Title: Dust and Scars and Dreaming
Disclaimer: Don't own them; just borrowing.
Summary: A what-might-have-happened were it not for that goddamned flaming van interrupting Kate and Sawyer in "He's Our You."
Spoilers: through 5.10 He's Our You
He's angry when he goes to knock on the door, angry and confused and determined. Determined to get some answers, something more than the crazy purpose Sayid had been rambling on about. He knocks, and –
She opens the door, and his anger seeps away. Kate looks small and out of place there, in the dark with the light behind her. He thinks she moves to touch him, but changes course at the last moment to lean against the doorway, instead. He thinks, too, there might be a hint of a smile, just barely, as she greets him, and he suddenly loses what he was going to say.
It's better when she closes the door and steps onto the porch. The evening shadows her face just enough that he can't see every detail, every freckle, and it makes it easier for him to breathe. He remembers, now, and his voice is rough. "Why'd you come back?"
She's surprised, and evasive. As usual, and he wonders just how much she – he – they – have changed. Maybe not as much as he'd thought. He explains himself as she stalls, looking everywhere but at her face. It's only when he says her name she looks up at him. He sees the decision cross her features.
"I don't know why everyone else came back. I just know why I did."
When she looks away, seemingly gathering herself, he finds himself mildly shocked she's actually going to tell him. Maybe she's changed more than he'd thought. He jerks his head for her to follow, and they walk off the porch. The new darkness seems to allow her to find her voice again as they walk in the shadowed space between the bungalows.
"I came back for him. For Aaron." A pause, and James can her her quiet steps, her breathing. Then, "I had him...raised him...three years." Her voice goes lower, so he has to strain to hear. "But I always knew he wasn't mine."
James stops. Suddenly he's seeing her as he had not long ago, as if in a dream: deep in the jungle, holding a newborn baby in her hands, laughing as she sets him on Claire's belly. The memory is so vivid it's a jolt through him, and his chest tightens painfully. Kate's stopped walking now, too, though she's still talking, and her voice washes over him in waves though he isn't registering her words.
He's remembering it all so clearly, now: finding the baby in the jungle, getting on the helicopter. Things he hasn't allowed himself to think of in three years. And that last day, whispering in her ear his one well-kept secret. The last taste of her mouth and the wind in his hair.
It's almost a physical force that propels him towards her, and it's only when he gets close enough he sees the tears glistening beneath her eyes.
He's not gentle, because that's never been them. He just stops her barrage of words with his mouth over hers, and he feels her breath stutter-start in hesitation before she parts her lips and responds in kind.
(Thirty years later, this will all happen again. She will come into his tent with tears in her eyes and will tell him to shut up with her mouth on his. Something else he hasn't thought of in years.)
Now, he turns them so her back is against the nearest house. He's still not gentle, but neither is she, and he tastes the salt on her lips, greedily, as his hands scrabble with jeans, buttons and zippers; hers fumble with the loose fabric of his jumpsuit.
His vision of her plays in a loop in his mind as he's suddenly against her, hot skin on hot skin. He squeezes his eyes shut and she laughs in his memory, and that's what he clings to as he ruts himself into her, again and again, as her fists grasp for purchase at his back and her hips undulate against his in time.
Too soon, it's over, and they pull apart, trembling. He watches as she hoods her face in her hair, reaches up to wipe under her eyes. They pull their clothing to rights and he reaches out to touch her shoulder, gentle now.
"You shouldn't have come back, Kate."
He's ashamed to hear his voice break on her name.