THE COURTSHIP OF LULU

By Delia Lavender

DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own LOST, Locke, Richard, Juliet, Harper or any

character from the T.V. series. This story was written just for fun.

It was unsettling: she sought her own face in the mirror, but it was

Richard's that looked back. The dominance of Alpert genes. Still,

Lulu knew she'd been lucky. She had the Alpert high forehead, a

feminine version of the Alpert nose and the deep-set, naturally-lined

Alpert eyes. But, unlike her cousin, her eyes were large, her lips full

and her jaw better shaped. She also had nicely arched eyebrows.

A more than adequate face for a woman - Richard had always said

that. Once, when she'd been growing up, he'd grabbed her chin,

looked deep into her eyes, and pronounced judgement:

"Beautiful. Not much going on inside, but who cares? In your case,

Lucilla, the form fits the function. You'll do very well." then he had

left the bungalow, slamming the screen door behind him.

She hadn't understood what he meant until later.

Lulu accepted her cousin's evasiveness. It was a natural part of life,

along with secrets and a bewildering absence of family history. She

did not know her own birthdate, or Richard's. She knew nothing

about her parents. Sometimes, when he wanted to tease her,

Richard referred to her as "My pretty little lab project."

And today, Cousin Richard was giving her away.

She knew it was supposed to happen this way. There was a cryptic

mention in the Prophecies. And of course there was tradition.

Not that Lulu hadn't done her best to avoid it...

She'd known what was happening the day Richard had presented her

to the new Leader:

"Ah...there's Lucilla. Lulu, come here! Lulu is my distant cousin,

John. She's the one who gathers our fruit for us. Lulu, offer

John your best...he's the man we've been waiting for."

That was how Lulu had gotten her first look at John Locke, the

Chosen One. He was older than she'd expected, but that didn't

bother her. She didn't mind that he was bald. As she reluctantly

crossed the clearing, carrying her basket of fruit, she mostly

noticed his air of authority - he already had a vital, vigorous belief

in himself, his destiny and his ability to lead. The Children of

Jacob were transfixed by him. He was already the group focal

point, just as she'd imagined he'd be. The Children, after all,

had been waiting a very long time...

But something about him did bother her: it was how his expression

changed, the moment Richard pointed her out. His smile, so

charming, so reassuring, hardened into an aggressive grin. The

twinkle in his eye became a hungry, heated glare. Lulu had the

feeling that, just by existing, she'd somehow committed a crime.

She glanced down quickly, wondering if her blouse had come undone. No...several of her buttons were still fastened. What about her

shorts...were they too tight? Maybe he hated long, messy hair...

As Lulu approached, Richard and the others grew silent. There was

an air of anticipation she didn't understand. Despite a feeling of

growing anxiety, Lulu tried to be polite. She gave John first pick

of the fruit, extending her basket graciously toward him.

Fortunately, John had quickly regained his composure "Well, Lulu,"

he said, smiling up at her "So you're the 'gatherer'? I've never

seen such beautiful fruit." his hand hovered indecisively over her

basket, then reached for a mango close to her breast...

She shifted her basket quickly, grabbed the mango with her free

hand and shoved it at him.

She heard Richard apologizing for her as she hurried away "Lulu is

extremely shy, John. Don't take offence...she doesn't mean to

be rude."

She'd tossed her basket to Cindy and fled the clearing, seeking

shelter among the trees.

* * *

But if Lulu was the gatherer, John Locke was the hunter.

He started prowling through the orchards, although he didn't

belong there. She noticed he looked haggard, as if he didn't sleep

enough.

She hid in the trees. She was light and could climb higher than

anyone else. She spent most of her time perched on precarious

branches, far beyond John's reach.

"Lulu...Lulu...I know you're here! I know you can hear me! I want to

talk to you..."

She'd lie there, shielded by leaves, ignoring him.

She knew she couldn't evade him forever. Certainly Richard told her

that. But to Lulu, there was a principle at stake.

She didn't want to belong to the Leader. No matter how manly

he was. No matter how benign. Her memories of Ben were all too

fresh...

Ben had been powerful and, for a while, very kind.

Lulu had been friends with Alex, Ben's daughter. Ben was kindly

and playful, and his house became a sort of second home to her.

She had spent much time there with Alex, playing board games

or just talking.

But things had changed when Lulu, then Alex, developed an

interest in boys...

For Lulu it had been Ronan, for Alex it was Karl.

It was during this time that Ben and Richard had changed. They

were no longer benevolent guardians, but restrictive tyrants. Lulu

and Alex had been shocked by this reversal, by the men's furious

reactions to Ronan and Karl...

They had behaved as if the boys, long familiar to them, had

suddenly turned into monsters.

Ben didn't trust Karl. And Richard told Lulu she belonged with

someone else.

Lulu would never forget it.

Ben had power. He had Richard's assistance and advice. He sent

Ronan on a mission to the mainland, even though his training was far

from complete. He'd known what would happen. Ronan was killed

by Ben's enemy, Charles Widmore. The event had even been filmed.

He had accomplished two goals at once...he had deprived Lulu of

Ronan while warning Karl away from Alex.

And it worked...for a while.

Alex had learned to hate her father. But Lulu, shocked, could only

grieve. Was this what power did to a man?

Alex and Karl were killed later in the Freighter War, so Lulu had

grieved for them, too.

But she grieved most for Ronan.

Juliet understood her. Juliet had lost a lover due to Ben's jealousy.

She helped keep Lulu informed about John:

"He spends a lot of time helping the salvage crew," Juliet told Lulu.

Juliet visited whenever she could slip unseen past the work crews.

"They found a double-bed in good condition in one of the demolished

houses. He sent Ben's old hospital bed to the dispensary and

commandeered the double-bed for himself. It has a wrought-iron

headboard so, unless you want to be chained to it, I'd suggest you

stay hidden in the trees. At least for a while. Cindy wants him and,

since he's trying to unite the 815 Survivors with the Children of

Jacob, the pool of available women will likely expand. Hang in

there, Lulu...surely someone will manage to distract him."

At least, Lulu had hoped so.

But of course, there was always her filthy Cousin Richard, doing his

sneaky best to undermine her efforts.

Only Richard could have told John about the lily pond - and exactly

when she liked to swim there.

"LULU!"

"What...! Oh, shit...who's there? Go away!"

"It's John, Lulu. Don't be afraid."

She submerged herself, surfacing again among the lily pads, which

at least preserved her modesty. Lulu didn't own a bathing suit.

"Come, Lulu. I understand this is a difficult time for you. I know

you lost friends to the Survivors and Freighters. We all have. I

even know about that boy, Ronan, that Widmore killed."

Lulu looked toward the bank. John was standing at the water's

edge, his eyes fixed on the lilies concealing her. She wondered how

much he'd seen. Probably not much - she'd been treading water

when he'd crept up on her.

"Lulu, I'm your Leader. Hear me out or I'm coming in after you!"

His face, with it's implacable expression and stern eyes,

disappeared for a moment as he lifted his shirt.

"Oh, stay where you are! I'll listen...just talk and be done with it!"

He had a small, grim smile as he dropped his shirt "As I was

saying...I know you've had a difficult time. I can sympathize

with your..."

"Really? How would you like a man with a hard-on chasing you?"

Lulu had expected anger but, much to her surprise, John chuckled.

"I don't think it likely, in any case. But, since you bring it up, I

admit I've a powerful lust for you. It's different - more urgent

- than any other I've experienced. I've tried to ignore it, but I

can't anymore. It's beginning to affect my ability to lead."

None of this was especially encouraging to Lulu.

"There's other women, Mr. Locke. Cindy Chandler, I hear, would be

more than willing to..."

"No. It has to be you."

"Well, if not Cindy, how about Richard?" she suggested maliciously

"He looks a lot like me...why don't you take him to bed? He'd really

enjoy it..."

"So will you, Lulu. But as far as Cousin Richard is concerned, he

lacks certain... anatomical features I find appealing."

She didn't want this jackass to see her cry. She ducked further

down among the lilies. "I hate Richard, I hate you, Jacob and this

Island!" she shrieked.

This time, she really HAD made him angry. She watched as John's

face turned to granite. His expression became cold and flinty. His

jaw twitched slightly.

"You can hate me and your cousin all you want, Lulu - but don't hate

the Island or Jacob. Now stop this nonsense. You'll accept your

destiny and the role assigned you. The Island is already displeased

...six people have escaped it. There's going to be trouble until they

return. You, Lulu, are not going to add to that trouble."

Lulu knew she was defeated, but resentment made her reckless. "All right...since my 'role' involves screwing you, I'll just swim over,

crawl up the bank and we'll get my...my...'destiny' over with. Did you

bring a blanket?" She matched her actions to her words, swimming

clear of the lilies and facing John from the middle of the pond.

His face softened a little. A light flickered within his pale eyes.

"Lulu, I wish I could accept your offer. But you already know the

importance of honoring tradition. On Saturday your cousin will bring

you to me. I will give you a ring and take you into my house. Richard

has everything planned."

"Sure he has," she said. She could feel her eyes growing wet. "Did he

tell you the rest? That it's only temporary? You can release me the

next day..."

"Yes, he told me, Lulu. The arrangement can last from one day to

'forever'. But I'm the Chosen One, so it's for me to decide..."

"Please...won't one day be enough? Can't you be satisfied with that?

I don't even know you..."

John hesitated. He shook his head slowly, pity flashing briefly

across his face. "I can't promise anything, Lulu. I don't know how

long I'll need you. But I swear - I'll do anything I can to make it

easy for you. I have Amelia standing by. After I say the ritual

words, she'll come with a towel and help you out of the water. You

can stay with her for the next few days...she's going to brew you

some of her special tea. Now, listen..."

"No...don't say the words!"

"Daughter of the Island..." John gravely recited...

"Don't...please!"

"...The Chosen One favors you..."

"Go away! Leave me alone!"

"...Come forth and receive his love."

She heard her own wail of protest as the chains of her conditioning

clamped shut, trapping her.

* * *

She'd just had some more tea. Amelia must have saved the

strongest for last, because she felt very calm and the voices

surrounding her seemed far away...

"...only four goats. A meager bride price, but..."

"It's enough - we've observed tradition. These are hard times..."

"Amelia, she's had enough tea. Her eyes are beginning to cross..."

"...was the one who helped her out of the water, Richard. Believe

me, her eyes are the last thing he'll notice..."

"...obscene and barbaric, Harper. Even Ben didn't try..."

"...couldn't. You weren't Island born, Juliet..."

"...waiting for the Chosen One, for all these years. But now she

doesn't want him?..."

"...will when he reawakens her instincts. She's an Alpert. And she's

older than..."

"Lulu? Can you hear me, dear? It's Amelia. It's almost time. Walk

a few steps for me...good......good. Just lean on Richard if you have

to. You've had plenty of tea, so you won't feel much. Don't worry,

dear, he's an older man - he'll tire easily. Just sleep and let him do

all the work. Soon he'll get bored and release you."

"...can be...ingratiating and persuasive. Tomorrow he'll begin

wooing her..."

"...bars on the bedroom windows. And new locks. I can't believe

I joked about chains on the headboard. How could I ever..."

"...might work out surprisingly well...believe it or not. She needs his

strength... and we both know what HE needs. The bars are

temporary...to keep her safe until she accepts her position. She's

been unstable ever since..."

"Take my arm, Lulu - it's time for the procession. You look very

beautiful. Amelia had the right idea...putting you in a red dress. I

must admit I had my doubts, but red is appropriate. Especially

since this custom is so rarely invoked. Red is the color of passion.

John will be...beside himself! And that slit up the side - it would be

ridiculous on anyone but you. Careful, darling, try not to totter...

...you're swaying on your heels...slowly, dear, slowly. Lean on me.

Try to move gracefully..."

So Lulu, wearing a blood-colored tango dress, leaning against

Cousin Richard, was led down the main street of the compound. She

was followed closely by the other Children of Jacob, most of them

wearing their ritual white and carrying food or flowers. Here and

there a curious 815 Survivor joined in the procession.

She saw her bridegroom waiting on the porch. He looked strange in

a suit. For a moment, dread quivered in her stomach - she had

mistaken him for a corpse. But then he smiled and she forgot

about it.

"Chosen One...will you accept this woman as your own?" asked

Richard, leading Lulu over to the porch step.

"I will accept this woman and make her my own." replied John. He

held the ring out as an offering.

Lulu's hand trembled as she extended it. She watched, in detached

curiousity, as the Leader slipped the ring onto her finger. The wide

silver ring had the name "John" deeply engraved into its surface.

And that was all. Lulu heard a cheer from the crowd as John lifted

her up into his arms. Her head lolled against his shoulder.

"Ronan..." she whimpered, just before passing out.

* * *

Richard remained as the crowd left their offerings, then dispersed.

In the old days, the feasting and celebration would have lasted

several days. But circumstances were different now.

A young boy, Zack, untied the goats and led them to Richard.

Richard thanked him and took the leads. Slowly he led the bleating

animals back through the compound to his house.

Lulu would be all right. She would conquer her sense of loss and

take her place at the feet of the Chosen One. She would finally

accept her proper role...

And the Island would be well pleased.

The End