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17 July 2010 @ 01:28 pm
fic, Lost: Upon The Dull Earth (Daniel/Charlotte), PG13  
Okay, first of the two luau catching up fics I have atm. I might have more this evening.

Title: Upon The Dull Earth
Rating: hard PG13
Pairing: Daniel/Charlotte (peripheral Des/Penny, too)
Words: 2775
Summary: They keep on driving and they don’t meet anyone. Sometimes, Daniel looks at her like there’s something he knows that he won’t bring himself to say, and then it turns out he has some short memory loss problems, but it doesn’t matter. At least he isn’t completely nuts, right? And he has a nice smile. Also, he isn’t dead as most people they bump in these days.
Spoilers: let's say the entirety of S5. With an AU twist.
Disclaimer: nothing is mine here. Not even the way the apocalypse happens.
A/N: this was written for the lovely valhalla37 at the lostsquee luau, with much apologies for being so late. She asked for tropes, and uuuh. This is a sort-of-fusion with King's The Stand, but you just need to know that everyone dies because of the superflu, there are no spoilers for the book. That said, it's apocalypse fic, and it has road trips, cuddling and being forced to share vital space. I hope it fits the bill? Using also for au_abc, Apocalypse. Title stolen from a Philip K. Dick short story that doesn't have zilch to do with anything else here.

April 15th, 1996

If, before the epidemic spread like oil, you had told Charlotte Lewis that the world would end because of bloody influenza, she would have laughed in your face before going back to her research.

(There’s an island she needed to find.)

Right now, all her research is forgotten and everything she can be thankful for is that, after not getting sick all of her life, she hasn’t gotten sick now, and therefore she can assume that at least she’s immune to… whatever this is.

She’s the only person in Bromsgrove who survived.

She also knows she can’t possibly remain here. The only thing she could do is burying bodies, and even if Bromsgrove never was much populated, it’s still too much. And at least her mother didn’t die without seeing her again, but there’s nothing else on the positive column.

Before she came back here from London a couple of weeks ago, when the epidemic was just a flu, the phone lines were working; now the phone is dead and the entire town is deserted.

Charlotte stays in Bromsgrove for exactly one day before digging a hole in the ground and burying her mother. She doesn’t say anything, after. It would just feel ridiculous.

The next day, she finds a car with a full tank, or as close to full as it’s possible, and she drives away.

On one side, she doesn’t know if she even wants to see what happened in the rest of the country, but on the other one, she always was a practical person (except for that small obsession of hers with an island where they lived in two-storey houses and had swings) and staying would have been as good as dying.

--

After two days of careful driving, she thinks she knows what it really means to be alone. She always was independent, she lived alone in her apartment in London, she never had many friends outside the university, but it was an entirely different thing.

If you don’t get the difference when all you pass by is empty cars with the occasional corpse inside, then you never will, she thinks.

And it’s fun, that she spent her entire life searching for an island, and now she will never get to go back because the end of the world arrived and everyone except for her is dead because of a cold virus that became something else entirely.

--

She picks the scientist up on day five.

She had stopped somewhere near Oxford, she thinks it used to be Henley-on-Thames, because there’s the first gas station still working which she had found, and after filling up the car’s tank she had driven into the city.

She had braked just before passing over the body in the middle of the street; she had taken him for a corpse, but she had seen an arm moving slowly just before she was about to press on the accelerator.

Well, that was the guy’s sodding lucky day, she had thought.

(And mine, too, her subconscious added just after. At least I’m not the only person left in the entirety of England.)

She gets out of the car and shakes him awake, or tries to, before realizing that he has to be dehydrated; his lips are cracked, his brown hair hasn’t been cut for a while, his clothes are dirty and the tie he’s wearing is crooked in all the possible wrong directions. He hasn’t shaved for as long as he hasn’t cut his hair, and when she leans down she hears him saying nonsense, something about not going back and hydrogen and whatever happened, happened but it really didn’t.

Which is confusing enough, but the man looks barely dangerous and Charlotte doesn’t think she can leave him here. Not when there’s no one else.

She takes some water from the backpack she brought from Bromsgrove, forces him to drink some water, and then she manhandles him into the passenger seat.

(It’s no hardship; he’s so thin, and even if he’s mostly dead weight, she can manage alright.)

Then she speeds away, wondering if she should head to London or avoid it altogether.

The man is still passed out.

(Also, for some reason, he looks familiar. But she can’t place why.)

--

She learns that he’s a scientist and that his name is Daniel Faraday about twelve hours later, when he wakes up for good and does it with a jolt, making her almost lose control of the car.

He spends the next five minutes saying that he’s sorry and she lets that go because well, he’s still the first human being she met in a week or so, and his brown, wide eyes look so sincerely contrite that she couldn’t stay angry with him for a second. Which isn’t really Charlotte’s style, but epidemics like this tend to make you switch priorities.

She also learns that his left hand tends to twitch a lot, that he was a researcher for Oxford University before the world as they knew it ended, that he’s a physician and that he’s apparently more informed than she is about this whole superflu business.

“Uh, the mortality ratio is apparently 99.4%. On, well, on a worldwide scale. Or, so they, we thought before you, um, couldn’t check statistics anymore.”

“Bloody hell, 99.4%?” she whispers as she drives through a backroad in the countryside, “I guess that makes sense. I mean, I’m the only person who survived in Bromsgrove.”

“You, are you from there?” he asks.

“Not exactly,” she answers, not lying and not telling the truth. “Me and my mother, we lived there before I moved to London. I went back to see her when this all started. She died.”

“Mine did, too,” he whispers, and the tone is strangely flat. His hand doesn’t twitch anymore.

--

According to Daniel, going to London is an incredibly bad idea. Right, they could find someone else alive, statistics speaking, but it’s also highly probable that they wouldn’t be the friendly kind, and neither of them has a weapon. Not that he could use one, she thinks, not with the way his hands shake at times, not when he sometimes glances out of the window with a haunted look in his eyes murmuring that whatever happened didn’t happen.

The next village they find, she breaks into an armory and steals a gun while he steals groceries from a supermarket which hasn’t still been raided to the last inch.

--

They keep on driving and they don’t meet anyone. Sometimes, Daniel looks at her like there’s something he knows that he won’t bring himself to say, and then it turns out he has some short memory loss problems, but it doesn’t matter. At least he isn’t completely nuts, right? And he has a nice smile. Also, he isn’t dead as most people they bump in these days.

--

“I used to live on an island,” she tells him one evening, when it rains and they ended up in this small cabin somewhere in Cornwall. It’s abandoned, but it has a bed, and the rain is too bad for driving. Also, it’s not like they’re going anywhere. And he keeps himself to his corner of the bed, which is good enough.

“Uh. Really?” he answers, that strange look in his eyes again, like he knows something but he won’t say.

“Yes. It was… somewhere in the bloody Pacific Ocean, I think. We left when I was six or seven, I can’t even sodding remember. I remember someone telling me I should leave, and then my mother did bring me away, but for some reason I just wanted to go back. That’s why I became an anthropologist, but… I guess it doesn’t matter anymore, does it?”

He looks at her for maybe ten seconds, his stare focused, his teeth biting into his lower lip, before he gives her a shy, small smile and shakes his head.

“No. Um, no, I guess it really doesn’t. I used to do research about time traveling. Sounds… sounds, uh, pretty stupid now, doesn’t it?”

She chuckles and shakes his head, letting her hair brush against his face. She needs to wash them, she thinks.

“I guess it might, but who knows if the superflu hasn’t taken from you your chance to become the next Einstein?”

Charlotte thinks he flinches, just slightly, but then his shoulders slump down and he leans back down on the bed.

“Oh, I… I really… am not interested. In that. But well. No point in dwelling on it, right?”

No point, and so they go to sleep.

--

The next morning, she uses the bathroom to wash her hair and cut it a bit since there are scissors; then she forces him into the room, sits him down on a chair and cuts his hair, enough that at least they don’t reach his shoulders. And then, realizing that he’d cut himself if he tried to shave with the not-electric razor that is around, she does that for him, too, and he just lets her without saying anything.

She has to admit that he’s kind of cute, when she’s done. Not that he wasn’t before, but at least he lost the whole apocalyptic vibe.

Not that the irony isn’t lost on Charlotte, but she lets that drop.

--

“We’re never meeting anyone else, are we?” she says out of the blue one night, the both of them in the backseat because it’s more comfortable, a month later.

“You… why, no, you can never know,” he tries, a bit too quick, a bit too eager, most definitely a lie, and she just shakes her head and brings a hand on her temple.

“It’s been too long. And we’re the only ones. And the tank’s almost empty, we didn’t find a station in I don’t know how many bloody kilometers and… that’ll be it, won’t it?”

She knows she’s sounding hysterical, but she has been calm and rational and everything else until now; she thinks she’s coming close to just a nervous breakdown, and then his fingers gently close on her shoulder even if they still shake. That’s how it ends up with her head in the crook of his neck, his hands holding her close as they slightly, imperceptibly shake and Charlotte thinking that at least it’s two of them.

--

Two days later they found a functioning gas station, it’s not raining anymore, and the road is always empty save for abandoned cars. Charlotte wonders if they shouldn’t try to reach somewhere bigger than a village but smaller than London. Daniel says it sounds like a good idea. Charlotte takes the road towards Edinburgh and hopes that the gas lasts until then.

--

Daniel kisses her in the backseat of the car that evening. They always sleep there when they don’t find anywhere better, and it’s not even a kiss, it’s barely a peck on her lips before he moves back, almost like it burned, and starts saying that he’s sorry, he’s so really sorry, and then she shakes her head and pushes him back against the door before kissing him back.

It’s not bloody rocket science; she likes him, he apparently likes her more than enough and so why not? Everyone else is dead and gone because of a stupid virus that wiped away 99.4% of the planet. It’s not like they have something to lose.

And he reciprocates the kiss, slowly at the beginning, his fingers shaking as they tangle in her hair, like he doesn’t remember how but would very much like to recall the mechanics if given just a short time to re-learn. And he does re-learn, quite fast actually, and she doesn’t think she has ever been kissed so… so nicely. Like he wants to take his time with her. Like he’s so much into it that nothing else matters. Like he wants this so much that he’ll shake until he bursts.

“This… this, this never happened then,” she thinks she hears him saying.

“What?” she asks, her eyes widening, but he just shakes his head and gives her such a sweet smile that she has to let it drop.

“Nothing. Nothing, sorry, I was, uh, I was just rambling. It wasn’t, just, it wasn’t about this.”

“Oh. Alright, I guess. So, what do we…” she trails, and she doesn’t know why all of a sudden she feels so unsure when she usually isn’t, not in situations like these.

“We… well, uh, we…” he starts, and then he moves forward and kisses her for all he’s worth, his tongue tracing her lips with something quite like desperation and nothing like that shyness that he had before, and as Charlotte throws his tie on the car’s floor, she decides that she likes this new side of him.

Very much.

--

She wakes up with her head on his shoulder and his hand carding through her hair; his shirt is half-open and hers is too, but there’s something in the way he’s touching her like she’s some sort of gift he never thought he could get that makes something sort of melt inside Charlotte.

Instead of just pulling her jeans up and close the buttons on her shirt, she kisses him again and he goes so willingly that she can’t help thinking that at least she got something good out of this.

--

When she hears him whispering under his breath, saying that this time it has to work, she doesn’t ask questions.

After all, she also likes him when he talks nonsense.

--

They stop at one abandoned house along the road that night. There’s a piano in the living room and she stands watching as he sits in front of it and starts playing bloody Beethoven like… well, like a professional. He plays the piano sonata Pathétique entirely and when he’s done she realizes she has just been standing there, unable to move.

He actually blushes when she moves closer.

“Is that some hidden talent of yours?” she jokes, and he shakes his head like he’s embarrassed.

“No. I, uh, actually would have rather become a pianist. When I was young. Then… things happened,” he trails, his hand moving in a circle, like he just doesn’t want to explain things further. He looks at the piano with a certain longing and she just takes a chair and sits closer.

“Well, then why don’t you play me something else? And then… if you have some other hidden talents of this kind, I’d quite like it if you showed me.”

She winks after that, wondering when did she even decide that flirting was a good policy, but he just smiles at her like he’s flattered and his fingers start moving on the keys with a grace that is definitely something to envy.

When he’s done, she just offers her hand and he takes it without hesitating one second.

--

They pick up the other couple after they pass the Scotland border.

They’re walking on the side of the road. She’s blonde, with an open face, nice traits and a smile which manages to be friendly. He’s taller than she is, with brown hair, a beard which needs a cut, too, and a smile which is way more melancholy.

Charlotte almost ends up losing control of the car, for how much she’s shocked at seeing two other people walking and moving. Then she stops the car and gets out of it.

She introduces to the woman, Penny, while the man (Desmond, she learns) and Daniel stare at each other for maybe five seconds, like they actually have met already, before shaking hands like that stare never was there.

“Come with us?” Charlotte asks, because they seem alright, they’ve been walking without much of a destination and she learned what it means to crave seeing people around.

“Aye, why not?” Desmond says, and that’s settled.

Charlotte goes back behind the wheel, Penny gets in the back, and Daniel and Desmond stay outside for one second.

Charlotte thinks that Desmond told him something like we’re out of it this time?, and Daniel nods before getting into the passenger seat.

Charlotte thinks she doesn’t really want to know, whatever it is. She has this sensation that it’s better if she doesn’t.

Also, things could really be worse. Why not just enjoying what she has?

She grabs Daniel’s hand when he reaches out and leaves it on the gear shift and figures that it’s as fine as it goes. Then spares a glance for Desmond and Penny doing the same in the back and she pushes on the accelerator.

End.
 
 
feeling: hothot
 
 
 
elliotsmelliot: Charlotte Danelliotsmelliot on July 17th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
This is so epic! What a great tale and ode to one of your writing styles. Despite it being set in the universe of the Stand, it felt really original. Maybe that is because I don't think I've read your Charlotte before. You gave her a strong and fresh voice. I loved the "time" comments made by Dan and Desmond. Great work!
the female ghost of tom joad: lost faradayjanie_tangerine on July 20th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
Ew, sorry for answering so late. Between catching up with other stuff and the library I totally didn't manage until now. Anyway, thank youu! :D I'm so glad that it worked for you, especially because I like the setting. Er. Like it isn't kind of obvious. And no, I don't think I had written Charlotte from her POV before this but this time she kind of called to me. Also, Daniel is hard. ;) Thank you again! :DDD
valhalla37: char/dan; heartvalhalla37 on July 18th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
(Lol, deleted and reposted because I fail with keyboard shortcuts)

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER, SERIOUSLY.

I love that with this request you guys all sort of intuitively wrote what my absolute favourite tropes are -- zombie!fic, apocalype!fic, etc. I am being so spoiled! And clearly I love King (and The Stand in particular) so this is just like, a whole lot of AWESOME in one package.

I can't even tell you how awesome this entire concept is -- the whole part about Charlotte burying her mother, starting the drive across England and confronting the actual reality -- and loneliness -- of what's happened, coming across Daniel (and all the call-backs to the bomb and the fact "whatever happened, happened" isn't the way it worked out is just so awesome and eerie), the haircut scene (LOVE; there's another trope I adore ... this list is getting unmanageable, lol) and the slow, steady way their relationship progresses (the hugging! The sharing of small spaces!).

And this, especially -- It’s not bloody rocket science; she likes him, he apparently likes her more than enough and so why not? Everyone else is dead and gone because of a stupid virus that wiped away 99.4% of the planet. It’s not like they have something to lose.

And he reciprocates the kiss, slowly at the beginning, his fingers shaking as they tangle in her hair, like he doesn’t remember how but would very much like to recall the mechanics if given just a short time to re-learn. And he does re-learn, quite fast actually, and she doesn’t think she has ever been kissed so… so nicely. Like he wants to take his time with her. Like he’s so much into it that nothing else matters. Like he wants this so much that he’ll shake until he bursts.


I pretty much want to cry it's so perfect and amazing -- I've seriously read that particular passage (the whole thing, but this especially) like a thousand times because I love it so much, and it's such a great fusion of what happened before and their present.

And then the piano-playing (yes!) and finding Desmond and Penny -- especially that moment between Desmond and Dan -- and that the story ends with nothing really resolved, but at least the recognition that it's not all bad; that's so completely awesome and fitting.

Whew! Long comment is long, but I hope you know how much I ADORE this; thank you SO MUCH for writing this! :D
the female ghost of tom joad: lost faradayjanie_tangerine on July 20th, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC)
Eeee THANK YOUUU! :D I'm so thrilled that you liked it this much seriously. I kind of went like, 'let's see how many tropes I manage in this', but it was kind of fun to plot it out. ;) And The Stand is my favorite non-DT from King and kind of my model for apocalyptic things, so yay if we're on the same page. ;)

Seriously, I'm so glad it worked for you. I had never really written Charlotte before but going with Daniel would have meant not being subtle with the whole whatever happened, happened eeriness so it's totally awesome to hear you liked her in this. And eeee, haircutting is so a favorite trope of mine too. You can never have enough, right?

And aw, really, I'm totally flattered now. Especially since I write those two once in a blue moon and I know how much you like them so I just wanted to get them as right as possible. (Also, piano!Daniel is a favorite Lost trope of mine in itself. Aw.) Also I was hoping that Desmond appearing would work for you too especially because I just didn't want to leave them totally alone in the end, but it was also serving my whatever happened, happened purposes.

And please never apologize for long comments and actually, sorry for answering so late. *kicks RL* Thank you again, I'm so really glad you liked it! <3333333333333
bold_seer: musicbold_seer on July 21st, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
I'm not very eloquent right now, but I really did like this. The Charlotte POV works nicely and I love the image of just the two of them and this - world. And Desmond and Penny at the end, of course, and how you don't really know what sort of a future is waiting for any of the characters.

And Dan, the piano man - you can't go wrong with that. <3 Although, I thought he was first and foremost a Chopinist (<- how sad is it that the LJ spell check thinks it should say chirpiness?). ;)
the female ghost of tom joad: lost faradayjanie_tangerine on July 21st, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! :D and ha, I don't need eloquence, knowing you liked it is more than enough. Also yay if you liked Charlotte because it was my first time with her or something. ;)

Oh, yes. Actually the only other time I wrote Dan/Charlotte he was still playing the piano. Oops. I might like that too much.

Eee I know but errr, I kind of am not. I mean, not a strict Chopinist, and I just went with the first classical thing for piano my head came up with. ;)

Edited at 2010-07-21 08:34 pm (UTC)