New York City, New York
August 4, 2005
Consciousness returned slowly to Jason Bourne. Exhausted and pumped full of enough antibiotics to dull his training, he opened his eyes to take a better view of the room he was in. He had been told it was a spare room last night and the lack of traditional decorating seemed to confirm it.
It was more than slightly unnerving to view the assorted weaponry that was affixed onto the walls. Various bladed weapons of both ancient and modern make were hanging as if they were posters. Enough that perhaps a 15th century barracks could be armed. This simply raised more questions as to who this Faith was.
Now that he was further awake his memories from last night were sharper. He had leaned against Faith upon leaving the graveyard and stumbled the seven blocks to her place like a drunken man being lead home by his girlfriend. Faith played the role all too well.
To further raise his hackles, upon entering the apartment she had simply asked as to whether he had any allergies to medication. When he had replied in the negative she placed a sheet on the couch, dumped him on it and walked away. Only to return moments later with antibiotics, surgical thread and a traumatic needle. She then proceeded to expertly clean the gunshot wound on his side and sew it up. When asked she simply stated she had undergone though an EMT course with some friends. His final memory of the night was of him being lead to the guest room where he passed out.
He heard a soft stride outside and figured that Faith was awake. The door handle jiggled and Faith simply sauntered in, carrying a glass of water and some pills.
"Wakey wakey Mr. Achy," Faith drawled as she handed him the pills and water. "How's your fine ass doing this morning?"
"Better. Thank you for the assistance." Bourne answered softly.
"Aren't you Mr. Talkative. Think you can put down some food?" Faith leaned over him to grab some clean clothes. His mind teased him for a second, showing Faith straddling him while she choked him. His left arm began to swing up, until the pain from his suture dropped him back into reality. She stared at him quizzically as he dropped his arm back to the bed.
"My apologies," Bourne began, as he shifted to his right to climb out of bed. "My mind flashed back for a second and I forgot where I was."
Faith stared momentarily before she nodded her head and pulled back. She pivoted and began to walk out the door. As she reached the door frame she stopped and turned back to face him. "Think you can stomach some toast?"
Bourne simply nodded and she left his line of sight. He proceeded to dress himself and then joined her out in the kitchen.
"So what brought you to my lovely company last night?" Faith asked after a few awkward moments of him watching her prepare herself some eggs.
"I had to meet with some former colleagues yesterday," Bourne answered.
"John, you scream awesome in the way you move and look to me, but your lack of speaking pisses me off like the Yankees beating my Sox," Faith shot at him after it was apparent he wasn't going to speak any further. "Now judging by the various bruises all over you, along with the cuts as if you decided to get intimate with a tub full of glass shards, I'm guessing that you might be facing some problems. The way your heart went nuts last night when I offered to take you to the hospital screams to me that you at the very least have legal issues. Feel free to answer using more than a grunt and a fart."
Bourne smiled wryly at this. "My legal status is…unknown right now," Bourne answered after some thought. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to disappear for the foreseeable future until I can find out more information."
"Well, if you're interested, I'm sure we can work out a payment system to our mutual satisfaction for my services, " Faith smiled cheekily at him.
"I'm afraid that I have prior obligation to fulfill," Bourne said.
"Well shucks and ducks, it would have been nice to have some company," Faith teased. "Does this obligation have a name?"
"She does," Bourne responded in a flat tone. "She helped me recover something very important to me and in doing so has put her life in danger. I need to go help her as soon as possible."
"Well aren't you a white knight!" Faith exclaimed with an exaggerated swoon. Images of a dark haired man standing in front of him suddenly flashed before him. "Hey! You kicking? You keep spacing out on me."
"Before last night I remembered nothing from prior to three years ago in any clarity," Bourne stated distantly. "Now, my memories are slowly returning. I guess certain things are starting to set me off as I remember."
"Holy shit! I may know some people who could help you recover your memory," Faith grinned as she reached into her pocket. "Aw damn. I forgot, I busted my phone a couple nights ago. Anyways, I know a lady who specializes in recovering memories."
Jason stopped chewing at this unexpected development. Once again he asked himself what the hell Faith did and how she knew the people she knew. "I'm grateful for what you've offered," Bourne said after contemplating for several moments. "But for now I must assist my friend. She's alone and with luck I will find her before anyone else can."
Pam was exhausted. After being debriefed at the New York field office until two am she was given the luxury of three hours of sleep before being flown down to Langley. Upon being escorted into the facility she was lead to the waiting room outside the office of Geoffery Rollinger, Director of the NCS. Now she was stuck with no coffee and nothing to do but twiddle her thumbs in an effort to stay awake.
"Director Rollinger will be seeing you now Ms. Landy," the secretary stated in a bored tone.
Preparing herself mentally for the reaming she was about to receive, Pam strode in with a false confidence.
"Pam you have fucked us over royally in ways you cannot even begin to imagine right now." Rollinger greeted her while staring at a file.
"I accept full responsibility for what happened. I know I blew opsec out of the waters, but to be blunt, we were in the dead wrong for what we did."
"No matter the moral justification for your actions, we are now bent over like a freshman undergrad trying to take the bar exam," Rollinger delivered in an exhausted tone. Looking at her now she could see dark bags under his eyes.
"I'm afraid I'm a tad confused. I only faxed the information to personnel who already had the appropriate security clearance level. The only thing that leaked was Mr. Bourne''s err, Mr. Harris's real name and you can thank the good senator from California for that." Pam was amazed that she could deliver that in a steady tone.
"Geoff, what's wrong with leaking his name? All that could be found out is that Mr. Harris was an enlisted Army Captain from San Diego who volunteered to participate in a program that wasn't what it claimed to be." Pam answered as she tried to figure out why Mr. Harris elicited this reaction from the Director.
"What you are about to be told is far beyond your security clearance. The only reason you will even be briefed about this is that your assistance to Mr. Harris may calm his friends down and prevent them from taking retaliatory action." Rollinger explained in a slightly calmer tone. "The truth is Mr. Harris never was a member of the army. He never enlisted. He was simply a citizen who caught the attention of the backers of Operation Treadstone."
Pam's brain froze for a second as she assessed the implications of what she had just heard. "Are you telling me that we took a citizen off the streets and turned him into Jason Bourne?"
"Still, that doesn't explain why we are so concerned with his friends."
"At around one last night my house was broken into," Rollinger wearily stated. "I was in my office going over the implications of what had happened in New York when two…associates of his friends overcame and shut down my security system and detained me."
Pam perked up at this unexpected news. Security for a person of Rollinger's level was extraordinarily tight, especially since he had equipment to send and receive classified information in his home office.
"I was then handed a phone where the director of the IWC threatened to use any and all necessary force to ensure in the secure and safe retrieval of Mr. Harris." Rollinger continued.
"Excuse me, what exact leverage does this…IWC have over us?" Pam asked. "Furthermore, what exactly is the IWC?"
"The IWC is the International Watchers Council. What they are and what they do is in this briefing packet I've put together for you. You will have plenty of time to read it on the plane." Rolliinger dryly stated. "Yes Pam, before you ask, you're heading back to New York. Your aide Mr. Cronin will be granted clearance for this information to assist you. The following I cannot stress enough. What you and Mr. Cronin are about to learn and experience is not to be conveyed to me or any other person, even the President, without the explicit permission from Mr. Giles, Ms. Rosenberg, and Ms. Summers.
"I cannot stress enough that you must keep a low profile and prevent any other United States or foreign government away from what happens. You and Mr. Cronin's sole purpose there is to make sure that Mr. Harris gets into the hands of the IWC alive and well. We are already stripping all information about aliases for Mr. Harris and Ms. Parsons from our databases to prevent an electronic trail to be formed. The IWC already had arrest warrants for Mr. Harris dropped globally. Furthermore, we've already dropped all efforts to detain or execute Ms. Parsons. As far as the United States is concerned now, Ms. Parsons is a private citizen who we have absolutely no interest in. Any questions?"
"Several," Pam retorted. "But I figure the dossier should answer most. The only question I will ask is, how far am I expected to go?"
"You will be using IWC resources, so you are officially off the grid. As long as you follow orders from the IWC any action you take will be condoned. Good luck and don't bother returning until you complete the assignment. I'll hold off any Senatorial inquiries in your absence."
Rollinger turned as if to dismiss her before quickly re-establishing eye contact with Pam. "By the way Pam, no matter what you believe in, everything in that dossier is absolutely real and factual. Don't insult their intelligence by trying to challenge what is in there."
Pam nodded and then rose to find some coffee for what was looking to be a very long day.
Newark, New Jersey
"Boy you guys are dumb as hell," Dawn chirped as she bounced in her seat.
Passengers all around her glared. It had been the flight from hell. After waiting for Buffy to fly up from Rome to meet her and Giles at Heathrow at the crack of dawn, Dawn had argued that they should splurge and charter a jet to get to New York as soon as possible. Giles had cited fiscal responsibility and bought tickets for a flight on Continental Airlines. Now after waiting four hours for their flight to arrive to leave from Heathrow and waiting an additional two hours on the tarmac at Newark for a gate to open to disembark the plane's passengers Dawn had decided to channel her energy into reminding them that they were wrong and she was right.
"Yes Dawn, we know. For the 287th time today if my count is accurate," sighed Giles not bothering to open his eyes. "At least we have the vans waiting for us outside. Willow called in that she and Vi's Valkryies are in the parking garage and ready to go."
"Think I can make it an even 300 before we leave the airport?" Dawn waggled her eyes at the challenge.
"Brat, say it again and I'm going to gut you and kill off this dimension so I don't have to hear you say it again," Buffy griped as her tolerance for her sibling reached a record low. Seeing a nearby passenger look at her with alarm Buffy's eyes widened. "Joke! I'm just very tired and joking and she's my sister and she's so annoying and please oh please don't report me to the FAA!"
"Wow fluff for brains, I'm surprised you can drop the acronym FAA in day to day conversation." Dawn snidely remarked. "Hey look! They're letting people off! Praise whatever deity you believe in!"
After nearly twelve straight hours on the plane it was great to get up and stretch. Gathering their carry-on luggage they disembarked the plane and made their way to immigration. After another tedious wait the trio finally made it to the ground level. To Dawn's surprise a blond middle-aged woman stood next to a dark haired young man holding a sign with the words "RUPERT GILES" printed on it.
Dawn nudged Giles and brought them to their attention. Giles stared blankly at them for a few moments before gripping Buffy's arm to direct her in the proper direction.
"Excuse me," Giles drawled out with a false politeness. "May I be so bold as to inquire why you are here looking for me?"
"Mr. Giles, may I see some identification before we proceed?" the mystery blond requested in a brisk tone.
Dawn could imagine the wheels turning in Giles's head before he reached into his pocket to withdraw a British passport.
"Mr. Giles, it's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Pamela Landy and this is my aide Tom Cronin." Pam stated in a tight tone. To Dawn her entire body displayed extreme stress. "We have been assigned to fully assist you in regards to your friend." At this Pam and Tom reached into their pockets to pull out official looking badges displaying their names and ranks within the CIA. "If we can continue this in a more private setting we will be happy to disclose a ridiculous amount of paperwork to bring you up to speed on your friend's life and hopefully ensure his safe and speedy retrieval."
"And why exactly should we accept your help?" Giles answered in a much flatter tone. Dawn was worried that Ripper would be making an appearance shortly.
"For the past two months I've been on his trail," Pam said while motioning them to follow her outside. "While initially I was trying to detain him for the alleged murder of two individuals in Berlin, I eventually realized that he was innocent in those events and helped him expose an extremely illegal operation. Your involvement is actually very convenient for me, considering I broke several policies and probably laws last night assisting Mr. Harris. Do you want me to arrange for transportation for us?"
"Blondie, once again why should we take your help?" Buffy spat not thrilled at all to see involvement of the CIA.
"Jason, no I mean Alex trusts me," Pam's cool eyes met Buffy's unflinching. "Furthermore, we have no clue as to how much memory he retains beyond the past three years, so you'll need me in case he doesn't remember you. The fact that he was a civilian, a damn
civilian, which I did not know until this morning has done considerable damage to my faith in my organization. I promise you that I want him back amongst friends safe and sound."
Buffy stared at her for nearly half a minute more assessing her. Seeing no action was likely to be taken Dawn intervened. "You can brief us on Xander on the ride over to an associate's of ours place," Dawn said as she began walking towards the parking garage. Seeing Buffy and Giles still looking cautious she added "We can always wipe their minds if it turns out they're going to stab us in the back."
Tom at this point looked increasingly nervous whereas Pam acted as if she hadn't heard anything. Nothing else was said until Dawn saw a teenage African American standing at the entrance to a parking garage. "Hey Toni!"
"Hey Dawn, Director Giles, Lady General Sir Summers," Toni cheeked as she led them further into the garage. "You guys have any luck getting a hold of Faith?"
"Nope, her phone isn't picking up. Knowing her she probably busted her phone again while out. She has far too much fun slaying former Yankees fans." Dawn said while looking for Willow or any other members of Vi's unit. "How was the drive from Cleveland?"
"Once again Pennsylvania was boring as fuck and New Jersey is ugly as fuck. I hate how they don't let us fill up our own damn gas tanks," Toni complained. Being from Miami she had a low tolerance for places that didn't consist of a beach. "Who is our Nordic princess and her shadow?"
"Allies we believe," Giles interjected. "Ah, here we are. Hello ladies."
A chorus of hellos was exchanged while the luggage from the quintet was loaded into two fully packed white vans. Willow ensnared Buffy and Dawn into a group hug while chanting, "He's alive! He's alive!"
"How was your trip to Cleveland Willow?" Giles asked politely while riding assignments were being handed out for the trip to Faith's apartment.
"All four seconds of it was smooth porting!" Willow sang while refusing to release the Summers girls. "Who are the contemporaries of yours Giles?"
Tom scowled at this slightly being compared to the noticeably older Giles.
"My name is Pam Landy and this is my aide Tom Cronin. If we can get seated in a van we will be happy to brief you on the past six years of Mr. Harris." Pam said, hoping that this would be the last time she had to introduce herself for the day.
Dawn, citing her experience at urban driving in London and the fact that she wouldn't kill them all with Slayer reflexes opted to drive a van that held Buffy, Giles, Pam, Tom and Willow. The five slayers consisting of Vi's Valkyries piled into the second van and lead the way out.
Once the van had gotten underway Pam reached into her bulging suitcase and pulled out several files, handing them to Giles. "Let me brief you about Operation Scryer, Project Lavender which you apparently know as the Initiative, Operation Treadstone and Operation Blackbriar," Pam started as they pulled out into the New Jersey traffic.
It had taken far too long for Jason to extricate himself from Faith's apartment. That girl was on some serious redemption kick. Only after assuring her that he was in shape to keep on moving and that he didn't want anyone to track him back to her was he allowed to leave. Thankfully she had given him a supply of antibiotics for the next two weeks.
The bus ride to Boston went quickly as he simply slept the whole ride up. Being declared dead by the media was a great advantage as no one was actively looking to identify him.
Entering the lobby of the Citizens Bank branch on State Street Jason gripped the drying Brazilian passport he had used to enter the United States.
He waited in line for a teller to open up. Reaching the counter he displayed his passport and began to speak English accented as if spoken by a native Portuguese. "Hello. My name is Gilberto de Piento and I just had the unfortunate luck to fall into a hotel pool with my wallet. I'm afraid that I'll need access to my account so I can continue to enjoy my vacation in New England."
These funds would help him buy some new clothes and find a hotel for the night. He could afford to spend one more night in the United States before he flew out to find Nicky. The only question now was which French-speaking destination she had fled to.
New York City, New York
Giles sipped his tea as Ms. Landy began her final briefing of the evening. What he had discovered on the car ride over was simply horrific. From learning that elements of the government had been aware of their identities from the very beginning, to the brutal conditioning Xander had been subjected to was horrible. The only reason he tolerated Ms. Landy's presence was due to the truth compulsion that Willow had cast upon her. Ms. Landy seemed to be appalled as he was and it was obvious from her body language and her interactions that she recounted that she had at least a professional fondness for Xander.
It was too bad that her news had been so dire. While the girls had been giddy that Xander was alive, thirty minutes into the description of Operation Treadstone and how it directly impacted Xander their emotional high had worn off and faced the grim reality that their Xander-shaped friend was now a very well trained assassin.
"Woah woah woah. Hold up, are you telling me that boytoy here now puts the ass in assassin?"
Giles was thankful that Faith's intelligence seemed to be the inverse of her tact.
"Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying," Ms. Landy answered. Giles was increasingly impressed with her ability to act professionally in what must have been an extraordinarily exhausting day. He wondered how long she had been aware of the supernatural.
"Now hold up, I've heard the name Jason Bourne kicked around a bit. Wouldn't one of these girls here recognize him?" Faith said while starting to space out as if her brain was trying to make an abstract connection. "Hell, I'll never forget boytoy's face. Especially after that lovely night…"
"Faith!!" screamed far too many of the girls. Ms. Landy simply mouthed 'boytoy' as if she was trying to imagine Faith and Xander together and came up with a non-real number.
"Fine fine, I'll dial it down for you stuck up prudes," Faith rolled her eyes. "So, what does boytoy look like now?"
Mr. Cronin absent-mindedly handed her an 8x11 headshot of Xander's new face to Faith.
"Oh fuck me!" Faith spat. "Fuck, he was here this morning!"
The entire room stopped as everyone stared at Faith. After a few moments of silence Giles cleared his throat and rolled his hand in a gesture for Faith to continue.
"Er, last night I was down in the graveyard by the Hudson, when I saw, I guess boytoy. He had been shot and looked like he had just gone toe to toe with a grizzly bear," Faith stuttered, a little unnerved at having everyone pay rapt attention to her. She sent an odd look at Mr. Cronin who was now taking notes at what she was saying. "Long story short, took him back here, stitched him up, pumped him full of meds, let him sleep and then fed him this morning before he bounced off to find some lady friend."
Giles was stunned that Faith had helped out Xander. He was about to comment about how poetic it was that Faith who once tried to kill him now may have saved his life when he heard Dawn and Willow exclaim "Lady friend!?" followed by a faint whistle from Faith who muttered "Go boytoy!"
Ms. Landy cleared her throat before bringing out yet another file. "I believe we are speaking about Nicolette Parsons. She coordinated logistical operations and monitored the mental health of the Treadstone agents. She was actually Mr. Harris's official contact with Operation Treadstone for the eighteen months he operated out of Paris. While I don't believe they were ever involved in a relationship, there is a note in these files that Ms. Parsons and Mr. Harris were especially close to one another."
Ms. Landy at this point took a sip of her tea to allow the information to sink in before continuing. "They were close enough for Ms. Parsons to go rogue in Madrid last week and aide Mr. Harris in evading capture by operatives. Her last known location was Tangiers in Morocco. Due to her proficiency in the French language I believe that she'll be hiding in a former French colony. Find Ms. Parsons and we'll find Mr. Harris."