Alli Snow (allisnow) wrote,
Alli Snow

fic: we do not remember days -- for the John/Teyla thing-a-thon

RECIPIENT: carpenyx
TITLE: we do not remember days
AUTHOR: allisnow
SUMMARY: There's a lot of things he feels like he should know, that he doesn't. Like his name, for example.
RATING: PG for inappropriate use of toilet paper
SPOILERS: Up to and including Sateda
NOTES: Thanks to my beta madjm!

The memories are like separate beads on the strand of his life, and he rolls them between his fingers, one at a time, before sliding down the string to the next one.

It smells like sandalwood. “Hold it like this,” she tells him, and when he does it wrong she doesn’t get frustrated or impatient, she simply takes his hand and repositions it, and the touch of her skin sends up such a frisson of sensation that he wonders if maybe he got it wrong on purpose.

The people are all very nice. There’s a man who brings his meals and sits while he eats them. Why? What damage, to himself or others, could he possible cause with a plastic spoon and a cup of blue Jello?

She sits in the bed, dressed in clean white pajamas, her brow furrowed in distress. There’s guilt in her eyes, and a certain wariness. He’s not sure what to do. If she was just a friend – a pal, a buddy, a guy – he would make a couple stupid jokes and laugh at a couple more and then everything would be okay again. If she was, well, if she was Nancy, then he could hug her and say that, hey, I forgive you for beating me up, you must have wanted to do it a hundred times anyway. But she’s not any of these things, she’s his teammate, and she just had her mind and her body violated, and so instead he just hands her one of the little bowls of blue Jello that he picked up in the mess hall, and sits on the edge of her bed to eat his own, and she smiles wearily, and that’s that.

Nancy. He feels like he should know that name, but then he feels like he should know a lot of things. There’s another man – older than the one who brings his food, and with darker skin – who asks him a lot of questions about things it seems that he should know. His name, where he’s from, what he does; “You didn’t have any ID on you, son.” He encourages him to take out the little beads of his memories and talk about them. This man is nice, too, but he says nothing about what little he remembers. What could it possibly mean?

As he’d expected, the feast is not exactly a barn-burner, but it’s not bad either. There’s a bonfire and people dance around it, showing off moves they’ve apparently been practicing through the whole long winter. As they dance they throw scraps of paper into the flames. She tells him that they have written their worries and fears on those bits of paper. They burn to ashes, but it’s not until the fire is doused with water that those fears will truly be considered banished. Then a new fire will be lit from the ashes of the old, and it’s strange how he can remember all these details about some party he went to, but he can’t remember his own name. Maybe it’s because later during that same party he drinks too much wine and tries to kiss her as they dance around the fire, neither of them practiced anything but at this late state are willing to improvise, and she laughs and ducks out of his reach but he’s never sure if she saw him coming and did it on purpose or if it was just a coincidence.

One of the women in the hospital smuggled in a lighter. She lets him borrow it during TV time and he takes it into the bathroom. They’re not allowed to have anything to write with – pens and pencils are sharp, therefore dangerous – but he imagines writing down his worries and fears on a piece of toilet paper and burns it in an empty Jello cup. When he feels the timing is right he fills it with cold water from the tap. He’s just wondering whether or not to forgo the dancing when the smoke alarm goes off.

The klaxons are blaring all around him, the ship’s warning that the shields are about to go. He glances to his right and finds her looking at him, and she nods as though to say ‘it’s alright. You did your best’.

One bead, then another. After the incident in the bathroom they cut his TV time, but they send a nice woman to read to him. He tunes her out most of the time because he has trouble focusing on what she’s saying, but the sound of her voice in the background of his thoughts is soothing.

“I have often felt like an outsider among your people,” she tells him. “You and Dr. Weir


have been very accepting, but this has shown me how far you would go, even for someone who is not from your world.”

World. The word brings up images of a bright globe blue-white-green-brown as viewed from space. Space makes him think of bright colors streaking by the window as he tries to find the right words.

* * *

The people are all very nice. They like to keep things calm and quiet, which is actually pretty okay when you’re trying to string your memories back together, but frustrating when you can’t show anybody what you’re putting together. He’s used to the quiet, so when he hears loud voices down the hall from his room he jumps out of bed, throws on a robe, and prepares for the worst.

The door flies open. He hasn’t seen her like this before, in a black jacket and blue pants; even in this conventional ensemble something about her is undeniably otherworldly. And something about the sudden light in her eyes freezes him in his tracks.

“Rodney,” she calls over her shoulder, not taking her eyes off him. “He’s here.”

* * *

Lam at the SGC gives him his final no-way-around-it clean bill of health. “Poor guy,” she commiserates. “On Earth for a few days and you wind up getting carjacked.” She doesn’t add: beaten up, left for dead, found by a couple of kids getting stoned in the woods, turned in to a hospital and then transferred to a loony bin. John understands that; it’s a mouthful.

“Poor guy?” echoes Rodney. His voice is still high and tight with anxiety. “Do you have any idea how lucky he is? Do you know what the statistics are for those kinds of violent crimes? He should be dead!” He catches himself before turning to John, wincing. “Sorry.”

John shrugs. “I’m still not convinced that it was random,” he confides. The number of people who have knowledge of some part of the Atlantis expedition – and therefore of the Stargate program in general – makes his skin crawl. How can something stay a secret when so many know?

Lam makes a noncommittal noise. “Well, despite what television would have us believe, amnesia is not all that common.”

Rodney’s eyes light up. “So maybe they shot him with some kind of memory-erasing laser! Or the carjack was just a front, and they really wanted to extract information from him, but it went all wrong and-“

“You know, Rodney, I’m standing right here.”

Teyla has been quiet, but now she steps forward and puts a hand on Rodney’s arm, quelling him. “The important thing is that Colonel Sheppard is here, and he is well, and he remembers.” She looks at John and gives him the slightest of smiles.

“Are we sure about that? I mean, maybe he doesn’t remember everything…”

“Sorry, Rodney. I do still remember about the one week’s pay you owe me.”

“I’m telling you – I never actually agreed to that…”

Ronon’s heavy footsteps announce his arrival. “Hey,” he says, by way of a greeting. “They’re going to dial the Gate. I have this funny feeling that they want to get rid of us.”

“Get rid of you?” Lam’s tone is wry. “A missing person, a state-wide manhunt, a bizarre case of amnesia and a miraculous recovery? We haven’t had this kind of fun around here since the good old days of SG-1.”

“I’ll make sure we mention that to Sam,” says Rodney.

They go home.

* * *

The memories are like separate beads on the strand of his life, and he rolls them between his fingers, one at a time, before sliding down the string to the next one.

Trawling through Atlantis’ used-book library for something to read, he finds a title that is strangely familiar. Opening it, he realizes it’s the book the woman at the mental hospital had been reading aloud to him.

There’s a passage that makes him smile. One character, a venerable old grandfather figure, says it to a younger man: "Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again."

“How’d you find me, anyway?”

Teyla ducks her head and smiles. “Rodney ‘hacked’ into the state hospitals’ computer system, looking for anything strange. I think he thought if you were conscious but somehow unable to contact us, you would say something that would appear in one of the doctors’ reports.”

“Babbling about the Wraith in my sleep, you mean?”

“I suppose.” They are enjoying a meal in the mess hall, his first since returning to Atlantis. The place is almost empty at this late hour, and he is eating Jello. Red, though – they were out of blue. A tragedy.

“I’m pretty sure I didn’t.”

“No, although it may have made it easier for us if you had. No… the thing that caught my eye was a little comment about a very confused patient setting a bit of toilet paper on fire in a bathroom.”

He meets her gaze over a quivering spoonful. “And… you remembered that I had a long-standing and deeply-ingrained grudge against bath tissue?”

Her eyes crinkle at the corners. “I remembered two years ago… at the Tendol Feast.”

“Oh.” He digests this, along with his dessert. “Well… it’s good to remember things like that.”

“Yes,” she agrees. “Yes it is.”


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