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Birthday fic for bachlava

Title: On the Other Side
Summary: Alex has a lot to learn
Note: Birthday fic for bachlava. Not sure if you'll like, but the thought is there! Thanks to zelda_zee for the beta. Also for "Unfinished Business" prompt at lostfichallenge.
Spoilers: The Shape of Things to Come
Rating: PG
Word count: 1044





The first thing Alex notices is the grass: It's somehow more intensely green than seems possible, at least in contrast with the pool of red spreading out underneath her head. Blood. Her blood. She gets to her feet, somewhat shaky. She's dizzy and her head hurts. Flames flicker behind her. The smoke is everywhere.

She looks down on her own lifeless body without quite realizing that it's hers. She's distracted by the movement around her, flashes in the corner of her eyes that make her turn her head. The pale faces of people she's never seen before crowd behind her, turning en masse to follow Keamy into the jungle. There are so many of them, but they move with complete silence.

She watches the jungle swallow up the last of them, still wondering how it is she'd never noticed them before. But now Keamy is gone and she can return to her father. He hasn’t moved from the window, still staring at the ground in frozen horror and she smiles, to let him know everything is okay.

It's only then that she sees the shapes behind him: A man in a Dharma jumpsuit with a pinched expression on his face. There are also faces she does recognize: Danielle and Karl. They hover so close to Ben that he must feel them but she knows he does not. Her father, her real father, Robert, is there too, though somewhat fainter.

Ben cannot see them because they are dead, and so, she realizes at last, is she.

Danielle beckons to her and she finds herself drawing closer until she's inside the house with both the living and the dead. Her mother’s arms feel real, solid, around her. She can feel the anger in the room, and the shock, and it seems to come from both those living and dead.

Her eyes are adjusting from darkness into light, or perhaps the other way around and Alex can now make out shadowy figures behind Sawyer as well. Sawyer's head is lowered, his hands clutched uselessly around a rifle. It's shocking to see that the man behind him is also holding a gun, a shotgun that dangles from his hand as if he were seconds from dropping it. A pretty woman with pale hair faces away from the man with the gun. She doesn’t recognize a portly, white-haired man or another man, dripping wet and clutching his chest, but Tom grins as he nods at her in morbid amusement. They can see her, too.

For some reason, Alex approaches Sawyer first, rather than her father, who hasn't moved from his position at the window. She places her hand on Sawyer's arm and he shivers as if he can feel her, but he gives no other sign that he knows she's there. Only she can see the tears streaking his face. By the time he finally raises his head, no one else -- that is, none of the living -- will even know that he had shed tears for her. Alex is moved by his private grief. She didn't know he cared. She wishes she could comfort him. Strange, she doesn't have the same urge to go to her father, to comfort him or be comforted by his sorrow.

Instead, Alex turns her attention to Claire. She clutches Aaron tightly, oblivious to the shapes over her shoulder, a gray-haired, distinguished-looking man and a pale woman with curly hair who stands some distance away, as if refusing to acknowledge her lover's presence.

Without a word being spoken, Alex knows who they all are, knows how they lived and died: drunk in some alley or thrown through a windshield. Or shot in the head. That seems the most common.

She raises her hand to the back of her own head, finding she can feel the soft stickiness there. Robert -- she must start thinking of him as her father now -- copies her gesture, as if welcoming her to the club.

She's dizzy from all this death, from the knowledge of how the son impassively watched his own father choke to death, of her mother's last thoughts before she pulled the trigger to kill her husband. It seems only seconds apart from Danielle's own death, as if the life lived in the meantime counted for nothing.

Alex closes her eyes and now she can see the secrets of the whole island spread out before her, of each inhabitant and the ghosts that follow them. There are too many men killed by their own children, two many men followed by a virtual army of the dead.

The dead outnumber the living to such a degree that she does not understand how the living can escape their ghosts, how their invisible presence cannot help but weigh on those responsible for their deaths.

"They know we are here." Danielle says simply, the first time anyone has spoken since Keamy fired that fatal shot. "At times, only now and then, they can see us."

She just now notices that one of the living is watching her, but appears to be trying not to stare. “Oh, him,” Danielle, shrugs. “He can see all of us. But how would he explain this, to them?” She gestures to include Locke, whose ghost is a bloodied young man with intense blue eyes, and Hurley, who, for some reason, seems to be followed by Pryce, who stands with arms crossed, looking annoyed.

The silver-haired man, whom Alex now realizes, is both Jack's and Claire's father, takes her outside, where she now has to acknowledge that the crumpled body on the ground is hers, that this is all real.

Christian for that was his name, whispers in her ear about when and how she will appear to Ben. She nods seriously, taking in the business of becoming her father's conscience, of leveraging his own guilt against him.

Christian has an aloof elegance about him, an eerie calm that must unnerve anyone still living who is unlucky enough to see him. Alex takes a measure of his serenity into herself, confident now that she can still do some good.

The living are preparing to move and their ghosts will go with them. Alex falls into line.

She has much to learn from the dead, and much to show the living.

If you've forgotten who Pryce is.

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Comments

halfdutch
May. 7th, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)
Thank you! I wasn't sure if it was getting a bit ridiculous with the sheer number of ghosts crowding around but the island seems to keep them around to haunt someone at a moment's notice, doesn't it? Whether they are separate, intelligent entities or just a manifestation of each person's guilt, who knows? There's plenty of guilt to go around!

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