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Title: Xanadu
Chapter 1 Title: An Unwelcome Visitor
Chapter 1 Length: 2080 words
Characters: Hugo "Hurley" Reyes, Claire Littleton, Kate Austen, James "Sawyer" Ford, John Locke
Pairing: Hurley/Claire
Rating: T
Notes: Takes place during "Eggtown," 4x04.

Summary: Hurley and Claire get to know each other better as they watch the cult favorite, "Xanadu."

Chapter Index

Chapter 1: An Unwelcome Visitor

When Locke strode into Kate and Claire's Barracks cottage without knocking, Kate made a hard fist, ready to strike at anyone who came near.

Her step-father Wayne used to walk in on her like that. Wayne, with his cigarette stench and whiskey breath, coming into her bedroom at two in the morning, waking her out of a sound sleep. "Katie," he would whisper as he blew a stink like a barroom floor into her face. "Katie, let's talk." She would roll over, pretending not to hear him, and most of the time he would go away. Sometimes he wouldn't, but she couldn't think about that right now.

There were more important things to worry about. For one, Locke had a gun, and knives. Earlier that day, as Kate and Claire had taken their morning coffee on the front porch, Locke stormed out of his house, slamming the door so hard the windows rattled. Kate sat rigid with anxiety, the small hairs on her arms standing straight up. Then Locke threw one knife after another into the post which held up the front porch of his house. The metal clanks sounded in Kate's ears like death-knells.

Today the knife might shiver in wood. Tomorrow, who knows, maybe it would stick in you. At least Aaron was tucked out of sight in Claire's bedroom, snug in a plastic wash basket.

When Locke first walked in, Claire had stood rigid in the corner of the room, her face fixed in a blank stare, trying to look small and inconspicuous as possible. Locke strolled around their small living room, pushing his face into Kate's, gazing back and forth as if he belonged there, as if he could walk in on them anytime he wanted. As if they were his.

Soon Locke told Claire to leave, that he wanted to talk to Kate alone. Claire headed for Kate's bedroom instead of her own. That's where Kate herself would have hidden, had she wanted to spy. Claire was probably standing with her ear pressed up against the corner nearest to the living room. The house walls were so thin they might as well have been cardboard. Claire had just better not let Locke hear her breathing. God knows what he'd do then.

Locke delivered his ultimatum: Kate wasn't welcome in his camp anymore. She was to leave at first light. Missive delivered, Locke let the door slam behind him on his way out.

Like a rabbit creeping out of its hole after the fox leaves, Claire sank down next to Kate on the grey sofa. "So, he's going to banish you? For just talking to Miles?"

It wasn't until Locke had left that Kate realized how hard she was shaking. "Claire, he's crazy. How long before he goes all Jim Jones on us?"

Claire just looked confused. “Jim Jones?”

Obviously Claire hadn't heard of the American mass murderer who led his cult followers into the Central American jungle, then convinced them to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. “Never mind. It would only give you nightmares. It's bad enough right now."

Locke's shadow still cast a pall over the room. "What are you going to do?” Claire said. “I don't want you to leave."

Kate sat for a moment, thinking. "I'm going to go back over and talk to Sawyer."

"Yeah, good idea," Claire answered, but her face said otherwise. “Guess I'll just go to bed then, right?"

Kate remained on the sofa, twisting the tail of her shirt, when an idea came to her. This just might work. "Don't do that yet."

"You're going to spend the night over there with Sawyer, aren't you?"

Kate nodded. "I hope so. Just keep the lights on. And don't go to bed just yet."

"Well, there are those old sheets we found, the ones with all the holes. I could turn those into nappies."

"Yeah, that's great. Just don't be like me, and forget to lock the door."

Kate gave Claire a quick hug. She then slipped out into the night, to the house across the commons which Sawyer and Hurley shared.

* * * * * * * *

The loud disco beat made the front windows of Sawyer's house shake. Kate rapped a few times, to no avail. Finally Sawyer shouted, "Turn that goddamn thing down, all right?"

She knocked again, harder this time. Inside, something rustled; the blaring music's volume lowered, and ponderous footsteps moved towards the door. That had to be Hurley.

When Hugo saw Kate, brief disappointment flickered across his round features. It wasn't that he was unhappy to see her. In fact, he broke into a warm smile as he stepped aside to let her in, after checking once or twice to see if she was alone. The smile was different, that was all. He had been expecting someone else.

“Hi, Hurley.”

"Hey, Kate. Second time's a charm."

“Can I come in?” The tone in her voice made Hugo's smile fade. She gave the house a quick scan, taking in the paused VHS tape jittering like her heart, the beef jerky wrappers scattered around the coffee table, a copy of Stephen King's Carrie lying half-open on its side. She pointed to the book. "That's heavy bedtime reading."

Hugo shuffled, looking a little embarrassed. "You want to sit down? There's more jerky in the kitchen." As he started to move across the room, she stopped him.

"Where's Sawyer?" she said in a low voice.

"In his bedroom, with the door shut. He says disco sucks.” Hugo gestured towards the television. "Is, uh, this gonna bother you two? I just started it."

Xanadu, the tape case read. "Bother us?" At once she knew what he meant, and her face reddened. She hated how easily she flushed, but couldn't do a thing about it, and her stiff tones made her sound more like her mother than she liked.

"No, listen.” Kate kept her hand on his arm, but when Hugo's face went blank, she knew he was upset. She made herself relax and forced a friendly smile. "You know, maybe I will have some of that beef jerky. And turn the tape back on."

Disco transitioned into the swing jazz of a 1940s-era big band, topped by the puckish roving melody of a solo clarinet.

"That's better," Sawyer bellowed from the bedroom. “Some of us actually read, you know.”

In the kitchen, Hugo handed Kate a small cellophane packet with a white octagonal label. She tried to pull her scattered thoughts together as she opened the wrapper. "Locke barged in on us. He walked right in as if he owned the place."

"No way.” Hugo's voice was mild, but the set of his shoulders was anything but calm.

"You know when I tricked you into telling me where Miles was?"

"Yeah, that was slick.” There was real regret in his voice.

"I'm sorry. But I had to talk to Miles. And Locke wasn't going to let me do it any other way."

"Did you get anything out of him?"

"Just bad karma from scooby-doobying you."

“Nah, you just paid me back for me tricking you guys, when I hid in the closet.”

Kate thought for a second about telling him the whole thing, how she had untied Miles, gave him exactly one minute to talk with Ben, who was languishing in a cell in Locke's basement. How Miles had told her no easy rescue for her, because the men on the approaching freighter knew who she was. Knew about her criminal past.

All at once the Methodist hymn from her childhood church came back to her, the one that went, "No hiding place down here." She needed to hurry this up though. "It was a waste of time, Hurley. But Locke banished me."

Hugo's voice lifted in alarm. "He what?"

She did not need Sawyer to come bursting out of the bedroom, so she motioned for Hugo to quiet down. "Locke caught me. No, it wasn't your fault, and no, I didn't tell him how I found out where Miles was."

Hugo looked away, crestfallen. "So where's Claire now, and Aaron?"

"They're still at the house. That's what I wanted to talk to you about."

He loomed massive and out of place in the small, overly feminine kitchen with its blue and white Italian china, its pink floral paintings. Kate could sense his disappointment, that Claire hadn't come along with her.

He pointed to the jerky which Kate had set down on the kitchen counter. "You gonna eat that?"

She studied the pattern on a floral teapot as he finished the jerky, then said in an offhand, casual voice, "You know that movie you were watching? Xanadu?"

"Yeah. The other one was a slasher, and Carrie was getting kinda depressing."

"I've seen Xanadu," she lied. "It's pretty good." She hoped she would say the right thing, that Hugo wouldn't shrink like a turtle into his shell when she brought her idea forward. "You know the actress? Olivia Newton-John?"

"The blonde?"

"Did you know she was an Aussie? Well, sort of." A big sort-of, but now she had Hugo's attention. "Maybe, you know, Claire might like to see it."

"Yeah, maybe.” Hugo's eyes were bright with interest.

"Since you just started it. We have a VHS player, too."

"Pretty much everybody does.” Hugo tried to sound casual, but failed. "When Sawyer and I went around, we checked."

Even in Iowa they told jokes about Missouri mules, and here was one right in this kitchen. "Hurley, listen. Locke might come back, and I think it would be better if you went over. At least for a little while. Because I'm going to stay here. For awhile."

Three or four strains of thought crossed his face. "Isn't it kinda late?"

After months of watching the sun, Kate still wasn't used to keeping time, and she had to glance at the kitchen clock. "It's not even nine."

"You, uh, really think she'd be cool with that?"

"Hurley, she would be cool with that." At least she hoped that was true. Since their little band had come to live in the Barracks, Claire had seemed happier than Kate had seen her in a long time. Not ecstatic or jumping up and down, but radiating a quiet and calm sense of peace. Something deep inside Claire seemed to have worked its way to the surface, where she turned it over a few times for examination, then laid it to rest for good.

Claire didn't talk about Charlie's death, or how their camp had split into two factions, Locke's at the Barracks and Jack's at the beach. Instead, she threw herself into a flurry of activity around their cottage, as if her spirit as well as her hands craved the work.

She had already washed their sheets and Aaron's diapers, dug some fat potatoes out of the backyard garden, and had even gathered some wood for a chicken run to house the loose hens.

In short, Claire was settling in for the long haul.

Nor had Kate missed the quiet moment when earlier that day, Claire and Hugo had made small talk under the spreading beeches as Hugo hung up laundry. He handed her pins, basking in her presence like a plant in the spring sun. Or how Hugo had washed decades' worth of dust from an old toy, for the baby.

The Others hadn't had kids in that camp for a very long time, it was clear. Maybe Juliet had been telling the truth after all. Maybe pregnant women really did die on this Island. But there was Claire, humming to herself as she dug in the garden, Aaron all fat and sassy as he squirmed in his basket. Whatever might have happened to those women of the Others, it hadn't happened to Claire. Anyway, everyone knew that Juliet was a liar, and that Jack was more eager than anyone to believe her lies.

Hugo brought Kate back to the moment. "What do you think Locke really wants?"

"I don't know, Hurley. But—"

"Hey," came Sawyer's voice from the bedroom. "That you, Shortcake?"

"He never quits, does he?" Hugo frowned, sensitive about Sawyer's nicknames.

It didn't bother Kate, though. She tossed her head, all flirtation and mischief. "I wouldn't have him any other way." She turned from Hugo, who was still trying to puzzle it out, and headed towards Sawyer's bedroom with a face composed and calm.


(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-09 05:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow. I absolutely love how you portrayed Claire and Hurley in this little bubble of warm domesticity. They interacted so sweetly that I almost forgot the overarching danger of their situation until Locke came in at the end to remind me. Locke, eaten up by envy of an innocence he can't understand and stuck in the outer darkness.

I also love the contrast between Claire's blithely unselfconscious breastfeeding and Hurley's body modesty. And the hair combing! (I kept thinking "just kiss".) Both their voices are true to character as well, and I love the bits of Australian atmosphere you've put in.

Thank you for referencing within the fic all the background I needed to know to understand the story. (I didn't realize that Claire died! That makes this so bittersweet.)

Love your use of language, as always. Example: "It was like watching a conversation made of song or dance, where even if you didn't understand the language, you could figure out everything being said."

Beautifully done.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-09 05:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Also also! The anecdote about the Sumo wrestlers on the beach was perfect. As was Hurley burping little Aaron.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-09 09:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks so much for reading! I'm glad you were able to piece a lot of it together without having seen a lot of the show. That feedback helps me a lot as I work on the novel. I would like to drop bits of exposition here and there without overwhelming the reader, just because there's a LOT of canon and it's hard to remember it all.

Luckily, in-canon, Claire doesn't die. (Libby was Hurley's girlfriend who died.) The spooky dark presence who is haunting her in this story is actually the Smoke Monster, who ends up kidnapping her for three years. But she gets better.

At the end of the whole series, Hurley becomes essentially the 'king' of the Island. Claire and some others leave the Island on an airplane (long story.)

In my in-progress LOST novel, which is set AFTER the end of the whole series, Hurley and Claire re-connect and much shipping ensues.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-09 09:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Now I'm confused. (Sorry for getting mixed up!) Isn't Locke the one watching them at the end, not the Smoke Monster? Is the SM the one he's talking to in his head?

So glad that Claire doesn't die on the show! And I love that Hurley becomes king of the island.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-09 11:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
At the end of "Xanadu," the physical, real John Locke is watching Claire and Hurley. Smokey is whispering to his soul, so to speak. (This is my head canon.)

In canon: Two days later, the bad guys arrive on-Island and blow up some of the Barracks. Claire's house is destroyed with her in it, but she lives. Then two days after that, she is kidnapped by the Smoke Monster and held as his prisoner / moll / partner-in-crime for three years.

In canon: After much misadventure, Locke dies. His body is brought back to the Island and the Smoke Monster takes Locke's form. So the real Locke is dead by now. Smoke Monster Locke causes all kinds of mischief and mayhem but is ultimately defeated.

Claire is kind of crazy after being kept by Smoke Monster for three years (canon) but she gets better (suggested in canon; definitely my head canon.)

You know, something occurs to me: I should write up a quick, 5-minutes-to-read summary of each LOST season as it pertains to my LOST fanfiction, if only for my own edification. Also, good to point to if somebody wants to read a LOST story but doesn't want to assimilate buckets of canon first.

Again, thanks so much for reading and making comments.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-09 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you so much for taking the time to explain all of this to clueless me. I apologize for putting you to the trouble. (Though if you do feel inclined to write up those summaries, I'd love to read them.)

You are making me want to revisit the show and watch the rest of it.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-09 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I LOVE talking about LOST. It's no trouble at all. In fact, I have to be careful not to bore people.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-09 11:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You are the furthest thing from boring. You are piquing my interest again.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-10 12:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I guess I kinda spoiled things for you, though, by revealing the ending (or part of the ending.)

I don't know if you get netflix, but LOST is streaming on it.

Just sat down and tried to write some meta, but it's really hard. There's way too much story there. Back to fanfiction... ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-10 12:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't mind spoilers. Half the fun of LOST used to be the journey and the mythology (if that's the word I want - symbolism might be better?) anyway, not just trying to guess the outcome. Or at least that's what I remember from my time on The Fuselage. (Wow, that was a long time ago.)

I don't get Netflix currently but I've been toying with the idea of signing up.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-10 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I loved the Fuselage. I learned so much on that site.

"Symbolism" is probably a good word to use.

Netflix is about $8/mo for streaming. I've enjoyed it.


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