He had always been a believer. And yet, as the years dragged on and the man he followed refused to grant him an audience time and again, he began to get testy, began to want answers that he'd never needed to seek out before.
Now he had the biggest answer of all.
No, he wasn't chosen, he wasn't here because he was special. He was here because he was useful, and Jacob had finally found his ultimate use. It was all a giant setup.
Perhaps to bring John Locke into power. The man who walked right out of a wheelchair while he developed a deadly tumor. He'd played up John's apparent communion with the Island to play him into his hands, but in the end, he was the one to get played.
Or perhaps just to sacrifice, one more chance to suffer, and why not?
His whole life was one big joke.
John got to be the special, magical one who would stride back into the jungle and greet Richard and their people, who would receive him like a savior. They knew that he had Richard's respect and that would be all they needed...
There was no point in telling John what he should do from there on out, how to lead. John would find his own way, and it certainly wouldn't be Ben's way, no matter what he had to say about it. Maybe John would move into his house and strip it bare of any trace he was ever there. After all he'd done for the threadbare, ragtag, pathetic gaggle of nomads the "Hostiles" had turned out to be, maybe it would all be forgotten, or worse, reversed.
It would be all boar hunting and no baking, back to living off the land so as to not be "charlatans." Goodbye, art history, book clubs, modern therapy, attempts to educate people in literature, theology, philosophy... Farewell to the carefully revamped bylaws, the judicial system, the commissions and the council. It would all be in the hands of a man weak enough to let his father dominate his whole past life, weak enough to settle for cubicle work for years before heading off in search of his destiny.
Who could say what would become of any of it? And did it really even matter anyway, with Tom, Ryan, Bea, Bonnie, Greta, Diane, Matthew, Jason, Luke, and so many others all gone on his watch? Surely his people---if he could call them that anymore---would welcome a complete change in power, and the chance to forget him.
He wanted to burn with his usual resentment for John, but when it came down to it, John had never asked for any of this, and perhaps if he hadn't let that resentment overwhelm him, he could have helped him, rather than standing in his way. It had all come to John by what seemed like fate, but what Ben knew to be one man's handiwork... the only man who deserved to be the target of anything that burned inside him right now---
His foot broke right through the old ladder and he tumbled down into the freezing room. The pain that spiked through him and ripped at his arm didn't matter much; it was superficial, physical, and unlike all other pain, it would go away in time. The path worked exactly as Radzinsky had finally confessed to them. The Wheel awaited exactly as Richard and Widmore and all the detailed documentation had ever described to him.
That part of his mind that almost never seemed to just shut up still moved at whirlwind speed. Once outside, if he appeared in current time, he could get in touch with Jill or Jeffrey.. He could find Eloise, perhaps convince her to help him find a way back.. He could use his fake Interpol ID as far as it could go to trace any move Richard ever made, try to figure out if he'd appeared in another time... He'd found information alluding to the possibility of other outside operatives, maybe even working directly for Jacob, maybe he could find them...
But why, in the end, try to go back? He was down here for a reason, he'd gotten that tumor for a reason, he'd seen everything they'd carefully built up fall apart in a matter of weeks for a reason.
He could forget about what little happiness he'd managed to attain, what few comforts of life he'd tried to pursue for himself... Leadership, respect, power? Family, a home, love? No, apparently he didn't deserve any of that. Apparently, what he deserved after everything he'd given of himself, after everything he'd endured, after all he'd sacrificed, what he deserved was to be banished from everything he'd ever worked for and everyone he'd ever cared for, who he had imagined had cared for him too.
Some of Keamy's last words rang in his head... how he claimed he'd hunted Alex down and killed her after she'd gotten away, oh, and the way he reveled in it. Ben could only pray it not to be true, but he wasn't willing to miss the chance to extract vengeance one way or another. He could still feel Keamy's blood spattering, the life energy escaping from the hole in his throat...
He prayed desperately that Richard would find her, save her once more, that she would be safe, even if she hated him for all time... His last words in front of his daughter were so hateful, so vile, why did he ever think that strategy would work? She'd always begged him to listen to her, to give her some credit, not to dismiss how she felt... she warned him they had shot Rousseau and that goddamned boy, and he hadn't listened...
This was what he deserved.
He never had a daughter, never had power, never had anything. Any silly fantasy he'd ever tried to play out of having a lovely little domestic life in the midst of all his duties was merely that, just fantasy.
He thought of Henry Gale, who chose to leave it all behind, to sell his company and take off across the Pacific and follow his dream. His dream to flee home, obligations, his loving wife... Ben placed his hands on the cold, cold ice that coated the last thing he would ever touch on the Island. He would give anything, anything to have everything Henry wanted to fly away from...
Richard would adapt, he would accept John's ascendancy and move on. Oh, it would kill Ben for the rest of his pathetic life should he never see him again, but Richard had all the time in the world to recover from anything. Sure, they'd known each other some three decades and been through heaven and hell together, but in the grand scheme of things, what would losing one person really matter to an immortal?
Juliet would probably pop a drink and celebrate the moment she realized that she would never have to see him again. She would delight in it, sigh with relief. Then find her way into the arms of a man who would never truly understand how amazing she was, who would never truly appreciate what a rare and incredible woman he pulled into his embrace at night. But who probably also wouldn't have to threaten her constantly to keep her from leaving him.
And Alex... Oh, Alex. She would remember him as the man who lied to her all her life and left her claiming she didn't matter to him at all. Some "father" he turned out to be.
So why do it, why even bother? Why not just let everything end, why not take them all with him?
Well, then the gigantic joke of his entire life would have truly been for nothing.
For at least, if in the end, when the book was written on all that had come to pass, if the one thing he ever did was save all of humanity, then Emily would not have died for nothing...
Ben still believed in this damn island, and why? He supposed his belief was all he had left...
His heart squeezed up in his chest so tight it felt as though it might burst. The flood of emotions almost brought him to his knees. But he pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and a white light began to glow, brighter and brighter, and he could feel it working, the magic, the wonder, the negatively charged electromagnetic exotic matter---whatever it was, it was there and real and proof of everything he'd ever dedicated himself for, and it filled the space around him until he wept his way in a sort of miserable relief into its enveloping nothingness------
It felt as though an instant and a lifetime passed in the same moment, and then he was on his back, heart racing, with the cold heaviness of the wheel lingering in his hands. His legs burned with pain, his right arm hurt like a bitch, and the betrayal in Alex's eyes remained seared into the backs of his eyelids. And the smell and sight and touch of Death surrounded him everywhere...
...in the form of those accursed hippie rejects he'd gladly dispatched so many years ago.
From his crumpled landing spot in the middle of the Dharma death pit, he stared up at the familar canopy of jungle flora dangling high above his head, taunting him, and he muttered to someone who likely still wasn't listening and still didn't care.
"Very funny, Jacob."