(requested by mathmaticalknight) Nian/Whisperain
Being a wanderer in Terra isn’t an ideal lifestyle, but it’s one several of Rhodes Island’s heaviest hitters lived before their arrival. Some, like Ceobe, essentially settled down; they found open arms, helping hands, and (in a couple of hungry doggos’ case) a wide pantry that enticed them to stay. Others, however, saw RI as simply another stop in their journey - they found Rhodes Island, accepted their aid and training, but fully expected to leave in future.
Then, of course, there were those who thought they were the latter and became the former.
Whisperain was in the AV cabin alone, halfway through a heart-wrenching drama, when a voice said from behind her, “You’ve got good taste.”
“Eh? O-oh, Miss Nian. You startled me.” The Aegir hadn’t expected visitors period, let alone in the middle of a dialogue. “How long have you been there?”
“Oh, not too long. Saw someone was in here, figured it was you, and figured I’d stop by and say hi.” There was an intensity in her eyes that contradicted her words, though.
Still, it’d be rude to turn her away, so the doctor didn’t. She didn’t openly invite her to stay, though. “Hello.”
“Have you seen this one before?” The Nian asked, inviting herself to an empty chair next to Whisperain and setting a large bowl of popcorn in her lap. “It looks familiar.”
“I don’t remember seeing it before.” Why would the smith say it that way, though?
Nian offered her the bowl. “Ah, right, how could I forget? Popcorn?”
“Thank you.” She took a single handful. “...Um, what did you forget?”
“Your memory loss between regenerations.”
Stunned silence as the movie carried on. The Aegir went through her handful of popcorn one kernel at a time until, out of distractions to stall with, she asked, “We’ve met before?”
“We have.” She’d dropped the levity in her voice for gravitas. “You saved my life, even.”
“Oh. I see.” Good to know? The doctor wasn’t sure what she was expected to do with that information.
The smith glanced at the pause on the machine, but she decided against pressing it. “I tried to return the favor, but I failed...and I wanted to make sure you knew I was sorry, even knowing you wouldn’t know.”
“...Nian,” Whisperain asked, “have we only met once before?”
“...No,” the Nian admitted.
The Aegir sighed, pressing the pause button herself. “Have you apologized to me before?”
“Every time,” she replied. “You’re the only person I’ve met I can say that about. It makes you special.”
“Is it painful to remember, even now?”
Fair question. “You told me once, while we were talking, that you wondered if people with exceptionally long lives forget. Honestly, a lot of things I have forgotten, details of places and times I’ll never be able to get back - something you probably relate to. Living as long as we have, even if my memory doesn’t reset, it gets blurry. But there are some things that I’m not allowed to forget, and that day is one of them.”
“I see.” The doctor reached into her purse and pulled out a very small plastic bag with scraps of paper in it. Approximately one ticket’s worth of scraps. “While I was in Yen, I attended a showing of a movie called What We Had Before. Do you remember it?”
“In Yen?...No, I didn’t have a chance to watch movies while I was in Yen.” She’d had other matters to attend to then.
Whisperain set that bag aside and pulled out the sturdier pouch she’d pulled that plastic bag from - necessary to keep them in one place. “Would you like to show me what we saw while we traveled together?”
“How far back does that collection go?” And yes, Nian did want to help with that. “When was our first meeting...950? Anything from around that time?”
“Let me see.” One by one, the Aegir lifted a ticket from its stowing place, squinted at it in the dim light, shook her head, and set it to the side.
After five or six of these, the smith pointed to the light above them. “Wouldn’t it be easier to see with some light?”
“It would,” the doctor admitted; she was feeling a bit of strain from relying on the frozen movie to see by. “Would you mind-”
“Not at all.” The Nian went over to the light dial, clicked it up slowly but steadily, and stopped when Whisperain indicated she could see fine.
Looking at her collection again, she realized why she was having trouble finding tickets that old: the first one she had was from around that time, and it was the one she’d asked Nian about at first. “Ah...The only one from that time period is What We Had Before.”
“Oh? Interesting.” Come to think of it, that title did sound familiar. “Do ya think they have it here? Couldn’t hurt to look, right?”
“I’m curious what kind of movie it was. I don’t remember anything about it, unfortunately.”
That wasn’t surprising, but for it to be a shared blank spot from around that time period was especially odd. The smith found the library’s movie database, searched for it, and the first result was for a movie released in that timeframe. “We have it. Wanna finish this one first?”
“...I think I’ll finish it later.” This wasn’t her usual tact with people like Nian, but then again, there wasn’t really any person quite like Nian. Especially in the mood she was in right now. “Before we start, I need some water.”
“Oh, I have some.” The smith reached into a bag Whisperain hadn’t seen before, set on the floor by the chair her ‘guest’ had taken for herself, and pulled out a bottle of distilled water for her.
That meant she knew about the Aegir’s poor tap-mineral tolerance already. “You remembered.”
“Like I said, I’m not allowed to forget.” The Nian smiled bitterly. “At least I learn from my mistakes.”
“If I may ask, could you tell me...how I died?” When Rhodes Island found out about her regeneration - unfortunately through experience - they’d told her what’d happened to her. It meant she could learn from the experience, in a way.
Nian took a breath through her teeth. “You got sick - a routine cold, the sort of thing most people fight off with some bedrest and water - but it hit you hard. Since you couldn’t take care of yourself, I did my best, following your instructions and whatnot, but...I didn’t know you couldn’t handle tap water very well.”
“I see.” Whisperain made a note to make a note of that in her self-treatment guide, something she maintained not for herself but for people taking care of her in illness. Like Rhodes Island had...Like Nian had. “Thank you for remembering.”
“Like I-...You’re welcome.” It would take some time for her to get over that.
Considering their relationship, though, the smith was well aware of what it took for them to get back to the place they’d gotten to the first time they’d sat in the theatre watching this movie - hands clasped on the armrest between them, popcorn in her lap and purse in the doctor’s. The Nian could have drawn that scene from memory by this point, from the number of times they’d seen it toge- she felt the Aegir’s hand settle on top of hers. She’d unintentionally set her arm in its usual place...and Whisperain had followed suit. Nian turned to ask her about it. “Whisperain?”
“The last time we saw this movie,” she whispered, showing her another ticket, “it was playing in a theatre.”
Whisperain leaned in close. “My memory may be erased, but there are some impressions that never leave me, although it seems it took some time for this one to settle properly.”
“To be fair, you’ve had some really crazy things happen to you since we first met.” Death was the least of what the Aegir’d survived- Well, not exactly ‘survived,’ but...fucking technicalities at this point. “I wasn’t surprised that I’d get lost in the shuffle-”
“I never lost you, Nian. It only took me some time to find you again.” The doctor locked her fingers with the smith’s.
The movie hadn’t even started, and the Nian was already tearing up. “Still wanna watch this with me?”
“Of course.” Whisperain turned back towards the screen, but then she rested her head against Nian’s shoulder, blinking tears away herself. “No matter how many times we do this...I want this memory in every lifetime.”
Before the opening credits, they were both crying...a new record.