Summary: What if Ben had found Juliet making the cue cards. Sort of canon.
She’s on the final sign when the doorbell rings. She isn’t sure of the words she has written, isn’t completely sure she hates him enough to want him dead though. Her hands don’t shake though, she takes that as a sign. The shake when the doorbell wrings again, her jaw slips open. “I’m busy, come back later.”
“Juliet, it’s me.”
Oh god god god. She carefully and quickly turns the signs over and being as quite as she can. “Ben I’m in the middle of something right now, if you could come back later--”
“That’s fine, Juliet, nothing urgent I just wanted to return your book.” His voice is innocent enough that she knows she still has a chance. He doesn’t know yet, does he?
The breath is out of her, completely gone. In two seconds he’s going to ask to come in and she doesn’t know what she’s going to say. She carefully takes the camera off the tri-pod and puts it underneath a pillow, also slipping the poster boards behind the couch. They stick up like little white flags behind it. She looks at the tri-pod in bewilderment. “Hold on a second Ben--”
The door opens, and she whirls so that she’s standing right in front of the tripod, her legs blocking it perfectly. She doesn’t move but tries to still look relaxed. “Hey,” she says weakly, smiling.
“Hello,” his gaze sweeps over the room, and she isn’t sure if his eyes catch the tips of the poster boards or not. His expression softens. She doesn’t know what that means, but something has changed, he has noticed something different.
He takes a step closer to her and she can’t move away because of the tripod. She waits for him to hand her the book, but he doesn’t. Instead he takes an even closer step until his nose is almost even with hers. She feels all the breath she didn’t know she had woosh out of her. He takes her hand and moves her fingers around the spine of it. His hands are so firm, but still so gentle. She cannot move, except for where he puts her fingers around the spine. Then slowly, easily, he presses the book into her abdomen, his fingers lingering a little bit on the edges of her shirt. She tries to hold back a shiver, but fails. She knows that they are close enough that he can feel it. He smiles.
And she knows he knows. “What are you filming, Juliet?”
“Just a film diary,” she says quietly, stepping away from the tri-pod, from him. No need to keep it a secret any longer if he’s already seen. She looks nonchalantly at the kitchen and the smell of freshly baked muffins. “But I’m not anymore I guess,” she smiles and he smiles back, openly. “Would you like a muffin?” she asks.
“That would be wonderful,” he says kindly, sitting down on the couch, right in front of the posterboards.
She turns around moving into the kitchen and breathes a sigh of relief. She must of caught Ben of guard. She’s safe now. She looks at the muffins still steaming, and takes two, putting them each on a small purple paisley patterned plate. “Their banana, I hope you don’t mind, I know you prefer Bbueberry.” Her tongue is freed by feeling of safety, and her brain constrained by guilt. She needs to say something anything.
She turns back into the dining room.
“Dangerous maybe, Juliet, but a liar?”
She drops the plates, and they both shatter perfectly. The muffins tumble through the pieces of porcelain, and shards of little blue glass. Ben frowns at them from over the white poster-board that he’s holding up.
“Ben, I-I can explain.” But she can’t, she really doesn’t know what else to say and if he saw through her other excuses he obviously will see through this one.
He turns the next card and stoically reads, “Ben isn’t going to keep his promise about the submarine, Jack, so you might as well make a mistake. It will look like an accident; it is after all, a very complicated procedure.” He looks at her through raised eyebrows and she finds herself unable to move, “not very eloquent is it Juliet.”
He takes a small breath, and flips over the next poster, and continues reading. “Jack if you kill Ben there is a submarine we can use, both of us could run and get Sayid who could operate it. It might make things more difficult, but please you have to do this for me. I’ve been on this for two years and the only thing I’ve learned is he doesn’t let anyone go that he doesn’t want to. And letting you go would be a sign of weakness, he’s not going to keep his promise.”
“You started in the middle,” she says flatly. She knows that the first few placards will hardly redeem her but she has to say it anyways. “I begin by saying ignore everything I’m saying.”
Fittingly Ben ignores her and continues flipping on to the last card. “Jack, this entire time Ben has been manipulating you, you as well as me. He wanted you to find the x-rays because he knew that he didn’t have time to “break you”. He wanted you to see him in weakness so you wouldn’t suspect a longer con and would learn to see him as a human being. And that’s why he brought you to Colleen’s funeral, to show you me confirming this from a distance. From the beginning Jack he’s been twisting everything you’ve seen here. He wanted me to remind you of your ex-wife so that you would feel sympathy towards us, towards me. But it’s reciprocated Jack, what we’ve done to you is terrible, inexcusable, your friends too, that’s why I’ll help you Jack, if you’ll help me. We have to kill Benjamin Linus.” He doesn’t take anytime to slow down or to breathe but plows through it mechanically. She can’t bear to watch him and looks down at her feet. There is a long silence where they just breathe, well he just breaths. Breathing has gotten harder for Juliet, almost close to impossible.
He puts the posters down on the floor and stands up. She looks to his pocket, expecting him to reach for his walkie or for his gun. This is the end she knows, she doesn’t want her last memories to be of this, of them like this. “For what it’s worth,” she says coldly, “I’m sorry Ben.”
“Sit down Juliet,” and his voice is almost kind though there is a hard edge of coldness. She looks at the couch nervously. If he hadn’t just found her betraying him she would have demanded he just get it over with, kill her, imprison, her now. He raises his eyebrows and she sits down, meaning to scoot away from him once she sits down but he gives her a look and once again she doesn’t move.
They are sitting knee to knee and she is remembered of book club meetings when they once sat like this. “I’m not yours Ben anymore, you can’t expect to destroy everything I love and then still have something that ended long ago. You can’t have really thought—”
“Of course not Juliet,” he said calmly, touching her knee and she didn’t move away, how could she? “But killing me, isn’t that a little extreme.”
“I wasn’t really going to show it to him.” It’s amazing how easy it is to lie to him. However before she even finishes her sentence his eyes are already darkening.
“And you call me the liar Juliet. I know what you did and why you did it. All that remain are the consequences.”
“Are you going to take away my TV privileges,” she said angrily, the fear wearing off. So what if he was going to kill her, it didn’t matter anymore.
“No, Juliet,” he began seriously, perturbed at her nonchalance, “but you didn’t let me finish. It’s not so disturbing that you want to kill me, though it is unfortunate. What is more disturbing is that you actually have come to care for Jack Shepard. You don’t really think he cares for you Juliet.”
“He’s been cooperative so far,” she retorted.
“Because he’s still in love with his ex-wife Juliet, not you. Though I admit your sentiment to run off and, what was it?, 'retrieve the submarine and save his friends' was admirable. I’m sure it would take a lot less to impress him,” Ben said coolly.
“It doesn’t matter Ben who loves me and who doesn’t, at least it shouldn’t to you.” Her hands pretzel themselves and she can see Goodwin’s pale face, stricken with patches of aged coagulated blood.
“We already know that’s not true Juliet.” He says quietly. He move his hand to hers, to stroke it. For a moment she lets him, remembering a day when even an implication of his approval would have thrilled her. When discussing with him books was just a discussion of books, not a power play. But then she pulls her hand away, scoots over and looks him in the eye.
His gaze hardens. “Here is what is going to happen, Juliet. You are going to show Shepard the tape, with some edits of course. He wouldn’t even be able to read those note cards they are so cluttered. You don’t think he really wants to hear your whole story does he. You will convince him to kill me, he won’t follow you of course because he doesn’t trust you much less care for you that much. He will, however, try and kill me in order to save his friends, then you will let his friends free. Then I will promise both you and Jack a ride on a submarine.”
Her eyes light up in hope, maybe this was all she needed to do all along, do something unforgivable so that he would just want to be rid of her. Was he really going to let her go home?
“But you will foil this Juliet. I want you to plant some C-4 on the submarine. I have a suspicion that it won’t be necessary but it will be a nice back-up plan. Then you will return with Jack to their camp, and give me reports on the pregnant woman. You will tell Jack of your betrayal at some point, and then, and only then, will he come to see you as fully one of them.
And then /you/ will kill him Juliet. You will take him to the Tempest and you will set off the gas chambers within killing him. I don’t care how you get him there just do it.
And if you don’t which I’m sure you’ve already speculated about, we will kill Rachel.
And then if you still haven’t killed Jack Shepard we will kill Julien.
Finally, and only once we have killed both of them, Juliet I will come for you.”
"And will you kill me then?" She spat.
He grimaced. "Of course not. Then you'll marry me."
AU: No the title is not spelled wrong. It's sunrinsing, like rinsing yourself with sun.
He had knocked on my door, his fingers rapping insistently. In turn I had thrown off my covers, and slipped into sweat pants and an old Rutger’s t-shirt, my sister’s, and shuffled, bleary eyed, to the door. When I opened it Ben was standing outside dressed in jeans in a t-shirt. His shirt was untucked, and one of his sleeves was half rolled up. Wearing an eager smile he looked so boyish, so close. For a moment I wanted to touch him to see if this was just some spirit that had appeared on my doorstep, I had heard of stranger things. I reached out a hand, but then saw his eyes narrow in curiosity and knew this was the same Benjamin Linus that ruled our little community with a fist like liquid steel. And it was this, fist, that man, who had come to knock on my door. “What is it Ben?” I asked sleeply.
“There is something important I think you should see.” Normally when he says things like this I worry. But there is no distance in it, like when the first woman died. Then he had stood aloof and un-present. Now, as he grabs my hand and tugs my out into the green, shoeless, he is very much here.
“Ben,” I say startled and begin to laugh, “what are you doing?” I grab for the door knob but it’s already swung shut out of my reach.
“I told you, there’s something you should see.” His voice is almost breathless as he drags me across the green, past the swingset and around the maze of uniform little yellow houses. Our little community looks like a model railroad village in the first bursts of light, with details magnified until they look bleary and plastic. He tugs me past them, insistently.
“Ben,” I protest weakly, “I didn’t know you were one for medieval torture this early in the morning, you’re killing my arm,” I say softly, joking.
He continues tugging me and turns around, and I see those eyes again. And I remember that jokes like that usually aren’t funny around him, because he is capable of anything. In some scary part of my mind I wonder if maybe has tortured someone this early in the morning.
The houses and dying concrete sidewalks have evaporated into a wide clean green field. And over the field, oh my god, over the field…
“It’s beautiful isn’t it,” he says proudly, desperately, urgently, pulling me down to sit next to him against a tall softly mossed rock.
I fall against him with a light thud, leaning against him quietly, my eyes wide trying to take it in. I shiver a little bit in the morning cool and he rubs my shoulders. I smile a little.
In front of me the sky is painted, little bursts of life crosshatched against long streams of pale purple light. It is so new, so clean against a usually dirty imperfect sky. The clouds frame the light not disguise it and it spills onto us, over us. I bask in it, and I see him smile in my peripheral vision. It is a happy smile but not quite like his usual smile, it is a secure smile, the smile of a man confident where he is and who he is with.
Look at what I own he says, look at the things that I can give you Juliet. This what this all is, I realize dimly leaning away. He has no real appreciation for the sunset for any of this, the moment. Even this romanticism it is just an ends to a means, to keeping me here.
Of course he noticed the little x’s I had in the corner of each day in the calendar. And he, he who appreciated the classics, and inside things, human things, things that were more complex than light arrayed against a backdrop, how could I expect him to understand. I sighed.
“What’s wrong,” he said severely, his eyes narrowing and his hand squeezing me to him, closer.
“Nothing Ben,” I say lazily and begin to pry his fingers off of my arm. “I’ve got to get dressed, I may lose all credibility if I go prancing around shoeless.” I say archly and press a small kiss to his cheek. “Thank you, this is beautiful.”
But he does not let go. I stop breathing, he knows, he always knows what I’m thinking. Every time that I gain an inch of knowledge about him, he is aware of it. And he can’t even tell me, can’t even just discuss this with me. But now we will discuss this, something about the sunshine makes me want to clean up all of our frayed edges. “Ben, today is the day I’m supposed to go home.”
He relaxes, this was an expected faux paux, not the new dangerous light he had seen in my eyes. “Juliet, you’re work here is not done. It won’t be forever, just a couple more months.” I wonder if he really believes this, that it will really only be a few more months. No I think he knows, I think he knows that he’s going to extend it as long as he can. But it can’t be forever, that is not his style, there has to be a reason and in a couple of months, weeks even my work will either be complete or impossible.
“I miss Rachel, Ben. I miss going to nightclubs and dancing horribly but not caring because there is no one I know there. I miss eating chili at this great little Mexican place down the block, I miss having friends that don’t eat the same place I do, live the same place I do, experience the same damn everything I experience.” I want to cover my mouth to stop this stream of profanities issuing forth. I meant for him to reveal himself, not for me to. But he wins, he always wins. He gets my emotions and what do I get, a manipulated sunrise? I wait for his reply expecting something between condescension and anger, but his face is gentle and he tugs me closer to him again. I do not resist.
“Juliet Rachel is /fine/; she’s going through /her/ pregnancy fine.” He begins to stroke my hair, and it feels so good, so comforting. It shouldn’t but it does. He is the cause of these frustrations. How can he dissipate them so quickly?
He smiles wistfully. “And as for the little Mexican restaurant, why don’t we have Mexican tomorrow in honor of you.” Then he improvises, I can tell because of the way I see his lips purse a little and his eyebrows raise. Even then it says, look I’m straying from the script Juliet all for you, always for you. “And while I can’t say I’m a fan of the bump and grind, and I didn’t know you were either, I could always add some songs to your collection.”
I want to tell him it isn’t about that, those little things. But he’s trying he really is, and maybe it will be enough. He just wants me here, and I do want to be here really I do, but I don’t know if it will work out. I don’t know completely how much I’m ready to sacrifice for him. I think he already knows, I see it in the way his eyes seem to twinkle in reverse. He already knows the ending and is as secretive about it as ever.
I sigh. “I’m sorry you do something really nice for me and here I am blathering,” I pull away, and this time get as far as standing up. I wonder if he knows that I’m not completely sincere I just need some time away from him, a second to collect back the pieces of myself, my life that he has stolen. By now the sun is half lidded and dulled by clouds instead of furnished with them. We are yellowed in the light and it isn’t flattering to either of us.
“Let me walk you home, we still have the debate from the book club to finish,” he says archly. He must be aware of what I’m trying to do, he must know. How could he move so perfectly in alignment against every part of me that does not fit within /us/ if he didn’t? I grab his hand to pull him up and his hand snakes around my waist. I don’t protest because it feels good, firm and right.
He will allow me these little debates over book-clubs, Mexican restaurants and sunsets but he will always win the big battles. We walk off into the new born light and I wonder how much of a chance I ever had.
She woke up bound and gagged. She would have laughed if she could have. This is how she begins her journey and this is how she will end it, bound and gagged. She is pretty sure he is going to kill her, she’s done enough to betray his trust, and he’s killed people for less. His obsessionista tendencies are mercurial at best and dangerous at worst, and she is always one to expect the worst. She waits patiently for him to undo her blindfold, waiting for dim prison light to filter in or the familiar walls and bed of her own yellow house, or even his. If he is going to kill her he will want to take credit for it, he will want to see her face, she thinks.
She gets nothing like that. When she wakes up the light is bright and burns away the thin old filament on her badly used eyes. She shakes her head so that her hair falls over her face. Even though her closed eyelids she can still feel the sun burning a bright red, and can even see the vague outlines of houses and a horizon.
“Hello Juliet,” his voice is so rounded and full, if she closes her eyes she can imagine him towering over her, can imagine him commanding her, but that life is long gone. “I’m sorry for the ropes, but I couldn’t have you running away.”
She groans and her eyes flicker open once more until she grasps that she is on a porch. His porch. She thought that he would be in hiding at the very least, not brazenly swaggering about. Her last memories are of running and of fire. All of these houses on fire. She was sure she was going to die. “How?” she stammers, far past caring at her lack of articulation, her lack of seeming sophisticated. “Why aren’t we hiding?”
“Because, Juliet,” the way he says her name makes her shiver and she can’t decide why, “I’ve won.”
She looks around her for the first real time. All of the houses are burned, but only some of them are totaled and most of them are still standing. His is in almost perfect condition, miraculously. If she had a flame-thrower or a gun or some explosives she knows which one she would have gone for first. She knew his house too, had attended dinner parties there, book club meetings. But she doesn’t let her scowl show on her face. “Ben,” her eyebrows fold upwards she offers him a sad, but condescending smile, “there’s no way you could have won. Most of your people are dead; the ship has already left port.” She sees his jaw tightens and turns away, almost wistfully looking out into the bright distance. “I’m not so easy to lie to anymore.”
She can sense his fury in the way that his hand sneaks between her shoulder blades and down to the ropes. For a second she feels the cool sharp touch of a blade, and she wonders, really kill me, why now? But he doesn’t, he merely breaks the bonds. She’s almost a hundred-percent sure he’s going to ignore her breach in decorum, but he looks her straight in the eye and says with a serious blank confidence he never used with her, “I’ve never lied to you Juliet, and not all of /our/ people are as dead as you think.” He offers her a hand, and she does not take it. He continues to hold it out, and sensing something unforgivable, something she is not prepared to hear on his lips she takes his hand.
He leads her inside and to a hallway. “Please feel free Juliet to take a shower, wash up, there is a dress on the counter.” Her eyes widen at his last words, so this is it then, she’s officially a prisoner. She remembers when they planned the manipulation of Kate and Jack. It was easy to do from afar, too enjoyable. They had decided, she remembered, to make her feel civilized before subjecting her to the harsher treatments, to show the contrast, what they could offer her.
Before she can say anything she is in the room, and then the shower relishing in shampoo and running water, something she has lacked since the day after the submarine exploded. The water swirls dark near the drain, bits of bugs and sticks even a few pieces of leaves collecting.
She turns the shower off and rubs her face with the towel once, relishing the feel of the steam against her skin. She feels peeled away, as if every deed, every word has evaporated. In some distant part of her mind it scares her, how easily these past two weeks, past dozen betrayals wash off of her, but she refuses to admit that they are evaporating let alone that the fact is frightening.
There is a delicate knock on the door, and she smells turkey cooking in the oven, it is a rich spicy smell, not at all fruity. Contrast she thinks, it’s all about contrast. “Juliet are you ready?” he sounds almost excited, but there is that same flat dull edge to his voice. This, she freely admits to herself, is frightening.
She doesn’t respond, instead slipping on the black dress over her bra and underwear. The handle began to turn and she quickly slips behind the door, hoping that he’ll open it and she can ambush him, but he doesn’t. The handle stills, and he doesn’t come back for a long time. Juliet waits in complete silence for what feels like an eternity but is really only fifteen minutes.
She is just about to open the door when she realizes he didn’t give her any shoes. She laughs internally. He thinks being shoeless will suffice for keeping her chained here, that she’s too afraid to run through the jungle shoeless. The old Juliet maybe, but obviously he has no idea what she’s capable of. Heartened that he’s underestimated her she opens the door and stares steadily ahead.
She can see him from the edge of her eye bent over at the oven and she is tempted to run at full speed and shove him in. Just as the thought occurs he stands up and smiles at her from across the room. “You look very nice, Juliet.”
“Thank you, Ben,” she says, and even she hears the hollowness in it. She walks over to him slowly and deliberately, as if to say that this is my choice, as if to say I could run if I want right now and you wouldn’t be able to stop me but I’m staying here because I’ve got the upper hand, and you don’t even know what my cards are.
He draws a chair for her, lightly touching the small of her back and she shivers. This time she knows why. She can feel his light smile near the back of her neck, right at the bottom of her hairline.
He sits down in front of her and she sees the same boyish smile that she saw at their last (civilized) dinner. Grimacing a little at the memory she blurts out (as much as Juliet ever has blurted out anything), “What is this for, are you trying to let me feel civilized again, eat with a real fork and knife?”
He offers her a strip of turkey, placing it on her plate delicately. He takes a moment to process her question and then smiles looking at her in the eye. “I am trying to show you your options.”
She looks at it hungrily. The last time she had his cooking was when they still were on amiable terms and she had forgotten the rich spicy taste, the layers of flavor that suffocated her taste-bus in ecstasy. Juliet usually is a very reserved woman but when it comes to food she can’t help be expressive. She stares at the piece of meat quizzically, takes a fork and then looks up at Ben. “Jack will be looking for me, I wouldn’t want you to get in the way,” she as tenderly as she can but the condescension is hard to mask. He is insane, obviously, trying to live out some dream in his last final hours. She refuses to be sucked in by his madness, his lies.
“Please eat, you’ll feel better when you do,” he says blithely, beginning to cut another piece of Turkey. She stares at it wondering if it’s drugged or poisoned even. Ben did like betrayal at the best moments. He sees her look at the piece with something akin to fear and intense hunger and he smiles sadly. “If I wanted to drug you I’d have put it in the orange juice.”
She feels as if she is at gun point as if this one bite of food is cataclysmic even though she knows it not. Although he is weaponless and sitting looking relatively harmless she imagines him with a gun trembling against her forehead saying in that same calm voice, eat Juliet. That is how she feels as she brings the fork up to her lips with a piece of turkey so small it is almost invisible. He smiles encouragingly. She takes a bite.
It is delicious beyond all imaginings. She had, secretly, fantasized about real food ever since she had joined the survivors camp but this, this is incredible. The flavors are tremendously subtle but all blend together perfectly and the turkey is wet, moist in her mouth as her tongue explores each crevice of flavor. A moan lodges in the back of her throat, but she doesn’t express it, her eyes close automatically.
“There,” he says as if to a child, “that wasn’t so hard was it, Jules.”
She flinches at the nick name and brushes an imaginary crumb away from the corner of her mouth. “Ben, I need to know what’s going on here.” She says it as calmly as she can but it still comes out desperately, crafted by guilt from the turkey and fear from the gag and his dead pan smile.
“You seem not take it well when I make my opinion clear, so I thought a more subtle approach might benefit us all” He frowns a little taking a bite of his own turkey and chewing lightly. Hatred and indignation rise up in her, swell and choke her vocal cords. His eyes narrow, and he set down his fork and smoothed the napkin in his lap. “But, if you insist. Jack and the remnants of his band are currently captured on a boat, my boat, Juliet.”
“You expect me to believe that?” she interjects softly but insistently refusing to meet his dark hypnotic eyes.
“I’d like to think you had more trust in me, Juliet,” he says sincerely, finding her stray gaze in expert time. She frowns in response as if to say, let’s waste no more time with your lies.
From under his lap he takes out a small, black, radio. “You have five minutes.” His expression is as stiff as steel.
Desperately, afraid he will snatch it away from her she turns on the radio. “Jack! Jack!” she pleads desperately a stark change from her reserved manner held only barely in check.
“Juliet,” Jack responds, his voice as dead as Ben's; she thinks she can hear a lisp in his voice, he sounds so weak, “where are you?”
“I’m with Ben, Jack, are you alright? Have they hurt you?” She pleads for answers but there is a long pause, and Juliet doesn’t breath. There is only static and the sound of Ben’s easy breaths whooshing in and out. “Jack!”
“They’ve killed Jin. K-kate, she is up next if we don’t do something.” She can feel the words on his lips just waiting to break free waiting to explode onto the airwaves.
“Jack,” horror dawns in her voice, she can see Ben’s plan coming to fruitation, growing and finally blossoming in front of her, “why are you telling me this?”
There is another pause, but there is no static in the background only a woman, Kate’s, strangled cries. She clutches the radio tighter until there are little circles from the speakers imprinted in a deep red on her fingertips. When Jack finally begins to speak he sounds exponentionally more broken than when he first spoke. “Juliet, you have to stay with him, stay with him or I’m after Kate.”
That is enough, she is already ready to go on to say yes, to sink to her knees and weep but he continues talking as if she is not fully convinced. He is crying now, thick heavy tears she imagines. “Please, there’s not much time left you have to decide now,” then softer and wistfully “we can rescue you later I promise.”
The radio is taken slowly from her trembling fingers and she pushes out her chair and tries to stand up. She finds she can’t and instead sinks to her knees crying red stinging tears. “I want proof,” she says stubbornly, but it comes out more of snivel. “I want proof that they’re all alive. I want weekly, no daily updates, Ben.”
He rubs her back and her hair, and doesn’t tell it’s going to be all right, at least not right now. Eventually, he thinks, everything will be alright, she will forget, but not now, no now that would be lying and he has to earn her trust bit by bit back. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“No,” she half screams, “you will do it Ben, you will!”
“Okay,” he says smiling, stroking her hair, kneeling down with her onto the thickly carpeted floor. “You win.”
And Juliet feels more lost than she has ever before.