By Delia Lavender

I absolutely DO NOT own LOST, John Locke or Richard Alpert.

Lulu knew when Ajira 316 took off for Guam. One of her cousins let her watch it's progress on a small radar screen.

Lulu felt sorry for the passengers who'd boarded the plane, alongside Ben and the others. Many of them were going to die.

You died if the Island had no use for you. And if it did want you, escape was impossible.

Sort of like marriage to The Chosen One.

"See?" said Cousin Raul, pointing at a small, blinking speck with his pencil "that's the plane. It should enter the window within a few minutes...you'll see it disappear. In a few hours..." he continued, "you'll be with him again." Young Raul stared up at her reverently, blinking wistfully behind his thick glasses.

Oh, no, thought Lulu - never again. John Locke could just resurrect without her. She had a pretty good idea which part of him would wake up first. Let Cindy handle it. Lulu was going over the wall.

Behind her, Jeremy howled. His ball had rolled behind one of the desks. Raul, murmuring some incoherent sentimentality, left his seat to help him retrieve it.

Lulu watched her son. He was well into his "terrible two's", and very impatient. Everyone had indulged him at the Alpert Motherhouse. Jeremy had his father's eyes and little hair to speak of, which added to the extreme resemblance.

He wailed as Cousin Raul crawled along the floor, using his arms - then a broom handle - in his efforts to reach the ball.

"Ball!" screamed the child "Want it...it's mine...MINE!"

At least, thought Lulu, Jeremy has his father's sweet smile. She saw it again as Raul finally freed the toy. Her little boy beamed at him, tears forgotten, as he grabbed his property with a gurgle of delight. Raul smiled back adoringly.

Lulu swallowed hard, fighting the urge to cry. Jeremy was just like his father...

But then she remembered John's promise, and she regained control of herself.

He had promised to release her...but then he'd backed down. He'd only called her once, right after the birth. Even then it was only to demand she name his son "Jeremy".

He could easily have talked her into staying with him. After all - she'd loved him.

She'd spoken to the Alpert Patriarch, who'd laid her future out before her.

"You must understand, Lucilla, that your husband promised to free you if he remained alive. He has sacrificed himself for the Island."

"But Father Miquel...if he's dead, I'm a widow."

"This is a special case, my dear. He will return..."

"...But...but...how can I live with a ghost?"

Father Miquel touched his beard thoughtfully. His beard was very grey. Lulu wondered how old he was. How dreadfully, unimaginativably old.

"He may return entirely whole. When he arrives, yours must be the first face he sees. We will know more, then. You are still bound by the laws of marriage, Lucilla."

Lulu absorbed this news, trying not to let her resentment show. Father Miguel fixed her with his dark, penetrating gaze.

"I know it's been hard for you. Giving birth without him...raising his child alone. It wasn't safe for John to contact you, Lucilla. But soon your ordeal will be over...and you need never be separated again."

That was what she was afraid of.

Lulu remembered her wedding day. Amelia had kept her pretty well primed with the Island's medicinal tea, made from the sacred leaves of the plant called Snoooz, which was very useful in cases of high anxiety, chronic pain or forced marriage.

But the sleep produced by Snoooz was not beyond disturbance. And John, with his drooling and panting, was very disturbing.

She'd awakened for a moment, just as he was slipping her wedding dress from her shoulders. She'd swiped at him instinctively, tearing the scar below his right eye. Then she'd fallen asleep again.

When she drifted back to consciousness, John was above her. His cheek was bleeding and drops were dribbling down onto her face. Her hands were trapped against his chest. She started to scream...

"Lulu...be quiet. Lie still. This has to be...go back to sleep."

She'd done better than that. She'd looked up into his desperate, blood-splattered face and fainted.

* * * * *

"You're mine, now, Lulu," John had explained later, when she regained consciousness "The difficult part is over. Follow your instincts and you'll make a fine wife."

He'd been talking to Cousin Richard, she realized.

But the fight had gone out of her. She was sore, miserable and weak. The after effects of the tea had left her disoriented and dizzy.

John had held her in his arms, comforting her as best he could. He'd spoken of Destiny, of love. He promised to teach her about passion...

And he had. Damn it. Before the marriage was even a day old. Her own innate sensuality had turned against her. John had intuitively known exactly how to touch her...

Because they were bonded, he'd said. Because she'd been born for him.

More of Richard's pompous claptrap.

But what if it was true?

Her first escape attempt had been out the high, narrow bathroom window. John had neglected to install bars there, thinking it impossible for anyone - even the agile Lulu - to slip through.

It had taken the efforts of both John and Richard to get her down off the roof. She had to be hauled back to her bedroom prison, screeching and swearing all the way.

Yet...she had actually come to enjoy the drama, the sense of importance, that imbued everyday life with John the Leader.

She had always loved dressing up - and John had used that inclination to distract her. He also used it to induge a few whims of his own...

The first time he'd suggested a "game", Lulu had asked him whether he preferred Clue or Monopoly. But board games weren't exactly what John had in mind.

She ought to have guessed, she thought, after he'd had bars installed on all the lower story windows.

John's games were invariably strenuous, vigorous, and required great endurance and athletic ability. But they always ended up the same way...with John on top.

He seemed to enjoy "General Locke And The Chambermaid" the most. He'd grown a mustache for that one, and he looked very handsome in his military beret.

Lulu had trouble during the "hide and seek" part. Her full skirt and apron were hard to conceal...and they were easy to grab during the "chase" part of the game.

She didn't much enjoy "Emperor Claudius And The Slavegirl". John got to wear the bedsheet, but she was only allowed a scratchy, transparent curtain and a snake bracelet. Well...at least she'd had an opportunity to practice her latin. John didn't yet speak the language, so he never knew when he was being insulted.

Lulu hoped John wouldn't remember what she'd said. Richard had planned on tutoring him, when they had time enough for lessons.

Later, after she'd gotten thoughly sick of "Claudius", she'd suggested a game called "Empress Messalina And The Eunuch". John had not much cared for that idea.

And of course, he wouldn't let her have a razor.

* * * * *

Lulu supposed it was only a matter of time, before somebody caught them.

And of course it just HAD to be Richard, who was the only person besides Amelia who'd been given a key to their back door.

And of course Richard never knocked before entering...

They had been deeply involved in a game of "Detective And Femme Fatale". Lulu, who had concealed herself on the top shelf of the pantry, had launched herself onto John's head the instant he opened the door. This feat of acrobatics had been witnessed by Richard as he silently entered the kitchen. John had fallen over backwards, arms flailing before him, trying to fend off Lulu...

Who'd been actively threatening him with an upraised can of DHARMA peaches.

They both froze at Richard's first bark of uncontrolled laughter. At first Lulu didn't recognize the sound, since she'd never heard her cousin laugh much. John, whose right hand had been snaking up the side slit of her narrow skirt, suddenly rolled over and tried to rise. This trapped his hand and essentially immobilized Lulu, whose stiletto shoe heel had caught in the pocket of his ratty raincoat.

Lulu shrieked in alarm, dropped the peaches and fell to the side, squashing John's moth-eaten wool fedora.

John, while trying to disengage himself from Lulu, glared murderously at Richard.

Richard, between spasms of laughter, was babbling things that Lulu didn't understand. Who was "Inspector Clouseau?" And who was "Cato?" And why would a panther be pink? And if it was pink...wouldn't it already be "off-colored?"

John had thrown Cousin Richard bodily out of the house, and Lulu had heard him laughing all the way up the street. Whatever business he'd had, it would have to wait.

She had asked John about Cato, the Inspector and the off-colored panther.

"Don't worry about it," he had said. He took her elbow and steered her toward the bedroom "He was only talking about an old, old movie."

But John didn't take Richard's key away.

* * * * *

She had cried with fear when she got pregnant. How had it happened? They had been so careful...

"It's a miracle!" declared John.

"I'm going to die!" whimpered Lulu.

"Of course you won't die," said Richard, when he heard the "happy news". "We'll put you in the box and teleport you off island."

"Why," she retorted bitterly "Didn't you do that for the other women? For Sabine, for example?"

"They weren't as important," answered Richard "There was no Fate involved. You and your child are special. Now stop crying."

Sometimes she really hated her cousin.

But peace gradually overcame her fears. Juliet told her it sometimes happened in pregnancy...the hormones acted as natural tranquilizers, for some women.

But then John told her he was going to the mainland. That it would be dangerous. He probably hadn't much time...

And she cried every night. She loved him. He'd promised to meet her at the Albert Motherhouse...to offer her freedom, if she still wanted it.

She didn't think she would, although she hadn't told him that. She wanted to see if he'd keep his word.

But the night she'd been dreading had come sooner than she'd expected.



"John! Throw a sheet over her and bring her out! It's time!"

Shit. It was Filthy Richard outside her bedroom door.

"Drop dead, Richard...I'm busy!" shouted John.

"NOW John! The window will close in a few minutes!"

John had hesitated only a moment, then he had wrapped her in the sheet and carried her to the door.

She had clung to him and cried.

"Lulu...I can't risk you. You have to go. We'll meet again." he had kissed the top of her head and handed her over to Richard, who in turn had put her into the arms of Gerhart, the biggest of the Island soldiers.

"Run with her...quickly!" Richard had commanded. Gerhart had obeyed.

John's anguished expression haunted her for a long time.

* * * * *

Lulu didn't really remember "the box". She remembered being strapped to a gurney and sedated. She woke up in a strange, somber room. It was very big, with several large windows. She was lying in the sort of ornate, four poster bed she'd only seen in photographs. She was no longer wearing a sheet, but a silken nightgown. A nurse was holding her hand.

The Albert Motherhouse. Just as mysterious as her native Island. And, like her Island, it offered very few answers to her questions...

"Who were my parents?"

"They were very good people."

"Who are you?"

"We are all Alperts. We are all your cousins."

How many cousins could one have? And it was no good asking where they were...they would only reply "At the Alpert Motherhouse." Lulu had a good view from her upper story windows: there were gardens, high walls and jungle beyond. If it wasn't for the unfamiliar size and luxury of the building, she would have thought herself still on the Island.

At night there was no far-off glow indicating a city.

It was so frustrating. There was so much she wanted to know...and she had hoped, someday, to see a city.

Marina, the nurse, was very kind to Lulu. She taught her to knit and crochet. After her sonogram, Marina asked if she wanted to know the sex of her child. Lulu had said "yes".

Lulu was thrilled to hear that she carried a son...John would be so happy! "And besides," she told Marina seriously "The blue yarn is prettier than the pink."

Marina helped her knit booties and blankets.

But as she grew heavier, Lulu found her new routine tedious. She at least wanted to walk in the gardens. This was allowed - as long as she wore her loose, hooded green robe when outside. And as long as Marina accompanied her.

The first time she heard a plane, she'd looked up. Lulu had seen few planes during her life. Marina, horrified, had dragged her under the shelter of a nearby plane tree.

She hadn't understood what her relatives were chattering about, when the guards arrived to hustle her back to the house. Her Alpert cousins had reverted to a language unfamiliar to her. But one word was understandable: Widmore.

"My baby!" she'd cried out. In her mind was the film Ben had once shown John: Charles Widmore and his brutal followers, beating a helpless, blindfolded Ronan Pryce. Ronan had been Lulu's first love. They'd beaten him to death.

Later, Marina and Father Miguel had explained that, although Widmore's planes sometimes patroled the Motherhouse, they probably weren't there for Lulu. At least as far as they knew. Still...no chance must be taken. The green robes would make her difficult to see from the air...

It was enough for Lulu. She'd spent the next several weeks studying in the Alpert library. She seldom left the Motherhouse after that.

And then had come the birth. Lulu had screamed John's name repeatedly, during the final stage of labor. She had wanted him desperately...he had always made her feel safe, despite his raunchy games and general aggressiveness.

And then had come the cell phone call. Cousin Raul had held the phone to her ear, since she was too weak to hold it herself.

"Call my son Jeremy," she'd heard him despite the static and pop. He'd sounded as if he was moving. The signal had started breaking up immediately "Lulu...I..." and then he was gone.

Raul had photographed Jeremy against a plain blue curtain. They hadn't wanted any hint of background in the photo. It had been sent to John very indirectly...through a couple of mail services.

No photograph had been taken of Lulu.

She might be identified. Raul had said. Babies were much more anonymous.

But it had changed her feelings toward John.

And Lulu had noticed that the Alpert Estate walls, high though they were, were actually climbable.

And Lulu was an expert climber...

* * * * *