Title: The Saviour

Summary:Desmond sits in drunken contemplation when he is joined by Charlie.

Rating: PG/K+

Disclaimer: Lost, not mine. Characters, not mine.

The waves lapped at the shore in a rhythm that matched the wine that lapped at his tongue. Desmond sat, alone, on the beach after having watched the sun rise over the first day of the rest of his life. He was back and it hurt like hell. As elated as he felt when he had set out on his boat bound for Fiji, was as low as he felt right now, doomed to fail in his life, over and over again. There was nothing left to do but drink, and so he did.

Desmond tipped back the bottle, felt the tepid spirit coat his throat and closed his eyes from the glaring sun. His head hurt. He couldn't tell if it was a hangover from last night's liquid supper or if the heat was getting to him. Nights were cool on the ocean; he had forgotten how hot the island could get.

Island life went on around him. After the excitement of his arrival, everyone had returned to their usual routines quickly enough, once they realized that they were not being rescued and that Desmond was about the furthest thing from a saviour that they had ever seen. The feeling was mutual. The only thing that Desmond envied about them was that they seemed to have found ways to give their lives purpose, even stranded on an island. He once had that purpose. He thought he was saving the world.

His peace was disturbed by a voice that rang out from behind him. Someone was actually speaking to him. "Isn't it a bit early in the day for happy hour?" he was being asked.

Desmond turned slightly, looking up into the face of a young man, boyish really, unruly blond hair, whiskers and just a hint of mischief in his eyes. Desmond considered responding, but instead just sneered and turned his gaze back to the ocean, hoping this cheeky intruder would get the message that he preferred solitude.

He didn't. The daft bugger sat instead, assuming a similar posture alongside him, watching the waves. Desmond took another swig from the bottle, ignoring the stranger's presence, numbing his senses. Then his companion spoke again.

"So you're Desmond" he said.

"So I am" answered Desmond, "and who would that make you, then?"

As soon as he said it he wished he could claw it back. He really didn't wish to encourage an exchange, but it had been a reflex.

"Charlie" he replied, throwing it out there as if it wasn't important. "I've heard all about you, 'the mysterious hatch man'."

"Have you now?" said Desmond.

He was quickly losing interest in this conversation that seemed to have nothing to offer him. Still, there was something about this lad, who landed next to him like he was a piece of paper floating aimlessly on the wind. It was as if the poor bloke was looking for somewhere to latch on to, and Desmond could identify with that.

"All those years pushing a button" observed Charlie, "I don't know how it didn't drive you mad."

"Who says it didn't?" asked Desmond, with a twinkle in his eye and the first hint of a smile.

Charlie smiled back. "You know when we saw your boat out there we thought we were rescued."

So he still had hope then, did he? These people had clearly not been here long enough to have every last dream dashed. Not like him. He knew now that after three years he'd never see Penny again. He didn't expect even her to wait that long.

Penny. Then he heard Charlie speak again, bringing Desmond back to the moment. "We're not going to be rescued are we?"

Desmond looked at him. The mischief was gone, and his odd companion suddenly appeared older. This was a serious question, and Desmond could see that hope had its limits. It seemed to stop right at the door of rationality.

Desmond wasn't about to give this young man something false to cling to. Not after what he had experienced out there, the illusion of freedom at hand, only to be brought back like some cruel boomerang.

"No" Desmond answered simply.

Charlie just turned his gaze back to the sea, seemingly unfazed by Desmond's frank response. It appeared to be what he had expected to hear.

Desmond wondered what Charlie's story was. He certainly gave off a vibe like he had one and that he was itching to tell it. Desmond wasn't about to encourage that, but he wondered whether Charlie's lack of disappointment over the unlikelihood of rescue meant that this man had nothing in the real world to go back to, no one waiting for him like he once had.

He felt the sharp pain of regret down deep as he realized that if he had only had the strength to stand up to her father, he would likely not be in the situation he was in now. He and Penny would be together. He drank again, hoping to wash his weakness clean away.

Maybe Desmond could offer him some hope after all, dispensed in the guise of wisdom. If Charlie didn't have anyone to go back to, perhaps he had someone here. "Do you have someone on the island, brother? Someone you care about?" Desmond asked him.

Charlie hesitated. He appeared to be deciding how to answer. Finally, he nodded. "Yeah" he answered, "For what it's worth anyway."

Desmond held up the bottle in a mock toast. "Then take my advice. Don't let anyone stand in your way."