Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the property of CBS and are only used for fan related purposes. Any dialogue from the first episode, "Whap", included is used only to further the story.

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Under the Tree

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Looking back on it, it hadn't been her best idea—but, then again, Abby Mills sure hadn't expected to walk right into her past the moment she was able to drag herself off of the chartered boat. She should've known better—even as kids, Jimmy made his home on the docks—but that didn't make the butterflies stop flapping, or her heart stop beating so frantically when she saw him standing there.

He smelled like fish, he was in dire need of a shower, but that was the Jimmy she remembered all right. He hadn't changed a bit in the last seven years—and, though she would never admit it to him, she was grateful for just how little he changed when his left ring finger was revealed to be bare—and, as she slowed enough to fake indifference and offer a quick retort, she was only too reminded how much she had changed since the last time she was on Harper's Island.

Maybe that's what did it, that's what gave her the idea. On returning home, she knew that she had to come to grips with the three people she loved and lost when John Wakefield—already she felt the ghost of his memory haunting her—went on a rampage and killed six people seven years ago. The way she saw it, maybe it would be better to get the worst of it over sooner than later.

First there was Jimmy who'd been waiting for her on the docks, and she knew she couldn't avoid her father forever, no matter how much she would like to. It would be impossible; the island was just too small.

That left only one other person, and it was someone that she could avoid if she wanted to. She wouldn't be waiting for her anywhere—if Abby wanted to make her peace, she would have to search her out. She had to make the decision, and she had to make the effort. And, if she wanted to mourn the loss of her mother, she had to go—and she knew exactly where she needed to be.

The wedding party was going to be carted down to the Candlewick Inn; the Wellingtons rented the tram cars to bring the guests and the luggage across the island. Trish called out to her, offering her a ride on their cart, but she politely refused. She knew that, if she didn't go now, she would never go.

It wasn't perfect logic, but she figured she was allowed to have her judgment clouded by Jimmy's missed banter and her long awaited return to Harper's Island.

It had been seven years since she took to the same trail but, to her, if seemed almost as if it were yesterday. She was a kid again, fresh-faced and wearing her faded flannel jacket, stunned after the marina blast, running after the sound of her mother's scream. She wasn't running now, but she found herself entering into the same clearing in no time at all.

And there it was.

The Tree of Woe.

She glanced up at the accursed tree, her eyes wide open and staring, and, as she struggled not to do since the night her father placed her on a boat that took her far away from Harper's Island, she allowed herself to remember.

Mom…

The flashes from the past, the memories of her eighteen-year-old self as she watched her mother's limp body hang there… they were all so vivid. For a moment, she forgot who she was, when she was, and why she was torturing herself purposely by searching out the damn tree.

She could feel herself trembling, shaking just out of control as the she saw the tree now the way she saw it that day seven years ago. She could feel the malice in the air, and she knew that this was quite possibly the stupidest thing she could have done since telling Henry she would come back to Harper's Island for his wedding to Trish.

But she couldn't tear her gaze away, she was transfixed, and it took everything she had to just turn her back on the tree. The memories didn't fade at once; she was still lost in the past. So taken aback and unsettled, it wasn't until she walked right into someone's chest, until she felt the sudden, strong grip of a pair of arms on her shoulders that she even realized that she wasn't alone in her mourning anymore.

Someone else had followed her there.

--

It wasn't as hard as he thought it would be to slip away. Henry Dunn was the groom, one half of the star attraction in this circus of a wedding, but the boarding of the carts rented to bring the wedding party to the Candlewick was hectic enough that it was easy for him to make his excuses. A winning smile, a murmured apology to the ever present brunette at his side and he was able to step off of the cart before it even started to rumble away.

Part of him was torn that Abby, it seemed, wanted as much to do with the rambunctious guests as he did. She politely declined Trish's offer to join their cart, choosing to walk to the Candlewick Inn herself. He wanted to follow her, to make sure she was okay—now that she was here, he didn't want her out of his sight—but he didn't.

He couldn't.

There was something else he needed to do first. Someone else he needed to see.

Once the wedding party had set off and he was swallowed up by the woods that surrounded the island, he let his comfortable act slide right off, like a snake shedding its second skin. Dropping his grin, he pushed his hair out of his eyes and strode purposely forward. He knew exactly where he was going; the path was ingrained to him and he found it significant that it was where they had chosen to meet this afternoon.

And, as he emerged into the clearing only to find that someone else had had the same plan, he realized that the old tree was important to more people than just him and his dad.

Abby had beaten him there.

She was standing, frozen, her delicate chin tilted up as she stared up at the moss-covered, gnarled tree. She was speechless, and though he tried to be quiet as he approached her, she acted as if she couldn't hear the twigs snapping or the rustling of the grass that fell underfoot.

Henry didn't call attention to his presence, choosing to watch her instead. But when she spun around suddenly, he was there to receive her in his embrace. Abby may have thought his hold was to calm her, but he knew that he would take every opportunity to hold her close that he could get.

"It's okay. It's okay… the killer's dead. Abby, Wakefield's dead," he lied easily, trying desperately to remove the panic in her eyes, trying to stop the worries from overwhelming her. But he's not. He's standing right over there, he thought to himself, but he didn't tell her the truth.

He can't. She wouldn't understand.

Abby froze again, shaking before recognizing his face, and recognizing his voice. He was pleased to see how calm his presence made her. She didn't shriek—she barely jumped—and her breathing slowed as soon as she realized that this was Henry.

He glanced up at the tree looming in front of him and, for a moment, he let his thoughts turn to the mother who gave him up—the mother whose life (and death) was forever entwined with the ghoulish tree. He shook his head, meaning it when he murmured, "Should've cut down that tree a long time ago."

Smoothly, he slipped his arm around her shoulder. He lowered his gaze so that, with only a few inches separating his face from hers, he could stare earnestly right into the intensity of her dark eyes. There was worry written there, an incomprehensible fear that only he could understand. His heart aching for the pain she felt, and the pain she would no doubt know in the days to come, he tried to calm her with a quick, "Come on… come on."

He saw his father lurking in the shadows but, guiding Abby, he turned his back on the man. He couldn't let Abby see him—and it was far more important for him to comfort her over meeting his father that afternoon. There would be time for that later; he wanted to make the most of any of the close, alone (and Trish-free) moments he could get with Abby.

He didn't let his hand fall as they walked, though he could feel Abby drifting away. Despite the space she subconsciously put between them, he refused to lose contact with her. She was his lifeline. She was his purpose. And he didn't worry about the distance, either. It wasn't proper for her to lean into him, and it wouldn't be right if he cuddled her close as they walked together out of the woods. She was his best friend, after all, not his fiancée.

Well… not yet, anyway.

--

As John Wakefield stood just out of their sight, he gripped the handle of his boarding knife and scowled. To see Sarah's two children standing side by side under the tree where he hung her as punishment for abandoning him—for abandoning his child—gave the old murderer a perverse sort of pleasure, but only because, even from his position, he could sense the pain that when she turned away from the Tree of Woe. He could see the hurt that was written on the girl's face.

Before he was done, before they were done, he would inflict far more pain than the mere sight of a makeshift gallows. Those eyes—dark, just like Sarah's… just like his son's—would beg for death long before her wish would be granted.

He didn't move as he watched Henry lead the girl away from him. It would've been nice for some father-son bonding time—they were long overdue since their last trip together into Tacoma—but he could wait. They were both on the island now, and the plan was in motion.

They would have all the time in the world to be a family when the world was finally rid of their enemies.

Besides, he didn't need this quick rendezvous under Sarah's tree to have Henry check in. He was confident that his boy had succeeded with the first stages—from his count, the first of many guests was missing—and they were well-versed enough to know what to do next. The rendezvous wasn't necessary, but the impromptu meeting that took place under the tree was illuminating nonetheless.

Serving as an unknown and unwanted spectator on this personal display, he saw the look that flashed in Henry's eyes as his son casually—but not so casually—draped his arm over the girl's shoulder. His acting was admirable, especially since he seemed to fool everyone who thought they knew him, but he couldn't fool his father.

Wakefield saw the fleeting look of utter devotion that flashed in the depths of Sarah's eyes, and he knew that the plan was the right one. It was imperative, as he explained to Henry prior to the beginning, each and every death essential—including what would be the last murder. In order to be free, Abby Mills had to die—and Henry had to be the one to do it.

His son would kill Charlie's daughter and, finally, there would be nothing left to haunt either of them.


Author's Note: After watching the first episode again, I noticed from the beginning how close Henry seemed to stay to Abby. I mean, right off the bat he's following her to the tree. And, of coures, we get our first glimpse of Wakefield and his infamous knife when the camera pans out of that scene. So I was thinking -- how interesting was it that Henry happened to find her there. Maybe he had his own reasons to stop by the tree... And, here you go. My interpretation on one of the first scenes in the show. I hope you liked it :) And, if you find yourself subconsciously humming "Under the Sea" after this... trust me, you're not alone.