Faith in You
by TVFicChick

Summary:  A pre-series fic, kind of in response to the "How did Snow die?" challenge.

Spoilers: Slight "Time" and "The Pilot" spoilers. I think we all know what happens in the pilot anyway Also, a small "The Wall" spoiler.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Faith in You
by TVFicChick

The old man sat in his chair, staring out the window of his small apartment in Chicago. He sighed heavily and glanced down at the newspaper and the tabby cat that were sitting next to him. The cat looked up at him, lovingly, and began to purr. The old man reached out his hand and stroked the cat's soft fur.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Slap.

Gary Hobson groaned as he rolled over. He looked at the clock with one eye open. 6:00. "Too early," he mumbled. He rubbed his eyes with one hand and then looked at his wife, Marcia, lying next to him. He smiled. As of that moment, he didn't think his life could get any better. Looking at the clock again, he got up. He walked over to the other side of the bed, kissed Marcia on the cheek and pulled on his robe, ready to get into the shower.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thud. Meow.

The old man got out of his bed and went to the door. He opened it, let the tabby in, and bent down slowly to retrieve his newspaper from the floor. He stood back up just as slowly, examining the front page. Nothing there, he concluded. He went on and flipped through the rest of the paper, looking for the things he would have to do that day.

The first was at eight. He had plenty of time. It was only 6:30. He went to the kitchen and fed the cat that was meowing and purring at his feet. He scratched the cat's head before going to the small dresser in his bedroom and pulling out his clothes for that day.

The cat finished his breakfast and came trotting into the bedroom, eager to keep his master company.  The old man smiled at the cat and scratched behind its ears. He ran a hand through his salt and pepper hair and then took his long gray overcoat off the coat rack and stuffed the paper into one of the inside pockets.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gary stepped out of the house that morning with a suit on and his long black overcoat on top. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the red scarf that his mother had made him. He smiled at it and draped it over his neck. He looked back at his house, smiling. He turned on the ball of his foot and began to head toward the office.

Gary jogged up the steps to the El, whistling. For some reason, he was in a wonderful mood. He wanted to share his happiness with everyone. He put his hands in his pockets while waiting for the train. Smiling, he fingered the anniversary announcement that he was going to place in the Sun-Times as a surprise for Marcia. He had to drop it off later that day.

The train pulled up and Gary boarded with the rest of the people on the platform. He held on to one of the poles and looked at his watch. He was running a few minutes behind this morning. He rolled his eyes, sure that Pritchard, his boss, would be on his case as soon as he walked in the door.

The El stopped. People pushed past Gary to get to the platform. Gary watched as just as many pushed their way onto the train. He tried to get out of the way of oncoming people. He was pushed into an older man reading the paper.

"Sorry, sir," Gary said, quickly.

The older man looked up and smiled. "It's okay, son."

Gary smiled back politely, but looked out the windows of the train. He had never been real fond of the daily commute to the office. It wasn't his thing. He would have much rather been at home in a pair of jeans and a comfortable flannel shirt. But he knew also that he wanted to keep Marcia in a good lifestyle. They'd been married for a few years, and Gary was happier than
he'd been in his whole life. He was finally able to meet a girl that his parents approved of and that he was head over heels for.

Marcia's parents were a different story. They'd never liked Gary. Her father didn't think that Gary would ever be good enough for Marcia. Gary was determined to prove them wrong. Even if that did mean that he would suffer through an office job all day.

The train stopped and it was Gary's turn to get off. He pushed past the people, bumping the old man again. Gary gave an apologetic smile. He stepped off the train and took a deep breath of the air. It was a new, great day.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The old man walked down the street, briskly. He looked at his watch, a thing of much importance to him for the past thirty years. He pulled the newspaper out of his coat pocket and looked at the story one more time. "Matthew Teller, 35, was struck by a car waiting to cross the street on the corner of Lake Shore and Michigan. Teller, a local entrepreneur, was pushed into the street when two of the men behind him began to argue. He leaves behind a wife and a young daughter."

The old man shook his head and looked at his watch again. The people of this town were just becoming more and more hateful. He didn't know how much longer he could handle the responsibilities of the paper. Twenty years ago when he would do a save, he would at least receive a thank you.  Now, he was lucky if the person looked at him, or acknowledged him at all.

The old man spotted the fight and also Teller standing as far away from the two men as possible. He rushed in just as one man pushed the other. The old man grabbed the back of Teller's coat as he was forced into the street. He leaned forward a great deal, but managed to catch his balance before being hit by the Chrysler that was heading straight for him.

"Whoa," Teller breathed as the car zoomed by him. The old man let go of his coat. "Thank you," Teller said, extending his hand. The old man smiled and extended his own hand, a little stained with ink.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Gary had an extra spring in his step as he stopped at the newsstand like he did every morning. "Hey, Sherman," he said, smiling at the vendor.

"Hey, kid. Crazy weather, huh?" He paused for a moment waiting for a reaction from Gary. All he got was a small grin. Defeated, he continued, "You want the usual?"

"Yeah," Gary said, looking the papers and magazines over while Sherman got him a Sun-Times and a pack of gum. "Thanks," Gary said, taking the pack of gum and opening it, pulling out a piece and popping it into his mouth. He shoved the trash into his pocket and picked up his paper.

"See you tomorrow, kid."

"Tomorrow," Gary answered. "Right, see you then." He smiled at Sherman and then continued his walk to the office.

As Gary neared the building, he heard someone calling out his name. He turned around and saw his best friend, Chuck, jogging toward him. "You're here early," Gary said.

"Yeah, I know," Chuck answered. "Pritchard said that if I was late again, he'd fire me."

Gary scoffed. "Chuck, you know he won't do that."

Chuck shrugged. "I figure if I show up for a few days on time, he'll get off my back."

Gary grinned. That was Chuck for you. He was always looking for the way around things. He always had a new "get rich quick" scheme for Gary to try out. Of course, Gary knew Chuck to well to go for one of his schemes. A lot of the time, Gary wondered how he and Chuck could have been friends. They roomed together in college and just bonded. They were both only children. Chuck was the more outgoing, loud, fun one, while Gary was the typical shy All-American boy. "A face like apple pie," his mother used to say.

The two walked into their office building through the revolving door and stepped into the elevator together. Gary pressed the button for their floor and leaned against the wall, listening to Chuck talk about his latest endeavor. Nodding and smiling when he thought that it was right.

"You could get in on it with me, buddy. We'd be partners all the way; 60/40 split."

Gary grinned. "Why do you get sixty percent?"

"Well," Chuck began, "I did tell you about it."

The elevator dinged and the two friends got out. They walked to the front desk where Marissa Clark was sitting, answering phones. "Hello, boys," she said.

"How do you do that?" Chuck asked because Marissa was blind.

"I recognize your cologne, Chuck," she said, wrinkling her nose. "And I heard you talking."

"Any new tips for me this morning, Marissa?" Chuck asked.

"Yeah," she said, leaning in close to the two men. "You better watch your back and make some money or Pritchard will fire you." She smiled evilly.

Chuck grinned at her. "Thanks," he said, his voice thick with sarcasm.

"Welcome," she said, sweetly.

Gary smiled at the two of them bickering like they did every morning. "We still on for lunch today, Marissa?"

"Sure, Gary. You two better go get to work or you will be in trouble."

"No more than usual," Chuck muttered as they walked away.

"I heard that!" Marissa called after them.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The old man walked down the street toward the Sun-Times building, the paper sticking out of his pocket. It was already 12:30. He didn't have another save until 4 that afternoon. He climbed the steps to the doors and pushed one open. Already the atmosphere of the newspaper business could be felt. There were people standing in the lobby, waiting for the elevator with small notebooks open, scanning notes. He smiled and looked down at his hands, rubbing them together as he remembered the feel of the ink underneath his fingernails and covering his fingertips.

He made his way past the people at the elevators and headed for the stairs.  He needed to go down to the basement to see Morris, the archivist, about a story that he wanted to take a look at.

"Morris?" he called.

"Snow!" came the answer. A sixty-something African American walked out from behind a shelf. He extended his hand. "What are you doing here?" Morris glanced around the floor for a moment. "Where's the cat?"

Lucius Snow smiled. "Probably warm on the bed right about now. Do you still have any of my boxes around here?"

Morris thought for a moment. "I haven't seen anything around for a while, but I can take a look for you." He continued and told Snow to stay there and that he would yell if he found anything.

Snow looked around in the dark basement. He hadn't really been by there since his retirement. As he looked around, he heard Morris yell.

"Found something!" he called. He emerged holding a rather small box about the size of a shoebox.

Snow looked relieved. He took the box from Morris and opened the lid immediately. He looked up at Morris who was still standing there looking at him. Snow smiled uncomfortably. "Can I have a minute, Morris?"

"Sure, sure. Just call me if you need anything else."

"Thanks," Snow answered. He sat down at Morris's desk and began to sit through the stories that he had saved. It had to be in there. He knew he'd copied it and saved it. After a minute, he still didn't see it. Frustrated, he dumped the contents onto the desk. He looked at every story on that desk. He slammed his fist down.

"Something wrong?" Morris asked, coming up behind Snow.

"No, I just didn't find what I wanted. That's all. I just don't remember where they are," his voice trailed off and then he began talking to the archivist again. "Thanks anyway, Morris." He pushed the chair away from the desk and stood, putting his coat on, ready to leave.

"No problem," Morris said, eyeing the older man strangely. "Have a good day, Mr. Snow."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gary pulled his overcoat tightly around him. The wind had sent a chill through his body. He just had two more blocks until he would be at the Times building. He stopped at the end of the block and waited for the light to change. He wrapped his scarf tightly around his neck. He'd gone to lunch with Marissa and Chuck. They had bickered the whole time. He laughed and smiled. He knew that he was lucky to have such great friends.

The light changed and a small group of people crossed the street along with Gary. He walked slowly the rest of the way to the Sun-Times.

He looked up at the large building and smiled. He looked down and dug through his pocket, trying to find the piece of paper that the announcement was written on. He pulled out the contents of his pocket and held it in his hand. There was a glove, a few gum wrappers, the announcement, another few pieces of paper, and Gary's red pocketknife that he'd been given when he was a kid.

He pulled the announcement away from the rest of the junk in his pocket and began to head back into the building. Fighting with his pocket, he tried to open the door. He saw an old man wanting to come back through and he took a step back. The old man came through the door and accidentally bumped Gary. The contents of Gary's pocket fell to the ground.

"I'm so sorry," the old man said, bending down to help Gary pick up his things.

"That's okay," Gary said, reaching for the announcement and his glove.

The old man picked up the pocketknife and smiled. Gary saw him looking at the knife. He didn't understand the look of happiness. It was just a pocketknife. It was something that he'd had since he was a kid. It wasn't really anything special: red with his initials, G.H., on it. He couldn't even remember where he'd gotten it.

Gary looked up and held his hand out for the knife. "Thanks," he said, as the man put the knife into his hand.

"You're welcome," the old man said, still smiling.

Gary couldn't help but thinking that there was something the old man knew that he didn't. He stood up, putting his things back into his pocket. "I've got to," he said, turning around and pointing to the Sun-Times doors.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The old man nodded. Then, under his breath he said, "Live your life, Gary Hobson. I have faith in you." He watched the young man walk through the doors of the building. He shivered for a moment, wrapping his old gray coat around him and began his walk home.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gary turned around when he entered the doors. That face looked familiar, he thought. He concentrated for a moment and then remembered. "The guy from the El," he breathed. He nodded knowing that was it. He took the announcement in his hand and went to the front desk.

The receptionist working held her finger up, indicating for him to hold on a moment. He leaned against the counter and smiled. So far, nothing had ruined his day. Hell, he thought, nothing's going to ruin my week even. The woman finished what she was doing and turned to Gary. "What can I do for you?" she asked.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The elevator doors dinged as they opened to reveal Lucius Snow standing inside. "Thanks, Boswell," he said, stepping out.

"Anytime, Mr. Snow. You have a good night," Boswell managed before the elevator doors shut again, leaving Snow in the hall by himself.

Lucius pulled the keys to his hotel apartment out of his pocket. He had some things he needed to take care of. He closed the door behind him and greeted the cat. "You hungry?" he asked the purring animal. "Come on," he said, picking the cat up, "we'll get you some tuna."

As the cat was devouring the contents of the tuna can, Lucius was digging through the drawers of the kitchenette, looking for a pen and a couple of pieces of paper. "Ah ha," he said, pulling out two pieces of slightly crumpled paper. He set them on the top of the counter and continued his search for a pen. After a moment, he found a pen that worked and set to work at the small table that sat against the wall.

"How do you start this kind of letter?" Snow asked the cat. He only got a confused meow in return. "Hmm." He sat for a few moments, looking at the blank papers. Finally, he started writing.

Dear Gary,
I imagine by the time you get this letter, you've got a whole lot more
questions than I've got answers. I can tell you that I wasn't the first to
get the paper and I doubt that you'll be the last, but I am certain that by
now whatever debt you think you owe me has been paid in full a thousand times
over. In this you've found your gift and I know you serve it with honor.

Snow paused, thinking.

I can tell you that we are the messengers between time and its keeper. You of
all people know how fragile life is. So somewhere between the pages of our
newspaper, Gary Hobson, find time to live it.
Lucius Snow

Satisfied with what he had written, Snow put the letter into an envelope and scrawled "Gary Hobson" on the outside. He left it on the table where he would see it in the morning. "Come on, Cat," Lucius said. "I'm tired."

The cat trotted behind him to the bed and jumped up on it, making itself comfortable while Lucius changed. The old man pulled the covers back and climbed into the bed, putting one hand behind his head on the pillow and the other he stroked the cat with.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gary unlocked the door to the house he shared with Marcia and called for her. "Honey, I'm home!"

She peeked around the corner from the kitchen. "How Ricky Ricardo," she said, a hint of annoyance in her voice.

Gary didn't pick up on it. He didn't pick up on a lot of things. He went into the kitchen and kissed her on the cheek. "What's for dinner?" he asked.

"I made a salad for myself, you can see what's in the fridge," she replied, coldly.

"Okay," he said slowly. He opened the door and looked inside. It was practically bare. "Hey," he said, letting the door close again by itself, "why don't you put that salad back in there and we'll order a nice pizza and get a 2 liter of soda?" He put his arms around his wife's waist and rested his chin on her shoulder, lightly kissing her neck.

"I don't think so, Gary," she said, shrugging him off. She took her salad and went into the living room, making herself comfortable on the couch.

Gary followed her. He wasn't really hungry anyway. He settled next to her on the couch while she flipped through channels on the television. "Our anniversary in is in two days," he reminded her. She just grunted and nodded. "What do you want to do?" She shrugged. "How about I cook something for you? A nice Italian dinner. I can go all out. I'll get wine and we can get out the
candles for the table."

"Sounds fine," Marcia said quickly. "Look, I'm tired," she said, standing. "I'm going up to bed. Try not to wake me up when you come in."

Gary watched his wife walk back into the kitchen. He scratched the back of his head. He didn't understand her sometimes. He shrugged, guessing she was just in some mood. He took his time alone to plan out the diner that he was going to make.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Meow. Thump.

Snow looked at the clock. The cat was right on time as usual. He threw the covers off to the side of the bed and made his way to the door. He let the cat in and bent down to get the paper as he did every day. When he put the paper down on the table, the letter to Gary fluttered to the floor.

"Pick that up for me?" he asked the cat. The cat just sat next to him, swishing his tail on the floor. "Thanks a lot," he said, groaning as he bent over to get the letter. "I'm too old for this, you know," Snow joked.

The cat meowed softly.

Snow put the letter back on the table and opened up the paper. There was nothing on the first page, second, third, or fourth. "What are you trying to pull here, cat?" he asked. The cat swished his tail again. Lucius went all the way through the paper and there was absolutely nothing for him to do. He drummed his fingers on the table. He couldn't remember the paper ever letting him have a day off. He shrugged and decided to go about the day's business.

After dressing, Snow put on his coat. He put the letter to Gary in a pocket in his old gray coat. Then, he took his hat off the rack and set it on top of his head. He grabbed a handful of change and put it in his pant pocket along with the copy of the key to the safe deposit box.

He walked down the narrow hall and pressed the button for the elevator. The doors opened and Boswell was once again inside.

"Good morning, Mr. Snow," he greeted.

"Morning, Boswell," Snow replied.

"Where are we off to today, Mr. Snow?"

"I don't know," Snow said. For the first time in years, he didn't know where he needed to be. The elevator reached the first level.

"Have a good day sir!" Boswell called as Snow walked out of the building.

Snow shoved the newspaper into his pocket and headed off toward the Illinois Trust Bank.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gary slapped the alarm clock off quickly. He showered and dressed and then went downstairs. As he poured his second cup of coffee, the doorbell rang. He jogged to the door. He opened it to reveal Chuck.

"Hey Buddy!" Chuck greeted loudly.

"Shhh!" Gary hissed. "Marcia's still sleeping."

"So?" Chuck asked, almost as loud. "Come on, man. If we don't get moving, we'll be late."

"Yeah, okay," Gary said, setting his coffee mug in the sink.

"Gary," Chuck said, growing impatient.

Gary grabbed his coat and scarf and headed out of the house.

Chuck and Gary arrived at the office a few moments late. They greeted Marissa at the front desk.

"Hi boys," she said. "Gary, Pritchard wants to see you."

"Me?" Gary asked. "Why?"

Marissa could only shrug. "He just said to send you to his office when you got here."

"Okay, Marissa, thanks." Gary walked to his desk, throwing his coat over his chair and then straightening his tie before going in to see his boss.

He knocked lightly on the door.

"Come in!" was the gruff reply from inside. "Hobson!" Pritchard said when Gary opened the door.

"Sir," Gary said.

"Sit down, Mr. Hobson," Pritchard said, motioning to one of the three chairs in front of his desk. Gary picked the far right one and sat down slowly. When he sat, Pritchard stood. "Do you know what the purpose of a business is, Hobson?"

Gary was confused. Wasn't he in trouble for something? He rubbed the back of his neck. "To make money," he said.

"That's right. To make money. You know you're not making me too much money, Hobson."

"I'm sorry?" Gary said, not sure what Pritchard wanted out of him.

"Ah, get out of here, Hobson!" Pritchard yelled.

Gary practically jumped up and ran out of the office. Pritchard slammed the door behind him. Gary walked back to his desk trying to figure out what that was about.

"How'd it go?" Chuck asked when Gary sat down.

"I'm not sure I know what happened," Gary said.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Snow leaned against the wall at the aquarium. He looked over at the otter. It swam so freely even though it was caged in. He felt the paper sticking him in the back. Sometimes, he felt like that caged him in. It seemed that he felt it more now than he did when he was younger. When I was younger, he reasoned, it was exhilarating. Now, it just seemed exhausting. He put his hand up against the glass and wished the otter well.

He walked around for a while longer before going down to get something to eat. He chose a hamburger and grabbed a bag of chips. He dug the money out of his pocket and paid the boy who was working the register. Snow took his tray and set it down at a table next to one of the windows. He ate in silence, looking out onto the lake. Suddenly, a little girl ran up beside his chair
and pointed out the window.

"Look!" she cried. "It's the ocean."

Her mother followed closely behind. She apologized to Lucius. "No," she corrected her daughter. "That's Lake Michigan."

"A lake machine?" the little girl asked. The mother laughed and led the little girl away, explaining about the Great Lakes.

Snow smiled. He wished he'd had children. That was one of his regrets in life. He'd never married. He shook the thoughts from his head. Getting up, he put his coat back on and took his tray up to be cleaned. He climbed the stairs back up to the main floor. He had to leave. He was becoming tired and he still had one more thing to check on.

The air outside was crisp. Snow pulled the collar of his jacket all to way up over his ears. He pulled his gloves out of his pocket and put them on. He began to walk across town. He'd finally remembered what he'd done with the stories he was looking for the day before.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The small locker contained two boxes that were pretty well beaten up. Snow tore the lid off of one. There on the top were the stories that he had been looking for. He held them up, examining each one. When he got to the one about the 11-year-old boy who would have been struck by a truck, he paused, reading it again.

He sighed. His close calls. The stories that he was almost too late to change. And then, of course, there was the one that he couldn't. He saw the Kennedy assassination story. He folded that one up and stuck it in his pocket. He vowed to burn it later. The stories served a painful reminder to how precious life was.

In spite of himself, Snow yawned. Again, he was exhausted. He looked at his watch. It was almost nine o'clock. He'd been there a lot longer than he thought. He closed the box and the locker. He walked out of the building, the stories weighing heavily on his mind.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Snow opened the door to his apartment at nine-thirty that night. He yawned again. Not even bothering to turn on the light, he threw his jacket across the small table and went to change his clothes and get into bed.

He crawled into the nice, warm bed and again laid with his hand behind his head. The cat crawled up beside him and fell asleep next to him. Snow's breathing became slower and deeper. The cat lifted its head. He mewed softly. There was no more movement from his master. The cat pawed at the still body. With no response, he jumped up and curled up on the old man's chest, falling asleep again.

There, on the floor, in the pocket of Snow's pants was the Sun-Times. A space opened up on the Obituary page and Snow's picture and a small obituary appeared.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gary rode the El home on his anniversary. He had a large bag full of groceries. He smiled, surveying the bag and the flowers that were on top. He only had two more stops. He tapped his foot in anticipation.

Gary practically skipped down the block to his house. He hopped up the steps and tried to open the door. It was locked. He tried his keys. "Marcia?" he called. He backed down the steps, looking at the window above him. "Marcia, it's me." The small window above him opened and he smiled. His wife appeared. "Hon," he said. Suddenly, she disappeared and reappeared again. "Hon? Happy anniversary!"

"Heads up!" Marcia yelled as she flung Gary's suitcase out the window.

Gary's smile faded when he saw his suitcase flying at him. He jumped back and it landed, its contents spilling. He looked up at the window, dumbfounded for a moment. What had just happened? He shook his head to clear his mind. He walked up and left the bag of groceries and the flowers on the front step. Slowly, he began to gather his things and shove them back into the suitcase.

The clasps on the suitcase closed with a snap. Gary stood up, holding the handle of the suitcase in his hand. He looked back at his house one last time. With a sigh, he looked down the street and began to walk, wondering what was next.


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