"Lost and found"

A Lost fan-fic/Alternate Universe (set mainly at the end of season 4 just after Ben Linus "moves" the Island; ignores much of Seasons 5 and 6 for now)

A/N: John Locke-centric, and I do not own any rights to these "Lost" characters and stories. I am using a timeline of my own design that runs "flash-forward-normal" from 2004 to the present.

Summary: Locke finds a young castaway on the beach. Who is this boy, and why does he seem so strangely familiar to John Locke?

Rating: T

Chapter 1/?

Arrival

"Don't worry, Richard," said Locke as he put a length of nylon rope into his backpack. "I'll be back sometime in the middle of next week." He adjusted the knife that he wore at his waist, hanging from the right side of his belt.

The dark-haired younger (actually, much older) man smiled, his piercing eyes softening as he shook his head fondly at their recently arrived "man of faith". "I know how much you need your private time; it certainly took me a long while to reflect on all that had happened when I first came here… and on all that I thought I had lost." Richard Alpert sounded wistful at the indirect mention of his long-dead wife, Isabella, back home in another-century Spain.

John smiled, chuckling gently, gripping the other man's shoulder as his startling blue eyes sparkled with humor and enthusiasm. "And all that you have gained, Richard, all that you have gained. If you really need to reach me, it's fine, truly. I'll hike all day, rest and read when I get there, and explore the beach again. The winter storms probably rearranged much of the terrain anyway."

"I could send Deborah after you when she gets back from the outpost, in case you need…"

Locke held up a hand, indicating that he would not be dissuaded. "She and I said our goodbyes very early this morning, thanks." Richard raised one questioning eyebrow, knowing that the oldest woman in their group was an effective healer, nurse, cook and apparently, lover. He had the grace not to blush when he thought of his teacher, and now his leader, making love as any other woman and man would.

Richard handed over a fist-sized packet of fresh herbs and aloe, which John tucked into a cargo pocket of his trousers next to his worn compass; Locke never used sunscreen but liked aloe for treating his skin when he did get too much of the tropical sun. "Thank you. I'll see you in about ten days."

And with that, he left the tiny yellow house and headed north across the island.

-/-/-/-/-/-

Locke had just resumed walking, getting up from a brief water break, as he stepped from the tree line and onto the powdery white strand. The onshore breezes cooled him, the sweat evaporating from his shirt, but he felt at peace as he saw the almost unbearably blue ocean. An unidentified tension left his body when he could finally see and smell the Pacific, and he sighed as the shorebirds rose and dove above the waves. He had always loved the ocean, even after crash landing in a passenger jet en route from Sydney, Australia to L.A. some eight years before. So much had happened on the Island since then.

"I wish you could see this place, Helen," he whispered, his eyes misting a bit as he remembered the woman to whom he'd proposed marriage, and subsequently lost, by his own foolish choices. "I'm sure you would be happy here with me."

He paused, letting the tears build up of their own accord and swim across his vision before he wiped them away.

"Helen, I miss you and I still love you," he said aloud in a clear, strong voice, letting the wind carry his words to her, wherever she was. He wiped the moisture from his cheeks, unashamed that he could cry over losing her. It had, after all, been his own damned fault. Even now that Deborah was in his life, he would always carry a torch for Helen Norwood.

John gave a soft, rueful laugh as he shook his head at himself, cutting a hunk from the fresh mango he'd picked a few minutes ago. He ate the mango as he walked along the shore, appreciating its not-quite-ripe tartness and was seriously contemplating a swim in the ocean. It was not much further to his cabin, and he could rinse off in the freshwater spring right outside his doorstep.

He wasn't really seeing his familiar surroundings as he continued his walk on the beach, and nearly stumbled on a piece of driftwood when his mind processed the shape of a deflated life raft up ahead, beached and subtly rocking with the motion of the waves. Locke frowned when he saw the figure lying prostrate in the sand. It was a nearly naked child, and he could not tell from that distance if he was alive or not.

John gave an involuntary shout and felt his heart pounding as he ran the last few dozen yards, reaching the boy's side as the water tugged on the black rubber raft. He could just barely make out the name "Neptune Massif" painted in yellow letters. It looked like the child had attempted to drag the heavy craft further up the beach before collapsing with exhaustion. The rising tide fought hard against the drifted sand as it tried to reclaim its prize.

Locke winced in sympathy when he saw the seriously sunburned back and legs, but he set aside his backpack and gently turned the youngster over; for some reason, John noticed a row of black magic-marker lines on the inner left forearm, almost like a countdown of days. Relief washed over him when he heard a soft moan coming from the boy's painfully chapped lips. John brushed back reddish blonde hair from the child's face, noting in passing a bruise and small cut above one eyebrow. The injured boy's face was covered with sand, and his hair had dried to the texture and color of standing hay in a wind-swept prairie.

First aid training from what seemed like decades ago rushed to the forefront as Locke carefully examined the unconscious boy. There appeared to be no broken bones, just bruises and severe sunburn, especially across the back and shoulders. The boy was skinny and bare chested, wearing faded green swim trunks, crew socks that had once been white, and one tennis shoe. A rope from the dinghy was wrapped around his left ankle so John drew his hunting knife to cut it away. He couldn't find the other shoe as he gathered the boy up in his arms and stood, making his way to the nearest shade under a palm tree grove.

The boy mumbled incoherently as John laid him down in the cool, soft sand in the shade. In a few more minutes, John had both his and the boy's backpacks (the youngster's was water-logged but otherwise intact), and it took a bit of effort to drag the deflated life raft away from the pull of the Pacific Ocean.

Locke paused to get his bearings, realizing that he was no more than an hour's walk from his private cabin. He gingerly lifted the child's head, encouraging him to take tiny sips of water. Dehydration was a major concern but he didn't want to over do it and choke the unconscious boy in his efforts to save his life. John nodded once he'd made the decision to move on to the cabin, taking a swig of cool water for himself. It took some maneuvering at first, but he arranged both backpacks on his broad shoulders, and then stooped to cradle the injured boy in his arms.

The blistered sunburn felt unpleasantly hot even to his bare skin, and the boy mumbled again, this time clearly in painful protest as he tried to pull away when John picked him up.

"I know it hurts, buddy," said Locke quietly. "I'm sorry about that. We have a bit of a hike then I can see about some medicine for your back, alright? It won't be long, I promise."

Something in his calm, deep voice got through to the boy, and he settled down again, trusting Locke to carry him safely. John felt the boy relax against his chest and his heart inexplicably skipped a beat. There was something uncanny and familiar about this child in his arms.

-/-/-/-/-/-

The boy moaned loudly and Locke could see gooseflesh rising as he rinsed off in the small spring-fed pool right next to his cabin. As far as he knew, the child had remained unconscious the entire time; now, as John rinsed the salt and sand from his body, the freshwater was also cooling the angry red sunburn. Locke too was stripped down to his undershorts in the waist-deep water, washing away the sweat and grime of the day.

The boy's struggles grew more vigorous and he seemed to be waking up. "Wait, Papa, wait for me!" he called out hoarsely and in plain English, his eyelids fluttering open. "I won't go far, Papa!"

John squeezed out a cloth with his free hand, wiping the boy's face and cleaning the minor head wound; it wouldn't require much more treatment than that. He nearly dropped him back into the water when the child thrashed his legs.

"Easy, easy son," Locke told him firmly, raising his voice a bit. "We need to get you cleaned up and get some medicine on that burn. Take it easy now…"

The boy froze, heaving a shuddering sigh when he looked John right in the face. It was Locke's turn for surprise when he saw the impossibly sea-blue-green eyes staring blankly ahead, unfocussed; for a moment, he thought he saw Helen Norwood gazing back at him, and he forgot to breathe.

"Yes sir, okay," the boy responded, gritting his teeth and choking back tears; his voice seemed raspy from lack of use. "Please don't let it hurt…" Tears stained his cheeks as he passed out again.

John cradled him to his chest, and walked out of the pool, both of them dripping onto the soft grass that lined the path up to the cozy two-room cabin. "I've got you, boy. I know it hurts."

-/-/-/-/-/-

Locke sighed contentedly in his sleep when the soft rain started outside, pattering on the tin roof of the cabin. It was his favorite sleeping weather, and always had been. A few minutes later, he was snoring as he slipped into a deeper slumber. Two screened windows on opposite walls were propped halfway open, allowing a pleasant cross-breeze to push through. The gauzy curtains billowed and snapped in the wind, creating a ghostly pair of observers over the sleeping forms.

A muffled thud followed by a sound of pain brought him quickly to full wakefulness some time later, his trusty hunting knife gripped in one hand as he waited quietly for the sound again. John relaxed when he realized it was his injured houseguest, tripping in the unfamiliar darkness of the cabin's bedroom.

"Just a second, son," Locke said, putting the knife back in its sheath under his pillow. "Let me get a light on in here for you." He struck a match and soon the battered old kerosene lantern lit the room; there was no moonlight outside as it was the New Moon of the month.

"Yes, sir," replied the boy from just a few feet away. "Thank you." John rolled off of the futon, noting with a satisfied grunt that the boy was taller than he'd expected, even braced as he was against a heavy bookcase. He was obviously not steady on his land legs, holding onto the wooden shelf for support.

"It should be time for more aloe on your back," Locke offered helpfully, noting that the boy was looking around the room, somewhat disoriented and confused. John moved forward slowly, not wanting to startle him.

"I'm sorry I woke you up," said the boy, aware of the darkness outside. "I was looking for the bathroom."

Locke chuckled, impressed at the boy's pleasant manners as he grabbed the lantern's handle. "It's outdoor plumbing here, I'm afraid. Come on, I'll help you get to the porch… careful not to fall off!"

John was pleased to hear a slight laugh from the boy as he helped him shuffle out of the front door, and got him leaning against a post away from the steps. "I'll be over here," said Locke as he too urinated from the opposite end of the raised porch. "I bet this means your dehydration isn't as bad as I thought it was."

"No, you're probably right," said the boy, washing and drying his hands at the basin beside the front door. "I didn't pee much when I was on the raft."

By the time they got him back to his bed, and carefully applied another layer of the homemade aloe ointment on the boy's sunburned back and shoulders, the youngster was sound asleep. Locke thought the deep, steady sound of his breathing was even better than it had been on the shoreline. The older man stood for a few moments in the doorway of the bedroom, feeling protective, watching as the injured boy rested face down, his cheek burrowing down into the comforting pillow.

John had to laugh quietly when he realized that he still did not know the child's name.

-/-/-/-/-/-

Locke awoke from a vivid sexual dream, finding himself lying on his stomach… something which he very rarely did. As he shifted under the sheet, he also found himself fully aroused, and his head was full of memories of Helen. He groaned in frustration, muffling the noise with the pillow as he rolled over on his back and lay still, hoping things would subside on their own. It had been a very long time since he'd awoken in such a state and he fought down an urge to give himself release; it wouldn't do to have an eight-year-old walking in on him masturbating like a horny teenager.

He found a clean white t-shirt that he'd left on the back of the futon, and pulled on his trousers, thankful that his aching loins were now more bearable, and started thinking about breakfast for himself and his guest. Fastening his knife at his belt, he peeked in the bedroom, satisfied that the boy was still sleeping peacefully. His lobster-red sunburn was blistered, and would peel on his back and the backs of both legs, but it seemed that the herbs and aloe were helping the process along.

John had just served up two plates of fresh fruit, scrambled eggs and pineapple juice, when he heard soft footfalls behind him. He turned and smiled at the sight of the boy, his hair shiny from exposure to sun and salt spray, and in total disarray, looking around the small kitchen. The boy seemed uncertain as to what he should do next.

Locke set both plates on the table, and stepped over with his hand outstretched. "Good morning, I'm John. John Locke."

The boy grinned as he shook hands firmly. "I'm David White. Pleased to meet you, sir." They both chuckled sheepishly at the humor of all that they'd likely been through, and only now introducing themselves. John helped David sit at the table, and he was strangely proud as the boy immediately pulled the napkin into his lap; someone had obviously raised this child to have good table manners.

Even though he was probably unbearably hungry, David slowed down enough to sniff the plate appreciatively. "This smells really good, thank you." He took a tentative bite of the hot eggs, and chewed slowly.

John finished doctoring up his coffee at the rough kitchen counter and joined the boy at breakfast. "You're welcome. Eat up, Dave," he said, gesturing with his fork. "You've still got growing to do." Locke wasn't sure where that expression had come from; it just popped into his head.

David smiled, a little wistfully. "My grandfather used to always say that." He put his fork down and reached for his juice, draining it in a matter of seconds.

Locke nodded approval and pushed the pitcher closer to the boy. The youngster refilled his glass and drained that portion too.

"Thank you," he said around a small bite of fresh mango. "I think pineapple is my favorite of all; I'd eat it every day back home."

"Really? Where is 'back home' then?"

"Hawaii, er Oahu, I should say. We just moved to Honolulu from California," was the reply. The exotic names tripped off the boy's tongue as if he were a native, or simply had a gift for languages. Locke was recalculating his age estimate of the child, and was growing more and more intrigued.

"Such a beautiful place, isn't it? You and your family live in Hawaii now?" John inquired, curious about the boy's arrival to the Island.

David shook his head. "No, just my grandfather and me. After Nana died, he felt like getting back to Pearl something-something… he was a Colonel there back in the olden days, I think."

Locke raised an eyebrow at the youngster's innocent and comic turn of a phrase, blowing thoughtfully across his coffee mug. "Pearl Harbor. What about your mom and dad?"

The boy shrugged one shoulder, looking away for a moment. "I don't have a dad. Well, I do I guess, technically, but I never met him and my mom died when I was a baby. Papa and Nana adopted me so I have their last name instead of my mom's."

He finished his plate and shook his head at John's silent offer of more food. Locke took both of their dishes to the sink basin, placing them in the sudsy water. He tried to keep his voice casual as his analytic mind started piecing bits of information together.

"It's hard to lose a mom… I know, I grew up in foster care but I did finally get to meet her when I was much older." My dad too, he thought with a twinge of painful memories, even now, the kidney transplant scar on the left side of his back tingled when he thought of Andrew Cooper, con man extraordinaire. "What was her name? If that's not too personal a question." John sat back down and took another sip of his coffee.

David smiled (a little sadly, John thought, which was understandable) as he carefully got up and fetched his salt-stained backpack hanging on a nearby doorknob to dry. "It's okay, sir, I don't mind. Her name was Helen," he replied in a soft voice, pulling a ziptop plastic bag from the front pocket and handling it as if it were his life's greatest treasure. "This is my mom and me; Papa took it in the hospital right when I was born. I'll be right back." The boy headed out the front door to the porch, steadying himself by gripping the arm of a chair, to take a leak over the side of the banister.

The picture of the new mother holding the infant David in her arms made Locke glad that he was seated; his knees turned to water and he felt like he'd just been kicked in the chest.

TBC?

A/N2: I've only just recently discovered the "Lost" series, having watched seasons 1-4 over the last few weeks (I know, I know, I am catching up as best I can!) For now, I totally love John Locke as played by Terry O'Quinn. Please R&R, thanks.