*Hello guys, this is just a quick oneshot to help myself stretch my writing muscles and an attempt to get back into the swing of things for my other story: The Englishman. Hope you like it.
Disclaimer: If I was really AH, I'd be publishing these things and making a killing. But I'm not, so you're stuck with me. :)
Hope you enjoy.*
Jack remembers Ian with her senses.
How smooth his knuckles were under her fingertips as she passed him a cup of tea. How calloused his palm was when they met and shook hands for the first time.
How sometimes he would come home from his trips smelling like strange, new cologne. How, at home, he would smell only like his aftershave and laundry detergent.
As time passes, she forgets the sound of his voice. She cannot decide if it was deep and husky or light and clear.
Goodness forbid, she never tasted the man, but she remembers picking up his glass of wine by mistake once. He had laughed at her and she had blushed. She still remembers how smooth the drink had been, how conscious she had been of his moisture on the rim afterwards.
The only thing she believes that she will certainly remember until her eventual end is snapshots of what he looked like. The fragile, tense mask he wore after he returned from a mission. The way he arched his spine and stood so tall it seemed like he was a giant, his hair brushing the sky whenever he needed to assert his authority. The nuanced crow's feet around his eyes and the dimple in his right cheek when he suddenly grinned. The skin on his cheek mottled purple and grey from a badly hidden bruise. The shine in his eyes when he was unable to hold in his admiration of Alex.
She keeps these things in her mental scrapbook. Ian will never come back. But she can look and remember and it gives her the strength to keep going for Alex in Ian's stead.
Alex remembers Ian's strict training. Alex is not resentful of his uncle's instructions. The teenager does not hold a grudge and does not stew in anger about the fact he was trained from birth. Ian's preparations have saved Alex's life more times than anyone will be able to realize.
The training almost makes things seem… familiar.
There's an enormously tiny space between dodging bullets and running for attack dogs where Alex stops, doubles over, rests his hands on his thighs, and just breathes. In times like those, Alex feels like he used to when he was a proper kid. He feels like he's just finished a particularly grueling karate class. Or like he has scaled a sheer cliff with nothing but a few ropes and a carabineer keeping him from plummeting to his death for the first time. Each of these times, his uncle would stand close with a hand on his hip, a grin on his face and his brow raised. A challenge. Are you ready to go again?
Alex takes a deep breath, determined to prove that his uncle has not won this round. He sets off sprinting again, set to face another threat and win. Ian always took Alex to the brink of endurance. Alex had been taught how to believe in himself. It gives him the strength and confidence to keep going. He has the confidence to keep winning.
Blunt remembers Ian's thick file. He remembers all of Ian's successes, and of course, Ian's greatest failure. He can recite the case reports verbatim along with a deep and probing analysis of what worked and what did not. He does not remember much after that. He will not allow himself to. He's running a spy agency and there is no way he will allow himself to become attached.
Tulip remembers Ian as a man from the Rider dynasty. She also remembers him as the first agent who was not offended when she distanced herself from him. He understood that as deputy, she could not form personal attachments to those in positions underneath her. She would be grateful for his understanding if she did not have to pretend her name is Tulip Jones and if he had been the first agent she had die.
Crawley remembers Ian's jokes. Ian always managed to crack the funniest jokes when everyone else was falling asleep on a stake-out or when everyone was wound up with tension after a difficult interrogation. It does not give him strength or comfort but it makes him smile when he thinks about it.
Smithers remembers how much he had liked Ian's personality and professional respect. Smithers feels appreciated when he thinks about it. He also feels sad that no matter how hard he tries; sometimes agents cannot be saved by gadgets alone. He adds Ian to the list of agents that have died during his time at MI6. He works his fingers to the bone for them.
And somewhere, there is a man that cannot remember anything at all. Maybe it is Ian. Maybe it is Yassen. Maybe it is an innocent man who has never done anything of importance in all of his dull years.
It pains this man that he cannot remember. His whole identity is buried under a fog and it drives him mad that he cannot just claw through to find the information underneath.
But in the end, in the grand scheme of things, it's okay. Somewhere, there is at least one person who will do enough remembering for the both of them. Maybe they are not recalling the man in question, but they are remembering someone who was alive and breathing and meaningful.
And that is enough.