if this last chapter sounds hastily put together. that's because it is! oh. and i saw the promo pictures for the episode tonight. Sawyer's standing. i was wrong. commence laughing and pointing...
Kate awoke with a quick breath, startled by a vaguely familiar sound. But the fuzzy heels of a retreating dream about an elk on fire confused her thoughts.
It sounded again, this time louder, more clear.
She blinked, slowly beginning to register the heavy, almost feral breathing of Sawyer behind her.
It sounded again.
She realized it was the four-minute warning for the button.
Kate sat up and looked over at Sawyer, he was lying on his back, his slow, rolling breaths tinged with faint growling, his eyes zooming around beneath his lids, caught in REM.
It sounded again.
She moved gradually, inching her body down to the foot of the bunk bed, careful not to jostle it too much or to touch him, not wanting him to wake.
From the dimness of the artificial light coming through the window, it was still night.
It sounded again.
She successfully moved off the bed and touched down onto the cold concrete floor, finally noticing that her feet were bare. She saw her socks as she passed, figuring she must have taken them off while she was asleep. Appreciating the fact that that had been all that had come off in the night.
She shuffled into the room, craning her neck back as she came to see it counting down from 003:47.
She entered the numbers and hit execute without a second glance, the numbers flipped, and she twisted her neck in her hand, working out a kink in a few soft, but audible pops.
Then walked back into the bedroom, her eyes floating around the sharp relief of Sawyer's silhouette against the blue light of the window. She finally realized how musty and thick the room smelled now that she'd been out of it.
She decided she needed air, if only for a minute, just enough time to gather her thoughts. The ones that came raging back to her, battling between Jack and Sawyer like they'd been since the crash. This time between whether to stay and sleep at Sawyer's side, or go find Jack and see how he was doing, try to make amends.
She grabbed up her socks and went to the kitchen, finding her boots in the sink where she'd left them, caked in half-dried mud. She gave them a feeble wash by running them under the faucet them put them on with her socks, heading out the hatch door.
The outside air was salty and lukewarm, almost perfect if it wouldn't have been for the humidity. The misty pink of predawn bled its color all over the jungle, the waxy wet fronds reflecting it, looking beautiful.
She turned, seeing Locke sitting on his heel off to her left, unpeeling a banana with one of his relatively average-sized knives.
"Hey John." He offered up half the banana to her. "Have you seen Jack at all?" she asked, taking it obligingly.
"Not recently." He said. "Though I saw him go into the jungle a couple of hours ago. Maybe he went back to camp?"
"Did he look mad?" She pushed the whole half of the banana into her mouth.
"I don't know." John said honestly, slicing off a little chunk of his and knifing it into his mouth. "I only saw his back."
She nodded and put a hand up in front of the yellow mush in her mouth, asking through her fingers, "did anyone try to come into the hatch?"
"Not that I know of." He took another slice.
The banana made her cheeks big as she chewed and she tried to swallow it fast so she could talk, pushing the remains to the side of her mouth when they wouldn't go down fast enough. "Did you find the guns?"
"No." he smiled calmly up at her, "but I'm patient."
She swallowed down the last of the banana and wiped her hands on the side of her pants. "I was wondering if you wouldn't mind watching the hatch for a little bit? I need to stretch my legs."
"Sure." Locke said, taking the last bite of banana, rising to his feet. "How is he?"
"Sawyer?" he nodded, "he's fine. As good as he can be for what happened to him I guess."
John returned her smile, picking his pack up from the ground beside him. "And how are you?"
"I'm…" she paused, realizing that she hadn't been asked that question since…since she couldn't last remember. "I'm okay."
"Thanks John." She said as he went by her into the hatch.
Locke smiled and closed the door.
Kate turned and headed towards the beach. The silence and the time it took getting there eaten up by the repetitive crash of the ocean against the sand. As she approached, she heard and followed the sound of crunching, finding Sayid husking coconuts a little ways off the path, sweat showing down his back.
"Hey Sayid. Have you seen Jack?" she asked, eyeing the large mounds of divided coconut husks and seeds in separated piles at his side. He'd obviously been unable to sleep.
"No. I have not." Sayid didn't look back, continuing to husk.
"Do you think anyone else saw him come back?"
"Everyone is asleep." He said, peeling away a strip of husk, "But it is possible that Jack did not use the most direct path back to the beach. I do not know. I am not his travel guide."
Kate registered that Sayid had just made a sort of joke, but with his voice so dead, it wasn't worth reacting to.
When she didn't move to leave or say anything else, he sensed her worry. And finally turned around. "Why are you so concerned with the whereabouts of Jack?"
"He just," Kate began, "he's not taking care of himself again. And he left the hatch and now I don't know where he-" Danielle suddenly appeared from the jungle, making a b-line towards them. Her thin face looked determined, her rifle hanging loose in her hand.
"Rousseau." Sayid got to his feet. "What are you doing here?" Her appearance reminded him vividly of when she'd come looking for him, having trapped Henry in a net. He didn't want another captive.
Danielle stopped a few feet away from them, eyeing Kate critically before she decided that she could speak to the both of them. "I have seen your doctor in the jungle." She said bluntly.
"Jack?" Kate stepped forward, slightly amazed that she was coming with this information. "He's out there? Is he okay?"
"Follow me." Danielle said to Sayid, turning and heading back into the jungle.
The whole suddenness of Danielle's appearance with the answers Kate needed was a little surprising, but when she looked to Sayid and watched him follow her unquestioningly, she felt that that was enough indication for it to be alright.
Danielle slipped silently through the tangle of fronds that was their path, Sayid and Kate having a little more trouble at keeping it quiet, but did relatively well.
"What were you doing back here?" Kate asked, trying to meet Danielle's pace so that she could talk with her.
"I was on my way to find Sayid." Danielle said, staring out at her path. "When I heard you two talking about your missing doctor."
"And what was Jack doing when you saw him?" Kate asked, somewhat hesitant.
Danielle finally glanced at her out of the corner of her eye, pursing her thin lips. "He has been walking in circles…he seems delirious."
Their path through the jungle was relatively straight. And five minutes into the walk, Danielle stopped, pointing further on in front of her. "He's up ahead."
Kate took off, disappearing out of sight. Sayid intending to follow, but Danielle grabbed his elbow, holding him back, giving him a serious look. "If he has the fever…" she began, looking concernedly at him, her hand habitually tightening around the stock of her rifle.
"He does not." Sayid said. "He has a tendency to work himself in exhaustion. He needs rest."
"This happens often?" Danielle's eyebrows furrowed.
"Relatively." What would have usually accompanied an answer like this, would have been a smirk. But there was no happiness on Sayid's face, there was no reason for him to smile.
"You should keep better track of your people Sayid. Especially now." She looked back out into the direction of where Kate had disappeared, wrapping her arms loosely in front of her stomach, her elbow cradling her rifle. "What did you discover about the man I caught in my net?"
"You were right about Henry." Sayid said, looking out to where she was looking, seeing a wall of plants. "He's an 'Other'."
"I know I was right." She stated simply, without any pride in her voice. "But what did you learn from him?"
"Nothing." His hand tightened next to his side.
"I take it she does not know about him?" She motioned towards Kate.
"I assume not, she has not spoke of him to me. "
"Perhaps he has escaped." Danielle glanced at him.
"That is impossible…Locke-"
She leveled him with her eyes, her voice strong. "Everything is possible with these people."
He returned her gaze and was abruptly sobered, finding an alternative reason. "Perhaps he is listening-" then he heard Kate calling his name and stepped forward, followed by Danielle, both of them emerging to find Kate stooped over Jack, who was on his knees. His collar and armpits were ringed with sweat, his face white, his half-closed eyes red, and his stare blank.
"We need to get him back to the hatch…" Kate said, putting a hand beneath on of Jack's arms in an attempt to get him to stand, Sayid stepping forward to help. Danielle watched as they lifted Jack from the ground, pulling his arms over their shoulders and helping him to walk, steering him.
Back at the hatch, Hurley walked in the door. "Hello?" He called. "Jack?" He was carrying a big blue suitcase full of clothes.
Locke walked out of the computer room, grinning close-lipped at him. "Hello Hugo."
"Hey man. Is Jack in?" Hurley put the suitcase down, huffing slightly.
"No. It's just James and me." He scratched the side of his head.
"James?" Hurley was slightly confused, "oh. You mean Sawyer. How is he?" He remembered seeing his first name on the manifest, but he'd refused to use it in case he lost a piece of his earlobe for calling him that or something.
Hurley nodded and lifted the suitcase from the ground. "Is it alright to do some laundry? I sort of got a …date."
Locke didn't seem surprised. "Libby?"
"Uh. Yeah." Hurley's cheeks turned slightly pink. They'd been washing clothes together at a designated time for the past week and a half. "Is it cool if I wait here? She was suppose to come with me but she's doing some hypnosis thing on Claire..."
Locke frowned, but pushed his thoughts to the back of his mind, deciding that his help was not necessary if Claire did not ask him for it.
Locke eyed the suitcase instead. "You managed to make all those clothes dirty since last time?" John had usually been on button duty when they'd had their clothes washing rendezvous.
Hurley shifted uncomfortably, "no, well, I sorta…threw them in the mud…" he confessed.
The door opened suddenly, revealing Danielle, followed closely by Sayid and Kate who were holding up Jack. He was dragging his feet between them, his head lolling against his chest.
Hurley and Locke backed out of the way as Sayid and Kate shuffled quickly into the bedroom, manipulating Jack so that he was laid out on the bottom bunk. Kate loosened and pulled off his shoes, then arched over his head, watching him try to speak.
Jack fought to open his eyes, taking in big whiffs of air, but he just couldn't manage to keep his eyelids anymore than half open. "Where…am I…?"
"You're back in the hatch now Jack. You just need to get some sleep." She stroked his head, his sweaty buzzed hair rasping beneath her palm. He groaned, something that was meant to be contradictory, but his eyes slipped closed.
"What happened?" Locke asked Sayid, who'd joined him in the doorway of the room, letting Kate have her space with Jack. Hurley was standing behind them, suitcase still clutched in his hands.
"Rousseau found Jack walking in circles in the jungle-"
There was an irritated snarl that came from the top bunk. "You mind keepin' it down down there!" Sawyer roared as he scooted his torso towards the side of the bed with a grimace, looking down, surprised to find so many people there.
"What the hell-" his scowl roamed over the faces in the doorway. "Does someone wanna tell me why the Island Circus decided to throw up their Big Top in my room?"
Hurley answered. "It's Jack dude…he's sick."
"What?" realization slowly dawned on Sawyer's face. "You're tellin' me Dr. Quinn's outta commission?" he pulled himself even further over the side of the bed, trying to look down to where Jack was, coming face to face with Kate's daggered glare.
He just smiled coyly at her, "mornin' Freckles, how'd you sleep?"
Her eyes burned into his, distress tinged with a desperate plead to leave her alone.
He took into account last night what had happened between them, how she'd slept next to him, knowing now that had been theirs. And now it was Jack's turn to get her attention, the stakes were back to zero.
He stared at her for a long moment, then obliged silently, pulling himself back up on the bed. "Well you all enjoy bein' peanut gallery to Jacko's beauty sleep, but I'm going back to bed."
He made an effort to make a comfortable place with his head in his pillow and closed his eyes, letting out a growling breath as he tried to relax. Tried not to worry about the legs he couldn't feel, wanting to sleep.
"Jack!" came a call from the entryway of the hatch.
"Son of a bitch!" Sawyer snarled, pulling the pillow from beneath his head and putting it over his face, trying to block out the new noise.
Claire and Libby came into the hatch, looking flustered. They went straight for the bedroom, seeing Hurley, Locke, and Sayid standing there in the doorway. "Where's Jack?"
"He's out of it." Hurley said, flashing a small smile at Libby, to which she returned.
"Wha-no. But i…" Claire stuttered, her eyes trained on Locke, "…Aaron…I don't know what to do…" tears started forming in her eyes and she came forward, the exhaustion of her sleepless night and the turmoil all too much to handle. She fell into Locke's chest, crying.
"What's wrong with Aaron?" Locke looked up at Libby, wrapping his arms around Claire, confused.
"He's been sick all night." Libby answered, looking apologetically at the back of Claire's head. "And she asked me to try and help her with her amnesia from when she was kidnapped, to see if she might remember something about what they might have done to her…"
"Did it work?" Hurley asked.
"I…she won't tell me. She just said that we needed to find Jack."
"What's going on?" Kate appeared beside Hurley, putting a hand on his arm to get him to step aside so she could see what all the commotion was about. "Claire, where's Aaron?"
Claire pulled her face out of Locke's chest, wiping at the wetness striping her cheeks. "He's with Sun." she said, trying to get a hold of herself. "Kate? Will you come with me?"
"To where?" she stepped in front of Hurley.
"I want to go back to where Ethan kidnapped me."
"Because maybe if I'm in that place again I'll remember what happened." Her voice cracked when she spoke.
"But Locke-" Kate didn't want to leave Jack's side.
"I've got things to do here." Locke said plainly, figuring that there was a reason why Claire didn't ask him to go.
She blinked at him, confused, her gaze passing over Libby, expecting her to volunteer since she'd started all this.
Libby squirmed. "I don't want to go back out there." She glanced at Hurley, who understood.
"Go Kate." Sayid spoke up. "I will watch over Jack until you return." He found the opportunity of getting all those people possible that didn't know about Henry out of the hatch, a good idea.
Kate opened her mouth to say something.
"Please Kate." Claire begged her.
"But we don't have any guns…what if-"
"That's right. You don't." Came Sawyer's voice from the room, he was lying on his back, looking up at the ceiling. "Now can we move your little powwow elsewhere?"
Kate walked back into the room. "Where are the guns Sawyer?"
He sighed audibly. "Freckles. Do you really think I'm going to tell you?"
"Where are they?"
"What are you gonna do? Push me off the bed?"
"Where are the guns!" She yelled.
"Yelling is pointless Kate." Locke interrupted calmly, knowing where this was headed. "He's not going to expose where he hid the guns to any of us and he's not going to take any of us there."
"Well how 'bout that?" Sawyer chimed in dryly. "Jiminy Cricket's got me pegged-"
"I will go." Danielle stepped out of the computer room, her arm bent around her rifle, her face solemn.
Claire backed up into Locke and he put a hand on her shoulder, assuring her. "Why you?" she asked.
"I have a rifle." Rousseau said stoically.
"But you're part of it-" Claire shook her head. "Those marks on your arm…"
"I was trying to return you to your camp." Danielle said, "you scratched me and ran."
"You stole my baby!" Claire screamed at her, held back by Locke.
"I would like to make up for that." Everyone else stared at her, Claire's struggles against Locke's grip slackened. "Perhaps returning to the place where this …Ethan took you will reveal what it wrong with your baby Aaron." She looked at Sayid.
"She knows this jungle." He said in her defense. "She's been here for sixteen years."
"She can help us Claire." Kate said warily, looking from Claire to Rousseau. Realizing that if Sawyer wasn't going to give up the location of the guns, she was their best chance at protection. But Claire still looked scared, Kate taking her by the shoulders, "I won't let anything happen to you."
Claire remembered Charlie telling her this exact same thing, but coming from Kate it was easier to accept. Thinking perhaps that it was because she had helped her deliver Aaron. But she took a long time to decide, all the time staring at Rousseau, all the time worrying about her sick baby.
"Then it is settled." Danielle said, turning her back to them. "We are to leave now." She walked out of the hatch without a second look back.
"Kate." Locke went to the kitchen nook and grabbed his pack off the table, returning and offering it out to her. "Take this."
She took it, knowing that it had knives in it. Supplies. She slung it over her shoulder, "we'll be back by sunset."
Sayid and Locke nodded as the two women walked out of the hatch. Hurley had a hand on Libby's shoulder, Libby's hand on top of his. "D'you think they'll be alright?" she asked, looking up at him.
"Oh yeah." Hurley said, though his tone was slightly reluctant.
"Kate wouldn't let anything happen to Claire." Locke said soothingly, turning and walking back into bedroom. Knowing his words to be true.
"If Locke's not worried," Hurley breathed, "I'm not worried."
Sayid nodded to the both of them and went back into the room as well.
"So if you're not too weirded out by all this." Hurley said "You still wanna do some laundry?"
"You're not weirded out?" Libby asked.
"Not really, this kind of stuff happens to us all the time." Hurley said, lifting up the suitcase full of clothes, heading towards the wash room.
"You should have been with us when we first got here. We shot a polar bear…"