selenak: (Ben by Idrilelendil)
[personal profile] selenak
Title: Storytelling

Disclaimer: Characters and situations owned by ABC.

Summary: Less a story and more a John Locke character portrait, co-starring Boone, Anthony Cooper, Helen Norwood, Benjamin Linus and the island. Not necessarily in that order.

Timeline: at some point during early season 4.

Rating: General



I.

Tell me a story, John says. He has just ended up in the orphanage again, after his latest foster family did not work out. This time, he wasn’t too shy (“I never know what that boy is thinking, Hank, I’m sorry, I can’t do this, we have to give him back”), he was too demanding (“You were supposed to be a good boy, so what’s up with the constant whining, damn it”). He’s back in the common room, but he’s not talking to any of the other children, not yet. It’s too embarrassing, being rejected again. No, he’s talking to the backgammon board he sets up, carefully. Tell me a story, he says, imagining being asked for one, because he’s not too shy or too whining. He knows things. He can do things. If they just let him. Of course, he replies, mouthing the answer in silence, just like the question, of course. Any story you like. If you tell one, too.


II.

“The island is full of noises,” Boone says. Boone has had the benefit of an expensive private education and may be quoting Shakespeare deliberately, but it’s unlikely. Still, Locke gives him a quick, approving smile before realizing Boone actually had sounded disturbed. “Nothing ever freaks you out, does it, John?” Boone says, catching his smile, tone switching to admiration. He’s wrong, of course. Both wrong about Locke, and wrong to be disturbed by the wonder of this place. But Locke doesn’t correct him. If there is one thing he has learned, it’s that people don’t want to hear the truth all the time.

III.

“It wasn’t the kidney,” he once says to Helen. “I would have given him the kidney if he had just shown up and asked. It’s what he made me believe.”
“That he loved you,” she replies, and that was part of it, but not all he had meant. For a short while, he has been made part of the story he had always dreamed of, father and son, together. That it turned out to be an elaborate lie was bad enough, but the worst thing is that the core of it was so hollow. That there is nothing there in Anthony Cooper that could love, or give anything at all. During their next two encounters, John fights down his rage and tries to come up with a story of his own, one where what was once a lie can become real; but he has forgotten that this kind of story only worked when he told it to himself, not when he needed someone else to speak some of the words.

IV.

“Tell me a story,” their prisoner says, Henry Gale, who in all likelihood does not come from Minnesota, when Locke brings him a new meal and changes the band on his shoulders, and Locke, for a moment, goes still.
“What, Dostojewsky isn’t good enough for you?” he then returns, and continues to patch up Henry. It’s a clean wound Rousseau gave him, healing at a normal pace, nothing more, and that is odd, though the only doctor around wouldn’t admit it. Trust Jack to not acknowledge the miracles the island can do.
“Well, John,” Henry says, “it’s just that I believe in give and take. I’ve told you my story, whether you believe it or not. Why don’t you tell me yours?” He adds, smiling his odd little smile: “I promise I won’t ask whether it’s true.”

V.

He doesn’t have his voice back when he talks to Boone, and maybe that’s just as well. Boone understands him anyway and says: “I was the sacrifice the island demanded.” Then he tells Locke to clean up his mess and save Eko, at which point Locke understands he’s not really talking to Boone.
Still, he accepts this, and not the grave at the beach, as the ending for Boone. He needs it to be. Because there has to be a meaning, a purpose; not a hollow core. That was what had been driving him slowly mad from the moment they discovered the hatch to be nothing but a man-made station, with a button to be pushed; the idea that there was nothing to believe in, no greater purpose. But now he can feel it again, the certainty that there is meaning. His voice returns, too.
But he’ll never be sure again that he is the one speaking with it.

VI.

The island tells its own story, which isn’t always the one you hear. Some aspects of it are easy for Locke to understand; he can tell when the rain comes and goes, he can taste the beauty and the terror of this place in the water on his skin and the sun drying it. Others are incomprehensible, and he feels like learning a new language, like learning how to track for the first time, only the meaning of tracks keeps changing.
Talking to Ben is like this, too. There are signature clues he can recognize quite easily, and not always the ones Ben means to give him, but there are riddles and obfuscation in every other sentence, and those are usually quite intentional. Locke finds it something between frustrating and exhilarating. Sometimes he thinks he won’t be able to understand, not completely, before he’s dead.
But that is okay, as long as the story continues, and none of them stops being a part of it.

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