stefanie_bean: (hugo claire blue)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 28: Resurrection Row
Pairs: Hurley/Claire, Jack/Kate, Sayid/Shannon
Characters: Hugo Reyes, Claire Littleton, Jack Shephard, Kate Austen, ensemble
Genre: Slow-build Romance
Length: 3492 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 28: Resurrection Row

All the way back to the beach camp, Hurley keeps an alert eye on Captain Norris for any signs of zombie-dom. When Hurley discovers that Norris's eldest daughter shares the same birthday as his own mother, and that Norris was equally anxious over missing her party, he lets down his guard. Soon they're chatting about how much braces cost and how each one of Norris's kids needs them; how mothers-in-law have to be treated with kid gloves; how wonderful it is that Hurley's going to be married and how much he's going to love it.

By the time they push through the tall shrubs at the beach camp's north end, Hurley has almost forgotten that Seth Norris was once dead.

Mid-afternoon is the quietest part of the beach camp day, as most people rest in the blazing heat. Hurley automatically scopes around for Claire, but she's nowhere to be seen.

He doesn't have to announce them, because Vincent does it for him with an energetic volley of barks. Walt, Emma, and Zack rush up, followed by Cindy.

Wide-eyed and breathless, Walt says, “Are you the captain? I wanted to see the cockpit, but my dad said no, that they wouldn't let me, because of terrorists. This is so awesome—“

Norris is too busy gaping at the settlement to answer. Slow recognition grows in his eyes, but Hurley can tell he's struggling to find Cindy's name somewhere in the jumbled storage bin of his mind.

“Captain?” she says. The alarm in her voice tells Hurley this won't be easy.

“Ms. Chandler? Cindy, right?”

A small crowd forms, but still no Claire. What if she really is mad at him, saw him coming and just stomped off?

Kate streaks across the compound, with Jack and Sayid close behind. When she sees Norris she stops dead, then reaches around for the pistol she always carries in the back of her jeans.

“Kate, hold on!” Hurley says. “This is the captain. Of the plane.”

“How is this possible?” Jack says. “When I last saw you—“

“Everybody, please!” Hurley interrupts. “Can we just take a load off, you know, before all the convo?”

Kate stares at Norris as if he's a snake ready to bite her, even as Hurley walks Norris to the central fire and hands him an Oceanic water bottle. “Just hang here a minute, Seth, okay?”

Cindy and Kate are fiercely whispering to one another, while Jack grabs Hurley by the arm and steers him off to the side. “Hurley, what the hell is going on? He was impaled in a tree, this isn't possible—“

The secret almost rolls off Hurley's tongue before he stops himself. “Dude, just look him over, all right? He doesn't remember anything since the day of the crash. Please, Jack.”

It's the right thing to say. “All right, Hurley. Let's get him to the medical tent.”

One more thing, the most important of all, even more so than a man apparently resurrected. “Where's Claire and Aaron?”

“She's working in the garden with Sun,” Cindy says. “I'll get her. Come on, kids, you come with me. Captain Norris is tired. You can visit with him later.”

In the infirmary tent, Kate and Hurley flank Norris on either side as he sits on the rickety cot.

Jack squats before him, in full doctor-mode now. “Do you remember me?”

“Bits and pieces. You too,” Norris says, waving at Kate. “Someone else, a little guy.”

“That would be Charlie,” Kate says.

The sad appeal in Norris's face almost breaks Hurley's heart. “My co-pilot didn't make it, did he?”

“No, he didn't,” Jack says. “I'm sorry.”

“What about the transponder? Any radio contact with anyone? Did anybody—“

Jack uses the same calm voice. “We'll fill you in. As for now, do you mind if I examine you?” After Jack pokes, prods, and checks practically every reflex, he gestures towards Norris's chest. “I'd like to—“

“No problem,” Norris says, stripping off his tattered shirt in one motion. He gasps at the sight of his own round stomach, streaked with a constellation of angry red scars. Some of the pits look deep enough for the tip of a pinky finger, and Hurley sways, a little sick.

Kate gives him a sharp poke and whispers, “Don't you dare.”

“Could you lie down for me?” Jack says to Norris.

The scars extend around Norris's sides, and Jack prods every one. “You had some serious injuries there. Does this hurt?”

“Just a little tender.”

“Okay, then. You can get up now. Hurley, why don't you show the captain the shower, find him something to wear?” Jack's words are casual but it's clear that he can't wait to speak with Kate alone.

“You have a shower?” Norris says.


* * * * * * * *


While Norris splashes in every last drop of warm water, Hurley crouches under leafy ironwood trees with Eko and Charlie.

“How is this possible?” Charlie says, scratching his head. “I saw him. Everything that's supposed to be on the inside was on the outside.”

Eko rubs his beard thoughtfully. “Miracles can happen, Charlie. I learned that the hard way.”

“But what about my bloody song? I can't very well change it to, 'The Monster Didn't Eat the Pilot.'”

Hurley groans inside. “Come on, Charlie, have some respect.”

Everyone looks over towards the medical tent at once, where Kate and Jack appear to be not so much arguing as having a heated discussion. Hurley can bet he knows about what, and so does Charlie.

“Think I'll stroll over and see what's up,” Charlie says. “Compare a few notes.”

Something unsettled rumbles around Hurley's middle. What was a person, if not their memories? His mom's abuelita had none left before she died. Didn't know who anybody was, didn't even know who she was for that matter, but she still stayed sweet. Still let the rosary beads slip between her fingers in long-practiced movements, still mouthed prayers learned in childhood. Was still her, if that made any sense.

So was he lying by letting everyone believe that this was Seth Norris? Was what made up Norris now gone, because Norris had been for all practical purposes dead for three months?

Who was Smokey, for that matter? From what Jacob had said, the bodies that Jack and Kate had buried up by the caves were actually Jacob's brother and his mom. If that was Jacob's brother's body, what had been roaming the Island, and taken on Norris's form?

It makes his head hurt.

Hurley's puzzlement flees when he glances up to see Claire, Sun and a few other women emerge from the path to the garden. His heart leaps at the same time his stomach clenches. She doesn't look mad, but Hurley knows from his mother's temper that looks can be deceptive.

“Hey, Mr. Eko, can you do me a solid? Captain Norris, he bonked his head hard, been wandering around the jungle for months. Doesn't remember anything since the crash. I gotta go, so maybe could you like keep an eye on him till I get back?”

“Of course, Hurley. I will take him to the food tent, find him something to eat.” He smiles broadly, white teeth flashing in his dark face. “Claire will be glad to see you.”


* * * * * * * *


Claire drops her cloth bag of vegetables, clutches the baby in his sling and takes off towards Hurley in a sprint. Rose and Sun haven't left her side since yesterday morning, when she cried in fury and tore his note into a dozen pieces.

It seems like a lifetime ago, all forgotten now. Everything fades in importance - the news he might carry with him, the camp site buzz about the newcomer, the ever-present anxiety which has settled over the beach like a bleak fog - because now she's in his arms, the baby nestled between them. She buries her face in his breast, heart overflowing with tenderness, all the tears cried out of her, all the resentment evaporated over how he didn't even wake her up to say good-bye.

He lifts Aaron out of the podegai and cradles him football-style, pulling Claire in close with the other arm. She's just about to give him the kiss of his life when over her shoulder she spies Norris, fresh in a polo shirt and cargoes, his Oceanic Airline wings pinned to his collar. Deep in conversation with Eko, he holds a tin plate of food.

“I found him in the forest, by the nose of the plane,” Hurley says. “He's got amnesia.” His tone tells her that's not the whole story by a long shot.

“But Kate said—“

“I know, Claire. It's gonna be all right, though.”

“Hurley, you have to know something,” she says, rapid and breathless. “Rose told Sun and I who was in that wheelchair. She said she could, because he wasn't in our company anymore. You'll never guess. It was Locke.”

At his indrawn breath, she adds, “Hurley, this is just as big. Maybe bigger.”

They watch as people slowly file up to Norris, pat his shoulder, shake his hand. Rose gives him a warm hug, her eyes shining with warmth.

“Come on, I want to say hi,” Claire says. When she stands behind Norris, recognition lights up his face. “Do you remember me? From the coffee shop, before the flight.”

He's trying to, pushing his memory as hard as he can, and a grin cracks his round face. “Don't sue me. I didn't make the ride extra-smooth for you, like I promised.”

“It's all right.”

More serious, he says, “I see you didn't give up your baby after all.”

“Nope. His name's Aaron.” She gives Hurley's hand a squeeze as she says to Norris, “I'd say it worked out perfectly.” Almost, a voice inside says. Perfectly, except for the little problem of no children, ever, unless you have a death wish.

“He's bald, like my Eli was when he was born.” A huge tenderness seems to overcome Norris, and Hurley's worried look fades.

“Who's in charge?” Norris says.

“That'd be Jack,” says Hurley. “Here he comes right now. Yo, Kate, Sayid, come meet the captain.”

“I can't hold people off any longer,” Jack says to Hurley. “Whatever you found at the Temple, you've got to tell me.”

“Temple?” Norris says. “Where the hell are we?”

“We're not sure exactly,” Sayid says. “We were hoping you could tell us.”

“Make yourself comfortable, Captain,” Jack says. “Will you excuse us? We've got something on the front burner now that we have to address.”

Something in Jack's tone gets Norris's attention, and he sinks to a nearby rock, his plate on his knees.

“I will bring him up to date,” Sayid says in a silky voice.

“Jack, I think we kinda need Sayid too.”

Kate squats down next to Norris. “Captain, I'll fill you in.”

“Don't fire-hose it,” Jack whispers aside to Kate. “Memory loss is stressful.” He gestures for Hurley and Claire to follow him.

As they head for the central fire, Hurley says, “I, um, didn't make it to the Temple. I met Jacob instead.”

Sayid stops dead in his tracks. “What?”

Jack practically runs over him. “But Juliet said—“

“I know what Juliet said, dude. It's a thousand times weirder than what you think.”

All this worry, and he didn't even finish what he started? Claire can't hold back the disappointment. “But if you didn't go to the Temple, then we don't know if there are any children there at all, much less whether they were born on the Island.”

“I do, though. The two kids weren't born here. They were shipwrecked.”

“Oh.” It's only when an icy wave washes through her that she realizes how much she had riding on the other answer. “Well, we're stuffed then, aren't we?”

“That's what I'm trying to tell you. We're not. Stuffed, I mean. Sayid, this Jacob guy said that you already fixed it. You made it work, I mean, for women on the Island. They can have babies now, because you blew up the Swan.”

“Hurley, this makes no sense.” Jack looks as if he might cry. First Norris, then this. If responsibility had weight, it would push Jack to his knees.

“Juliet!” Sayid calls out, beckoning.

She leaves the fire in front of Sawyer's tent, but not before Sawyer says in a fake grumble, “Doctors are always gettin' paged right when things get interesting.” Even though Sawyer can't see her suppressed smile, Claire can.

“How's the newcomer doing?” Juliet asks Jack.

“Well, without a full neuro workup, I'd say episodic retrograde amnesia, probably from a combination of head trauma and PTSD. His memories up to the crash seem intact, but he doesn't remember how he got injured. He's also got some healed lacerations that point to possible internal abdominal involvement, although—“

“Jack,” Sayid interrupts. “I appreciate your concern for Captain Norris. But that's not what we wish to discuss with you, Juliet.”

She gives Sayid a fleeting, almost contemptuous glance, then says to Jack, “But he's going to be all right.”

“I think so.”

“Good.”

Sayid says, “Juliet, Hurley has some news which could have substantial implications.”

“We might as well take a load off, everybody.” Hurley silently appeals to Claire, and she can tell something's tying him in knots. Pushing him won't help, though, so she nestles herself into the sand and puts Aaron on the breast.

Everyone sits in a circle around Hurley as he tells his tale: the cabin; the lonely man trying to spin away the isolation; the stunning revelation. He's not fooling Claire for one second, though. Like an iceberg, most of what happened is beneath the surface, for whatever reason.

Bollocks to that. She'll get it out of him later.

Jack seems unconvinced. “I still don't see what the Swan would have to do with any of this—“

Sayid leans in, rapt. “Jack, it's quite straightforward. Why don't we have to press a button anymore? The energy isn't building up anymore.”

“I still don't see—“

“Physics can't be turned on its head here. Or can it? Conservation of energy states that energy can't be created or destroyed, yet it's going somewhere now. Where, and does it even matter?”

“Energy is matter, after all,” Juliet says in a dry voice. “And vice versa.”

It takes Sayid a few seconds to register that she's made a joke, but he only manages a faint smile. Claire knows that for him it's not just a problem to be solved, but a personal crisis. Just yesterday Shannon said to Claire that she never knew how much she wanted a baby until she discovered that she couldn't have one. Nor has Claire missed the covert looks from Alex, Sirrah, Sylvie, all the women young enough for it to be a problem. Even from Kate, and those side glances hurt worst of all.

Because Claire has something that they don't: a child.

Juliet has told them about how nuts it was up at the Barracks, the normal longing and resentment made worse by Ben's hype and broken promises. Every few months another woman ran away to the Temple because at least there no one was supposed to have sex, not even married people.

“It can't be that simple,” says Jack. “That's fine if no more build-up of Swan energy means no damage to future pregnancies. That's a big 'if,' and given the limited information, I'm not willing to stake lives on it. But what about the damage already done?”

“Before 1987, the few women who were evacuated went to full term,” Juliet says. “Whatever damage was done at conception, it resolved itself when they were taken off-Island.”

Sayid starts to say, “And given the current absence of energy from the Swan—“

“That would be equivalent to removal from the Island,” Juliet finishes.

“Exactly.”

“Theoretically,” Jack adds.

Juliet says, “That's right, Jack. Theoretically.”

Hurley's been silent through all of this, although Claire knows him well enough to sense the fuming beneath the surface. Finally he asks, “So, um, what happened after 1987?”

Claire doesn't like how pale Juliet grows, how she seems to crumple from the inside. “Ben happened to them, Hurley. He and the rest of the Others, they killed them. They killed them all, except for the children. Like Ethan. After that year, there are no more Dharma Initiative records.”

“What a fucking mess,” Jack says, wiping his face.

No one has heard him swear like that before, and everyone but Sayid flinches. “Jack, Juliet, I believe that in medicine you have a practice of not administering a test, if to do so would not change the outcome.”

Juliet and Jack both chuckle. “Not in the American medical system,” Jack says.

“In principle, then,” says Sayid. “Hurley, this news you bring us is valuable, because if it is true, then no one will die, and—“

“If Hurley says it, it's true,” Claire puts in, even though she can feel Hurley holding back, the reticence.

“I believe you,” Sayid says to Hurley. “In the sense that you yourself believe it to be true. As Jack says, some beliefs you risk your lives for, and others you don't. Jack, I say we continue with Michael's raft. We go with Captain Norris to the nose of the plane and try to salvage what electronics we can, step up our efforts at rescue.”

Claire hates to put Hurley on the spot, but this particular stone has to be turned. “Hurley, did you ask this Jacob about rescue?”

He hesitates, and his blush says it all. He hasn't.

Jack's had enough. “From what I'm hearing, Hurley, and no offense, there's some crazy man up in the mountains who's scamming the people of this Island. I don't know why, and I don't care. Claire, you remember when you were in labor with Aaron, I told you that you weren't going to die on my watch. Neither are Sun, or Faith. That's what I care about. That's my priority.”

“That's everyone's priority,” Sayid reminds him.

After almost losing Hurley on the way back from the radio tower, when he and Sawyer got separated and found Juliet; after he left for the Temple without telling her, Claire can't believe she's saying this. “Hurley, you have to go back. You have to find him again. If he knows all these things, he can get us rescued, or at least he'll know how.”

“Kate and I will go with you,” Jack starts to say.

Hurley shouts, “No!”

A few people across the beach look up, startled.

“No,” he repeats, softer. “Jack, you... shouldn't. You can't. I can't explain it, man. Just. Don't. I know you probably think I'm crazy—“

“I don't think you're crazy, Hurley. But people can get bamboozled, confused, without being crazy. It's the logical question, yet you didn't ask. No one is blaming you.”

“Jack, please. I'll do it. But you can't go. You shouldn't.”

They sit at an impasse, until Claire rises to her feet. She takes Hurley by the hand and he almost floats up, buoyed by her touch. Even though she speaks to Jack, she looks Hurley full in the face. She has never been as sure about anything in her life. “You don't have to go, Jack. Because I will.”

The baby squeaks a little, nuzzling. To Claire, it feels as if no one else is on the beach save the three of them: Hurley, the baby, and herself. They've been talking so long that the afternoon has turned golden, drenching them all in gilded light.

“What about Aaron?” Hurley says.

“How do you think people got anywhere before cars, before wagons, even? The native Australians, they walk everywhere through the outback, whole families. We'll just have to go a bit slower, that's all.” Trying to make light of it, she finishes with, “And keep a watch out for smoke monsters.”

“I don't think that's gonna be a problem.” His voice drifts towards her as if out of a dream.

Sunlight flares behind Hurley, making his wild mane blaze while leaving the rest of him in shadow. She could fall into that velvet darkness and never climb out. Softly, as if from far away, she can hear Juliet sniffle a bit.

It isn't until she hears Sawyer grumble, “Hey, Bluebell, what's got you worked up?” that Claire knows they've drawn a crowd.

“We're going to see Jacob together, Hurley,” Claire repeats. The stares of the beach camp play over her, but none of that matters. Something has put her foot to the path, and she can't rest until the end of it. “And we're going to make him tell us how to get off this Island.”

(continued)

(A/N: Bob Dylan wrote a song called “Desolation Row;” the title plays on that.)


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