"Signs and Portents"
Richard wasn't the first one to predict Claire's doom. He was just the first one she ever believed.
On her eleventh birthday, Claire received a Oujia board; when it spelled out FEAR THE SKY, they all giggled, accusing one another. When she and Brenda taught each other to read Tarot cards, they thought it was funny how often the darkest cards would show up in Claire's future. Death. The Nine of Swords. The Hanging Man.
Even her tea leaves were suspect, according to Brenda. But Claire seldom drank tea.
When Ethan grabbed Charlie, she remembered The Hanging Man and cried.
"In The Beginning"
"This is their camp," Locke whispers. "Their HQ."
Is it? Sure, okay, Boone thinks. He's trying very hard not to panic, and doing a real nice job, just in case anybody wants to notice.
As they peer down the corridor, Boone can see only the outlines of Claire's captors. The Shadows, he names them in his mind.
A whimper echoes, high and trembling like a shiver. Claire. Boone half-rises to his feet before Locke drags him back down.
"We have to leave," Locke mutters.
"Leave her here? No. No way."
"We need the others."
Boone realizes what this means.
"Meditations on the Abyss"
When Jack murdered – no, he tries not to use that word – when he euthanized the marshal, he told himself it would be the only violation of his Hippocratic Oath.
Then he thought Sawyer had the inhalers. As he had paced through the bamboo, hearing Sawyer scream, Jack had believed, wholeheartedly, it was for the best.
And now Locke and Boone are telling him to make war.
"Can't we talk to them?" Shannon protests.
Charlie's eyes are dark. "Actually, no."
Jack doesn't know where his descent into blood will end – but it's not going to be here. "We have to fight."
Sayid says, "Locke brought enough knives to arm all the men, and to leave with the women."
"Excuse me." Kate folds her arms. "Where is it written that the army is men-only?"
Sayid blinks; he knew Westerners sent their women to fight, but he hadn't thought to see it.
Jack says, flatly, "No."
"That's ridiculous –"
"No, it's NOT. If Claire's baby doesn't make it –"
"He's afraid they will rape you," Sayid says. Best to be blunt. "Hold you captive until you bear the child they want."
Kate slowly nods, but her fighting spirit remains. "I'll defend the cave."
"The Coming of Shadows"
"What can be happening?" Jin whispers. "The pregnant girl – she has been gone too long. I don't like this."
Sun knows what's happening, and it terrifies her. She nearly destroys her own secret to tell him – but then he would just be scared too.
Kate is ripping up the clothes nobody could wear, for bandages. Sayid is sharpening sticks to use as weapons. Shannon insults everyone, to show she isn't afraid. Poor Walt has his arms around his dog; it's his only comfort.
When did they all begin to matter to her?
We'll fight, Sun thinks, heart defiant. We'll win.
"A Call to Arms"
"We want you to join us," the doctor says.
Sawyer snorts. "Well, gee. I'm touched. You got a Hallmark card there for me?"
Jack doesn't smile. No surprise there, Sawyer thinks. "Every able-bodied man should be in the party. Sayid's going to try, even though his leg – well, he's going. You should be part of the team."
That admission should have cost Jack more, in Sawyer's opinion. "I think it's funny how you guys need me all of a sudden."
"We don't need you." Jack's voice is hard. "Claire needs you."
When he puts it that way – "Let's go, doc."
"What do they want with Claire?" Shannon says. It is the first evidence Locke has seen that the girl cares for anyone but herself.
"The baby," Charlie whispers. "They wanted her baby."
"But why?" Kate doesn't seem to expect a real answer. And then Locke's mind provides one, as he glances downward and sees Walt – with the backgammon board.
Locke has known from the beginning that this island's power listens to Walt; the boy is deeply attuned to it in ways adults cannot be. But a child born here – born to the island –
The child would control that power. Completely.
"Voices of Authority"
Jack watches the sunset. Might be the last one he ever sees, after all.
"You're wondering if you did the right thing," Locke says. "You did. Don't doubt yourself."
"People are going to die because of my decision."
"If we fight well, people will also live." Is it Jack's imagination, or is Locke a little too okay with this? He keeps talking: "It's more than reclaiming Claire and her baby. War – unites people. Makes them one. You feel it, don't you?"
"Yes," Jack admits. "But I can still wish for another way."
"And that," Locke says, "is why you lead."
"Point of No Return"
Just after dark, Captain Falafel has to go and have himself a brainstorm.
"Join them," Sayid says. "Go to Ethan. Proclaim your allegiance."
"Like HELL." Sawyer's willing to let that torture shit go, but he has limits. "I ain't on his side!"
"That's not what he means." Jack insists; he's seen some other angle to this. Sawyer hopes he'll share. "Think – we've been arguing. Ethan knows that."
Holy crap. They want him to be their guy on the inside. More than that – they trust him to be.
"When y'all comin?"
Jack actually smiles. "We'll strike at sunset."
"I'll be ready."
"All Alone in the Night"
They killed Charlie.
Claire keeps thinking about that, though it's stupid. Charlie – he was sweet, and he tried to look after her, but after all, she only knew the guy for two weeks. He's dead now, and there's nothing more she can do for him.
But it's easier to grieve for poor dead Charlie than to wonder what's going to happen next.
Ethan looks at her belly with a hunger too grotesque to be sexual. Then he steps away, leaving her alone in this cellar.
What will they do to my baby? Claire wonders.
No, better to grieve for Charlie.
"Secrets of the Soul"
Kate hasn't told Jack her secrets; now she cannot. It would only burden him when his burdens are greatest.
But if she has no secret to share – maybe she can at least give him one truth.
When their eyes meet across the fire that night, she asks him a wordless question. His sharp, indrawn breath is the only answer she needs.
They find each other later, outside the cave. His hands are rough as he pulls her close. Desperately, Kate kisses him, touches him, tastes him.
As Jack enters her, their cries mingling, she thinks – at least we have this.
"Spider in the Web"
At dawn, Ethan slips the hypodermic needle into Claire's arm, ignoring her sobs. Today, he thinks. The drug should induce her labor today.
By nightfall, they'll possess the key to this island at last. They'll rule the land, instead of the land ruling them.
"Ethan! It's – one of them."
He rises to see the man called Sawyer, who holds out his hands. "You boys are the ones to watch," he says. "I know which team I mean to be on."
This one hates the doctor's camp; he thinks only of himself. And they could use another fighter. Ethan smiles. "Welcome."
"The War Prayer"
In the years after, they talked of it together, calling it "Claire's War." The morning when it all began, they spoke only to God.
Don't let them see how scared I am, Boone prays as Jack duct-tapes the knives to their hands, so they couldn't be dropped or taken away.
All those years, I hoped to one day serve a truly holy cause, Sayid thinks. You have at last sent me one. Thank you.
Charlie, his head bowed, only thinks, Just let us get to Claire in time. I don't care if I live or die. We fight for her.
"Points of Departure"
Michael holds out the knife, speaking slowly. "You – help Kate -- protect – the cave. Got it?"
Jin, not magically granted English fluency by Michael's shouting, still looks confused. Whatever, Michael thinks. If Ethan's crazy-ass bunch shows up here, Jin will figure it out.
Sun's eyes meet Michael's, just for a moment. It's the only goodbye they'll have.
He steps past Shannon, who's hugging Boone, and pretends not to see the look Jack gives Kate. Instead, Michael kneels by his son, holding him tight.
"I love you, Dad," Walt whispers. He never said that before.
Two weeks can be a lifetime.
"A Voice in the Wilderness"
Claire holds her breath -- three – four – five. Exhale. Oh, no.
A quick move at her side makes her jump – but it's Sawyer. "Stay calm."
"Easy for you to say!"
"I ain't really joined up with these guys –"
"You're a spy." When his eyes go wide, she snaps, "I'm not stupid, you know."
"Touchy!" Sawyer glares. "Is this the thanks rescuing usually gets? Might not try it again."
She forces herself to calm down. "It's just – I'm in labor."
"Fuck all." He runs a hand through his hair. "They'll be here at sunset."
Claire hopes she has that long.
"And Now For A Word"
"I'm a lover," Hurley says, "not a fighter."
Nobody really laughs, though Boone gives him a queasy grin. Jack just says, "Let's hope you're both."
Making jokes is Hurley's usual contribution, after all. Certainly he doesn't generally end up with a knife duct-taped to his hand, the expectation being that he's going to kill someone with it. His main experience of warfare involves video games or 20-sided dice.
This, he thinks, is just too damn weird. By tonight – I might've killed somebody. Or I might be dead.
Pretend it's the X-Box, Hurley decides. It's cheap, but it's all he's got.
"A View From The Gallery"
"This is nuts," Shannon says. "We're all strong. You think we wouldn't make better fighters than Hurley the Goodyear Blimp?"
"We're staying here." Kate's voice is firm. Maybe it's easy to be casual when it's not your brother's life on the line.
"If you can't knee some rapist in the balls –"
"I can kill a man." Wow, Kate sounds way too sure about that. "But Jack and Sayid – they'd try to protect us. And they'd get themselves hurt."
Yes, that is just the kind of crackhead thing Jack and Sayid would do.
Crap, now she's started crying.
"There All The Honor Lies"
Locke has waited years for this moment.
His leader stands by his side, hands clasped behind him, trusting in Locke's judgment. His soldiers are grouped nearby, their weapons glinting in the afternoon light. His enemy is close, suspecting nothing.
And his noble cause – the lives of a child and a woman, all the honor a man could ask for in a century – is there for the seizing.
"Boone, Steve – you two head toward the white rock. Hurley, Charlie, go in with Jack on the right."
"And you?" Jack says.
Locke smiles as the sunset turns the sky crimson. "Dead ahead."
Jack never thought it would be easy.
One of them turns his head, and Jack's med-school training kicks in, whispering, Jugular vein. A slash, and dark blood sprays out in a flume. It tastes like metal.
When Jack stumbles, another opponent runs to take him down. He's wearing shorts, which means the femoral artery is just a stab away.
He has spent so many years putting human bodies back together; Jack never realized that it was the perfect training for tearing them apart. But maybe he should have.
Maybe this is his father's true legacy – knowing just where to cut.
"No Surrender, No Retreat"
I will not leave Claire, Charlie thinks. Not this time.
It is the only battle cry he needs. Strengthened by her name, he finds the power to drive a knife into a man's heart. Driven by his resolve, he does not shudder the first time he sees someone fall dead by his hand.
Driveshaft sang a song about going to war; the lyrics were easy to write, composed as they were by drunken boys at a bar, who knew nothing of battle. Charlie has better words now.
Only death made me leave her before. Even death won't stop me now.
When the shouting starts, Sawyer punches the guy closest to him and runs for Claire. "You okay?"
"No!" But she puts her arms around his neck as he lifts – and godDAMN, a pregnant woman is heavy. Poor girl's past walking, but how is he supposed to get away with her like this?
Just as they stumble into the dusk, Ethan appears before them, face savage. He raises a machete, and Sawyer wonders if hell is nice this time of year.
WHAM! Ethan goes down – to reveal Sayid, a club in his hands.
"Far as I'm concerned," Sawyer gasps, "you're okay."
"We won!" Hurley exults. "Holy shit, we won!"
Michael laughs with him, his skin hot and his pulse racing with an excitement he's never known. They are running back through the forest now, Sawyer and Steve carrying Claire as the others follow. The Shadows are too wounded to pursue.
I made it, Michael thinks. I'm a warrior.
"Stop laughing," Sayid orders as he limps beside them.
"Hey, dude, haven't you ever heard of being glad you're alive?"
"You have taken life," Sayid says. "Do not forget that."
Michael protests, "Those monsters – "
They finish their journey in silence.
Holding the rag to his face, Locke waits patiently by the campfire. There are pleasant things to see: Michael hugging his boy, Boone talking to Shannon.
Of course, the view isn't what it used to be. A small price to pay, in Locke's opinion.
Jack runs out from the cave, obviously rushed. He grimaces as he pulls away the rag. "Keep up the pressure, but –"
"Go on and say it."
"I don't think I can save your eye."
"It's all right. Go back to Claire. She needs you more than I do." Locke thinks of Odin and is content.
Claire cannot remember a time when she wasn't pushing.
"Good, Claire, that's good," Jack murmurs. She can feel his hands almost inside her, ready. Thank God it's Jack.
Squeezing her hand, Charlie whispers, "You can do it."
"I know." She has never felt so strong. "I'm glad you're here."
Once she was afraid to give birth on this island, but the last days taught her what terror truly is. Now, surrounded by friends and – she glances at Charlie – by love, she will waste no more time on fear.
She breathes out and pushes, bringing forth her courage and her joy.
When the baby is washed and Claire cared for, Jack sends Charlie to invite the others in.
They all gather around, as solemn as any Magi could have been in Bethlehem. Kate kneels by Jack's side, her hand gently squeezing his; he smiles, feeling like a healer once again.
"He's beautiful," Boone whispers. A few people nod, but nobody else speaks for a while. There is nothing more to say.
Claire's face is alight as she cuddles the child close, swaddling him in a blue Oceanic blanket. At last she murmurs to her son, "Look around. This is your family."
"River of Souls"
Two hours after the birth, they change sentry shifts. Never again can their borders go unguarded. Boone volunteers; Shannon comes along. Nice to see her trying to be useful, though Boone bets it won't last.
"So, are you all He-Man now?" Shannon raises her eyebrows.
"Hardly." Boone kinda thinks he hit one guy once.
But so many of the Shadows did die; the mud was slick with their blood. Boone imagines it soaking into the island itself. What they did today – good and bad – feels like it changed everything.
On a vine nearby, a small flower curls open, bright red.
"Sleeping in Light"
At dawn, the only ones still awake are Jack and Kate. She holds his hand and lets him talk.
"This feeling – this comradeship –" His sigh is heavy with regret. "It won't last."
He's right; tomorrow they'll all be bickering about cooking duty again. But it doesn't matter. "We found it once. We'll find it again."
"Kate – if what happened between us, last night – if that was just –"
She kisses him deeply, then whispers, "Just the beginning."
He holds her as they fall asleep in the pink light of daybreak, and it feels as though the world is new.
"Messages From Earth"
Locke wonders why Claire keeps staring at his dead eye. Other than that, the morning of the child's christening is perfect.
"What are you going to name him?" Walt asks, weaving Vincent a collar of flowers for the occasion.
"Still don't know," Claire says with a shrug.
"If I might suggest," Locke offers, "Adam."
She laughs. "Because we're in paradise?"
He just shrugs. The others perhaps do not know the pun in Hebrew, or realize that Adam means "earth." The island will speak to this child someday; what answers will it reveal?
Claire finally says, "You know – I like Adam."