Author's Note: This is my final chapter in this story. Thanks to everyone who has stuck with it this far and read to the end! The beginning section may get a bit confusing, in that it is my attempt to describe a dimension outside of space and time, but hopefully it will at least be fun and maybe answer even more questions. Be sure to read my final note at the end of the story!
Layna couldn't feel herself in her body anymore, but she still felt tethered to it. When she had died, she had been completely free and had only been able to see darkness and light. This time, as she lay in a coma at the hospital, her consciousness was able to leave her body and she found herself able to explore a place she'd only heard described in metaphor.
In this dimension, the windows Jacob had talked about weren't made of glass or flat squares. They weren't solid at all but spacial diamonds reflecting points in time on their multiple facets. When she focused her attention on one she didn't feel herself traveling towards it in space, but would instead, by her will, become an observer, or enter into it.
As she passed through and about them, each specific place would rotate in it's points in time, individually and yet also in unison with the others so when she focused on more than one, they looked like a river of light was flowing over the surface of the diamond windows.
The further she focused from the individual points, the more she could see how the windows were structured in a sphere around a great light as if the universe of space was an inverse globe. Her thoughts returned to her wedding night with Jacob when she had said from that mountain top you could see everything.
"Not everything," he had said.
Layna wondered if here is where he had seen everything.
Just when she thought she understood Layna noticed another layer of connections she could only liken to threads anchored within the diamonds points until she followed one and saw that these connections that stretched across this multi-dimensional space linked consciousnesses together. They weren't static either, but rather criss-crossing in and out of each other, pulling and being pulled like a living web of will and desires.
Though tethered to her body, Layna felt herself pulled to follow the threads attached to her own heart and what she saw as she drew closer to where they led was both beyond what she could ever have imagined and yet perfectly everything she would expect it would have been. The island.
It wasn't like the other diamonds, set in a defined place along the outside perimeter, connected to others beside it, rather it hovered over the surface of the light, facing away from it.
Circling the island Layna saw that unlike the others, it had a side that didn't reflect light as she moved, as if it were a physical plane in this spiritual dimension that did not move in time. Curious, she focused closer and saw drips, streams and rivers of light flowing from the island to the central Light. Focusing on a stream, thin as a needle, she saw it was anchored to this dull surface where it touched...the wheel! Following to where the thin stream led she saw the end of it went through the light to a window along the surface. When she focused on it she recognized the desert as where she and Jacob had landed in, Tunisia.
"I can't decide where I'm going if I'm not conscious," Jacob had said.
Another beam pulsed and sent tremors along certain threads in intervals that reminded her of Jacob's description.
"Another shift is coming... I can only travel every 108 minutes". That's how it was at first, like the Lighthouse, he needed to see it could be done before he believed he could do it.
Following to where it led she changed her perspective until she saw the building of and then the destruction of the Swan. In those explosions she witnessed what could only be described as a mirror image of the diamond that was the island, separating from it, moving towards the light. Those that were on the island during this strange event were connected to threads that shown brighter than any of the others in this dimension; like the golden strands she had spun!
Finding where they converged Layna saw; each strand passing through the Lighthouse and standing there in the center of all of these brightest of strands stood Jacob.
Too overwhelmed to know when this was, Layna took in the beautiful sight of him from this dimension. His consciousness felt different to her than the others, possibly from being tied to him by a thread that wonderfully remained despite their time and spacial separation. As she had witnessed other threads, she felt pulled by his emotions.
Layna stood right behind him, and spoke. "Jacob..." But he didn't hear her. She walked in front of him and he didn't see her. He was looking into the mirror, and gazing down she saw her number on the wheel.
"Why can't I see her?" he shouted, gripping the telescope as if he might destroy the device.
"I'm right here," she whispered, staying his hand. He turned to look for her, but didn't see her. "I love you," she said. She could see on his face, he felt her presence, but didn't believe it.
She could have stayed there forever, she knew, but it seemed to torture him more for her to be there and not there, so she pulled away. As she did, Layna saw that not only was he connected to all of the candidates by the golden threads, there was also a bright and glowing thread directly to Jacob from the Light!
Watching facets of time Layna observed his connections to the candidates had started unruly, like fiber in a basket before it was spun, tangled together, needing to be sorted. But as time passed and he touched each of them, the golden strands wound tight and he formed a strong connection and through him, they were connected to the island and the light.
She saw her own connection to each of them, and though not as bright as Jacob's, when he brought them to the island she felt a wave that shot out from him through them. During that short time while it was flowing out and coming back again, she watched other threads appear between the chosen people.
By the time the echo reached the island, the candidates connections had been woven into a thick and tight tapestry that tied them together and wrapped around the island like a glowing shield.
Even when the people died, the consciousnesses remained and their connections held fast and bright. She watched as they one by one, passed on until something amazing happened, they all, together floated into the reflection of the island that they had created waiting for them by the light.
Layna also felt pulled to this place, and while she couldn't smile in this place, her heart felt joy in seeing how Jacob's consciousness had worked to protect the island through the love he had and that had developed from the light, through him and through the candidates.
Confused, and enlightened all at once, Layna suddenly needed to know why she was here witnessing this. She had no interest in going into the light as she had when she had died and she felt there was a purpose beyond following them to this other place.
And then suddenly she heard a voice that was familiar and there was a light tug on a thread of her own that felt to come right from her heart.
She turned her attention and found, Libby. She couldn't see her face or body, she looked only as a breath of mist, but within her Layna could feel her friend.
"Libby?" As her attention turned away from Hugo and communicated only in emotions at first until she slowly found a voice like a whisper.
"Where are we?" she asked.
"I think it's more important to ask, why are we here?" Layna said. After she spoke she felt another pull and without warning was removed from Libby by the forced switching of her attention to Eloise, at her bedside.
"I can see that you can hear me now," she said. "Don't be alarmed, Layna, I know where you are and I'm not going to let them turn this machine off until you've done what you need to do. Now, there are some people you have to enlist to help you because you're alive and Hugo won't be able to see you and wouldn't likely listen to you, for that matter."
Eloise provided a list of the souls Layna needed to find and who they were supposed to visit and what they were supposed to say, but she gave Layna no indication of what she was supposed to do when she was done.
So when she had done what Eloise asked, Layna went back to the island and out of her own curiosity, looked for the Source. Her first guess was to find the largest river of light flowing into the island, but each one she investigated showed her nothing of the cave. And then her attention was drawn to a solid connection, dark and unlike the other threads and rivers, she could neither pass through it or see into it.
She focused into where it led on the island to find a horrifying sight that drew her in to a time far, far in the past when the light was in a pool of water. She watched from a distance as the priests Jacob had described to her drained it and attempted to dig. When they did there was a flash and, just as she had seen with the swan, there were suddenly two islands time diamonds one from this first moment and another later. Caught between them was a man, the man she had met on the beach, Jacob's brother. He was pulled and his spirit, a black mist was pulled out of the realm where she was and into the island diamond.
He couldn't leave and come to where she was, even after he died. He'd been sent back in time to live from the beginning of the first breach of the source and focusing her view through time she witnessed when Jacob had thrown him in and he'd become aware.
"It was always you," she whispered.
Instantly Layna found herself on the island as if her words had drawn her into it. The smoke ticked around her, having heard her and she now saw the reflections of the dimension she had just come from were in his view as well; that's how he saw people and knew the people he judged!
"I see you," his voice echoed in her ears. "You didn't die here, but you will be stuck here now, just like I am."
Suddenly she heard whispers around her and try as she might to pull her attention away from this place, Layna was caught by him, and as he pulled her down and under the temple, through it to the source, the tether on her body yanked tightly as he tried to rip her life away.
She had traveled enough in time to know it could be done, and though it would have killed her were her body here, Layna willed herself away from him through time to a place in the future. Free of his grasp she saw a man entering into the source, pulling the stone from it. Nothing happened at first, but then the mist of Jacob's brother's tortured soul slipped back out and through it, causing a bright red light to shine out. Layna felt herself pulled towards the red glow, like a suction that she couldn't fight.
She heard voices calling down to the man, "Desmond!"
"She's waking up," she heard someone say.
"Desmond?" she said. He looked up at her and squinted her eyes. He reached out his hand, but she couldn't take it.
"Layna," a woman said.
As her vision of the source and the volcanic light began to fade into the darkness that she remembered from when she had died, just like before, she heard Jacob's voice. He wasn't speaking to her, though.
"Let go, it's the only way to save yourself." She looked over to where she heard him and Jacob was a mist, like Libby and the other dead souls had been. She couldn't see his face, but he said to her, "I'll be waiting for you."
She saw him floating away and wanted to go with him, but felt herself being pulled back and as she did, she watched the plug being replaced by Jack, 23 and Desmond was being lifted out of the source.
Opening her eyes, Layna took a deep breath and beside her she saw the woman she had met by the dock. She called the doctor's in and after they checked her over and left, Penny came to her side again and said, "Did you... did you see... Desmond?"
"He did it..." Layna said.
Crying Penny pleaded, "Did he survive?"
Layna nodded and took her hand, shedding tears for Penny's joy and sorrow for the knowledge that Jacob hadn't.
They both believed that finding the island was only a matter of setting sail this time. Their faith was confirmed by a call Penny received when they they were approaching but unable to find a way in. When Penny heard the name, she put the cell on speaker and Layna listened with her.
"Hey, yeah, well, you don't know me... buuuut, I got your number off a list of names that someone... that I found and... I just wanted to tell you that Desmond's here and we're..." He paused and Penny and Layna exchanged glances as Hugo seemed to be shushing someone in the background. Quietly he said, "I told you, I got it, dude, Its cool, I'll protect you, just chill..." Then he came back louder, "I'm trying to... figure out how to get him off the island and I was wondering..."
"We're here," Penny said.
"Really?" he said with a laugh and then off the phone he said, "See, I told you, just to call... you gotta start listening to me, dude."
"Is that Desmond you're talking to?" Penny asked..
"Uh... not exactly. Desmond's kind of... asleep. I think he's okay, but... We're... I'm not sure what to do. We gave him some island water, but... I'd kind of like him to see a doctor to make me feel better."
"I've got a doctor on my boat, we'll bring him in. We might need some help, though."
"Uh, I don't know...," There was a pause and some whispering and then he came back on confidently with a set of coordinates that he sounded to be reading.
When they arrived it was only Hugo who greeted them and while he wasn't exactly surprised to see Layna again, he was very quiet when he drove them and the doctor to the barracks. Desmond woke and the doctor went to another bunker to look after a few others who had survived. Emma and Zach hardly looked excited to go home, but Cindy was reassuring them their time on the island was over.
Standing outside on the porch with Hugo during Penny and Desmond's reunion, Layna said, "He wanted it to be you, you know."
"Who, Jacob?" he asked. "Well it wasn't it was Jack. I'm just who he had to settle for cause everyone else left."
"That's what he thought when he became protector too," Layna said. "It was probably supposed to be you. The island picks, not the protectors."
"Says the crazy lady I met in a psyche ward," he said. Layna laughed and he pressed his lips together nervously.
When Desmond came to the door and stepped out with Penny, Hugo said, "So I guess you'll all be going now, right?"
It was more than Layna could take and she asked, "You really want to be stuck here on the island, all by yourself? That doesn't seem like you."
When he shrugged and looked to be trying to come up with an excuse, Layna felt a tingling and looked over at one of the bunkers. She glanced at Hugo and then started to walk towards it.
"No!" Hugo said, waddling after her. "I forbid you to go in there." Layna smiled and kept walking. "You have to listen to me, don't you? Cause I'm like the protector now and all."
"I want to see who survived," Layna said. "I lost a lot of people I care about."
Hugo stopped in place as she walked up on the porch. Without knocking she opened it and sitting at the table in the kitchen, Ben sat up straight with wide eyes. He stood slowly and behind her Hugo walked up and said, "I tried, dude, but... I haven't figured out how Jacob got people to do what he wanted yet."
Staring at Ben Layna said, "He didn't tell people what to do, Huto, he let them figure it out or gave them a choice." Ben looked away and she said, "Hugo, do you mind leaving us alone?"
"You going to kill him?" he asked. "Cause... I kinda need him."
"She's not going to kill me," Ben said. "I'm sure it'll be worse than that." When Hugo hesitated, Ben said, "I'll be fine."
Once the door was shut behind her, Layna came in and sat down at the table and Ben nervously sat across from her. "May I ask you a few questions?"she asked. He nodded. "Did Jacob touch you?" Ben's chin quivered and again he nodded. "I think... he may have gifted you when he touched you." She looked at her hands and said, "I can feel it when people are special or gifted. But I don't always know why... you're going to have to discover it, I think." She glanced up and Ben was staring down at his own hands as he sat frozen.
After a long while he said, "You said my gift was deception. I never asked for that gift... I never wanted it. It's plagued me my whole life."
"You did ask for it, when you were a child," she said. "He spared you from the trauma of remembering the darkness he had to show you when he healed you... But I was there and I remember... And maybe..." When he looked at her she said, "Maybe he took it back?" When confusion flitted over his features she said, "Would the old Ben have trusted Hugo to cover for him and let himself be caught? Either you weren't even trying and you wanted me to find you, or you may have lost something of your cleverness."
Thoughtful, Ben didn't answer and she couldn't tell, maybe he hadn't lost the gift, or was having second thoughts about wanting to. It didn't matter. Layna pushed onward. "Can you tell me what happened to Ilana?"
"She died," he said.
"How?" she asked. "Did the smoke..."
"No. The island... with the help of her temper and a stick of dynamite," he said. When he saw her distress, he whispered, "It was an accident."
Soberly Layna said, "There are no accidents on this island."
He swallowed and said, "I didn't do it... if that's what you think."
"I wasn't accusing you. I mean I don't believe in coincidences. It was meant to happen," she said. "Do you know who she was?"
"One of Jacob's hired body guards," he said. "Not exactly the cream of the crop, unfortunately for him." He looked to almost continue, but bit his lip.
"She was our daughter," Layna said. Ben's mouth dropped open and Layna said, "I believe the island took her because he asked it to put an end to her suffering back when she was still a child inside of me." Layna wiped a tear and said, "He knew what was going to happen. He didn't know everything, but he knew it would be you."
Ben pulled his trembling hands beneath the table. "I... am," he started and let go a breath before he finished. "So... sorry."
"We've both lost everyone we love," she said. He squeezed his eyes shut. "But they are still out there, waiting for us." She could see he didn't believe it, and Layna took a deep breath and wiped another tear. She didn't have the heart, or think it was even possible to convince him. She stood and said, "I hope you'll help me talk Hugo into letting me stay? The island is the only family I have now."
She walked to the door and Ben stood as she was opening it and said, "You knew Richard Alpert, right? He said he lived with your family when you were young."
"Yes," she said softly. "I didn't ask about him, because after such a long life, I'm sure he was ready..."
"He didn't die," Ben said. Slowly she turned and he said, "A plane left the island." He came around the table and said, "I'm 99% positive Albert was on it. And I'm sure I could find him for you. I know all his contacts... it's the least I can do."
Unable to believe it or hide her relief and excitement, Layna hugged Ben and cried, overwhelmed. He didn't seem to know what to do and just stood there making it very awkward for both of them. When Hugo came in to check on them, the sight of her letting go of Ben scared him at first until she said, "We should talk. I need to tell you what you're protecting."
"Cool," he said. "You okay with that Ben? You wanna here?"
"I know what it is," Ben said with a small, stiff smile, and walked out.
Her long talk with Hugo, giving him Jacob's letter and telling him what she knew about the island, the light and what she'd seen when in the coma didn't go very well. When she was done he seemed to give up thinking he needed to understand everything to do the job, and she realized, that attitude is probably why he was chosen for it. When Layna left the island with Penny, Desmond and Ben's list of numbers for her to call, including his own, she felt a loss. But she didn't think she had any connections there anymore, and wanted to find the one person she loved who was still alive.
It took her several months, even with help from Penny's resources, before Layna was able to find someone who trusted her enough and had heard from Richard. It just so happened that he'd kept in contact with Kate, Claire and the others and he suggested she deliver all of their letters first. Each of them reacted differently, but all well and grateful. Especially Kate who wept with her and insisted they keep in contact. Layna also spoke with Eloise and found her just as difficult as before and decided not to visit her niece; she would only feel like a burden.
When she did sit down to talk to Richard about what Jacob had left for him, she got a surprise.
"I don't want to read it," Richard said. His tone was cool. "In fact..." he took it out of her hand and went over to the stove in his efficiency apartment. Turning on the gas, he lit the corner of it and tossed it in the metal sink where it burned up completely. He sat down satisfied.
Layna covered her mouth, watching him tap his finger on the table. She hurt for his wounded heart and wondered if it would ever heal.
"It's good to see you, though," he said. "None of this was your fault... So where will you living?"
She shook her head, not expecting this either. "You're my only family, Richard..."
"Eloise isn't..." he started and then looked down, "No, of course she isn't. She probably wants to forget too."
Searching his face, Layna realized, Richard couldn't look at her without thinking about the island and Jacob. He didn't blame her, but seeing her brought up the pain.
"He meant to talk to you, Richard," she said. His face twitched and he looked in her eyes. "He was very busy..."
"Busy?" he said with a laugh. "My life was busy, working for him. You can have the illusion that he cared for us all you want, but I was loyal to him until the end just as everyone of us was who stayed in that temple." When he began to choke up, Layna looked down. "Do you know what happened to them? They all DIED."
"Death isn't the end," she said. Richard leaned back in his small kitchen chair exasperated as he had been with her when she was a child even though she looked older than him now. "He loved you like a son." When he shook his head and stood she pleaded with him, "Don't you know that you're the one who changed him?"
Richard turned from her, looking out the tiny kitchen window as she went on. "You might not have seen it, but I did. And I know he admired you... He wanted to be like you." Richard didn't move. "It would break his heart to see you like this... to know he hurt you."
When she stood and went to his side she Said, "I read the letter, and if you ever change your mind about it's contents..."
"I won't," he said in a tiny voice. And then after letting go a small sob he said, "I should be stronger... I know you need me... I just..."
"I'll be fine," she said and kissed his cheek, relieving him of any more burden or responsibility. When his eyes turned to her, uncertain she said. "Ben will help me."
Authors Note: My next story "The Others Ever After" will be a 5 chapter 'Sideways' to give these characters and those in Wheel of Fortune their due like the Losties got in "The End". Keep an eye out for it! And if you haven't read WoF go to it! These are companion stories and the final story will make so much more sense if you've read both. :)
PS. Any final reviews would be much appreciated, after spending so many months of my life on this story in every spare moment, I'm ready to move on soon to my original novel and knowing what you liked or didn't like about this will help me so much with that!