"Lost and found"
A Lost fan-fic/significantly 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, but this may change when I finally get to watch these episodes)
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?
The best medicine
Deborah put on her sewing glasses and adjusted the nosepiece so it wouldn't slip down too far as she worked. Though her vision was quite good considering her true age, she needed the magnification to work up close like this.
"I'm sorry, David," she said caringly as she sorted items from her extensive first aid basket, warning him well in advance. "This is going to sting a lot, and then the medicine will help to numb the skin around these cuts. I can't give you anything stronger for the pain right now with that bump on your head. I'm afraid you might have a concussion too, but we'll see after the swelling goes down; I just want to be extra careful."
David winced at the pain, wiping tears away on his dirty right-side shirtsleeve. "I know, ma'am; my dentist always warned me about the stinging shot he was giving me. I think that may have been my best trip and fall ever," he replied, drawing in another sharp breath through his teeth as she again dabbed a cloth with antiseptic at the largest of the oozing cuts on his left forearm. His wounds had bled considerably during their hike back to the Compound so the wound looked fairly clean.
"I'm really sorry I lost your basket of special mud." The boy tried to laugh at his own joke, but stifled a cry of pain instead. "Ouch!" He twitched in his seat but his arm held still in her firm grip.
"Mud and baskets are easily replaced, darling child of my heart, and you are more special to me than anything," said the healer softly, drawing out a length of black thread from its spool and taking up a curved needle from a folded packet. Deborah wiped the needle thoroughly with the antiseptic mixture, deftly passing the thread through its eye. "We'll worry about that later. The good news is that I have smooth edges to work with here. Ragged cuts are a lot harder to stitch well."
She settled into her chair, and made sure that his arm was resting as comfortably as possible on the clean towels she had spread out on the kitchen table. All of the kitchen lights were on, and Deborah had gotten one of Locke's lanterns from their storage closet to put directly in her work area. A hasty knock at the back door got their attention, and the woman smiled a grateful welcome to the dark-haired man who entered, carefully closing the screen door behind him.
"Thank you for coming over so speedily, Richard. It looks like I need to stitch up our young amigo a bit," she said, bringing him up to date.
Richard flinched in empathy when he saw the open wound on the boy's forearm; David had cut himself all the way down to the bone when he fell. The healer had cleansed the wound meticulously, using tweezers to pick away tiny rocks and other debris, and then had applied a homemade astringent surgical soap to reduce infection. "Ouch is right. Deborah, what can I do?"
The healer indicated with a nod of her head that he should sit right next to the boy. "You are being very brave David as I knew you would be, and you need to keep your arm as absolutely still as possible, alright?" She pulled his torn flesh together and made the first suture to close the gaping skin and muscle. A tiny snip of the thread with needle-nosed scissors was followed by the next stitch.
"Yes, ma'am," David replied, his voice catching in his throat as the sharp needle moved through his bare skin. He wiped his face on his shirtsleeve again; he had been holding his breath as tears pooled and ran down his cheek. "I've never had stitches before now, even when I was a little kid."
"That's lucky, my friend. First time, eh?" Richard asked quietly, encouraging him to continue and thinking it would help distract his attention. "I have needed stitches twice, no, three times, and Deborah has taken care of all of us at one time or another. Her sewing really is the best on the Island." He showed the boy a tiny scar just above his eyebrow; it was barely visible, and long since healed.
David smiled wanly. "No sir, no stitches but plenty of crashes and scrapes on my bike or my surfboard… things like that. Lava is super sharp if you land on it." He was pale but seemed to be doing well at the moment. The numbing effect of the salve was beginning to help, and Deborah could tell because he didn't flinch at all as she plied her needle and thread, and finished the second batch of sutures.
Richard chuckled, sliding his chair a little bit so that David was looking at him and not at the healer or the startling raw meat of his left forearm. "John recently told me that you like volcanoes. Hawaii is a good place for that."
"Yes I do, I love volcanoes. I was hoping I had packed my Kilauea Iki book from back home but I can't find it," David answered immediately, his eyes lighting up. He drew a calming breath and wiped his eyes on his shirtsleeve again. "Did you know that there is a volcano in Wyoming too?"
Alpert looked surprised; that was news to him. "No kidding?" He was being sincere and he realized that David wasn't really paying attention at all to the stitching that was in progress. The herbal salve that she had made had strong anesthetic properties.
"Well, under Wyoming is better to say, but it's the neatest thing ever. Yeah, it's a super-volcano, so it's really gigantic too. Most people don't even know about it since it is supposed to be extinct or whatever you call it."
"That would be a bad day surprise if it erupted, wouldn't it?" Richard learned more about volcanoes in the next quarter hour than he had in more than a century. He also realized that this was the lengthiest conversation he'd had with the Island's newcomer.
David stopped in mid-sentence, looking over when he felt Deborah starting to wrap his arm in a bulky sterile bandage. He raised his eyebrows questioningly.
"All set, dear," she told him as she clipped two pairs of tiny silver pins to hold the bandage in place. "Just rest here for a bit longer and I will make you some of my very special tea." Deborah put one hand on Richard's shoulder and leaned over him to kiss the boy's hair.
"How many stitches did I get, ma'am?" David wanted to know. Richard chuckled and got up to wash his hands at the kitchen sink.
"Fourteen," Deborah replied. "Not as many as I expected to tell you the truth." She winked at him. "You did well, young one." The woman rose, bringing her basket and other first aid supplies over to the counter. She put a kettle of water on to boil; gathering a small bamboo box of what looked like miscellaneous dried leaves and stems.
Richard stepped into the next room and returned with a small wooden chess set. He held it up to show the youngster. "Do you play chess?"
David shrugged one shoulder, smiling a little shyly. "No, but I'd like to learn. Daddy already taught me how to play backgammon, and Papa used to play acey-duecy."
Alpert nodded approval, and also acknowledgment of something Deborah asked him quietly in Spanish. "I'm glad. Let's play just a quick game while the lady of the house takes care of some things." He started setting up pieces, and explaining for David the basic moves each one could make on the board.
David tentatively sniffed the steaming teacup that Deborah had given him and he made a face at the way it smelled… rotted leaves and something else he couldn't quite identify. Richard laughed softly, glancing over at the healer who gave a knowing tilt of her head.
"I suggest that you drink this medicine down all in one shot, amigo," he advised. "It's really the best way for it, to just get it over with as quickly as you can."
The boy looked skeptical and took a tiny sip. He gagged and grimaced at the bitter taste of the herbal blend. "Ugh, gross! Ma'am, I'm sorry, this is terrible stuff." He leaned forward like he was going to put the tea on the table and push it away.
Deborah soothingly touched his hand, encouraging him to keep holding the cup; she was gentle but firm. "I can add more of the honey, that might help."
"But it's really yuck," David replied, just short of whining. "I can't drink it."
The healer added a large dollop of honey and gave David a spoon to stir it into the aromatic steaming tea. "Yes, you can. I promise it will help, dear. When that salve wears off later tonight, your arm will be quite sore, and I am very glad we've no broken bones to be concerned with. We want to keep ahead of the pain, alright?"
David paused, thinking about what she said, and he knew that the woman loved him. Richard took his own cup and gestured for the boy to do the same (although the Advisor's tea was ordinary mint).
"Watch me, David. I'll teach you to drink tequila with your father and me when you are older," he said with a friendly wink. This made David laugh as he copied the dark-eyed Spaniard, sitting up straighter and squaring his shoulders.
"Okay, muy macho y muy rapido, right? This is easy for men like us. All of it down in one… one, two, three."
Together they drank their teas, swallowing very quickly, and even with the added honey in his cup, David grimaced and gagged again but he didn't comment when he took a cleansing sip of water immediately afterward. Richard nodded his admiration and carried both of their cups to the sink to wash them out. When Deborah came back to the kitchen, she used her good sewing scissors to cut the rest of David's ruined t-shirt off.
"There you are my dear, keep your left arm resting there on the table, and I will help you up," she instructed. "I've drawn you a bath; remember that we need to keep the bandages clean and dry as much as possible."
"Yes, ma'am," the boy replied, standing carefully with her support. He had learned from the day they first met that the woman disapproved going to bed dirty if you didn't have to. His muddy socks and sneakers were already at the back door, and his brown cargo shorts had mud and blood on them. Richard came over to the table, drying his hands on a kitchen towel. He held out his hand to David.
"I'll see you first thing in the morning, amigo," he said as they shook hands, parting as old friends. "You're in very good care, truly."
David grinned, looking up at the tall Advisor. "Yes, sir. Thank you, Richard."
Richard leaned down to kiss the healer's cheek, murmuring something that the boy didn't quite catch, and with that, he left. Deborah smiled her thanks, walking slowly with David down the hall to his warm bath and comfortable bed.
When he woke in the middle of the night, warming as a fever began to spike, Deborah was there with a cooling touch and soft words of reassurance. She carefully set a tray on his nightstand, turning on the light at its lowest setting. A cool tropical breeze came in through the open bedroom window.
"I feel too hot," he told her, his voice scratchy and tired.
"I know, child," she replied, helping him to sit up and noticing the sweat on his brow. Deborah wiped his face with a damp washcloth and handed him a cup, encouraging him to take a sip.
He looked in it, hesitating, and grimaced a bit when he saw the amber liquid. "This isn't the yucky stuff, is it?"
She smiled, laughing sympathetically, arranging the small pillow on which his left arm rested. "No, dear one. This will help with the fever, and it's very sweet… I added honey and hibiscus. It will help you sleep better, too. It's one of your father's favorites, in fact."
David grinned at that, drinking the cooled tea quickly and obviously appreciating the delicate floral taste. His cheeks reddened slightly as the fever rose but the healer was unconcerned; this was a normal part of the healing process. She unwrapped the bandage to check the sutures, satisfied that the wound was clean and well covered with the antibiotic salve.
"Does it look okay?" asked David, his brow wrinkling in concern. He placed his empty cup on the tray.
"It looks like it will heal very, very well my dear," Deborah assured him, patting his leg. "Let me wrap your arm again and I can help you to the bathroom if you like." The cat and dog sauntered in while she was speaking, making their way up on the end of his bed. "Oh, and here are your night nurses arriving for the late shift."
David giggled. "Hi guys. I missed you today," he said, reaching over with his right hand to stroke their ears. Cat purred very loudly as he kneaded the bed with his front paws while Reggie just yawned, spun around twice and then curled up in his usual spot on the boy's blanket. "They're funny."
"I've always thought so too. There. How do you feel, child? Any pain or headache or anything?"
David shook his head. "No, ma'am, just sleepy again." He stifled a yawn with his right arm. "But I should go to the bathroom first." He grinned a bit self-consciously at her, but Deborah just smiled and helped him make his way down the hall and back.
The smell of breakfast wafted through the house and woke the boy, drawing him out of bed. As he pushed the sheet back, he noticed in passing that the cat and dog had already gotten up and out for the day. David yawned and scratched his head as the cobwebs cleared, unaware that his light auburn hair was sticking up on one side and he padded to the kitchen in his bare feet.
"Daddy! You're back," he exclaimed happily as he rushed over to the tanned, bald man working at the stove. John was clean-shaven, wearing his usual gleaming white t-shirt with green pajama pants.
Locke pushed the handle of the cast-iron griddle to one side, smiling broadly as his son, messy hair and all, practically leapt into his arms. "Hot pan, buddy. How are you doing, Mr. Sleepy head?" He tried unsuccessfully to flatten David's hair and stepped a safer distance away from the cook top, his big hand patting the boy's back. John felt tears prickling in his eyes at the enthusiastic welcome.
"I'm good," said David, squeezing his father's neck and then leaning back in his arms. "I got stitches yesterday, fourteen of 'em! See?"
"So I heard," Locke commented, setting the boy lightly on his feet and placing a kiss on his head. "Sounds like a lot, partner." He raised one eyebrow, a silent question.
David shrugged nonchalantly as he glanced down at the bandage. "I guess so. Deborah and I went to the swimming place and I fell on the way back to… where is she, Dad?" He looked around, realizing that the woman was not there in the kitchen with them.
John sipped from his coffee and flipped the kitchen towel back over his shoulder, reaching to turn off the burners. He put a finger to his lips. "Still sleeping," he whispered with a wink. "I got back really late last night."
The boy winced apologetically, stepping over to the table. "Oh, sorry Daddy," he whispered back. "She's a really good doctor, or nurse, or whatever, you know that?"
"Yes, sir. Best medicine on the Island, my boy," Locke agreed. He opened an upper cabinet, taking out a clean glass for his son. "How about chocolate milk this morning? My treat."
David laughed, surprised as he pulled out his chair and sat down. "We have chocolate milk? Where did that come from?"
"Well, about once a quarter… every three months or so, we get a food drop down to a spot south of here; we still call it the Swan station. There used to be a group called the Dharma Initiative that lived here, but they are all gone now. The company still sends food and a few other supplies. I did promise you could go with me to help out with the inventory, remember?"
"Yes, I remember. Do they have an office or something?" David drank about half of the tall glass of milk, leaving a mustache on his upper lip. He was about to wipe it on his bandaged left arm but he stopped himself in time and grabbed a napkin from the table instead. "Like a company headquarters or whatever you call it?"
"They must have," Locke answered, taking down three plates from the cupboard. "But I have no idea where it could be, son."
"Don't you ever wonder where they are?"
Locke chuckled as he filled David's plate with bacon and pancakes. "Probably shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Here you go, I hope you like banana pancakes. Syrup's already on the table."
"Yes, sir! I think I like these Dharma people too," David said, pointing at the box of pancake mix with his fork. "Wherever they are."