Somewhere Only We Know
A Bram Afterlife Fic
Summary: For Jac Danvers' Afterlife challenge, which you can find in the Lost forum under 'Lost Fanfic Challenges'. In his second life, Bram is a successful writer, who finds inspiration from nowhere after an encounter with an old friend. Focuses specifically how I'd imagine he would remember. Features Ilana, vague hints of Ilana/Bram. Set in the sideways world.
It was an odd sort of day for September, he reckoned. It was too hot to be counted as the start of autumn, yet there seemed to be a bitter taste to the wind which suggested summer was on its way to retirement.
Pen poised to write (he didn't particularly care for all this computer malarkey), Bram realized this latest novel was perhaps his greatest challenge. Following the success of 'The Bleeding Effect' was not going to be easy. Sure, there had been the odd critic poking fun at it, claiming time travel was overdone, overwritten, and that his had simply regurgitated the theme to the point where it didn't really surprise anyone anymore.
This novel, however, was sure to silence his critics – if only he could've thought of a damn topic.
As a man near enough approaching his thirty-second birthday, Bram contemplated whether he'd achieved enough to really write about anything. What even qualified a good writer? Words weren't really enough; you had to build an entire world that the reader could both buy into and believe. And LA was hardly a place for inspiration – he'd lived here for most of his life, only really venturing out into the wide world once or twice a year.
"Any luck picking a topic, Dickens?" someone called, prompting him to look up from his (so far) blank notepad.
Ilana, a companion he'd acquired somewhere along the highway that was his life, sauntered forwards, looking remarkably attractive. With her dark, wavy hair, and her olive skin, she was a refreshing step up from most of the women here, most of whom seemed to not know when enough was enough in the make-up department.
He smiled warmly.
"You try following the success of your first novel. Most writers will tell you it sucks," he grumbled good-naturedly.
Ilana sat down opposite him, smiling at him.
"It's not really a line of work I could really commit to," she admitted.
"Oh, and soliciting is?" Bram returned, raising an eyebrow.
"Family business," Ilana submitted flatly, as if those two words were completely self-explanatory.
A waitress came and temporarily interrupted their conversation.
"Can I get you anything?" she asked politely, tugging impatiently at a strand of her blonde hair.
"I'll have a coffee. Decaf," Ilana responded.
"Same." Bram wiped his brow. "I'm battling between my two greatest enemies – procrastination and exhaustion."
"Why not stick to sci-fi?" Ilana enquired. "It at least narrows you down to that specific genre. It seems to be your speciality."
"Yeah, that just leaves me with the easy task of finding a plot," Bram drawled sarcastically. "Thanks, Ilana."
Ilana gave a dry chuckle. In terms of humour, they seemed to complement each other, seeing how they both seemed to possess dry wit. The sun was out and he was glad to have picked an outdoor table; sweat beads gathered frantically on his forehead, glistening in the light like little Christmas lights.
"You know what, I have a friend who's an author," Ilana recalled. "She says the greatest piece of advice she ever got was to write about what you know. Not only does it help the writing process, but you don't have to spend hours researching. You'll have the experience right in your head."
"But I haven't done anything to write about," Bram confessed. "I'm not exciting enough to have had things to write about, Ilana."
"You were in the military were you not?" Ilana enquired.
"I did the training and bailed," Bram muttered. "Being in the army is basically an acceptable form of bullying. I didn't fancy being yelled at all the time, though I can't deny the training did come in handy."
"For your book, right?" Ilana asked, sipping her coffee. "I read bits and pieces of it. I wished I'd read it all, but I've just not had the time." She leaned forward. "Want to hear something strange?"
"I usually don't handle wills and stuff like that," she began. "I usually stick to other family matters, but I took this case. The guy who'd died, a Mr Christian Shephard, had left numerous items and stuff to the usual suspects – wife, children, parents, etc. But turns out he left items to two of his kids who, evidently, had no idea they had a sibling."
Bram whistled under his breath. "Got to be a shocker."
"Right," Ilana agreed. "So, I read them the details of the will, get them to meet, and they seemed to hit it off."
"So? Where's the strangeness?" Bram prompted.
"So, a couple of days ago, turns out a whole bunch of people went missing. The two of them included," Ilana said, sitting back in her seat. "You want weird? Get this – both of them were on the same flight from Sydney to LAX and they didn't even know."
"And they disappeared?" Bram mused, suddenly finding the pen was twitching in between his fingers.
"They all were on the plane apparently, the people who disappeared," Ilana reported, grinning at the look on Bram's face. "You've got that look, Bram."
"The look," Ilana prompted. "The look which says you either have to write down what's in your head, or explode with the imminent knowledge you've accumulated in the last few minutes."
Bram had to chuckle.
"With your extensive vocabulary, I'm surprised you've not written anything," he said, still chuckling.
"I'm with the law. Having an extensive vocabulary is kind of part of the job," Ilana pointed out wryly.
The silence that fell between was a companionable one. They'd been friends for quite a few years now, and even now they still managed to agree on absolutely nothing, and disagree on everything.
The years of friendship perhaps went someway into explaining why the next action between them was strange. As they simultaneously reached for their coffees, their hands brushed against each other's, which didn't sound strange except a series of images flashed before their eyes.
A plane crash.
A beady eyed man, and a bald man who instinctively didn't belong.
A rush of dark smoke, followed by darkness.
They kept their fingertips touching, a rush of knowledge pooling into the depths of their minds. Everything that had ever happened – or hadn't, depending on which way you looked at it – came creeping back to the surface.
It was deja-vu multiplied.
And their mirroring smiles of incredulity seemed to tell an entirely different story, a story time had never had the chance to tell.
Their fingers entwined. Shy glances were exchanged.
"That was…trippy," was Bram's eventual conclusion. "Did that… Did that really happen?"
"What do you think?" Ilana asked, staring at him. "An island with a smoke monster? A creature so dark it can inhabit and copy dead bodies? Does that sound like stuff that could've really happened?"
"No," Bram grinned. "But it sure sounds like the stuff novels are made of."
Ilana smiled, still reeling over what she'd seen. On paper, it probably sounded like nothing more than a dream, or the ramblings of someone who perhaps relied too much on alcohol.
But the difference between a dream and reality – between the truth and fiction – was what your heart knew to be true.
Bram decided whoever had given Ilana the advice on writing about what you knew was an unappreciated genius.
And as Ilana ordered some more drinks in celebration of this fact, he took his pen and began scribbling down some preliminary notes, which very quickly turned into sentences before he could even figure out what it was he wanted to write.
It seemed after living what had been essentially a lie all these years, it seemed the truth was finally out. And although he'd never been able to figure out what his purpose on that island had been – other than ensuring that thing never escaped – he was sure it must've been fulfilled.
Though he wasn't raised under any religious flag by any means, he certainly believed that a second chance was only given to those who'd earned one, and surely the fact he was here, reliving his life, meant his part gone some way into helping protect the island and fulfilling Jacob's role.
From the gleam in Ilana's eyes, she was thinking along the same lines as he was, and they shared a soft smile, unable to do much else.
It was just shy of six months when Bram's latest book hit the shops. It was detailed, it contained a lot of raw emotion, and it had all his critics stunned into silence. Because the way it had been written seemed to suggest he'd had some sort of personal connection with the events.
Bram and Ilana met up in the same little café as they'd met last time. Clad in the same clothes they'd been wearing on the flight which had subsequently crashed on the island, their faces lit up as they met up, Bram especially keen to show her the fruition of hours of writing and combined research.
"I believe congratulations are in order," Ilana said, reaching over to kiss his cheek. "The book's a big hit. Everyone in my office has a copy."
The casualness to her tone suggested to him she'd played a part in that, but she wasn't giving anything away.
"I think it accurately depicted the events without really covering too much detail," he said, shrugging his broad shoulders. "Course I had to make up a lot of it, giving that most of America love a good adventure story with some lovable characters, and would probably not buy all the science of it all without 'em."
"You used the ones from the paper didn't you?" Ilana guessed shrewdly. "The names of the people who went missing?"
"Uh-huh," Bram said with a grin. "Didn't mention any surnames though. I'd get sued to kingdom come if I had."
"And I sure as hell wouldn't save your ass if you did," Ilana added, grinning at his mock hurt look.
They fell into another companionable silence. Both of them knew they should've ideally moved on by now. But something held them back. For Bram, he'd needed to document his work, trying to work out somewhere along the way if he'd made a damn bit of difference. He'd done countless volunteering opportunities, started up a charity for Crohns Disease, on account of the fact that it had been what his mother had died from, but strangely enough this one act, this one part of his life, was the one that really mattered.
He supposed to sum it up he just wanted to know it'd all been for a reason .
Ilana, if he had to guess, was exactly the same.
If you'd been set a task, and died before its completion, wouldn't you have wanted to know if it had ever been completed? That it hadn't just been a massive waste of your time and resources?
He pulled out a copy, admiring it briefly before handing it to Ilana.
"Lost," she read, smiling. "Title's cool. Short and to the point."
"I hear some people want to make it into a movie," he added. "I'm not going to let them."
He gave her a solemn look.
"Because it's our story. I don't want some actor depicting me as some sort of annoying oaf," he said shortly. "Besides… I find it's easier to read something, absorb it, and then move on. Novels I find can have ambiguous endings and get away with it. Movies… not so much."
Ilana nodded understandingly.
"Are we ready?" she prompted.
He looked at her, before looking at the book, and then nodded.
"I just wanted to know if it was all worth it. That our deaths had some sort of purpose, some sort of legacy," he responded. "I've been alone for so long, Ilana. That other life we had, the real one, might've been dark and dangerous, but I know one good thing came out of it."
He smiled ambiguously.
"I got a hell of a friend out of it," he said, gripping her hand tight. "You always had my back –"
"Ah, ah," she interrupted. "We agreed – no mushy goodbyes. If we see each other on the other side, then that's fine. I don't know what we have – if it's even anything at all – but let's not end whatever it is with me blubbing, and you staring awkwardly at the ground. Let's just…move on."
"Agreed," he said, his lips twitching into the faintest of smirks.
They both simultaneously looked at the café, their minds casting back to that moment in both realities when they'd first met. It seemed some things changed on the timeline, like key events or moments, whilst other things (the littler decisions, regrets) changed.
"This is where we met," Bram recalled. "As I recall, I was sitting down having some lunch and you ambushed me."
"I was a bounty hunter back then. I wasn't going to waste time being polite. You had certain skills I could use," Ilana said coyly.
"Certain skills…" he scoffed. "You practically kidnapped me."
"Yeah, well, your life was going nowhere. You lacked purpose and direction according to Jacob," Ilana remembered.
"Jacob…" they both breathed as one, remembering the ever calm man, with his caramel blonde hair and his eyes containing more ambiguity than the rest of the island put together.
And, as one, they linked hands. It wasn't a planned gesture, nor was it particularly one they felt comfortable with. But in the moment, it felt right. They'd started out embarking on a journey to right a serious wrong, because Jacob had been a big influence in Ilana's life (for reasons he still wasn't quite sure of; she'd never really given him the backdrop on her life). And now, they were going on an equally startling journey.
"Hey, Ilana?" he spoke, giving her a broad, goofy grin.
She turned, the corners of her eyes filled with some kind of indeterminate, uncharacteristic emotion – he was guessing either awe or surprise – and smiled at him, a gesture which completely shut him up.
"No mushy goodbyes remember?" she reminded him.
He thought about his life. What little he'd accomplished in his life didn't really matter. Not anymore. The way he liked to think about, he'd done his best with the life given to him – both lives. Okay, he'd royally screwed up a few times, made a few enemies here and there, but at the end of the day, he'd reached this point.
That, in itself, said a lot.
A/n: Not really happy with how this turned out, but Bram is a really hard character to write about considering we know next to nothing about him. So I invented this new persona for him, showing a softer side to him. And of course Ilana had to be dragged into this, because strangely after rewatching her scenes, I do really like her. I think she was like Ana Lucia – hated by most until after she was gone. Anyway, enjoy and review please!