A/N: Sorry about the delay. I wanted to wait for the epi 'what kate did' before I wrote this chapter, however, after watching it, I couldn't seem to get my thoughts in order. I still think there still has to be more to the story. I remember in the epi where she came back home to see her mom and her old boyfriend dies, when they played the old tape she really wanted to get out of there, but in the past epi, there she is 24, and still living near home. Why did she stay? Anyway, the flashback in this chapter is going to be as close to the shows plot as I can keep it. Oh, and I'm sorry for how dense the first half of this chapter is, it gets easier further down, I just couldn't split any of this up.
Kate felt somewhat numb as she was led back to her cell by the uniformed guard. She waited for the door to be shut before turning and sticking her hands through the special slot, allowing him to unlock the handcuffs. She unconsciously rubbed her hands over each wrist, still feeling the coldness of the metal pushing against her skin. She closed her eyes and imagined what her life could be. She tried to picture what she would be doing this exact moment if she weren't in this cell. She came up empty. The question had too many dimensions. If she wasn't in here, then obviously she wasn't a wanted criminal or she had somehow managed to escape and run once again. However, if she had run, there would be no Jack in her life. If she wasn't wanted, then she wouldn't have been on the plane in the first place, also meaning no Jack. She sighed and dropped her hands when she realized that in no other plane of existence would she and Jack be together at this moment.
When Kate had been growing up she had prided herself on her independence. She didn't need anyone; she didn't depend on anyone. No one, especially no man, was ever going to call the shots in her life. She was her own person, and she was a strong person. Eventually, she came to understand the teenage craving for human contact. She met Tom, and allowed him to know her deeper than others ever had. Over time, she had let him dangerously close to breaking down that last wall, reveling in the feeling of excitement and nervousness as only a teenager can. She laughed at him as he talked of them getting married, of her carrying their multiple children. She had actually pictured the two of them together. It may have been that she was young and naïve or that every teen pictures themselves marrying their first love, but she Kate Austin, had actually done this at some point. But even in these dreams, she was an independent person. She had a full time job, just as demanding and well paying as his, if not more so. They split all house chores evenly. They lived a balanced life, and she remained Kate Austin forever, their children having hyphenated last names, a sign of her eternal independence.
But Kate Austin had gotten hurt. She had fallen for him, and he hadn't been there to catch her when she needed it the most. The walls had gone back, in addition to the new walls that were quickly developing, each one stronger and less penetrable than the last. She became Kate Austin the fugitive, Kate Austin the wanted felon, Kate Austin the loner. She didn't need anyone but herself, and most important she didn't want anyone else in her life, at least she had managed to convince herself of this. Kate Austin had spent years on the run, living below the police radar constantly aimed at her. She had done many things she wasn't proud of to get by, but she convinced herself she had made the right decision, that running was the only option for a life. She preferred it to the life behind a set of thick steel bars.
Every so often Kate Austin would make a contact with another human being. She would create a persona for herself and go from there. The last was one she had used was a sweet college grad named Annie would wanted to see the world. She had made the mistake of trusting the kind old man she had worked for. Her brain had screamed at her to leave the night he caught her in the pantry, but the voice in her head that craved human contact and acceptance had told her it wouldn't hurt to stay one more night, to say goodbye and leave on a good note. She had made the mistake trusting that little voice and it had landed her in handcuffs.
Then fate stepped in and Kate Austin landed on an island with forty-seven others. They were all as different as different could be, but for two things in common: they had survived a plane crash and they all had some dark shadow in their past they had yet to work out. And try as she might, Kate Austin was unable not to form attachments to these people, to form bonds of friendship, and with one man in particular, a bond stronger than she could have expected. And slowly but surely, Kate Austin had learned new things; friendship, trust, accepting help and even asking for it, and love. The extreme level of independence she had valued above all else slowly amounted to less importance. She would never be dependent on another, it wasn't in it her to be like that, but she didn't have to do everything for herself. She could accept help. She could accept support and advice. She could tell secrets and trust they would stay secret. She could lean on another when she wasn't at her strongest and know that he wouldn't ever see her as a lesser person for it. Slowly but surely Kate Austin had changed her mindset. She couldn't pinpoint the exact moment of her decision, but at the present time, Kate Austin wanted nothing more than to be Kate Shepard.
Kate stood on the edge on the beach, her feet just beginning to disappear in the sand under her toes. She had been standing there for quite some time, only having moved once to pull her feet out when she had realized that they had sunk further then she had ever allowed them to before. She cursed herself for allowing things to go so far. Time and time again she had promised herself she would not form attachments to anyone. Attachment only ends in pain and disappointment. But here she was, alone on the beach, with only her thoughts for company.
Forming a bond with Jack had been too natural. She was already invested before she realized she was in danger of becoming attached and not even in a romantic way. They had simply formed a bond from the moment they met. That was her first mistake. After four years on the run, having to hide her identity from anyone she met along the way, Kate had failed. She had learned the art of quickly creating a persona and flawlessly becoming that person. She could think on her feet and fool anyone with a full life story, personality traits and attitudes, but when Jack Shepard had asked her for a name, she had given away her true identity. It hadn't even crossed her mind to tell him anything else. She had been caught in a landslide from there. She couldn't stop or even slow down their quickly developing relationship. She continually found herself forgetting to be afraid, forgetting to not allow him in. And a few of these times, she had tried to go against him, lied to him and tried to make him hate her, but he never did.
Why she had formed a bond with Sawyer was simple. He had even voiced it; they shared something. They had a similarity. They had similar pasts, both felt like outsiders, and, if either were ever caught and took to trial, had similar futures. She felt a closeness to him because he would let her be who she pretended to be. She wasn't sure if he could see through her or not, but she never cared to ask. He would never push. However, she had let things go too far. She had no strong feelings for him, but now believed her platonic feelings not to be reciprocated. And she knew for a fact that he was jealous of her relationship with Jack.
Things had been easier when Sawyer had left on the raft. Although Jack was not a confrontational man, he was threatened by Sawyer, and responded when provoked. For a few days, Kate had been able to see the Jack that existed without the constant tension of uncertainty. But then Sawyer had appeared once more, near death at that. She saw the hurt in Jack's eyes when she had taken over with Sawyer, and she had seen the way he had tried to mask it. It was then that she truly understood how he felt, and she had pulled closer to Sawyer to distance herself from Jack, and her growing feelings. Her plan backfired when her stress level had risen so high that she had let her past in. She had broken down in front of Jack, something she had never done in front of another person for almost a decade. Then she had kissed him.
And now she found herself standing alone on the beach, sinking in her thoughts. It didn't scare her that Sawyer was back, or that she had allowed herself to be vulnerable in front of both Jack and Sayid, or even that he had kissed her back. What scared her the most was what she had felt during the kiss. The goose bumps, the racing heart, the rush of adrenaline, and sense of letting go. Suddenly she was in way over her head. The rational part of her was screaming for her to get out of the situation, to run and avoid both men until they realized nothing was going to happen, but there was a small voice, that no matter how quiet, could be heard above the screaming. She had accepted what it was telling her, but was unsure what to do next. She knew she had to stop any advancement with Sawyer, the sooner the better. But Jack was another story. She could easily give him the same story she would give Sawyer, but she knew she would be lying to him and to herself. The other option was terrifying. It meant being open and risk getting hurt harder than she had ever experienced. She knew what could happen if she let her guard down, but she knew instinctively that she could trust him. And she knew the end result of this choice could make her a whole person again. She wanted to feel the happiness she had dreamed of as a child, of being a good person and of being with a good man.
Kate shifted her weight and sighed, realizing she had lost herself in her thoughts once more. She tensed as she pulled her feet up, out of the sand and shook them as clean as she could. With only one backward glance at the ocean behind her, she set off for the hatch.
Jack nodded to himself as he checked on the sleeping Sawyer. His fever was coming down nicely, and he was sure the arrogant man would be back to his old self in a matter of days. Jack heard the door to the hatch open, but kept his back to it, assuming it was a new shift coming in to take over for Locke and Hurley. He was kneeling on the ground organizing his supplies, his back still to the door when the hair on the back of his neck stood up. He was suddenly aware he was being watched. His head spun around, his eyes immediately meeting hers. Her body language was timid and unsure, but her expression met his evenly. She opened her mouth as if to say something, but hesitated and ended up breaking contact, her gaze moving away from his.
"How's he doing?" She asked, her eyes settling on Sawyer's form on the bunk bed.
"Great," Jack answered. "He should be fine in a couple of days."
Kate nodded. "That's good." She stopped, as if she had more to say, but was unable to voice it. Jack didn't make any move to add anything to the conversation. He had no idea where he sat with her at the moment.
"Can we talk?" Kate finally asked quietly.
Jack hesitated, not sure he really wanted to have this talk. He hadn't seen her for a whole day, and was sure it had been because she was avoiding him. he was pretty sure he knew where this was headed. He shrugged. "Talk."
Kate sighed and looked away. "Jack..." She started. "That's not what I meant."
"Well, then explain to me what you meant, because I seem to have a hard time interpreting what you mean. Take some time if you need to think about it, you must need at least a day." Jack knew he sounded like an ass, but he was so frustrated by her actions over the past couple days.
Kate set her jaw and looked up, right into his eyes, and squared her shoulders. "Please, Jack." It was then that he noticed the slight tremble in her frame and he sighed, feeling deflated. She always had this impact on him.
He nodded. "Okay." He motioned for her to follow as he led them out of the hatch and towards the beach. They didn't talk during the trip through the forest. They cut left, to a more secluded area, knowing they would have privacy. He sat down and motioned for her to take a seat beside him.
"So," he started.
She nodded, taking a moment to organize her thoughts. "I'm sorry, Jack."
Jack knew she was absolutely sincere and honest in her words. "For what?" He asked gently.
"For how I've been acting, for freaking out and leaving the hatch yesterday, for leaving Sawyer like that and forgetting about the button. Then for yelling at you, and...and kissing you, and then running away and avoiding you."
Jack hesitated, debating his next move. "Are you sorry for the kiss, or for running away after it?" He finally asked.
Kate sucked in a quick breath, every nerve in her body standing on end. This was her moment of truth. She could easily lie and tell him both and all the pressure would be gone, but she couldn't do that to him. She knew he had taken the first step out onto the limb when he had voiced the question, and he was asking her to step out with him. She was all too aware that this was a defining moment, that she would look back on this in the future and either feel regret or gladness. "For running away," she finally answered.
Jack couldn't fight the smile that found its was to his face. "Good." He said.
Kate glanced sideways at him. "Good?" she asked.
Jack nodded. "Good," he repeated.
Her lips formed a small smile as she breathed a breath of relief. "Good," she nodded to herself.
"So," he began after a few moments, breaking the silence.
She laughed nervously. "So," she repeated, meeting his eyes, still trembling slightly.
Jack slowly reached a hand up to brush a stray lock of hair from her cheek. He pushed it back behind her ear, and gently cupped the side of her face. She gasped slightly at the contact, but gave no resistance as he pulled her closer to him as he leaned in. They met in the middle, the kiss soft and slow, but full of emotion. Neither got lost or pushed to deepen it and both pulled back at the same time.
Jack took a deep breath, his hand still on her face, his eyes reading her still uncertain ones. He could feel his heart beating strongly in his chest and he had never felt so alive before. He offered a small smile, which she reciprocated, before breaking contact and looking away.
"Hey," he said gently. "What's the matter?"
"I have to tell you something," she said, looking back up.
From the tone of her voice, Jack knew exactly what she was talking about. "Kate, you don't have to tell me anything you don't want to."
Kate shook her head, her gaze strengthening. "No, I want to tell you."
Jack nodded. "Okay." He had no idea what he was about to hear, but he knew that no matter what it was, his feeling for her would not change. He was far too invested already.
Kate took a breath, and bit her lip, trying to decide where to begin.
AN: Okay, so I will have the next chapter start where this one left off. (Who else but me is pissed that Lost isn't on again until Jan 11th? I need some answers!)lol. Thanx for reading.