'I've just called Rouen,' said Jason, his hands on the counter, an angry man, furious with uncontrollable events in his personal world. 'I have to leave at once and need to rent a car.'

'Why not?' snorted the man, getting out of the chair. 'What would you prefer, Monsieur? A golden chariot or a magic carpet?'

'I beg your pardon?'

'We rent rooms, not cars."

'I must be in Rouen before morning.'

'Impossible. Unless you find a taxi crazy enough to take you at this hour.'

I don't think you understand. I could sustain considerable losses and embarrassment if I'm not at my office by eight o'clock. I'm willing to pay generously...'

'You have a problem, Monsieur.'

'Surely there's someone here who would be willing to lend me his car for, say... a thousand, fifteen hundred francs.'

'A thousand ... fifteen hundred, Monsieur?' The clerk's half-closed eyes widened until his skin was taut. 'In cash, Monsieur?'

'Naturally. My companion would return it tomorrow evening.'

'There's no rush, Monsieur.'

'I beg your pardon? Of course, there's really no reason why I couldn't hire a taxi. Confidentiality can be paid for.'

'I wouldn't know where to reach one,' interrupted the clerk in persuasive frenzy. 'On the other hand, my Renault is not so new, perhaps, and perhaps, not the fastest machine on the road, but it is a serviceable car, even a worthy car...'

The chameleon had changed his colours again, had been accepted again for someone he was not. But he knew now who he was and he understood.

Daybreak. But there was no warm room at a village inn, no wallpaper mottled by the early light streaking through a win-down, filtered by the weaving leaves outside. Rather, the first rays of the sun spread up from the east, crowning the French countryside, defining the fields and hills of St Germain-en-Laye. They sat in the small car parked off the shoulder of a deserted back road, cigarette smoke curling out through the partially open windows.

He had begun that first narrative three weeks before in Switzerland with the words: My life began six months ago on a small island in the Mediterranean called lie de Port Noir.

He had begun this with a quiet declaration: I'm known as Cain.

He had told it all, leaving out nothing he could remember, including the terrible images that had exploded in his mind when he had heard the words spoken by Jacqueline Lavier in the candelabra'd restaurant in Argenteuil. Names, incidents,, cities... assassinations.

Medusa.

'Everything fitted. There wasn't anything I didn't know, nothing that wasn't somewhere in the back of my head, trying to get out. It was the truth.'

'It was the truth,' repeated Marie.

He looked closely at her. 'We were wrong, don't you see?'

'Perhaps. But also right you were right, and I was right*

'About what?'

'You. I have to say it again, calmly and logically. You offered your life for mine before you knew me; that's not the decision of the man you've described. If that man existed, he doesn't any longer.' Marie's eyes pleaded, while her voice remained controlled. 'You said it, Jason. "What a man can't remember doesn't exist For him." Maybe that's what you're faced with. Can you walk away from it?'

Bourne nodded; the dreadful moment had come. 'Yes,' he said. 'But alone. Not with you.'

Marie inhaled on her cigarette, watching him, her hand trembling. 'I see. That's your decision, then?'

'It has to be.'

'You will heroically disappear so I won't be tainted.'

'I have to.'

Thank you very much, and who the hell do you think you are?'

'What?'

'Who the hell do you think you are?'

'I'm a man they call Cain. I'm wanted by governments - by the police - from Asia to Europe. Men hi Washington want to kill me because of what they think I know; an assassin named Carlos wants me shot in the throat because of what I've done to him. Think about it for a moment. How long do you think I can keep running before someone in one of those armies out there finds me, traps me, kills me? Is that the way you want your life to end?'

'Good God, no!' shouted Marie, something obviously very much on her analytical mind. 'I intend to rot in a Swiss prison for fifty years, or be hanged for things I never did in Zurich!'

"There's a way to take care of Zurich. I've thought about it, I can do it*

'How?' She stabbed out her cigarette in the ashtray.

'For God's sake, what difference does it make? A confession.

Turning myself in, I don't know yet, but I can do ill I can put your life back together. I have to put it back!'

'Not that way.'

'Why not?*

Marie reached for his face, her voice now soft once more, the sudden stridency gone. 'Because I've just proved my point again. Even the condemned man - so sure of his own guilt -should see it. The man called Cain would never do what you just offered to do. For anyone.'

'I am Cain!'

'Even if I were forced to agree that you were, you're not now.*

The ultimate rehabilitation? A self-induced lobotomy? Total loss of recall? That happens to be the truth, but it won't stop anyone who's looking for me. It won't stop him - them -from pulling a trigger.'

That happens to be the worst, and I'm not ready to concede if

"Then you're not looking at the facts.*

'I'm looking at two facts you seem to have disregarded. I can't. I'll live with them for the rest of my life because I'm responsible. Two men were killed in the same brutal way because they stood between you and a message someone was trying to send you. Through me.'

'You saw Corbelier's message. How many bullet holes were there? Ten, fifteen?'

Then he was used! You heard him on the phone and so did I. He wasn't lying; he was trying to help us. If not you, certainly me.'

'It's... possible.'

'Anything's possible! I have no answers, Jason, only discrepancies, things that can't be explained - that should be explained. You haven't once, ever, explained or displayed a need or a drive for what you say you might have been! And without those things a man like that couldn't be. Or you couldn't be him'

'I'm him.'

'Listen to me. You're very dear to me, my darling, and that could blind me, I know it. But I also know something about myself. I'm no wide-eyed flower child; I've seen a share of this world, and I look very hard and very closely at those who

attract me. Perhaps to confirm what I like to think are my values - and they are values. Mine, nobody else's.' She stopped for a moment and moved away from him. 'I've watched a man being tortured - by himself and by others - and he won't cry out. You may have silent screams, but you won't let them be anyone else's burden but your own. Instead, you probe and dig and try to understand. And that, my friend, is not the mind of a cold-blooded killer, any more than what you've done and want to do for me. I don't know what you were before, or what crimes you're guilty of, but they're not what you believe - what others want you to believe. Which brings me back to those values I spoke of. I know myself. I couldn't love the man you say you are. I love the man I know you are. You just confirmed it again. No killer would make the offer you just made. And that offer, sir, is respectfully rejected.'

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