AN: Hi again. Here's another one-shot fic. This, like my last one, is also entirely plotless and pointless but this one is entirely AU. It's a one-shot that I had been on and off playing around with but never truly went anywhere and I think it still didn't go anywhere. But maybe someone out there will like it anyway.
This story is also for Alex who deals with my Bourne related bullshit every day and sometimes twice a day.
This is movie-verse and not book related. Also incredibly AU.
I do not own one thing here. I just love these two and I wish they could have been happy in canon.
In the Middle of the Night
During the daylight hours, Jason was distant - more of a shadow than a partner or boyfriend - and his eyes were always moving. They would fall on every person who passed by them, every car driving past, perhaps even memorizing the license plates, and in the direction of every loud talker, every person shouting down to fussing children, or truck backfiring as they wandered from whatever train station they entered the town from to whatever they were holing up for the evening. He had not smiled once since they left India and his smiles had grown increasingly fewer since Greece. She was starting to miss seeing it. Just as she missed hearing him actually speak beyond giving her some sort of command, though she knew he was trying to not speak to her as if giving orders. His eyes showed that much. Marie found herself struggling to return them with a playful roll of the eyes like she had used to do whenever that particular habit of his surfaced. Maybe it was because of his tone of voice while always serious in the past now felt different. There was something different about how he gave them. But there was a lot about him that felt that way even if she was not entirely sure about the specifics. Though, on this particular winter night - just days before Christmas - she had a new theory as to why she was noticing all of this change.
The issue was not that he was acting so differently. At least, it was not just that he had changed since they met and he definitely had changed since then. Some of it was good and some of it was worrisome. He used to laugh, even though it was always soft and awkward like he was trying to figure out how to laugh or why something was funny, and he used to smile more. Those smiles were awkward and soft and always made her smile back. Whenever he did those st
Then there was the fact that while he was insecure about most things that people typically are able to (at least) fake some sort of skill at or comfort with doing. He had paused before touching her for so long, only finally becoming a little more comfortable with the idea that gently touching her cheek or stroking her hair was not going to make her shatter like a glass vase hitting the floor. He had managed to move into very sparingly caressing her cheek without needing to pause and think the action over as if he was wondered about her reaction or about the amount of strength that it took. He used to joke back even when it was only a dry remark. But, he had always been cautious and always on edge. She knew this and she had reassured him that it was okay when she could tell it was bothering him. She had told him more than once when they were alone at night that he was fine as he was. But as time passed he had almost stopped smiling completely and had stopped laughing entirely. His eyes were always moving and Marie had been mindful of how she went about touching him. There was no such thing as a surprise hug or squeeze of the hand - she knew it was best to let him initiate any sort of touch, but she could tell him that she was going to do something and he sometimes allowed it. He had always seemed to be ready for a repeat of someone throwing themselves through a window or a repeat of someone being nearby asking about them. He had started to insist on doing things like sleeping near the door or seeing if he could move the bed slightly away from a particularly large window. He had multiple plans for who to get to wherever they were going and even more on what to do if they were split up down to mentioning places that served as "safe houses" where they could easily meet and there was a different one for every few countries. For example, if they got separated in Germany there was a place in Austria that they could reunite at. But then there were the time limits for reaching that said place. He was particularly strict on those even though Marie could not understand why he could not just wait for her at the place they were originally supposed to meet up. But even she had thought that only applied if they were truly separated and not near each other. Not just bumped apart in a bad holiday travel crowd.
She merely made sure to cling onto his hand once he had grabbed hers and tugged her close to him.
For a while, Marie had supposed that she could no longer dismiss any of his behaviors as an unusual quirk much like how people had their preferences on where they sat in a cafe or on a bus. Some folks preferred being near the doors and others did not mind being in the back corner. How some folks preferred plain socks that were hard to mismatch while others pulled on any ones in their sight as they struggled out of bed. She had told herself that there was no difference between things like that and his need to check the street as he locked up the shop in Greece for the night. Or his need to invent a plan for getting in and out during their brief stops in cafes. Sometimes he had multiple and the backups were always complicated and bound to make someone stand out - or rather she was the one who stood out when she tried to follow them. He had always been this way and now he was on edge, constantly on edge. But, now she knew that her downplaying any of it was likely a bad thing because these reactions no longer something that she could shrug off as "just how he is" which was what she had been doing. Even with seeing and experiencing all that happened between them in Paris, she had (she realized during his stints away trying to set his former handlers' world on fire) mistakenly and perhaps even foolishly decided to re-write so much of the things he did and said into something much less worrisome, less serious. That he had good intentions but that's all any of his twitches were. He was easily made worried but there had been nothing to truly worry about as long as they were careful because a lot of his rules made some sort of sense to her. Marie had been someone who had few ties to anything and she had always just come and gone at her own pace with few exceptions (that ill-fated surf shop being one example). She had felt confident. A tiny part of her still did even with the overwhelming evidence surrounding them both that they had, in fact, been in a lot more trouble than she had convinced herself of. That there was more danger and that there might still be even more dangers surrounding them.
She had been hard to track, she had known that she understood the importance of barely leaving traces on the places she had traveled through. She had been living in just such a way before they met and she had joked as much to him during the early days. They had only just left Mykonos and gotten as far as the border into. It was the middle of the night and they had been looking for a place to grab a couple of hours of sleep or even just a catnap until they could grab the first train out of Greece. Marie had been initially put out by suddenly packing a couple of "go bags" and leaving everything behind. She wondered what would happen to the shop after they disappeared, not because she was worried about the things he had gathered, but because she had worked so hard with the money he had tossed at her to build and because while she could only ever get as close as arm's length to the tourists or even her neighbors, she enjoyed what she had anyway. It was nice even if it was the routine he had warned her against - though she had switched up her shopping trips and never kept to any particular market, cafe, or store despite having ones that she would have preferred to be a regular at. The best part was that she was not held to anyone in terms of when to open to close - unless a tourist was late with returning a scooter. On a slow day, she felt good with closing up by the mid-afternoon while she did not mind being open until sunset during the summer months or just closing entirely. The summer was why started to serve soft drinks - people flocked to towards the water and it was hard to get to them to leave until it had grown dark - and she kept the tables ready for visitors.
When she arrived it had been during the winter months and most of her days were slow. She spent her time just slowly cleaning up the long sitting empty shop and setting up the small flat that made up the top floor of the building. When she needed a break from cleaning and pushing tables around or tending the flowers that she kept out and about - she took trips to consignment shops or walked the beach. In the evenings she had filled the shelves in the makeshift kitchenette that was in her new flat with various dishes, pots, pans, glasses, and mugs. Nothing that happened to match - when Jason had arrived and she had needed to close the shop and take him up to her flat, she had made tea with an ancient kettle and poured it into one black mug and one that had a flower pattern. But nothing had matched in her place. The pillows on her bed were both ones that were covered in different pillowcases (pink, green with stripes) and the kind that one often saw used as more decorations (harder and not particularly comfortable - but these were embroidered with flowers and seemed to be made of some silk-like material) and the sheets were grey but buried under throw blankets of blue and green. The kitchen table was a faded white color in need of repainting and the chairs made of all different woods. The walls were all covered in artwork and photographs that Jason had not been sure at first was her own or if she had bought it from someone else until he found the baskets of paints and other supplies stored in the bedroom. But nothing had matched and it all seemed dot be picked at the whim of Marie during her shopping trips.
The cottage had been more of his project than hers, but she had picked up all the odds and ends that filled and the selves. The teacups and mugs were also all of her own choosing. But it has still been comfortable and much more like a home than just a place to sleep.
Most of the time since they fled Goa they, at the end of the day, found themselves ending up spending the evening hours holed up in hotels that were typically used by businessmen on trysts with mistresses or with women met at some local watering hole or on the street. But they had done that during their first night in Paris. It was the same type of place on the surface. The unassuming buildings with rooms crammed with ancient and worn furniture, threadbare rugs or carpets, and bathrooms where the water never got quite warm enough to make showering comfortable - the types of places that someone typically sent hours at opposed to a full night or two. No one ever asked questions at the desk. The clerk barely even looked at them as they just took the money and handed off the key to the room before returning to whatever portable television was set up in front of them or hid their faces behind a magazine (never a newspaper, she noticed) sending them up on their way.
By the time the evening had grown late enough, they were typically resting on whatever was serving as a bed - sleep was something that happened only sparingly now for both of them - and listening to the sounds that came from the street (Marie was finding tonight's sounds particularly amusing - there was a busy dive bar right next door and one particular man's warbling voice as he both shouted and sang an old folk song was making it hard to not crack a tiny smile). Jason bracing for cars to stop or for someone to come crashing through the doorway and Marie just trying to ignore the sounds of people having much better times from the rooms around them. She starts to feel the urge to shut her eyes, not out of feeling tired - though she is exhausted and running on some prolonged second wind - but because she knows she will feel a little bit better if she can at least shut her eyes for a bit when she can feel the weight on the bed beginning to shift. It's only a little and she wonders if he was as uncomfortable as she feels. The room is much too warm for both of them and she had considered going out into the hallway while Jason was out getting "supplies" (some bread, a couple of drinks, and what leftover fruit he was able to scrounge up from a closing market) to see if the room was next or even just really close to some sort of boiler room and lying on a lumpy mattress was just the cherry on top of the melted sundae.
But, she had ended up not exploring despite her inclinations to do so. She had always enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds of a place even if she was only able at this moment to get a glimpse of a hallway and few doors. He had not given her any indication of how long he would and she had recognized that ignoring what he wanted her to do was a bad idea when he was in this state. He would not be open to discussing anything and she knew that she had given him enough grief already. It just was not worth risking him returning after a few minutes to an empty room and inviting in the side of him that was more than willing to tear the world into pieces and burn it all down. He would immediately assume that something was wrong if the room he had left in was empty. She could almost imagine him kicking down doors trying to find where she had wandered off to or in his mind had likely been taken by force. It felt so far from worth the risk to wander throughout what was just a dingy hallway with a handful of rooms. So, she had decided to stay put and get to work changing her appearance for what felt like the umpteenth time.
As she applied to dark brown hair dye she wondered how he could react once he found her and she wondered if he would as cold as he had been to her when she had been shot.
Her stomach dropped at the thought of what happened after she had been shot and she had quickly finished the job before she could make to much of a mess that would only be hard to clean up. They had never spoken about it about any of it. Things had happened just so fast. She could only remember voicing her dissent while driving and then waking up with her arm wrapped in a makeshift bandage out of the first spare shirt that Jason could find while being carried like a sack of potatoes from the shack they had been running towards to get some of their fake papers. He had barked at her every time she tried to get his attention to "not talk." There was nothing else that ever followed that order like someone in some paperback novel would say. They would add to keep their strength up or that it would be okay. He merely quickly kept moving down the road in silence. It was terrifying and she wondered if she was going to die at a few points. Then there was the fact that he had barely been able to look at her while she had it bandaged up and she had started to try sleeping with long sleeves on until she had healed. That seemed to have helped somewhat, he had gotten a little better with being near her at night, but she had wished he had reacted differently when she needed him.
The bed shifted again and Marie felt her eyes starting to open. Maybe he was actually asleep and having a nightmare. He tended to jerk a lot when he was dreaming. He would eventually bolt upright and move towards the bathroom. But, that had been when they were staying more long term than this. He would likely stalk towards their bags and rummage around for his bottle of aspirin and then swallow the pills (she usually was wake by the time he got onto his feet and she always wanted to shudder at the thought of taking those without water) unless he had a bottle of water or glass around to fill. He might then leave the room (but he had refused to do that all since he crawled back to her from New York) and go out onto the street, sometimes taking a run and other times looking for somewhere to go that was still open and where he might be able to either write something down or just for the illusion of getting air. There was even one occasion where he had come back with a couple of wrapped pastries and canned coffee - the one occasion they left the hotel with full stomachs. At first, she had thought that maybe he was going to leave the room or just decide to instead keep watch as if he had the first night they were together. He had gotten uncomfortable and moved around just as much as if he had been having a dream that time too.
But then she had felt his body heat against her back and it dawned on her that he had been trying to get closer to her but something had been holding him back on this particular evening.
She paused as she felt him growing closer to her and at her apprehension, he paused and muttered in a soft voice, "Did I wake you?"
She shook her head and then held herself up enough to allow him (after much struggling to keep the blanket more or less covering her) to wrap his arms around her before gently setting herself down. Her head now was propped up not by an ancient, long flattened pillow, but by a muscular arm. The woman then found herself trying to shut her eyes as she tried to snuggle in for the first time in what had been ages. She typically just kept herself as she had been lying, moving more like a rag down if he went as far as to wrap both arms around her as just had. But it was nice being able to move her head into a more comfortable position and she had decided to press herself closer into him while she was at it. He had taken to leaving her just a little bit of room but she felt as if that defeated the purpose of what he was trying to do.
He seemed surprised by her movement but he kept still and said something about it.
She shook her head and quietly answered with a "No."
Their conversions when they did have them were either one-sided or they were questions with one-word answers which made it hard to let things continue for long.
This was followed by a sound of acknowledgment and Marie felt her eyes beginning to shut again. He had seemed unsurprised by her answer or by the shortness of it. But he was concerned. She could feel his gaze burning into the back of her head and into the freshly dyed brunette hair that she had decided to give herself during her short time alone. She had been more than long overdue for the change and before Jason had even left the room, he had set the box on the sink. He must have caught her tugging on the long fading strands the previous evening, he always managed to be aware of her when she did things like that. But the reddish color had faded much too fast (the issue with colors like that, they needed to be kept up so often and her roots always felt particularly noticeable when she went too long without fixing them up and dye cost money while their budget was beginning to feel increasingly tight) and she had been talking to herself about what to change it to that might last a bit longer. He must have heard her joke to herself about shaving her head because the scissors he kept for her to trim her hair with were not sitting with the box. She had not been planning on it, it was more just her at herself, but he must have heard her. Just like when they had first arrived at the cottage she had been making comments about how much she liked it as she wandered between the few airy rooms. Not that she particularly minded that keeping her hair long for a while longer. He seemed to, at least he had liked it and even Marie had to admit that keeping his way was easier. She could throw it back or play with it to make herself look a little different. There was little she could do with it short and she did not want to repeat having Jason cut her hair. He had talented hands in other ways (she felt her face warm at the memory of one particularly long lovemaking session), but he was far from a hairdresser.
Then she was reminded of how he was with his fingers when she suddenly felt him rubbing circles into her shoulder. She had not even realized that he had been reaching towards her and had quickly come close to jumping out of the shared bed. Marie quickly snugged into the blanket once she had settled herself just enough to keep from moving much more than she had. Even if that had wrecked her chance at (maybe) getting some sleep before their alarm she might at the least feel a little rested by the time the morning came - though she was of the opinion that if it was still dark out than it was not the morning. Mornings required daylight and the ability to see beyond one's own nose. They needed people coming and going from places - work, errands, school, home if they worked late - while the nightlife shuttered. Mornings only were mornings because there was some sense of hustle and bustle. They were the start of the day and in Marie's eyes what kind of day was it if it has to start when the stars were still out and the streetlights were on. But Jason had always liked to catch the first train out of a place and in the direction he had wanted to go. That was just how things were.
Her thoughts were interrupted by his touch becoming just a bit more forceful, making just a stroke into something closer to a massage. Her shoulders had been stiff lately and the second he had managed to touch where most of the tension had seemed to be, a small sound escaped her.
His hands had stopped but she did not feel him pulling away from her either. It was merely as if he had just paused in place.
"I can stop if it hurts."
Marie shook her head at that offer, "No, it's okay."
It was truly fine. She knew that she would be lying if she said that it did bother her, well, if it had hurt. The sudden displays of affection after dark and after so much were always surprising and a little confusing but never unwelcome. She just wished she have the words that most people would give along with them, not that she knew what a person would say in a situation like this. He had been following her example where he could, but this was uncharted waters for both them. It would be for most of the world.
"You can keep doing that, if you, well if you want."
"Does it hurt?"
"No?" Then she paused before quietly asking, "Why would it hurt?"
He gave no answer to her question.
"I said it was okay, Jason. It doesn't hurt there anymore. It hasn't for a… while."
Marie was embarrassed but she truly had lost track of the days and beyond whatever she had needed to do to care for the wound, she had refused to look at it. But, Jason had seemed to have begun to focus on the mark. She could feel his eyes moving back onto it. His fingers were still gently brushing against her shoulder like what she used to do in the early days before he had really struggling to rest and before the nightmares became a true problem. She knew that he was unlikely to stop touching, his concern was more about where he had been touching her than the fact he had been making an attempt at giving her some sort of affection.
"Should I stop?"
Marie had not expected Jason to ask her that question. He merely expected him to move his hand away and to somewhere else. She had sometimes gently held him and her mind has expected him to try that next even with her reassurance.
She felt her face warming up as she quickly muttered, "No, it felt good," under her breath and for a moment, "I just, well, was surprised."
He raised an eyebrow at that and she felt a tired attempt at a half-hearted laugh escape her. She could picture that expression on her face even in the pitch darkness of the room and lying on her side.
"What's so funny?"
She shook her head and then with feigned sleepiness went, "You just don't do things like this that often but you've been doing them more lately." Then she quickly added, "I mean almost all the time now. Then you just raise your eyebrows when I say that it...well, that it felt good."
He was silent and she had the feeling he was struggling to find the right words he could use to voice whatever he had been thinking out loud. He may not have even had any words in his mind. He was always bad at explaining himself. He was good at giving instructions. He was good at stating the obvious things he saw or thought. But he was so bad at articulating the details or the reasons behind what he was thinking or saying. A car that stood out was just "wrong" or someone's demeanor was "wrong" but he never could when she started to ask him what was particularly wrong about what he was seeing. At best he could point out what was the thing that was wrong and it became like his mind was going a mile a minute and like he was waiting for the world to come crashing down around their ears.
He would always then tug at her hand (back when they still held hands as they walked) or he could usher her into whatever car was nearby whether it was they could take to get away from the thing that seemed to be triggering his unease. Sometimes if there was not a quick means of escape, he merely tugged at her and started into a shop or would pick up her arm and link it through his own. If he had linked their arms and walked slowly, he would whisper for her to stay calm and to act like a couple figuring out what he wanted to do on their date. Marie would always find herself coming very close to teasing back that "wasn't that what they were doing anyway" and before being shot she may have done that without a second thought or even a first thought. But things were different now It was easier just to nod and keep walking until he had deemed them out of trouble. Sometimes she pointed out a place to make their "act" seem a little more real (she wanted to scoff - they were a real couple anyway) but he never did much more than shake his head and tell her that they had already "done that before." Usually, this would go on as they wandered from point to point in their current city until they stumbled upon their hotel and went inside. No one was likely to pay much attention to a couple deciding to spend some time in a hotel alone.
"I, um, I noticed."
She could feel his finger gently tracing what remained of what was once a dragon tattoo which now was only most of a dragon and a particularly nasty scar that had marred the rest. She had liked that tattoo. She had been so proud of picking that particular design. It had just stood out from a sea of other just as detailed designs that were displayed in the shop's walls and in the mountains of books that lied on a rickety display table. It reminded her of Jason in a way, but it also made her think about herself. She was still standing but she was also still standing with him. They were both viewed as something to be killed, like how dragons in the worn storybooks that her half-brother had on his bookshelf. Usually, the dragons in those stories guarded treasure, but maybe in this case she could argue that the story was a little different. The dragon has been a tool but escaped? Maybe she was the princess or even an unlikely adventurer who ended up somehow teaming up with the dragon? But dragons were strong and hard to beat, weren't they? Maybe she was one too after surviving all she had?
If they were both still alive, then that must be true. Even her tattoo had for the most part made it even if was marred and likely unfixable.
"You were awake?"
She nodded snapped out of her rambling thoughts.
"Yeah. All the times you started to move, I think."
She could feel the question that he wanted to ask hanging in the air and she found herself deciding to spare him having to ask it.
"I haven't been doing great at that lately either… sleeping. Just a lot on my mind."
A little bit of a lie, but there were a few nights where her mind wandered. Sometimes her mind went to whatever happened to the scooter shop or to the cottage they had lived in. She hoped that they had been left alone by the people chasing them, perhaps more so chasing Jason and that some young woman or even a small family took them over. The shop would have made a cute cafe if someone could have gotten the kitchen in line - it had a breathtaking view of the ocean and the views at sunset made it worthwhile to stay open late. She had managed to get a couple of photos when she first arrived - it was easy to find a secondhand camera - but the photos had been long forgotten still pinned to the small kitchenette in the flat that was above the store. It was one of the few tiny regrets she had, but he had told her to not take anything that was particularly personal in nature. She had complied during that particular instance because it had felt like an adventure at the time. They were running off in the middle of the night without a word and without any true destination in mind (he had only said they needed to leave) and for a brief period of time, it was actually fun to her. They left with their hands linked and with two small bags slung over their shoulders.
Sometimes she thought about the seedy doctor that he had dropped with off with and while he was nice enough to her, he still insisted on treatment without giving her anything to dull the pain. Though, Jason may have had something to do with that. They had started running the second the work was done and with the few instruments the older man had given them in a dialect she had been kicking herself for not studying harder than she had. He had probably wanted her alert or at least not knocked out from drugs than from any true attempt to hurt her. A lot of what happened was still a blur - but she can remember the fever that developed once they had gotten out of the country and needing three days to recover from it. She remembered having to stay in the room as Jason had left without a word and trying to tend to the wound on her own. It was difficult to keep from sleeping through the times she had assigned herself to get up and tend to the fever and the wound and it was even harder to force herself to eat until the fever broke. It was, she thinks, lonely and she felt sad that he felt the need to fight. To go after the people who were responsible and essentially (she had feared) burn the world down. It was sad because if they had gone after them once then it would happen again - or rather that was what she had believed out of a something that seemed to be just like a boogeyman, seemingly everywhere and anywhere at once. They had the means and the people and the money. Why wouldn't there be just another set of replacements to replace whoever Jason had scared off or worse. They were like shadows.
He had, in a rare moment of complete openness mentioned warning a "Conklin" to leave them alone complete with a threat to "bring the fight to his doorstep" and Marie could tell from his tone that he was serious. He had even reminded her of that threat as he left to prove he was a man of his word. She had shuddered when she looked at his eyes which were always serious, but at that second had gone steely, just as they had in the apartment just before someone had crashed through the window and until they had managed to find a hotel room to hide in. How they became when he was on edge or angry. He had let those eyes slip a few times Though, to his credit, he knew how to snap out of that state the second it became safer or he had realized he had done something wrong such as when the intensity had lessened the moment after the car chase around Paris or after realizing that he had scared her when their hotel had been discovered. She supposed that he had been serious and that he had not once snapped out of it until he had known he could return to her for good. But, now she had questions again. The same ones that had been on and off floating around her head when she couldn't sleep and her mind went to that place. Sometimes when her mind did she wanted to turn over and see if he was awake to ask those particular nights, but she never did. It just felt right. He still seemed wound up and it did not seem to be going away. She was afraid of making it worse and maybe even managing to drive him away and never seeing him again. Just letting him think she was sleeping and letting him hold her felt like the only right decision that she could make.
But it still bothered her. All of it still bothered her so very much.
Even now going on a year after the attempt on their lives - she still had no idea what truly happened. He never spoke about it and what little she had any sort of rough idea on what based on what she saw off of a television. She knew not to take those reports entirely seriously. They had repeated her death, but there she was. Still alive (but was this living) and hiding until it was time to emerge to move onto the next place. It had seemed like for a short while that they were traveling in a particular direction - his dreams giving them the next piece of the puzzle before they were lead to another by some name or date. No particular pattern of movement, but Marie had to admit that there was a means to it. He was she thought, retracing his steps as best as his memory allowed and the bits of information that were available through outside sources could allow him. They had been doing that until he had given Marie that short period of consistency and it seemed that even with everything seemingly "settled" (His word and not her own description.) they were still tracking down his past.
She had seen a wrinkled and creased file in his bag but he had never looked at it. She suspected he had already poured over it and wondered if it maybe it was not good enough for him to rely on. Or maybe he was hoping to recall what was missing himself. Words on a paper written by who only know who was nowhere near reassurance enough compared to remembering it yourself - or so she thought. Or Jason had no true idea what to do with himself now and was just doing what he knew instead of trying to find a new way to live. Maybe sticking to what they had been doing already was safer for them? She had no idea if the shadows had been called off and she had the feeling that they likely would never be, so maybe they needed a reason to keep moving. It was easier to decide where to go if there was reason to believe that they needed to go to a place or two. But, she could not be sure she was not inventing reasons that did not exist either. Though, she was curious about the file in his bag and wondered it said.
But, she had paused each time she went to take look at it.
Maybe it did not truly matter? She had nowhere to return to anyway. She only had Jason left and even before meeting him, she had little to nothing going for her. She was still going to stick with him until he decided no more. From there? She preferred to not think about it until that time came if it even did come. He, if he had figured out who he really was, would have said something to her, right? He would have wanted to tell her if it was something that meant something to him or mattered that she knew, right? Maybe he wasn't sure how to go about it and she just needed to wait until he knew how to.
When it wasn't something like the file hidden in his bag or how Jason was acting, her mind focused on something that was about a place she had been or something that happened to her, but when it was not about those then it was about the periodic peaks she took of the battered and overfilled journal that Jason (at her suggestion) at taken to writing in after every nightmare and even on occasional day-long outings where he tracked down old newspapers or spent time in internet cafes doing research on a name or place that stuck out to them the other parts of their seemingly both methodological and random journey through the world. She thought about circled names and question marks that were doodled throughout the pages and how would raise her eyebrows at the details that the newspaper clippings did not or could not provide. She even thought about the few times that the details he had written and what was in the clipping pasted onto the accompanying page only matched in where the death had happened and who it was who died. Then there was the one word that seemed to link to little else in the entire journal and the parts of floorplans that he had dug up or pictures of the places themselves.
She never knew what to make out of any of that, but the images kept her up anyway.
But, if she was going, to be honest with herself, she had no true reason for having such a hard time sleeping. It was just hard to sleep and even harder to bring herself to lie down each night. She was tired by the time the sun went down but her eyes just would refuse to shut for good sometimes and other times even if they would, the rest of her was on edge and ready to get up again at any moment. Was that how he felt but all the time? She wanted to shake her head. She had yet to feel as if the world was about to crash down around her but she felt worried about all the unanswered questions and unheard stories.
But he needed an answer so she would give him something that she prayed would satisfy him for now.
"I just haven't been. It's okay."
"I wish you would get a little rest."
Apparently it did despite his not being happy about it. But, she could not expect him to be happy about her not sleeping at all. She usually had in the past and like a log.
"I would have woke up anyway once you needed to get out of bed."
That much was true.
"No, I, I wish you would just ask me what you want to ask."
"Do you regret -"
"No." she snapped, interrupting him as he asked his question, "I don't regret staying with you."
Apparently, she had guessed the question he was trying to ask correctly when he had stopped trying to ask it. There was a silence that followed, one that lasted for what felt like ten minutes, perhaps a little less, before she heard from speak again.
His voice was soft, almost as if he was talking more to himself than to her, "You should."
"But I don't."
"You wouldn't have -"
"You had said, I don't even remember when or what the words exactly, that it wouldn't have mattered. They would have probably come for me eventually."
He was silent. Even she had forgotten the specifics of the conversation
"I thought that as long as I was with you - it would be fine."
"Jason, I'm sorry for ignoring all the things you were saying...before, you know, what happened?"
"I wasn't seeing reality for what it was."
She carefully turned her body onto its other side and then
"I kept downplaying it and…I know I shouldn't have. I, um, looked through the journal a few times because you never had really talked about the dreams." She took a deep breath and then exhaled, looking almost as if she had deflated, "And I should have stopped, um, trying to bury my head in the sand. I think that's the right way to describe it."
"Marie," he started in an attempt to either get her to stop or to comfort her - she could never be sure with him at times like this, but he usually had some inkling of an idea of what he thought he was doing, - "That-"
"I just wanted to say that if you have to be upset with someone right now, then you should be upset with me. I mean, I think, you likely might be. Maybe."
"Why would I be mad at you?"
"You haven't said anything besides giving me some sort of order or instruction since India. You barely even look at me. I don't even know what happened when you ran off the first time and I only know what they were saying on television."
Marie had realized she had not answered the question and found himself mumbling, "For making us stay-"
"I'm not mad at you." This time it was his turn to cut her off, "Not for that. I said that it was okay. It was my idea in the first place."
"Then what's with -"
Her words were cut off and her mind blanked as
"This isn't like you-"
His grip tightened.
"It wasn't your fault at all."
"Jason," she started.
"I should have left you alone. You were happy enough there and it seemed as if they weren't going to come near you - you weren't even a blip at that point. They ."
"Jason, no. You couldn't have seen everything coming."
"Even if I hadn't, I shouldn't have let us stay there so long. We got comfortable and then I got sloppy."
"Jason, I was the one who had the -"
"Marie, you didn't. You never demanded or asked for anything. You never made me do anything."
"Jason," she started again before her words were cut off.
"You only got hurt because of me. The staying, the fact I made you switch seats while we were running, the fact I came to find you at all, and the constant moving.
"Jason, but I shouldn't have -"
"No, you never did anything wrong. You were allowed to like that place and to say that you did. It was my idea to stay - I thought it would make you happy. You seemed..."
"I... I was then. For a bit. But it was nothing to do with you. It was me being…."
Her eyebrow raised even if he couldn't see it on her face. There were a lot of words she could use to describe what she was acting like. A few of those descriptions might have even been a little too mild considering the circumstances. Selfish? Coming out of a "honeymoon" kind of fog? realizing the harsh truth of having to keep running for such a long time? He could take his pick of a number of different descriptions and she would refuse to argue with him. He would likely be correct even if it was just in part.
"You weren't being anything." He almost scolded, "I wanted you to be happy and I thought that it might be fine if we were careful."
"But we weren't."
"It was more me than you. I let us get sloppy and really, it was mostly me who was sloppy."
"You didn't let us. I browbeat you."
"No," he started to argue, "if it's about the tattoo. You were right about it just being a part of the -"
"It was, but - "
"No, you blended in perfectly. Turned out I stood out there."
"You were right." He very gently nudged her like she used to do when she was trying to be playful or comforting, "The person looking for us asked a shopkeeper and he was the one who remembered me."
"Well, I did warn you that people noticed you."
They had. It was hard to not stand out as a man who dressed in plain clothes and looked to be and acted as if he was military when everyone around you was either a local or a tourist who was some sort of drifter or artist looking for some sort of escape from wherever they came from. She had been approached by a number of people who had rolled into town around the same time or even a little before about the "weird" man that she was with. He had started off their short life living as normal (or close to normal) people by accompanying her when she needed to do the shopping. She kept her eyes on prices and food and whatever else they needed on a particular trip to the market while he watched out for anything that might be a problem and would necessitate them cutting their plans short. Whenever he had come with her, he rarely left her to side until she was done with the bulk of the shopping - only ever leaving if she had bought a lot and needed to stay for one or two more things. Sometimes she asked to stop at a cafe that was near the beach and that would be where she was approached. Jason had not particularly cared for the cramped, noisy, and crowded place so he would take their bags, leaving Marie with the things that were lighter and did not need to be hurried back as quickly, and go back to their quiet home.
She had mentioned it once, it has freaked her out how concerned the woman who had also been a bottle blonde and decked out in handmade bead bracelets had been about her well-being, and then Jason had relented and begun to stay nearby but doing his own thing. He usually walked around and grabbed something to drink as he did so. He would wait and meet Marie as she finished up her small post-shopping break - sometimes with the battered Jeep and sometimes without if the weather was a little cooler. As far either of them knew that had kept some attention off of them but even so he still drew the eyes of the people around them. He just looked so different even when he did everything by the book to not stand out and so many people had done the opposite.
His tone of voice changed to some sort of resignation, she suspected he was thinking of the same thing she was, as he muttered into her hair, "I should have listened to you."
"That was what I was trying to say to you and well," she quickly interjected, "maybe, um, maybe we should have listened to each other better? Maybe? I don't really know… no, wait, we should have listened to each other more or but we should have tried talking to each other too."
"Well, since you came back, we haven't talked until now. I wanted to ask you what happened but you always seemed to be on edge… like you wouldn't have answered. You never asked me anything either. We just moved and moved. And well, it got harder for me to want to try and I'll be honest saying this is really hard for me right now."
She looked up at gave him a look which he only met with a confused one of his own, though she had the feeling he was understanding or at least starting to understand what she was trying to say even if she was not entirely sure of her own words.
"But what I'm trying to say is," a small frustrated sound left her before she quickly added, "I don't know, I just I thought I had it. But, I would like for us to talk about everything. I mean everything."
Jason remind still and silent for a good few moments before nodding.