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title - I Shot A Man In Reno Just To Watch Him Die
author - thisissirius
pairing - rodney/john
rating - pg
recipient - For tropes
spoilers - season four spoilers
summary - It was during the next two weeks that they first started to notice it. It started out slow, stupid things that nobody would think about normally. Then Sheppard asked several times why Ford wasn't in Atlantis and his team herded him into the infirmary.

notes - Hope this is everything you wanted it to be :)

*+*

Dinner. Eight O'Clock. Don't forget.

R.M.M. PhD. PhD. Etc. Etc.


*+*

“Can't we just reboot the whole thing?”

Rodney was hunched over his laptop, brow creased in concentration. His attention was all on the displays in front of him but he still made an irritated sound in the back of his throat. “That's what I'm trying to do, Colonel, but it's a little more complicated than just flipping the off switch.”

Every breath let out a small cloud and John straightened, hugging himself further into his standard-issue fleece. “So, even if I just-”

Rodney finally looked up, glare in place. “No, not even if you just think off.” He pointed at John, frowning. “So don't.” His tone was all condescension and the look said you really are as stupid as the rest, aren't you?. “Puddlejumpers are more complex than ancient artefacts. If you think off at Atlantis, she'd probably laugh in your face.” Rodney's attention returned to his PDA, but he was still talking. “It's going to take a while, I have to shut down all the systems, one by one, well the ones that aren't already failing, and then do a complete system restore.”

John said nothing, just stretched out on the bench and watched him. Rodney risked a glance now and then, when he wasn't intent on working out their problem. His PDA blipped and he studied the results, wishing this was as easy as John had hoped.

“How's the arm?”

The question took him off guard and he looked up suddenly. “My arm? Oh, right.” He looked down at the puffy fleece, evidence of the bandage underneath and he could feel the one on his face as he thought about it. “Numb.” He shrugged, and tried not to dwell on the panic that erupted in his chest. “I can't feel it any more.”

John studied his face. “It's probably the cold.”

Rodney nodded dumbly, trying not to read into John's tone, as his face was blank. “Probably. I have to-” He waved a hand at the PDA. He didn't want to talk about it, aware of the terror boiling under the surface of his intent to get the Puddlejumper working again.

John just nodded.

A gust of harsh wind broke through the uncomfortable silence, noting the return of Teyla and Ronon and Rodney's harsh words at the bite of cold were lost as he struggled to keep his breath. Even with the fleece, the air managed to crawl across his skin, making him shiver and goosebumps to raise along his arms and legs. God.

John grunted but managed to shut the ramp when Ronon had herded Teyla inside.

“We found the packs.” Teyla placed them on the floor of the jumper and Ronon threw something in John's direction. “Found this not too far from here, as well.”

John's hand enclosed around the object and the world exploded around them.

*+*

Our first kiss was on the balcony, east pier. The sun was just rising, and the colours on the water were amazing. You closed your eyes, pressing your lips against mine and I think I get what you feel like when you fly.

*+*

A hand brought Rodney awake and he batted half-heartedly at the fingers on his neck. “Mm'fine. Go 'way.” He groaned as he struggled to sit up and pain exploded in the back of his skull. “Oh, ow.” He blinked in the low light and noted John's panicked expression. He pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes and let John manoeuvre him into a sitting position. “What the hell was that?”

“Uh, I think it exploded.”

Rodney just glared at him. “Ronon and Teyla?”

Teyla gave him a soft smile from where she was resting against the bench, one hand on her stomach. She waved away his concern. “I am – We are both fine, Rodney.”

Ronon nodded, one hand on Teyla's shoulder.

“What the hell was that thing?”

John was already turning it over in his hands, frowning. “I don't know. It just exploded. I don't think it did anything else.”

“Wow.” Rodney rubbed at the back of his head, ignoring the fresh throbbing in his arm and face. He picked up his PDA, discarded after the explosion. “Oh, great.”

“What?” Sheppard tossed the device on the bench and Rodney flinched involuntarily.

“Don't do that! It's already exploded once.” John just rolled his eyes, so Rodney huffed out an exasperated breath and waved the PDA. “The Puddlejumper powered down, so now I have to start all over again.” Rodney glared. “Well done, Colonel.”

*+*

You promised me on MG5-767 that you wouldn't go on anymore suicidal missions. I'll kill you if you pretend to forget this one.

*+*

“Rodney.”

Rodney grunted and shivered, shifting the PDA to his other knee. His fingers flew over the display, bringing each system back, even as they complained under the intense cold. He pretended not to notice how much his hands were shaking as he moved them.

“Rodney.” John pulled the PDA from his numb fingers and placed it on the bench not currently occupied by Ronon and Teyla. “Stop working. It's late. I think the Puddlejumper can handle the rest on it's own.”

“But-”

Rodney.”

Rodney let out a small breath and groaned as he tried to stand. “Fine.” He tried a half-hearted glare but allowed himself to pulled onto the bench. “What about you?”

John raised an eyebrow. “Someone has to keep watch.”

“For what? I don't think anything could survive out there. Remember Hoth?”

John rolled his eyes and grinned, but Rodney just poked him in the chest, making his point. “Yes, Rodney. I remember.” He sobered. “You can never be too careful.”

“Fine, Fearless Leader.” Rodney huddled into the corner of the bench, eyes trailing John's body, trying not to linger too obviously. John's smirk told him he was unsuccessful, and Rodney closed his eyes to the feel of John's fingers on the nape of his neck.

“Go to sleep, Rodney.”

“Mmm” He was asleep within seconds.

*+*

You're shianti to Teyla's baby. That's the Athosian version of Godfather. She asked you in the mess hall and you kissed her in front of everyone. Lorne started a rumour that you're the father. He still owes you two weeks of KP for that one.

*+*

“Rodney!”

Ronon was wrestling with Sheppard on the floor of the Puddlejumper, the latter screaming about something being in his head. Teyla was shaking him awake but he was already up and moving.

“What the hell happened?”

Teyla reached around him for the medkit. “He woke like that and started screaming, scratching at his face.”

Now that he could properly see, Rodney noticed the blood on Sheppard's cheeks and forehead. He stepped around Ronon and Sheppard and prayed that the Puddlejumper was working. “We have to get home.”

Teyla fumbled with the medkit in her haste and Rodney slid into the pilot seat, praying the reboot had worked.

“Rodney?”

“Working. How's Sheppard?” He let out a silent cheer as the Puddlejumper rose to his calling, systems coming on line, albeit sluggishly.

“We need to get him back to Atlantis. Now.”

Rodney risked a glance back and saw the Ronon had Sheppard pinned. From the way he was writhing and bucking underneath, he wouldn't be immobile for long.

Rodney!”

Teyla hit him on the back gently, and he nodded. “Going.”

*+*

You've saved my life 23 times. I've saved yours 24. You owe me the next one.

*+*

“There's nothing wrong with him.” Keller pointed to the display on the wall. “We've done every scan and test we can think of and physically he's fine.”

Rodney snorted. “Apart from thinking there's something in his head, you mean?”

Teyla's hard glare silenced him, and Carter frowned. “You said physically. You think this is a mental component?”

Keller shook her head. “I'd say no. Tests to that extent bring up nothing, either.” She held out her hands. “It's frustrating not being able to give you the answers you want, but there is nothing wrong with him.”

Carter turned to Rodney. “The device?”

“Radek's testing it now.” He pointed at Sheppard. “Does he know you can't find anything?”

Keller shifted uncomfortably. “He's been resting.” She looked pointedly at Rodney. “He's undergone a rigorous series of tests, Dr. McKay. I thought it best to let it sleep him off.”

“Fine. I want to be here when you tell him.” He gave both Keller and Carter an expression that said they better let him.

Teyla put a hand on his arm. “We all do.”

Throat tight, he nodded.

*+*

You smiled at me in the lab once and it was the first time I told you I loved you.

*+*

It was during the next two weeks that they first started to notice it. It started out slow, stupid things that nobody would think about normally. Then Sheppard asked several times why Ford wasn't in Atlantis and his team herded him into the infirmary.

*+*

When I said I hate you when you made me run with you and the Marines, what I meant was I'm not a people person, but you make me want to try..

*+*

“It takes memories?”

Keller said nothing, but he could see the answer in the tired lines of her face.

“You said I was fine.”

“You were. It was the recent scans that started to show the difference.” She tucked a stray hair behind her ear. “I wish I could tell you that this is systematic, but there's no order to the memories it takes, or when.”

John just stared at the scan, at the discoloured blobs that indicated his life. A back-catalogue of remembrance and love. It was all going to fade, one by one, and he doubted that even Rodney could come up with an answer to this.

“It's a lot similar to the scans you see in Alzheimer's patients.” Keller's sympathetic smile was back, and he'd never hated anything more in his life.

“But there's nothing you can do.” He saw the slip in her demeanour, the flinch that Carson would have hid behind a veneer of experience. She hesitated one second too many and he nodded, hard and final. “Thanks.”

It was a cue for her to leave, but she lingered, wanting to say something to appease the situation. “Look, Colonel I-”

He stood, cutting off any platitudes. “I appreciate the gesture, Doc, really.” Without another word, he left the infirmary.

*+*

You made me pancakes the day after Carson's funeral. We spent the whole day in the hotel room, and it was the first time I let you have all of me.

*+*

It was just a memory, intangible and one in millions, but he could feel it slipping away and out of his grasp.

*+*

Ronon gave you that knife for you 45th birthday. I think you had some sort of Warrior Ritual in the kitchenette, then Teyla and I sang a version of Happy Birthday that I'm sure is in circulation on the PBBS. Cadman, probably, and I'll kill her if I ever get the original copy. We ate cake and you called us your family.

*+*

Rodney rested his head in his hands. “This is ridiculous. We've tested this thing for weeks and we don't know anything more now than we did then.”

Radek sighed and sat back in his chair. “We've searched the database over and over, and it reveals nothing.”

Carter pressed a hand to her lips and frowned thoughtfully. “We can't have been thorough enough. There has to be somemention of what it does in there somewhere. It's Ancient in design, isn't it?”

Rodney let out a breath. “Yes, but that's not the point. We've run across devices before that the Ancients didn't catalogue, and they turned out to be -” His eyes widened and he shot back out of his chair. “Oh my god. I have to -” He waved a hand at the door. “I think I know-” Without waiting for Carter to give him permission, he left her office at a run.

Radek sighed and moved to follow. “I apologise, General Carter.”

Carter shrugged. “Don't be. It's Rodney.”

*+*

Elizabeth's birthday is in two days.

*+*

“Rodney?” John entered the labs cautiously. Rodney had called him, breathless, a few minutes ago but John could read the resignation underneath. “Have you figured out what that thing is?”

Rodney waved him over to his desk. His laptop was open and he was hitting random keys. As John approached, he turned the laptop over, his face even and blank. “I found this in the Ancient Database. We weren't looking in the right place, because we hadn't realised it was under their restricted section.” He jerked a finger at the screen, and looked pointedly at John.

John read the data. “What the hell? This is a torture device?”

Rodney shook his head. “It was used on Ancient criminals. It's why there was so little crime on Atlantis.” He poked the device on the table, face a picture of revulsion and abject fascination. “It stole memories, the important ones. It proved a useful crime deterrent. People like their memories.”

“No kidding.” John frowned at the laptop screen. “So? Is there a way to get my memories back?” At Rodney's silence, John raised his head. “Rodney?”

“I'll keep looking.” The urgency on his face belied the fear underneath.

John had to leave the lab before he punched something.

*+*

Ford went missing this time two years ago. We still don't know where he is, but I want to find him as much as you do.

*+*

“You don't understand, Rodney.”

“No. No I don't.” He paced the floor, expecting the answer to leap into his arms. Better yet, to scribble itself along the walls, the way his thoughts did, a steady stream of everything that would mean nothing to anybody else. “Because you won't help me.”

Sheppard's face was tight and Rodney couldn't possibly, can't get his head around the gaps in John's. “I can't.”

“Well, then. Where are we?”

He was used to the silence, just not to it being so oppressive.

*+*

Lorne was the first person to congratulate us. You punched him in the face, and I had to apologise for you. I think he felt sorry for the Teyla thing, but you still owe him pudding.

*+*

The laptop shut with a snick and Radek watched Rodney slowly, regarding him warily.

“Everything has a solution.” Rodney's voice was harsh with tiredness, and the undercurrent of hurt Radek had long since been trained to look for. “I just can't-”

“You are tired.” Radek nodded at the laptop pointedly. “Well rested, the solution will come to you.” He turned back to his own equations. “It usually does.”

“Not this time.” Rodney left the lab, leaving Radek to sigh and shut his own laptop.

They'd just have to accept that some things didn't have a conclusion.

*+*

You have the entire population of Atlantis leaving me post-its everywhere, Rodney. I'm losing some memories, not all of them. Yours are -

I don't want to – I just -

Thank you.
.

*+*

John sank down onto the bed, resting his face in his hands. “I'm never going to get them back, am I?”

The bed dipped and John turned his head slowly, face turning against the hand Rodney raised to his cheek. “I don't know.”

The sensation was strange. The memories were there, he knew it as sure as he was breathing, just beyond his reach and it was frustrating to know he'd never see the secrets they held. He struggled to find words that Rodney could relate too. Words didn't come so easily any more, afraid of hurting someone's feelings by not remembering their name, birthday or when he'd saved their life.

Rodney solved the problem for him. He pressed a tentative kiss to John's temple, his cheek, the edge of his lips. “You're still you, John.”

It was the first time Rodney had called him that since Hoth and John's hand circled his neck.

He could believe it, maybe, someday. Soon. For now, Rodney was there and if they had to make new memories, ones that John wouldn't forget, then that was enough.

It would have to be.

The End.

Comments

( 46 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
ceitie
Dec. 23rd, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)
This made me shiver. I love Rodney's post-it notes.
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I wanted him to have a way to give John his memories back without leaving them directly :P
kassrachel
Dec. 23rd, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
Ohhh!

This is wonderful and heart-breaking and I love the way you've structured it, the way you write Rodney and John. I love that they're intact, their relationship is intact, even if John's mind isn't.
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you very much :)
droolfangrrl
Dec. 24th, 2007 12:51 am (UTC)
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

owowowo

damn good fic

write more.
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
barely_bean
Dec. 24th, 2007 04:59 am (UTC)
oh this made me cry for John who's losing his memories, and Rodney who doesn't want John to lose them. Poor boys.
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
They hurt, but at the same time they're trying to stay the same.

I love them too. Thank you :)
mf_luder_xf
Dec. 24th, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC)
Beautiful and rightly painful. I loved the flow and inevitably of it all.
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much :)
tropes
Dec. 25th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
This is.

I can't.

This is so beautiful.

I'm sorry I didn't see it earlier; I was out of town.

Thank you so much. SO much. Thank you.

Best Christmas gift ever.
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad that you liked it. I was worried at first that it wouldn't fit your prompts, so I'm glad that it does.

Don't worry about the lateness! I was away from the internet as well, so I wouldn't have known if you'd recieved it :P

Thank you for liking it!
adafrog
Dec. 25th, 2007 04:45 am (UTC)
Oh, how sad. Very well done.
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much :)
(Deleted comment)
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
I know. I don't like them hurting, but sometimes it has to be done :P
psyko_kittie
Dec. 26th, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)
Moving story. At least John has Rodney there! :)
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC)
Exactly!

Thank you :)
dossier
Dec. 26th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
so powerful, this packs a punch in so few words.I love the slow, inevitably pace to the conclusion, and that Rodney, so desperate to do something, tries to give Sheppard what's his, that he doesn't understand that Sheppard can't replace his own memories. That they are hopeful that he can make more is heartening, though. The comparison to Alzheimer's had me worried that not only was he losing the old ones, that it might be impossible to build new ones.
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much.

I love the Rodney in my head, and he's like you said. He's tired and hurting too, because he can't give John what he's lost and he's clutching at anything he can that's the same, because he thinks it's all they have. They're both hurting but hoping, and I'm proud of how the story came out in the end.

The comparison to Alzheimer's had me worried that not only was he losing the old ones, that it might be impossible to build new ones.

I was going to, but then I didn't want it to be that final. I wasn't sure what I wanted, actually, but the ambiguity at the end is enough for me. I like that you can draw your own conclusions from the way left it.
argosy
Dec. 27th, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)
Oh boys. *sniffle* Thank you. ♥
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you

:)
incidental_fire
Dec. 28th, 2007 07:29 am (UTC)
Oh. Ow. Very nicely done. But ow.
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much :)
telesilla
Dec. 30th, 2007 09:28 am (UTC)
Oh wow, this is a lovely bit of angst and creepiness and love.

He could believe it, maybe, someday. Soon. For now, Rodney was there and if they had to make new memories, ones that John wouldn't forget, then that was enough.

That's just perfect.
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much :)
daydreamer
Dec. 31st, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
Beautiful, but so creepy. *clutches the boys*
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
mellaithwen
Jan. 3rd, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
aww that hurt so bad *sniff* aww man dude! John...and Rodney and oooh :'(
thisissirius
Jan. 4th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
Heee! Thank you :P

You know I only ever hurt them to annoy you ;D
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