Disclaimer: I do not own Lost. I would not have written such a terrible ending! Also don't own Ray Charles's song collection.
A.N.: sorry for the four year wait for such a small conclusion. I felt it was fitting to finally finish this after the end of Lost. This was written during S1, and I've come so far since then, but I'd like to thank everyone who's read and reviewed this.
Dedicated to modernxxmyth, for convincing me a month ago to finish this, since one person at least would read it! Also dedicated to all the Skaters.
Chapter 29: Epilogue
Their journey was nearing an end, Sawyer could sense it. In both the literal and metaphorical sense. He had found her, he had found her. Sawyer allowed himself a moment of elation. And triumph. Hehad found her. He had accomplished something, something worth doing and it felt kind of…odd, if he was honest. He couldn't quite reconcile pre-island Sawyer with the man he was today. He had changed, somewhere along the way. It had been terrifyingly abrupt and yet he was noticing it in miniscule details, it could have been hours or weeks that the transformation took place, little by little, creeping up upon him so unnoticeably until it had sneaked up and hit him smack in the face.
He'd grown up, finally. He'd found his way, and he found it because it led to her. Sawyer allowed himself to smile into Kate's curls as she sat in his lap. It was their final respite before they returned to their beach. Sawyer wasn't sure he'd ever find a place to call home again, not after it had so cruelly been taken from him as a child, just like that. The beach wasn't perfect (but it was better than the caves, Jackass), but it was theirs. And with growing realisation Sawyer recognised that 'theirs' wasn't even just him and Kate, but the entire group of survivors. He'd laugh if anyone attempted to call it a family, but it was a community, and one which both of them belonged to, and had, rather surprisingly, made more connections with people than they'd thought. So many people had lost someone, somewhere along the way, but they weren't alone. And if that warmed Sawyer's heart ever so slightly, it wasn't something he was going to admit to anyone, not even himself.
The accompanying punch to the thigh, however half-hearted, jolted Sawyer out of his thoughts, and he looked accusingly at the girl in his arms.
"What?" came his equally irritated response.
"I've been trying to get your attention for five minutes Sawyer! We going back or what?" There was a hint of a grin on Kate's face, and through the hoarse quality of her voice and exhaustion lurking behind every word, she looked eager to get back to the beach, finally. Kate missed her (Sawyer's) aeroplane-seat bed –
- "if you say it like that I sound like a five year old! It's not as if there's a steering wheel on the end –"
"Seriously? I say I miss bed and that's your first response? Are you okay?" Kate punctuated her words with a dramatic flourish of her hand to his forehead, oblivious to Jack's discomfort and Jin's laid-back amusement.
"Forty five minutes, guys. Let's go back." Jack's tone was authoritative and he offered a hand to Kate as he stood up. Kate hesitated, then smiled at Jack as she took his hand, wincing as she was hoisted up, her bruises made themselves apparent. Sawyer frowned, but the small hand that looked for his behind Kate's back made him feel a hell of a lot better and he even managed a small magnanimous nod to the good doctor.
That's my good deed for the day.
"I'm not going back." Michael's voice was small but firm. "I have to find my son, Jack."
"I wish you'd come back with us. But I can't even understand what it's like to lose a child…What I would say is to return with us, get supplies, be sensible. You've come in a circle anyway."
"No, I gotta – I gotta go Jack. Now. I have to find my son."
Locke entered the clearing with his knives, presumably having left to sharpen them somehow. Who the hell knows with Colonel Kurtz? Sawyer thought. Bet they thought up that 'riddle wrapped up in an enigma' thing just for him.
"If I go back to where the Others ambushed us, I gotta find something. I can wait. Wait for someone to show up." Michael scratched his neck agitatedly. "Or maybe they'll find me and I can get on the inside."
"You cannot expect to be followed always," Locke noted serenely. Michael looked up at him uneasily, the words whispering through his head like a dream. Or like a dream I once had…
Locke smiled, and Kate couldn't resist the urge to shiver.
"Come now Michael, the trail grows ever colder. Goodbye all, I am sure we will see each other very soon."
And with that, Locke guided Michael out of the clearing, leaving a concerned Jack, and an impatient Sawyer.
"Well let's hit the road Jack, and don't you come back, don't you come back no more no more..."
As they approached the beach, Kate and Sawyer could almost smell it. A small tug on Sawyer's arm signalled Kate felt well enough to walk, although Sawyer knew it really meant Kate was far too stubborn to be carried into camp when she was still conscious. Jack had wanted to get her to the caves for treatment, but the exhaustion in her eyes convinced him that to go bed was the best tonic in the world.
And it wouldn't trouble the Doc to walk the extra distance to get everything Freckles needs. Especially considering the goddamn way he wouldn't even go after her.
Kate looked at him warningly, and he wondered how she even knew.
"You're glaring at Jack," she whispered, mock-accusingly. Sawyer responded by casually flinging an arm around her as he pushed the final branch away from her face and the full panorama of their beach came into view.
For a few minutes it was calm, peaceful, and home. And he kissed Kate on the head in relief. There was a crowd around Claire's bassinet (thank God Jiminy Cricket got her back alright), cooing over the baby and making noises Sawyer was distinctly unimpressed with, until Claire looked up, and beamed. Others turned around to follow her stare, and Sawyer thought it must have been some goddamned invisible code for mass running towards the tired group. He pulled Kate closer to him unconsciously, and she grabbed onto the back of his shirt as she prepared herself for the verbal onslaught, however friendly.
Jack stepped in front of them and put his hands up.
"Guys, I know you're all glad Kate and –" Jack licked his lips as he swallowed the unpleasantness of pride lurking in the pit of his stomach – "and, and Sawyer, are back. But Kate desperately needs rest, and I need a group to come to the caves and get supplies to make her better. So hold off for now, okay, and you can see her later or tomorrow."
The crowd made sympathetic noises and faces, and Kate was glad for Jack's intervention, because she was suddenly so tired…
She didn't even notice Sawyer had guided her to their tent until he sat her down gently, pulling off her shoes. Her eyes closed before her head touched the pillow and Sawyer smiled at the sight, running a hand through her hair gently before pulling a light blanket over her.
"Sleep tight doll face. We gotta lot to face up to tomorrow."
Tomorrow came, and as the day was dying and the heat gave way to a cool breeze, two figures could be seen on the edge of the beach. He counted her freckles as she lay on the cool damp sand where the shore crept over her, tickling and dancing over her tired body. Sawyer leaned over Kate, resting on his side as he played absent-mindedly with a loose curl on her cheek. The sun was setting but it still had enough orange warmth to highlight the corner of the beach and Kate had closed her eyes in tired bliss. They had come so far, but Sawyer knew they also had so far to go. But he knew it would be alright. Somehow.
Kate opened her eyes and smiled contentedly as she lazily raked her gaze over Sawyer's form, before meeting his eyes. And she knew it would be alright. Somehow.
Because when I look inside you, I see me.
And that was no longer a bad thing.