For the latest edition of the Briefs, I've gone back to now-familiar stomping grounds - Lost - specifically, the characters Hume and Faraday, who have become my two favorite people to write about from the Lostverse. Hopefully, y'all agree and enjoy what is the opening to a new story that will be finished sooner than later!
Spoiler alert: Spoilers for up to the season six finale of Lost. Takes place post-series, AU in many regards.
Still Alive. LOST AU. Characters: Desmond Hume, Daniel Faraday, references to other characters. Prompts used: island, shadows.
He woke up with a mouthful of dirt, clawing at what should have been the sky, desperate to be free of this prison. He was dying, now he was dead, he had just been shot, and now a man with ageless eyes was burying him underneath a tall, tropical tree—
Hands shook him out of his half-asleep stupor. "Daniel. Daniel!"
The remnants of a nightmare thought long past dropped from Daniel Faraday's mind as soon as they came, and he saw where he was—not in a dirt grave, but in a bed, safe and sound and thousands of miles away from the island he’d escaped from. It had been a few months since he left the island on his half-sister Penny Widmore's boat, but for him it felt like only yesterday, and the creeping terror of the place still lay in hiding in the physicist's psyche.
Soft light from the bedside table revealed the owner of the hands who had yet again delivered Faraday from himself. Creases of worry became increasingly visible the longer Desmond Hume looked at his house mate.
He would have to go back to his equations in the morning, Daniel thought, all of the constants and variables still left unstudied. Life and death, light and darkness, the ideas that haunted him since Ann Arbor and the experiments—
Daniel managed to blink himself back into the present at the sound of Desmond's voice. "Sorry," he mumbled. "I was thinking about my work..." He shifted around in the oversized T-shirt and pajama pants that Desmond had lent him for sleeping in.
"You were having a bad dream again, weren't you?" Desmond asked.
The other man scratched his neck. "Maybe."
"You were screaming in your sleep. If Charlie had been around, it would have woken him up."
"Sorry. I'm not…" Daniel paused, searching for the right words, then continued, "I'm not used to this place anymore. I'm not used to any place anymore, I guess."
His eyes moved past Desmond for a moment, to the Los Angeles skyline draped in the shadows of the night, illuminated by brief points of light from the city below. "When I close my eyes, it's like I'm back in the ground," he added.
Desmond's face softened. "S'all right, Dan. We're never going back to that place—not you, or me, or Penny, or anyone else."
"But why—" Daniel started but did not finish: but why am I alive?
"Come on." Desmond stood. "Let's go for a walk."
Desmond's neighborhood, at one in the morning, was blissfully dead. There was no explaining why a member of the Widmore family, by marriage, would be walking around in a bathrobe in the middle of the night, followed by another Widmore, by blood, wearing clothes one size too big and looking like he hadn't combed his hair since the seventies. They stuck to the sidewalk, and Desmond realized that Daniel had walked out of the house without shoes. Again.
"I don't want to sound like you're being an annoyance—God knows Charlie adores you, and Penny really values you—but what can we do now to help you, you know, recover?" Desmond gestured vaguely as he talked.
"Is this how it works? I'm supposed to recover?" Daniel studied Desmond from an angle. "Did you?"
"You were the Dharma Initiative's favorite electromagnetic toy for years, how are you fine?"
"I just am, all right? This isn't about me—"
"I died on that island!" Daniel had stopped in his tracks. "I died, my own mother killed me, I was buried and left in the ground, and then I was alive. I know what's wrong with me. I should be dead. Why aren't I dead?"
Desmond grasped Daniel by the shoulders, as if anchoring the man in place. "Look at me. You deserve to be alive. Don't feel guilty about not being dead. Maybe it was a miracle, maybe it was a gift from the island, but it worked, and you're here."
"That's it. That's the thing, isn't it?" A light entered Daniel's eyes, like lightning. "The island. It brought me back. We all had a purpose and that's why the island kept us alive. So—so my purpose isn't over, is it? I'm not done with that place, am I?"
"You're done," Desmond said. He only sounded half-convinced.
"But is it done with me?"
"Fuck the island. You're home now."
Daniel blinked, the look in his eyes replaced by confusion. "I'm home?"
Desmond put one arm around Daniel's shoulders and felt the other man slump forward. "If you want it, brotha, yeah. You've always been home."
"Thank you," Daniel mumbled into Desmond's shirt.
In the corner of Desmond's eye, a figure flickered into view under a broken streetlamp. The figure watched them from across the street without saying a word. The man nodded, before disappearing soundlessly into the shadows.
"You can't have him."
"What?" Daniel looked up.
"Nothing." Desmond turned, Daniel still in his grasp. "Just thought I saw someone I should have punched in the face long ago."
They walked away from the place where Ben Linus had been watching them, back toward the quiet rooms of Penny's house, one of the few places of refuge for two men spun around in time and space.
In the morning, Daniel faced the day with a full cup of coffee, an empty notebook on the bedside table, and a phone in his hand. The place where Eloise Hawking's gun had met its target over thirty years ago twinged inside of his chest as he sat on the bed.
"Moth—Mom? It's me, Dan. Call me back. I want to know what happened after I died."
The peaceful feeling he’d been expecting as he hung up didn't come. There was only anxiety and a restless fear over what was about to happen.