"Strength and the Ocean"
Kate was strong. She was independent, and knew never to rely on anyone else. And right now, she hated that with a passion. She stood on the beach with her arms crossed high on her chest and stared sightlessly at the water. She'd been on her own for so long, it was all she knew now. Even when she'd been in relationships or had her family, she had always held herself a little apart; keeping some integral piece of herself locked away. She convinced herself that it was better that way; the less people knew you, the less ammo they had against you. She'd learned her lesson at a painfully young age and had shaken hands with betrayal and abandonment so often, they were now her emotional neighbours.
And now, here she stood on this god-forsaken island, waiting for rescue only because it was something to do, not because she really thought it would come. She spent her days hauling wood and water, and her nights brooding, with only her past mistakes to keep her company in the dark. She had spent the last part of her life running; slinking from place to place, never staying long enough to be tracked. At least it was easier to avoid entanglements, she would remind herself. But in truth, she knew she was running from herself and her past. It's not that she regretted her past actions. Her life had happened and there was no going back. It was more that she was haunted by the life she wished she'd had, and it was those broken dreams that kept her running, perhaps even more than the law; trying to stay one step ahead of the life that taunted her … the life that she could never have.
It was a cruel twist of fate that now prevented her from running, physically at least. When the plane broke up, her wings had been clipped just as brutally as the plane's. Part of her, the cowardly part, wished she hadn't survived; that her running could finally have been ended. But her instinct for survival slapped that little voice back, and condemned her for bemoaning her fate when so many others had died.
The wind tugged a curl loose from her braid and sent it whispering across her face. Tucking the lock behind her ear, she pondered her new existence here. Life had finally settled into a routine, something she had very little experience with. Off in the distance, she heard the sound of bartering, and knew Sawyer was likely involved. Sawyer, she thought with a shake of her head, was a puzzle. She had never met anyone who spent so much time and energy on getting people to hate him. He said they had a connection and as much as she hated to admit it, she knew he was right. And oh, how she resented that fact. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a figure emerge from a makeshift shelter. Glancing over, she saw it was Jack, his pack slung across his back like a college student, checking on the welfare of the beach dwellers. Turning her gaze back to the undulating sea, she pondered the role these two men were playing in her life here.
Sawyer's interest in her was blatant, especially in the way he tried to flaunt his flirtation with her in front of Jack. And with Sawyer, it was easy to flirt back. She knew not to take his sexual innuendos as anything more than overtures for a tumble in the woods, only partially hidden behind a grafter's charm. Like her, he was used to keeping himself hidden from anyone, avoiding permanence like a cat does water. And that was the truth of their "connection". In him, she saw her own reflection; a sordid past shaped from childhood trauma. It would be so easy to fall into old habits, to just let herself sink back into her tendencies and not aspire to a better life … a better Kate. Sawyer would never judge her for her past or expect her to rise above her present situation. There would be no chocolates and roses in any relationship they'd have, but neither would there be the chance of getting hurt. As ironic as it was, Sawyer, for all his criminal past, was the safe choice. The choice that wouldn't challenge her to make her dreams come true.
She looked down at the waves lapping over her bare toes, momentarily mesmerized by the grains of sand that were gently pulled away from between her toes and scattered out to sea. Jack was like those waves, she realized with a start. Without her being aware of it, he had managed to pull away some of her barriers with the same gentleness and warmth as the water, scattering fragments of her shield like flower petals over the ocean. And the thing was, he wasn't even trying to. It was nothing he did, but just simply the way he was. Acknowledging her past but not letting her hide behind it. And that scared her. With Jack, she saw something in herself; potential and a life story not yet written, a destiny she could still control. It wasn't just that he reminded her of the dreams she knew would never come true. With just a glance and the flicker of a smile, he made her think that those dreams could still come true.
And so, she went to neither. Instead of taking the comfort she knew each would offer her, she stood alone on the shore, her arms wrapped around herself in comfort. With a sad smile, she acknowledged her self-punishment. She didn't feel that she deserved Jack's support and the hope he offered her, but nor did she feel Sawyer deserved to have his past held as an excuse to use him.
Yes, Kate was strong. But for the first time, she wished that she wasn't. She wished she could drop her guard and not be so alone. She longed to feel someone else's arms comfort her, even just for little bit. But in truth, she just didn't know how to trust; how to trust others … how to trust herself. Jack had said that they all deserved to start over, and maybe one day, she would feel that that applied to her as well. Chewing her lip thoughtfully, she hoped that day would come soon.