My plan is to just write the crap out of this pairing until I run out of inspiration. I feel a sense of urgency because the whole thing just feels doomed to me. I hope I'm wrong about that, but … in case I am not, I am writing like the wind. A sporadic, lazy wind. If you like it, please review, 'cause reviews make me less lazy. :) Title taken from the lovely Elliott Smith song, because that line "the people you've been before/that you don't want around anymore" just seemed like it fit.
She'd rehearsed it in her mind a hundred times. She wanted to be prepared, even just a little, for when it finally happened, so maybe the wind wouldn't get knocked out of her. Maybe the blow would be lessened. So many maybe's, far too many. He'd told her more than once that she had nothing to be afraid of, but even then. She'd seen them together, in the cages. She'd seen his face after he saw her in the jungle, when they were still flashing through time. But though she was sure of him now, sure of his love for her and the partnership they'd created, she was not sure of Kate. Her claim on him. Juliet could not predict what would happen if Kate came back and her numerous insecurities would not let her rest. So she rehearsed it--imagined where they'd be, how he brought it up, all of that stuff--so that when (if) it finally happened, maybe her knees wouldn't buckle. Maybe her stomach wouldn't turn.
It ended up that she shouldn't have wasted her time, because nothing could have really prepared her for the actuality of it. The way she'd have to sit down abruptly because her legs felt unsteady. The punch to the gut. The way all the air in the room felt like it just disappeared for second, all because the absolutely impossible thing had finally happened. They were back. She was back.
She thought maybe she would never leave this place, and the thought still disturbed her. Yet she had become someone here that she never would have recognized Before. She had not gone to medical school to end up in filthy clothes, wielding a gun and shooting men dead. The fertility research she had thrown herself into all those years was not supposed to be set aside for torture and mind games. She had not anticipated having to lie and steal and cheat just to survive, and years of that--years of the focus on simply surviving -- had replaced all that had been meek within her with something steely. She knew that this was what people saw when they looked at her now. She was someone who was capable of violence, a wild card, someone who you maybe shouldn't trust.
James had thought this of her too, at first. He told her so at the beginning of things, one night when they stayed up too late talking. "When I first saw you walk out onto that beach, I thought the doc was outta his damn mind, or … uh, just thinkin' with somethin' other than his brain, if you know what I mean …"
She'd smirked and arched an eyebrow at him. "Thanks."
"Well, hold on! After you told off me and Sayid and took that medicine case to Claire, I saw what the doc saw. Still didn't trust you, but can you blame me, Lady Other? Specially after all those shenanigans with Ben."
And she couldn't. She knew why she could be perceived as dangerous, because she'd done dangerous things. And she knew she'd spent too long in this place to ever go back to being the mild-mannered people pleaser ever again. There were so many things to regret about what had happened on this island, but that was not one of them. She would not apologize for that, and he wouldn't have wanted her to anyway, because the old Juliet was not someone you would want to have your back. The old Juliet would not have been able to handle any of this, but there was precious little left of that version of herself anyway, and she thought she would probably never miss those parts she had lost. And one day, here in this place in a small house where she didn't belong, in a decade she was a stranger to, she realized she'd become not just who she'd needed herself to become, but who he'd needed too. And she was thankful for that.
Sometimes he traced the scar on her back with his fingers or his mouth and she could feel him tense up. "I wish I coulda stopped them from doing this to you." There was real pain in his voice, and it made her eyes well up immediately.
"You couldn't have known … you weren't a part of any of that."
"I know, but, still. I feel a little responsible. And I don't like to think about you bein' in that much pain."
She'd flipped over then, running a hand up his arm, over his shoulder, along his neck before cradling the line of his jaw. "James." She kissed him softly. "I know you would have stopped it if you could have."
She kissed him again. "But you probably would have still been pissed that I tasered you and turned a blind eye …"
He chuckled. "Hell, yeah … I still don't think you done enough to make that one up to me, woman." She smiled at him as he ran his hand down her back, found her scar again with the tips of his fingers. "I got some ugly scars too, you know. So we got that in common, the two of us."
She nodded, running her fingers over a small but pronounced scar over his ribs. "What's this one?" she murmured.
"Aw, I think that was from fallin' off my bike when I was a kid. Fell right into bush and got stabbed by a stick."
"I can see you being a reckless little boy …"
He grinned. "What makes you say that?"
"Oh, well, just knowing you for more than five minutes." She grinned back at him.
He was quiet for a moment, his hand stilling over the mark on her back. "I like scars, 'cause they remind you of who you used to be."
She stared at him for a second, looking so deeply into his eyes that he almost asked her what was wrong, but then she closed the small distance between them and kissed him intently. She didn't need to speak for him to know she was saying everything she wanted to say to him this way. The words were in her lips and tongue still, and he heard them clearly now just as if they had been spoken.
Thank you. I love you. I'm yours.
It was a relief to take care of another person. To lose herself in the mundane things -- laundry, cleaning, cooking. She was dusting, for God's sake. After all they'd been through, still stuck in the place it had all happened. It was luxurious. She woke up every day next to him, felt the muscles in his arms and back, and he was real. They were real. She was fixing cars and it was pure relief. It felt normal, safe. Maybe they were deluding themselves, knowing what lay ahead for Dharma but still somehow enjoying what they had right now.
Juliet had stopped thinking it could really happen--that those that had left on the helicopter would ever return. The island was impossible to find under normal circumstances, a mythical place with no presence on any map even before it had been moved. And now on top of that, they were buried in time. The chances of actually reuniting were so slim that it seemed like even a betting man would not take the odds.
James was a betting man, though, and he had always believed they would come back. It's true that he believed it less and less as time went on, but there was a sort of childlike faith in John Locke that she could not or would not try to shake, because he clearly needed to believe in something. And God did not seem to know about this island, judging from the way he seemed absent from all that had occurred. So James --whom she still could not bring herself to call her boyfriend even in her mind, because it seemed too slight a word for what he was to her-- placed his hope in Locke, and she could not dissuade him from it even though she herself could not believe.
So her legs had nearly buckled when he finally said the words. He was frantic to get back to them, tearing through the closet to find clothes for them, and she felt a dull ache in the pit of her stomach until he told her why he was so frantic: he wanted to keep what they'd built together from being ruined.
She snapped into survival mode instantly, coming up with a plan to bring them in as recruits. But he knew her well enough to see that behind her calm words she was bothered and anxious, and just before he walked out the door with a sack full of clothes, he turned back.
"Kate made her decision, Jules, just like I've made mine. I made it before I even saw her get out of that van with Hugo and Jack. Seeing her don't change a thing."
She smiled, but it was pained. "You can't choose who you love, though, isn't that what they say?"
He was across the room in two seconds, reaching up to cradle her face in his hands. "Juliet. Listen to me. I don't know another way to say this to you so that you'll believe it. Kate and me are history. There's only one person I'm interested in wakin' up next to every morning on this damn island or anywhere else, in the 70's or the 50's or in the future with the damn Jetsons, and I'm lookin' at her."
She blinked at him, and felt the tears welling up and out of her eyes, trailing down her cheeks before she had a chance to control them. She brushed at them with the back of her hand, nodding quickly before she finally found her voice. "I love you. More than I ever--" she stopped, overcome with emotion.
He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her tightly to him. "And I love you. Don't ever doubt that, no matter who comes back here in the DeLorean next."
She smiled at him, then leaned in kissed him softly. "I'm sorry for needing reassuring again, I just …"
"Don't trust Kate?" he offered, raising his eyebrows.
She shook her head, not trusting herself to speak.
"No need for the worryin', sweetheart. Kate ain't one for pushin' too long on a closed door, and somethin' tells me she's got her own agenda now, anyway. And that agenda don't include bustin' up our happy home here, so. Just rest easy, OK?"
She smiled ruefully. "Well, we're still stuck in the 70's, so I don't know about the rest easy part. " He chuckled, and tightened his arms around her waist. "But I will stop worrying about her so I can focus on being happy with you."
He rested his forehead against hers. "That's all I want. We got no idea what could happen tomorrow, so let's just be as happy as we can be today. 'Sides, we can take whatever comes, you and me."
She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, pressing her hand over his chest to feel the steady beating of his heart, and whispered, "I know."