Memory Keepers

Jul. 26th, 2008 07:49 am

Fandom: SGA

Characters: Ronon, Rodney

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: Language, spoilers for 5.03

Disclaimer: Not mine!

Summary: Ronon's going to scream himself hoarse, sooner or later, but he hasn't yet.

Author's Note: Written for Sherri, who pointed out that Rodney? He's been there.

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Once, Heightmeyer had asked Rodney what it was like. What he had been feeling when each second felt like a millennia, tumbling one after another after another into the black hole inside his head. Rodney had told her that he didn't remember.

He'd lied, but God, he'd almost gotten himself to believe it too.

Rodney remembers each moment, graven so much sharper than sanity into his gray matter. He remembers the pain, the anger, the fear, the certainty he was going to die and the betrayal of no one offering him any help at all.

But mostly, Rodney remembers Carson and Elizabeth.

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Ronon's going to scream himself hoarse, sooner or later, but he hasn't yet. Now he still has volume, force bordering on explosive behind each word, jerking against his wrist restraints, thrashing back and forth as he bellows threats and curses.

He bows up off the mattress, muscles straining, sweat pouring down his ashen face as he bites at his bottom lip, waiting for the wave to pass. When he sags back into the mattress he exhales hard, spittle flying off his lips, a precursor to the boom of his voice, "Get that fucker in here! He did this! This is his fault and I'm fucking tired of waiting for him to man up and fucking do his job! After all I've done for all of you, I deserve better!"

Rodney doesn't try to say anything. There's no getting a word in edgewise. It's odd, how the familiarity of this makes it feel distant. He's heard this all before. Last time it was just coming out of his mouth. He thinks Ronon is getting better volume than he did.

Ronon rocks the bed side to side, kicking as best he can and roaring up to the ceiling. When he looks at Rodney, he actually manages to focus, if only for a moment. Then his gaze is jerking away again, the tendons in his neck straining tight as he growls, low and furious, "Get away from me. I don't want you here, you fucking cocksucker, go find John and bring him here to take care of this. You're disgusting, you filthy, useless, coward! It should have been you, instead of Tyre! He was a good man! He was a good man, Sheppard!"

And there's a part of Rodney that thinks he should try to tune it out, but that doesn't seem fair. So he listens, the bile and the fury washing over him, and he doesn't move, because contrary to Ronon's words, the man is holding his hand, squeezing so hard it hurts, fingers leaving bruises over Rodney's skin.

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Carson had never asked.

Not even after Rodney was shot, when he spent the entire time Carson was working with bloody hands and panicked curses over him humming the soft song over and over and over again. The words escape him, whether they had been English or the product of some nursery rhyme from Carson's childhood, but Rodney could remember the rhythm, the soothing up and down tumble of it through his mind and throat.

Carson hadn't asked, but he'd hummed along after a moment, picking it up and adding the words, a wave of familiarity and comfort that washed back and forth between them.

To be fair, Rodney doesn't ask either. Not what it means, or where Carson learned it, or why he'd chosen that to sing when it got really bad, when Rodney could feel himself slipping to someplace outside his body, and found it to be a relief.

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Ronon is weeping. It's not sobbing, not really. This is just tears wrung out of him, the same way the sweat is pouring out of his skin. Rodney can remember the damp, sticky feel of it soaking through his scrubs and the sheets and the bed itself.

He can also remember the sharp taste to his sweat, the hint of the enzyme that his body had been trying to cleanse itself of. It had been in his tears, too, and he'd tried so hard to get it, licking and straining and crying panicked, frustrated, furious tears.

Ronon gasps each time he breathes, licking his lips over and over and over again. His skin is feverish, white scrubs gone gray with sweat and sticking to his skin. Rodney wrings out the rag in the small basin of water, before wiping across Ronon's forehead again.

The smell is rank and bitter, the Wraith enzyme bleeding out of his skin and reeking. It makes Ronon react, even as gone as he is. He squirms around, thrashing his head back and forth, voice gone thin from all the screaming as he repeats, "Please, please, please, please," over and over again.

Rodney shushes him, and Ronon's eyes squeeze shut as his face contorts with grief, tears sliding down his face, back into his damp hair. Ronon's voice is barely audible, hoarse and whispered, "I'm going to die, please, don't let me die like this."

"You're not going to die," Rodney keeps his own voice low, but Ronon winces anyway, jerking his arms against the restraints, rocking his head side to side. Rodney wipes Ronon's cheeks, wet with sweat and tears, and hums softly in the back of his throat.

It's a slow, repetitive pattern, a rising and falling lilt. After a long moment Ronon blinks up at the ceiling and hums along, his own version jerky and bubbling more than a little from the mucus in his nose and throat. It cracks every now and then when he sobs. Rodney keeps it up anyway.

If Carson were here, he'd have done the same.

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Elizabeth didn't ask.

Sometimes, Rodney thinks she'd wanted to. There were times when she'd look at him, head tilted to the side and mouth pressed tight, and Rodney could almost taste the words she'd wanted to say. Questions about the nightmares, the things he'd babbled in his sleep.

But she'd kept her peace, kept his secrets, even from him.

Rodney remembers the nightmares, but only as disjointed, fragmented things where he couldn't keep track of the monsters or his own mind and everything was color and light and the crushing pressure of knowing that he was being hunted even if he didn't know by what. And an occasional friendly voice, so out of place that it had kept him going.

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Everyone else thinks the worst has passed when Ronon finally sinks down into sleep, his body run out of fuel, ground to a helpless stop. Rodney sits beside him, watching him sleep, nothing peaceful about Ronon's expression, or the way his body is held so tense.

Ronon is still, for the most part, but that means nothing.

Talking is never hard for Rodney. He has more words than he knows what to do with, most of the time. And right now, he doubts it matters what he says. It's the sound that's important, the knowing that you're not alone in your head with the monsters.

So he talks, about the labs and the bath and how they'd all been so worried. He talks about Woolsey and all the books the man has that Rodney would love to read, if he could just think of a way to get his hands on them. He talks himself hoarse, but he has a glass of water to ease his throat, and so he keeps talking.

And when Ronon wakes up, finally, Rodney goes to get the doctors.

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Ronon asks.

He comes to Rodney's room, a week after they finally realize him. There are still dark shadows over his skin, and his eyes are too wide. He's jumpy. But he's Ronon again, just Ronon, and when he braces a hand on Rodney's doorframe and rumbles, "When?" low and deep, Rodney has to step back to wave him in.

Ronon asks, and Rodney thinks about not answering him.

But the asking is a tactile admission all on its own, that Ronon remembers. That he knows what he did and what he said and what he feared in that state. And so Rodney crosses his arms, and tells him.

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