Author: Calic0cat
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Fragments + Chapter 3

I woke from confusing, frightening dreams into the confusing, frightening reality of another day without my memory. Woke *alone*, which sent my heart racing frantically. "Max?!"

"I'm here Odin; s'okay. Just lettin' them in with our breakfast, babe," Max called from the sitting room. His voice dropped to a low rumble and another voice answered, then the hall door opened and closed.

"Max?" I asked hesitantly. I didn't want to go out there in just my T-shirt and boxers if the hotel staff was still there but I needed to see Max *now*. None of my dreams had been particularly pleasant but the one in which I was wandering the streets alone, cold and hungry, a small child with nothing to call my own but the shoes, thin shorts, and tanktop I was wearing, left me wanting the reassurance of my husband's presence. The security of his arms.

"Just a sec, I'll bring breakfast in there, 'kay?"

There was a clatter of dishes then Max came into the bedroom, carefully balancing two trays in his arms. As soon as he set them down on the small bedside table, I slid out of bed and flung my arms around him. 'He's here; I'm not alone.' "Just a bad dream..." I mumbled quietly.

"What was just a bad dream?" Max asked, his arms closing around me and starting to rub my back.

I shook my head, not wanting to make it more real by talking about it. "Doesn't matter," I said, lifting my face and kissing him to turn his attention away from the subject. He stiffened in my arms. I broke off the kiss and pulled away immediately. "I'm sorry..." I apologized unhappily. "I thought... We're married and..." I gave up trying to explain. Obviously I'd been wrong. Either there was something wrong between us or he was angry because I'd gotten hurt and ruined our honeymoon or...

"Hey, nothing to apologize for," Max said gently, pulling me back into his arms. "You just caught me by surprise, love. I didn't think you'd want to kiss me when you couldn't remember me, that's all."

"Oh..." That made sense. I sagged against him in relief. "Maybe I don't remember you but you feel - right. Like we fit together. Like we're two parts of a whole..." That sounded corny but it *was* how I felt about Max. Like he completed me somehow, even with the huge hole that my missing memories left behind.

Then it was Max's turn to say, "Oh..." in a stunned voice. I looked up and caught a very odd look on his face. Part delight, part something that looked an awful lot like - regret? pain? longing? a weird mix of sadness with those other emotions? He saw me looking at him and smiled, banishing that disquieting look. "Y'know, I think that's the nicest thing that *anyone* has ever said to me. Whatta you know, I married a romantic and I didn't even know it." He hugged me and dropped a kiss on the tip of my nose. "Now let's eat before all this gets cold, 'kay?"

"Okay," I agreed. But I remembered that look and filed it away. Didn't I usually say things like that to Max? And if not, why the hell didn't I?

+

I still wasn't feeling too well but I wanted to get out of the room for a while, so Max took me to the hotel's huge conservatory for a walk. Despite my worry over my missing memories, I felt safe and content as long as Max was with me. His gentle assurances that everything would be alright, that my memories would return with time, let me put my fears aside and just enjoy being with him.

Max was kind and considerate and he tried to make sure that I wasn't overdoing things - but he didn't fuss to the point where I was ready to scream. If I said that I was okay, he let the subject drop and just led me into another part of the gardens. He seemed to understand my need for activity to distract me.

He must have taken a hundred photos of me when we were in the butterfly conservatory and the delicate, fearless, little creatures kept landing all over me. Between the ticklish sensation of their contact, the wonder that the beautiful creatures were so unafraid, and Max's gentle teasing, I smiled and laughed so much that my cheeks hurt. And he kept taking pictures. When I asked him why so many, he just smiled and kissed the tip of my nose. "Because you're gorgeous when you smile," he told me.

But why would he need to take so many photos of that? Didn't I smile very often? What was I usually *like*?

I was starting to think that my normal self needed a good swift kick in the ass. Max seemed so surprised when I said nice things to him or complimented him or held his hand or kissed him or smiled at him... Why the hell did he marry me if all those things were so unusual? I didn't understand...

And the odd flashes of - memory? dream? - that kept slipping through my mind from time to time, triggered by a sound or a reflection of light, were even more confusing. Blood and guns and fighting... A tall man with light coloured hair cleaning a gun... My own hands, tiny beside his, copying his motions... The same man crouched beside a campfire... Him bleeding and dying on the floor of a cold building... Me wandering the streets, cold and alone, very young and lost... Angry and frightened and angry at myself for the fear... Grieving...

Were these memories? Or dreams - nightmares? If they were memories... I shivered, not sure that I wanted to know the answers to the questions that they raised. Was that tall man my father? Why would the small child I seemed to be in those memories be handling guns?

I was afraid to ask Max about the images. If they were memories, would I have told him about them before? Or would they be an ugly secret in my past, kept hidden to protect my current life from their sordidness? I didn't want to risk spoiling my relationship with him by saying or doing something wrong.

But why was Max so surprised when I was affectionate towards him? Was I usually colder, more reserved? Was that why his expression turned wistful at times as he watched me? Because he wished that I was always like this?

'So many questions... Will I ever remember everything? And if I do, will I remember what's happening *now*? Will I remember that I want to make sure Max never has to look wistful like that again? That he never has to be surprised at me wrapping my arm around his waist and snuggling against him as we walk?'

I considered that for a few minutes. Maybe I would forget all this when I remembered my past. But I didn't *want* to! Making Max smile, making him laugh, made me feel so good - so warm inside... I didn't want to forget that!

We were walking slowly back to our room after having lunch at a patio restaurant in the conservatory. I spotted a few shops off to one side. Maybe I could make sure that I remembered this... "Max? Could we go in there for a few minutes?" I pointed towards the souvenir store.

"Sure, Odin," he said with an affectionate smile. "If you feel up to it..."

I was getting tired and my head was starting to ache a bit but I really wanted to take care of this now. "It'll only take a few minutes," I assured Max. His raised eyebrow and slight headshake told me that he'd noticed the way I dodged the question but he turned our steps towards the store anyway.

'All I need is a notebook and pen... If I can just write down what I'm feeling and thinking now, then at least when I get my memory back I'll have something to remind me what it was like. Maybe that'll be enough to make me change...' I hoped so. And if it wasn't - maybe I didn't really want my memory back at all. Maybe I'd rather stay the way I was now.

[chap. 2] [chap. 4] [back to Calic0cat's fic]