It didn’t take long to realize how absolutely weird the DHARMA Initiative was.
For starters, no person could leave the premise alone. Everyone had to travel in pairs unless they were head of their work group. They also weren’t allowed to keep diaries, which was weird. Every month they had a clean-out of the houses to make sure nothing fishy was going on - storing guns, drug use (how?), kidnappings, etc. - and even went so far as to ban pets.
Nothing was weirder for Sawyer, however, than seeing Benjamin Linus as a kid.
He wasn’t how Sawyer had imagined him to be at all. Maybe it had been a comfort strategy, but he’d always imagined Ben to be fat in his youth - a nerd with no friends, isolated, probably a psychopath. The nerd part wasn’t false, but everything else was just so.... off.
Ben was scrawny. Round glasses covered half of his face and his hair was a mess, no matter what day it was. He walked awkwardly, anxiously, like he was always avoiding something. The most shocking thing was Ben’s personality. He was shy, reserved, even kind. Jesus Christ, it threw Sawyer off so much he wasn’t even sure he could refer to Ben as the Benjamin Linus. There seemed to be no similarities.
Meeting Roger Linus was even worse. The guy had some serious problems — mostly with alcohol and a lack of self-control — and that made Sawyer uncomfortable. No wonder that kid grows up to be a fucking psycho.
Sawyer learned to stay away from the Linus family. Roger was always paranoid when it came to Ben, believing anyone that spoke to him had some twisted agenda they wanted to push. Something they wanted to use against Roger.
Juliet was another factor. Every time she saw Kiddo Ben, whom Sawyer had begun referring to as “Bendo”, she got this far-away look in her eyes, like she was reliving horrors he couldn’t ever see. She made him promise not to speak to him, not to affiliate with the Linus family, because Juliet wouldn’t be able to handle it.
Sawyer thought he’d been handling that pretty well. They’d been in DHARMA three years and nothing drastic had happened other than Sawyer moving up the ranks in Security. He and Juliet became a couple, which Miles had been betting on for months, and Ben was forgotten, shoved to the back of all of their minds.
That is, until that night.
A blanket of darkness had fallen upon DHARMA Initiative. Sawyer was standing outside his barrack, cigarette perched in his lips. A thread of smoke trailed out of the tip, embers glowing with each deep breath he took.
A slam in the distance jerked Sawyer out of his thoughts. His brows furrowed and he turned his head toward the sound, wondering what was going on. The thickness of night made it hard to see, but two shapes — one large, one small — swayed through the shadows.
When they fell under a light, Sawyer’s chest lurched to see Bendo splayed on the ground, scrambling away on his feet. Roger stood over him, snarling something unintelligible. Sawyer felt concern, which really pissed him off, because why should he feel bad for Ben? But maybe there was some far-away, fucked up similarity between both he and Ben.
He decided to eavesdrop, because 1) Sawyer couldn’t help being worried, and 2) learning a bit about Ben’s history couldn’t hurt. He moved forward, making sure to stay hidden, curling in his fingers as he listened intently.
“Dad,” Bendo whined, and up close, Sawyer could recognize the sheen of terror in the kid’s eyes. It hurt, because Sawyer knew what that felt like. But why was Ben so scared? Maybe because his dad is fucking insane.
“What?” Roger snapped, and Sawyer could see the beer bottle clutched tightly in his hand.
“Please,” he cried. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.”
“It’s your fuckin’ fault!” Roger snarled, raising his arm and chucking the beer bottle in Ben’s direction. He quickly ducked. “It’s your fault your mom’s dead! You know that? Huh?”
Ben was shaking, cheeks wet with tears. “I know,” he moaned brokenly.
Jesus Christ, Sawyer thought. Does he really think it’s Ben fault his mother is dead? Something inside wanted him to intervene, because he’d always hated when his own father had been abusive in public and no one had glanced twice, but then Sawyer thought about Juliet and Roger’s paranoia and decided against it. It wouldn’t end well, and Roger would end up being more violent in private. How did she die, anyway? He shook his head. Sawyer could figure that out later.
Roger stumbled back, expression a mix of heartbroken and angry. “Well? Get up.”
Ben hesitated, staring at his father, but eventually managed to stand to his feet. His shoulders were slumped, body folded in on itself. “What-”
Roger leaned forward and backhanded Ben across the face.
Sawyer froze, reeling with shock. Something bubbled on the surface of his mind, memories brewing, and all he could think about was his father. Slap after slap after slap, but eventually they turned to punches, then came the broken bones. It was a vicious cycle Sawyer knew all too well, and seeing Ben like this hurt.
“Don’t scream, boy,” Roger growled. “Come on.” But instead of returning to his house, Roger was leading the way toward one of the 1961s.
“Where-” Ben clamped his mouth shut, clearly considering on whether or not he should speak. Roger turned, annoyed. “Why are we getting in the van?”
“Want me to hit you again?” Roger snapped. “Don’t ask. Just get in.”
Ben eventually nodded and clambered into the passenger side of the blue van, and through the foggy windows, Sawyer could see the red mark blossoming across Ben’s cheek. Roger peeled the van away and Sawyer ducked, making sure not to be seen. When the Linuses were out of sight, he jumped to his feet, intent on following. If Roger had been confident enough to hit his kid in the middle of the barracks, who knew what he’d do in the jungle?
He immediately turned around, leaving the burnt-out cigarette on the ground. “Hey, hon,” he said, forcing a smile.
Juliet looked at him. “What are you doing?”
“Dropped my cigarette,” he shrugged. “Why? Miss me?”
She smiled softly, and it was that look Sawyer absolutely loved. “Yeah. Come to bed?”
He looked toward where Roger had left with the van. Ben would be fine. What could Sawyer do, anyway?