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"You have a visitor."
She was jolted out of her thoughts by the guard's words. She sighed inwardly, trying to suppress the fleeting shots of hope at the sounds of his words.
The first time she had heard those words had been four days earlier. And she had quietly allowed herself to be handcuffed and led to the visitor's area; a white-washed room with panels of glass and telephones. Her expectation of seeing him had been so high that she hadn't even considered the possibility that it may not be him, but when she was seated in the hard plastic chair, her expectant eyes had come to rest upon a stranger. She had been devastated. It had already been six days. If he hadn't come yet, was he ever going to? She had known that she shouldn't get involved, she had learned early in life not to trust men. But, he had slowly broken through all the layers she had built up around her, and against all her better instincts and mindsets, she had given in, allowed herself to be happy, to feel safe and loved, a new experience for her. She finally admitted to herself that she craved human contact and acceptance, to feel a part of a community. And with his patience, she had allowed for all of this to happen. She was accepted for who she was by everyone and over time, she was slowly able to allow herself to trust him, something she swore to herself a long time ago that she would never do. She allowed herself to believe that the fairy tales and the urban legends could be right: that there may actually exist a good man.
Figures, she thought to herself. For now, only ten days back in the 'real world' and he was nowhere to be seen. She stood up, turning her back to the door, her arms behind her. She was already well accustomed to the procedure. The guard cautiously entered the cell and handcuffed her wrists behind her back.
The other inmates sneered at her as she made the walk down the hall, just as they did every time she made the walk. She was aware that they were most likely jealous of the number of visitors she had, but they weren't aware that she would give up every one of them in a heart beat for one particular man to visit her. Or even for the concrete knowledge that he would not, so she could stop getting her hopes up. All the knowledge she held about her situation and reality and men told her not to expect anything from him, but she couldn't seem to throw away that last ray of hope, no matter how small it had become. It was what kept her going, what made her go and see every visitor; just to make sure it wasn't him.
But it had been ten days since she had seen him, and she was coming to the conclusion that he would no longer be a part of her life. Not that she could blame him. It was different back in the real world. He was smack in the middle of his fifteen minutes of fame. She had seen the pictures of him in the newspapers. 'The brave doctor who led the survivors of flight 815.' Apparently he was now a very eligible bachelor. One particular picture stood out in her mind; that of a woman at a press conference. She was holding a sign that read 'Jack, will you marry me.' Why would he want her anymore? It had been slim pickings on the island, she mused. She had just been a diversion to pass time. And she hated herself for falling for that, for allowing herself to be so vulnerable. For allowing herself to believe he had really loved her.
Of course her story had leaked out as well, and she had seen her own picture in the newspaper. One of the captions had been a family asking why their son had died and she had lived, almost as if they were blaming her for the death of their son. She hadn't asked to survive the crash. She wished now she could have traded places with the boy. One article, even though she was pretty sure it had been the tabloids, had gone so far as to say she had devised some kind of escape plan that had involved taking down the plane. Like that was even feasible, one person in a plane in handcuffs who didn't leave her seat. Regardless of where the information came from, it had sent a steady flow of reporters into the prison to interview her. They all wanted her story. She barely said a word to any of them. Only denying the theory of her crashing the plane. She had always been too disappointed to say much.
She knew she shouldn't get her hopes up, knew she should tell the guards she didn't want any more visitors, but she was still struggling to diminish that last ray of hope that he just might come, that there was a good reason he hadn't been in contact yet. She couldn't stop herself from feeling that small jolt of anticipation every time she heard she had a visitor.
The group made their way down the bridge from the ship, onto solid ground once more, but for the first time in over two years, the land was populated, was full of people, of buildings and all the modern conveniences that they had lived without for so long. Overall, the mood was joyful and excited, most ecstatic to finally be home, some were anxious about what they would find when they got 'home', and for one, the mood was terrifying.
Kate had known from day one what would happen if they were ever rescued. She would be taken into custody and locked away, but years on the island without the constant fear of confinement had worked at quelling the fear. She had actually let herself forget at times that she was wanted. She had actually allowed herself to feel normal. She had forgotten that just because the small community she had been living in had accepted her, didn't mean anyone else would. She had even caught herself smiling as the rescue team led them all safely onto the boat, his presence beside her the entire time.
Her anxiety and fear had grown almost out of control during the long, three day trip back to Australia. He had done what he could to cease her fears, had comforted her, voiced his love and loyalty to her and promised they would face it together. They would hire a lawyer and re-open the case. They would fight until her name was cleared. But on day three all her greatest fears had come true.
While stepping off the bridge, she was intercepted by two men in uniform. It was then that she had known. They weren't going to give her a chance to fight anything. She had not struggled physically or verbally as her hand was pulled from his and the cuffs she had been without for so long had been re-fastened to her wrists. She was vaguely aware of his protests, as she was loaded into the backseat. She had looked out as the car began to pull away, just long enough to make contact with his eyes through the meshed window of the government vehicle. That had been the last time she had seen him.
She was kept in a holding cell all alone for the next two nights, before being escorted to the States early on the third morning. The plane ride had been terrifying. She had tried to fight when they were loading the plane, but she was no match to the two marshals acting as her escorts. She had been anxious and on guard the entire ride, being constantly aware that her heart rate was well above normal. Although the ride was relatively calm, she had to suppress a scream when the plane suddenly hit an air pocket about half way through the ride. The marshals seemed to think her actions were entertaining. They laughed at her panic stricken face, but she had closed her eyes and blocked them out, silently counting to five in her head.
That night she had been placed in another holding cell before being transferred to a high security prison she was now forced to call home, and for who knew how much longer.
The pressure on her arms signaled her to stop as the guard punched in the key to the secure door. She was led inside, and seated at an empty window. She wasn't surprised, as she was usually the first one to arrive. The guard uncuffed her right hand, so she could hold the phone, and re-cuffed her left hand to the table, so she couldn't get away. Which was absurd, she thought, because there was no way out of this room without a code and even then it was only deeper into the secured area.
She sighed and rested her head on her hands, preparing herself for a wait. One reported had arrived nearly twenty minutes after her.
She heared a quiet tap on the glass and opened her eyes, only to find them immediately locked with those of the man she never expected to see again. All she could do was stare at him until he motioned for her to pick up the phone.
"Hey," he said softly.
"Hey," she almost whispered, feeling her breath hitch.
"Are they treating you okay?" He asked, concerned.
All she could do was nod.
He took a quick breath, looking as if he was fighting off tears for a moment himself. "I missed you," it was short and simple, but to Kate it conveyed everything she had been feeling for the past ten days.
She remained silent, eyes clenched shut, refusing to allow the tears to come.
"Please, Kate, please look at me."
She did and saw sadness and love and helplessness mixed with the tears that were now forming in his eyes.
"I'm so sorry," he said. "I couldn't find you. It took almost a week for them to tell me that you were no longer in Australia. I flew here as soon as I could and finally managed to find out where you were. I got here as soon as I could. I'm so sorry you've been alone so far." He paused for a moment, taking a shaky breath, his expression portraying his feelings, the helplessness of not being able to find her, the relief at finally having done so. "Are you doing okay?" He asked. "Are you sure you're being treated okay?"
Kate could again, only manage a nod. If you consider okay as meaning no one treating you like a person, being laughed at for a very valid fear and being handled a little rougher than she would have liked to, then yes she was fine.
"Kate," he said softly, "please talk to me."
It was then that she felt the tears come. She couldn't hold back the damn any longer. She felt ashamed of herself for crying, but one look in his eyes and she knew it was okay. He had seen her cry before; he had been the only person to do so for the entirety of her adult like.
He remained silent, allowing her to collect her thoughts.
"I thought I'd never see you again," she finally managed.
Jack swore he felt this heart break with those words. He had spent the last ten days frantically trying to find her, knowing she would be losing hope, but he hadn't thought she had so little faith in him, but as he looked into her eyes, reading her like no one else had ever been able to, he realized he was wrong. It wasn't about her faith in him. It was about her faith in everything. She had none left. Years ago she had lost faith in family, then quickly after she lost faith in people in general. Then, some time over the years she spent on the run, she lost faith in herself. Jack was almost taken aback at what he saw. This was a level of Kate he had not anticipated, one he had not ever expected. This was the Kate that the world had left behind. She didn't deserve any of this. She deserved to feel happy and loved and safe. He had long ago promised himself that he would help to make her feel that way, but now he felt like he had failed her. He mentally made a new promise to himself that he would restore her faith in the world, that he would see her laugh again, see her happy once more.
"Kate," he started, glancing at his watch. He knew he didn't have much time. "I-look at me." It wasn't an order, but a plea. He gazed directly into her tear-stained eyes as he continued. "I will never give up on you, okay? I promise." He reached his left hand up to touch the glass between them.
"We're going to find a way to fix this, okay? We're going to get you out of here. I don't want to spend the rest of my life without you, Kate. Hell, if it were up to me I wouldn't spend another day of the rest of my life without you. I love you."
Resting the phone on her shoulder, she reached forward her right hand, touching the glass where his hand still rested. She looked into his eyes. "I love you, too," she whispered, and even offered him the smallest of smiles.
He knew what the smile was. It was to convince both him and herself that things might be okay. He knew she didn't really believe that, but he was determined he was going to make it happen. Even though he recognized the falsity of the smile, he felt his heart swell at the bravery of the woman he loved. She was the strongest person he had ever known, and he knew that even though she had let him see deeper into her than she had anyone else, there was still a lot more to her than visible on the surface. But that was okay, because he knew he would get there eventually. She was more than worth waiting for.
The guard announced that their time was up and pulled Kate's right hand away from the glass to re-cuff it to her left one.
"I'll be back tomorrow," he said, before the guard replaced the phone in the cradle.
Kate gave a small nod, and for a second an almost undetectable smile, to him as she stood up. And before she was led away, she turned her head to him and mouthed, "thank-you."
AN: So, what did you think? I want to make sure I have the characters right before I continue too far, although the next chapter should be up soon. Does anyone know what kind of visitors area they have in a high security prison? I was going to say medium security, but I didn't know if they exist? Anyone out there an expert of the criminal justice system? Lol.