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Huston Gault doesn't introduce himself to his crew until they've been at sea for two days. This wasn't a plan, but an accident after coming on board hungover and sick and not leaving his stateroom for 48 hours. He doesn't realize how long he's been out until he speaks to Minkowski.

"So who's been in charge?" he asks, trying to muster up some indignation, as if this is someone else's fault.

"That guy," Minkowski says, pointing across the deck. "Keamy."

Gault orders Minkowski back to the communications room and walks across the deck toward Keamy, who watches him come, just barely smiling, smug. Gault has met this son of a bitch before. Widmore introduced them a month ago in Adelaide.

"He's a good man to have around," Widmore said. Keamy shook Gault's hand and smirked, mostly with his eyes, as if he was working out how he'd steal Gault's wallet, slit his throat. That was what Widmore meant when he spoke of Keamy's usefulness. Gault didn't understand why they needed a man like Keamy around on a straightforward extraction mission, but he didn't understand a lot about where they were going, what they were doing. He needed the money. He imagined Keamy did, too.

"Anything I should know about?" Gault asks when he reaches Keamy. He's doing his best not to appear embarrassed. Keamy seems to look right through him anyway.

"No, sir," Keamy says. "Captain," he adds, mockingly.

Gault walks off, not knowing how to respond. He makes cursory checks of the engine and communications rooms, asks Minkowski about significant transmissions. There have been none. It's roughly ten days to their destination. He grunts hello to some of the scientists -- the sickly looking one, the redhead with the teeth. He's already forgotten their names, mentioned in passing by Widmore. He eats some jerky and half a can of soup, goes back to his stateroom.

*

There was a time when a trip like this would have thrilled him. A mysterious island, the whims of a billionaire. But Widmore threatened the safety of his family, should he tell anyone about the coordinates they're headed toward, or the black box from the plane that wasn't really found. When he was a young man, bored in the Royal Navy, he would have dropped everything just for the chance to find out what the hell all of this is about. Now he can't stop thinking of Vera and Sammy at home, under Widmore's watchful eye, good as gone if he should screw this up, which he feels is somehow inevitable.

Vera is as good as gone, anyway. It's another reason he left. The money won't fix everything, but if he comes home with some sense of accomplishment, bearing a dangerous man like Ben Linus, she might stop looking at him like his mother used to look at his father.

He spends more time navigating than he ever has on a planned course like this. Widmore warned him that these waters would be tricky, but Gault thought the old man just wanted to sound like he knew what he was talking about. He tries to familiarize himself with the crew, establish authority, and it works, to some extent. They all seem cautious, at least. The scientists are secretive and too polite, the helicopter pilot is obnoxiously curious, and he doesn't know what Naomi's business is exactly, because Widmore wouldn't tell him, but she's one of the few people on the ship who isn't dreary and quiet, as if they're sailing to the ends of the earth.

Keamy isn't especially somber either, but he's certainly not talkative. He spends most of his time in the armory with his men, cleaning weapons while they play cards.

"Is this all for Linus?" Gault asks one day as he's passing by. Keamy's men go silent, and he looks up from the gun he's holding in his lap. Standing in the doorway of the armory, Gault wonders now if he was cleaning or just admiring it.

"He's a very dangerous man," Keamy says, as if he'd been practicing that line. Gault can't tell if there's a hint of sarcasm to it, or if there's just something off about Keamy's accent.

"Could I get a word with you about that?" Gault asks. The actual capture of Linus has been left to Keamy, per Widmore's instructions. Widmore implied that Linus was behind the staging of Oceanic 815's recovery, that he was the one who came up with 324 dead bodies to stand in for the actual passengers.

Keamy doesn't answer, but puts the gun down and wipes his hand on his pants. When Gault walks up to the deck, Keamy follows. It's around six o'clock in the evening, and most of the crew members are having dinner below deck. Only Kevin Johnson is hanging around near the stern, and when he sees Gault he makes for the nearest mop.

"About Linus," Gault says, leaning on the railing. Keamy stands behind him, arms crossed. Gault gets the impression that he doesn't do much leaning.

"Has he got an army with him? I don't understand the need for all this manpower."

Keamy says nothing for a moment, and Gault turns back to him. Their eyes lock, and neither of them blinks, like boys in a staring contest.

"I don't see how there's a problem with you not understanding," Keamy finally says.

"I'm actually the Captain of this ship, you--"

"Widmore's ship. And he didn't seem to think you needed to know everything."

Gault scoffs and looks out at the horizon. This was what he was afraid of, agreeing to work for Charles Widmore. The secrecy, the complications. He avoided his first attempts to take command because he isn't really in control of anything here. It's the only sort of mission anyone would ask a man like him to lead.

"Relax, Captain," Keamy says. His tone is equally derisive and friendly, completely noncommittal. "We'll take care of Linus."

"What're those tattoos?" Gault mutters before Keamy can walk off. Keamy glances down at his shoulder like he doesn't know what Gault is talking about.

"They're not important," Keamy says. He fakes a stupid grin. "G'night, Captain."

*

On their fifth day at sea, there's a bad storm, and Gault is up all night, at the helm with Brandon. They both drink a lot of coffee, and around five o'clock in the morning, Brandon throws up a couple of times.

"Go see the doctor," Gault says.

"My stomach's just messed up from the storm," Brandon says, wiping his mouth.

"Take a break, anyway. Send Regina up here."

Gault likes being alone, hopes Regina will take her time. Outside, the distinction between sea and sky is nonexistent, everything a fuzzy dark wash. He hears footsteps behind him and turns to see Keamy coming into the steering room.

"Where's Regina?" Gault asks.

"How should I know?" Keamy walks to the windows and puts his hands on his hips, looking out at the storm as if he's shown up to stop it. The ship tilts, and Keamy stumbles, braces himself against the window. Gault snorts out a laugh.

"Maybe you should get below deck," he says. Keamy turns to look at him. With him, every gaze is a threat. Gault hates this macho bullshit. He got more than enough of it in the service.

"Where did Widmore find you, anyway?" Gault asks. He doesn't expect an honest answer. He's never trusted anyone with that inhumanly blue tint to their eyes.

"Maybe I found him," Keamy says.

"Right. He's a real accessible bloke."

"Oh, hello," someone says from the doorway, and they both turn to see the sickly looking scientist. He's especially green this evening, holding onto the door frame, his greasy brown hair pushed away from his forehead.

"Hello," Gault says. "You should get below deck."

"I was," the scientist says. "I was -- was down there, and I was just wondering if I could get, ah, an update on the, ah, weather conditions?"

"Take a look outside," Keamy says. He raps the window with his knuckles. "There's your update."

"We should be coming through the storm in the next couple of hours," Gault says. "You're -- Dan, right?"

"Yes, Daniel -- Dan." He smiles shakily. "Thank you for the update. Ah -- gentlemen." He sort of bows, and stumbles off.

Gault and Keamy glance at each other when he's gone. Gault bites back a grin.

"What's Widmore want with a guy like that?" he says, more to himself than to Keamy.

"I don't know," Keamy says. Strangely, Gault gets the feeling he's telling the truth.

Regina comes through the door behind him, gaping around the room with her usual startled expression. She's a strange, haunted girl, and Gault regrets asking Brandon to send her up.

"You wanted me?" she says.

"Could you give me a hand through the rest of this storm?" Gault says. She nods, and walks forward to the helm.

"Everybody alright downstairs?" Gault asks. He glances at Keamy, who is still standing at the window, like he's looking for something out there.

"Everybody's fine," Regina says. "So far as I know. Faraday seems like he might be a little seasick."

"Faraday?"

"Dan," Keamy says.

"Oh. Right." Gault is surprised that Keamy has bothered to learn anyone's names. He spends most of his time with his men, generally ignores the others. Gault opens his mouth to ask him why he's up here, but Keamy pushes away from the window before he can, and gives him a lingering look before walking out of the room.

"Ever get the feeling he's going to kill us all?" Regina asks when he's gone.

"He's harmless," Gault says, though he suspects the opposite is true. There's no sense in getting the girl worked up. "Anyway, why would he want to kill us? He's after Linus."

"I know what he's after," Regina says. "There's just something wrong about him. It's more than mean. Something -- flat."

Gault shrugs and goes to the window, where Keamy was standing. He looks out at the storm, squints, sees nothing.

*

After seven days at sea, Gault runs out of supplies in his stateroom, and goes to the ship's kitchen area to eat with the crew. There isn't much conversation at dinner, except for Faraday's incessant blathering and the occasional drop-in from Frank. Minkowski has the biggest mouth on the ship, but he's up in the communications room, manning the radio.

Keamy and his men appear halfway through the meal, serve themselves double portions and sit down nosily at the end of the long table. Gault eyes them, as if he has any hope of keeping them in line.

"Where are you from?" one of the brawnier ones asks Charlotte, the redhead.

"England," she says, giving him a distasteful look. "Essex."

"You're from sex?" the man says, pretending to misunderstand her. The other men laugh, except for Keamy, who hasn't looked up from his tin of microwaved lasagna since he sat down.

"Essex, you idiot," the Asian man snaps. He's sitting alone at the other end of the table. This is the first time Gault has heard him speak. He looks suspicious, and angry, not just now but always.

"You're calling me an idiot?" Keamy's man says, standing and rattling the silverware. Faraday makes a pathetic laughing noise. Keamy looks at Gault, as if giving him permission to step in. This annoys Gault so much that he almost doesn't.

"Yes, I believe idiot was the word I used," the Asian says, and Keamy's man starts for him, but Gault stands up, grabs his shirt and stops him.

"Sit down," he says, twisting his fist in the man's shirt. He's beady-eyed, his neck as thick as his head. He jerks out of Gault's grip and looks around him at the Asian man.

"Tell that gook to watch his mouth," he says. Gault expects to have to hold the Asian back now, but he only stares at Keamy's man, as if breaking eye contact would disturb whatever spell he's working on him.

"Harper," Keamy snaps, and the man sits, scoffs down at his plate.

"Just trying to make conversation," he mutters. "Bunch of fucking creeps."

It's the last time Gault eats with the crew. He asks Frank to let him know if Keamy's men make any more trouble. Beyond their occasional clumsy flirtations with the women, he doesn't hear of any more problems with them. He's surprised, but Keamy seems to have them well in order.

One afternoon he finds them skeet shooting with automatic weapons on the deck, and his first inclination is to tell them to stop, but then he thinks, what harm will it do? For all he knows, Widmore ordered them to have target practice. He was under the impression they would be bringing Linus back alive, but maybe he will be protected by some army, some cult. He might have hired goons of his own. Gault leans on the deck, elbows on the railing, and watches the men whoop and taunt each other, shooting and missing. Keamy is by far the best shot. He's laughing and hollering, much more animated than Gault has seen in the past eight days.

"Let me try," he shouts, walking to them. Keamy's men turn to him with scornful looks. Keamy is still out of breath with laughter, and when he holds a machine gun out for Gault to take, the others relax.

"You know how to fire that?" Keamy asks. Gault gives him an incredulous look and hoists the weapon to his shoulder, steadies the viewfinder.

"Pull!" Keamy shouts, and the volume of his voice, unlike anything Gault has heard since he left Fiji, makes his heart pound. The target goes sailing out over the ocean, and Gault blasts it to a powder with the gun. Some of the men laugh in surprise.

"Got it on your first try," Keamy says. He's beaming in what should be a disturbing fashion.

"Hasn't been that long since basic training," Gault says, though it has. He hands back the gun, misses the weight of it in his hand when Keamy takes it.

Gault's pulse is racing for the rest of the day. He never saw combat when he was in the service, spent a lot of time on the Vung Tau Ferry but never got close to shooting at anyone. He thinks about the killing that Keamy has done, as a Marine, and as whatever he is now. A hired gun. He hates him for that, jealously, stupidly.

When he can't sleep, he roams the deck. A few crew members are still up -- Faraday, staring at the stars with his hands in his pockets, and Minkowski, trying fruitlessly to pick up commercial radio stations. Gault goes to the prow and looks down at the black water that slices apart as the ship moves forward. Ahead, there is only mist out over the ocean, but they should reach their destination by tomorrow afternoon.

He doesn't hear the footsteps behind him until it's too late not to be startled, and he turns back, sucking in his breath. It's Keamy, of course.

"What?" he snaps, ashamed of himself for getting lost in the quiet of the sea. He's not romantic about this shit anymore, not like he was when he was a kid, glad to pull crab traps on a dingy because it meant he was out on the ocean all day.

Keamy, as is typical, takes a moment before responding. He walks to the prow and regards the fog with what looks like skepticism.

"What did Widmore tell you about the Island?" he asks. Gault sniffs in surprise. He thought Keamy would at least continue to act like he knew everything, including the entirety of Widmore's instructions.

"That Ben Linus was there. That the actual Oceanic 815 might have crashed there. That there might be survivors."

Keamy keeps his eyes on the horizon, licks his lips. He makes a sucking sound between his teeth, like he's trying to hold something in.

"That's all?"

"What else did you expect me to know?"

"Nothing," Keamy says. "I didn't even expect you to know about 815." He smiles strangely. "It could be a problem, actually, that you do."

"How's that?" Gault asks, glaring at him. This is probably a threat on his life. He knew that they would be coming, and very real, when he agreed to work for Widmore, to keep secrets for him.

Keamy shrugs. There's something boyish about him, not in the sense that he's innocent, though there is an obliviousness of sorts, but mostly in the cheerful cruelty of his posturing. He's a schoolyard bully who's been given a man's body and a considerable arsenal. Widmore might be a fool to try and use someone like this to suit his means, or brilliant.

"What did he tell you about the Island?" Gault tries.

"That it belongs to him."

"Well, of course. And Linus has stolen it. I think everyone here knows that."

Keamy grins.

"We'll be there tomorrow," he says.

"That's right."

"You won't try to interfere with what Mr. Widmore's asked me to do?" Keamy says. His eyes almost glow in the dark. Gault wouldn't be surprised to learn that he's some kind of robot, or at least that he has a few robotic parts.

"Why would I? You're capturing Linus."

Keamy stares at Gault, seems to be considering whether or not he should continue this conversation. The shabby, doomed feeling Gault has had since Fiji grows exponentially.

"Where did Widmore find you?" Keamy asks.

"In a bar," Gault says. He hadn't intended to be honest, but he feels like he's under interrogation, like Widmore is seeing this, Keamy's piercing eyes two cameras trained on him. "Funnily enough."

"I've never been drunk in my life," Keamy says, and it's so ridiculous that Gault laughs. He can't tell if Keamy is bragging or lamenting this. He could of course be lying, though for what purpose Gault can't imagine.

"That's hard to believe," Gault says.

"Why?"

"Why? Because you're a grown man. Don't tell me you're religious."

"No. I just don't see the point."

"Where are you from?"

"Las Vegas."

Gault laughs so hard it hurts. Keamy walks away, and Gault wonders if he actually managed to offend him, laughs harder.

*

When the engine dies, Gault is in his stateroom sleeping, dreaming about his son. The jolt of the new silence wakes him with a panic that throws him straight out of bed. He hears voices, boots clanging on metal stairways. It takes him a moment to remember where he is, and even when he does, he's not completely certain. It's not an unusual feeling, out in the middle of the ocean, but here, now, it makes him uneasy.

He dresses on the way out of his stateroom, pulling a shirt over his head, and goes up to the deck to blink in the harsh sunlight. He should be going to the engine room; he felt it in his chest, the engine's rattling death, but he wants to have a look round up top first, to see if they've made it, if they're in sight of the Island.

There is no Island ahead or behind them, nothing. People are walking anxiously about the deck, and they all converge on Gault as soon as they see him, chattering about the engine, and what should they do?

"I'll have a look," Gault says. He hears his stomach moan a complaint and tries to remember if he ate dinner the night before. On the way down to the engine room he passes the armory, where Keamy's men are gathered, all of them hanging in the doorway, watching him curiously. Keamy is nowhere to be found.

Gault knows that someone has fucked with the engine as soon as he lays eyes on it. It's not an expert job, but good enough to screw them. He immediately suspects Keamy, then realizes that doesn't make any sense.

"What's up, Captain?" Frank asks, poking his head into the engine room.

"Nothing. The engine is -- nothing. I'll fix it."

"Oh, geez, look at that. Good timing, though, huh?"

"What?"

"We're only about eighty miles from the Island. It's close enough to reach by helicopter."

Naomi appears behind Frank, and nudges him aside to make her way into the engine room. She's wearing a flight suit, strapping on a pack.

"Just got a message that we're to go ashore," she says. "I'll go first, and --"

"We?" Gault has sleep still in his eyes, can't process any of this. "Widmore contacted you? I thought the radios were malfunctioning? Did he have anything for me?"

"No," Naomi says, frowning slightly. "I'll go ashore and do some scouting, the scientists will follow me, and Keamy and his team will come for Linus when we give him the signal. That was always the plan."

Gault wants to laugh at the talk of plans. This is already going awry, and something he can't put his finger on is horribly off.

"Someone's sabotaged the engine," he says. Naomi looks at it without concern, nods.

"Linus has someone working for him on the ship," someone says from the doorway. They all turn to see Keamy standing there, arms crossed over his chest. He looks irritated.

"That might be true," Naomi says. "But soon it won't matter. You can patch this, can't you?" she asks Gault.

"With some help," he says. He looks back to the doorway, but Keamy has already disappeared. "You're going to the Island alone?" he says to Naomi.

"I can take care of myself," she says, giving him an insulted look before turning to go.

"I'll give you a hand with this if you want," Frank says, gesturing to the engine. Gault struggles not to roll his eyes.

"Just go," he says.

He works on the engine for the rest of the day, knowing that he should be more concerned with who did this than how quickly he can fix it. Crew members occasionally stop in to ask him if he needs help, and he does, but he sends them all away. He feels like he's still dreaming, doesn't know why he should be so disoriented.

Around five o'clock, he's close to passing out from hunger and thirst, and stumbles into the kitchen. Kevin is wiping down the table, and he gives Gault a nervous glance before finishing and hurrying out. Gault opens the refrigerator, sees that its power has gone out, and slams its door shut, cursing. He's feels close to understanding something, but loses his train of thought when Keamy walks into the kitchen.

"This is bullshit," Keamy says. Gault tries to ignore him, goes to the cabinets looking for anything edible. "Why should we wait here while that woman scouts the Island? I don't trust her. I don't think she's working for Widmore. That fucking helicopter pilot just took her at her word. Why didn't you try to stop her?"

"What did you want me to do?" Gault asks. "She's part of the crew, she's been getting communications from Widmore since we left port --"

"From someone she claims is Widmore."

"Minkowski claims the same. Is he part of your conspiracy theory? Did you want me to put a gun to her head and demand answers?"

"Yes."

Keamy is looking for a fight, and Gault almost wants him to throw a punch, though Keamy is younger and stronger and could probably hurt him badly. Still, he wants to hit someone. More than that, he wants a drink.

"Come with me," he says, throwing down a can of lima beans that he doesn't really want to eat. He expects Keamy to spit out some refusal or make him explain his intentions, but he follows him wordlessly down the hall to his stateroom.

When they're inside, Gault shuts the door behind him. By the time he's got his hands on the bottle of whiskey that he's stayed away from until now, he feels almost normal again. Keamy sits on his bed. Gault drinks two swallows like he's throwing back aspirin, then fumbles through his supplies until he comes up with a couple of aluminum mugs.

"Do you think it's Naomi who fucked with the engine?" he asks Keamy, handing him a mug full of whiskey. Keamy stares at him in something like disgust for a moment before taking it.

"No," he says. "I don't think she's working for Linus. I just don't get the impression she's working for Widmore."

"Why?"

"She avoids the rest of us."

"So do you."

Keamy scoffs, looks down into his cup.

"So do you," he says.

"Maybe we've all got something to hide. Go on and drink some."

"How do I know you haven't poisoned it?"

"Because I haven't got any reason to kill you."

"None that I know about."

"For God's fucking sake. Don't drink it, then."

Keamy swallows half the cup, to spite him, coughs with surprise and spits some of it up. Gault laughs and drains his own cup.

"That's horrible," Keamy says. He wipes his chin, drinks the rest and winces.

"It's an acquired taste." Gault refills both mugs. "So if it wasn't Naomi who did the job on the engine, who here's working for Linus?"

"Not the scientists," Keamy says, leaning back. "But maybe the doctor. Minkowski, maybe."

"You think it's more than one person?"

Keamy shrugs. Gault is glad for the dim light in the stateroom, and the whiskey that shines on Keamy's lips. He wants to forget the rest, should have bolted the door.

"I'm not one of your suspects?" he asks Keamy.

"You're not smart enough."

The serenity of the scene snaps away like a light switch flipped up, and Gault is out of his chair, reaching back too soon to hit Keamy's face, giving him too much warning. Keamy catches his hand and pushes him backward, and they both fall to the floor. Keamy of course has the upper hand. Gault struggles like a limp fish, spitting half-formed threats. Keamy holds his wrists to the floor, cocks his head and stares at him with benign curiosity, like a kid looking at a bug.

"I was only joking, Captain," he says. His grip is bruising and steady, and Gault lets out his breath, deflates beneath him. He feels as if he's the one who's been poisoned. He tries to avoid Keamy's eyes, can't.

"Get off of me."

Keamy doesn't move. Gault tries to knee him in the stomach, but Keamy has his legs clamped down tight around Gault's.

"Be still," Keamy says. He lets go of one of Gault's wrists, and Gault is going to start fighting for ground, but Keamy puts two fingers in the hollow of Gault's throat, presses firmly. Gault freezes, tries to remember if there is some way to kill a man like this. He feels like he would suffocate if Keamy applied just a bit more pressure. He's afraid to try and roll away.

"That's much better than whiskey," Keamy says while Gault's pulse pounds under his fingers. Gault stays completely still, tries to find some meaning in that.

"What?"

"Here," Keamy says. He pulls Gault's hand up from the floor, takes two of his fingers and puts them against the hollow of his own throat. His skin is sweaty, grimy, something. His heartbeat is slow and powerful.

"See?" Keamy says, and Gault doesn't want to tell him no, he has no fucking idea what he's on about, feels inches away from having his neck snapped. He thinks of Regina in the steering room: ever get the feeling he's going to kill us all?

"Yeah," he manages, just glad that Keamy has taken his hand off his throat, though he can still feel the shape of those fingers over his heartbeat, a threat left behind. Keamy's face is clear and friendly in a terrifying way, his mouth slightly open. He's breathing whiskey onto Gault's face, the rest of him smelling suspiciously of the ocean, as if he's been swimming in it, which is impossible. He's probably a serial killer back home. Widmore may have sprung him straight from prison. Gault tries moving a shoulder, and Keamy leans back, lets him up.

Gault pours himself another drink, tries to keep the shake out of his hands. This seems like an opportune time for Keamy to leave, but he's still standing behind Gault, near the bed.

"I might have some of the crew look at that engine," Gault says, unable to come up with anything else. He throws back half a mug full of whiskey, but it does nothing to calm his nerves.

"One of my men is a mechanic," Keamy says. "I could have him--"

"Fine."

Keamy walks up behind him, and when Gault can feel him close, he turns. He brings his eyes up to Keamy's reluctantly, like a girl waiting to be kissed. He almost laughs out loud, thinking that. Maybe he's already drunk.

"You should get some rest," Keamy says. Gault still can't place his accent. It's American, and something else, too. It occurs to him that he wants very much to know everything about Keamy, and only because Keamy will never volunteer anything. It also occurs to him that Keamy is the only person on this ship that he finds even vaguely interesting, which figures, since Keamy is the person most likely to kill him in his sleep.

"Rest," Gault says. "Yeah." He shouldn't have had whiskey on an empty stomach. He feels hypnotized.

Keamy ticks Gault's chin before leaving, and when he's gone Gault falls, very literally, into his chair.

*

Everyone is anxious while Naomi is away, no one more than Gault, though he tries not to let it show. He avoids Keamy, though for some reason he wants to trail him around the ship, only feels grounded when he's within view, because he's the only crew member who hasn't been jumpy and tense since they anchored. In bed at night, Gault stares at the ceiling and puts his fingers against the hollow of his throat, tries to understand what Keamy felt there.

He drinks, though not as much as he wants to. After Naomi has been gone for three days, Keamy's men discover fishing equipment in a supply closet and beg Keamy to let them take a boat down and catch something other than beans for dinner, but Keamy tells them no with a fierceness that Gault hasn't yet seen him use on them. Gault is surprised. He doesn't see what harm it would do.

After three days in the humid heat of the ship without a shower, he finally breaks down and goes to the locker rooms around three o'clock in the morning one night, when he figures they'll be empty. Glad to find the men's locker room silent when he arrives, he lets his guard down, and almost steps right into Keamy as he's going for the showers. He shuffles backward and thanks God that he waited to undress, though he still has to suffer Keamy wearing only a towel around his waist.

"What the hell are you doing here so late?" Gault asks, looking him straight in the eye to prove that this doesn't bother him. Keamy grins, probably knows better.

"What does it look like I'm doing?" He's dripping wet. Gault wants to curse himself for not noticing the extra level of humidity in here.

"Forget it," Gault mutters, walking around him. "Just get lost. I'd like some privacy if you don't mind."

"I don't mind." Keamy doesn't go anywhere. Gault keeps his back to him, unbuttons his shirt as slowly as possible. He doesn't know what the hell he's waiting for.

"I might come by your room later, if you'll be awake," Keamy says. "To talk to you about something."

"Fine," Gault says before he can think better of it.

He takes a long time in the shower, makes the water too hot to stand, even though he's been sweating all day. Keamy's name runs through his mind like a chant. This is what happens to men on ships, he knows, but he hasn't been on this one long enough to have much of an excuse. And anyway, there are women around, too.

On the way back to his stateroom, trying to knock himself into shape, he stops by the communications room. Minkowski is there, playing hearts with Brandon. All of the equipment is turned off.

"What's going on?" Gault asks, gesturing to the radio. "I thought I might try to call my wife."

"Good luck with that, man," Minkowski says. "I can't even get a goddamn walkie-talkie signal."

"Why not?"

Minkowski shrugs in an exaggerated way and Brandon laughs, a weird sort of giggle that makes Gault's skin crawl.

"Get it fixed, then."

"I've been trying all day!" Minkowski says. "It's all fucked up. Like the engine," he adds, giving Gault a meaningful look.

Gault walks away muttering about their incompetence, though really he feels that all of this is a reflection of his own leadership, if it could even be called that. He goes back to his stateroom, hoping to find Keamy there, and tells himself that he's relieved when it's empty, no one waiting outside.

He finishes off the whiskey, feels panicked when it's gone. Maybe someone else has brought something on board -- Frank, perhaps? He gets up to go and ask him, remembers that it's four o'clock in the morning, and sits back on his bed. There's a knock on the door.

Keamy is standing outside, reeking of the cheap soap they have on board. Gault steps aside and lets him in without saying anything. He's never done this before, if this is even what they're doing. He's never done anything with someone like Keamy. Once, he had a sense of self-preservation.

"You wanted to talk to me about something?" Gault says, shutting the door behind him.

"Bolt it," Keamy says, reading his mind. Gault sniffs as if this is overkill, does as he asked. He realizes as he struggles to fit the peg into the bolt that he's terrifically drunk.

"So what's on your mind?" Gault asks. Keamy is again sitting on his bed. This didn't strike him as particularly presumptuous last time he was in here. His thought process is changing at an alarming rate, and he's afraid he's not the only one on board experiencing this.

"Someone screwed with the communications equipment," Keamy says.

"I know. Or -- I knew it was broken."

"Minkowski might have had something to do with it."

"Widmore wouldn't have given him such an important position if he didn't trust him."

"He might have been trustworthy at some point. But he's been acting weird since we anchored."

"Who hasn't?"

"Me," Keamy says. Gault snorts.

"Sure, mate."

"Don't make the mistake of thinking I'm your mate, Captain."

Gault gives him an offended look. As if he meant that seriously.

"Yeah, why would I think that? It's not like you're in my room at half past four in the morning."

Keamy frowns. Gault is afraid for a moment that he'll leave.

"I was bored," Keamy says.

"Congratulations. We all are."

Keamy gets up, and Gault feels a pang of regret, something like panic. He backs into the wall, and Keamy stands two inches in front of him, leans forward and frames Gault's head with his arms.

"It makes me crazy to think of that bitch running around on the Island, doing whatever she pleases while we sit here letting her tip Linus off and God knows what else," Keamy says. He puts his hand over Gault's throat, and for a few seconds Gault fully expects to be strangled to death, blamed for Naomi's presence on the Island. But Keamy only has him in a light choke hold, his thumb and forefinger pressing in just slightly, until Gault is very aware of his pulse trembling under Keamy's grip.

"Tick tock," Keamy says, speaking low and straight into Gault's face. His other hand slides down Gault's side, and he palms Gault's cock through his trousers.

"Jesus," Gault breathes out. Relieved and horrified, he pushes against Keamy's hand, which covers him completely, hot even through two layers of cloth.

"You can feel it here, too, you know," Keamy says, stroking Gault with just his thumb.

"No shit." Gault laughs, is afraid he sounds like Brandon did earlier, a maniac giggling.

"The heartbeat, I mean," Keamy says. His expression is neutral, almost clinical, but Gault can feel his own hardon jammed against his thigh. "Here, I'll show you."

Keamy steps back and unbuttons his trousers, pushes them down along with his underwear, the clingy white sort that all of these military types probably wear. It occurs to Gault, numbly, that he was once a military type himself. But never like Keamy. Wearing only his tank, he looks like a machine, a statue. Gault realizes, in a rush that nearly blinds him, how long he's been wanting his mouth on someone else's skin.

"Come here," Keamy says. What he means to say is, get on your knees. Gault does, painfully hard inside his trousers.

"You can feel it here," Keamy says, tapping the base of his cock. Gault swallows a whine, looking up from the floor, realizing what he's gotten himself into. He wonders how tall Keamy is -- six foot five? No, taller. He breaks into a nervous sweat, and puts his thumb where Keamy has instructed. He can feel it, he's right, a pulse, a throb. Keamy smiles down at him.

"It's better on the inside of your mouth," Keamy promises, and Gault comes back to himself, snorts.

"I'm going to suck you off anyway, you crazy fuck. You don't have to talk me into it."

Keamy laughs, throaty, his eyes hooded. Gault licks his cock once, twice. He tastes like saltwater, which, again, is impossible. Gault takes as much as he can into his mouth and wraps his hand around the length that he can't cover, tries to pretend he knows what he's doing. Keamy doesn't seem to have any complaints, sighs like a sleepy dog and puts a hand in Gault's hair, squeezes it into his fingers and guides his head.

Gault puts his tongue against the underside of Keamy's cock, waits to feel his heartbeat, hopes it will be faster with every move he makes. It's hard to find -- there's a lot going on here -- but when he does track it down, the subtle throbbing seems to shake the whole room. He's not going to swallow this asshole's come, no fucking way, but he concentrates so hard on the rhythm that he gets blissed out and lost in the hard pulse of Keamy's orgasm, and the noise it brings out of Keamy, like someone has just punched him in the stomach. Gault nearly comes himself as his throat works to keep up.

He falls back on his ass and Keamy falls onto the bed. They both catch their breath for a moment, faces shining with sweat. Keamy must have ripped his tank off at some point, because he's got nothing on now.

"C'mere," he says, wiping the corner of his mouth. Gault gets up from the floor unsteadily, fussing with his belt. He walks to Keamy, who pushes his hands away and undoes the buckle himself, rips it from the loops on Gault's trousers.

"Wasn't that good?" Keamy asks, as if Gault is the one who came. Gault nods drowsily, puts his hands on Keamy's shoulders. He wants to fall onto him. He's so fucking big, solid. He's like a raft that could get Gault out of here.

Gault is unbelievably wasted, as if Keamy's come was the fourth drink he almost went hunting for. He grins at the ceiling when Keamy takes his cock into his mouth, flushes so hot that he's afraid the walls will melt. Vera hasn't bothered to suck his dick in ten years, and Keamy is a hundred times better at this than any woman he's ever begged it from. Maybe it takes one to know one. Maybe he's just extremely drunk. Definitely that. He tilts forward happily, his excuse for this already in hand.

*

Keamy falls asleep in his bed, which is unexpected, but so was everything that proceeded it. He sleeps like an animal: naked, on top of the sheets, curled up. The whiskey helps Gault sleep for awhile, but he wakes up soaked in sweat around eight AM, towels off and puts on shorts and trousers. He's astonished that Keamy hasn't left, wishes that he would.

"Hey," he calls, standing in the middle of the room. Keamy doesn't move. Gault has a staggering headache, brought on by the pressure of trying not to think about this more than anything else. He goes back to the bed, kneels on it and pushes Keamy's shoulder. Expecting Keamy to spring up in suspicious alarm and cold clock him, Gault can only continue to be surprised when Keamy just blinks and scowls, turns onto his back.

"What?" he moans, as if Gault has stormed into his room to wake him.

"Get up. I have things to do. I imagine you do, too."

Keamy rubs his face, yawns. Gault wishes he would at least cover up. His body is like something from a magazine, television, whatever. It's unreal. There is no one in the world who could keep themselves from staring. It must be the only thing he has time for, keeping himself this strong.

"That was bizarre, and I apologize for allowing it to happen," Gault says as Keamy dresses. He wants to put this to rest as soon as possible, to repent. "And I'll have you know that it was quite out of character for me. For you, too, I would think. It's just -- this place. Not that we're anyplace, really. It's this whole thing."

Keamy shrugs, takes his time fastening his pants.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he says, and Gault is afraid for a moment that he'll deny that anything happened, though he shouldn't be afraid of that at all.

"I've always fucked guys," Keamy says. He belches hugely, then moans as if doing so has exhausted him. "It's less complicated."

"Oh, really!" Gault tries to laugh. "How do you figure?"

"Women only fuck when they want something else. Men just want what they're getting. And otherwise, what's the goddamn difference?"

Keamy stares at him, blank and bored. He's not putting this on, and Gault realizes for the first time who he's really dealing with here. Someone so removed from humanity that he doesn't really see the point in differentiating based on gender. He thinks again of the people Keamy has killed. Women, maybe children.

"That's a brilliant philosophy," Gault says, glaring at him.

"You seemed to think so last night," Keamy says, and it comes out so practiced and even, like everything he says, that Gault feels like Keamy has finally figured out a way to rob him.

And he knows, sort of, already, what comes next.