A/n : This was the hardest chapter I've ever had to write in my life. I wrote little bits here and there throughout the last two weeks. I don't even know why it was so hard. Anyway, hope you enjoy.
Kate again placed the receiver between her shoulder and ear and dialled the out of state number on the paper. She wasn't at all surprised when the person on the end of the line had a southern drawl. "Sawyer," she murmured quietly, "I need help."
There was a pause which worried Kate. Would Sawyer reject her now in her greatest time of need just like she had rejected him? Would he tell her that he couldn't help her? Would he laugh at her? Kate found herself biting her lip in anticipation of what he would say.
"Where are you?" he finally asked after the period of silence.
Kate let out the breath she hadn't realised she was holding, "I'm home, Jack just left."
"What kind of help do you need?" he asked, not letting himself truly hope that she wanted out of her marriage.
"I want to get away from him, but I don't know how, it's all so complicated," Kate practically sobbed out.
"Spend the night at Claire's, take anythin' that means anythin' to you. I'll try to get a red eye flight in tonight," he told her, "from there, I have no idea what to do but I'll think of somethin'."
Kate actually managed to smile, "thank you," she murmured before putting down the phone.
Kate pulled her hand and the towel away from her head. It had finally stopped bleeding, but she had a terrible headache. She toyed with the idea of taking a painkiller but she ultimately thought better of it. She wanted to get away from this house as soon as possible. With a deep breath she stood from the bed and walked to the closet where she grabbed a duffel bag. She grabbed a couple things from the closet and shoved them in a bag, then repeated the action at her dresser and in the bathroom. Finally she went back into her bedroom and found her jewellery box. With a frown she looked through the items in it, all of them were from Jack. She had never been big on jewellery but he had insisted. She picked up the box and dumped it in her duffel bag, knowing that she'd be able to pawn the gold and silver pieces for money if she needed to. With a final look around, she left the room and walked right down the stairs and out the door, never once looking back.
When Sawyer hung up the phone in his apartment he sat back on the chair he'd been sitting in and took a deep breath.
"Who was that?" Alicia asked as she walked out of the small kitchen that was off the main living area.
He looked at her and gave her a mischievous grin, "feel like goin' to L.A. with me, sweetheart?"
Alicia shrugged, "why? You were just there." She plopped herself down the sofa in his living room and put her feet up on his coffee table.
"I'll pay," he offered which made her eyes light up.
"I'm in then, cupcake," she told him with a nod of her head, "why are we going?"
"That call happened to be none other then miss Kate Austin," he told her with the same grin as before, "she's finally ready to leave that asshole doctor."
Alicia nodded slowly, "and you're going to go rush in and save her?"
"You know it," Sawyer replied with a wink. He leaned forward again and grabbed the phone book from the table his phone was set on. "Now, to just see if there's any flights out tonight."
Kate drove up into the parking lot of Claire's apartment building. She grabbed her one bag and got out of the car. She looked around to see if anyone was watching but there was no one around. She was starting to become a little paranoid. She walked up to the building and stepped inside. She hoped that Claire had returned home in the time it took her to talk to Sawyer, pack her stuff and drive here. She pressed the button for Claire's apartment and waited. She counted the seconds as she waited for a reply. Finally she heard the thick Australian accent come over the intercom asking who was there. "It's Kate," she said and waited again, knowing Claire was a tad confused about why her friend was there.
"Come on up," Claire told her and the door buzzed, signalling that Kate could enter.
When Kate reached the floor that her friend lived on, she noticed the blonde woman standing in the doorway.
"What's going on?" Claire asked as she took note of the duffel bag. She moved away from the door and let Kate enter. She closed and locked the door behind her. When she turned around to see Kate walking into the living room, she gasped and ran to her friends side, "my God, Kate, your head."
Kate smiled sadly, "I didn't have time to clean it off. Do you mind if I go use your shower?"
"Not at all, but your definitely telling me what is going on as soon as you get out of there!" Claire told her.
Kate nodded and walked off to the bathroom.
A half hour later Kate and Claire sat on the sofa in Claire's living room. Aaron had already gone to sleep, so the two women were alone. Kate was telling Claire of everything that had broken their marriage apart, from the controlling to the manipulating to the violence.
"Kate, why didn't you leave him?" Claire asked quietly.
She shrugged, "because if I left him he'd let on who I was and get all the survivors in trouble for 'hiding' me. I'm a fugitive, remember?"
"You should have told us," Claire told her, "we could have thought of something."
"I didn't want to admit that my marriage failed," Kate chuckled bitterly, "just like everything else I try."
"Your marriage failing had nothing to do with you, Kate," Claire stated, "you weren't asking for that jerk to do that to you."
"By staying though, I kind of did," Kate replied.
"Stop!" Claire exclaimed and shook her head, "just stop, alright? Stop trying to lay the blame on yourself, you did nothing, it's not your fault. In fact, you were being a good friend by trying to protect us all."
Kate frowned, "I'm sorry. I guess I'm still in Jack mode where everything is always my fault."
"Well, you can just get out of that mode right now because if I have anything to say about it, he will never lay eyes on you again," Claire told her in the most authoritative voice that she could.
"I want to believe that, I do, but it's hard too," Kate said with a frown, "I keep thinking that even if I do get away, I'll ran into him sometime and everything will just start all over again."
"We'll make sure that doesn't happen," Claire told her followed by a firm nod. "Now, I am going to go to bed because I am completely exhausted. You can sleep on the couch and no matter what, do not answer the phone. This will be the first place he calls when he notices you missing."
Kate nodded and returned the small hug Claire gave her before she left her alone in the living room. Kate sighed and laid down on the sofa. She closed her eyes and willed sleep to come to her…
A ringing sound rose Kate from her slumber and she groggily reached over to answer the phone that sat on the table in front of her. "Hello?" she murmured, still half asleep.
"Since you don't have an accent, I take it you'd be Kate," came the chipper female voice from the other end, "you shouldn't be answering the phone you know, it's dangerous."
"Huh?" was Kate's only reply, slowly coming out of her sleepy state.
"What if your husband called, then what would you do?" the female voice asked.
Kate tried hard to remember if she'd ever heard that voice before but she couldn't place it to anyone. "That's none of your business," she snapped.
"I take it he hasn't called since you've been answering the phone," the female continued, "husbands are so inconsiderate, and take it from me, hun, they don't get any better when they become ex-husbands."
Kate rolled her eyes and sighed. "Just who, exactly, are you?" she asked, tired of listening to the woman ramble on.
"Alicia," she replied simply, "I'm a friend of a certain redneck."
Claire walked out of the bedroom to find Kate using the phone. She rushed over to her and grabbed the receiver out of Kate's hands. "What did I tell you?" Claire asked and spoke "hello?" into the phone.
Kate just shook her head and got to her feet. She stretched her back and walked towards the bathroom. Inside, she shut the door and leaned on the sink counter, looking into the mirror. She looked tired, not just because she hadn't slept well, but tired of life, tired of the tribulations. Life wasn't supposed to be like this, she had gotten a second chance, a second life and she had messed that up, would she do any better with a third? She closed her eyes and sighed, the next little bit was going to be a true testament to the strength she used to have. She was worried that she didn't possess that strength anymore though. She was so used to being compliant, could she summon strength when she needed to most?
Kate opened her eyes and turned the tap on. She splashed cool water onto her face. She grabbed a towel and dried her face before replacing the towel and opening the bathroom door. She found a small, blonde haired boy on the other side. Kate smiled as he looked up at her with serious eyes, "hi, Aaron."
"Hi," he replied quietly.
Kate kneeled down in front of him, "I have to go away for a while, I'll miss you."
He blinked a few times before stepping towards her and wrapping his little arms around her.
Kate allowed herself to hug the little boy before she stood from Aaron and moved away from the bathroom door to allow him entry. She wandered through the living room and into the kitchen where Claire was brewing a pot of coffee and humming to herself.
"Who was that woman?" Kate asked as she pulled a chair out from the kitchen table and sat down.
"That would be Alicia," Claire told her as the coffee finished brewing and she poured a couple cups. She brought them over to the table and sat down across from Kate. "She's a friend of Sawyers."
"A 'friend'?" Kate repeated.
Claire nodded, "a friend and nothing more, don't worry. She just called to tell us they'll be here soon depending on traffic."
Kate nodded and lifted the cup. She took barely a sip before putting it down again. "What's going to happen when they get here?" she asked.
Claire shrugged, "I just assumed that you were going back to Alabama with them. It's not like you can stay around here."
"I guess I don't have much other choice," Kate agreed sadly.
"It's really for the best," Claire told her, "we'll miss you, but it's more important to get you away from Jack." Claire stood up when she heard the buzzer go off, "sounds like they're here." Claire walked into the living room and pushed the 'talk' button. "Hello?"
"Hello," came the chipper female reply.
Claire pressed the button to let them in then turned to find that Kate had moved from the kitchen to the living room. With a frown, Claire unlocked the front door and walked over to sit on the sofa beside her. "Everything will be fine, we'll find some way to deal with Jack," she told her quietly.
Kate nodded, "let the other survivors know, please. I don't want them unknowingly dragged into this, and I know Jack will."
"I will, they'll know what a slime Jack is by the time I'm done. None of them will ever speak to him again," Claire told her with a small smile.
"That's all I ask," Kate replied and turned her head when a knock came and the door opened from the outside.
Sawyer, looking the same as always, walked in followed by a small brunette woman. Kate couldn't help sizing the woman up as soon as she laid eyes on her.
Sawyer waited until Alicia was walking towards the living room before shutting the door and locking it. He slowly followed her in.
Alicia sat down on the sofa right beside Kate on the opposite side from where Claire was. She gave her a huge smile which only made Kate give her an odd look. "We spoke on the phone," Alicia told her and waited a moment. When Kate's expression didn't change she said, "don't give me that look."
Claire giggled, "don't mind Kate. I'm Claire, can I get you guys anything?"
"Bathroom?" Alicia asked, standing.
Claire pointed to the hallway, "first door on your left."
"Thank you," Alicia stated and walked off in the direction she was pointed towards.
Sawyer watched her leave before looking towards Kate again, who was staring at him, "don't mind her, she may be a little overbearin' but she's a sweetheart." He walked over and sat beside Kate on the sofa, "we've got a flight out in a few hours."
Claire got to her feet, "I'm going to go make Aaron some breakfast and let him eat in his room. Excuse me." She left towards the kitchen to allow them some time alone.
"And then what?" Kate asked him.
Sawyer shrugged, "you'll have to stay with me for a while. I ain't having you livin' alone and unprotected."
"You'll be the second person Jack looks for," Kate stated, "you sure you want to put yourself in that situation?"
"I'd love for the doc to hunt me down, Freckles, I got a few things I'm hurtin' to say to him," Sawyer told her.
Kate smiled and leaned towards him, placing a light kiss on his lips, "why are you so good to me?"
"Because I can't do nothin' but," he replied.