Chapter Five: Main Intersection
A Jillian Centric
You wait your turn in the queue,
You say your sorries and thank yous,
I don't think you're ever
A hundred percent in the room...
You're not in the room.
Four days had passed.
For most of those four days all who were ready and able took to the jungle bearing torches and flashlights, in the hope of finding Claire. Dimmer now, the hope still shone on, though just barely. And so while the last of the fruitless search parties took place, the camp had settled into an uneasy calm.
People talked. Ate. Washed. Built.
It was the building that bothered Alexis the most.
"I don't see the point. They have to be coming soon," she said. "I mean- there's only so many deserted islands on this planet. Can't they just use radar or something to comb them all?"
"I'm not sure if it works that way, Lexi," Jillian comforted.
The Texan watched the wreckage as the waves lapped at its edges, slowly dragging it down into the water. Her dimpled smile vanished, to be replaced by an adorable pout. Hurley raised an eyebrow and gave a low chuckle.
Lexi promptly turned to Jillian. "You don't seem... eager to be rescued. It's almost like... you're... enjoying yourself here."
Jillian flushed a little. "Don't be silly. I... I just don't have much to go back to. I haven't seen my parents since their divorce, and my workload here is considerably lighter than it was in civilization."
Seeming to recall Nikki snapping at Jillian earlier, Lexi nodded, slightly abashed. "Yeah- I'll take your word on that one."
A little brown-haired girl lugged up one handle of a basket teaming with fresh eggs. The hand that clasped the other end was considerably larger and more weathered.
Jeff, the hand on the Cooper's farm, glancing down at Jilly, waiting patiently for her yammer to cease so that he could get a word in. She talked much more these days- the normal way for a six year old to be. She would celebrate her birthday in three weeks time, something her own parents probably didn't know.
"Where are your mommy and daddy today? Can I speak with one of them after we drop these off in the shed? I need to discuss sick leave."
"You're sick?" Her brown eyes became alarmed.
"No, Jilly. It's just a family friend, and I need to be with them. C'mon, we'll go ask about it now." Jeff scooped her up into a piggyback and she squealed with delight as he took off at a run towards the farm house.
"Mrs. Cooper? Mr. Cooper? Are you here?" Jeff called once they had entered the hall.
"Mommy was in the kitchen when I left," Jilly supplied. "And Daddy was in his study."
"Hello?" Jeff called again.
He was answered by a short silence, broken minutes later by the sound of a door slamming. Mrs. Cooper pounded down a staircase, her face flushed with rage. She gave Jilly and Jeff a long look, before asking in a moderately calm tone "Was there something you needed, Jeff?"
"Uh..." Jeff looked worried but instantly tried to hide it from Jillian. "I just needed to discuss myself taking two or three week of sick leave."
Mrs. Cooper's red face turned rather impassive. She glanced at the ceiling before saying loudly: "Take as long off as you'd like, Jeff. We have no need of your services any longer."
Jillian looked up.
"The fact is, my husband an I have decided we've been living a lie. We're getting a divorce and selling the farm."
Jilly felt Jeff's broad hand on her shoulder. It was the first time she'd seen her mother properly in a few weeks.
"Jeff," she said finally. Mrs. Cooper had left the room, and she could hear her father storming around upstairs. "What does 'divorce' mean?"
Jay watched Sawyer from a safe distance. He bit his lip, mind a whir of muddled, half-formed thoughts. Was he going insane? He looked on fearfully, as though the man before him might disappear if he blinked.
"Do you know him?"
He jumped a little, having been unaware of Lucian's approach. The man stood nearby amiably, wringing out a shirt in the frothy waves.
Jay sighed inwardly. "Yeah. I guess you could say that."
"And you're bothered by something." It was a statement, not a question. Lucian was watching his face, his expression light. Jay finally nodded, almost resigned.
"I'm just... I'm just starting to think he's not the person I thought he was."
"And what kind of person did you think he was?"
"Good. Strong. Selfless. I don't know what I think anymore. But... he's only looking after himself. He doesn't care about anyone else."
Lucian leaned forward as he dipped the shirt again, looking at the Southern man who, he now knew, had saved his life thirteen years ago.
"Look, Jay. I don't know him well. I don't. But he is a good person. I know it."
Jay stared. "You know him?"
"Not well, like I said. But trust me. I know him well enough to vouch for that much."
He nodded. "Do you know him well enough that he recognizes you?"
Lucian shrugged and grinned. "I wouldn't want to rob him of his... ah, reputation. He seems to be enjoying it."
And Jay turned away again, his mind wild with questions- and now, just a flicker of promise.
Jared took a sip of water, taking a short break from stretching a tarp over the foundation of a tent. Gabby and Wade watched from nearby, each lost in their own thoughts. Gabby eventually snapped out of her reverie, and strode over to grab one end of the blue plastic.
"This looks like it'll be cozy enough when you're through with it, Mr. Merritt," she said.
"Hm... yeah. I figured I might need it- you know, antisocial teenager, et cetera." He struck a dramatic, angsty pose and Gabby squealed with laughter. "But seriously, everyone should probably start pitching some shelters for themselves. I don't know when the next downpour is coming, but it'll be handy for when it does."
"What a wise head on such young shoulders!" Gabrielle's tone was lofty.
They chatted cheerily for another few minutes before Wade approached. "Guys- hey. Listen up. Kate and I were thinking of... checking out those noises from the forest."
Gabby paled. "'Noises' here having the meaning of 'monster that ate the frickin' pilot'."
"Pretty much, yeah."
"So why're you telling us this?" Jared inquired.
"We need a decent-sized group- a few people are out there already, looking for her. Claire. So thus far we've got me, Kate, Sawyer, Andrea and Jillian. You guys in?"
"Sure." Gabby stated.
Jared gave him a funny look. "I'm fourteen, dude. Don't you think I'm a little young?" His tone was more than a little mocking.
Wade nodded. "Yeah, I actually do. But I've seen how frustrated you get when you're left out of important things because of your age. So are you in or not?"
Jared looked back steadily. "Hell yes I'm in."
Jillian coloured happily as Jeff spoke in hushed tones with the social worker.
"You don't understand how close I am to this girl, Miss. She has no one else. Please- I'll be her guardian. I can do it- she's like my little sister."
"But you're not a blood relative?" she replied doubtfully. Jeff sighed.
"No- I'm not."
"Then I'm afraid that's out of the question. I really am sorry. Look, the girl has an aunt in Los Angeles. Tess Cooper. She's willing to take her- there's a school nearby, lots of local kids. The fact is, sir, she hasn't had nearly enough contact with kids her age. She needs this opportunity- to be a child."
Jilly turned around just in time to see Jeff give the social worker a grim smile. "If that's what she needs- and if through going to LA, she can get it... okay."
Audrey looked about blearily as she left the tarp that had kindly been put together for her. In several ways she was grateful; having been more or less comatose, she had never had to experience the horrors of the crash and it's aftermath. However, the realization had taken hold of her later than the others, and she had spent the larger part of the day in tears.
Charlie had stuck around for a little while- she really did enjoy his company- but had left with and earlier search party.
A tall African-American approached her, offering a hand. She gave a small smile, glad for the small gesture of kindness.
"Hi. Audrey, right? We haven't met. The name's Lucian."
She took his firm grip and shook it. "Thanks. I've heard you mentioned. Everyone sort of knows each other now... I'm stilling feeling a little out of sync."
"That's okay, it's normal. At least you're doing okay, now. It'll take time. Hey- could you excuse me for just one second?"
"Sure." Audrey sat on an unturned suitcase and watched as Lucian made his way up the beach, small bag of cloths in hand. He joined a little group who had assembled at the tree-line, most sporting hiking boots and rucksacks. He touched the arm of a slim blonde woman and handed her the bag. She smiled in thanks and he said something briefly before returning to Audrey.
She smiled thoughtfully. "Is she your girlfriend?"
Lucian stared at her dumbly for a moment before snapping out of it. "What? Andrea? Of course she's not my-,"
"Never mind," Audrey said hurriedly, aware she had embarrassed him. So the analyzer is afraid of being analyzed. "It just looked like it was all. Are you going with that group? To look for something? I was never fully told."
"No," Lucian replied. "Jack asked me to hold the fort down here. A woman, Claire, she's been missing for the guts of five days now. He's gone out with Jonathon, Luis, Locke and Charlie to have another look."
"Shannon... you're my best friend. Why would you say things like that about me behind my back?" A teenage Jillian gaped at her blonde friend, eyes wide.
Shannon simply gave her a snippy look and fidgeted.
"I don't understand you," Jillian stated plainly. "I don't get you. You had no reason to do something like this. None. And I'm not going to suffer these rumours. Goodbye, Shannon."Her words were uncharacteristically fierce, and she slammed the door of the middle school girl's bathroom on her way out.
"So what's the plan?" Jillian asked as the small group set off.
"We're gonna head out the way of the cockpit..." Kate replied edgily. "That's where we saw it last."
"And we're going looking for the creature that ripped someone apart that badly... why?" Gabby asked.
"Easier to face the enemy you know than the one you don't." Andrea intoned solemnly.
"Listen," Wade called back from the front of the group. "I want everyone- and I mean everyone," He shot Andrea a stern look. "To do as I say. And if things go badly... if anyone is..." He trailed off, his meaning clear. "Then everyone else runs. There's no time for heroics here. Just run, and for God's sake, don't look back."
And with that, the group set off. The going was slow, due to the knotty roots of the undergrowth and stifling heat. The bottles of water ran out fast. The trek to the cockpit, thankfully, was a fairly easy one- long enough, though on consistently flat terrain. Gabby hoped Jonathon and Lexi were doing a good job taking care of Alex. Andrea touched her stomach, worrying whether her hard head had talked her out of sensibility. Jillian thrilled at getting to do something on her own terms, minus Nikki.
"You're looking very happy," Jared commented. "Happier than anyone in the Jungle of Doom has a right to be, really."
She smiled broadly. "Just... enjoying the great outdoors."
Jared quirked an eyebrow and briefly made the 'cuckoo' sign towards Kate, who chuckled quietly and moved onwards.
Jillian stared at her reflection in mere disbelief. A ghost of her former self peered back- a very well-dressed ghost, at that. She was skinnier than she had ever been, collar bone more pronounced through he tanned skin than she would like. The eyes had become jaded, lips ready to fake a giggle at some bitchy joke.
So this was what six months of working for Nikki Fernandez had done to her. She loathed it. Happy anniversary. Whoop-dee-frickin'-doo.
She exited the bathroom and stepped into her employer's hotel suite. She glanced around, seeing only Paolo sitting at the coffee table with his head in his hands. "Paulo? Hey. Where's Nikki? I though she wanted to bring me out to somewhere or other with her and Harold.
Paulo shook his head, not looking up. "They went alone."
"Oh." Jillian frowned to herself. "Look, are you okay? Please, Paulo, tell me. You're upset, I see that. Look," She strode away, cracking open the min bar and holding up a vodka. "We'll have a drink, and you can just tell me what's worrying you, okay?"
Her tone was so genuine, so concerned. Paulo nodded.
They drank in silence. And drank. More. And more. And more. Still, the silence persisted, each lost in there own thoughts of how things got this bad for either of them. The silence broke when Jilly felt his lips on her own.
"Paulo, what are you-," But he was drunk. She was drunk. So drunk they could barely think.
A few hours later Jilly woke with a start, her face turned against Paulo's warm chest. Dear God. "Oh, shit."
She slipped out of the bed quickly, shoving her cloths on as fast as she could manage. Finally decent, she had her hand on the doorknob when Paulo stirred. His eyes darted around, eventually coming to rest on Jillian.
"J.C.... we didn't... did we?"
"Don't call me that," she snapped. "And yeah, we did." She felt a little ill.
He swore, and dragged his hands through his hair. "Look, Jillian, do you know what Nikki's doing?" Jilly shrugged, just eager to get out the door. "It's... she's..." He bit his lip. "No, never mind. Just go. Please."
Jillian sniffed, annoyed at Paulo and angry with herself. "Get dressed, Paulo," she ordered, leaving the room.
Three days later, Nikki threw up her hands. Jillian jumped. "Guess what, J.C.? We're all done here for the time being. Pack up, and I want my plane tickets bought for tomorrow. ASAP." Jillian lingered, and Nikki rolled her eyes. "What are you waiting for? Glacial shift? I said now."
"I head somethin'" Sawyer stated tersely.
"Me, too," Jared muttered, eyes flicking this way and that.
"Could've been a boar."
"Boars don't move that fast."
"It was on foot," Wade informed. "I saw movement up there." He pointed to where the cockpit wreckage was just visible between the trees. "On your toes, people."
The next movement came faster, closer. Gabby quivered and took a step closer to Sawyer. Andrea caught Jared by the back of his sweater and pulled him further into the center of the group. Jillian's eyes strained the growing dark.
Too fast, too close. A tree shook, sending a few leaves spiraling to the ground. A large bird darting from it's branches. A branch snapped loudly.
"Run," whispered Andrea. She could feeling Jared trying not to tremble, trying to be brave. "Run!" The group began to falter back, but Wade stood his ground. He pulled a gun from his side and shot twice, blindly into the dim. There was a gasp, and then something happened that no-one expected.
A girl, perhaps in her later teens, stumbled down from the lower branches of a tree. Her face was flushed, and sweat and mud matted her pretty blonde hair. "What the hell d'you think you're at?" she hissed, throwing a long glance around herself.
"Wade, where'd you get the gun?" Jillian asked, stunned.
"Jack," he responded, his tone hard as he looked at th teen.
The group eyed the shaken though unharmed girl, and she thrusted out her jaw and glared defiantly back. Another twig snapped. She wasn't moving.
And then there was an indescribable roar, and all hell broke loose.
"RUN!" Andrea screeched again, shoving Jared ahead of her as the noise became unbearable fast, and everyone began to sprint.
"What do you mean, you can't find her?" Aurora shrieked, taking a threatening step towards a fearful Bojan.
"I mean... that she's no where within my range of finding-ability." He smiled weakly. Aurora growled.
"I swear to God, Bo, if you or that good-for-nothing brother of yours do not bring Gigi back this second, then-,"
"I think Gigi can look after herself," Bo stated. Aurora gaped, looking fit to explode.
"Aurora!" Megan, Claire's chief doctor, came barging down the steps of a nearby porch, dark hair flying. "Aura, she's gone."
"I know!" she fumed. "I know that little minx has run of to explore again! And she hasn't come back, Megan! Not since this morning, and she never takes this long, never-,"
"Wait." Megan interrupted. "Who are you talking about?"
"Gigi, of course!"
"Well, I'm talking about Claire." Megan's face was grave. "We're thinking Alex had something to do with-,"
She was cut off by Aurora's feral snarl. She balled her hands into fists and tugged at her short, spiky hair. "Bad day, bad day!"
Haha. Fast update, woop woop! Don't get used to it, though- I don't want to disappoint anyone. This chapter was so unbelievably fun to write. Seriously! Thank you, all of you, for giving such brilliant characters to work with. I really love them. =D If anyone has any questions or queries about the plot or characters, by the way, feel free to ask and I'll answer as best I can. So we now know all about Jillian, who's cool. And more interaction with the Others. I think I like this chapter so much because it has a good measure of both action and character development (which I love!), don't you think? Review, if you please.
I don't own Lost, or any recognizable trademarks. The title was taken from 'Up' by The Saturdays, cos it's sort of a crossing point between Losties and Others. And the lyrics are Neapolitan Dreams by Lisa Mitchell, cos I think it shows how Jillian's heart isn't really in her job.