A/N:So, whilst in the middle of Algebra finals last week, I began to think, what if Hurley and Libby were stuck in the places of Daniel and Charlotte? And this came up. It's a one-shot for now, but I may continue it. Title comes from the song by Adele. Start is slow, but the end is better. Takes place during "Namaste."
The minute he crashes into the pool of water on that island which he had been so desperate to leave three years earlier, his heart cracks.
It's strange, Hurley thinks, as he's reunited with Sawyer on the beach, how easy it is to act so happy when, for some unknown God-forsaken reason, his heart is breaking internally with every step he takes on the island, with every word, greeting, and shouted commands from Sawyer to Jin.
The van ride to Dharmaville is short, tense, although Sawyer's response to Jack's question ('Faraday? He's here?' 'Worse, he became fruitful and multiplied.') cracks the tension briefly. He's amazed by the swarm of people there, maybe they'll fit in. He makes sure to stay with his group, Sawyer actively looking for someone, finding them, and announcing their presence to the person with a shout of "Hey, Faraday!"
The person he shouts to turns, and for a few seconds Hurley is confused, he sure doesn't remember Faraday having curly red hair, blue eyes, and a smattering of freckles across her pale face; in fact, he definitely doesn't remember Faraday being a her. But then she speaks, a simple nonchalant "Yeah?" and her accent gives it away, this isn't Faraday, this is that British girl who was Locke's hostage, what's her name, Charlotte. So why is she going by the name Faraday?
"I need you to take some of the new recruits to the welcome center." Sawyer's voice brings him back to reality, and he begins to pay attention to the conversation. Charlotte gives them a once-over, her facial expression staying stoic as she jiggles the bundle in her arms; her eyes giving each of them worried glances which scream What are you doing here? and How the bloody hell did you get back?, but at the look Sawyer gives her she responds "Will do," and he leaves them to 'introduce themselves' (not like they need it).
"Charlotte Faraday. My husband works at the Orchid," she introduces herself naturally while she extends her hand, as if they are meeting for the first time. They all hesitate, then Kate takes the plunge and grasps the hand offered, speaking her name, followed by Jack, and then he does the same thing. They stand in awkward silence for a few moments before Kate points to the bundle. "And who is this?"
Charlotte gives a small, happy grin, and the first time he sees her smile it tugs at his heartstrings, as if he's subliminally being reminded of something. She readjusts the blanket and a baby's face peeps out, a beautiful, chubby-cheeked face framed by some of the curliest brown hair he's ever seen. "This is Amelia," she whispers as not to wake the sleeping infant, yet it doesn't work as the baby's eyes open and reveal the same blue irises that her mother has. Which, for some reason, also whisper a reminder to him, though he isn't sure of what. Kate and Jack ask the simple questions and coo over the baby, congratulating Charlotte when they discover little Amelia Faraday is but seven weeks old. Deciding not to be an awkward fourth wheel he comments "Wow, that is one hairy baby."
It's a little off-color, but it's enough, and Charlotte quickly turns her attention to him. "Yes, Daniel and I were a bit surprised, seeing as our first one came out bald." Charlotte turns to search for the aforementioned child, frowning when she doesn't see anyone. "That's odd, she was near the play set earlier…" but her thoughts are interrupted when a blonde girl who couldn't be more that three pops out from behind Jack with a loud "BOO!" and startles them all.
It's at that moment when Hurley sees why subliminal messages have been tossed from Charlotte and the baby, when he understands why he was supposed to come back, why his heart began to ache the moment he landed in the water.
"There you are!" Charlotte cries out and takes one of her daughter's tiny hands into her own and nods towards the group. "Would you like to introduce yourself?" she asks and the answer is immediately given when the child – such a beautiful, blonde child, he thinks, burrows her head into her mother's knees. "No? Well, Jack, Kate, Hurley, this is my oldest daughter, Elizabeth."
He doesn't need the correction that the girl opens her mouth to make while the fragile heart he already has cracks even more. He already knows it.
It's now dark as he strolls around his new home, listening to the noises coming from the houses on either side of him. First day and he's already lost – in more ways than one, that is. He pauses, studying the now-empty swing set, its unoccupied seats fluttering in the wind. He would have liked it here as a kid, he thinks, a safe place, on which his dad couldn't leave. He sighs and continues to wander around, when a soft noise and figures moving in one of the homes catches his attention.
His breath hitches again when he recognizes Libby playing with her father (Charlotte had 'introduced' him to Daniel when she took him to the kitchens), and he's twirling her around and Libby's laughing, laughing, laughing without an extra care in the world. Charlotte approaches them and stops the play with a grin, knowing they will start it up again the minute she leaves. They do, for a few minutes more, until her mother returns, more serious now, and reminds him that it's her bedtime soon, don't over-stimulate her, and don't wake the baby. They listen this time, Daniel holding her as she talks to him, both of them smiling as they rub noses (an Eskimo kiss, one like he and his mother did when he was young) and Daniel gently kisses her on the forehead before letting her down to the floor and walking past the window.
A thought seizes Hurley, one that he's afraid of, but his heart encourages him: he absolutely has to see her. Maybe, in this screwed up timeline, in the seventies, he could get to know Libby. Not in the romantic sense, no, but be her favorite "Uncle Hurley," to be like a third parent to her, and maybe, just maybe, she would remember him for who he was, someone who loved her, no, loves her, and maybe in 2004 she could find him before the plane crash and they would be together.
It's a crack theory, but to him, anything works. He begins to approach the front door nervously, thinking his cover story through as he walks up to meet his fate. Taking a deep breath to steady himself, he bangs three times on the front door, waits, then turns to leave when the familiar creek of the front door opening stops him.
He turns back, and Libby's staring at him, a curious look on her face as she tries to pinpoint where she recognizes him from. He bends down to her level (which isn't easy, now he knows he needs to lose some weight) and greets her with a "Hello, Libby." She returns the greeting with an impish smile and a laugh that reminds him of somewhere once upon a time, of Dave and a kiss he'll never forget. She stares at him a little longer, something flashing through her eyes and Does she remember? floats through his mind, but vanishes when they both hear footsteps creaking towards them and she runs back to her father, who in turn points her to the direction of her mother down the hallway of the little house. She disappears down the hall, but shortly before that she waves to him and he returns it, and it's all he can do to keep from crying. He and Daniel make small talk, him asking the general directions to his house, questions about Dharma that Daniel is eager to answer, Daniel in turn asking him how and why they came back. They had come to a brief stalemate that Hurley interpreted as perhaps a start to the personal questions. Taking another deep breath, he asked "So, you and Charlotte, huh?"
"Yeah," Daniel smiled in response, and Hurley could almost feel the happiness radiate off that man.
"Officially, four and a half, almost five years. As part of our cover story," he corrected when he saw his companion's confused look. "But it's actually more like three, ever since we first joined the DI."
"Oh." Hurley replied, wishing that he and Libby could have had that time.
Daniel pauses, deciding his words carefully, then speaks. "I lost her once," he says, and Hurley's interest is peaked. "The time jumps, they…they nearly killed her. Well, I thought they did, because when we ended up here, in this time she – her body – had disappeared. I almost lost it…I mean, I saw a little red-haired girl here that looked just like her and it was all I could do to keep from breaking down. But then, by some miracle, she came back to me, and now, I consider every day we have together a gift that I wouldn't exchange for anything."
Hurley pondered Daniel, and in that instant, a connection was made, one of understanding and respect. They had both lost the women they loved, and, in some strange and miraculous way, shape, or plane crash they had second chances with them – to make things right, in a way. Nodding his agreement and bidding him good-night, Hurley took leave of the father of the woman he loved, now happily whistling a tune as he walked back to his new house.
Small world, isn't it?
A/N 2: Reviews, please? Oh come on, just push that little green button…you know you want to!
And if any of my "Life Happens or "The Beauty of it All" readers pop in, I'll be in Europe for the next two weeks, so sorry, but no updates just yet.