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11 December 2009 @ 12:33 am
devil's arcade - part VI  
January 30th, 1945, Rome

Desmond gets back to the hotel at four a.m. and damn if he isn’t freezing all over. It’s not that he doesn’t know that this winter has been hard everywhere, that’s common knowledge, and patrolling at night is nothing compared to Alamein or anything else he went through since he enrolled, but that doesn’t mean he has to like it.

From the outside, he can see that the lobby is almost empty; there’s always the odd couple of privates playing chess, the bar is dark and therefore not serving anything until six AM (pity; he wouldn’t have refused a drink to warm up), someone he doesn’t know is sleeping on an armchair and Sayid is sitting at one of the tables writing. From the outside, considering that the street is almost completely in the dark, the whole sight is surreal.

Desmond shrugs and goes into the hotel, heading straight to Sayid’s table and sitting in front of him. Right. Indeed writing a letter.

“Is this hour the best time to write to your family?”

Sayid raises his head for a second, slightly rolling his eyes (but just a hint) and then shakes his head.

“Why would I write to my family in English?” he asks, sounding slightly amused, and Desmond wants to kick himself. It takes barely a look at the page to realize that Sayid is writing in plain English alphabet. “Also my decision to come with your army was not exactly popular when I left.”

“Alright. Is this hour the best time to write to Jack?”

“And how did you know...”

“Who else could it be?”

“Well, I could not sleep for some reason. I figured I would use my time doing something instead of wasting it. I’m only down here because this room has better lighting.”

“Right,” Desmond agrees; when the only source of light in your room is a bulb barely attached to the ceiling, well, you have a point if you need to write a letter.

“How are they doin’ there, by the way?” Desmond asks; Jack and Sayid started exchanging letters in October or so but he hasn’t asked about the content for about a month. Maybe because considering where the news is coming, he preferred not knowing.

“Not that well, I am afraid. But it isn’t something uncommon. I mean, it’s colder than here because they’re in the mountains. It seems like they aren’t going to try anything major until the weather gets better. The food is lackings, as it is everywhere else,” Sayid says flatly as he rolls a cheap fountain pen between his fingers. Desmond nods; here the food situation isn’t as bad, but it’s because they’re in the army; he has an idea that if he was a civilian he’d be of a completely different opinion.

“Anyway,” Sayid keeps on, “he told me that I should just write him any kind of news when they left, but I really don’t know what I should say at this point.”

“Not much to say here,” Desmond says, and well, it’s true; they’re doing their job and that’s it. They haven’t arrested any hidden Nazis, they weren’t ambushed or anything and well, you don’t go tell someone who’s stuck fighting small battles on a mountain in the coldest winter that Desmond can remember that the weather is bad and the food is scarce. Or well, right, he doesn’t exactly know where exactly in Northern Italy they are, but he’s pretty sure it’s somewhere on the mountains. He isn’t even sure he can pronounce the name properly. Right now he isn’t envying them. Not at all.

“You could tell them ‘bout the movie,” Desmond says in the end, even if it sort of feels lame.

“The... oh, right. And I am sure that when Sawyer reads it, if he does, he will regret he ever left here.”

Desmond snorts; surely Sawyer would take spending half of his day providing electricity so that a troupe of Italians can shoot a movie about the occupation, which is the only out of the norm thing that has happened lately, over fighting in the mountains. But well, the troupe asked for help and they’re providing it, it’s not like they can’t; he was there a couple of times for the electricity and he thinks that the bloke from New Zealand whose room is in front of Desmond’s did help them find some film. He was actually pretty excited about it. Charlie, well, he goes to check the set out as often as he can (Desmond thinks that it’s too welcomed a distraction), but he still didn’t manage to decipher the plot. Desmond doesn’t know much about it, it’s not like he asked; from what Charlie says it involves a priest getting killed and people from the resistance getting tortured. Desmond figures it’s not too far from the truth.

“His loss. Go for the movie. At least it’s news.”

Sayid nods and keeps on writing in silence; Desmond ends up with a cigarette, it’s not like he smokes a lot these days but sometimes he just feels like one and since alcohol is out of question at the moment, he’ll take the alternative. Sayid is done by the time Desmond has fished a second cigarette and is halfway through it.

“I will mail this tomorrow,” Sayid says before folding the piece of paper in two.

Desmond nods and there’s silence for a second; then he decides that this is as good as any other moment and well, it’s also late enough and he hasn’t slept enough so he’s justified if he goes and says something when he should have really, really thought better and shut up.

After all, it’s not like the... thing between him and Sayid hasn’t kept on going on until now, even if they mostly never talk about it. Especially when they’re in any place which isn’t one of their rooms. But right now there are just three people in here, one is dead to the world and the other two are trying to re-enact the D-Day on a chessboard, so he figures it’s as good as any.

“Listen, the other day I was... thinking. About... things. Mainly about what I was going to do after we win this war, and it’s not like we won’t. If this winter hadn’t been as it is, I’m kind of sure it’d be over already. And... I realized I don’t have a bloody idea.”

“Well,” Sayid says, his tone somber and his voice lower, “to be honest, I share the same feeling. I mean.”

“You don’t want to go back to Iraq?” Desmond asks, kind of surprised.

“What I want is not what I should do. Say what you want, but I am fighting alongside people who occupied my country because they were afraid that Germans would do it first. And while I think it was the least of the evils, not everyone shares my opinion. Going back just after the war is over? I do not really believe it would be wise. The only thing I know is that I really would rather not wear your uniform after this is done, no offence but it isn’t mine. But when I go back I doubt someone will give me my rank or my place back. So... I share your feeling.”

“Well, I’m not going to bloody stay in the military either and I don’t even have a place to go back to. I was just thinkin’... if you don’t have any other plans, and from what I gathered you don’t... brother, you ever been to Casablanca?”

“Why, yes. But... are you asking what I am thinking you are asking?”

“Well, I have never been outside of England and I am told it is a place one would want to visit. I was wondering if you would want to show me around.”

Desmond holds his breath as Sayid gets at once what he’s really trying to ask here. He holds the stare because he knows that if he doesn’t then he could have just not asked at all.

Then Sayid gives a short nod and Desmond almost gasps because he wasn’t really expecting it.

“Why not?”, Sayid whispers then. “I think I might like it.”

Desmond swallows, nods and says he’ll turn in. If while reaching his room he has to concentrate on slowing his stupid heartbeat down, no one needs to know.

Knowing that half an hour later someone might want to come in, he doesn’t lock the door.

April 25th, 1945, Reggio Emilia

Sawyer doesn’t exactly find it fun that the war ends in a city he hadn’t even known the existence of until one month ago.

April 25th is a sort of warm day. Which is, if you ask him, fucking great because after the fucked up winter he went through, he can use as much warmth as he can. His belt has three brand new holes in it and he really doesn’t want to know how much weight he has lost in the last five months. Hell, if he had known he’d have stayed in Rome. From what he knows (and from the letters Sayid sends Jack) they’ve been doing much better there, but at least they aren’t exactly fighting. Hell, at some point in February or so they were providing electricity for some Italian troupe shooting a movie about the occupation. Good for them. Sawyer wishes he had to deal with movies. The worst part of the whole fucked up situation was that things went so excruciatingly slow, for those months, that more than once he has wondered if he shouldn’t just do something suicidal and try to get himself killed.

Then a bullet got him in his hip (thankfully not the shoulder); as Jack had to sew it just outside some godforsaken forgotten place in the Appennini mountains, Sawyer saw his blood trickling down in the snow and drawing random, red Rorschach patterns in there. In that moment he lost all of his desire to end it there and now.

Point was, they spent three fucking months stuck there on the mountains because they couldn’t go forward until the weather got better and they weren’t going to go backwards. The only near-positive thing is that after living almost in contact with Resistence people he picked up enough Italian not to need some lame-ass interpreter from fucking New York City. Also because their current interpreter is (in theory) half Italian and Sawyer can swear that Sayid totally was better at the language than the half-Italian guy is. Actually, he’s half Italian and half Spanish, which really makes him lame in Sawyer’s opinion. He can’t even remember the name for the life of him.

Seriously, that winter was horrible. They started moving in February, but things had finally picked up and now here they are. Well, here means advancing, it’s not like Sawyer knows where they are headed at all; meanwhile, on the current day, they’re in Reggio Emilia, whose name Sawyer had started hearing just barely four months ago. Mainly because from what he has heard it was a pretty important city for the Resistance movement, and for all Sawyer knows he figures it is since when they got in yesterday people were overjoyed.

Well, the people inside the city. Outside, is a whole different area. Sawyer has seen bloodbaths which made him think about Cassino and he never, ever wants to think about Cassino.

Today it doesn’t look too bad, though; he’s out in the street along with ten other men from his squad, trying to close his pack. It’s almost six in the afternoon and they’re about to leave for who-knows-where-the-fuck when someone shouts something about Milan from the balcony above him (well, he picked up some Italian but not enough to understand people shouting above his head) and then someone else shouts too and suddenly the streets are flooded. People are crying and holding each other and they get out of their houses at such a fast rate that Sawyer is sure he’s missing something. Fuck that, either the war is over or Hitler is dead or someone skinned Mussolini alive because otherwise why...

“Sawyer!” someone screams from behind him, and Sawyer has never been happier to see Jack his whole life.

If you didn’t count the times when Jack sewed him up on field.

“Doc, what the fuck is...”

“They have Milan and Turin.”

What?” Sawyer shouts, the crowd drowning the noise.

“The Resistance. They freed both cities, and it sounds like there’s some insurrection in Genoa. It’s... right, maybe not over, but... it’s almost...”

For a second Sawyer feels like he might faint and then Jack is gripping his shoulders and Sawyer is kind of thankful. He doesn’t really feel like he can stand up on his own.

He lets Jack pull him in and he doesn’t stop his hand from reaching behind Jack’s shoulders.

It’s done. Well, not done, but if he doesn’t get himself killed by some leftover Germans who are still trying to fight back, it’s done. And he’s alive, more or less, and he doesn’t know what the fucking hell he should do with his life but he doesn’t care.

Shortly he will force himself to let go before it becomes ridiculous, but right now? He just won’t.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” he blurts over Jack’s shoulder, and a hand squeezes around his waist.

“Yeah. Guess you aren’t too wrong there.”

“What... I can’t believe it.”

“... me neither,” Jack whispers, but he doesn’t move.

Sawyer doesn’t either.

For now, Sawyer only thinks that it’s over.

--

Clearly, the plans change. They don’t go wherever they’re supposed to go that night but rather spend the evening in the city, where finally someone decides that hell, the war is over just once, might as well waste all the food around. When they start for Milan during the night Sawyer thinks that if his stomach doesn’t collapse with shock from all the food, which was actually good quality, then he’ll be set for a while. Jack is walking next to him though, and he can’t avoid the question he thought he’d never get to ask.

“Doc, can I ask you what are your plans? For after, I mean.”

Jack shrugs and seems to think about it for a minute before glancing in his direction. “Well, I don’t know exactly but I’ve always wanted to see Paris.”

Sawyer nods, kind of baffled; he wasn’t expecting that answer. He was expecting why, I’m going back home and probably find myself a wife and take my dad’s place at that hospital where he works, because after four months stuck with someone in the mountains you learn about their life before the war.

“But, I was wondering... have you ever been there?”

Sawyer raises an eyebrow. “No. Never actually been to Europe before all of this. Why?”

“I was wondering if you might want to come. A couple of weeks maybe. Then I’ll probably go back, but… until then, why not?”

Sawyer is positive that after that question he looks at Jack like he’s actually grown two heads in a second. But Jack’s face isn’t the face of someone who’s asking because he feels like he has to and that’s probably what decides his answer.

“Well. Why... why not. As long as we go as civilians,” he says, not bothering to hide the fact that he didn’t expect this at all.

“Deal,” Jack answers. “It’s not like I’m not tired anyway. Of this, I mean. Sawyer...”

Sawyer shakes his head and raises a hand, stopping him. “James will do,” he says, and he’s looking in front of him and not at his left for a reason. But then he does turn his head and Jack nods, an imperceptible smile on his lips.

Sawyer nods back. Whatever Jack was going to say, he doesn’t say it, but it kind of doesn’t matter.

April 26th, 1945, Rome

Desmond is definitely, utterly, and absolutely bloody wasted on the best Italian wine he ever had the luxury to drink.

Also, for once, life seems sodding wonderful.

He has been drunk for exactly two days, since the news first arrived, and it’s not like the others aren’t.

Hell, Sayid is drunk.

It took the war ending to get the man drunk, and it makes Desmond burst in unnecessary laughter before grabbing a bottle someone he doesn’t recognize passes him. It might be ten in the morning, but it’s not like he has slept in two days. Not-at-all. Yesterday evening everyone was just out, all the city seemed to be out, and while they hadn’t gone too far, they had crashed back there in the hall just an hour ago, and Desmond thinks they’re all at least tipsy. He, for one, is, as established, wasted. Sayid is sleeping it off on the floor somewhere near, Charlie passed out on the counter and Boone, along with some other Italian girl who works as a volunteer with the medical stuff, whom Desmond totally doesn’t recognize, has been around for a while. They’re the only two who seem to have stayed more or less sober, even if she looks so giddy that Desmond can hear her laughing every thirty seconds or so and he doesn’t mind. Really. Somehow he stands up and manages to land at the counter right next to Charlie, who is seemingly also conscious enough. Well, they can both hold their alcohol, or so it seems.

“To the end,” he mutters before taking another drink and handing the bottle over. “’s a bloody good wine. You tried it?”

“Nah,” Charlie mutters before taking the bottle from Desmond, “but I’ll be soddin’ glad to,” he blurts, words garbled but understandable enough, before finishing the bottle and dropping it on the floor.

It doesn’t even break.

Good wine, indeed.

“Des, mate, Avellino’s goin’ to be so bloody pissed when he cleans this up,” Charlie says, and Desmond laughs again because aye, the guy who’s usually beyond the counter and who hasn’t been around since yesterday is so going go flip. Not that he cares.

“Y’r so wasted,” Desmond mutters as he realizes that he can’t stand up.

“’Course, because you aren’t. Tho at least you c’n hold your alcohol better than Sayid.”

Who, as Desmond notices, is still sleeping it off in the corner along with a couple of people from the Indian brigade, two kids from some godforsaken place in... Utah, he thinks, though it might have been Ohio, someone from the New Zealanders and who knows. He thinks some other kid Charlie’s age from.. from... some rotten hole near Leechester. Whatever. They can’t hold their alcohol. Doesn’t matter.

“Doesn’t take much for that, brother,” Desmond mouths. Charlie starts laughing. Desmond follows him. Boone drops down sitting next to Charlie, his clothes still covered in dried blood (he was apparently finishing sewing someone up when the news arrived and he didn’t bother to change), throws an arm around Charlie’s shoulders and grabs a bottle someone passed from behind them.

Plain beer, but whatever. Boone takes a drink, then looks at the both of them and shakes his head even if he’s biting his lip in order not to laugh too.

“Christ, I can’t believe it’s over,” he says before taking a drink.

Desmond can’t believe it either, but it is. For them, at least. He doesn’t envy whoever end up in the Pacific and not here, and after a toast for them he proceeds to keep on getting utterly wasted.

Sayid suddenly opens his eyes and makes his way to the counter, pushing himself between some Polish guy who is downing shots and Desmond. He looks like he has an headache, but he doesn’t even try to move. Desmond turns and looks straight at him, unable to keep himself from half-smiling.

“It’s done,” is all Sayid says, sounding relatively sober, before passing out on the counter again.

Desmond barely stops himself from reaching out and pushing his hair behind the ear, but he can’t help squeezing Sayid’s shoulder for a second.

There isn’t much he can add.

It’s over. Finally.

Epilogues
 
 
feeling: okayokay
on rotation: Soundtrack - God Yu Takem Laef Blong Mi | Powered by Last.fm
 
 
 
Shonatoestastegood on December 30th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
Awwww, drunk!Sayid is absolutely adorable. I love how happy they all are in this section, it makes me smile. And they're all making lovely after-the-war plans, and Boone PUT HIS ARM AROUND CHARLIE'S SHOULDER, and it's all lovely.

And I kind of don't want to go on to the next part, because that will mean that I have reached the end and reaching the end will mean there is no more and that is not fun at all!
the female ghost of tom joad: lost boone/charliejanie_tangerine on January 1st, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D Ha, I didn't want Sayid to be the miserable kind of drunk, you know? Good to know he was adorable. ;) And after giving them misery for 20000 words or so I kind of needed to have them happy at least when the war was over. And lol Boone totally did that and he wasn't even drunk! And thanks again <3333