bigsciencybrain: (cheshire muse)
[personal profile] bigsciencybrain
Title: I Was A Ghost Before You Came
Author: Bigsciencybrain
Fandom: The Bourne Movies Series
Rating: R
Summary: Unable to trust the CIA, Bourne and Landy go into hiding after he escapes from the training facility.
Spoilers: Post-Ultimatum
Pairings: Bourne/Landy
Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine. Bourne belongs to the Ludlum Estate and Universal Pictures. Landy, Vosen, Hirsch, Kramer, Paz, etc. belong to Frank Marshall, Tony Gilroy, and the rest of the series writers.
Notes: Written as a back-up gift for [livejournal.com profile] ficangel who requested... Jason Bourne/Pam Landy, or even gen featuring the two of them.




The train arrives well before the arranged meeting time; the buffer of time giving Pamela an opportunity to unobtrusively scan the terminal, eying each shadow and crevice with distrust. If Kramer is going to send someone to kill her, this will be his window of opportunity. Her brief phone call to Tom all but assured her that even the Justice Department is expecting an attempt of some kind. Martin Marshall agreed to every one of her demands, a sign that they are desperate to bring her in as soon as possible.

Bringing Martin onto the investigation is an interesting choice; one that she spent a great deal of the train ride mulling over. There’s a fine line between attributing the Agency with too much foresight and forgetting how deliberate the decisions can be. Did they involve Martin because he’d worked with her over Berlin or in spite of it?

Satisfied that she’s arrived before any potential assassin could get into place, she takes a moment to breathe, to reassess. There are too many entrances into the terminal for her to watch them all. Gripping the backpack strap over her shoulder, she heads to the lower levels.

She needs to disappear.

It’s easy to get lost in the restaurants and shops. She orders a cup of coffee and a salad, and requests a seat in the back corner with a full view of the rest of the restaurant. So much of her planning hinges on what takes place within the next three hours. Obviously, she needs to survive to implement any of her strategies. But even beyond that are variables she can’t define until the moment they arrive. Will they need a scapegoat and see her as an easy mark? Or will they listen and then relegate her to a basement office, pushing paperwork until retirement?

Her hopes are pinned on the fact that both Vosen and Hirsch have already been arrested - the headlines are screaming with it - no small step for a lumbering bureaucracy. Will they believe that she played no part in Blackbriar? Or will they believe Vosen and Kramer? Picking at her salad, her appetite lost to the butterflies in her stomach, she has to consider the possibility that they’re merely bringing her in to arrest her as well. Cynically, she can even imagine them holding Tom against his will and forcing him to cooperate. Regardless of what the Justice Department decides to do with her, she has to find a way to barter for David’s freedom.

The secluded cabin already seems far away, like a dream she had on the train. A dream of heat and skin and forgetting, just for a moment, that she might not live to see her next birthday. She can imagine the look of disappointment on Tom’s face. He wouldn’t understand. She’s not even sure that she understands.

It’s the first completely crazy thing she’s done since that summer, since Rick Saunders convinced her to leave her textbooks – most of them – home and disappear into the woods with him.

Easy would be calling it a lapse in judgment or a moment of weakness. Simple would be brushing it off as an irrational action in what could be that last hours of her life. But it’s neither easy nor simple and to say that the decision rests lightly on her conscience would be a lie.

If she was worried about her career, she would have to consider the ethical implications of her choice. Her split lower lip and the tender spots on her throat can attest that he’s far from emotionally stable. A wounded man, a broken man, a man with a thirty million dollar price tag; the Agency’s ethics committee would have a field day with how completely inappropriate it was for her to go to bed with such a man.

She knows he was either grasping at a fantasy that Marie Kreutz was still alive or desperately searching for something to fill the void her death left behind. That doesn’t make it less unethical; it only makes it more complicated than a policy manual can begin to cover.

There’s one thing she finally understands; why Marie stayed with him, why Nicky gave up everything to help him. It was about doing the right thing, but it was also about Jason. It was the energy of him, the struggle contained just beneath the surface, and the way he seems to burn and bend but never break.

The coffee warms her, but does nothing to dispel the haunted restlessness. All of the years spent in self-imposed isolation have come to demand a reckoning; years of knowing where Rick was and refusing to allow even the hope that he could still love her, that they could find a way for both of their dreams to coexist. She made the decision and she’ll stand by it to the end, but it’s forcing her to recognize that the sum total of her life doesn’t add up.

Exposing Blackbriar isn’t enough. How can she go back to a life that consists of an office, an empty townhouse, and graveyard of lost possibilities stretching between them.

The insistently nagging feeling pricking at her conscience stubbornly refuses to let go of her attention. Now, when she needs to be focused on staying alive and securing David’s future, her mind is feverishly churning over her choices, her life, and her very identity. She’s prided herself on being too practical, too intelligent, to be attracted to the dangerous men that her profession has in spades; too disciplined to allow momentary weakness and a pair of blue eyes to blind her to reality.

Again.

She hasn’t managed to come up with an explanation. He swept through her world like a hurricane and, impossibly, came to rest in her arms. There is no guilt for that; for trying to help him, for needing the same thing he did. Contact. Simultaneously, it feels like a violation of trust and every promise she made to remain detached, objective. She’s fought tooth and nail against the stereotype that women in the CIA are always at risk of becoming involved with their agents or their targets. The failure to live up to her own standards bites at her where she can’t reach to swat it away.

All of her senses are tied up in the remembering - and trying desperately not to remember - the night before. The taste of salt and skin; feeling muscle shift beneath his skin, her hands not knowing where to grip without causing him pain. Heat, contact - his hands are rough - and the weight of him pressing down on her. Tactile; still lingering on her skin. The sound of his breathing still whispers in her ears.

How can she go back?

Piece by piece, she pushes each memory away until her mind is clear and her hands are steady once again. A mid-life crisis will have to wait until she knows she’ll live long enough to have one. She cannot afford to be distracted.

She has to think.

That’s her strength. It’s gotten her this far, kept her one step ahead of everyone else. She’s been more organized, more prepared; she’s always wanted it more than the other guy. The train of thought isn’t particularly helpful, serving as yet another question of what she has to show for her life. If this is the end, she doubts anyone other than Tom will have much to say at her funeral.

Pull yourself together.

The clock is ticking. She pays for the coffee and barely eaten salad and leaves the relative safety of the restaurant corner behind. With the dark brown wig and casual clothing, it’s unlikely even Tom will recognize her. Shrugging off her coat, she folds it over her arms, the dark backpack disappearing completely beneath the wool. The thick flannel shirt isn’t as warm, but she can stand the cold. It smells of cedar and swallows up her slender frame in excess fabric, bringing back more memories of the cabin and its true owner. Returning it – perhaps with a bottle of very expensive wine and a very good explanation - is a surprisingly pleasant prospect and something to look forward to if or when the dust settles.

The budding optimism is a surprise. There’s too little evidence to build a case for a happy ending, but she can’t quite squash the flicker of hope that events have turned in her favor.

She follows the ebb and flow of the crowd, staying within the anonymity of larger groups moving through the terminal. To a casual observer, she’s merely moving through on her way to elsewhere. The four-sided clock above the Information stand, large and yet dwarfed by the sheer size of the terminal itself, serves as an anchor point to her wanderings. She’s circling, gradually moving inward like a star just barely caught in the gravitational pull of a black hole.

Tom.

The way he stands is distinctive even without the typical trench coat. He’s wearing a baseball cap and a denim jacket but he’s still the same Tom Cronin she knows. Once she’s found him, the others become readily apparent. Even Martin is there, further off and standing beside a man she doesn’t recognize.

She nearly crosses her fingers as she makes the final half-circle around the clock and approaches Tom from the right side. “Tom,” she says softly once she’s beside him.

His eyes light up and if she didn’t know better, she would’ve guessed he was about to hug her. “There’s a car waiting, we’ve got to move quickly.”

Nodding, understanding the anxiety in his voice, she falls into step beside him. Marshall and his shadow are moving through the crowd to meet them. There are more unfamiliar faces but very familiar trench coats at the edges of her vision, giving her the feeling of being surrounded by a wolf pack. She hears a cell phone ring, barely audible in the noise of the crowd.

Tom’s grip on her arm tightens just as Martin and the stranger reach them. He’s pushing her forward, toward Martin, as the sound of a gunshot explodes through the terminal. She tumbles to the floor as Tom’s weight hits her, grabbing for the backpack instinctively and ducking her head away from the feet racing past her as the bystanders flee in panic. Looking up, searching for Martin, she hears another gunshot ring out. The stranger’s throat collapses with the impact of a bullet, spraying Marshall with blood. It’s the first time she’s seen Martin Marshall look absolutely furious. He reaches her first, shouting into the din and grabbing at her arms.

“Tom,” she says automatically before realizing that he’s not moving. Frantically, she pushes at his shoulder, rolling him onto his back. There’s blood on his lips and spreading over his shirt in a macabre bloom. “Tom? Tom!” His eyes are glassy, unfocused; his grip on her arm lessening.

“Get her out of here now!” Marshall roars.

“No! Tom! No!” Frantically, she presses her fingers against his neck in search of a pulse. There, it’s there. His lips move but only breath and blood come out, staining his lips and teeth before it spills down his cheek.

A strong arm wraps around her waist, forcibly dragging her away. She struggles against the man hauling her toward the exit. The crowd closes in front of her, cutting off the view of Tom. Men with dark clothes, earpieces, and their weapons drawn surround her; each one of them is a potential enemy. One of them is clearing the way, waving his FBI badge and shouting. The man holding her nearly tosses her into the backseat of a Chevy Suburban, the backpack still clutched tightly in her arms. Martin pulls himself up after her and slams the door, shouting for the driver to get moving. His face is sprayed with blood; it’s dripping down his cheek and neck.

“Tom...Tom,” she repeats.

“EMTs were standing by, they’ve already got him. He’ll be en route to the hospital in seconds.”

“Standing by.” She nearly chokes on the words. “What the hell is going on, Martin?”

“I thought there was a leak. Apparently I was right.” He pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and begins to wipe away the blood. “Details of the investigation were being given to people outside the Justice Department. Enough of them to bury us in paperwork for fifty years. As it is, Vosen may never see actual jail time because of a goddamn technicality. His lawyers know far more than they should and that means a leak. I thought it had to be Knowles.” He grimaces at the blood soaked handkerchief in his hand. “Apparently not.”

“You son of a bitch. Why wasn’t he wearing a vest?”

“He was. We all are,” Martin snaps, jerking down his collar to reveal the Kevlar beneath. “You will not leave my sight until tomorrow morning when the hearing convenes and you will not fight me on this, Pam. Do you understand me?”

“Hearing? What are you talking about?” She knows full well that it could take months to get a hearing with the congressional oversight committee.

“The Intelligence Oversight Committee is holding an emergency hearing at the request of the President. They’ll be determining how much leash to give the Justice Department and between the two of us, this is going to get worse before it’s over. You’re the primary witness. Frankly, the sooner we get you talking, the better your odds of surviving this.”

“And Tom?” she challenges, an invisible fist clenched around her heart and squeezing painfully. “What about his odds?”

Marshall softens, just slightly. “I’m sorry, Pam.”

***

It’s hunger that wakes him rather than another nightmare. Dawn has already washed the sky with blue and pink, painting out the clouds in relief. The air is cold; he sits up slowly and swings his legs over the edge of the bed, the floor colder is even colder against his feet. Moving hurts less than it did the day before, his joints working a bit easier as they warm up. He gets dressed without hurrying, not able to remember the last time he had that luxury – that doesn’t mean much coming from an amnesiac – and leaves the bedroom.

Sleep has cleared much of the fog inside his head, enabling him to think about what his next step should be. North, he decides, into Canada. But first, he has to find his way out of the woods.

The kitchen has been straightened and organized, the signature of Pamela imposing order onto chaos. As promised, the sole reminder of his life with Marie is lying on the kitchen counter. He picks it up; the ache inside his chest seems to be just a little less than before. Maybe he’ll return to Goa. Someday. Marie had loved it there. He stayed there a little too long, gotten a little too comfortable, because she’d loved it.

He won’t make that mistake again.

Setting down the photograph, he picks aimlessly through the food Pamela left behind. Canned goods, bagels; anything that would last without too much worry. He picks out a bagel and bites into it, chewing without particularly caring about the taste. His attention is on the world outside; the woods, the melting snow, and the question of how he’s going to get across the border when the time comes. He flexes his right hand and wrist, testing his grip and the stiffness of his joints.

Not ready.

Outside, beyond the relative warmth and safety of the cabin, a flock of birds takes to the sky in a flurry. Bits of ice and snow glitter in the sun as they tumble away from shaken branches. He watches as the shimmering veil disappears into the underbrush. There’s no reason to believe the exodus is due to anything but a deer or feral cat moving through the forest in search of food.

There’s no one there.

Silently, he pads across the kitchen. Through the windows, there is only forest and snow as far as he can see but, despite his own attempts to rein in the paranoia, he reaches for the doorknob. He has to know for sure, has to prove to himself once and for all that it’s only in his head.

The outside air is cold, heavy with humidity and the smell of damp wood and leaves. He scans the tree line, looking for a broken branch or a footprint, anything at all that doesn’t belong. In the distance, the thin trail of smoke signals that the neighbors are peacefully enjoying the solitude. Even the generator has gone quiet; its humming ceased with consumption of available fuel.

Too quiet.

Ignoring the cold air and the icy bite of the wooden porch, he steps out to extend his line of sight. To the right, he can see the corner of the utility shed where the generator is housed. Beyond it is the propane white propane tank, half disappearing into the white world around it. To the left are the woods, thick with trees and brambles without leaves but still tangled enough to obscure what lies behind them.

Shifting to the right, his arms loose at his sides - always be ready - as he moves along the porch. The porch itself wraps around the corner of the cabin, leading to a second set of stairs descending to the ground. One, two, three; he stops at the last step that is clear of ice and drifting snow. He can see Pamela’s footprints to and from the utility shed; hers is the only human trail through the snow. Dripping water, falling from icicles still clinging to life along the edge of the roof, is the only sound. He watches several drops fall, splashing against the lumpy trough of ice forming along the base of the wall.

The sound of his breath moving through his throat seems loud in the quiet, his concentration completely on the information he can gather through his sense of hearing. Every creak and groan of a far off tree trunk, every whisper as branches brush together in the gentle wind; he picks out each distinct noise and mentally maps it back to a location.

Drip, drip. Water falling. Creak, whoosh. A tree swaying as branches slough off ice and snow.

Silence.

Click. Metal on metal.

His eyes widen, muscles tensing as adrenaline kicks up his heart rate. Focused intently on that one sound, he eases back against the side of the cabin. Searching the edge of trees gives no new information, remaining stubbornly the same as they were before. Has he finally lost his mind? Have his nightmares crept into his waking hours to further tear apart his sanity? He clears his mind of the clamoring thoughts - don’t think, react. He can’t believe the silence, the unbroken snow, or his own, human desire to believe that this one place is safe.

One, two; his feet ache with the cold and his breath billows out in a fog in front of him. A single step remains to put him back onto the porch. He pauses, straining to pick out even the smallest of sounds that shouldn’t be there. The scuff of boot treads or the brush of fabric; any hint of an alien presence hidden beneath the murmur of the wind through the forest.

Creak.

He recognizes the sound of the front door, the hinges sticking with lack of use. It could be the wind pushing open what he didn’t latch behind him. The possibility makes him hesitate, waiting for a sign either that he is justified in his paranoia or that he has finally gone over the edge into madness. Frozen against the wall of the cabin, he can’t know for sure if it’s merely a squawking hinge or an intruder. His nerves are frayed, torn and tattered at the ends until he can’t distinguish between the sounds of the world and the sounds of his world. Like the nagging in the back of his mind that the furniture inside is too placed, too perfect; he can’t filter out what should trigger this response and what shouldn’t.

Faith, Marie used to tell him. He never understood, never knew how he was supposed to believe that it was ever just the wind or just a coincidence.

I’m no longer Jason Bourne.

His breath is ragged as he tries to inhale more deeply, hands shaking from the adrenaline and the cold. All of the ghosts - all of his ghosts - crowd into his mind the moment he lets his guard down. He winces under the onslaught, pressing the heel of his palm against his temple in an effort to hold them back.

I’m no longer Jason Bourne.

It will never be true until he can break down every instinct and every bit of training they drilled into him. It started with Wombozi, with letting go of the trigger instead of squeezing it. He has to dismantle Jason Bourne one piece at a time until there is nothing left.

He has to choose to believe that it is only the wind.

Numb from the cold, he barely feels the wood against his foot as he takes the last step onto the porch. It feels much larger than a single step or a few inches in height. It feels as though he’s left a little bit of his past, a little bit of Jason behind him. He feels lighter, more alive.

More human.

His mind, already overtaxed and pulled in every possible direction, has time to process the scene in front of him. Two men dressed in winter style camouflage with rifles and boots gleaming black in the sunlight; one at the door, one waiting for him to come around the corner of the porch. He recognizes the man in front of him, the scar cutting across his face, as the demon from his dreams.

You fit the profile.

The butt of the man’s rifle smashes into his face, bright stars exploding across his vision and taking the world with them as they burn out.

***

Make-up covers the bruises on her throat. Lipstick masks the cut on her lip. And the blood - Tom’s blood - washes away with soap and hot water. She stares at her hands and it doesn’t seem real. The black suit is perfectly tailored and the white shirt beneath is starched nearly to the point of snapping like glass; her reflection looks perfectly polished and prepared.

Calm.

Inside, she’s shivering with a hundred emotions. Anger, fear, grief; the ground has been torn out from under her even when she thought there was nothing left to lose. Her career, her carefully constructed life; she never believed they could take Tom away from her. The ache in her chest feels just as real as the sting in her lower lip, but there is nothing that can cover it up or hide it away. The conscious effort not to fall apart in the women’s restroom outside the Senate Chambers, takes all of the energy she has. She has to see this through, has to end this.

She has to make it mean something.

“Pam?” Martin calls through the wooden door. True to his word, he hasn’t left her side. “May I come in?”

She doesn’t answer, he enters regardless. It would take more anger to chastise him than she has energy to summon. “Are they ready for me?”

“They are.” His expression is serious, thoughtful, and she’d really love to tell him where to shove his hypocritical sympathy. “I just got the call. Agent Cronin is out of surgery. The prognosis is optimistic.”

If she opens her mouth or attempts to speak, she’ll break into pieces. Instead, she remains silent. Smoothing her suit jacket needlessly, she turns away from the mirror and takes slow, measured steps out of the restroom. Everything around her is blurred. Two FBI agents escort her, earpieces chattering and guns at the ready. Martin is there, falling gently guiding her to the chair before falling back to his seat. She’ll face the oversight committee alone.

The stack of files on the table is familiar. She reaches for the top document, the Blackbriar Operations Manual, as she sits down.

“Good morning, Senators. If I may, I’d like to begin by making a statement. For the record.”

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