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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: The Runner

Have you been reading the recent series of stories I've been writing for Wednesday Briefs? Good news: this week is another part of that series! For this Wednesday, we'll be looking at a moment in the life of everyone favorite's time traveling ex-Swan Hatch attendee Desmond Hume. Let me know if you have a favorite character so far that you wish the next story would be about!
The Runner. LOST, PG. Prompt used: "have a character jogging". In which Desmond goes running and someone tags along. Spoilers for the finales of season three and six. Takes place in the current running 'verse without a name that has been in the last two flashes.
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Two days after Desmond Hume returns to the mainland and settles into his new California home with Penny and their son, two days since Desmond was able to live somewhere that wasn't surrounded by water, whether it be island or boat, he goes for a run.

He hasn’t gone for a proper run since he trained for Widmore's sail race across the world, over ten years ago, when the biggest trouble on his mind was earning the respect of a man who saw him as so much dirt on the bottom of his shoe. But he’s been running.
It isn't Desmond who insists upon his right to run. It's Penny, watching Desmond pace through the rooms of their new home, idly fixing things that aren't broken. Now that Desmond’s no longer confined to a small space, all his energies are spent looking for something to do. It's not like he has the specter of Charles Widmore to haunt his steps anymore; Ben Linus took care of that.
"So what should I do?" Desmond asks.
"Anything that helps. Something that gets you out of the house and keeps you moving," Penny says. "Get back to running, if that will help. But first," she adds, "put the toaster back together, please?"
And so Desmond finds himself outside for the first time in two days, squinting into the sunlight like he’s emerging from the Swan Hatch again. It's not a bad idea, he thinks as he stretches his legs. He’s been meaning to get out and find himself again. He's just not sure if he's up to the challenge of running.
But when he laces up his new pair of running trainers and sets out on the path that winds through Palisades Park, everything feels right. Before long, Desmond is in a pleasantly paced groove, a thin layer of sweat forming on his skin. His muscles remember how to jog and quickly return to form.
It's much nicer jogging on a path than running up and down steps in a stadium. It's also a lot more forgiving on the Scot's knees, which have been banged up, skinned, and thrown into hot sand more times than he can count.
Desmond pauses on a ridge overlooking the water, and he drinks from the water bottle Penny all but pushed into his hands that morning. He's grateful for the attention after being away from her side for years.
He’s occasionally blown away by the fact that Penny still loved him after waiting for years, that she made a child with him and married him and has no problem moving into the same city as his fellow island survivors, whom she then turns around and helps find a house to live in as well. Desmond is the luckiest man alive to have Penelope Widmore.
"Desmond." Desmond is so wrapped up in thoughts of his wife he almost misses the voice calling his name. "Desmond!"
He turns around and finds Charlie Pace standing in the grass, wind blowing through his dirty blond hair. Charlie’s still wearing the dark green shirt with the twin hammers and the Chinese characters from their last encounter.
"Charlie," Desmond answers, because he's not sure what else to say. The last time he saw Charlie, he was banging his hand against the window of a sinking sub, and then nothing. Because Charlie had died and was currently a skeleton on the bottom of the ocean. Right?
"Right," Charlie says, as if reading Desmond's frantic thought process. "I mean, I'm dead right? I can't be standing here! It's crazy! I must be a ghost or somethin'." He starts waving his arms like an inflatable tube man and making what could be best described as 'fake spooky haunted house noises'.
"Come on, brother. Am I seeing things?" Desmond looks around and is glad that their part of the path is relatively empty of people. "Are you here?"
Charlie shrugs. "I dunno, man. Maybe I am. Maybe you're like Hurley and y'can see ghosts. Bloody awesome, I'd say."
"And what's so bloody awesome about talking to dead people?"
"You can ask them questions and extract their great wisdom!"
"So why you then?"
"Oww!" Charlie clutches at his heart. "Des!"
"Sorry—I mean, why've you come to me? If I had switched places with you at the Looking Glass, you'd still be alive. Why talk to me?"
"Come on, mate. Isn't it obvious?" Charlie gives Desmond a pointed look. "You're out here running like a polar bear is at ya heels, looking for something. You're looking at the ocean you just escaped from for answers. What are you trying to find?"
Desmond runs a hand through his hair. "I just—I just want to know what I should do next. Where do I go?"
"You've got a beautiful wife and a beautiful son and a beautiful house. What else?"
"Well, what do I do with my life?"
"Anything you want." Charlie grins. "Seriously! Anything! You're free now—no lousy execute buttons or crazy rich guys ruling your life! The world is your—um—pearl." He snorted. "Sorry, couldn't help it."
Desmond watches Charlie recover from his terrible joke and, like that, feels the weight of the world drop from his body. He can do anything. He will do anything. He's Desmond bloody Hume.
"Thanks, brother. It's what I needed to hear."
"Yeah, I know." Charlie's body begins to disappear. "I'll be seeing you later, Mister Quantum Leap. Oh, and Des?"
"Yes?"
"Thanks for naming your kid after me. Just don't let him become a rock star!" Charlie Pace fades away with a contented look on his face, having done what he came to do.
Desmond lingers to reflect upon the late Pace's words, on the events that led him to a grassy cliff in Palisades Park. He drinks from his bottle and takes a deep breath before plunging back onto the path. First, he'll finish his run. And then? Anything is possible.

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