by She's a Star
Disclaimer: Lost belongs to J.J. & Co.
Author's Note: This is just some very depressing, must-not-happen speculation about what's to come in season two, post-raft-explosion. Because by George, I do love me some angst. ;-) There's a bit of bitterness aimed at Jack/Kate in here that was unintentional but popped up nonetheless, so keep that in mind if that kinda thing upsets you.
It never gets cold here. She hates that. It's not the kind of heat that hangs, lazy, in the air. It presses against her skin, her nose and mouth. Sometimes she thinks she can't breathe.
She doesn't think he would have liked it, to be next to Boone. He'd have made some wry comment about them dropping like flies, being stacked like bricks, one next to the other. Soon they'd have a whole damn chimney of corpses. Jack would have rolled his eyes at him, muttered wordlessly under his breath in disgust, and early on she would have followed suit but she's not sure now. Not that it matters.
They don't know what's become of the others. Sun is quiet, in a different way. Her eyes shine with despair. She looks beautiful and Kate feels guilty for thinking it. Mirrors are rare here and so she doesn't know what she looks like, but she doubts she's handling it with so much grace. She feels like she's always tripping and stumbling now. All her words come out wrong; she doesn't want anything to be revealed. Still lying, still running, even now. There's something so absurd about trying to run on an island, the idea of it. One night she sits alone where he used to and laughs, and being surrounded by these things that weren't his makes it worse. A pair of little girls' leopard print sunglasses, a book with doe-eyed rabbits on the cover and waterlogged pages. What an idiot he was, she thinks. What a completely ridiculous bastard.
(They come out in her mind like skewed terms of endearment despite herself, until she isn't sure whether she's laughing or crying.)
He'd washed up onshore, like the book, rotting but not unrecognizable. Charlie and Claire had found him first. Charlie had stumbled into the jungle to throw up; Claire had cried, which set Aaron off too. Kate can still remember it, will never forget it, approaching them with her heart beating fast, not sure what to expect from this place, not anymore, but never that. Mother and son, voices spilling out, piercing the heat, such an eloquent sorrow.
And she had just stared. His eye sockets had been empty and she'd recalled the look in them once, just before she'd kissed him. Behind the mask.
Jack had come soon enough (too late, a thousand years had passed, she's felt so old ever since). She'd watched his face as it registered. The enmity between them had dimmed slightly -- a flicker of horror before the obligatory stoicism set in.
'Come on,' he had said, arm around her, swift and tight and ready to guide her, 'Kate, go back to the caves.'
'Kate, you don't have to see this.'
'His name is James,' she'd said then, because she'd needed to, someone needed to defend him because he sure as hell had never done himself the favour. 'Not Sawyer, it's James.'
'Shhh. Come on.'
'James Ford. I found out.'
'Okay. It's all right. You don't need to be here.'
It varies, the way she grieves. She still cries over Tom, thinks of him and the ache in her chest seems to promise that at least in that way he'll always be with her. She's only cried over Sawyer once, by accident, and afterwards she takes Watership Down and puts it with her things. Next to the toy plane -- she's starting a collection. She remembers seeing on TV once that some serial killers do this.
His service is almost like Boone's. There are fewer people there; their numbers are in swift decline, and Kate stares at the gaps between bodies and the makeshift shroud and closes her eyes as the dirt is piled back up.
Something lurks, not right, in the back of her mind for the rest of the day until she realizes that it's because no one is speaking to her. She had been expecting condolences, the grieving widow, and it's stupid. No one had really known, she supposes, that he had meant something to her. She's good at keeping secrets.
There can't be a headstone or ashes poignantly scattered, and it's a shame because suddenly she yearns for the conventional. She doesn't have a veil or a dress, but her bra is black. She smirks a little, figures he would have liked that. Feels like she's the only person bothering to mourn him.
At night she sits alone on the shore, close to where they found him, and wonders. How far had they gotten? What are the odds that his body would wash back? Another little present from this place, another nudge and a wink from whatever power seems to have taken reign over them. A threat, maybe. 'Don't try to escape. You won't.' For a moment she is overcome with guilt, wishing she'd fought harder to take his place on the raft. It could have been her, and she wonders if he would have been like this. Falling apart in all of the funny, particular ways that she is.
Jack approaches her after a suitable amount of time has passed. It still hurts to her, but she supposes he underestimates it. Thinks that she found Sawyer alluring, in that bad-boy way. That she'd wanted him, maybe, enjoyed his attention, but nothing beyond that. Two men vying for her favour; Jack hovering in the background, chivalrous and gentlemanly and knowing all along that he would be the one to win.
He sits down next to her and she kind of wants to punch him.
'Kate,' he says.
She doesn't reply. His hand finds hers. His fingers are warm and dry, not like hers.
'You don't have to,' she tells him, and doesn't look at him. 'I'm okay.'
'No, I do,' he argues lightly. His thumb massages the back of her hand. 'I know what he meant to you.'
She wants to laugh. Instead, she turns to kiss him, like she's supposed to.