stefanie_bean: (hugo claire blue)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 26: Rachel Weeping
Pairs: Hurley/Claire, Jack/Kate, Sayid/Shannon
Characters: Hugo Reyes, Claire Littleton, Jack Shephard, Kate Austen, ensemble
Genre: Slow-build Romance
Length: 3977 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 26: Rachel Weeping

As Claire puts Aaron to bed, Hurley takes Juliet by one arm, while Sawyer holds the other. Together they head for the central fire.

“You got to tell everybody, Juliet.” Fear clutches Hurley's gut, because people are already washing their supper dishes in the sea, or settling in for the evening. There isn't much time.

Even in the firelight, Juliet's face shines pale as the inside of an oyster shell. “I can't,” she whispers. “Not something like this. They don't know me. They'll blame me.”

“I'm right here,” Sawyer says. “Hugo and me, we got your back.”

Curious people start to cluster around the fire, including Jack and Kate. Hurley says to Jack, “You got to get everybody over here. It's really important.”

Jack wipes his face, clearly exhausted. “Hurley, it can wait till morning.”

“No, it can't. Juliet's got some news, and it's really bad.”

Kate glares at Jack. “If you won't get them, I will.”

“Hang on,” Hurley says to Kate. “Jack, listen. Juliet's afraid people are going to hurt her when they hear this. Even though it's not her fault.”

“Hurley, maybe you should be the one to tell everyone then,” Kate says.

Hurley hesitates. He has hated speaking in front of people ever since middle school, when thirty pairs of classroom eyes would focus on nothing but his size, his growing gut. The whispers and giggles would get worse as he stood there red-faced, his mouth hanging open and silent.

He sighs, torn. Two people already died because of him, no matter how often the doctors at Santa Rosa repeated their litany of reassurance. It's worth a little embarrassment to keep it from happening again.

He nods to Jack. “Okay. I'll tell them.”

It takes a few moments to gather the group. Across the camp, Ana, Libby, and Cindy herd the children together for the evening. On the other side, Shana and Kathy hang up some wet laundry, then disappear into their tent.

No need to chase them down, Hurley figures. They at least can wait till morning.

The crowd sits before Hurley, children at summer camp waiting to hear a fireside story. While no one sings songs or tells jokes, their faces are open, uncritical. They trust Jack, and by extension, him. Hurley pulls Juliet to his side, while Sawyer flanks her on the other.

He clears his throat and begins. “There's something wrong with this Island. Really wrong.”

It must be the right opening, because besides a few quiet remarks from the crowd like “I knew it,” and “It was too good to last,” no one glares at Juliet. Deep down, Hurley knows that he speaks true.

“Ben kidnapped Juliet and brought her here so she could fix things. He told her that when she did, he'd send her back home. But he lied, and—“

The glance Sayid turns to Juliet is hard as a rifle sight. “You mean to say that Ben has a way to get on and off this Island?”

“We already knew that,” Kate says. “I want to hear the rest.”

Sayid settles next to Shannon, still glowering.

“Anyway...” Hurley desperately hunts for his train of thought. “Juliet couldn't fix it, though, and a lot of women died.”

“What?” Jane shouts.

“She and Ethan and Goodwin, they were supposed to—“

“Ethan!” Shannon calls out, angry as Sayid but not holding it in.

“What the hell is going on?” someone yells from the sidelines.

“Spit it out, Hurley,” someone else complains. “You might have all night, but some of us are bushed.”

“I knew that rat bastard Ethan was dodgy,” Jane says. “Good job, Danielle.”

Danielle gives a little smirk. “I can't take all the credit. Some goes to Claire.”

“Guys, listen, okay?” Hurley pleads as the crowd spins out of control. “Like I said, Juliet couldn't fix it. She doesn't even know what went wrong in the first place—“

Even Kate loses her composure. “Fix what? What's gone wrong?”

All through this, Juliet stands pale and still as marble. When Sawyer drapes a protective arm around her, she doesn't shake it off. Down in front, Alex and Karl whisper furiously to one another. Neither of them act surprised.

Claire is still in the tent with Aaron, which suits Hurley fine. At least she isn't witness to his humiliation.

Jack has had enough, and rises to his feet. “All right, everyone. Whatever this is, Hurley's obviously tired, and so are we. It's been a long day—“

At Santa Rosa they warned Hurley and everyone else about using their “outdoor voice.” It could bring an afternoon in isolation, or a shot strong enough to drop an elephant. Now, he uses it anyway. “Just shut up for one second. Listen. To. Me.”

The crowd falls into shocked silence.

“Juliet's a baby doctor—“ Hurley begins.

“An endocrinology researcher, actually.”

He ignores Juliet and pushes on. “Women on this Island get pregnant, but they don't have their babies.” Nausea jostles with anxiety in his gut as the gruesome words emerge. “They bleed out, get seizures, and they die. Nothing works.”

Hurley has Jack's full attention now.

“Son of a bitch,” Sawyer says. “What did that bastard Ben do to them?”

“He didn't,” says Juliet. “I've been over the records so many times, I can recite them backwards. Ethan was the last child born on the Island, that I know of. In July of 1977.”

“That you know of,” Sayid repeats in a low growl.

That shakes Juliet up, but she presses on. “Of all the women who volunteered to get pregnant—“

“Volunteered? Bullshit,” Jane interrupts. “This Ben tricked you, made you his prisoner. Why should it have been different for anyone else?”

Juliet won't look at Jane, and the bad feeling works its way deeper in Hurley's gut. Don't lie, he says silently to Juliet like a prayer. Do. Not. Lie.

“Ben said the volunteers were doing Jacob's will,” Juliet says. “That they believed in him, and I should too.”

“Jacob?” says Sawyer, with a puzzled frown. “Who the hell is Jacob?”

Juliet trembles like a greyhound, but her voice is steady. “I don't know, Sawyer. Ben's people talked about him like he was some kind of prophet. A god, even.”

“Religious tosh,” Jane says in disgust as she plops back down. “Oldest trick in the book.”

He's brought back to himself when Jack speaks. “When in gestation do the bleeding and seizures start?”

“Between sixteen and twenty weeks.”

Juliet's stark words weigh on the group. Sun and Faith don't have long to go before they reach that point.

All eyes are trained on Juliet the storyteller, just like at camp, but there are no chuckles or half-scared whispers. What started out as an amusing story turned into real horror. No one doubts a word of it.

“There's something I don't understand,” Kate says. “Claire had Aaron just fine. So did Danielle. What was different?”

“Claire and Danielle conceived off-Island, not on it.”

“That makes no sense,” Kate persists. “Why would it make a difference?”

“Medically, it's complicated—“

Faith rests her head on Craig's shoulder and silently weeps. Sun is sending a fusillade of rapid-fire Korean in Jin's direction, and his eyes widen in anguish.

“Yeah, I'm sure it is.” Kate's next question speaks for everyone. “If your people knew these women conceived here, if you knew they were going to die, why didn't you just take them off the Island?”

Juliet pauses, looking like she's just been slapped, then recovers herself. “Because Ben wouldn't allow it.” She turns sad eyes to Sawyer, clearly telegraphing at him to get her the hell out of there.

“Kate, don't you think if Juliet here could of left, she would?” Turning to Juliet, Sawyer takes her by the shoulders, but not roughly. “You didn't kill 'em, Blondie. If Ben was the one with the car keys, he did.”

Hurley has had enough. He's glad that nobody's ripped Juliet's head off, but the number one point still hangs in the air like a sword. “Juliet, you and Jack can geek out tomorrow, solve all the science. But people, this is what I'm trying to say. Normally I don't mess in married peoples' business, in their man-woman stuff. But pregnant women can die.” He pauses, heart knocking hard against his ribs. “I can't tell you what to do. You want to have sex, have sex. But I believe Juliet, that it's a really bad idea.”

Everyone seems frozen, Hurley right along with them, because of what he just said in front of the saints, God and everybody.

What kills Hurley is how the Island has betrayed them, and how he fell for it: to believe that this beautiful place would shelter them, nourish them, let them live here in peace even if no one came to rescue them.

Instead, the Island feels like a horror movie set. If murder lurked in the trees before, now it seeps like radiation into everything, poisoning the water, the air, the land itself.

Poisoned, all of it, like a great green glowing ball of Kryptonite, but the kind that kills earthlings as well as Superman.

He sighs, exhausted. Tears trickle down his cheeks like rain, and he doesn't even bother to wipe them away.

Jack says, “Juliet, thank you. We'll talk more in the morning. For now, it's been a long day...” He looks to Hurley in appeal, his expression saying, You started this, now help me finish it.

You're the doctor,
Hurley shoots back in his mind. So act like it.

Jack's nervous cough says, message received. “So I strongly suggest that we take Juliet's account seriously, and not risk any further compromises to anyone's safety. No matter how careful you are, no matter how much you think it's can't happen,” and here he looks full on at Kate, his meaning unmistakable. “There's always a chance.”

“We get it, Jack,” Shannon snaps. “Welcome, everyone, to Blue-ball Island.”


* * * * * * * *


When dawn comes, Claire wakens to Hurley spooning her from behind, her bottom snuggled close up against him. From his breathing, she can tell he's lost in a deep, warm dream. His belly and thighs fold around her like pillows, all of him soft and yielding except for his erection. Half-asleep herself, she slides up her skirt and wiggles her bare flesh against his hardness. Between her legs she aches with desire. It would be so easy to reach around, untie his shorts, take him in hand and slide him right in...

“Claire, no,” he whispers, awake now.

They spring apart like boxers to their individual corners of the ring, afraid to touch.

“Sorry, Claire. When I'm asleep, it's just kinda... automatic.”

Her mind is screaming, No, you can't, while all her body wants is to sprawl underneath him and let him take her, hard. Everything is healed, better than ever, and she's ready now, more than ready. Desire fills the tent, thick and hot.

Her mind wins, and she shelters on her side of the bed while the seconds tick by.

She fights a flash of jealousy over Rose and Bernard, Ana Lucia and Libby, Kathy and Shana, who don't have time bombs in their beds. Sure, she could undo Hurley's drawstring, take him into her mouth, invite his thick fingers to run up and down her cleft, let him make her shudder in delight. He's done it before. He knows how.

It's not that she doesn't trust him to avoid getting her pregnant, either. Last night he volunteered to leave their tent, to set up one for himself nearby, and only her tears put pay to that tosh. Nor is it that she finds his touch, his tongue somehow “less than” having him buried to the hilt inside her. It's just that Jack's six-week limit seems like a mockery now. Six weeks, months, years maybe. A lifetime, if no ship or plane comes for them.

She wants more children, Hurley's children. Someday, not right now, although she feels confident enough to tackle Irish twins. They play together, women have said. Have your kids close together, get it over with, enjoy them as they grow up. That's the little mother-wisdom which filtered through her defenses as a girl.

At least she felt confident, to be accurate. That was before everything shattered.

He bridges the chasm between them by taking her hand. His brown eyes are so sad, his mouth so glum, that she can't resist crawling over to take him into her arms. They hang on to one another the way shipwreck survivors cling to driftwood.

There's nothing to say, so she strokes those shoulders soft as pillows, stout enough to hold up the world. People can live without children, she tells herself. Look how happy Rose and Bernard are. Brian and Kenneth are so proud of the house they just finished, and neither of them are having a baby anytime soon. If everyone really is stuck on this Island forever, Zach and Emma won't be alone, not with their three mums, if you count Cindy.

“At least we have each other,” Claire whispers to Hurley, and from his sweet smile, it was the right thing to say.


* * * * * * * *


Jack and Sayid barely let Juliet finish her breakfast before the interrogation resumes. Claire thinks of it that way, even though Sayid is silky and courteous once more. Beside Sayid sits Hurley, massive and silent, head propped on his chin.

Shannon and Claire toast breadfruit in between pieces of wire mesh, as the baby hangs on to her breast. He can move his head about now, can find the breast on his own if she leaves it bare for him. She doesn't want to know if this is normal for his age or not. He suckles whenever he feels like it, or looks up at her and smiles. Other than washing diapers, Aaron is barely any work at all.

Shannon waves a piece of crispy breadfruit at Sun and Faith, who sit huddled in conversation by Sun's shelter. “Glad it's not me. Aunt Flo came to visit two days ago, and I swear to God, Claire, I'll never bitch about her again.”

“How's Sayid taking things?”

Shannon rolls her eyes. “Let's just say that he is holding Juliet to some very high standards.” Her voice drops. “He doesn't know what it's like to be trapped in a situation. Held captive against your will.”

Claire seriously doubts this. Captive or jailer, both are imprisoned, each in their own way. She's saved from saying anything when Sawyer approaches, looking hungry but not wanting to beg. “Have some breadfruit,” she offers.

He squats down to join them, yawning widely. “Not that I got any sleep, bunking with Romeo over there, him yakkin' till sunrise about how much he loves his Juliet.” The night before, Danielle dragged Alex off to set up a bedroll in between herself and Juliet, while Sawyer got charged with Karl. Now the two of them help Danielle draw in a net laden with fish.

“I'm sure you bestowed all your wisdom on him,” Shannon says.

Sawyer ignores her and nods over towards Jack and Juliet. “The docs been goin' at it for hours. Nobody knows what the hell they're talking about. I lasted about half an hour. Don't know how Hugo there can sit still for it.”

“Talk won't change a thing anyway,” Shannon says, ready to leave. “I'm going to go work on my base.”

After Shannon leaves, Sawyer finishes the rest of the breadfruit in great mouthfuls, then washes it down with a long swig of water. “Here's the thing I don't get, Mamacita. You remember when Danielle, Sayid and me found that piece-of-shit Goodwin and took him to the Temple?”

She nods.

“The Temple, it's got a big moat around it, fulla those flowers that float on the water.”

“Lotus,” she says, feeling as though she's just fallen into a strange dream.

“Yeah, them kind. We snuck up to it, spied a couple of kids fishing. Girl and a boy, right about Emma and Zach's ages, dressed in homespun. When they saw us, they hightailed it outta there like jackrabbits. Didn't even take their poles.”

Although she's sitting down, Claire's head starts to reel. “Sawyer, why didn't you say anything about this?”

“'Cause I forgot about it till now. They were just a couple of kids, Claire. Seemed more critical to focus on the guys with the AKs.”

“But those children, they could have been born here.”

He shakes his head, irritated but unable to resist her point. “Or they coulda been shipwrecked, just like us.”

“Even so, you have to tell Jack and Juliet.”

Resigned, Sawyer pulls her to her feet right along with him.

As they approach the group, Claire sees Danielle's big Island map spread out before everyone, but nobody's looking at it. Juliet says, “...As I mentioned before, Jack, all their uterine biopsies were normal, as were their pituitary and ovarian hormone profiles. Ethan and I postulated that maybe—“

“Placentiation,” Jack breaks in. “I still say it sounds like a problem of placentiation.”

“Goodwin thought so too, but I think it goes back further than that, even before implantation. Something to do with abnormal metabolic function in the syncytiotrophoblast. At the very least, somewhere in the trophectoderm itself.”

Claire feels, rather than sees Sawyer's fist clench at the mention of Goodwin's name. She can hear the thrum of anger under his congenial tones. “'Scuse me, hate to interrupt the seminar, but Sayid and I got something to interject here.”

She slides in next to Hurley as Sawyer delivers his news, punctuated by Sayid's nod of confirmation. Like Sawyer, Sayid saw the children too, and like Sawyer, thought nothing of it.

When Hurley speaks, Jack and Juliet turn to him as if they've forgotten he was even there. “Um, Juliet, you ever, like, go to this Temple? Just to check things out?”

“Never. Ben said it was a 'sanctuary.' Most of the people living in the Barracks didn't even know about it.”

“But you did.”

“Ben thought that sharing information with me might... change things.”

“Well, weren't you the belle of the ball,” Sawyer says, barely in control now. “Was that Temple a stag party, or were there women there too?”

Juliet's answer is so faint, Claire can barely hear it above the wind and surf. “I think there were women, yes.”

Sayid opens his mouth, then shuts it and sits back. Sawyer's doing a fine job all on his own.

“Women who might be havin' the same difficulties.”

Jack's the one who can't keep still. “You didn't check.”

“No, Jack, I didn't check.”

“Why wouldn't it be an Island-wide phenomenon?” Juliet says, pleading in her voice.

“I don't know, Juliet,” Jack says, and he sounds exasperated. “You tell me.”

“It seems, Juliet, that your equation still contains a considerable number of variables.” Sayid doesn't even sound mad. Claire doesn't know how he does it. More accurately, she doesn't want to know.

Juliet doesn't get to rise to Sayid's challenge, however, because Sun and Jin approach, with Michael trailing behind. There's murder in Jin's face, real rage. It's not directed at Juliet, though, but at sea and sky, the very land itself.

“Sun,” Jack says, trying to delay an explosion. “What's on your mind?”

“I want to understand our circumstances clearly,” Sun says in a crisp voice. “Juliet, in the three years that you have been on this Island, five women have died under your care, all between sixteen and twenty weeks into their pregnancies. With no exceptions.”

Jack winces and says aside to Juliet, “I don't want her in on my hospital review board hearing.”

Juliet almost looks like she might laugh, but that would be a terrible idea under the circumstances. Instead, she lifts her chin, calm and collected, even though Claire suspects she's screaming inside. “That's right.”

Sun translates to Jin, whose eyes dart everywhere like trapped animals. “We leave Island,” he says. “Now.”

“Jin, I think that's easier said than done—” Jack starts to say in a break-it-to-them gently voice, but Michael interrupts.

Michael is even angrier than Jin, or maybe he just expresses it better. “I've had it with you people, with all your talk. I'm not sitting here waiting for anybody to get sick, or for rescue, either. We need to rescue ourselves.” He takes a deep breath and looks round at everyone present, his face set in a hard challenge. “I'm sick of waiting. I'm building a raft.”

“Raft?” Jin says.

“A boat,” Michael answers. “I am going to build a boat. Who's with me?”

“Boat,” Jin repeats. “Boat, to leave Island. I help you build boat.”


* * * * * * * *


That night, Claire lays Aaron in bed in between her and Hurley, nursing the baby to sleep. It reminds Hurley of a comic he once read, about this King Arthur-era couple with funny names. The chick's husband caught her sneaking out at night with this dude who she loved way better, so hubby laid a sword between them at night, just to send a little message.

Soon Claire and Aaron are both out like lights, but Hurley lies awake for many hours, watching strips of moonlight move across the tent-flap seams.

There are kids at the Temple, two kids Zach and Emma's age, which meant they were born after 1977. After Ethan.

He can't shake it, no matter how much he tells himself that the kids could have just as easily been in a plane crash. Or shipwrecked. It's clear that Juliet doesn't know squat about the Temple, and that Ben wanted it that way.

Earlier, Hurley watched Jack carefully fold up Danielle's big Island map, then stash it in its hard-shell suitcase, stowed next to the food tent.

Inch by inch he creeps out of bed, pausing at every change in Claire's breathing. He's worn his cargoes instead of pajamas, just to have a few more layers between them, even though there's been no more bottom-wiggling. If anybody catches him out in the dead of night, he'll just say he's taking a leak.

When the tent flap falls, his heart almost stops when from inside, Aaron gives a whimper. Otherwise the entire camp is silent.

When the hard-shell suitcase opens, the click stops his heart again. He stuffs the folded map into his pocket, afraid to open it because the paper might crackle.

Next to the map lies a small spiral notebook with a pencil jammed in the rings, and he grabs that too. What kind of idiot would he be, to just leave in the middle of the night with no word?

In the moonlight, he laboriously starts to write.

Dear Claire and everybody:

I am going to the temple for ansers. If there are kids there we have to know when they arived and whether they got started here. I have Danyels map. Its not a long walk so I should be back in a few days. Claire I am sorry that I did'nt wake you. I did'nt want you to worry but I know you will any way.

Claire I love you so much.

Hurley.


He slips the note into the big pot which Rose uses every morning to boil water for tea. She won't be able to miss it.

Into his other cargo pocket he slides a water bottle. He doesn't dare take anything else except a torch, which he lights from the remains of the evening's fire. His heart surges from fear that someone will see.

No one does, though. In the dead of night, Hurley slips out of the beach camp.

(continued)

(A/N: The title is from Jeremiah 31:15.)


(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-18 12:11 am (UTC)
desdemonaspace: (Default)
From: [personal profile] desdemonaspace
Another excellent chapter! I can't imaging how hard it would be to refrain from making love to your partner. Nice how you have Hugo speaking to the group, and Sayid's restrained interrogation of Juliet. I'm with Hurley - I usually think of the island as beneficent, but I guess it's not so. Looking forward to seeing where the temple kids come from. That island is nothing but curve balls.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-20 01:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefanie-bean.livejournal.com
Thanks, glad you liked it, especially the part about Hurley breaking the news to the group instead of Juliet. Someone I know helps me with story idea-bouncing; that was their suggestion and I think it really worked.

Re: Just Say No Island: In-show, among the background survivors there were at least a half-dozen women of childbearing age. It always bothered me that no one seemed to take this seriously apart from how it affected Sun.

Everything the main cast felt was also going to be felt by the backgrounders; maybe more acutely because they weren't "in the loop" and would thus feel more helpless.

Dealing with it *would* be difficult because of the hopelessness, as I tried to get across in the chapter. Somebody else called this chapter "depressing" so I guess I did what I came to do, lol.

Again, thanks so much.

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