By Delia Lavender

I DO NOT own L.O.S.T., John Locke, Richard, Juliet, Sawyer, Amelia or

any other character from the T.V. series. Just let me dream...

There'd been more time to plan than she'd expected. Father Miguel had somehow gotten a message from Richard: John had landed on the Hydra. He had not made it back to his followers yet.

The Children Of Jacob awaited their Leader. They were currently camped close to the beach, hoping to greet him as he arrived.

Lulu and her son must not be sent until his arrival. Even then, they would have to wait until the window reopened.

So there was time enough to plan, to examine the wall, to pack a few things.

But did she really want to do this? What about Jeremy? She could not take him with her.

She could not risk her baby in a jungle whose dangers were unfamiliar to her.

She had heard about alligators. Also about snakes big enough to swallow a little boy whole.

How could she risk him? How could she consider separating him from his father? Surely John must love Jeremy already...

And perhaps John wouldn't pursue her, if she left him his son.

She was the Island's Benediction...but she had fulfilled that obligation. She had provided an heir...what more could be required of her?

Insatiable John would probably think of something.

But Cindy Chandler could certainly satisfy him. Cindy had much experience...and she was good with children.

Lulu remembered how Cindy had looked at John, during her infrequent visits.

Lulu's lips tightened. She could not afford possessiveness, she reminded herself. She didn't want John, Richard or the Island dictating to her - not for the rest of her life. She couldn't allow the thought of John with another woman to bother her.

John needed a woman like Cindy. And Lulu had earned her own automony.

But she would so miss the comfort and security of John's arms. She would so miss her baby...


She stopped brooding and turned to face Cousin Raul. Her mind was already made up. She knew exactly where the wall was easiest to climb. She'd already hidden a backpack in the bushes at its base. She'd done it after dark, three nights ago, when no one was watching.

Raul and Marina were walking toward her. They were smiling. They'd brought a wine bottle and three glasses.

"Jeremy is down for the night," said Marina "And we want to toast the Chosen One's return with you."

"It's very old wine," added Raul "We stole it from the cellar. This is a big occasion for us."

Well...that was true enough.

"It's a lovely idea, but I don't much like wine." said Lulu. She preferred herb tea, even with her evening meal.

Raul and Marina looked terribly disappointed.

"Please Cousin Lulu?" said Raul "You don't have to drink much. We just want to offer a toast, before you rejoin the Leader."

"You might like it - it's very light. Just a swallow, please?" begged Marina.

How could she say no? Marina had been so good to her, so good to Jeremy. And Raul had always been helpful and friendly. How could she deny them a toast? Her own cousins...

"All right. Let's drink John's return."

Raul smiled again. He poured a small amount of wine into the wine glass he carried.

It was Lulu's favorite glass - the one with the cut crystal roses. She took it from Raul and waited while he poured wine into the plain crystal glasses Marina held.

"To John Locke!" said Raul, holding his glass aloft.

"Yes - to John," said Lulu. And drank.

* * * * *

As she collapsed, her senses began shutting down. Her vision blurred and darkened, she could barely feel Raul's arms as he caught her.

But she could hear Marina weeping.

The very last thing she heard was Father Miguel's voice. He had arrived with one of his bodyguards.

"Do it quickly, Arnold".

And the very last thing Lulu felt was Cousin Arnold's hands encircling her neck.

* * * * *

She dreamed she was on the Island again. Sleeping in the trees, as she had in her youth.

It was deeply peaceful. Lulu felt the warmth of the sun, filtered through the leaves. She sensed the presence of birds nearby.

Why had she wanted to leave? The Island was beautiful. The Island embraced her. The Island was her home.

She had died. She knew that. She remembered what had happened to her.

And she knew that John was responsible. But it didn't matter.

Because the Island was whispering to her - revealing secrets that Richard had always kept from her. Lulu was silent and listened.

She was the daughter of Ludmilla and her lover, Carlos.

Ludmilla had also carried the Island's Benediction. Like Lulu, she had been rebellious. She had not wanted a ritual marriage with an Island Leader.

She had wanted Carlos, one of her cousin Richard's lieutenants.

Ludmilla had already been pregnant, when she and Carlos had approached Richard. Foolishly, they had thought they'd be forgiven...that the responsibilities of the Benediction could be passed to another woman.

Carlos had been executed immediately. Ludmilla had been spared because of her baby. She had hemorrhaged during labor and died soon after the birth.

Richard had taken Lucilla and raised her himself. The Island's Benediction had been passed to her. But she wasn't meant for Charles Widmore or Benjamin Linus.

Richard believed another Leader was coming. The Prophecies indicated someone different...someone who would assume Leadership after Ben.

Someone from the Mainland. Someone healed by the Island.

Lucilla must be kept for him. And Richard would make certain that, this time, nothing interfered. He would be vigilant. He would deliver the Island's Benediction intact to the Chosen One.

No matter what he had to do.

Her cousin became a tyrannous guardian, as Lulu matured. Now...she finally understood why. Richard had trusted Ludmilla and Carlos, who had betrayed him. Worse, they had failed the Island. They could never be forgiven. Richard had needed to appease the Island's anger - but he could only do it through Lulu.

Who'd grown more and more like Ludmilla every day.

Richard had kept Lulu ignorant concerning her parentage. He hadn't wanted Carlos or Ludmilla influencing her life. She'd sensed his impulse to kill Ronan, the night he'd caught him kissing her in the shadows beyond the porch light...

But he had controlled himself, letting Ben handle the matter discreetly.

And then - finally - the Chosen One had arrived.

John Locke...who had never experienced power before. The Chosen One...who'd been rebuffed by many women. The Leader whose union with the Island must be consumated through its surrogate - the Benediction.

So Lulu had run away and hidden in the trees.

And John had pursued Lulu with all the frustrated passion, all the stubborn devotion, and all the obsessive neediness of his nature.

The Island had made him a hunter. Then it had revealed itself in the body of Lulu.

And now the Island would resurrect them both.

Like John, the Island still had a use for Lulu.

* * * * *

She was startled back into consciousness. She gasped as her lungs took in air.

She was standing in water up to her chin.

Why was she still wearing her long, georgette dinner dress? The fabric alternately billowed out then drifted back, wrapping itself around her legs. It was impeding her movement.

Her hair, which hadn't been trimmed since her marriage, floated in lengthy strands and tendrils all around her. How had her braids come loose? Her hair was so added to her discomfort. She felt very unsteady. The rock beneath her sandals was slippery.

She did not open her eyes. She breathed in a sweet, familiar scent...

She was in the lily pond. She lifted her arms slowly, seeking to regain equilibrium.


Shit! How could she possibly forget that voice? She opened her eyes. John was standing on the bank, between two torches. The orange light was reflected over the water, illuminating her. It glared and flickered, casting molten gold against John's body.

Oh, crap...he wasn't naked, was he? Lulu lost her fragile balance and slipped under the water.

She heard a muffled splash and was buffeted by the resulting wave. Her dress tightened around her legs, making it impossible to kick. She waved her arms frantically, trying to move toward the surface.

She sputtered involuntarily, inhaling a noseful of pond.

And then John grabbed her. Her hands moved to his waist. She realized with relief that he was wearing his buff-colored shorts.

Her head broke through the surface and she gasped, then began coughing. John put her against his shoulder, patting her back as if she were Jeremy.

Jeremy! Where was he?

Lulu raised her head and looked up into John's face. He looked even stronger, more confident and better humored than she remembered. He smiled at her, his green eyes twinkling, love in his expression.

"I told you I'd come in after you. But now you're the one who's over-dressed." he chuckled.

"Jeremy...where's Jeremy?"

"He's fine, Lulu - he's beautiful. I held him for a few minutes, before giving him back to Juliet. He's still asleep, they all are..."

"All? But who else..."

"You shared a gurney with your Cousin Marina. Of course she arrived alone. Jeremy was on the other gurney, with your Cousin Raul."

"They're here? But why?"

"Father Miguel sent them. We need their skills. They can stay with Richard, temporarily. Now kiss me." he moved his lips toward hers...

She turned her head away "But did I get here?"

"Oh, Lulu!" he said, a little exasperated "Where else would you have gone? I woke up in water...I knew exactly where to find you. And this time, I even brought a blanket! Now come on!"

And he carried her out of the water.

* * * * *

There was no questioning John, when he had other things on his mind.

He hung their clothes over a nearby branch. And even Lulu's hair had dried, by the time she'd soothed him down.

John was just as intense as ever.

"Why did you order me killed?" she asked, during one of their calmer moments.

"The Island wanted you to be as I am...and as your Cousin Richard is. On the mainland, you would eventually age. You'd be subject to disease - targeted by enemies. You wouldn't know how to live in that world..."

"But it's MY didn't have the right..."

"No, I didn't, but the Island did. Now be quiet. I want to get sweaty again..."

It took them a long time to get back to their house. Lulu shook her head a lot, wishing she had a comb. Her hair was much dishevelled.

She knew that people saw them, but no one approached.

The only person who spoke to them was Sawyer: "Dirty night down at the pond?" But Lulu noticed that even Sawyer kept well beyond John's reach.

John's hand tightened around her's, but he smiled and didn't reply.

Lulu almost didn't recognize her own house, once they grew close to it. The bars were all gone. She turned to John in astonishment, staring up at him with raised eyebrows.

"You thought I broke my promise, didn't you?" he said seriously "That I never intended to release you? Well...I have released you. Those bars could never hold you, not the way you are now. Like me, you belong to the Island. I hope you'll choose to stay with me."

Lulu, speechless, squeezed his hand. John opened the back door, leading her into the house.

Jeremy was sitting at the kitchen table, eating graham crackers with Amelia. His rosy face, smeared with milk and cracker crumbs, broke into a huge, beatific smile when he saw them.


And then he was off his chair, running toward them.