"Memento Mori"
by Allronix
EFC, V, Sandoval

Summary: Me·men·to mo·ri - Etymology: Latin, "remember that you must die" : a reminder of mortality.

Standard disclaimer: I own none of these people, Tribune does.

Notes: Drafted at midnight, no beta
Archive/Feedback - yes, roses and onions needed


The wedding ring for DeeDee.
The last orchid for Da'an.
A World Series ticket from Boone.
The rune necklace for Siobhan.
The get-well card from Liam Kincaid…whoever he really was.

In the quiet of the abandoned Mothership, Sandoval carried these treasures, small fragments of when there was something worth keeping, worth hanging onto.

The last reminders that he was human.

Da'an had taken Boone's orchids after his death, carefully cultivating them, sometimes looking at them with the deep sadness that seemed to be the alien's default. Like that energy-based bastard could know pain. Maybe he did towards the end, kryss addiction warping and slowly killing, causing Da'an to turn away from anything that could have kept him sane or alive.

A part of Sandoval wanted to smile and coldly laugh at Da'an's suffering. Finally, he got a taste of hell, a taste of what Sandoval had lived for years, the slow erosion into nothing. Yet, it was lonely when he walked amid the ruins of what had been the North American Embassy. The building was a battered hollow shell of what was once grand and strangely beautiful - much as Da'an had been.

The orchid went in first.

DeeDee was no longer human, the way he no longer was human. Whatever had been of Delores Deanna Brown and Ronald Phillip Sandoval had been sacrificed on what passed for a Taelon's altar long ago. His mind twisted by the CVI, he put her into the perdition of a mental ward, drugged into a virtual coma. Boone had told him she was dead.

The truth was worse. A new identity, new alliances. She testified against him in an ANA kangaroo court, proving to be the nightmare he hoped to avoid by sending her away. She became what he had - a twisted and vengeful creature, enjoying the pain of her foe. Yet, she hadn't seen for herself what a nightmare it truly was to give into to that vengeance.

Sandoval almost cut his finger twisting off the wedding band and throwing it in with the orchid.

The baseball stub was next. There were perks to being a Companion Protector, and one of those was the ability to pull a few strings. Boone had done so and got two home-plate seats for the World Series game. He made a remark, in his usual droll fashion, about a break being a good thing to increase their efficiency. Truth was, even Da'an was wanting a moment to himself and his Implants to leave the Embassy for a few hours.

It had felt good. Yankees at their best, umpires at their most blind, noisy crowds, and generous amounts of overpriced, watered-down ballpark beer. Boone teased him about being a Seattle fan, and Sandoval gave it right back, quoting the statistics of some of the teams Boone had picked and explaining that at least Seattle made it to the playoffs.

Rubbing the ticket stub in his hands, Sandoval realized what a rare man Will Boone had been. He had forgiven so much, and tried to understand so much more. He had every reason to choose destruction, and double the reasons to hate him. Instead, Boone treated him as a comrade, maybe another lost soul.

He'd never know, would he? The ticket stub joined the stack.

Siobhan Beckett had been another lost soul. She didn't know it. She hadn't lost a loved one due to the ravages of her CVI. Only one of three female protectors in the world, she set an example to everyone, even him, about what the true duty of a Protector was.

That was during the day. In the night, there would be the nightmares, the CVI playing back private hells to her. There was also the nightmare they shared - neither one could remember the details of it. There was a flash here and there - an alleyway, a church, a glowing man that held them fast while he assaulted them. They would wake up calling each other's name. Small favors were to be had in the time zone differences and the fact that there was no such thing as long distance charges on their globals. When they were together, they could chase the ghosts away in a shared bed and a bullshit excuse about tension relief. The last small favor was that while Kincaid seemed to know of the affair, the enigmatic successor to Boone kept his mouth shut and knew when to get out of the way.

Siobhan told him often that she saw him as a good man despite everything. He didn't have to wear the armor around her, and didn't have to hide anything from her like he had to with DeeDee. The truth was that Siobhan was good and noble, strong hands and a gold heart. What had been noble in him died with her.

"I wish I could have been the man you saw in me, Siobhan." He jerked the chain off his neck, the fragile gold snapping as the small pendant came off in his hand.

The last was the most recent. The get-well card was tasteful, a picture-postcard scene of a lakeside on the front, and a handwritten missive inside. The note proved just how revealing and mysterious its writer could be at the same time.

"Dear Sandoval,

I heard about your blood disorder, and am very glad that you found what you needed to make a recovery. No, I won't reveal my sources. Yes, I do worry about you sometimes. I know we are not friends and never can be. That still won't stop me from wanting to watch your back. No, I don't expect you to watch mine. Truth is, most of what I know of being a Protector comes from watching you. We're not the most open or trusting of people. Doesn't hurt to care, though. Just remember that, ok?

I'll be out of town for the next few days - personal business. When you're out of the hospital, give me a call. Better, I'll give you a call."

True to his word, Kincaid did call - twice. The conversations were excessively formal, and when the younger man returned, he seemed to go right back to treating Sandoval with suspicion, but the suspicion spread to Da'an as well. As much as Sandoval didn't care to admit it, Kincaid engendered as much of his respect as his loathing. Staring at yet another disgusted look on Kincaid's face, Sandoval was uncomfortably reminded of what he was as a young man, before his life of betrayals and lies. Oddly enough, Kincaid seemed to know this and continue his goading.

Now that Kincaid was gone, Sandoval missed the challenge.

"As much as I hate to admit this, Major…or whoever you really were. I knew your identity was utterly fake. But even while living your lies, you proved to be a better man than I could ever be, and I hated you for that. Perhaps I shouldn't have. Good luck wherever you are now."

He set the card by the rune. For reasons he couldn't quite understand, he somehow knew that "Major Kincaid" and Siobhan Beckett had a connection, even if the nature of that connection was unknown to him.

Standing up, he took a step back, and sealed the airlock door, venting the last of his treasures to space.

With their deaths, he died a piece at a time. The shell of a man remained.

It was a bittersweet comfort to know that he would not be living for long.