stefanie_bean: (hugo claire blue)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 21: Harvest Home
Pairs: Hurley/Claire, Jack/Kate, Sayid/Shannon
Characters: Hugo Reyes, Claire Littleton, Jack Shephard, Kate Austen, ensemble
Genre: Slow-build Romance
Length: 3870 words
Rating: M
Notes: WIP, canon-divergent

After the Oceanic 815 crash, Jack told Hurley to stay with Claire. Hurley does just that, and they fall in love. In this "LOST in three seasons," people talk to each other more, and most of them actually get to live.


Chapter 21: Harvest Home

Days stretch into a week, then two, as the newcomers blend in with the rest of the beach camp. For Claire, time flows like a river over stones, every foaming wave distinct, while the river's underlying bed remains the same. Every morning she rises by Hurley's side, the inside of their tent crackling with desire, as she listens for the sleeping child's breath.

If Aaron doesn't waken, she makes love to Hurley with her hands. She has no appetite for his flesh inside her, and he never pushes. Her palms, though, have grown eyes and fingers and a life of their own as they roam over his substantial flesh. He tingles in time with her and smells of fertility when he comes.

He wants to reciprocate, to please her as well, but she gently turns him aside. For now, everything which delights her passes through her hands, fed by his beautiful skin. Afterwards she holds him, her face pressed into his neck, eyes closed, joining his breath with her own, yet always listening for the child.

Sometimes at night she feels him under her palms, even when they're not touching. In the dark, he seems to fill the air around her.

If he had something to say to her those weeks ago, and she knows he did, the moment has passed for now. It's all right, though, because the silence which fills the spaces between them has no absence in it, no emptiness. Instead, Claire senses an overwhelming presence, one which abides alongside sleep and work and love.

This morning starts like every other. Cindy has put the children to work gathering wood for the morning communal fire, and even Walt now lends a hand. If there was any doubt that Rose and Bernard were honeymooners before the crash, that notion has been long since dispelled. Even when their eyes don't follow each other, even when their attention points elsewhere, they move and breathe as one.

Bernard shows himself expert with camp cookery as he smacks land crabs right between the eyes and wraps them for roasting. Claire can't resist the enticing smell of charred crab. She and Hurley peel off leaf wrappers, dodging the sizzling fat which sputters through the cracked shells. “Careful, it's going to hit the baby,” she says, holding her breakfast off to the side. Her eyes meet Hurley's, and even though they haven't been parted in the same way as Rose and Bernard, the moment hangs in the air between them in the same way.

Only they're both a mess as lemon-flavored crab juice runs down their chins. They lick their fingers, while over by the cooking fire, Rose rests her head on Bernard's shoulder.

“He really loves her,” Hurley says out of nowhere.

Claire doesn't answer. Something in his tone signals more to come, something which has been waiting for weeks to emerge from the silence. Hurley is devouring her with his eyes, and the noise from the beach seems to fade around them.

Once again it passes, all too soon. He says, “Hey, baby, no crab for you,” as he picks off a fleck which has fallen on Aaron's shoulder.

At the west end of the beach, Kevin and Brian have raised the frame for a steep-roofed Polynesian-style house. On the eastern side, Eko and Charlie have lashed together a more familiarly-shaped structure. Now Charlie stands on a makeshift ladder, placing the first layer of thatching for the roof.

A good-natured competition between east and west has been going on for some time, but Eko is probably going to win. His church is designed to have no walls, only a roof, he says. It will be open to everyone, whether they believe or not. There are enough walls in the world as it is.

As Claire dabs the baby with a rag, chasing any crab specks, Sayid approaches with Shannon at his side. He wears a back-pack and a let's-start-the-day expression. “Are you two coming to the Swan?”

Hurley glances at Claire. “You want to come along?”

“Not this time, thanks.”

“I'm not going, either,” Shannon puts in. “That place smells like armpit.”

The Swan has long since lost its novelty for Claire. The constant flux of people using the facilities has left the Station's plumbing barely functioning. The air conditioning has started to dangerously wheeze, and the washing machine makes odd clunks, too.

“One of the main fans has failed,” Sayid says, as if apologizing. “I've put it on the repair list.”

Sayid's automatic code-entering circuit has removed the need to assign shifts of button-pushers. No one is surprised that Locke has taken this hard. He goes out hunting with Boone now, or sulks around the beach camp and sermonizes to whoever will listen about how the Swan Station is a blot on the landscape. On the Island itself.

Still, Sayid pokes through the Swan's bowels the way Claire imagines Jack would sort through someone's damaged vertebrae. Hurley's knowledge of electricity is limited to the wiring in vintage cars, but Sayid still likes having Hurley around while he works. A few days ago, while tearing up some computer room floor panels, Sayid found a whole set of circuit boards not on the blueprints. For Sayid, the hunt is on once more.

“Sure, Sayid,” Hurley says. “I'm just gonna ask around first, see if anyone else wants to go.” He busses the top of Aaron's head, then lingers on Claire's cheek with a beard softer than it looks, his lips warm. She likes that he no longer shaves.

The men approach Eko, who refuses but nods, Go ahead to Charlie. Claire plops herself and Aaron down on a towel next to Shannon, who's wasting no time working on her tan. Claire doesn't even bother to put a hat on Aaron, or cover his oyster-pale skin. The sun casts its warm light, but doesn't burn them.

“It's like they're off to work, isn't it?” Claire says. “While we bask on the beach, eating bon-bons.”

“I don't know why I bother. I never get any darker.”

As Bernard and Rose tidy up the communal kitchen area, Rose breaks into a song Claire has never heard before. She'd be great on-stage, Claire thinks, because Rose can really project.

Come, ye thankful people come,
Raise the song of harvest home,
All is safely gathered in
Ere the winter storms begin...


It gets Shannon's attention, too. “Winter storms, as if. New York City, on the other hand—“

“Shhh,” Claire says, not from meanness, but because she wants to drink in every note. Rose goes on about wheat and tares “to joy or sorrow grown.” That's when Eko slips close by, first to listen, then to join his bass with her alto.

Rose gives Eko the melody as she veers off into a harmonization which shivers Claire to the core. Sawyer looks up from his book. He obviously knows the song, because his silent lips mouth the words as his eyes shine wet. At the part about God coming to take the harvest home, Claire's own eyes sting with tears. Never has she missed Aunt Lindsey so much, and even Mum, lying contracted and doll-like on her water-bed.

When Rose and Eko stop, no one claps or says anything. After a few heartbeats, Eko goes back to his carpentry, and Bernard embraces his wife.

“Well, smack me with a chainsaw,” Shannon says. “Look at the calendar.”

Rose has carefully updated it, as she does every morning. Claire reads, “Thursday, November 25, 2004. So?”

“Silly rabbit. It's Thanksgiving Day.”

A big Yank holiday, right. Before Claire can answer, Rose looms over them. The music must have moved Shannon, too, because she doesn't even snap about somebody blocking her light.

“Ladies,” Rose says, “I have an idea. But it's gonna require a shopping trip to the Swan Station.”

Shannon leaps to her feet. “If I'm not shopping, check my pulse, because I'm dead.”


* * * * * * * *


At the Swan Station, Hurley hovers around the computer room, where Sayid has removed so many floor panels that it's difficult to walk. Tables stretched end to end are covered with blueprints, schematics, and handwritten notes. It's time to enter the code, but instead of a blaring klaxon, an LED display spells out, “Sending” as Sayid's circuit does its silent work. When the manual counter resets to zero, the display reads, “Received.” The computer terminal sits inert under its black dust cover.

Hurley drifts through the living room, where Charlie has put on a record and walled himself off behind headphones. He strums along on his guitar, humming to himself, then writes something down in a notebook before picking up the guitar once more.

In the laundry room, Kate lies on the floor beside the washing machine. “Hi, Hurley.”

“Looks like you got your hands full.”

Kate gropes around for a tool, not finding it. “This pump finally gave up the ghost. Luckily we have a spare.”

“Hey there, Hurley,” says Jack.

Hurley feels useless as a bump on a log. “Just making the rounds.”

She reaches towards Jack, saying, “Hand me a crescent wrench, okay?”

He rummages in the wheeled tool cabinet. “Which one's that again?”

“What, you don't know what a crescent wrench is? Don't make me get up and show you.”

Hurley's about to step in to help, but the close, intimate air around these two holds him back. The way Kate drew out the last sentence, well, that could definitely have more than one meaning.

“It's the adjustable one,” Kate says. “Should be in the second drawer down.”

“The one with the little wheelie-thing in the head, right?”

“That's it.”

Jack hands her the tool. “So where did you learn appliance repair?”

Kate's face is smeared with dust and machine grease, but her eyes are shining. “Farmers who don't learn how to fix things become ex-farmers. That goes for their kids, too.”

Hands deep in washing machine innards, Kate makes a few small, frustrated noises. It's time for Hurley to go.

He winds his way back to the computer room past the food pantry. For the first time since the crash, he's pricked by the ghost of old habits. He almost goes in to grab a snack, but stops himself.

With a sigh, he rejoins Sayid. “Where's Desmondo, by the way?”

Sayid leafs through a ring binder without looking up. “He took the shotgun and went out with Locke and Boone. Just as well. I am as sad as anyone that he has been separated from his girlfriend. Nonetheless—“

“It's awesome that he's getting out more now.”

“It was quite a blow when he discovered that his yacht was lost for good.”

“Yeah, that sucked. Kind of weird, that he winds up on the Island with the same chick who gave him the boat in the first place.”

Sayid just keeps flipping pages, unimpressed by coincidence. Numbers are what interest Sayid, and facts. Outcomes. Results. He's tried to explain to Hurley how electronic circuits work, about the ones and zeroes, offs and ons, ands and ors. That was when Hurley's head started to hurt.

Hurley, on the other hand, does believe in coincidence, in fate, in luck, even if you make your own.

Desmond went white with shock when he first met Libby, although he got over it quickly enough. Maybe it was because he finally ran out of alcohol, but he even went with her to look for the shoreline where he thought he ran aground.

They found the boat all right, or what was left of her. A bit of the main sail was still wedged between a pair of boulders. On jagged rocks lashed by harsh waves, they could see a few scraps of bright yellow hazmat suit. That was all that was left of Desmond's one-time station mate, Kelvin.

At least Desmond and Libby managed to recover the raft, which now lies snugly fastened at the beach camp, much to Jin's delight. He takes it out almost every day to fish.

When Desmond got back to the Swan, he sat practically unmoving for days. Sometimes Libby would talk to him in her calm shrink voice, and other times she'd just give him space. She finally pried out of him that he wasn't just missing Penny, or that without the Elizabeth there was no apparent way for him to get home. He also kept babbling about how Kelvin had something called “the fail safe.”

That got Sayid's attention.

Sayid raises his eyes from the page. “There is something you could do for me, Hurley.”

“Sure, shoot.”

“Do you see that stack of binders over there? Unfortunately they have neither table of contents nor index. I'd like you to go over each page, starting at the beginning, looking for any pages which says 'Fail safe.'”

“Dude, I wouldn't know what I was looking for.”

“You don't have to identify circuitry, just the words. Put a placeholder in whatever you find. I'm going down below.”

Sayid lowers himself through one of the floor openings while Hurley scans one incomprehensible page after another. What the hell is a “fail safe” anyway? All Desmond knows is that Kelvin had a key for a device below the computer room floor. Some kind of switch, to be used only if the code couldn't be entered into the computer. All Kelvin had told him was, “Turn the key, and this all goes away.”

The key is gone, though, out to sea with whatever remained of Kelvin's body.

It's too much for Hurley to puzzle out. After a few more pages, his eyes droop as he leans back in the office chair, thinking about Claire, her open face and clever hands, blue eyes and tender breasts. Kicking himself for being afraid to pop the question, because he doesn't know what he'll do if she says no.

Away he drifts, until her sweet voice speaks to him through a veil of dream. He jerks so hard that the binder falls to the floor and springs open, scattering circuit diagrams everywhere. It's no dream, she's really here, calling out, “Hurley? Sayid? Anyone?”

“Stop!” he shouts. All he can think of is her falling through one of the many open panels. When she peeks her head into the computer room door, he follows with, “Don't come in!”

Behind her crowd Rose and Shannon, as well as a half-dozen other people. Sayid pops his head up from one of the floor openings, like a mole ready to get whacked.

Claire pulls Hurley towards her. “There you are.” From around a corner, Jack and Kate appear. As they hasten, a tousled Kate rolls up the sleeves of a clean shirt that looks like one of Jack's.

Charlie removes the headphones and blinks at everyone. “What're you about, sneaking up on me like that?”

“What's the occasion?” Jack says, rubbing his face as if he's had a nap of his own.

“You'll see,” Claire answers in a voice full of mischief. “To the pantry, everyone. It was Rose's idea.”

Some of the supplies have disappeared from the food pantry since the Swan opened up, but there's still a lot left. Hurley and Claire pass items hand over hand to the waiting people, who fill suitcases, backpacks, and wheeled bags. Rose sets aside a reserve for those staying in the Swan, but all the treats go: Apollo bars, cookies, stuffed olives, pancake syrup, smoked oysters, as well as most of the potted meat and chicken.

Jack remarks, “This looks like a raid.” Kate has already fallen in with the crowd as she stuffs a pack with cans and boxes.

“It's Thanksgiving Day,” Rose says to him. “These are the makings of a feast.”


* * * * * * * *


The cooks work in shifts all the rest of the day and into the evening. Several of the men have hauled the ping-pong table to the beach, where it serves as a buffet. Charlie totes the box of paddles and balls, as well as his guitar.

Claire shadows Rose. Exhilaration fills her, even if it isn't strictly her holiday. From the way Hurley beams at her, maybe it will soon be hers, though. She can't worry about that now, though, as Sun spirits her away to chop yams, taro root, and jackfruit.

Locke, Boone, and Desmond show up just as the food is laid out. They've been hunting in the bush all day with nothing to show for it, and Locke at first appears glum and stricken. He breaks into a rare smile when he sees the crowd, smells the food, senses the excitement and festivity. Even Boone softens, greeting Sayid with a handshake. Claire warms at this sign of a thaw between them, and when Boone kisses Shannon on the cheek, Claire's own cheeks shine with happiness.

Hurley says to Claire, “I convinced Desmond to let the ping-pong table stay down here. You play?”

“I'm not very good. My aunt would shellack me all the time.”

Rose turns to shush them both, “Mr. Eko's about to say a few words.” It's oddly funny that Rose can't bring herself to call him “Father,” even though Hurley does.

Mr. Eko steps up onto a piece of fuselage. People have been so used to him laboring shirtless that it's almost shocking to see him in one of Hurley's t-shirts. He raises his hands for quiet, and keeps them elevated even when the crowd settles.

Looking skyward, he says in his lilting accent, “Have mercy on me. Have mercy on all of us.” Then, as if some critical debt has been paid, he smiles broadly at the group. “Today is the American Thanksgiving. But while the holiday may have been born in one particular country, the act of giving thanks belongs to the world. We come here from all corners of that world. As for me, I believe this has happened for a reason.”

In the pause, Claire catches a glimpse of Locke's confirming smile.

“Each of us standing here has been handed the gift of our lives. Each of us has been given a second chance, a new beginning. A miracle brought us here. Perhaps it will take one to get us out. Either way, we have our lives. We have this food. And we have each other.”

As Eko says “Amen,” he makes the sign of the cross. Standing next to him, Charlie follows suit, as do Desmond and Hurley. Astonishingly, Ana Lucia crosses herself as well.

None of the Yanks seem to care that the spread is mostly non-traditional, although Rose has managed to turn yams and Dharmallows into a cinnamon-scented confection. Through something close to alchemy, Sirrah has transformed Dharma ranch dressing into a creamy curry sauce that brings crisp-fried Spam to life. For the first time since the crash, Claire tastes caramel, which goes down like liquid gold.

Even without wine or beer, the festivities grow louder, looser, more bacchanalian. After more than a few calls for music, Charlie gives in. As he tunes up, he says, “I used to busk in Piccadilly. So be sure to throw money, not tomatoes.”

Claire sits down to nurse Aaron, joined by Sun and Shannon. “You know who should be here?” Shannon says.

It takes a few seconds for Claire to puzzle it out. There's only one person missing, and all at once her absence yawns like a gulf. “Danielle, right?”

“What is that English phrase?” Sun says. “Speak of the demon?”

Shannon laughs. “Speak of the devil.”

“She is not a devil, but speaking of one right now—“

Danielle stands at the firelight's edge, half of her blazing in the flame's glow, the other half deep in shadow. She gazes at the crowd, as if hesitating to join in. As if maybe they've forgotten about her.

“Oh, my God.” Shannon waves and shouts, “Danielle, over here!”

Sun and Shannon draw Danielle over to where Claire is perched. Danielle beams at both her and the baby, her eyes soft. “He is so big since I saw him last.”

“What have you been up to, girl?” Shannon says. “Never mind, you can tell all of us. We got some surprises for you, too. Let's go find Kathy and Shana, show you off.”

She and Sun disappear into the crowd, Danielle in tow. Sadness flicks across Claire, followed by a brief sense of being left out, of being tied down by Aaron. The baby doesn't want to get dragged around camp in the podegai any longer. He wants to stretch his limbs, get a proper sleep.

Charlie takes a request from Sawyer, then launches into “The Brand-New Tennessee Waltz.” Sawyer intercepts Danielle, takes her in his arms, and they begin to circle. To Claire it looks less like the rekindling of an old flame than a proper good-bye, made a bit absurd by the rifles slung over their shoulders.

Jack dances with Kate, more restrained than Sawyer and Danielle's flourish and bounce. Their quiet intensity points to deep fires within, and Kate's half-closed eyes radiate worship. A sword runs through Claire, and she crosses the crowd's circle to get to her tent, when Rose and Hurley waylay her.

Rose reaches for Aaron. “Come here to Auntie Rose,” as Hurley takes Claire's hand and steers her into the cluster of dancers.

He puts his hand on her wrong shoulder, and bumps into her to boot. “I got two left feet, just to warn you.”

She couldn't care less. She isn't supposed to put her hand around his waist, either, but his flesh under her hand feels too good not to. “Just hold me.”

They stand like that, swaying. She clings to Hurley as she did the night she gave birth, resting her head on his soft upper belly, cocooned and safe in his big arms. All they have to do is follow each other in time: one-two-three, one-two-three, and it's enough.

That night, in their bed, Aaron drops off to the sounds of singing and the thumping of drums. When his soft breathing tells Claire that he's truly out, she rolls over to Hurley and covers her mouth with his.

In between kisses she whispers, “Make love to me.”

He knows what she means. Hundreds of kisses later they come in each others' arms, onto each others' fingers, sinking into surrender.

Neither of them want to sleep afterwards. As he takes her wet hand and rests it on his breast, something gathers in the air like a lighting strike. The only light comes from the stripes of firelight which sneak through the cracks. She doesn't have to see for him to fill her senses and her heart.

She knows every hair on his chest, every mole, every swell and fold of flesh, every sweep of skin. Before he even speaks, she's sure of what's going to come out, because she feels it through the skin of her palms, in the walls of her veins.

Hurley's question lies between them, slick as their flesh, and there's only one answer. Yes.

(continued)

(A/N: Lyrics are from “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” a nineteenth century English hymn.)


(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-23 01:00 am (UTC)
desdemonaspace: (Default)
From: [personal profile] desdemonaspace
As always, this is lovely. I didn't quite get why Claire didn't want to make love initially. Too recently having given birth?

I love Rose and Bernard. They remind me of Frank and myself. Nothing says an older couple can't have romance. Dammit.

I want to be there for the feast. I laughed at the image of Sawyer and Danielle, dancing. Dancing with guns. Hee!

I found one tiny type: where you have "only a roof, he ways," I think you mean "only a roof, he says." Otherwise, perfection.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-23 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefanie-bean.livejournal.com
Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

You guessed it; it has only been a few weeks since Claire has had the baby, so she's been hesitant.

Rose & Bernard in every universe are wonderful.

I have a tumblr (http://stay-with-her-a-lost-au.tumblr.com/archive) of visual references for this story. This promotional shot (http://stay-with-her-a-lost-au.tumblr.com/post/153562720948) gave me the idea for bringing Danielle back into the story.

Again, thanks!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-23 11:50 pm (UTC)
desdemonaspace: (Orange Kaylee by Eyesthatslay)
From: [personal profile] desdemonaspace
Those are beautiful pics on tumblr!

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