Disclaimer: "LOST" is the property of ABC. This was written for the Lost Fanfiction Challenge (lj), challenge #67- flashback characters.

Sending Postcards

He insists on being formal, always using her last name -- and making her feel old with the "Ms," -- no matter how many times she reminds him that first names are fine. He's Dan to her, isn't he? But most days she thinks he doesn't remember her first name, let alone that she's assured him it's okay to use it three or four times a week since she's met him.

At the agency, they told her Daniel Faraday had real problems, that he was involved in some sort of experimental work and really messed himself up; the details aren't really clear to her. And that sometimes he can be uncooperative. So she wasn't really expecting the nice, awkward, nervous, and clearly troubled young man that met her at the door on her first day. It turned out that "uncooperative" meant he drove four previous caretakers away. She thinks it was possibly because he can almost trick a person into believing there's nothing nothing wrong with him. So then when he shows his impairment -- like yesterday, crying over that plane crash story on the news -- it can be shocking.

Today, when she lets herself in, she can't find him for a few moments. Normally he's in front of the television -- not paying any attention to it, he just keeps it on for the noise -- or at the table working, but she finally comes across him in his bedroom, a suitcase thrown open on his bed and half-filled with clothes and...well, he's told her the other things are "equipment." She has her doubts.

"Dan?"

He glances up at her quickly, then back to the book he's flipping through, asking, "Do you have any idea how much energy it would take to keep a wormhole open? I mean really keep it open, because they collapse in on themselves otherwise, there's too much...obviously it's all theory, but...yeah, can you imagine, it's just--"

"Dan, what are you doing?" she asks. He generally doesn't mind being interrupted. Sometimes it seems as though he isn't really even aware he's speaking out loud.

"Packing," he answers shortly and without looking up. He sounds more purposeful than she's ever heard him.

He tosses the book aside, apparently deciding it's not worth bringing. "Dan," she says again, making sure to stay away from the patronizing tone that he hates (it can be hard to remember that he'sDoctor Faraday, and that he taught at Oxford; sometimes the tone slips out without her meaning it too), "where are you going? When were you going to tell someone?" Of course the hospital will never let him go, not without someone along, and it won't happen with such short notice. Never. It might hot happen period, even with all the proper permissions.

For one split second, his constant motion comes to a screeching halt as he looks at her and laughs faintly. "Yeah...that's the thing, I don't...know. Where I'm going? It's...not exactly...clear. Yet." He looks at her from under furrowed brows. "If that makes sense. Probably not." He draws out the first syllable of 'probably,' and it somehow feels as though he wishes she were his intellectual equal because she just isn't getting it. After a moment, he goes back to digging through piles of books, and she finds herself pursuing the line of questioning, when what she should be doing is talking him down, leading him away from this idea. That's one thing about Dan -- if you can get him to stop thinking about something, he'll often forget. But instead she asks, "How do you know what to bring if you don't know where you're going?"

"Uh...that--" He hesitates while he pulls some sort of tripod out from under his bed. "--is a good question. Great question."

But apparently not good enough of a question to warrant an answer. For the first time, she notices that he has a tie on. Most days he doesn't even get dressed. She decides that maybe she needs to be direct. "Dan, I'm sorry, but you know you can't go, right? Wherever you're planning on going, you can't."

She has to admit, with his frenetic energy channeled into a task, he seems much more...she doesn't like to use the word 'normal,' because the opposite of that is 'abnormal.' "Yeah, here's the thing," he begins earnestly, "I know it's your job to...keep me here, but--" He gets a faraway look on his face. "I keep thinking about this island. I think -- I think I'm supposed to be there. No. No, that's not...I know I'm supposed to be there. It's -- um." Quickly, he drops the shirts he's holding and snaps an arm out to the window, lifting the blinds apart with two fingers and peering out, and at that point she realizes that he's waiting for someone. That someone has contacted him.

"Daniel," she says, her tone sharper than she means it to be, because this is worrying; this is a real concern. This is why Dan needs a caretaker, he can be taken advantage of so, so easily. "Daniel, I'm going to call the hospital. I can't allow you to leave with someone."

She picks up the phone, fingers hovering over the speed dial, and it's a second before she's able to register what's wrong. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Dan's face crease in what she first thinks is concern. But there's something, at the last second, that makes her think he knows exactly what's going on. "Sorry," he says, putting a hand to the back of his neck. "They told me -- they said you'd probably say that."

"Why doesn't the phone work?" she asks grimly, not waiting for an answer before striding into the living room to try the phone there. Dead. Kitchen. Dead.

Dan's followed her to the doorway and seems unable to stand still. "I had to," he says cryptically. "That is, he said...they wanted me to cut the phone lines. It's -- uh -- it's nothing personal." She's staring at him in disbelief, and he adds in a tone full of desperate longing, "I have to get there."

She just shakes her head. "I'm going to use the neighbors' phone."

"You probably shouldn't--"

Her shriek of surprise upon yanking open the door cuts him off. A tall man is standing there, and despite the smile on his face, a chill goes down her spine.

"I'm looking for Daniel Faraday," he says, in a voice that should be pleasant. She can't decide whether or not to answer, but something in her face must give her away that he's got the right place, because he says, "May I come in?"

Before she can respond, Daniel says from behind her, "Yes. Yeah, come in." And then he actually grabs her arm and bodily pulls her aside for the man to enter.

"You're packed, Mr. Faraday?"

Dan points over his shoulder with a thumb. "Uh, yeah, maybe a few minutes, just a few more things to sort of..." He gestures vaguely then asks, "Abbadon, is it? I'm going to need some -- a lot of my instruments, most of my equipment -- Oxford confiscated it, I can't do any work without it..."

"You'll have whatever you need," Abbadon assures him, and Dan mumbles something that sounds like, "Fantastic," before disappearing into the other room.

"I don't know who you think you are--" she begins, but he cuts her off smoothly with, "My card should provide you with that information," and holds it out to her. There's nothing to do but take it and glance at the phone number that she swears she'll call later, right after she gets off the phone with the police and the hospital -- Widmore Industries, it's an international number...

"This is an abduction," she snarls (it's the only way to keep her voice from trembling), "he's not in his right mind and he can't be taken out of the protective--"

"He's been signed on to take part in a research mission and his doctors have been made fully aware of it," Abbadon says, managing to sound both chilly and unconcerned at the same time.

She can't imagine how that can possibly be. Sometimes he can barely function. He's obviously brilliant, but that doesn't translate into any kind of ability to care effectively for himself. "Then you won't mind me notifying the police."

"Not at all."

Dan returns at this point, entering the room with the suitcase in tow and a bag slung over his shoulder. He furrows his brow at her and opens his mouth, then closes it again, twitching it into a half-smile. "Hey, maybe I'll write."

She tightens her fingers around the business card and forces a smile at him. "Sure. A postcard."

Abbadon holds out a hand. "Let me take your suitcase, Mr. Faraday." Lifting it and opening the door, he tilts his head and says, "Have a good day, ma'am." She notices a car parked outside -- black, of course -- which Abbadon makes his way to.

Running a hand through his hair, Dan raises his eyebrows, smiles, and follows the other man, leaving her standing in the entryway, still unsure about the best course of action. In another minute, they're both gone.

At the agency, when she presses, she's told not to ask any more questions. There's a look in her supervisor's eyes when he says it, something that bothers her because she can't quite pin it down, and she decides the best thing to do is to forget.

But sometimes, she still wonders if she'll get a postcard with stamps that no one will recognize, because they're from a place that no one knows about. She'll know who it's from.