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atlantis falls again

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they say the next big thing is here, that the revolution is near
but to me it seems quite clear,
that's it's all just a little bit of history repeating
propeller headshistory repeating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob laughs. The wind drags ashes from his lips as it rushes past the trees. 

Miles has to hold back the urge to raise an eyebrow and let out a sound what the fuck

"How can we stop it?" he asks. It takes a considerable amount of self-restraint.

Jacob laughs. Burnt fragments of his body remain around him, suspended in the air.

"You can't."

 

 

 

 

 

"Is she… alive?" Sawyer asked hesitantly.

They had been walking through the jungle without a destination in mind, only moving to get away as quick as possible from yet another place where they'd created chaos and caused bloodshed and fucked over the people they loved. The crater on the ground held signs of an implosion, not an explosion, and Sawyer touched the red earth thinking of metal and bones blended in it. Everything around them had been familiar, too familiar; the wide open space couldn't possibly accommodate enough air for all of them to breathe.

So they walked.

Somewhere along the way, they'd found a clear; in it was a man and he was kneeling down. In his arms was a body covered only by blood and a blanket. They had raised their guns on instinct, before their eyes had had time to take in the sight in front of them.

But in the stunned crowd, gathered in silent semicircle around the man on the ground, no one reached for a single weapon.

"Juliet?" someone had asked at first. Hurley had wondered isn't there a painting of this somewhere? while Miles thought wait, why is she naked? and neither was appropriate for the moment, but there it was.

Sawyer had been the only one to step forward, while the semi-circle became a full one with the new arrivals. His hand hovered above her but didn't touch her, as if the slightest movement might dismantle the castle of cards her bones had turned into. As if she might have disappeared; it's not like he hadn't seen it happen before.

The woman with short curly hair whispered, "the island, it saved her," and her voice suggested the emphasis on the island, not on the saved.

"She'll be fine," Richard said, his voice in that one sympathetic tone. "We'll take care of her."

A deep whimper ran through the weight in his arms and Juliet cringed. Her lips trembled a pleading 'no'.

"Juliet," Sawyer said good and loud. It sounded like a warning, don't you dare, like surprise, like relief. Her blue eyes opened, and around them was dry blood. 

He had no way of knowing what she'd seen under her eyelids.

 

 

 

 

 

None of them catches the first signs. They're all too busy looking for men falling from the sky in parachutes, boats that appear and disappear on the shore.

It feels a little like it did when the plane had just crashed except this time they know that no one's coming for them, or at least, that no one's coming to do them any good. There are no more bonfires to signal their presence here. Hiding whenever sign of life outside the island arrives almost becomes a game. And they've gotten good at it — clutching to backpacks and water bottles, sitting inside bushes or under holes in the ground. Places they've come to know.

That doesn't mean the signs aren't there. 

A fruit that rots on a tree, crows gathering around the camp. The night that arrives too early in the sky and a wave that reaches over the sand to find a stretch of earth, then retreats.

Not that it matters, anyway.

It's already too late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

They had decided to tell them, the new Others, that they were going back to the beach. That whatever war was coming, it had nothing to do with them. Neither group owed the other anything, and without Ben in command, there was no reason for them to keep trying to kill each other. We'll stay out of your way if you stay out of ours.

It was a mistake. Jack realized it the moment he opened his mouth: arguing their point would only make their confidence in it weaken. Hadn't they been through that before?

It'd worked this time, though, and Richard had nodded his permission. The Others had bigger things to worry about, with their current leader and their previous one nowhere to be found.

"You might think this is not your war, but it will catch up with you," Illana had said as they were leaving, "it happened with all of us."

Still, they had left, feet dragging away in the night.

"The island has already made the choice for you," she'd said. "You'll see."

Miles snickered at her words.

(But sometimes they keep Jack awake at night.)

 

 

 

 

 

Hurley throws his iPod against a tree. The technique might lack Sayid's elegance but, hey, it gets the thing working again, for the first time since the day it got soaked on the lake by the waterfall.

Kate takes to listening with him, lying in the sand with the headphones between them, and it's always the same song on repeat when she's around. The only Patsy Cline he has and he doesn't even know how it got there.

Hurley likes to imagine it's his mother singing in the kitchen, one arm around an imaginary man's waist, and another one over his shoulder. See the pyramids along the Nile; she'd hum between one line and another, a smile growing in her face like she actually believes that seeing the sunrise on a tropic isle is a good thing. Even if it is, Hurley thinks the joke is on him.

See the ocean from a silver plane, just remember 'til you're home again…

Kate closes her eyes every time.

 

 

 

 

 

Sun had lived three years believing that her husband was dead, and so she came back, pain tucked away in her tightly closed fists, because the slightest chance was better than what she had to endure when there was no chance at all.

She came back, only to be told yet again that Jin was dead. 

That day they found Juliet bleeding in the jungle, Sun found out for the second time that her husband was alive, and for once, no one had to tell her anything.

She thought for moment that her eyes were just seeing what they wanted to see, that she was dreaming up Jin's face in the body of a man who looked nothing like him. But there he was: in a jumpsuit, with a shotgun thrown over his shoulder and all that hair, long and curly, it was all his.

Sun forgot her embarrassment as she threw her arms around him, fingers bunching into fists that held on tightly to the fabric over his skin. Laughter bubbled up in her chest as her face pressed against his, her nose tickled with his hair and there was something so funny, so funny about him, real and alive in her arms.

They walked behind everyone while they followed Richard on the way to the temple, hands intertwined, bodies close together, brushing against each other as often as possible.

Since that day, she finds herself staring at him sometimes. They go fishing and her hand holds on firmly to the net but her eyes stay on his all the time.

Both forget to watch what they're catching and by the time they take notice that the product of their efforts has been consistently diminishing, it's already become difficult to get enough fish for even one day.

 

 

 

 

 

"I'm happy you changed your mind, Ellie," Charles had said.

It was not a thank you, it was 'you've finally come to your senses' with a pinch of indulgence that left a bad taste in her mouth. She could play that game, too.

Eloise repeated her instructions and pointed out the dangers of making mistakes; the words rolled out slowly, in that ominous voice she's perfected. There was that close-lipped smile on her face, her eyes unflickering.

"Do really think I'm unaware of those things?" he demanded. Then, "I have been working on this for years, decades even." 

She didn't flinch, raised an eyebrow instead. On the outside he was calm, but for all of his accomplishments she still never gave him the recognition he deserved. Though it was a fight they were years past having, his fingers clutched around the envelope she had given him just that much tighter.

He thought she was replying, and yet you have learned nothing.

Still. The corner of her mouth did not curl upwards.

 

 

 

 

 

("What about free will?"

Esau smiled pleasantly. "Well, you didn't have any when you were alive."

Boone's hand had closed angrily around Shannon's pulse. She'd rolled her eyes, flipped her hair. The blood sticking to her shirt felt truly disgusting. Did she really have to die in the rain?

"What makes you think you'll get it now that you're dead?")

 

 

 

 

 

When men do start dropping from small planes that fly over the island and then disappear, they know better than to go off looking for trouble. 

But from under the trees, they look to the sky or over the horizon and hope one of those planes will land, that one of those boats will dock. They never do.

And even if they did, Frank knows that the chances of them hijacking a plane or a boat and successfully getting off the island are infinitesimal. They'd need the right coordinates, fuel to go for miles, hell, if these new guys are anything like the men he met on the freighter, they'd probably need to dodge a couple of missiles in order to get out in the first place.

Soon it becomes difficult to believe they will ever leave this place.

 

 

 

 

 

Ben eventually shows up; somehow none of them are surprised.

"This is our island," he says with conviction. "We have to protect it."

The torches that light up the kitchen area keep blowing out from the wind.

Jack chuckles. "Oh, it's our island now?"

 

 

 

 

 

"I think I could eat the entire boar," Juliet muses, only half-joking.

James laughs anyway. "Boar? Don't ya think you oughta aim a little lower, sweetheart? Rabbits are the biggest things in the jungle these days and you couldn't make me eat one with a gun pointed at my pants." He shrugs. His forehead wrinkles like he's giving the subject some honest consideration. "Hell, they could be Ben's bunnies for all we know."

Juliet attempts a smile. "Oh, then, we'd really be screwed," she says, but her voice lacks the energy needed to convey the sarcasm. She runs a hand over her forehead and falls back into her thoughts.

Just like that, he loses her again.

 

 

 

 

 

("Any family? Uncles, siblings?" the interviewer asks. The pen in his hand is still moving, writing down her last response.

"No," Rachel answers. Her hands lie heavy on her lap. She doesn't add 'anymore'.)

 

 

 

 

 

Hurley drags in a boar for dinner. He smiles, triumphant. It'll make a better meal than they've had in weeks.

Sun pushes Jin forward to help carry the heavy animal to where they can prepare it. Her mouth shapes into a circle as her eyes run down Hurley's clothes. 

"You went hunting by yourself?"

"I didn't go hunting, man. Mr. Eko did," he answers. The animal pulls heavy on his arm. "C'mon, on 3. You have to help, Jin. 1, 2, 3."

There's a thud, blood spills all over. Hurley cleans his hands on his jeans. "He's over by the drug plane, you know? Eko."

Sun looks over at Jin and sees her expression reflected on his face. Grating her teeth, she tries to find a soothing voice to speak. "Hurley," she starts gently. "Mr. Eko is dead."

His eyebrows knit together, "oh, yeah." The effort from carrying that much weight left wounds on his palm. There's blood running down the bamboo of the kitchen table.

"So who killed the boar?" he asks like there's an answer he really expects.

And the blood, it never stops spilling.

 

 

 

 

 

The cinder in the air was the first sign that something bad was coming his way, and Miles almost has to curse himself for not following his instinct to run.

As it is, it's hard enough to curse at anything other than the whole universe for being fucked so up that he can speak to a man half burnt and bodiless in the middle of the jungle. 

His mother taught him to ignore his gift. Gift, she had called it and looking back, it feels like she'd known all along that this talent of his was anything but that. In the end, the mismatched opinions turned into a thing in their relationship. Something in the space between him and her, keeping them apart. She had wanted him to hide it, tuck it away in the closet like a child's imaginary monster. And he, he had wanted to exploit it. 

What she didn't realize was that it all came down to the same thing. Turning it into a sham to get money out of people allowed him to pretend to himself and to anyone who ever came close that it was all make believe.

Still, it's tough to keep pretending when the dead actually start to talk back, and crap, Hurley's crazy must be rubbing off.

"What — what happened to you?" he asks tentatively.

"I guess I got pushed into the fire," the man replies. His lips are reduced to burnt fat and muscle, they stretch as they move. It gets Miles' stomach hurling. 

"Right. And who are you, again?"

"I'm Jacob. You've met me before, actually." It sounds casual, as if the man would be shrugging his shoulders if he had — Anyway. "But you were just a child. I don't expect you'll remember it."

Miles lets his jaw go slack at this. "You're kidding me?" There's a 'when?' on the tip of his tongue, but he presses his teeth together stiffly to keep it from rolling out.

The leaves rustle around them, the wind is picking up again. The jungle is quiet, the way it gets before a rainstorm. 

"So, this is what happens when a god dies, then?" Miles asks with faux nonchalance.

"What makes you think I'm a god?" Jacob retorts, a smile on his face like the very thought is amusing.

The air around them is picking up speed; it makes the loose ashes in Jacob's body begin to disengage. It reminds Miles that he really needs to get away before all that's left is a talking head. 

"What are you, then?" he inquires, impatient. The gun tucked in the brim of his pants is starting to seem useless.

A lean tree bends with the force of the wind and Jacob watches it pointedly while Miles takes a step away. The trunk doesn't break; it curves unnaturally in its spot. Miles feels his stomach try a somersault.

"It doesn't really matter what I am. All that matters is what happens when I'm not there."

And then he laughs.

 

 

 

 

 

Kate is holding back tears while searching her bowl of Dharma cereal for spoiled grains; it strikes Sawyer as one of the strangest displays he's seen in this place yet, smoke monster and polar bear included.

She wipes her eyes with the palms of her hands as he approaches. Regardless, the first thing that comes out of his mouth is: "Hey, everything okay?"

Kate sniffles but smiles, and her eyebrows rise in slight amusement. She points out their surroundings by turning her head lightly. There's the kitchen, gathering flies and smelling of blood, and the wrecked tents that they never got around to fixing, and the ocean, all waves and crashing in with a force that can only be driven by revenge.

Sawyer nods. Case in point. He makes a mention to sit beside her, "mind if I?" and Kate has never seen him this polite. It's strange, but it's company and it's him. Two things she's not ready to discard.

She rests her head on the arms around her legs. Smiles sadly. "Juliet still in the temple?"

His lips twist into a frown. "Yeah."

Kate turns to watch the water. It takes some effort to train her eyes away from him as she asks, "what do you think is in there?"

"Beats me," he answers with forced carelessness. There's a she won't tell me that follows, but he doesn't say it out loud. Then again, he doesn't need to. The silence between them is heavy. Three years of playing house under a plastic shelter have taught her that when you don't push, the accusations flow out naturally.

It once again proves true: "she's got this weird thing 'bout being touched now."

Kate would laugh, the two of them talking about this, but instead something is stirred up in her. A heat grows in her face, and a sob starts in her ribs and runs up her chest.

"Gee, Freckles, it ain't no reason to cry," Sawyer says, contrite.

She shakes her head angrily, curls her tongue to the roof of her mouth. "Sawyer, I'm pregnant," she says, then, and it sounds furious but she can't figure out who she's mad at.

Sawyer takes his hands off her as he would do with a burning hot object. Maybe she can still feel him there. Maybe it's not something new.

"Jack's?" he asks. She nods. He's about to congratulate her and tell her, hey, then it ain't that bad, when he remembers where and when they are and - oh, fuck.

 

 

 

 

 

That night, a bomb explodes. They all come shuffling out of their tents to watch the flames.

Jin snakes an arm around Sun's shoulder, and for a moment she lets herself imagine they're watching fireworks burning over Seoul.

The smell of carbonized wood spreads all over. Juliet's lungs fill with it, the pain blazes in her chest. Six years, six years of this god forsaken place and she's astounded to find it hurts to see it burn down.

 

 

 

 

 

"Yes," Ben had said. 

"It became your island when you decided to come back, Jack."

 

 

 

 

Juliet's new scars are healing over her old ones. She supposes it could be a metaphor for something, something she won't think about. There are still black and purple patches all over her skin; the state her body is in makes her feel self-conscious changing in front of him, even though he's seen her do it a million times before.

She pulls a shirt over her head quickly and lies down to sleep, her back to him the whole time.

James settles down beside her, body curling to match hers. They're quiet for a few minutes, and she can already feel her eyelids dropping with sleep and the nightly semi-conscious prayer, please let this one be dreamless, when his breath rushes against her neck. "Did you know about Kate?"

The stillness of her body becomes stiff. She opens her mouth to speak, and closes it again. "Juliet?"

"Yes. I did," she answers simply, deciding that if he wants to know how she knew, he'll have to ask her upfront.

James searches his brain for the spots in her body that don't have any bruises, but most of her back is blemished and it's all he sees of her lately. He goes for it anyway, lets a tentative hand slip over her thigh and for once, she lets it rest there.

"So that's what it is? You afraid of getting pregnant too?"

Juliet closes her eyes but it doesn't make much difference, the island at night is eerily dark. "No. I mean, yes, too, but. It actually hurts."

"I don't think I'm healing the way I'm supposed to." She lets her words sink in, leaves them unfinished but this time because she truly doesn't understand the meaning of what she's saying. This place gives her something just to take it away and it's always been that way; Juliet doesn't know why she's still surprised.

That's not all, though; the space is small, much too small to hold all the things between them. 

She's damaged beyond repair, they both know it and though James might not quite comprehend to what extent, sooner or later she will have to stop him from swimming in the ocean or going into the forest and then he'll ask why and the look she pictures on his face as she explains keeps her up sometimes. He's beginning to figure it out but he's not ready yet, and she's more than happy not to push.

But he's broken too; from the moment he decided to betray his friends to get them on the sub, the person he'd dreamed himself up to be came apart, the hero he'd fancied he could play became bleak fiction. She'd gone along with it, agreed to get out with a smile on her face and in retrospective, Juliet thinks she was asking him to choose her even though she hadn't meant to.

He did choose her. Finally someone did.

It hadn't felt at all like a good thing.

Something came loose in him, then; something came loose in them.

She brings her hand to rest over his and that's all he needs her to do for now.

 

 

 

 

 

One day, it occurs to Frank that the man he and Sun met in the barracks might have some answers for them. 

Three days later, he comes across that man by the waterfall.

Three days after that, the camp realizes he's not coming back.

 

 

 

 

 

Illana wakes up to a hand on her shoulder shaking her from sleep. She sits up quickly, letting the blanket fall on her lap to reveal a knife. It moves to press against the skin of Ben's throat and he's going to let her think he didn't see that coming.

"What are you doing here?" 

The whisper doesn't make her voice sound lower than its usual tone, Ben would like to warn her. "I'm just looking for Richard."

"He went off to find you and your Locke," she tells him. Her eyelids widen as the words leave her mouth. "That was a week ago."

Ben nods. His hand shakes.

This is not good.

 

 

 

 

 

("The poison is in the dose," Daniel says. His shoulders are curved forward and his forehead wrinkles with confusion. Runs his fingers through his hair and fidgets with his tie.

Hurley twists his lips into a pout. "Dude, we're not playing Clue." He raises an eyebrow, points a finger. "Are you trying to distract me?"

Daniel sighs. Charlotte throws him a look, chuckles a when are you going to learn chuckle. She closes her eyes again, lies lazily in the sun. Now that she's dead, she can finally get a tan. The sand never sticks to her body when she rolls on her back.)

 

 

 

 

 

Sawyer finds Juliet in the middle of a whirlwind. Leaves dance around her and she looks happy once again. 

"The world is ending," she tells him in matter-of-fact amusement.

His mouth falls open, the muscles of his forehead crumple, but he doesn't want to say you're losin' your damn mind even though she is.

Then again, aren't they all? 

He grins. "Hell, Sunbeam, if that's so, I can think of better ways to spend our final hours."

Juliet smirks, lifts a teasing shoulder. Hey, there's a brilliant idea.

"No. James," she says. Her eyes follow the leaves as they fly in circles before getting ripped to shreds by the force of the draft. "The world is ending."

That sobers him right up and he looks to her for help. Juliet's eyes meet his with their familiar spark and Sawyer can't understand it but he can live with it for now, if for now is all they have.

He stands with her in the epicenter; their lips close together, the air between them hot and wet. 

"What do we do?" he asks.

"I don't know." 

It's honest. She wraps both arms around his neck, the movement shoots a sharp pain down her back but it's worth it to rest her head on his shoulder. They watch a gust of wind pick up a flower and rip into a shower of yellow petals. 

"But this looks beautiful."

 

 

 

 

 

A jolt comes from deep inside her, a spasm in her abdomen that is produced by a whole new someone, and it makes Kate feel better than she has in what feels like years. The nausea is gone. She feels alive, full of energy, longing to take photographs and giggle with friends over a bottle of wine, saying I can't, it's bad for the baby with a proud smile.

"Jack," she says, shaking him by the shoulders. "Jack."

"Yeah," he replies, brisk voice thick with sleep.

"The baby is kicking."

She brings his palm over the bump of her belly. They're smiling quite madly now, Kate's lips part with happy astonishment.

Jack brushes her curls with his free hand. "I - "

Kate gasps, chest contracting and expanding without getting any air in. The tissue of her lungs molds stiff like metal cooling off. "I can't breathe," she lets out with a gulp. 

 

 

 

 

 

"I can't produce the serum without any tools. Without the right substances," Juliet explains patiently. "And there are men occupying every station."

Jack knows this. She's told him time after time but his hands still fold into fists at her words.

She called him stubborn once. She had him figured out before they'd even met. 

He realizes that he still doesn't fully get her as she advises him to go see Ben.

 

 

 

 

 

His father is standing in the middle of the field; it's his second encounter with the dead. 

Dr. Chang holds one arm against his chest, even wounded he walks away faster than Miles can catch up. "Dad! Dad!" he calls out.

Pierre turns back to him, features crumpled with anger. "'Dad'? Oh, it's 'dad' now?" Blood begins to pour out from the gash in his arm, staining his white labcoat. "You and your mother left me here to die."

Miles' eyes widen. "No, you put us on that sub. You wanted to save us."

"And you've done nothing but call me a bastard for it, have you?" Dr. Chang asks, his voice acquiring the same tone it used to when he scolded workers for lazy behavior. He takes a few steps closer and now they're standing right in front of each other.

Miles shakes his head. "I didn't know," comes out of his mouth at the exact same time that he realizes that the real Pierre Chang would have no way of knowing that. It's already too late, bloody hands are already pressed firmly against his neck. 

Miles watches as his father's face turns into black smoke.

 

 

 

 

("Ellie," Widmore whispers. "I don't think we're supposed to be doing this," he says with a smile on his face.

"Who is Ellie?" asks the captain from the other side of room.

The doctor shrugs, scribbles on his chart. Water has been dripping from the ceiling, no one can seem to figure out where it's coming from.

"Hey, is that blood running down his nose?"

"Shit, it is.")

 

 

 

 

 

Ben smiles with his back to Jack. "I can do better than that," he says and his words hold a contained triumph. "I can get you all home, if you help us win this war."

Jack shakes his head. "What if we don't win in time to get Kate back home?"

"Nothing will happen to her while you're out there fighting. The island helps those who protect it, Jack."

Jack nods but it's not agreement. Ben's matter of fact tone, meant to bring comfort in the form of certainty, only reminds him that people don't change. Crazy manipulative bastards will always be crazy manipulative bastards. "And I'm just supposed to take that on faith?"

Not that it matters. From the moment he opened his mouth, Jack knew he'd do whatever Ben told him to. It's a flimsy hope, but it's better than sitting in sand watching every gasp that comes out of her mouth, thinking it's a gasp closer to her last one.

"Yes. I suppose you are," Ben muses. He watches the other man from the corner of his eye, amusement tucked safely behind a cool facade. You already have, Jack.

 

 

 

 

 

Sun speaks about Ji Yeon in detail. The way she looks when she smiles, the kind of tantrums she throws to avoid getting in the shower, her strange love for the periwinkle crayon and the way she looks at Jin's picture on the nightstand every night before going to sleep. Sun talks like she believes saying it out loud will make the memories steadier in her; she tells it like a story, a fairytale that will become more real each time it is told.

Jin listens with his mouth pressed against the hollow of Sun's neck, with each vibration of her vocal chords he feels a little bit closer to the things she's saying.

But the plastic roof of the tent flaps with the wind, his stomach growls and he knows he isn't. 

He knows he won't be.

 

 

 

 

 

(Ji Yeon will grow up in a mansion, with her grandmother singing her sleep every night with verses about a princess and peasant, desperately in love.

The grandmother will feel her husband's stare on her back as she chants and when she faces him, all lights already turned off, her gaze will be just as strong.

The grandfather will go down the hall to his room without saying goodnight.

In the years that will follow, Ji Yeon will travel in cars, and boats and trains. Never by plane.)

 

 

 

 

 

Five shots ring into the air, two bullets strike Jack's body. His knees give out from under him and he feels his strength quickly fading.

Sawyer runs and catches him before his body hits the ground. He's already half unconscious, logical thought falling away, finally. He can still hear Sawyer talking and Jack knows his words mean something but he can't quite grasp what it is. The voice speaking sounds angry and that seems almost funny to him, that he should be scolded at on his death bed.

"Was this your fate, you son of a bitch?" Sawyer is saying and the words mean something but he -

 

 

 

 

 

The good news is: the men they were shooting are both dead with bullets in their heads.

They've won.

 

 

 

 

 

There's an awkward voice singing to her, she'd like it to stop. She doesn't want to belong to anyone or anything anymore, belonging tastes like a prison to her now; Kate just wants to be on the road again, she just wants to be Annie, picking up some food at a gas station, Monica, making tacos for dinner, Lucy, lending a shoulder to a friend. Kate thinks, of all the characters she's played, herself has been the worst.

And this horrible song, it keeps reminding her of all the places she will never see and all the ways she will never get out of here. Kate rolls on her side and wills it all to go away. Just remember, darling all the while, you belong to me sounds like a threat in her ear now - this fucking island.

From the corner, Claire is watching her. Kate doesn't scream. She smiles. Claire stares at her expectantly.

"He's safe. At home - with your mom," Kate tells her.

Hurley stops singing. "Who are you talking to?" he asks, curiosity peaking out of his words. He doesn't doubt for a second that there's someone there that he can't see. It's a refreshing change to him, really.

Claire is nodding, finally cracking a smile. Blond hair falls down her shoulder, shinning against the dark of the tent, lending her an unworldly look.

"Claire," Kate answers him, or calls her.

"Oh! Hi, Claire," Hurley says excitedly. But she's already gone. 

A couple of minutes pass. Hurley begins to hum again. 

Kate closes her eyes and doesn't open them again.

 

 

 

 

 

"Welcome back, honey," Christian says happily as he lets her into the house. "You're just in time."

Looking over his shoulder, he sees Richard closing his bag and throwing it over a shoulder. "All ready?" he asks with a smile.

Richard nods. Christian picks up a flashlight for the way. "Let's get going, then. We have a long journey ahead of us, huh?"

At the door, Richard gestures at Claire to go before him. "You're not taking anything," he wonders more than asks.

She smiles, chooses to walk beside him and not in front of him. Their hands brush as they walk; it gives her a nice sense of unity. "No, I have everything I need."

Richard takes one last look at the barracks as he leaves them behind.

 

 

 

 

Juliet tells him she dropped a few of the bottles in the jungle and sends him out to look for them, in hopes that — but of course he's barely been gone a minute before she sees him running back. He looks annoyed that she would try that trick on him, drags a hand through his wet hair.

"What are you doin', Juliet?"

She doesn't even have the decency to look properly ashamed. "I thought it might be me instead of you this time."

"Hell," he says and sits by her side on the dirt. The sigh that leaves his lips sounds a bit relieved. "How does it happen?"

"A rock hits you on the head," she says, lets it sink in. He runs his eyes over the skeletons lying on the ground. "It's the least painful so far."

Wonderful. He grimaces and slides one arm around her back, pulls her in tight. He buries his head in her hair and allows himself a moment of rest. It seems like a long time before the tempest gets stronger and the rocks on the ceiling begin to shake loose around them. "Alright, you gotta go."

She stares at him with disbelief. It's both of us, she holds her ground. 

It may be ironic that the ultimate survivors give up in the end, but he doesn't think it's funny at all. His fingers press into her shoulder and she thinks she might crush under his touch. He takes a look around the cave. "This place smells like the deep end of a horse stable," Sawyer says and Juliet rolls her eyes.

"Well, you won't have to take it much longer," she remarks grimly.

He turns to stare at her and grins. "Now, Sunshine, how did you get so morbid?"

The ceiling is collapsing over them now, but she still finds it in her to laugh. How, she'd like to know, too. He lays a kiss on the top of her head. 

The island buries bones upon bones.

 

 

 

 

 

"You're sure this is what you want to do, mate?" Charlie asks him and gets a shrug in response. 

They're sitting in the grass, feet touching the water. There's only a patch of sand between the ocean and the earth now.

"What else am I supposed to do?" Hurley retorts sadly. 

Charlie purses his lips, takes a look around. The world has become a pretty bleak place. He nods. "Alright, then." His fingers pull gently on the chords of his guitar and he starts, "this is C. This is E minor. This is F. C again. A minor." 

Hurley frowns as he recognizes the tune. 

 

 

 

 

 

(Somewhere in the Pacific:

Desmond wakes up to the beeping of the alarm and the familiar song playing softly on the radio. He lifts himself up with a start. Penny opens her eyes lazily as he asks her, "are we there yet?"

"Where, love?" She rubs the back of her hands over her eyes and wrinkles her forehead with concern.

"I -" he begins. Runs a hand over his hair and stops mid-thought.

"You are entirely responsible for our delay," she says, pulling him back to bed by the shirt before he can draw the curtains open. It's too early for sunlight. "I could have married someone apt at following coordinates, you know. I don't expect we'll ever get to Fiji this way."

"Fiji?" He's still confused; somehow he knows she's right, he can see a beach and he knows it's his target - target? He closes his eyes. Targets and marks, remnants from his time at the armed forces. Another bad dream, maybe. He seems to have many of those.

"Yeah," Penny tells him. "Are you alright, Des?"

Desmond shakes his head, takes a second look at his surroundings. "Weren't we looking for something else before?"

"Like what?" she asks, half amused. "A treasure?"

"No, no," Desmond answers, turning to look her in the eye. She's leaning on the bedpost with her arms crossed, staring at him with confusion. He pulls her into the crook of his neck, buries his nose in her hair. "I don't know. I can't even remember where we were before."

She furrows her eyebrow as she contemplates it. She can't remember either. Life at sea, it has weighted on them; places have started mixing around in her head and at some point she started to feel like time almost floats from one moment to another, and these moments all thread together with the waterline. It's the price they pay, just for her being who she is, or rather, for her father being who he is. The thought makes her feel almost regretful, that Desmond is condemned to this because of her. 

In the end, though, they're happier together than they are apart and all of it - all of this - is worth it.

She smiles. "Maybe we've always been here," she tells him jokingly while looping a strand of hair around her finger.

Maybe we always will be.)