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25 May 2006 @ 09:40 pm
Ficathon entry: Recollection and Recovery  
Title: Recollection and Recovery
Author: philomytha
Recipient: tpau
Rating/Warnings: G, none
Notes: tpau requested Simon & Alys. A missing scene from Memory.

Illyan walked along the street, his steps confident and steady. His physical training had remained with him, the muscle-memory of thirty years of practice, and he knew how to avoid looking like either a target or a challenge for the people around him. Steady, direct, unobtrusive. Not even his eyes would betray him, he knew.

He saw nothing he recognised. No building, no road name, no hill or turn stirred his battered mind. It was all alien, a world he had never seen before. I spent forty-five years master of the silent corners of this city, he raged inwardly. But his expertise was gone now. He shivered. When he had dressed for this walk, he had only expected a half-hour stroll. He looked at his chrono. Four in the afternoon. He couldn’t remember what the time had been when he left Vorkosigan House, but it had been more than half an hour ago. Sometime after lunch, he thought. His stomach remembered the remains of Miles’ cook’s art.

He was tired too. Light activity, the doctor had said, and some three hours of walking in the chill winter afternoon did not count. It had only been a few days ago—he couldn’t quite be sure if it was four or five—he had been in the ImpSec clinic, and the weeks of medical torment had left scars. When he saw a bench at a road junction he stopped and sat on it, breathing heavily. His head ached from the constant searching for answers that were no longer there.

Now, how long would it be before the ImpSec men who had undoubtedly been trailing him through the city decided he had sat here long enough and approached? He looked at the people on the street, wondering which were his men. None of the faces were any more familiar than the buildings had been. Perhaps whoever had attacked him would reach him before ImpSec. Illyan wasn’t sure he minded. He was rather hoping to be able to grapple with his attacker close up, where he could return some of the damage he had suffered.

He shivered again. A vision of Miles advising him to have a quiet afternoon rose in his head. Where had that been lurking, in the useless crevices of his memory? And who would have thought Miles would be the sensible, sedate one, and he the one taking foolish risks and getting himself into trouble. He began to consider signalling to the ImpSec men, get them to take him home. That would be sensible. Admitting defeat was not very attractive, though. He could easily imagine their badly-concealed pity beneath the deference.

A handsome black ground-car shot past, then came to a sudden halt a little beyond him. Trained muscles tensed and he moved his jacket a little so as to be able to reach the stunner he still carried. The rear door slid open and to his surprise Alys Vorpatril emerged in a swirl of dark blue skirt and fur coat. Perhaps there could be something salvaged of this afternoon. He rose stiffly and scrambled down the bank to the road.

‘Simon! What are you—would you like a lift to Vorkosigan House? I was coming to visit you.’

Illyan bowed over her hand and allowed her to shepherd him towards the ground-car. He stood aside and took her hand to help her in.

‘You’re freezing!’ she said, almost as if it were a personal insult to her. He settled himself beside her and let her fuss over him, commanding the driver to turn up the heating and taking the folded lap-rug and putting it over him.

‘What brought you out here, anyway? Miles’ people should be shot for letting you go out without proper clothing for the weather.’

‘I went for a walk,’ Illyan said, not quite as bland as he might have wished. ‘To see the city again.’

Alys looked at him sharply, then a gentle smile came over her face like a veil. ‘That sounds nice. Shall we drive around for a bit, before going back to Vorkosigan House?’

Illyan shook his head. ‘I’ve seen everything I wanted to.’ Enough to know that seeing once-familiar places wasn’t going to revive his lost memories. He stared fixedly ahead. Then he felt Alys slip her hand into his, murmuring something about warming him up. She chafed his hands between her own, and he allowed her unspoken sympathy to wash over him.

They reached Vorkosigan House, and Illyan found to his chagrin that he was too stiff and aching to get to Alys’ door rapidly enough to help her out in the proper fashion. She seemed not to notice his lapse, but permitted him to give her his arm as they entered the house. They went up to his suite, and Alys sent Martin for hot drinks and something to eat.

Illyan sat back in an armchair and gazed into the middle distance. Alys was still bustling in her own inimitable way, somehow soothing and steadying. It was the triviality of it all that calmed Illyan. Alys could lavish as much care and attention on the question of what to serve at a dinner party as Illyan would on a counter-terrorism operation. She was chatting, making inconsequential remarks about the weather and the traffic in the city centre.

‘You would have had quite a walk back from the financial district,’ she said, finally seating herself near him in a gentle swirl of skirts. ‘There’s a nice path just been put in, though, along the river. It’s better in summer. I believe Ivan takes young ladies walking down there.’

Illyan smiled. Martin returned with a small trolley and served them carefully, one eye on Alys. She nodded approval several times, and corrected his style of pouring tea. There was a plate of beautifully cut sandwiches, some steaming savoury-smelling pastries, a tureen of soup and two kinds of cake. Illyan discovered he was ravenous. He remembered meeting the cook, a motherly, plump woman who had moved about her kitchen with the authority of an admiral in his tactics room.

‘Thank you,’ Alys said to Martin, but the boy stood a moment longer until Alys repeated herself, adding, ‘You may leave now.’ He flushed and hurried out.

They ate for a while in silence, and Illyan began to feel warm and relaxed again. The memory of the walk lingered; he supposed it was good that he could still recall it, but it made unpleasant contemplating. Alys was helping him to more soup, and she smiled affectionately at him as she passed him the bowl.

‘I was completely lost,’ Illyan said abruptly. ‘If you hadn’t come by I might have walked around all night and never found my way back. I don’t know how I got to where I ended up, and I didn’t recognise any places at all.’

Alys nodded, attentive. ‘I daresay that is to be expected,’ she said in surprisingly practical tone. ‘I presume you kept all your maps on the chip. You’ll learn your way about again.’

‘But—if you were wandering about in a strange city, you could remember where you’d just been and retrace your steps, remember the route you’d taken. I couldn’t even do that.’

‘Healing doesn’t happen all in a moment, Simon.’ A touch of pain crossed Alys’ face. ‘You have been badly hurt. It may not look like other injuries, but it is one all the same. If you had, oh, broken your leg, you wouldn’t be trying to go running the next day.’

‘Miles would,’ Illyan muttered.

Alys gave him a very dry look. ‘Miles can be excessively foolish.’

‘Truer words were never spoken.’ Some of his memories were still there, at least. Alys was right, this was a problem that required time. He turned his attention away from his own difficulties and looked properly at Alys. Perhaps there would be advantages to being retired. He’d certainly longed for it often enough.

‘I have two tickets for the Vorbarr Sultana Company on Thursday evening,’ Alys said after a pause. ‘I wonder if I could prevail upon you to take one of them and accompany me.’

‘I would be honoured.’ Long habit prevented him from letting his emotions show on his face, but he could not keep his eyes from gleaming.

‘I have an ulterior motive for asking—though the pleasure of your company would be enough. There is a lot of gossip about you going around at the moment. I think it would help some of the wilder rumours if you were seen publicly.’

Just not wandering lost through the back streets of the city, Illyan added mentally.

‘You know I always defer to your expertise in these matters.’

Alys smiled, then sighed. He realised that she looked tired. ‘Yes, that’s another thing. I haven’t approached Haroche yet about that business. I—I don’t find I care to work with someone different after all these years.’

Illyan noted the odd relief he felt at this, though he could not explain it rationally. He had always used his intuition and memory together to solve problems; now only half that well-trained team remained to him. He found himself disliking the idea of Alys working with Haroche. Was that a warning about the man from his unconscious, or just old-fashioned jealousy? He could see no way to find out now.

‘I suppose you think that’s silly,’ Alys continued, misinterpreting his expression. ‘I just can’t like the man, after—well.’

Illyan waited. Never interrupt a witness.

‘He mismanaged your illness so dreadfully. You should never have had to go through most of what you did. Anyone so stupid and narrow-minded—I’m sorry, I know you appointed him. But he was awful. It was awful.’

Illyan waited again. He was not surprised that nobody had said anything more than the bare minimum about his stay in the ImpSec clinic. The shadowy fragments he recalled were bad enough. A single moment emerged in his mind’s eye. He was lying on a bed, looking up at Alys, and a tear was running down her face. Now he saw traces of that grief in her eyes, but she said nothing more.

When he had been a covert agent, before the chip was put in, he had known that seizing the tactical moment was everything. He leaned forward and put his hand on Alys’ arm.

‘Thank you for being there. I do remember some of it.’

Alys let out her breath slowly and covered his hand with her own, in a gesture so like that used in a betrothal ceremony that Illyan had to swallow foolish words with difficulty. For a moment they sat like that, then their eyes met and they both drew back at the same time like shy youths.

Alys looked at the antique brass clock on the table opposite.

‘Bother. I wish I could stay, but Laisa will be waiting. I must dash.’

Illyan rose, and feeling far happier than he had when they arrived, escorted Alys back down the stairs to the entrance.

‘Till Thursday, then.’ Alys’ smile sent unaccustomed shivers down his spine. He took her hand, kissed it and looked her in the eye.

‘I won’t forget.’

Zenspinner Chaosdancerchaosdancer on May 25th, 2006 09:12 pm (UTC)

I love it. Thank you for writing it.
quietannquietann on May 25th, 2006 09:15 pm (UTC)
Oh! I love this!!!
ibarhisibarhis on May 25th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you...
leadensky on May 26th, 2006 12:16 am (UTC)

Lady Alys is different, seen through Simon's eyes - still competent, but more...she's sexy, the way he looks at her.

And poor Simon, still lost.

- hossgal
firefly_124: biologicalwealth by asefirefly124 on May 26th, 2006 12:18 am (UTC)
You've captured them both nicely!
TPautpau on May 26th, 2006 02:10 am (UTC)
oooo! :)

hm, shoudl i ahve gotten an assignment towrite somethign for someone? i volunteered but heard nothing...
philomythaphilomytha on May 26th, 2006 08:22 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it! I love writing Simon and Alys, my only difficulty was deciding which of the many possible stories to choose :-)

The assignments were given out some time ago, in this post.
TPautpau on May 26th, 2006 11:23 am (UTC)
doh i missed that post. will write this weekend :)
Altariel: Gregoraltariel on May 26th, 2006 11:27 am (UTC)
Sorry you missed the assignments post, tpau. Glad you're still on board. Looking forward to the fic :-)
Ekaterin Vorkosiganekatrin1 on May 26th, 2006 05:41 am (UTC)
Awww, its so cute. Very well done. Thank you.
say it's like having poliofourteenlines on May 26th, 2006 06:34 am (UTC)
Lady Alys to the rescue! Oh, this is wonderful. The last line is a kicker.
jetta_e_rus aka Жоржетта: Illyanjetta_e_rus on May 26th, 2006 08:47 am (UTC)
Alys is so wise, reassuring and calm. And Simon looks like a "proper Illyan" despite he forgot all his training; he is instinctively reserved and well-mannered.
philomythaphilomytha on May 26th, 2006 09:04 am (UTC)
Well-mannered, yes! I tried to write a story set whilst Illyan was ill, in which one of the things that impressed Alys was that even when he didn't know where he was or what year it was, he remembered his manners. I think this is one of the key points of his characterisation.

(PS: now that I've got this written I'll have ch3 of your story proofread for you soon)
Altariel: Gregoraltariel on May 26th, 2006 11:12 am (UTC)
Alys could lavish as much care and attention on the question of what to serve at a dinner party as Illyan would on a counter-terrorism operation.

Ah, that's both of them right there, isn't it?

master of the silent corners of this city

*shivers* Perfect Illyan.

I love Alys giving Martin lessons in how to pour tea!

A very gentle, very touching piece, written with care, and about care. I had a real lump in my throat at the end. Lovely.
Anne-Elisa: omg yay by hiragizawaetrangere on May 29th, 2006 07:34 pm (UTC)
Very lovely ^^
filkferengifilkferengi on May 31st, 2006 04:34 am (UTC)
Oh, nicely done!
kimiamber on January 12th, 2007 05:54 am (UTC)
dear philomytha, may i ask you a favor?
I really love this story you written, it's so cute. I’m from China. (Not sure whether you have got any comment from Chinese readers before, but I’d be honored if I’m among the first.:)) the Vorkosigan series has been translated into Chinese recently, and lots of people here are also quite interested in this fandom. I really want to share your stories with them, so would you mind if I translate RECOLLECTION AND RECOVERY into Chinese?

I will put the translated version on a Chinese site, and of course, no money will be made from it. Anyway, if the people who *wrote* these stories did it just for fun, those who translate them would just follow suit. Please let me know if it is okay.

I'm a new LJ user, and still not quite sure how to use it. if you see this comment, would you mind give me a e-mail reply, no matter whether you will give me the permission? my e-mail address is drummachine@hotmail.com.

Thank you again, and waiting for your reply!

sincerely yours,
rubynye on December 1st, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
Another polished missing scene, slipping so neatly into an interstice in canon. *applauds*
philomythaphilomytha on December 1st, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)

It puts a huge smile on my face to know that you're reading back through my old fics and enjoying them!