Author's Note: Gentle Reader, I'm actually an avid Desmond/Penny shipper. Not only do I consider them the OTP of Lost, I consider them THE OTP of any fandom. However, I've chosen to write a Desmond/OFC here because of the inherent conflict such a pairing provides, plus I don't know enough about Penny at this point to feel comfortable writing her in a fic.

CIRCE sprang up as a friendly motivation technique and fic trade-off between me and the fanfic writer Pandora Nervosa. The Desmond Hume character, so beautifully realized and portrayed by the talented Henry Ian Cusick, represents one of my favorite heroic archetypes. That, combined with some brief commentary Mr. Cusick made in TV Guide about Hume's character on the island, has been my main inspiration for writing this fanfic. This is not an attempt to adhere to strict canon (obviously not since I have a pairing that doesn't exist in canon), though I'll work to keep it in line as much as possible. I hope you enjoy. On with the show.

CIRCE – Part One

"But all the gods pitied him except Poseidon;" Homer – The Odyssey

"Hey, Hurley. Do you have enough fruit salad there to share?" Catherine smiled hopefully, sure that the large bowl piled high with chopped bananas, passion fruit and plums was meant for more than one person.

The portly Hurley shrugged and dumped some of the fruit onto two plastic plates. "Sure. Help yourself." He pushed one of the plates over to her and popped a banana slice into his mouth.

Catherine mimicked him and licked the sticky juice of a plum slice off her fingers. "Thanks. Do you want me to tell the rest you're serving up your now famous fruit salad?"

"Nah. Most people do what you do and stop by. They'll get some then."

A salt breeze shifted off the nearby water, and Catherine tucked a fluttering strand of hair behind her ear. "Okay. Thanks." She held up her plate in salute and turned away.

"Hey, Catherine. Wait."

She paused at the kitchen's entrance, puzzled when Hurley handed her the second plate. "Do me a favor. See the dude sitting over there by the rocks? Take this to him."

Catherine followed his gaze to the lone figure crouched on the sand, arms draped casually over his knees as he stared at the tranquil waves rolling steadily toward the beach. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach. Desmond Hume. The man who'd spent years and part of his sanity pushing a button in the Hatch.

She'd never spoken to him, only watched from a distance as he slowly integrated himself into the community of 815's survivors. He was still an outsider, much by his own volition. His makeshift tent clung to the jungle's tree line instead of lining the beach like the others' did. The first time she'd seen him, he'd been a ragged wreck of a man. Bruised and dirty, wearing nothing but one of Hurley's voluminous shirts and an expression of madness.

As volatile and unpredictable as a storm at sea, he'd grown quieter as he settled into the new life of the survivors. Some people gossiped he was crazy, unhinged by the interminable isolation of the Hatch. Others believed him prophetic, a man who saw beyond distance and time. Catherine didn't know what to think of him, only that his solitary figure often caught her eye. She'd never spoken a word to him, but a sorrow she neither understood nor welcomed touched her each time she'd seen those proud shoulders slump or watched him tip a bottle of whiskey to his mouth.

She sometimes overheard him talking to Locke and Jin, and he'd chat with Hurley in that vibrant Scots bur. He seemed to take a special interest in Claire and Charlie, and Catherine wondered if he was drawn to pretty Claire and her equally pretty child.

"Catherine, do you mind?" Hurley interrupted her thoughts by thrusting the plate at her a second time.

She took it. "Sure, no problem."

Hot sand drifted over her bare feet as she walked the beach. Her ragged skirt snapped against her legs, a red flag that heralded her presence and made Desmond turn to watch as she approached.

Catherine smiled, doing her best to ignore the butterflies. She was not normally a shy person, but those dark eyes, with their quiet grief and strange wisdom made her tongue-tied for a moment. She cleared her throat.

"Hello." Her shadow cast a long pillar of shade over him.

The return smile he leveled on her made the butterflies leap to her throat. "Hello, sister. A fine day so far. What do you have there?"

She handed him the plate, hoping he didn't notice the way she ogled the thick wavy hair resting against his shoulders or how the sun cast a golden haze over the brown skin revealed by his half buttoned shirt. A scrape marred the side of his nose, and she could see the remnants of fading bruises at the edge of his beard. He was even more handsome up close, especially when he smiled.

"Hurley's fruit salad. He sent me over, thinking you might want some."

He took the plate, fingers grazing the tips of hers. She liked his hands. Nut-brown and graceful, they were the hands of a scholar but with the scars and cuts of a man who'd done far more in his life than open books.

"Thanks…?" He paused, watching her with that half smile playing across his mouth.

"Sorry. I'm Catherine Morland." She held out her free hand. Desmond clasped her fingers and shook her hand gently. Flashes of humor danced in his dark gaze.

"Your parents were Austen fans, yeah?"

She laughed, delighted. Every once in a while someone caught on to her name, but not often. "My mother was, and she got to name me." The butterflies quieted in her stomach as she teased him back. "And you're Desmond Hume. Your middle name wouldn't happen to be David, would it? Your parents admirers of Scots historians and philosophers?"

His laughter was nothing more than a soft huff and a brief rise of his shoulders, but the lines at the corners of his eyes deepened, and his smile stretched wide. He patted the sand next to him. "You'll join me, yeah? We can talk of atheists and God, fate and snow globes while we eat fruit."

The butterflies danced again, but Catherine ignored them. She plopped down next to Desmond, tucking her skirt under her legs and resting her plate in her lap. His strange remark puzzled her. "Do you like snow globes?"

His sensitive face tightened a moment as he watched the vast expanse of ocean before them. "No. No, I don't."