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Destination Nowhere

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"You're making me seasick."

James stops his pacing and looks at her with his eyebrows raised.

Juliet shrugs and motions with her hands, mimicking his back-and-forth motion.

He folds his arms and leans against the wall instead, scowling through the gap in the paisley curtains. The Dharma camp is dark and silent, the moon dull behind a blanket of cloud.

"You only said two weeks," Juliet says eventually.

"I know I did," he says, sounding resigned. Like he's backed himself into a corner with that spontaneous little promise. Just give me two weeks.

"You can stay," she adds. "I don't mind, James."

He gives her a look over his shoulder that she can't quite decipher. "Who'd have your back?" he asks.

She wishes she could throw a quip at him to keep things lighthearted. Maybe she could have, two weeks ago before she became so frayed and rattled. Maybe she could have if it weren't such a small hour of the day. She looks at the clock on the wall and they're so far between sunset and sunrise it hurts just to think about it. She looks down at the floor and doesn't say anything, and James looks out the window into the dark and doesn't say anything either.

It's either another goodbye, another person lost into the void — or it's another two weeks, a month, a year, a lifetime on this island. One of them has to lose out, and Juliet is done sacrificing herself.

"What are you goin' back to?" he asks eventually.

"Nothing." Her voice is level as she admits this. There is nothing for her anywhere anymore.

"You think it's a good idea to run off to nothin'?" he asks.

"No." She doesn't care how stubborn she sounds. She doesn't care that he doesn't understand. The only thing she cares about is getting on that submarine.

James blows a sigh and sits on the couch beside her, loose-limbed and barefoot. He'd had two Dharma beers with dinner, and then helped her wash dishes as a Patsy Cline record skipped and crackled from the living room. Their two weeks here has been helplessly domestic, and it's easy to forget about smoke monsters and time-travel nosebleeds and the possibility of losing a hand to a maniac wielding a machete in the jungle.

"I have to go," she whispers, and her spine prickles as she remembers all of those things — everything lurking past the walls of their little yellow house. Everything she's already been through, and everything she might have yet to go through. She doesn't want to die here.

James is quiet for a long, long time. Slowly, he reaches over and takes her hand, holding it tightly in his. "Well then," he says, "I gotta go with you."

 


 

Miles decides to stay, and then Jin decides to stay, and Juliet can see that it offers James some relief. That someone will be here for Locke when (if) he comes back.

She can't get into the sub fast enough. There are bunk beds against the wall, narrow and sterile and cold, and she's filled with excitement and adrenaline. She paces their little cabin impatiently.

"Seasick," James grumbles at her, drawing attention to her restless pacing. She stops and sits beside him, but her knees bounce and she can't stop quivering, like a cornered animal expecting to be kicked at any minute.

Their door opens and they're handed a plastic tumbler of orange juice each. 

"They still take scurvy seriously in Dharmaville?" James asks, frowning at it.

"A light sedative," is the explanation they're given.

Juliet hesitates for the briefest second, but then knocks it back in one large mouthful, just like she did the first time. "Take it," she whispers breathlessly. "It'll… you'll sleep…" She can already feel herself pitching against him, and the room is growing dark at the corners. The tumbler slips from her fingers and bounces on the metal floor. "Don't make me go alone," she says, pathetically, and James catches her as she falls, and she can hear him calling her name urgently, worried about her, but she slips under the sedation, eyes fluttering closed.

 


 

When she wakes, the sub is still droning. She's groggy and she feels lightheaded and sick. James is passed out in the narrow bunk beside her.

She reaches up with a heavy hand and brushes his hair out of his face with clumsy fingers. He doesn't stir, and she thinks they still have a way to go before they're supposed to wake up.

She realizes now that she had been utterly terrified of waking up alone — like he would reject the sedation and tell them all to go and fuck themselves. Or that they'd drag him out of the sub and back onto the island, suddenly understanding exactly who he is and what he will mean to them in thirty years, and she'd be left there alone.

She curses herself for lining all her hopes and dreams up like dominoes. Sooner or later a catastrophe of some kind is going to knock them all down, and it's still so early; so early in this long long game of escape and abandon. She's only toeing the starting line of the marathon.

She can't stop thinking about all the things that can go wrong. She can't stop thinking that she'll be looking over her shoulder for the rest of her life, waiting for the island to catch up to her again. She almost cries as she realizes exactly how badly she needed to wake up with James still with her. All those calm claims of not caring what James did — if he stayed on the island or not — come back to haunt her now, and she sees what a terrible liar she's been.

 


 

James wakes up slowly and irritably. Juliet doesn't know how much time has passed, or why she woke up early. She doesn't want to move, in case she's found out, in case her early consciousness turns out to be the wrench thrown into the cogs of their plan.

"Fuckin' orange juice," James groans into the pillow, his voice a tone of disbelief. One heavy hand brushes over her arm. "Awake?" he asks.

"Yeah. Yes, I'm awake."

"Where are we?"

"Not there yet." The sub hums and drones around them quietly.

"Not there yet," he murmurs. "Destination nowhere, and we ain't there yet." He puts a little rhythm in his voice like he's basing it on a song. He frowns. "What song is that?"

"Hm?"

"Destination..." He hums again, absurdly, the frown still on his face. She thinks of waking up with him in the yellow-painted house, a weathered paperback pages-down on the nightstand, Patsy Cline records a soundtrack to their playhouse domesticity. 

"Destination anywhere," he says triumphantly. He hums again. "We'd go on back to happy yesterdays," he says, music in his voice, which is still rough with the weight of sleep. He grimaces and rolls onto his back. "The seventies sucked, first time around." He runs his tongue around his teeth, and she wonders if his mouth is as dry as hers is. 

He opens one blue eye and looks at her. "You okay?"

"We're running away to nothing," she reminds him. She feels shivery and lost.

He takes her trembling fingers and squeezes them gently.

"I know we don't have a plan," she says. Her voice sounds too loud, but when she tries to whisper, the droning engines rise and drown her out. Like the tiny little room is playing tricks on her, rising and falling, rising and falling.

James waits for her to finish what she started.

"I know we don't have a plan," she says again, feeling his big warm hand wrapped around hers. "But," she says, "unless you've got somewhere to be, do you think we can stick together a little longer?" She darts a nervous glance at him, and looks away before he says anything. "Just, have my back," she says. "I'll have yours."

James sits up slowly, squinting against the caged light bolted into the ceiling.  His hair is roughed up on one side; his soft stubble flat against his cheek. He rubs a hand over his jaw and fuzzes it out again.

Juliet sits beside him, swaying slightly. The orange juice is sour at the back of her throat.

Maybe he does have somewhere to be. Maybe he's not running away to nothing.

"You're all I got," he says then, and he gives her a funny little sideways grin. "Can't see where else I'd go."

She sags against his shoulder. Relieved.

When he kisses the top of her head, she squeezes his hand. They sit on the narrow bunk together, speeding through the dark water, away from the island.

She thinks again of that little yellow house, perched in the middle of tropical island greenery. That sunlit kitchen. Books, records, furniture, clothes… the job offer, the invitation of permanence.

"We should think of a plan," she whispers. "We can't get to Florida with no plan. With nothing."

"It's not nothin' when you start with somethin'," he says, and he puts his arm around her and kisses the top of her head again. "I got you, Jules. And for as long as you can put up with me, you've got me, too." 

She gives him a quivery smile. Her hand in his. "That might be a long time." 

His dimples deepen. "Hope so," he says.