Disclaimer: jake 2.0 and all related elements, characters and indicia © Roundtable Entertainment and Viacom Productions, Inc., 2003. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations-save those created by the authors for use solely on this website-are copyright Roundtable Entertainment and Viacom Productions, Inc.

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Author's note: HUGE thanks to my betas, particularly SuzVoy and Perri.

Sense Memory
by Tara O'Shea

When he closes his eyes, he can still feel her touch--hands on the sides of his face, cradling it gently, tenderly. Feel her lips brushing his neck, her breasts pressed up against his chest as he moves against her, the blankets tangling around them. His hand vividly remembers the curve of her hip beneath his fingers as she leans into his touch, the shared hunger for contact, for closeness in the darkened room of the boarding house, closing the space between them until he's pressed up against her so tightly he can't breathe.

Behind his eyelids, he can hear her soft cries, her quick intake of breath at his touch as the sounds of the traffic in the street fade away. The crowd at the club's door melts into white noise as he presses her up against the water pipes, his fear and hopelessness turning to a fierce need at the slightest kindness she shows him. He hears her heartbeat quicken as her arms go around him in the darkened doorway of his room, her breath hitching as he nuzzles her ear. Hears his own laboured breathing as he pulls her hips flush up against him, brushes the sides of her breasts with his hands, flicks his thumbs across her nipples, stiff beneath her top and bra as they tumble to the bed. Feels the slip-slide of her nylons as she hooks a leg around his waist, her heel rubbing rhythmically against the back of his thigh through his jeans. Feels her nails rake his back as he strips off the filthy tee-shirt, tugging it over his head, momentarily blinded.

When he closes his eyes, he can still see her. Her lips are bruised from kisses, and her dark curls are spread across the cheap coverlet like a crown. There are tears in her dark eyes, and his chest aches knowing he's the cause. He can see how her lower lip trembles, and how she can't meet his eyes. He can see the pulse beating wildly in the hollow of her throat, and how flushed she's become, her cheeks and neck pink beneath pale, flawless skin. He can see the curve of her breasts in the deep v-neck of her black blouse, and a smudge of dried brown--blood that he hadn't even realised he still had on his hands when he touched her.

He closes his eyes and breathes deep, and the room smells of dampness and mould, the comforter and sheets musty, but beneath that he can smell the fake-strawberry scent of her shampoo. He can smell the residue of cigarette smoke from the club, and the coppery dried blood from the shirt that lays in a crumpled heap on the floor next to the bed. He can smell how aroused she is, as they grind against one another despite the clothes they still wear. He can smell the sheen of sweat drying on their bodies as she stops, and whispers I can't, and begins to cry in earnest.

He closes his eyes, and tastes her. He remembers his lips travelling down the side of her neck as she leans back against him, her scarf sliding to the floor soundlessly as it slips from slack fingers. The salt tang of the valley between her breasts as he pushes the jacket from her shoulders, wanting to feel bare skin against bare skin so desperately his fingers shake as she removes her glasses and sets them on the top of the dresser. Tastes the memory of coffee as her mouth opens beneath his, her tongue sliding against his, taking his bottom lip gently between her teeth. Tastes her tears as they slide down her cheeks, disappearing into her hair as she trembles in his arms, holding onto to him as tightly as he holds on to her as they rock back and forth, his whispered It's okay, it's okay... an unconscious echo of hers in the alley, just before he first kissed her, and she first kissed him back.

He closes his eyes, and he can feel her in his arms as they roll over onto their sides, and she tries to muffle the quiet sobs that continue to wrack her body. He can feel how she grips his arm, as if she's afraid that if she lets go, he'll melt away. Disappear. He remembers finally feeling her go slack, having cried herself out, and dozing fitfully after what felt like hours. He remembers feeling tears wet on his own cheeks, and brushing them away with the heel of his hand before he pulls the tattered red blanket he'd gotten at the Salvation Army resale shop for a double handful of quarters over them both.

He closes his eyes, and remembers waking next to her from his first uninterrupted night's sleep in weeks. He remembers how it felt to lie like spoons in a drawer, feeling her steady breathing as she slept, burying his face in her neck and pretending he never has to leave this room. Sitting in the chair and just watching her, as the sun rose and the morning light streamed through the window, burnishing her hair a deep copper in its rosy glow. He remembers that he may not know who he is, but in that moment, he knows he loves her. Knows he can't live without her. Knows he wants her more than he's ever wanted anyone or anything in his life.

Jake opens his eyes slowly, and sees Diane standing across the lab, preparing the hypodermic needle. She looks up, catching his eyes, and smiles.

He wants to kiss her again, just in case it's the last time.

"So, you, ah... you ready to get your memories back?" she asks with that smile that he now realises doesn't--quite--belong to him.

He glances down at the stack of files on the diagnostic table, at his face staring up at him from photos, at a black and white record of exploits he can't even fathom, let alone imagine living through. A stranger's face. A stranger's life. The files tell him what he's done, but not who he is. How she fits into his life--how he fits into hers. He wants to ask how he fits and where, but doesn't know how. So he keeps flipping through the pages instead.

"Yeah. I guess."