For most of her life, Libby has gone unheard.
She accepts it, mostly, understanding her place in the world is to listen, not be listened to. She's always held a fascination for hearing stranger's stories, only realising towards the end of her short and rather tragic life that no one wanted to hear hers. Maybe that's the tragedy of her life.
She's always had a way with people, often forging bonds which stretched over a great period of time. Patience, her mother had once claimed, is a virtue we're all born with but very few exercise it. Her pearls of wisdom are part of the reason Libby loves her so much. Occasionally, she'll be digging through a suitcase and will come across an item of clothing which smells like her. She'll press it to her face and feel like she's home. It's a nice, comforting feeling.
Her parents died when she was eight, one after the other. She's remembers feeling numb after their funeral, waiting for one of them to pop up out of nowhere, hold her hand and take her home. She may have been a child but she began to realise fairytales and dreams were never real. Just because you dreamed about something, it didn't make it real. Not for one second.
She'll be listening to one of Hurley's tales about his family and wonders why her endless prayers and numerous letters to God were never answered. She has the odd day when she wants to scream at a passerby that she lost her parents when she was eight, just to evoke some sympathy, just to be heard. But she never complains when no one asks her about her life.
Libby listens because she likes hearing pieces of a life she never had. She understands the trauma which can make people shut down and, as justice for the child who was left alone to cope with a world of grief, she turns her anger and bitterness into patience and understanding. She helps people cope with their pain, which is why she'd turned to clinical psychology when medical school had failed.
There's something wonderful about seeing someone smile when their pain becomes manageable. There's something hopeful about seeing someone's eyes light up as the grief and turmoil slowly subside. She loves that. She loves seeing people she barely knows find the will and strength to go on, the same way she'd had to do.
Occasionally, though, she'll break down. Her marriage to David had been about forging this great relationship with a person she loved and cared for beyond anything or anyone else. He'd been this great guy who knew her as well as she knew herself, maybe even better, understanding that sometimes pain couldn't be shut out and that sometimes her grief for her parents would resurface. When that time came, she'd crumble inside his arms, allowing him to hold her tight because he actually listened to her, proving her cared.
He'd left her in the end, despite his promise. He'd fallen ill and died in her arms, whilst she'd smoothed out his fringe and allowed the tears to soak his shirt. Even now, she'll be touching Hurley and it'll feel wrong, like she's betraying him or something. But she knows he'd want her to move on, so he can see her smile again. So she never allows Hurley – or anyone for that matter – to see the haunted look in her eyes, not so much for her parents anymore but for the man she loved.
She never dreams, even in her darkest moments, that one day someone might be doing the same thing for her. She can hear Hurley's sobs, even as the darkness closes and his fingers clumsily tuck back her hair and attach to her shirt as he bends his head and sobs. She can still feel the tears soak through, even when she stops feeling altogether.
She broke down after David, she recalls. She stopped eating, stopped sleeping and stopped watching or hearing anything that reminded her of him. She began to think she was insane when she started seeing him everywhere, a consistent ghost which no one else but herself could see. Every time she blinked, he was there. The hallucinations became so bad, she started to believe he was alive.
She remembers the wariness she felt when Hurley told her he'd had an imaginary friend, wondering if she was affecting him with her craziness, the craziness she was sure she'd managed to eradicate, like some hideous spot which always seemed to crop back up. She'd never confess it, of course.
Some things, after all, are better left unheard.
Yes, she's had a crap life, it has to be said. Orphaned at eight, incarcerated at thirty, and killed at thirty eight – it's far from a perfect life. She's lost track of the years, mostly because she's tried to find the person she used to be before David, the person who could help people cope with anything, the person who always used to be the shoulder you could cry on.
At some point, that role shifted again so that she became the helpless.
But, like the night sky, her life is littered with hopeful moments; moments which have the power to make her smile and feel good again. She's told enough people that if you always focus on the black side of life rather than the white, you're eyes will gradually dim to adjust to that. You'll always be stuck with a dim view of the world. If you lift up your eyes and look ahead at all the brightness in the world, she remembers instructing people, your eyes can cope with the dark, no matter what.
Hurley, she remembers with a smile, is and was the bright side of her island life. His aloof, charming and optimistic nature reminded her time and time again that life didn't have to be all doom and gloom. The fact he seemed to like her and the fact he didn't see the insane side she always saw every time she saw her reflection made her warm to him very quickly.
The fact he's here, crying over her like she's his best friend, touches her more than she can ever say. She's not hurting much anymore, thanks to the substance Jack injected into her, but she can't get over the fact that someone could put two bullets into her. Why? She can't understand it. What had she done to Michael that he'd want to put two bullets into her, causing her to crumble to the ground like nothing more than sand?
She opens her eyes and starts to move, wanting, even as her last seconds flick past her, to convey a warning to the people she's grown to know and love. She can barely see because the darkness is surrounding her, suffocating her and pulling her down underneath a wave of despair and misery. This pain, however, is nothing compared to the pain Hurley will feel. She knows from experience how grief has a way of wearing down a person, until they're nothing more than a shadow of what they used to be. She knows grief pulls your smile into a frown just when you need it most and that it has a way of shutting you down piece by piece.
She wouldn't wish that fate on anyone, least of all kind hearted Hurley.
"Michael…" she gasps out, wanting them to hear her now, more than any other time.
"He's ok," Jack informs her, misunderstanding. "He's ok, he made it Libby. It's ok. He's alright."
"Michael…" she sobs, frustrated at not being heard yet again.
But maybe that's how it's supposed to be. She knows she's been the listener so long, that any other role would just confuse her. But it frustrates her inexplicably that even as her last breath escapes her lift, she still remains unheard.
Her memories play before her eyes, some dipped in grey, whilst others remain in sepia – her own greatest hits.
"I, Elizabeth Smith, take thee, David Michael Harrison to be my lawfully wedded husband…"
"I'm real. You're real. The way I feel about you, that's real."
"You wanna change? Then change… How do you feel?" "I feel…free."
There's very few dipped in sepia, but they are what she holds on to. She may not have had the best of lives, but she lived during those moments. She's loved and lost, same as everyone else, but she knows that she's been unheard by everyone.
"I've been scared most of my time here anyway," Hurley's voice pipes up. "Except when I'm with you…I miss you, Libby."
She might not be present but she feels him beside her. She's not quite there and yet she's never been more present than when he's sitting beside her makeshift grave, placing a flower tenderly where her head rests, telling her about his day to keep her involved, in an odd but touching way.
And she almost smiles, even though she can't see or be seen.
He hears her, feels her, sees her through the memories they shared and that, she believes, is the most anyone has ever done for her.
A/N: Hope you liked this Libby one-shot. Very difficult to write, I found. She's not the easiest of characters to write, mostly because there's so much we don't know about her but here is my somewhat lame attempt to sum up her wonderful and short lived character.