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Remind Me How This Ends

By:
Amatia (amatia)

For:
anr (anr)

Fandom:
Stargate Atlantis

Pairing:
Joe Flanigan/Torri Higginson

Rating:
PG-13

Notes:
Dear Ness: I tried to write Hayden/Milo, but this story beat me over the head until I wrote it instead. Oh, Joe.

Super thanks to Fiona.

Summary:
"The only resolution and the only joy / Is the faint spark of forgiveness in your eyes" - Snow Patrol

 
The cold is to be expected, and Joe is the first to admit that he hates snow. But even though he's been out here almost all day, it's worth it just to get to shoot a scene with Torri again. He hasn't seen her in months, even though they'd promised to keep in touch, promised phone calls and visits when she left the show. It's taken the writers needing Weir in this episode to bring them face to face again.

"We going out later?" she asks, bumping against his arm in the enclosed staging area. How filming out in the wilderness is a better idea than fake snow on a set, Joe isn't sure, but at least this small area is slightly warmer.

"Sure," he says easily. "But only if you're buying the hot chocolate."

Torri rolls her eyes. Snow is melting in her hair. "Maybe with some Bailey's in it," she says. She glances at him and grins. "Or you could do a couple shots and feel just as warm."

He spends the rest of the scene mentally listing all the shots he knows, and wondering how many of those he could possibly get her to do. This episode is not going to be his Emmy moment, but he doesn't care.

*

"I'm sorry I never called," he says over glasses of Scotch.

Torri nods. "Me, too."

They've already done the requisite home and family small talk, the discussion of the half-dozen projects Torri's got on her plate, all the Atlantis set gossip she hasn't gotten through the grapevine from Rachel and Jane. Joe's slouched back in the corner of the booth, and Torri's feet are kicked up on the seat next to his thigh. He's resisting the urge to wrap his hand around her ankle.

That's the way he misses her, and he's pretty sure he's damned because of it. Not to mention foolish, because sometimes she looks at him like she knows. "I should probably head home," he tells her, finishing his drink.

"You wanna come over?" she asks. She brushes her hair from her face. "For a nightcap? I'm sure I've got some hot chocolate in the cupboard."

Joe shakes his head. "Nah, it's late," he says, and slides out of the booth. "Gotta hit the set early tomorrow." He moves around the table and kisses her cheek. She cups his face with her hand as he does. She smells like Scotch and cigarettes and, somehow, the fresh winter air. "I'll call, Tor," he promises, and this time he's sure he means it.

Three months pass before he sees her again.

*

It's late and Joe's had one too many, and there's only a handful of people left at the reception. Jason and Lisa are still holding court on the dance floor, but he's begged off and slumped in a chair, his tie loose, his shirt collar wide open. He's ready to take his shoes off and close his eyes, but he only gets to do one of those things before a hand closes around his wrist. "One more dance," Torri whispers in his ear. Joe opens his eyes. "Come on," she says. "For old time's sake?"

He lets himself be tugged from the chair, and wraps his arms around her waist. She's a vision in teal, he has to admit. Sometime during the night she'd lost the jacket that went with her dress, and the skin to silk ratio had changed dramatically when she did. Her hair is long enough now that it brushes his thumbs where they press against her back. "Can't believe almost everyone has gone home already," she says conversationally.

"I can't believe Jase and Lisa haven't ditched this place for the honeymoon," he replies, yawning. "And how come you're still here?"

Torri rubs her thumb over the back of his neck. She doesn't quite meet his gaze. "I have a hotel room upstairs, Joe."

"Oh." She hadn't brought a date, she lives twenty minutes away, and he knows she hasn't had so much to drink that she can't get herself home. "Oh," he says again. "Are you asking what I think you're asking?"

"Depends what you think I'm asking." She moves a little closer.

He really should take a step back, make a joke about how she can't hold her liquor (except she can) or the groomsmen she'd been flirting with all night (actually, it had looked like they'd been the ones doing the flirting). But he doesn't say a word. Instead, he nods, and brings the palm of her hand to his lips.

*

She undoes the clip holding half her hair up and then sits down on the bed. Joe leans against the wall, pulling at his tie. "I miss you," he says, without really thinking about it. "Sometimes I feel empty without you around."

She takes her shoes off. "You'll get used to it," she tells him quietly. "I did."

If you're so used to it, he wants to say, then why are we here? But he doesn't, just crosses to the bed and kisses her slowly.

*

Six months later, they're on a panel together at a con. Joe hadn't known she would be there until she came onto the stage, smiling and waving to the audience. She's telling some story about filming an episode with Kate, gesturing expansively. He slouches back in his seat and listens, lets her voice wash over him.

She catches him in the green room afterward. "You coming or going?"

"I've got a flight to LA in..." He trails off and looks at his watch. "Uhm, four hours, give or take."

"Want to get a cup of coffee?" she asks, but then Rachel comes up behind her and hugs her around the waist, and there's a flurry of touching and conversation about Caden. Joe stands there for a second, then picks up his bag and slips out the door. He can still hear them talking.

*

"You snuck out on me," she says the next time, at David and Jane's anniversary party. There's no accusation in her tone. Joe shrugs and grins, passes his beer from one hand to the other. "It couldn't be avoided, I guess," she continues. "You know how it is when Rach and I get going."

He laughs. "I know."

"Are we okay?" she asks, leaning against the wall.

Joe nods. "Yeah," he says. "Yeah, we're good."

*

"I'm sorry," he'd said afterward, laying motionless in the hotel room bed.

"Why?"

He wasn't exactly sure why he was sorry. Torri had turned over to look at him. "Joe?" she'd asked.

"I don't know," he'd said finally.

"I guess it's normal for you to feel guilty," she offered hesitantly.

He'd shoved a hand through his hair and blurted, "Why didn't we do this before?"

She frowned. "Probably because we would have had to look at each other every day afterward. And now we don't have to see each other for weeks, months even."

He hadn't been sure how he felt about that. Part of him didn't want to wait that long. But it wasn't the part of him that knew this hadn't been his best idea ever. She was single, unattached. He was about as attached as it got, and in more ways than one.

"Don't even think about saying you're sorry again," she had told him, and rolled onto her side. She cupped a hand over his arm. "Whatever it is you think you need to apologize for, I forgive you. God, Joe, it's not like I wasn't willing."

He could see in her eyes that she was telling the truth. "That's not it," he'd protested, but it had come out weak. "I'm sorry we can't have a happy ending."

Torri had propped herself up on her elbow and looked down at him. Her hair cascaded over her shoulder. Joe had tangled his fingers in it. "Me too," she'd said, and leaned down to kiss him. Joe had tried to hold her tight, because he knew she would leave if he let go. "How about this," she'd whispered against his mouth. "You kiss me some more, then get dressed and sneak out of here while I'm all blissed out, and we'll forget we ever had this conversation."

It was the best ending they were going to get. Joe hadn't really wanted to do it, but he had. He couldn't deny her anything.

*

"Are you sure?" she asks now, hesitation plain on her face. "I didn't want things to be weird and now it feels like they are-"

"Tor," he cuts her off. "I'm sure. I just - I think about it like, you know, like it was just for old time's sake."

She smiles and it's brilliant. "Thanks," she whispers. Joe's not exactly sure why she's thanking him but she'd never really understood what he was sorry for, either, so he's just going to get himself another beer, and call the whole thing a draw.

 Comments

 Left By:
anr (anr)

At:
2007-12-25 17:00:08

 
Oh, Santa! Thank you so much! I absolutely love this. The moments between them, the conversations in the hotel room, the touches and feelings and the way they mostly -- but not quite -- understand each other: so perfect!


 Left By:
dirty diana (torri13)

At:
2007-12-25 21:14:56

 
Oh. That's so very very pretty, and the longing is real enough to touch. Nice job.


 Left By:
At:
2007-12-25 21:23:49

 
I love this story!


 Left By:
elly (elly427)

At:
2007-12-27 23:27:40

 
Just lovely.


 Left By:
At:
2007-12-28 10:11:00

 
Oh, that's bittersweet and absolutely lovely.