Title: Haven

Author: Lila

Rating: PG-13

'Ship: Kate/Sawyer

Spoilers: Through "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues"

Summary: Temptation isn't a sin, it's liberation

Author's Note: This began as a Sawyer/Claire story, then evolved into a Charlie story, and ended up Kate/Sawyer, which is the easiest and most sensical pairing to write right now. Perhaps when Sawyer/Claire have more then five seconds of interaction, I'll be able to write something for them, and the Charlie story will be up when I get the chance to flesh it out more. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

"Comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love" - "Song of Solomon"

The sky was on fire, dripping pink-tinged tendrils across the line of the horizon, pools of deep red bleeding into the water, staining it a dark-tinted crimson. Like an endless sea of blood running fast and swift against the tide, marking everything it touched with a faint tint of crimson and pain. She hated nights like this, when the sun took forever to slip behind the clouds and painted the world in muted shades of pink and orange, purple and gold, and red -- always red. She dipped her fingers in the water, feeling it lap warm and moist against her ankles, thick and heavy like milk or syrup -- heavy like blood. She jerked her hand back, as if the sky had burned her, and watched the water slip from her fingers, crisp and clear in the dying light. The sun sank deeper against the horizon, darkening and congealing the waves. She ran a frustrated hand over her forehead, brushed her fingers through the damp curls tightening against her temples, her shirt clinging to her back. When she brought her hand down her skin was warm to touch and golden in the last remnants of sunlight -- no trace of red to be found. She breathed in deeply, inhaling sun and salt and isolation, the night breeze washing away the heat and stickiness of day.

Footsteps kicked up beside her, lightly dusting her arms with thin coat of sand and wind. He eased himself down beside her, watching the last embers of day sleepily embrace the first beams of night. "What's on your mind, Freckles?" he asked, the hint of a grin making his voice light, when he was all darkness.

"Nothing," she said sharply. "Nothing's wrong."

He chuckled and drew a hand across his jaw, the stubble rasping softly against his fingers. "I could hear ya thinking a mile away. Not how I want to spend my evening."

"Not my problem," she said and turned to look at him for the first time, biting her lip at the glint in his eye.

"Aww, Freckles, don't be mean. You know I have better things to do with my time."

"Like what?"

"Like this," he whispered against her lips, pushing her down into the sand. Overhead a star exploded against the newly darkened sky, leaving a trail of pale red in its wake, like blood running through a clear stream. She closed her eyes and lifted her hips, wrapping on arm around his shoulders and cradled his head with the other, arching her neck against the pillow of sand caressing her face. Strong fingers grasped her jaw, opening her eyes, as Venus crested bright and ruby-red inches from her eyes. "Look at me, Freckles," he whispered. "I want you to see me." And looking into his eyes, she saw herself.

She dreamed of her mother, back when she was a girl, and understood things like innocence and youth, back when seeing red only meant anger and not regret. She saw her mother the way she wanted to see her mother, laughing in the rain, her pink skirt twirling around her like a big-top tent. Her father was there too, laughing and joking, his military uniform turning dark and damp in the encroaching storm. The images shifted, the brightness disappeared, and her mother wasn't laughing anymore. All she could hear were the screams and all she could see was her father and the hole in his chest. She reached to help, felt the warm pulse of another person's blood on her fingers, brushed away the hunter with the bad shot and lousy aim and ability to take a human life. And then the world shifted again, and the hunter became an old man, sitting in his easy chair with the daughter of the man he killed pointing a gun to his face. There was a reason Annie existed, a reason Kate had to run, a reason adults sometimes lied about their real names. The crack cut sharply through her dream and when she opened her eyes Sawyer was leaning over her, worry darkening his blue eyes. "You okay, Freckles?" he asked softly.

She pushed him away angrily and started for the water. "It's nothing," she said and dove in neat and clean, cutting through the waves with easy agility. She should have known he was quicker then she was, and his arms wound their way around her back, breast to chest, eye to eye.

"A little water clears us of this deed," he said against her neck, before she had time to ponder the strangeness of Sawyer quoting Shakespeare. "Kissing and all, torture ain't all it's cracked up to be. Let it go." And she melted against him, the water brushing against her hips, washing away her sins.

She hiked into camp sweaty and sunburned, in need of fresh water and some new clothes. Charlie appeared immediately, out of hibernation for the first time in weeks, and tossed an apple into her hand. "An apple?" she said, testing its weight in her hand. "Where did you get these on a tropical island?"

"Where did the polar bear come from?" he shot back, the high neck of his hoodie hiding the bruised ring wound around his neck. He smiled, a tiny smile, and patted her shoulder softly. "Just enjoy."

She saw Jack out of the corner of her eye, coaching Shannon through another asthma attack. He smiled at her and waved a little, an earnest, little boy look altering his feature. She knelt by the stream and starting filling water bottles, grimacing inwardly at the pain stinging her thighs. The apple lay beside her, untouched and shining brightly in the sunlight. She watched it carefully, at the beams of light bouncing off its surface, making prism patterns in the stream. Footsteps sounded solidly behind her, heavier and thicker then the ones she usually heard in the sand. "Hey," he said softly, and she knew he stuck his hands in his pockets without even looking. "How are you doing? How are things at the beach?"

She closed the water bottle and straightened, tucking her long braid over one shoulder. "Good, you know. Sawyer's been keeping the signal fire going. Maybe someone will see us."

"Yeah, maybe," he said roughly, his eyes focused on a spot over her shoulder.

"What are you looking at?" she said and turned, but all she saw was the smooth fall of running water. "Is something wrong?"

He took a few steps closer, running his fingers over smooth expanse of her neck. "You have a bruise," he said. His finger traced the line of her jaw. "Right here."

"It's a long walk back to the beach," she said. "Through the jungle. We're in the wild, Jack. Things happen."

He reached down and picked up the apple, tossed it softly in the air. He caught it with long, agile fingers. "What's it gonna be, Kate? Or should I say who's it gonna be?"

She said nothing, clutching the water bottles to her chest like a life preserver. "I don't know what you're talking about -- "

"Kate," he said. "We're adults here. Make a decision. Please." He held out the apple, glinting red and gleaming in the light.

She looked at him sadly and murmured softly against the breeze. "Out, damned spot, out, out I say" and she blinked and looked at her hands, tanned and slightly scarred, but without vestiges of blood.

He smiled bitterly and bounced the apple. "Come on, Kate."

She reached up and kissed his cheek, took the apple from his hand. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I was never the kind of girl a man should love."

He smiled sadly and walked away without word, the apple weighing heavily against her hand. She bit in deep, juice and pulp coating her lips and laughed a little, understanding another woman's situation so many thousand years ago. Temptation wasn't a sin -- it was liberation.

That night she lay in the sand, the night breeze brushing cool and light over her bare skin.

"He ain't gonna forgive you, Freckles," he said, trailing his tongue across her stomach. "He ain't gonna forget it either."

She snagged his hair with her fingers, surprisingly soft against her skin, pulled his face towards hers, capturing his mouth with her own, and bit down hard, tasting copper and salt and familiarity on her tongue. "I know." And she shifted her hips and sank deeper into sin.

Please tell me what you think!