It starts likes this: Jack leaves.
He leaves and well, she keeps on living because at this point, after the island, after the boat, after the secrets and lies and half-truths and everything else that hunts her at night, what can she do except keep on living the way she's supposed to? Nothing, really. And Aaron snores lightly on her shoulder and she's been standing at the border between California and Oregon for an hour and. And. And.
And she's between running and staying and she's never been more afraid to run in her life. It's what she does, always, what she's done ever since she could. Run, run and run away and maybe the bad things will never catch up. Right. No, it never happens that way, not really, not when it counts, when she needs it the most.
She sighs and thinks, really, I should know better by now. Aaron is heavy on her arms and she holds him tighter – if she could let go, she would have by now – and she thinks some more: I need to get back. Because, well, because she’s a different person now. She is, really. She is she is she is and if she repeats it enough times maybe it will start being true. Maybe.
So she gets back, climbs in the car, turns on the engine, and. Stays there. She has a home she needs to go back to, she has a kid that needs to sleep in his own bed instead of in the backseat and she needs to face the fact that she got left but that is not the way Kate Austen lives her life. Keep on living means skip town and land in a different state, it means taking a dive from a freaking helicopter. It does not mean going back home. So she doesn’t.
She doesn’t cross the border either.
Instead she drives for a few hours and lands outside Hurley’s house. Because… she’s crazy? Yes. No. She doesn’t really know. He’s Hurley and he’s safe and she never feels safe. Hasn’t felt safe since – it’s not worth it to remember. It’s 6 am and she probably woke him up but all he says is hey. Hey, she replies.
Aaron clutches to her shirt and opens his eyes. He closes them and goes back to sleep, clutching her shirt on his tiny tiny hands and she kisses his head. That’s what moms do and she didn’t even have to remind herself. Scary.
“Okay then,” Hurley says, and steps away from the door. She follows because that’s what she’s here for. And then she stands there, in the middle of the lobby and asks herself what the hell is so wrong with her that she doesn’t know how to keep from spreading the misery. She lays down Aaron and he stirs a little but it doesn’t matter, now. She’s already screwed up his life enough that him waking up in a strange place will not even show in the scale.
She nods and follows him into the kitchen and then, then she hugs him. Rests her head against his chest. He’s warm and strong and runs his hand through her hair. She tries to control the tears and the thoughts of what the hell Kate? What the hell? And then she looks at him and thinks: okay, then, and she kisses him.