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19 April 2008 @ 02:43 pm
fic, Lost: That's How It Goes Down Here Below (Sawyer, Desmond, Charlie etc), PG13  
Title: That's How It Goes Down Here Below
Rating: PG13
Characters: Sawyer, Desmond, Charlie, Bernard, Michael and quite some others
Word counting: many. I split it in two for a reason.
Disclaimer: Lost is not mine and it's based on someone else's story. See A/N ;)
Spoilers: For S4.
Summary: Five unlikely people gather to play poker.
A/N: this is my entry for the Fanom as Canon challenge at charlielives, where the target is to write a fic based on someone else's story. This one was supposed to be about the card game in Drowning Your Sorrows By Land and By Sea by elliotsmelliot, except that it kinda... uhm.. grew beyond it. So, the card game still is the center of it but there's quite a lot of other stuff first. I sincerely hoped I've not messed anything up. And if you didn't read the original story DO IT because it's absolutely wonderful and gorgeous and I love it like woah. Of course, thanks so much to elliotsmelliot for allowing me to go with this, I really hope it doesn't clash with your ideas about the on-island story ;) title stolen from a song I had on rotation while writing it and it kinda fit. Uhm, I hope I didn't get anything wrong with poker terms. I shouldn't have, but if I did, please tell me ;)

Every time you play your hand the way you would if you could see your opponent's cards, you gain, and every time your opponent plays his cards differently from the way he would play them if he could see your cards, you gain.

The fundamental theorem of poker, by David Sklansky


He has come so close to dying so many times that he can’t believe that this is the time, that it is really happening and that it’s like a fucking gas attack out of a fucking Vietnam movie.

He runs even if he doesn’t know where the hell he should go since everything is clouded in thick, white gas which is penetrating in his lungs even if he tries to hold his breath. But he can’t, not for too long, not when his lungs burn and he has to cough and wherever he goes there’s smoke and all he can see is the green through a curtain of blinding light grey.

It doesn’t change when there’s not ground under his feet but sand. Someone is near him, Juliet maybe, he thinks they started running away together but he really can’t remember if it was her or Claire or...

It’s over is the last thing that crosses his brain before he stumbles, before he can make his way through the clouds of gas and falls to the ground.

He doesn’t even remember that he had taken that pill that Locke gave them, the day before.


Sawyer has never been a morning person, not really.

One of the few things he can clearly remember from before is that the thing he hated with the uttermost fierce was getting up soon in order to go to school. It wasn’t school itself, he actually had loved going to school until.. well, that was another matter. It was just the mere fact that he hated to get up early.

He had never really outgrown the habit. Even if he went to sleep early, he still hated to wake up before ten A.M. During his teenage years, his conning days and on the island.

It took surviving a gas attack to get rid of it.

He walks barefoot along the beach, the camp still silent, water hitting on shore the only audible sound except for his breathing. The sun is low on the horizon line even if it has set. Dawn was less than an hour ago and Sawyer knows that no one is going to join him for at least another half of a hour. That’s fine. He has come to appreciate some time alone knowing that he really isn’t.

He looks at the camp, stretching along the beach, similar yet different from the one that was before. The kitchen is still there but the tents are all different; it wasn’t like there was one still up when it was over and they were back.

He passes Bernard and Rose’s one, which is at the edge of the camp, nearer to the water than all the others even if an high tide never reaches it. He smiles just slightly, brushes a couple of strands of hair away from his face. He should cut them. He should probably ask Alex for that. Like hell he’s going to give Claire the satisfaction, or Juliet, for that matter.

He feels the water under his feet and stops for a moment. He takes a walk like this every morning, but every time he can’t help feeling like it’s a miracle. Not that he’s ever going to use that word. He doesn’t believe in miracles and wouldn’t ever admit of doing so even if he did, but once in a while he gets the sensation and until he finds a more suited name for it he’ll keep miracle.

He starts walking again, glancing at a tent whose occupants aren’t being too silent. Now, if that wasn’t the most twisted coincidence ever, he doesn’t know what it is.

There were just ten survivors from their former camp, counting Desmond; Sawyer can’t wrap his head around Steve and Tracy surviving of everyone, the only two he had known were sleeping together.

Of course they got to share a tent. He shakes his head, he can’t really understand why the hell he can’t just file it away as the last strange thing that has happened since they crashed. Sure, there had been two other people he didn’t remember the names of who had died of complications. But that had been even too good of a turn out. In retrospective, even of the people who had taken those pills, only about half had survived. Yeah, they had been lucky. Very lucky.

The flap of the next tent moves and Sawyer stops in front of it. Juliet steps outside, her hair flying everywhere, a small smile on her lips.

“Mornin’, Sugar Kane.”

“Did you come up with that just now or you were itching to show it around?”

“It was a compliment!”

“Sure. Good morning, James.”

She leaves the tent, going towards the kitchen; Sawyer doesn’t even mind the way people call him anymore. It seems like Juliet is unable to call him Sawyer and he’s fine with it. That doesn’t really hurt much, not as it should. He’s almost used to it. At least he’s used to her and who would have thought it, before the gas.

He glances into the tent; the small camp bed on which Juliet sleeps is empty, Michael lies in the opposite corner of the tent.


When he wakes up, the smoke is gone. The sun shines high in the sky; the clear blue appearing suddenly in front of his eyes makes his head ache and when he tries to stand, it takes all of his force of will not to throw up.

The sand is burning under his fingers, the air is clean and he breathes, breathes, breathes like fresh air is a drug and he needs a dose as soon as possible. He doesn’t know for how much he does this, just breathing, but at one point he feels ready to stand up and he stands.

He’s alive.

He remembers hearing people screaming. Maybe Jack. Maybe Kate. Surely Aaron. He can’t recognize them among the bodies scattered on the beach.

It looks like the aftermath of the D-Day without the missing limbs of the soldiers.

He takes a couple of steps and then kneels near the first body he sees. No one he knows, surely someone he had seen around camp, but he can’t remember the name. He checks the pulse. He’s dead. He turns around, trying to recognize a face, even if there is a dreading thought slowly creeping through his head.

What if I’m the only one alive?

The light is blinding, he can’t recognize a face, every body looks like one of those dummies they use in car crashes testing, everyone’s limbs seem twisted and broken and he really wants to throw up now. The heat is making him dizzy and he thinks he’s close to a panic attack.


He jerk towards the voice, one he thinks he recognizes, needing to breathe even more than before; Michael is in front of him, slightly swaying, his face the same he remembered but somewhat changed, his clothes kind of torn, biting his lip.

Michael had stayed at the beach with the copter people. Sawyer had never wanted to go back there. Let them deal. He didn’t want to, because he knew that he’d have probably killed him on the spot.

Right now, he can’t find in him the urge to.

Maybe it’s because they are the only two people standing right now, maybe because Michael looks as tired and as worn out as Sawyer is, maybe because when he thinks about what Michael did rage swells up inside him but then he remembers reading his letter under a pouring rain, in front of a man who just sold shrimps and had had the worst case of bad luck in history, he remembers Cassidy’s face when he left the house for the last time, he remembers a chain feeling heavy in his hands. Even if he can’t help the rage he’s feeling right now he can’t help also thinking
I ain’t no better.

He looks straight at Michael, biting his lip, trying to find something to say, something to do, because he may be no better but the guy in front of him has still betrayed them, sold him, Jack and Kate and killed two people.

What if I’m the only one alive?

“Help me seein’ if someone’s still alive.”, he says, his voice flat, kneeling next to another body, a woman, he can’t remember the name, either.

He sees Michael nodding and doing the same. Then he raises his head and sees a head of blonde, dirty hair. He stands up and goes near, turning Juliet over. He feels her pulse. She’s alive and he feels like crying.


It isn’t like he has forgotten what Michael did.

He remembers a book he read once, though. He didn’t actually agree with most of what was written there, but it said something along the lines that stupid people neither forgive nor forget, naive people forgive and forget, wise people forgive but don’t forget.

Sawyer wouldn’t think of himself as a wise person. He fucking isn’t and he knows it. But he likes to think that he has learned something. He can forgive Michael for selling him out and he can see where he came from, even if he had been mostly an idiot not to tell them in the first place; he can’t forgive him for those two murders and he can’t surely forget it, but they’re not many and it’s still dangerous out there. Until someone finds out they’re alive or comes here or whatever, they need to stick together, each one of them. He can also see that Michael seemingly is really sorry for the shit he did and he can give him the credit at least for it.

Surely this didn’t mean that he was ever going to share one of the few remaining tents with him and same thing was for almost everyone else. Which is why he shares the tent with Juliet. He says that she knows something and Juliet says she doesn’t mind. Whatever, Sawyer thinks, better for them.

He leaves the shore, walking in the direction of the kitchen and grabbing himself some cereal when he’s there. He looks at a tent on his left. He can’t help staring at it in disbelief, every time he sees it. Even if he should have been used to it.

He munches on his cereal for five minutes or so, then drinks some water and then looks towards his tent, the bigger one. Not because he had some rights, he thinks shaking his head slightly. He wonders whether this is a good day or whether it isn’t. It’s the only thing he fears to find out every morning when he comes back.

He finishes his breakfast, grabs a couple of Dharma Quality Dark Chocolate Bars and heads to his tent, greeting Rose on the way. He opens the flap, looking inside. It’s exactly as it was when he left. His airplane seat is empty as he left it in the center, while Desmond lies sleeping on couple of blankets in the left corner and Daniel on the right.

Sawyer can’t even recall what happened exactly, but yeah, that’s exactly how things ended up. if Juliet had to stay with Michael, Rose with Bernard, Steve with his lovely girl and well, Charlie with Claire and there was only one other tent, there wasn’t much choice. Sawyer thinks he has handled everything pretty well, though.

It was also better like this; it was more likely that both of those two had good days and not bad days when they were near each other, he didn’t know why the hell but that was the way things were and he has long given up on understanding them.


Michael finds Daniel first, four days after the gas attack.

He brings him to the beach camp while Locke, who had come from the Barracks for the first time since the attack, is telling Sawyer who was alive and staying there.

The Charlotte girl, ten Others and the creepy Richard guy. He also says that Danielle and Alex are there and that Danielle is recovering from a gun shot, but they are planning on leaving as soon as she is alright. Rose and Bernard had been back to the beach a couple of days before and Juliet spends a good part of the day at the Barracks since there are a couple of wounded people, apart from Danielle.

Sawyer has found Claire on the beach, thankfully alive, while he and Michael were checking bodies. She has been silent, eating just when Juliet forces her to; she has been staring at the sea for four full days since then and no one really knows what to do, not even Rose. Sawyer just hopes she comes out of it herself.

He has buried all the dead people with Michael’s and Juliet’s help at the base of the hill where the graveyard was. It’d have been too difficult to bring them all up there; not that there was all the space they needed, anyways.

So Michael comes, bringing Daniel with him, saying he found him completely disoriented in the jungle; no wonder, Sawyer thinks, since he is delirious, dehydrated and who knows what else. Also if he has been quite fucking lucky to be far away from the gas attack.

They force him to drink some water and eat something light; Sawyer can’t really make anything out of his blathering about needing his constant and Desmond and Charlie and some other nonsense.

Sawyer knows they’re dead and he also knows that Daniel isn’t exactly the most stable person ever, Charlotte had told him about his memory losses at the Barracks and he tends to discard his information.

Since there isn’t any other place, he ends up sharing his tent with Daniel. He still doesn’t know why no one objected when he took the big one but hell, first that comes, first served, right?

He hadn’t even noticed that Desmond’s picture had ended up in his tent. He doesn’t know why and he doesn’t remember ever having it among his things at the barracks, maybe it had been already there since he had chosen the tent because it was one of the four standing up.

But as Dan sees it, he says that he remembers and with a crazed look starts to pray him to go to the old hatch site. Sawyer refuses because like hell he needs to go trekking right now, but he finds out that Daniel is fucking insistent.

After half a night of blathering he finally gives up and agrees on checking on the old hatch location just for the sake of it and because hell, at two in the night or something like that it isn’t like he’s ever gonna sleep even if Daniel stops. As soon as he agrees he gets an infinite sequence of thank yous and ‘Oh, you’re really... really doing it, I mean... I mean, oh, thank you, I can’t remember your name but...’ and Sawyer just shouts that for the tenth time, his name is James and then he’ll just go if Dan has the grace of letting him.

He doesn’t even know why he introduced himself as James in the first fucking place.

He goes alone because he thinks that he’s not ever going to find anything. No point in ruining someone else’s night. Everyone is tired enough.

He may be shit at tracking, but he sure knows where that fucked up hatch was. He knows it alright. He walks slowly, hoping that he isn’t going to hear whispers because he doesn’t fucking need it. He’s tempted to go back, except that he has a sense that Daniel would understand if he really went or not and he’s up and half the way, so finishing it has a sense. Hasn’t it?

It takes some time, but he arrives at the hatch, the flashlight turned off. He’d rather not be noticed, who knows what could be around and...

“Hey, is there someone?”

Fuck it, he thinks as soon as he hears that voice. That can’t be. That can’t fuckin’ be and...

“Yeah. Who’s out there?”


Sawyer opens the flashlight, pointing it in the direction the voice came from, on his left; he almost drops it when he sees, because fuck it, there’s Charlie over there. Alive as he had been the last time he saw him. Same clothes, too.

“Charlie?!!”, he screams. “You are fuckin’ dead!”

“Well, that’s a nice way to greet a friend, isn’t it?”

“How is that even

“Listen, I’d... well, I’d explain you, from what I gathered, but you know, I’d really need your help right now.”

Sawyer nods in automatic, going straight towards Charlie and grabbing him by the arm. He feels flesh.

He’s alive.

“That hurts, mate.”

“Sorry. Well, what’s up?”

Charlie motions for him to follow and he does so for a half mile or so, until they arrive in a small clearing .

Sawyer thinks that this has to be the surprises day, since of everyone he wouldn’t have imagined Desmond leaning against a tree. But he looks way worse than Daniel looked; he’s passed out, his clothes are torn, his hair is dirty and when Sawyer gets nearer he thinks he can smell sea salt. His lips are dry and when he takes the pulse, it’s faint. Very faint.

“I just couldn’t keep on bloody carrying him around, especially since I’m not in my best condition.”

“’Course you’re not.”, Sawyer answers draping Desmond’s arm across his shoulder and heading back, Charlie on his other side.

“How the hell did he get like this?”, he asks. He hadn’t seen Desmond in a while, though all the rumors he had heard from the few people who went to check at the beach hadn’t been of the hopeful kind.

“He did it to bring me back.”


Sawyer stands there, looking at both of them. He kind of dreads this moment every day.

Dan isn’t actually that bad. He has his days where he barely remembers his job, but they are rare and whenever it happens as long as he is near Desmond he gets back to normal in a couple of hours mostly. Sure, he still has his memory losses, but Charlotte, who comes to check on him often enough, says that it was from before the island so everyone just has gotten adjusted to it.

Desmond is a whole other matter, though.

He had been more or less out for a while; it seemed like he hadn’t eaten for three weeks or something like that, he was dehydrated and too thin for his own good; he stayed touch and go for at least fifteen days. Juliet had left the Barracks to stay there and Sawyer’s tent had become some kind of infirmary. Way too crowded, since even if there were just ten people on that beach everyone always stayed there.

Charlie, especially, was all day at Desmond’s bedside with Claire; as soon as she had seen him she had broken out of her trance and flew herself crying into his arms pleading him to forgive her or some Gone with the Wind shit like that. Sawyer hadn’t really cared for it but it seemed like she had found a reason to keep on going even without Aaron and truth to be told he was secretly glad for it.

The problems had started when Desmond actually woke up, seemingly out of danger. At least on the physical side.

Sawyer has three names for Desmond’s states of mind.

There is the Dog Day Afternoon, which when he wakes up panicking, thinking that he has to push a button somewhere, that there is an alarm beeping, cursing some Kevin or Kelvin guy and then he usually breaks down crying. During a Dog’s Day Afternoon, showing him the picture with Penny doesn’t really work; if anything it makes him more miserable. It was mostly like this in the beginning, but then they had found out that the only way to deal with it was leaving him alone with Charlie in the tent. Sawyer doesn’t really want to know what Charlie had to say, but it seemingly worked since after a month or so the Dog Day Afternoons started to be less frequent and now it’s just one once in a while and never so bad that Sawyer can’t deal with it himself.

Then there is the It Happened One Night. During a It Happened One Night day he’s more often confused than not and while he knows where he is, who he is, who are they and when it is, he mixes facts up. Once he had asked whether Jack was still with the Others, another one it took an hour to convince him that Sayid wasn’t on the island anymore because he was sure that he was working on the helicopter. But those ones are usually fine. His train of thoughts never fails when Charlie and Daniel are concerned though.

Then there is the It’s A Wonderful Life day, where he’s more fine than anything else. He reads some books Sawyer lends him, he has normal conversations with everyone, he kind of swoons over Penny’s picture as usual and he remembers more or less everything in the big picture, even how he brought Charlie back.

Sawyer didn’t understand a thing when Desmond explained him, it really was too far out for him to get. They had been watching Charlie and Claire taking a walk down the beach. He remembers Desmond saying that in order to see what he was seeing he’d have done it all over again. Sawyer believes it.

Sure, he has short term memory losses and if you asked him to do something for you in an hour you could bet he’d have forgotten it; but one could work on that and thankfully right now It’s a Wonderful Life were a good percentage. It Happened One Nights weren’t as frequent and he hadn’t had a Dog Day Afternoon in a month and a half, but there still was the danger.

Sawyer looks at both of them, still sleeping; then decides that it’s already too late.

“Time to wake up, sleepin’ beauties!”, he says making sure he’s heard. Then throws a Dharma bar over each bed, not bothering to be gentle.

Dan wakes up looking mostly annoyed; Sawyer focuses himself on Desmond, dreading the moment in which he’ll open his eyes.

He gets an annoyed stare.

“You really can’t find a more pleasant way to wake someone up, brother?”

Sawyer flashes a dimple and gets out. Today is a It’s a Wonderful Life day.


When he goes back to the kitchen table, Charlie is already there; he has taken a bowl and a tray that someone had brought from the Barracks. He’s seemingly intent in preparing some breakfast not meant to be partaken on the spot.

“You’re completely spoilin’ her, Deaky.”

“Sawyer! I hadn’t heard you.”

“I can be quiet when I want to.”

“Yeah, sure. And anyway, Queen aren’t really my thing.”

“That never was the point. You’re so spoilin’ her.”

“Well, you’ve got anything against it?”

Sawyer shakes his head and decides that there’s no point.

“Nothin’. As long as you like that...”

“How’s Desmond?”

“Good day. Should stay like this. Are we goin’ to see you before this evening?”

“Very funny.”

Charlie leaves with the tray, heading to the tent. Sawyer watches him going inside, then nods at Michael, who’s going towards the kitchen to get breakfast. They don’t talk much and it’s better like this, but they are quite civil and Sawyer is surprised with himself.


When Alex and Danielle arrive in the camp a couple of hours later, as they always do even if they spend the night in the jungle, he definitely gives up on Hard Times. Half of it and he’s bored to tears; definitely not his genre. He guesses he can give it to Desmond if he hasn’t read it already. Or if he has, heck, he can read it again, or whatever.

Alex tells him that at the Barracks they’re having a backgammon tournament and Locke asked whether he wanted to go there, but he shakes his head. He sucks at backgammon and anyway it’ll probably come down to Locke and Maybelline New York, what’s his name. Though when Alex leaves to go and have a talk with Juliet, he realizes that maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

He has a look around; Desmond is talking with Charlie near the shore and Daniel isn’t anywhere. He probably is in the tent. Well, much better.

He finds him there trying to repair a small radio or some shit like that.

“Resident Einstein, can I ask you somethin’?”

“Well... yeah, sure, what..”

“You still got that card deck? The one that the island’s resident girl Indiana Jones used for those memory games stuff?”

“Yeah, guess I do... why?”

“I’d like to borrow it.”

Dan nods and gives him a shrug, it’s not like he actually cares and unless Charlotte comes no one uses the deck anyway. He finds it among his things and hands it over to Sawyer.

>>Continued HERE<<

feeling: nervousnervous
on rotation: johnny too bad - steve earle
elliotsmelliot: des shoeelliotsmelliot on April 19th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
You know, I never really imagined life back on the island while this all the other stuff was happening so I am perfectly happy to take this on as my canon! I am really honoured that you chose to write this and give such great context to the impossible photo.

So many things to like that I made a list!
-Sawyer also making a Vietnam comparison.
-Roomies: Steve and Tracy! Rose & Bernard! Juliet & Michael - do they have long conversations about what it is like to play Judas, Charlie & Claire. - Awwww and Sawyer, Desmond & Daniel!!!! I picture Sawyer lying between them with his pillow over his head.
-the return of Daniel, Charlie and Desmond and Sawyer's reaction.
-Maybelline New York! Maybe Richard should move to the beach camp!

My favourite part was Sawyer's description of Desmond's days; a concept which broke my heart in both the names he gave them and what they implied. I think this might just be my favourite part of any fic ever. Seriously. That was a royal flush right there. All my mangos are yours.

On to part II!
the female ghost of tom joad: lost desmond GUHjanie_tangerine on April 19th, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm definitely honored this works as your island canon! I actually hadn't planned on taking it that far but I should know better of my patterns ;) and I found that I couldn't go without the context, so I went with it. And I am honored that I could write it, I love the original so much and it was a great thing to revisit it.

do they have long conversations about what it is like to play Judas

Hell yes they do! ;)

Sawyer, Desmond & Daniel!!!! I picture Sawyer lying between them with his pillow over his head.

I'll admit that I went with it also because it was too good of a visual not to write it that way but yeah, poor Sawyer. I guess he's gotten used by now, but he surely stole Steve's pillow in addiction to his! If Maybelline NY moves to the beach camp it would be a blast.

And please allow me to blush madly, I'm really glad that part worked for you like that! It was probably the one that ached most to write but well, I guess the Desmond matter is one on which we kind of get each other ;) *grabs all the mangoes greedily*
(Deleted comment)
the female ghost of tom joad: lost sawyer badlandsjanie_tangerine on April 20th, 2008 07:20 am (UTC)
Yay, thank you! When I decided to go and write that scene I realized that if I didn't do it from my safe zone it wasn't ever going to work, so I'm really glad my Sawyer POV here worked. Yeah, he's a totally reluctant leader, but that's what he's good at, at least IMHO ;)
falafel_fiction: charlie&desfalafel_fiction on April 20th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
Woot! Finally sitting down to read this (busy weekend!). Great so far. I really liked the "civil" relationship between Sawyer and Mike. That was very believable. Sawyer knows he's also been a killer and a betrayer in his time too and with this in mind, I think he IS "wise" to forgive but not forget.

I loved how you portrayed both Dan and Desmonds conditions, especially with the movie references (very Sawyer! You write him so well). And wow, you have to write some Charlie/Des soon because you were just killing me with Charlie tending to Des when he suffers his 'Dog Day Afternoons' and Desmonds pride and fulliment that he brought Charlie back. How much would I love to see that???

Onto part 2...

the female ghost of tom joad: lost des/charliejanie_tangerine on April 20th, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)
Yay, glad you got around to it! ;)

The civil relationship between those two being already there was the reason Des and Charlie didn't need to keep peace. I hoped it was going to be plausible, but if I didn't take it from Sawyer's side it wouldn't have worked. But alas, Sawyer is probably the one I get most in spite of my preferences and I have the time of my life when I wrote him, so even better that you liked how I did with him here. And I think that he is that wise, too. Only, he wouldn't be of that advice IMHO ;)

I swear I'm writing Des/Charlie soon. It's obvious that I'm itching, with all the subtext I was throwing in! Seriously, I'm really so happy you liked their interaction here. Maybe one day I'll manage to fic the fic, but alas, I'll so write those two one of these days.