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New Identities
Ayden had been receiving texts from Emily for days but she hadn't responded. It was a rash thing to do but it was best for Emily if Ayden cut off contact now. She was trying to become someone else. Ayden had taken two burners wallets from her cache and a few cosmetic items and a bag full of money in many different demonstrations for different countries. The rest of the stuff in the crate she shipped to an undisclosed location - she hadn't even told Connor where it was going. She knew that was all that mattered. It was her old life. No - her old old life. This was her old life now - Emily was her old life.

It gave her a twinge of guilt as she tossed the phone into the bedroom they were leaving for the last time. Their new passports were completely authentic. Their new identities were solid Ayden Hayes would go the way of the dodo and she'd become Nikki Haydenson, wife to Josh Haydenson. Connor's tribute to his son.

Today was their last day in Moscow. Ayden and Connor were going away on an extended vacation and they were going to arrive in the good ole' US of A as Nikki and Josh two completely new people. Ayden was surprised at how easily Connor had agreed to this but his life was on the line as much as her was. She only hoped her sources were as good as they'd always been and Ayden Hayes would dead end right there. But you never really knew for sure.

Ayden took Connor's hand and smiled. "You ready to go Josh?"
she said playfully. They weren't actually playing those parts now, but Connor needed to get used to the name. And it was fun teasing him. She would have to get used to calling him Josh. They couldn't forget. It wasn't something they could ever forget - not ever. The part was their life - it had to be or someone would find them and they would be dead. The Atharim would find them, hunt them and kill them. There was no doubt in her mind about that. If they wanted happily every after they could not slip up.

Connor looked around, feeling a twinge of loss at leaving this place one last time. This was where he had been reborn, had come to life again. Moscow would always hold a special place in his heart, for that, for giving him her.

But the truth was, it wasn't home. It had never been home. Home was with those he loved. Everything else was just places he'd lived. A lot of them, to be sure. Some enjoyed; some could drop off into a hole in the earth, for all he cared.

With Not Ayden. Damn! He was gonna have to work at this. Nikki. Nikki. Nikki. Nikki. Nikki. He'd suggested it her, half as a joke. A stripper name. But she was so sweet and he smiled when she said she liked it. At least he hadn't said Candi or Chandelier or something. He didn't have the heart to tell her, at least now. Maybe later, after he had more practice with his gun. But he'd always smile when he'd say her name now. A secret for another time.

In truth, though, there was a sense of excitement. They were leaving, starting a new life. What did it matter that it was under a different name. The most important name was still with him. And the most important woman. As for Jaime...well she was better off. After Hayden had died, any last residual interest in at least staying in contact or checking up on each other had died. His aunt, well, that was another story. He felt a twinge of guilt at leaving her not knowing. But she had tolerated him at best. She may not even notice he had left.

It was the price of their new life, and cheap for all that.

"So...Darling Nikki. Where in the US are we going?"
Ayden smiled at the name. It seemed to amuse Connor to no end and she could only imagine why. "We will land in New York, with a rental car to wherever we want to go."

Ayden had a proper bank account that had enough money deposited to last them a few months without a job. She could always add more as necessary but the more she did that the more people would start looking into her funds.

They took the metro to the airport in relative silence. Ayden was thinking on going back to the States and where she'd like to go. But really she didn't know - anywhere with Connor would be home.

Once they'd gotten through security and were waiting at their terminal Ayden smiled at her husband. While not official yet, but in a few short hours it would be, when they switched their identies for real. "Where would you like to go first?"

Edited by Ayden, Aug 17 2016, 12:30 PM.
Connor looked out the windows and saw all the planes in the bright sunlight. The sky was blue and everything seemed fresh in the spring air. He'd come to Moscow winter of last year. His life in ashes. He had gotten off the plane and was struck with how oppressive everything felt.

And now, he was leaving. With a wife. And hope. And a life. A new name, a memory of his son's name. So..."Where should we go? Well, I think any place outside the CCD is fine. Would help to avoid...certain people."

He still noted the touch of Texas on her tongue. That could work. When he had been a kid, they had a saying. "Texas- it's like a whole 'nother country." In recent years, that seemed even more likely, with the secession movement and all. It seemed like a good place to go. Be easy to get lost in the crowd. And Ayden- no, Nikki! Nikki!!! Gah this was gonna be hard. Nikki's family was from there. Maybe one day he'd meet them. He understood better, now, the way taking on a new life cut you off. But he could still hope.

"Texas. I chose the state, you choose the city."
Ayden frowned slightly at the state Connor had chosen. They'd gone over her original past, her name, her family. She wondered if he was trying to push things. Anne Lowe was dead three persona's gone. She didn't exist anymore. Her mother had mourned her death, as had step-father. Going back would just cause pain...

But she was starting a new life. Could she befriend them as Nikki Haydenson? Could she be a neighbor to her mother? Shop in the same grocery store?

Ayden smiled at her love. "Then there is only one choice - San Antonio."

She didn't know if they still lived there. But she'd soon find out. Soon she'd see her mother again - after so many years. It might be too hard, but they could leave if it was. Nothing was set in stone. Ayden did miss Texas. She could almost hear the accent becoming part of her voice again. Ayden smiled happily as their rows were called to board the play.

Good-bye Ayden Hayes..... And Hello Nikki Haydenson!
Connor's eyes widened in surprise. Texas was a gigantic state. He wasn't pressuring her to make contact with her family. While the father in him knew that her family had to miss her- she'd told him of her life and it wasn't bad growing up- he also knew that it was complicated. It had been years and years and for her to just show up....well, that was going to be difficult.

There were no easy options for this, for her. For them. But it did say that she wanted to try...something. What, he didn't know. But he trusted her and knew that she knew herself.

He pulled her to him and kissed her. "Always full of surprises Nikki. A guy could never get bored with a girl like you."
And he kissed her again.

They bought their tickets- first class even. Connor pushed away any concern of where she got the money. It was there and they needed it. It meant their lives. They enjoyed the champagne and watched something together. It was a long enough flight they could binge watch a few episodes of The Source. It always intrigued him, the idea of AI's. Emergent intelligences. The series was a story of an AI that revealed its existence to a select group of people. It was a child in many ways, ripe for exploiting. The exploration of what it means to be human, what is right, following orders and so on, seemed to resonate with a lot of people. It even reminded him of Ayden in some ways, though he wasn't certain why. But they both liked it.

They finally landed in Texas. Even if he had been blindfolded and could feel nothing of the landing, he'd have known. That hot humidity crawled into his lungs and under his clothes and for a little while, he began to think this was a mistake.

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