|Coffee and Constants
Author: Wickedgal08 PM
SPOILERS FOR 6X11! Continuation of where Desmond's flash sidewards left us. He goes for coffee for Penny and both of them pick up pieces of a life they never knew they had.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Penelope/Penny & Desmond - Words: 3,465 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 1 - Published: 04-10-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5885402
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Coffee and Constants
He stood outside the café, still dressed in the formal attire he was accustomed to wearing. Something stirred inside him, a strange feeling which bubbled and frothed and stretched across his body like butter over bread.
It was almost like he'd been waiting for this moment his entire life.
Desmond felt unexpectedly nervous, having not revisited the dating scene in a long time. His job meant he couldn't really afford to have a companion, female or otherwise, because Charles could call him at any time and he'd have to be ready at the drop of a hat. He hadn't really missed the experience, in all honesty. What was dating really but a string of disappointment? He'd never really cared for dating that much anyway.
So why was his heart fluttering like a hummingbird, or like someone in love?
He turned around and simply stared at her. He'd forgotten, even in the space of an hour, how radiant she was. Her caramel blonde hair had been released so that it spilled down her back like rain and framed her face. When she smiled, her crimson lips pulled back to reveal a set of beautifully white teeth and it left her face unaltered by creases or dents as was the norm for most people.
Her clothing choice was simple but stylish. Unlike most women, she'd not gone for the obvious first-date choice of outfit and put on a dress. Instead she wore a lilac, low neckline top and slim, dark blue, denim jeans. Did she even consider this a date, he wondered? Taking into account the time of day and the fact they were strangers, it was perhaps more of a casual drink than anything else.
"Hey," he replied, smiling. "You look…" He became lost for words, aware he was not used to the dating scene and wanting to say something complimentary without sounding offensive.
"Better?" Penny suggested, also smiling. "I didn't really know what to wear seeing how I'm not what you'd call 'fashion conscious'." Her smile widened. "Plus I only had an hour with which to get ready, so I didn't have much time to play with."
When she laughed, he couldn't help but join in. She was so enthralling that he couldn't keep his eyes off of her. Though her physical attraction certainly played a part in this, it was more down to the fact that with her hair down it was inexplicably clear that she was the same person he'd seen in his vision. Her eyes were shiny and looked like they forever contained laughter. In the series of one second clips he'd seen she'd always been smiling, as if something - or someone - made her happy. It was hard to believe it was him, especially when he knew his career choice meant he always put himself first and always strived to achieve things that made himself happy.
"You look lovely," Desmond eventually uttered. "I'm just not good at this sort of stuff." He smiled apologetically. "I'm afraid I don't make a very good first impression."
"Relax," she instructed, still smiling. "You're doing fine. Shall we…?" She gestured to the door.
He immediately opened the door for her and they walked in together. The place itself was small and cosy, set out like a proper little coffee shop with comfy leather chairs and glass topped oak tables. There was a large painting to their left, which portrayed a beautiful island, accompanied by a series of smaller pictures. The wallpaper was a deep red in colour, making the whole place look and feel warm.
"I love it in here," Penny said as they walked further inside. "They do great coffee here." She turned towards him and smiled. "I love coffee."
Once they were seated, he observed her more closely. Until he'd run into Charlie, he'd gone about his life with the same carefree attitude and enjoyed the bachelor life. A life where he'd had a successful career, lots of money and no commitments or attachments. Now…he was no longer sure he wanted that life and, to his surprise, Daniel Widmore's words were coming back to haunt him.
What if this wasn't the life we were supposed to have?
Desmond shivered, as if someone had walked across his grave. There was still a part of him which wished he'd never come across Daniel Widmore or Charlie Pace. Sometimes being ignorant of what we've never had is better than knowing.
"What were you doing the stadium anyway?" Penny asked, sipping her coffee. "You already saw what I was doing."
Desmond shrugged. "I was taking a walk," he said, which wasn't, technically, a lie. "Came across the stadium by accident. I'm a stranger to Los Angeles. My homeland's far away from here."
"I thought as much," Penny replied with a smile. "Scotland?"
"What gave it away?" he asked, somewhat sarcastically. He smiled, to show her he wasn't being serious and was relieved when she returned it.
"I don't know," she teased. "You just have that look about you."
"Unless I'm secretly wearing a kilt," he replied with a grin. "I don't actually think you can tell I'm Scottish from the way I look, sister."
"Is that a Scottish thing?" Penny wondered aloud. Desmond frowned. "Is what a Scottish thing?"
"Calling people 'sister' or 'brother'. You did the same thing with the guy who served us."
Desmond felt confused. He'd never really called anyone 'brother' before. It wasn't exactly part of his culture to do so and he'd always assumed only monks did that sort of thing. He'd never been part of a monastery before in his life.
"I don't think so," he replied guardedly. "It just slipped out."
"I think it's nice," Penny said, absent-mindedly running a finger around the edge of her mug, "to call people 'brother' or 'sister'. It makes you sound like you're family and not strangers."
He laughed and hugged the mug closer to his chest, cherishing the warmth radiating from both the mug and the woman in front of him. She fascinated him unlike anything or anyone else. In the visions he'd seen what had struck him most was the volume of love he'd felt coming from them. Each one second snap of his 'other life' had consumed him and turned his world upside down. Now…nothing made any sense, not even his career choice.
"I've just remembered where I've heard your name before," she announced and, despite the circumstances, his heart skipped a beat. "You work for my father."
His heartbeat returned to normal and he almost felt, well, disappointed. It was bizarre because how could he expect her to remember him when he knew they were strangers? What he'd experienced had been pieces of a life he may or may not have had, and all he knew now was that he could either reach for that life or let it fall.
"Aye, that's right," he replied airily. "He's very…ambitious, your father. I've worked for him a long time."
"He speaks very highly of you," Penny replied earnestly. "The few times I get to see him that is."
Desmond smiled at her and leaned back in his chair, wondering how a person could be so familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. It was a disconcerting feeling to say the least.
All of a sudden, he remembered another piece of the puzzle. Not Penny's Boat. It had been written on Charlie's hand, in the flash where he'd seen the young rock star drowning before his eyes.
"Excuse me for asking," he said suddenly, leaning forward. "Do you have a boat, by any chance?"
If she was curious about the question, she did well to conceal it. Her smile never faded and she seemed just as curious about him as he was of her. She must've assumed he'd picked up that piece of information from Charles, though he'd never been aware of the fact that Charles had had a daughter mostly because he never really talked about his personal life.
"As a matter of fact I do," she informed him. "It's called The Searcher. I'm part of a search and recovery team. Odd career choice, I know, but it feels right. I like helping people. That's the beauty of losing something - it makes finding whatever you lost that much sweeter."
Desmond felt himself whiten before Penny pointed it out. It was living proof, if nothing else, that these visions made some sort of sense. Daniel's words, again, echoed in his mind followed by millions of questions, which buzzed around his brain like bees.
"It sounds great," he said faintly.
"Are you ok?" Penny asked, concerned. "You're not going to pass out on me again?" Her smile faded. "I really do have a bad effect on you, don't I?"
He chuckled, touched by her concern. "I'm fine, sister. Just a little off-colour, I guess."
"I'll say." Penny shook her head. "You look, if you don't mind me saying, bloody awful. I'll take you back to mine and get you some aspirin."
Desmond reached out a hand and grabbed her arm gently, insisting he was fine and wanted to continue with the rest of their coffee. He let his hand linger on her arm, surprised when a series of tingles ran up and down his own arm and into his chest, making his heart thump that extra bit louder.
They spent the next hour talking about their lives, unaware they moved an inch closer to each other every five minutes or so. He was so aware of her and found her perfumed scent to be somewhat addictive, and the fact that she made no effort to move away when he moved closer filled him with confidence.
"It's weird," she said at one point. "But I feel like I've known you for a while. Is it possible?" She laughed. "I swear I'm not normally this strange."
"It's alright," he murmured. "I feel the same."
She gazed at him through ebony eyelashes and he felt drawn to her, very much like a moth to a flame. He could've sworn she felt the same, though he didn't want to hedge his bets. He didn't want to push what he didn't have and he knew his chances of achieving the other life depended on him not acting like a coward or an idiot.
Suddenly he leaned away, gazing at her intently with another question framed on his lips. To ask it was a bit risky because she would either think he was insane or she'd conclude the date and leave.
"Do you think," he said slowly, "it's possible to have loved someone before you've even met them?" She looked confused. "You mean in a past life or something?"
"Never mind." He shook his head, realising to her he probably sounded insane. "It was a silly question."
"No, no," she persisted. "It's interesting. My half brother, Daniel., was talking to me about it the other day. He's a sweet guy."
"I've met him, actually," Desmond admitted. "He's the one who told me where to find you." He suddenly stopped, realising he'd made a huge mistake.
"You mean you didn't stumble on me by accident? You wanted to find me?" Penny asked curiously. "Why?"
Relieved she wasn't angry, Desmond decided the best way to go was to be honest, yet not too honest. There were parts of the story, after all, which even he was unconvinced by.
"I've been haunted by your name for most of today," he admitted. "I met a young man this morning, by the name of Charlie Pace, who opened up my eyes to how boring and unsatisfactory my life is. The strange thing was…I'd never seen him before in my life and yet he felt so familiar to me." He shook his head, still unnerved by the feeling. "It was bizarre."
"Charlie Pace?" Penny sounded curious. "Where have I heard that name before?"
"He was supposed to be playing at your stepmother's concert," Desmond suggested. "He was part of a band called Driveshaft?"
"I don't think that's it…" Penny sounded uneasy, as if wrestling with a private secret. "I think I had a dream about him the other night, as crazy as it sounds." She laughed edgily.
Desmond leaned forward. "What kind of dream?"
"I was talking to him via some kind of radio station," she said slowly, as if trying to recollect the fragments of her dream to herself. "He told me his name and told me that…" She broke off and looked shocked.
"What?" Desmond urged.
"He called out for someone called Desmond," Penny said shakily, evidently trying to laugh it off. "And I seemed pleased by that, as if this Desmond was someone I cared about. Before I could find out more, the screen cut off and the dream ended." She shrugged, though he could see the recollection alarmed her.
"Well, there is more than one Desmond in the world," he said, trying to reassure her more than himself. He strangely felt relieved by her confession, as if it proved he wasn't the only one experiencing these vivid dreams/flashes/hallucinations, call it what you will.
"I guess," she replied, sounding reassured. Then she seemed to remember something. "You said my name haunted you," she began. "What did you mean by that?"
"I heard it from someone," Desmond replied. "I felt like I needed to find you. It doesn't make any sense, I know."
She surprised them both by placing her hand on top of his, tilting her head to the side and gazing intently into his eyes. The world was still and quiet, as if someone had pressed paused on that moment. They leaned in at the same time, hesitated a little as if aware of the fact they were in a public place, and then locked lips. It was only for a few seconds but it felt magical but more than that…it felt right. Desmond felt like, by kissing her, he was completing the first steps, the first hurdles into making his flashes come true.
Penny broke off the kiss and smiled as they drew apart. He was pleasantly surprised that the smile she gave him was similar, if not the same, as the one he'd seen her give.
"Just for the record," she whispered with a wink. "You don't make a bad first impression at all."
Desmond smiled, then laughed as he realised how different the end of his day had been to the start. He'd woken up as an ordinary, albeit monotonous, human being and would go to bed tonight as someone who'd followed a few seconds worth of flashes and clung to a dream he'd never thought possible.
You felt it too.
The Scotsman remembered the look Charlie had given him the moment he'd started searching his hand for writing that didn't exist. It was a look which seemed to say, you sodding idiot, now do you see what I've been going on about? And now he did. He'd felt, for a split second, the warm breeze of desire and love. He'd yearned for a person he'd never even met and his heart had done the same.
Was that what Charlie had felt then? Had he felt a strong pull towards a woman who he'd never seen before? Had he memorised her features, her voice, the way she moved and clung to a name like it was a lifeline? When he'd run, was it to find her in the present life, or the life they'd never known but ran towards all the same?
"You ok, Des?" Penny asked.
"Des?" Desmond realised he liked the nickname. In fact, he liked it a lot, probably more than he should have.
"Sorry." Penny blushed. "I don't know where that came from."
"I think I have a bad effect on you too," Desmond said, grinning.
They stared at each other and then laughed at the same time. This date (for lack of a better word) had surprised them both, for in each other's company rested something neither of them could describe. Simply put, it was like they'd shared a lifetime of memories before they'd even so much as finished their first date. And Desmond had Charlie to thank for that, though there was a flash that would continue to haunt him for a long, long time.
A figure slides his hand up against the glass, urging Desmond to read the message on his hand. Not Penny's Boat. The figure seems to smile, as if he's resigned himself to his fate and nods, motioning to Desmond that it's ok to let go.
Desmond reads it in silence, knowing each beat of his heart pushes disappointment and sorrow along his veins. He feels utterly frustrated, as if he's seen this scene before and knows the outcome but can't do anything. Frustrated tears rolls down his cheek and, as the figure pushes himself away and becomes motionless, he slides to the floor, sobbing Penny's name over and over…
He dragged himself out of the flash and glanced over at Penny, who'd reached over and grabbed her bag, thus signalling the end of the evening. He was surprised - not to mention amazed - by how well this had gone. He could prepare for job interviews, meetings or presentations but when it came to preparing for dates…that was another matter.
They walked outside, shivering as a particularly cold breeze fluttered past. Desmond noticed his driver, George, and realised he had to go. Something glued him to the spot though, and it was hard to say whether that was because of her, himself or the strange feeling inside him that found it hard to let her go.
"Thank you for a lovely evening," Penny said, turning around to face him. In the moonlight, she looked absolutely radiant; her hair glowed and her smile seemed to light up the rich blue ribbon of the night sky.
"Aye, no problem," he replied, somewhat dejectedly. This night, this moment, this dream was almost coming to an end and she'd given no indication that it would happen again…
Suddenly, she pressed something inside his hand. He unfolded his hand and saw it was a card, much like the ones businesses used to advertise their services. On the back, written in beautiful handwriting, was a phone number.
Hope flared inside him like hot air inside a balloon. If she was giving him this, it meant he hadn't scared her off with all his 'love at first sight' talk. A smile emerged on his face and he felt as giddy as a schoolboy.
"See you later, Des," she replied, leaning in for one more kiss.
It was the perfect end to a perfect evening.
She walked off but, before she disappeared into her car, she turned around and studied him carefully. Her smile - her gorgeous, divine, heavenly smile - emerged again, though it hadn't left her face all evening, and she looked at him with the same expression he'd seen in his flash. The expression she wore made it seem like she was trying to memorise - perhaps remember - his face.
Then she disappeared into the night and he stood there watching her, long after her car had driven off. He felt warm, despite the cold. Her kiss still lingered on his lips, like the aftertaste of something sweet and it was just as addictive.
You felt it too.
Charlie had been right. He'd felt something he'd often scorned at in movies, something which couldn't be explained or written down in any novel. The feeling swept him up like the tide and left him afloat in this sea of mystery, with only a pinprick of light glowing in the background, like a lighthouse, reminding him what he was leaving behind.
It was love.
A/n: I loved the latest episode of Lost. This little idea wouldn't leave me alone, so I hope you enjoy it. Bit AU I suppose but I hope I've kept these two lovely characters in character.