losing himself during the withdrawals? Maybe that's what they're fighting for, not just survival but preservation.
She's drawn away from her thoughts by his thumb rubbing along the top of her hand. Marta kisses the back of his hand and separates from him, only to rest her head on the table and her hand on his thigh. He grins, or comes as close to grinning as she's ever seen his usually grim face.
“Did I mention you were distracting?” he asks.
She purses her lips. “I believe you said June was distracting.”
He puts a hand over hers again. It's become so natural, and she isn't sure if it's love or infatuation or just the need to know that they're both there, alive, in this together. Maybe it's a little bit of each. She closes her eyes and listens to the water and feels the heat of his body.
When she wakes up, she's in the small cabin they share, lying on a small make-shift bed next to his small make-shift bed. He's asleep, and when she looks down she realizes their hands are still linked across the cots. She closes her eyes.
He's changed, she's changing. They'll stay together, and adapt to the situation and each other.
Two sides of one coin.