Fandom: Harper's Island
Word Count: 2143
Ship(s)/Character(s): Shea Allen/Christopher "Sully" Sullivan
Summary: He wasn’t supposed to live; he doesn’t know how he did.
Notes: Mentions of violence.
He wasn’t supposed to live; he doesn’t know how he did. He wakes up in the hospital with an IV in his hand and machines beeping loudly in his ears; he wakes up with a throbbing pain in his back. He wakes up with the vague memory of hands dragging him, lifting him up and dragging him across the forest floor, across roots and branches, the ground scratching open his skin; he wakes up with the vague memory of being in a burning building and finding the strength to crawl his way out, of crawling back into the woods to die there instead of in flames and smoke and instead to die in darkness; he wakes up with a vague memory of it all going black.
The police come and tell him Abby and Jimmy lived; they tell him that they found him inches from death in the woods on the way to get help; they tell him they airlifted him to the hospital while the other two were taken off the island by boat.
He thinks he’ll have to send them both a thank you card for saving his life.
The doctors tell him he’s lucky to still be alive like he doesn’t already know that. The doctors tell him he’s lucky not to have any permanent nerve damage from the blade sinking into his skin, that he’ll walk away with a scar and little more and that he should count his blessings. He just thinks he has the devil’s luck; he thinks maybe the devil in the guise of a man is the person he’d called his friend for years.
He finds out Trish is already buried; finds out that his friends are being buried this week, decides he’ll go to their funerals in a wheelchair if he has to just to make sure he can say goodbye to them.
He goes to the funerals in a wheelchair like he figured he would have to- he’s too weak to stand on his own yet. He tells Danny’s parents how brave he was while they cry at his graveside; tells Malcolm’s family and Booth’s family that he misses them too, that he wishes he was with them sometimes. (He doesn’t tell him that he feels like he already is at times.)
She shows up at his door a week after they let him out for good, when they determine that he’s finally strong enough to move on his own. They tell him to come to get his bandages changes when he needs them changed; he knows that he could find others to do it. (He’s gotten hundreds of e-mails from girls who all think he’s a hero of some kind for surviving; he can’t even think of replying to them at all.)
“Madison made you a get well card,” she tells him, hands him a folded up piece of paper. “She wanted to know if you were alright.”
“You can bring her next time if you want,” he says. “I wouldn’t mind seeing her.”
He wouldn’t mind seeing anyone else who survived; wouldn’t mind seeing the ones who didn’t if it meant it had all been a nightmare.
Madison chatters at him when Shea comes by next time. He sits in the chair in his living room; they sit on the couch. She tells him that they were told he was dead; tells him that they thought they were the only ones that made it out before she busies herself with the videogames he used to play with his friends but can’t bring himself to touch anymore.
“Sometimes I think I did die,” he tells Shea, his voice quiet. (He doesn’t think Madison needs to hear that; thinks she’d been through enough for a child.)
“You didn’t,” she assures him, her voice calm and somehow older than it had been before, like all the weight of the world is suddenly on her shoulders. “You’re right here. You’re here and you’re alive.”
“Sometimes I think I shouldn’t be,” he says. “Sometimes I think that it should have been anyone but me. They were so much better than I was.”
“You saved us,” she reminds him. “That’s good enough for me.”
She stops by a lot over the next couple of weeks, tells him that Madison is in therapy, tells him that she’s back at school; tells him that she has nightmares sometimes of her grandfather being split in two and of her father somehow returning from the dead and coming into her room to take her with him into his grave.
She doesn’t talk about Trish. He doesn’t talk about Henry.
“I’m glad you two made it,” he tells her. “If I had died at least I would have saved you and your daughter; at least I would have done something right.”
“We’re glad you’re alive, too,” she tells him. “We’re very glad.”
Madison draws for him a lot. She writes stories and reads them to him when she tags along with her mother to visit him. He enjoys the company; Shea enjoys he comfort she gets from being with someone else who had lived through what she had.
He puts the pictures on his refrigerator; he listens to Madison’s stories with acute awareness. She’s a lot smarter than they had given her credit for; she’s a lot smarter than they would have ever guessed.
“She thinks about Wakefield sometimes,” Shea says one night when Madison is playing with his videogames. “She talks about him. She doesn’t understand how he could pretend to be her friend when he wasn’t.”
“I don’t understand how people can lie about that anymore than she does,” he says. (Henry’s smiling face flashes into his brain; he feels the knife sliding in again.) “I don’t think anyone can understand that.”
“Maybe not,” she agrees. “Maybe we’re not supposed to.”
Madison doesn’t want to go out for Halloween this year, doesn’t want to go trick or treating when they’ve all lost so much. Neither of them blames her.
They spend the night at his apartment; he watches the Charlie Brown Halloween movie with her while she eats the candy her mother gave her.
“She still deserves something,” Shea tells him. “She still deserves to be a kid.”
Madison falls asleep on the couch, her head resting in Shea’s lap. Sully wonders if there won’t be a movie about what happened to them one day. (The media went mad when they were all back, pushing and shoving to interview them, shoving cameras into their faces, microphones practically jammed up their noses. There will be books, no doubt; there will be experts to talk about what went wrong with Wakefield and Henry; there will be a movie called ‘Wedding of Blood’ or ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ or ‘Island Of Terror’ or something equally vapid and mundane. It may take a while- they would want to pretend to be concerned for the survivors- but by the time Madison has her own children he doesn’t doubt a movie about it all will exist- names changed to protect the ‘innocent’ and the ‘not so innocent’.)
“Sometimes I wish we could all be kids again,” he tells her.
She asks him what he’s doing for Thanksgiving; he tells her he’s not doing anything. He doesn’t see his family very often anymore, can’t seem to relate to them after what he went through. They try to understand, try to help him through it all but don’t seem to know how.
He only seems to find comfort with Shea and Madison; only seems to find comfort when he calls up Jimmy to check on how he and Abby are doing. (He’s apologized to Jimmy for having tried to shoot him; having accused him of holding the spot that Henry actually held. Jimmy forgave him, said they were all afraid at the time, had invited him to come down and visit them sometime when he gets to chance. He may just have to do that.)
“We’re going to the cabin my father owns- owned,” she tells him over the phone, “You should come with us,” she says. “You shouldn’t have to be alone. It isn’t healthy for you to be alone.”
“Alright,” he agrees.
He knows she’s right.
It’s cold at the cabin, colder than he expected. He had worn layers like she had said he should but hadn’t thought it necessary- he’s glad he listened. He brings his videogames so he can give them to Madison. (He doesn’t use them anymore and she has more fun with them than he ever could. The violence in some of the games probably isn’t very good for her but Shea doesn’t seem to car, seems to think that maybe its her way of dealing with what happened and she’ll grow out of it.)
He watches Shea in the kitchen as she moves about. (She only really cooked on holidays with her immediate family, liked the idea of giving her family a homemade holiday meal the same way hers had given one to herself and Trish when they were growing up.) His back muscles ache and feel tense; the muscles lock up from time to time and he can’t seem to unlock them most days.
“You didn’t need to invite me,” he tells her.
“I know,” she tells him. “But I wanted to. I didn’t like the idea of you being alone on the holidays. And besides, we like having you around.” She looks at him, her eyes calm and clear but there’s a storm beneath the surface, a fear that hasn’t gone away since the island. “Us, the ones who lived, we’re all like family now. I’d rather you be with us than by yourself.”
He thinks she knows what she means, thinks he knows exactly what she means. Sometimes he doesn’t think he can ever relate to anyone but them and Abby and Jimmy ever again. (Sometimes he isn’t even sure he relates to himself anymore; sometimes he thinks he looks at who he was when he got on that boat to the island and doesn’t recognize himself anymore, like he's looking at a different person entirely.)
"You need any help?" he asks.
“Sure.” She hands him the knife; he thinks of Henry, brings down the blade and slices through the apple on the cutting board for the pie she’s making. (It's one of the things she makes the best, the one thing she knows she never messes up.)
Madison lays curled up in bed but neither of them can sleep. They sit on the couch and look out the window. She holds a coffee mug in one hand; he rests one hand on the arm of the couch.
“I have nightmares sometimes,” she admits to him. “I see Trish and her eyes are white and cloudy and dead. And her hands are cold and she just wraps her hands around my neck and squeezes down until I can’t breathe.”
“I dream of Henry,” he tells her. “Sometimes I feel like he’s going to come back and finish the job, that he’s going to be sure that I’m dead this time. Sometimes I can feel him sticking the knife in me again. Sometimes I wake up and check to see if I’m bleeding.”
“You shouldn’t be alone so much.”
“Only thing I can be.”
She reaches down and takes his hand in hers, wraps her long, slender fingers around the back of his hand, squeezes down. “None of us should be alone at a time like this,” she tells him. “Not after all that we went through. We need each other. I have my daughter; Abby has Jimmy. But who do you have, Sully?”
She knows he doesn’t really have anyone and so does he. He doesn’t answer her; she hadn’t expected him to.
“You can come stay with us some nights,” she tells him. “The house is too big for just the two of us. You’d always have a room. And you’d have us.”
He doesn’t say he’ll go, doesn’t say he won’t. “What are you thankful for this year?” he asks. (What is there really to be thankful for when the world has fallen apart around them?)
“I’m thankful to be alive,” she tells him. “I’m thankful my daughter is alive.”
He nods his head, understands. (Something akin to pride swells within him because he made that happiness possible; because he got them off the island.)
“What are youthankful for?” she asks.
He doesn’t talk for a moment, squeezes her hand. “You,” he tells her. “I’m thankful for you.”
She finishes her coffee, puts the mug on the coffee table.
She falls asleep with her head against his shoulder; he falls asleep with her there.
Neither of them have nightmares that night.