Title: What Heaven Looks Like
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Summary: There's never much to the memories, when they come; just a heartbeat or two of a life not all that much different from the one he's living now. 1000 words.
Prompt: 24 Days of Ficmas, Day 15: For lizbet0. Prompt: The Mummy Returns, Rick as the Medjai assigned as Nefertiri's primary bodyguard.
The memories come to Rick- when they do- in brief, easily managed bursts. There's never much to them; just a heartbeat or two of a life not all that much different from the one he's living now.
It's her, mostly: the sway of her long, soot-dark hair as he follows her down a corridor; the pad of her small feet on stone steps as she descends into a courtyard; the scent of her sweat as she commands him to clandestine practice that she may better show to her father's glory in her next fight against the Pharaoh's concubine.
He would never have even known them for more than daydream if he didn't half-find himself thinking in Ancient Egyptian afterward, every time. In formal tenses, no less. It's weird; of all the little signs he now realizes were showing through even before his first trek to Hamunaptra, why couldn't that one have come up earlier? He's never liked not being able to understand when an enemy starts in with the threats and insults, never mind being able to make himself perfectly clear in return.
It's mostly just been since the thing with the Scorpion King and the Spear of Osiris; the blast of oily power that rushed through him when he'd killed the big guy must have shaken a few things loose. Before that, it had mostly just been the sense of crawling fingers up his spine in situations a Medjai would have known were dangerous; a few skills the French Foreign Legion had never trained him in, like catching a knife mid-throw and returning it to its owner; and his inexplicable ability to survive in the desert without supplies of any kind. Just the bare necessities, basically. He'd been perfectly happy just thinking of himself as lucky.
Well, he still does think that; but now it's for completely different reasons. It would've taken someone a lot less perceptive than Rick to keep denying the truth when he'd seen it for his own eyes- but the 'missing piece of his heart' that Ardeth had rambled on about, preaching about destiny, had nothing to do with his hand on the Spear of Osiris as far as Rick's concerned. It's Evie herself: and he has no doubt it was just as true in their other life as it is in this one.
The main difference is- in that life, he's pretty sure he was never allowed to be anything other than her bodyguard. Just last week, he'd got a flash of her looking over her father's shoulder, at Imhotep watching Anck-su-Namun... and he'd been too busy feeling sympathetic for the damn priest as his own eyes tracked back to the princess to really think all the implications through.
He's not sure he'd actually survived the death of the Pharaoh in that lifetime; he's seen a glimpse of her calling down from her balcony, screaming that her father needed the Medjai, but nothing that he could be sure happened afterward. Which is fitting, he supposes. He doesn't like those later memories much anyway; the muscles in his shoulders are always knotted in those brief glimpses, as tense as the undercurrents circulating in the court, as frustrated as Nefertiri's simmering moods.
The earlier memories are much more pleasant. Evie'd looked up at him the other day, reclining against his chest, and made some comment about the beauty of his eyes; and for just a second he'd seen her instead, cutting a sly glance at him through her lashes as he was presented to her in her father's presence as her new primary guard. "He has eyes the color of the heavens," she'd said, surprise in her voice; and the brother warrior with him had laughed at that pleased appraisal. Then the scene had dissolved back into the O'Connell bedroom in England, and the press of his wife's lips against his own. A picnic later that week on a cloudless day had triggered a brief glimpse of a sun-drenched afternoon on a boat in the Nile, accompanied by the musical sound of the princess' laughter; an impromptu dance on the carpet in her study had brought a flash of Nefertiri's wrist clasped gently in callused fingers as he'd demonstrated a grip on one of his swords.
His brother had caught them then, too; and one of these days he's going to have to kick Ardeth in the shin and ask him just how much he remembers of that lifetime. Smug bastard; he might have said something other than all that 'you are the three sides of the pyramid' nonsense when they'd been flying over Egypt in Izzy's balloon. Something like, 'Oh yes, the adopted second son of the leader of the Medjai in Seti's day was an orphaned boy from Keftiu. He was assigned to guard the princess for all eternity; and wouldn't you know it, you look just like him.'
Oh, who was he kidding; Rick still wouldn't have believed him. He hadn't wanted to, not then.
He'd been kinda afraid, actually, of what had been happening to Evie. Scared she'd lose herself in those visions; they weren't like what he's seeing, more like full-sensory overlays that left her unresponsive for minutes at a time. He hadn't been exaggerating when he'd told her he hadn't had a good night's sleep after the Year of the Scorpion began; there hadn't been a night that went by before Alex put on the bracelet of Anubis that she hadn't spoken the ancient language in her sleep. He hadn't liked it; he didn't like anything that took her away from him so thoroughly.
And maybe that's the real reason these little glimpses of memory have finally been floating back to him. It's his subconscious, reassuring him that he's not losing his wife to some spoiled foreign princess from days of yore. She and Nefertiri are the same person; always have been, and always will be.
And always will be his, if Rick O'Connell has anything to say about it.