DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I don't own LOST, its characters, or the book/song quotes from here on out. The title of this story is from "No One Belongs Here More Than You" by Miranda July, a twisted and delightful book.
"This pain, this dying, this is just normal. This is how life is.
In fact, I realize, there never was an earthquake. Life is just this way, broken, and I am crazy for dreaming of something else."
- Miranda July, "No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories"
She wishes it were raining as the plane taxied down the runway, but instead, it was just sun, stupid blinding sun just like the day she poked her head out of the sub all those years ago.
Cruising altitude and she hasn't stopped clutching the armrests. She's in the middle, no one's in the aisle seat. He's scrunched up against the window trying to sleep - when was it they'd last slept? - and she unfolds her long legs and stands, looks down the long aisle for nothing, takes a blanket from the overheard and bends down to tuck it around his shoulders. The sun from the windows is falling over his dirty blond hair. He half-smiles in his sleep, showing a dimple briefly before falling into slumber again.
She's glad he's sleeping because she needs to think. She needs to think, and it's like she can't even remember how, too strung out on emotion and confusion and the stomach-churning sensation of sleep deprivation. Her eyes burn with sleeplessness.
They aren't really headed in the right direction, they'll be landing in Amsterdam, but at least they're getting the hell out of Tunisia. That's priority number one, as far as she can tell. They have one bag between them that had their paperwork and some things they'd gotten in an airport shop before the flight.
That, and the clothes on their backs. Her shoes are six years old, or several decades, she isn't really sure, and she really doesn't fucking care anymore.
Those ridiculous Dharma parkas they'd left behind. It was July and anyway, they couldn't be wearing those out in the real world. They have fake identities as it is, thanks to Richard, and she really didn't need some 75-year-old whose janitor brother had disappeared with the D.I. four decades ago stopping them on the street and flipping the fuck out.
The belly of the plane rumbles. She'd close her eyes and pray if she did that kind of thing; instead she stares at the pattern on the back of the seat in front of her, tracing the squares with her eyes over and over until the pattern blurs in front of her, a numbing pointless calm settling in, and she manages to stop shaking.
- FLASHBACK -
Richard had come to her three weeks ago. She hadn't expected him to find her at the beach; she'd stolen away for a couple of hours of much-needed quiet, staring out at the ocean, digging her toes into the sand.
He nodded at her, sitting down carefully to avoid creasing his picture-perfect slacks. She felt very aware of the splatter of mud on her left arm.
He sat next to her, close but not too close, looking out to the shore. They were still uncomfortable around each other after all these years, not friends exactly, but they'd reached some sort of detente. "Juliet, I think it's time we got you some fake IDs and got you two out of here," he said.
She'd just been sitting on the beach, so still, staring out, pretending for just a second that she was sitting on the beach in Miami, taking a moment before going up to Rachel's candlelit apartment. Even when her sister was so sick, at least they'd had each other. Here, no one really had her back anymore.
And Juliet didn't know how much longer she was going to be able to keep everything in orbit around her.
Nonetheless, she kept the emotionless mask on her face although she felt her pulse in her throat. She didn't trust herself to speak. She'd never asked him to get them away from the island, never. All the times she'd begged Ben had never amounted to anything, and she was never going to beg again.
"I can show you how to get back to your time," he said quietly. "There's going to be something that happens here, it's happening soon, and you're going to need to get out the day that happens. You're not supposed to be here for it."
"Supposed to?" she burst out dryly, before she could help herself. "Because as I recall, there have been a whole lot of things I wasn't supposed to do, and I did them all." She clenched her jaw, bitter, not blinking. She still didn't look at him.
If anyone could beat her in a staring-straight-ahead-not-blinking contest, though, it was Richard fucking Alpert. Once Ben disappeared, he'd silently taken charge, never mentioning Ben or Jacob. And she never asked him. Never asked him why she'd woken up in the jungle naked, either. Because she knew.
And she didn't want to know anything else.
"You want to pick your name, or should I just see what we can get?" he said.
"Leah," she said, and the name caught in her throat. She remembered how hoarse her voice had been after she'd woken on the sub.
"Good choice," he said. Leah, the sister of Rachel in the bible. "You're going to have to be careful if you see her again, you know. She can't go to the authorities."
"I know that," Juliet said, having recaptured her well-practiced monotone.
"What about a name for him?"
"You don't need to change his name. No one will be looking for him." She felt like this was the longest conversation she'd had in years.
"True. All right, well, I'll see what I can do. Driver's license, birth certificates, bank account and all that. You're going to come out in Tunisia," he warned.
"Fine. I don't care. Just do it if you're going to do it." Yeah, right. She'd believe it when she saw it.
- END FLASHBACK -
The plane shudders as it lands, and Juliet realizes she'd fallen asleep after all. The sky through the windows is dark, the terminal bathed in artificial light. She unbuckles her seatbelt. For some reason she's expecting her hands to be shaking, but they aren't. He's just starting to stir. "Where - where are we?" he mumbles.
"We're halfway there," she says in the most reassuring voice she can muster.
She bends to pick up the crayons that had fallen onto the floor, helps him unbuckle his seatbelt. "I'm hungry, Mama," he says sleepily.
"I know, buddy. We're going to go get something to eat now." She puts the crayons in her bag and takes his hand, drawing in a shaky breath.
A dozen years on that island. She has no idea what she's supposed to do now.
Please leave a review! This is my first fanfic, and I totally have a plan for this, I swear. Hoping people are intrigued enough for me to go on.