stefanie_bean: (hugo claire blue)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 31: Lost and Found
Pairs: Hurley/Claire, Jack/Kate, Sayid/Shannon
Characters: Hugo Reyes, Claire Littleton, Jack Shephard, Kate Austen, ensemble
Genre: Slow-build Romance
Length: 3792 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 31: Lost and Found

Early evening sun daubs orange paint along the last leg of the path from the garden to the beach camp. Hurley urges Claire along, because at day's end, the tropical sun drops into the sea in just minutes. Soon the path will plunge into darkness, and given how freaked out Juliet was, Hurley doesn't want to slip into the beach camp unannounced.

Right outside the beach camp, Hurley stops Claire with a gentle motion. “I got a feeling we'd better make some noise. Get behind me, too.” Hurley still shivers a little at Juliet's ferocity, and he doesn't envy any Others who might cross her path.

Claire scoots around him at once. He takes a deep breath, then yells, “Hurley and Claire, coming through!” He's surprised at how far his voice carries. “Yo, beach camp, it's us!”

A rifle clicks, but the safety's going on, not off. Sawyer and Desmond slip through the thick bushes and block their path.

At first Sawyer looks just as mad as Juliet, but when he sees Hurley his face sags in relief. “Dammit, Bigfoot, I almost shot you.”

“Where's Claire?” Desmond looks around wildly. “Oh, there you are, love, hiding on the windward side of the mountain.” He grins, daring anyone to challenge his humor.

The four adults clump together for one big dog-pile of a hug, while Aaron squeaks at being squeezed.

They cross the western beach camp. After the last bear hug, the last murmured, “Oh, thank God, you're back,” from everyone they meet, Claire says, “So Rose and Bernard went missing? And where are Jack and Kate?”

“I'll go back to standing watch,” Desmond says to Sawyer, who nods. “Don't be long, brother. If Juliet catches that western flank uncovered, we'll never hear the end of it.”

Sawyer runs a hand through his tangled, dark-blond mop. “I'll get it twice as hard, you can bet.” His eyes twinkle in the last fading light. “Take a load off, Hugo. To answer your question, Mamacita, Jack went with Kate and Rousseau to her old stomping grounds. Took the Bobbsey Twins with 'em. Sayid and Steve headed up the eastern coast one more time.”

Shannon brings a large tray with sliced raw fish, green taro shoots, and that ground-up root which tastes like wasabi, but with less kick. “Courtesy of Kathy and Shana,” she says. She doesn't set down the tray, though, but holds it as if trading the food for information. “So, when's Jacob going to let us get rescued?”

Hurley gulps. Claire stares down at the busily-nursing baby, and she's just as afraid to look up as he is. Finally he manages, “Well, he said he kind of had to do something first, so—“

Shannon slams down the tray so hard that the fish slices jump. “I thought so. I told Sayid we were going to be stuck here. We're going to get old and die here, and—“

“Shannon, put a sock in it,” Sawyer says. Only his flat tone makes it sound less mean that it would have otherwise. “Hugo here done his best.”

“Sometimes that's not enough!” She flounces, but luckily the spraying sand doesn't get on the fish.

Sawyer sighs, the firelight and growing dark making him look more tired and weathered by the minute. “So, you got nothing from Jacob, it sounds like.”

“The dude is worse than Yoda.”

Claire's eyes are full of warning, so Hurley doesn't say anymore. This probably isn't the best time to mention that Jacob was the reason they are stuck here in the first place.

“Jack ain't gonna like that.”

Before Hurley can answer, Michael and Walt approach. The beach coconut internet, as Sawyer calls it, works almost as fast as the real one. Michael's not happy, it's obvious, and Walt looks like he's been crying.

“Hey, lil' buddy,” Hurley says. “You see my blue suitcase over by my tent? You can go get that Green Lantern comic if you want.”

Even though Walt still sniffles a little, his face is a little brighter. As soon as he darts off, Michael unloads. “Everything's falling apart here, man, and it's not just the raft. Or Rose and Bernard disappearing, either. People used to fight, yeah, and sometimes it got kind of rough.” Michael's half-smile must mean he remembers Jin pounding the stuffing out of him shortly after the crash. “Now it's different. People are on edge like I've never seen.”

He falls silent, as if apologizing, then says, “I better help Walt find that comic. No use in him spreading your stuff out all over the beach.”

“Speak of the devil,” Sawyer says as Jack and Kate come into the circle of firelight, resting their rifles in the sand.

Jack doesn't waste time, not even a glad-to-see-you. “So, what's the word on rescue?”

“There isn't one.” Claire has that same edge in her voice that she used with Jacob, the one Hurley never wants to hear against himself. She adds, “Jacob wouldn't commit himself.”

Kate sidles around to Claire, nestling down next to her.

“Said he had 'something to see to first,'” Hurley says. “Whatever that means.”

“What it means, Hurley, is that we're on our own.”

Shannon returns with Sayid, who seems to have calmed her down a bit. “Hurley, Claire, at least we don't have to search for you, too. What did I miss, Jack?”

“Hurley and Claire haven't brought us anything conclusive.”

Hurley knows why Jack said it, but it still hurts. “You kinda need to chill, dude, or you're gonna blow a gasket. Maybe Jacob can't do this right away. Maybe he needs some time.”

Jack looks straight past Hurley to Sayid, who says, “We found nothing, Jack. No trails, no sign of them at all.”

Hurley's almost willing to look past Jack's frustration. Almost.

Jack turns to Kate. “You up for starting again first thing in the morning?”

Kate nods, then positions herself with Claire and Shannon into one of those girl-huddles which Hurley never can figure out. The three of them talk in a shorthand of raised eyebrows, eye-rolls, little laughs and cryptic sentences. Their voices blend so that half the time he can't tell who's speaking.

“Alex just found out—“

“Oh, no.”

“Oh, yes.”

“That was obvious, wasn't it?”

“What did Danielle...”

“She's not worried.”

“Neither is Faith.”

“She never was, though.”

“I know, right?”

“At least Alex will have her mum.”

“Sirrah, too.”

Claire giggles. “Really? It's contagious, isn't it?” Hurley loves to hear her laugh, even though he has no idea what amuses her so much.

Then a long silence as Claire gazes at Kate, who shakes her head, No. “At least I don't think so.”


“Are you kidding? You're lucky.”

“I take it you're lucky, too.”

A long silence, so whoever is lucky is happy about it.

“Sun and Jin, though...” There must be an eye-roll in there or two that Hurley can't see, because the women all sigh at once, as if they perfectly understand one another.

Maybe Jacob isn't the only person on this Island who can read minds.

“It's different for Sun.”

Someone mumbles about Seoul, and a doctor that Sun didn't like, until Sawyer breaks through Hurley's fog with a sharp, “You still with us, hoss?”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry.”

“Don't feel bad. I can't figure out what the hell they're always yakking about, either. So listen up. No second breakfast for you, 'cause right after the first one at dawn, you, me and Desmond got a sector to patrol.”

“What?” They have sectors now? Michael is right. A lot on the beach has changed in the two days that he and Claire have been gone.

“You heard me. No sleeping in, neither.”

Over by Hurley's tent, Michael and Walt pore over the Green Lantern comic as Walt reads aloud, mispronouncing most of the Spanish but getting it way better than weeks before.

* * * * * * * *

By the third morning, Hurley is so tired of being woken at dawn that he rolls over and buries his face in Claire's neck, muttering, “Tell him I disappeared too. Tell him I'm dead. Tell him anything.”

Claire's no help, because all she does is kiss him into a state where he couldn't leave the tent if he wanted to. “Whose side are you on?” he mutters, half-laughing as he gently untangles himself from her soft lips, the warm circle of her arms.

She's not smiling anymore. “I'm on Rose's. And Bernard's.”

She's right. With them gone, the life seems to have gone out of the beach camp. People go through their daily routines like robots at their joyless, programmed tasks. Tempers are more on edge. If something minor happens to the raft, a thundercloud of rage brews over Michael. Sayid stalks about grim-faced, and Shannon's eyes are wide with anxiety.

Jack and Sawyer have been talking about a raid. If today's search fails, tomorrow they will take as many as they can muster, and every single gun. They plan to hunt the Others like big game, to make them give Rose and Bernard back.

Hurley suspects that Juliet is behind this. After all, she knows their ways, their trails, their secret caches all over the Island. Over the past few days he has hardly recognized her. The sweet smile which she reserves for Sawyer, the tender looks at Aaron, her worry over the pregnant women, all those have vanished.

Yesterday Sawyer said, “She ever gets her hands on that bastard Linus, I feel sorry for him. She probably won't even use a gun.”

Juliet wears one expression now: the fierce, raging thirst for vengeance.

So Hurley drags himself to the kitchen tent, where Sirrah and her boyfriend Chen have started breakfast. Sawyer, Jack and Sayid are crouched over a copy of Danielle's map, divided into grids, with pencil marks showing what's been double- and triple-checked.

Charlie pokes Hurley in the arm, and waves a steaming mug of coffee under his nose. “You should learn to drink this stuff, mate.”

Hurley grimaces. He can't stand the smell of the bitter, chewy coffee, much less the taste.

Charlie lifts the mug. “Rose's legacy.”

It sounds like a toast at a wake, which is the last thing Hurley wants to think about right now. Because that would mean war with the Others for sure. “Charlie, don't give up just yet.”

“Who's talking about giving up? Rose was the one who found the coffee cherry bushes, remember? She said they grew all over Hawaii, so why not here?” He swirls the black sludge, meditating. “Of course tea is more civilized.”

“Who you calling 'uncivilized?'” The warm alto voice surprises Hurley so much that he almost knocks the mug out of Charlie's hand.

Everyone around the breakfast tent gapes at Rose, who must have snuck in to the beach camp somehow. She looks as if she has no idea what the fuss is about.

“What the hell?” Hurley finally stammers.

She lifts the lid of the big communal pot as if it's just another early morning. “Good, you got the water on to boil.” Bernard pads up behind her, carrying across his shoulders a long wooden stringer laden with octopus. He unstrings and arranges them on the food prep table.

“You catch all these?” Hurley says. He's never seen a catch this size before, not even one of Jin's.

With a faint smile, Bernard picks up a wooden mallet and begins to beat the octopus to tenderize them. The loud thwacks draw even more attention, and a crowd begins to form.

“Where were you?” Jack demands.

Kate challenges him. “They're not kids who stayed out after curfew.”

“Kate, we've spent the past three days—“

Rose says, “You know, Jack, an army could have marched in here and you wouldn't even know it.” Then her tone softens. “I'm sorry we worried you.” She picks up a burlap bag, and Hurley stares at its familiar shape and color, trying to place it.

The bag is full of pale, pearly grain, and Rose dumps one handful after another into the boiling water.

As Sun picks up a few granules and looks closely at them, she can't keep the wonder out of her voice. “This is barley. But I thought there were no cereal grains here.”

Rose stirs octopus chunks into the pot. “This Island is full of surprises.”

Desmond hugs Bernard, slapping him on the back. “At least we're done with that bloody search, eh?”

“I'm glad you two are all right,” Kate says.

Jack hovers like a sailboat on a day with no wind, as if not sure what to do next.

When Juliet sees Rose, tears well up in her eyes, and it's like the old Juliet is back. Walt does cry, though. He flings his arms around Rose, sobbing like a little kid. “We thought you were dead and gone.”

“No way, honey,” she laughs. “You're stuck with me.”

Claire comes out of their tent and races to Hurley at once, sputtering, “Oh, my God,” a couple of times. Aaron squawks again, annoyed at being hug-squished once more. “You're all right,” Claire babbles. “I can't believe it, you're both all right.”

She doesn't ask where they went, or what happened. She stares at the bag full of barley as if she's trying to place it, too.

When the realization hits him, Hurley almost chokes. That burlap bag is the same as the ones in Jacob's cabin. The hairs along his arms twitch and begin to rise. When he takes Claire's hand, it trembles in his.

Rose dishes out breakfast. Bernard's eyes gleam as he watches her - with tears or love, it's hard to tell. Maybe both.

Seth Norris is the last in line. After she fills his bowl, Rose touches his hand lightly, and his eyes grow wide with recognition. He slumps to his knees, spilling the bowl onto the sand.

Jack sprints over, feeling for a pulse, checking for breathing.

“He just collapsed,” Hurley says.

“Better watch it, Rose,” Sawyer quips. “That's our only pilot.”

Rose crouches down and cradles Norris in her arms, as if he were a sad or frightened child. “Go to sleep, now. Rest.”

His eyes remain open as he struggles to his feet, wiping spilled breakfast off his pants leg. “Sorry, I must have tripped on something there.”

“Don't worry about it,” Rose says. “It can happen when you're out in the sun, working on the raft.” Under her breath she adds, “That you won't need.”

Hurley looks around, astonished that no one else heard that but him.

Jack isn't satisfied, though. “I'd like you to come over to the medical tent, Seth. Just to check things out.”

Norris waves him off. “I feel fine, Jack. Great, in fact.” He peers over into the pot, which Bernard is scraping. “Hope there's more of that left.”

There's no need to clean up the spill. Vincent is right on it, tail wagging.

* * * * * * * *

Over the next few days, Rose spends a lot of time with Norris. Sometimes they talk, and Hurley overhears mention of Norris's wife or kids: joking that his daugher will be ready for her bat-mitzvah by the time he gets home, or how much he misses Judy and their black labrador Winston. Sometimes he talks about being a pilot, having all that power underneath your seat, the responsibility for hundreds of lives. How when he gets home, he'll have to face a board of inquiry, and it's going to be ugly.

More than once Hurley hears Rose tell him that things are going to be fine, she's sure of it.

Sometimes the two of them, Rose and Seth, just sit quietly together and look out at the rolling sea. They're doing that this afternoon, while a decent interval away, Hurley fishes. He draws his nets through the churning water, gathering in one red sea bream after another. Ever since Rose and Bernard got back, the fishing has been incredible. The survivors are drying and salting fish constantly. For the first time, it feels like they can live for more than one day at a time.

Sawyer ambles up and cracks a joke about how if he were Bernard, he'd worry that his wife was going to leave him for a younger man. When Hurley just glares, Sawyer retreats. “Didn't mean nothin' by it.”

Oh hell, it's impossible to stay mad at Sawyer for long. “Juliet learn to gut fish yet?”

“It's a work in progress, ese.”

He hands Sawyer a stringer of bream so fat their eyes bulge. “Here, she can practice on these.”

Sawyer takes the fish, but doesn't leave. “So, what do you think, Hugo?”

“I dunno.” What he does know is that things have run smooth as silk since Rose and Bernard came back. The two of them work harder than ever, with a smile and pat on the arm for everyone. Rose even gives Michael encouraging looks about the raft, although Hurley can't forget her odd remark. “At least you and Jack aren't gonna go to war. That's pretty cool.”

“Yesterday I asked Rose again if they'd seen any Others. She makes this butter-won't-melt-in-her-mouth face and says, 'Other what?' Followed by some fortune cookie bullshit that it's all one Island, and that maybe to them we're the 'Others.'” Sawyer shakes his head, clearly disgusted. “What gets me is how they won't say nothing of substance.”

Hurley sighs. When Sawyer gets something like this between his teeth, he won't let it go. “Let me talk to her.”

He doesn't even have to wait for an opening. As he and Claire clean and slice fish, Rose appears. “You mind if I borrow your husband?”

Claire laughs. “Long as you give him back. Or I just might help myself to Bernard.”

Hurley sets down his knife and rises. “What's up, Rose?”

“You mind getting your hands wet? We can take that bag of diapers, too.”

“He's all yours, Rose,” Claire says. “Anything for more clean diapers.”

As Hurley and Rose scrub, wring, and hang wash on the line, it feels just like the old days when he would help Rose with the laundry because she wouldn't use the washer in the Swan Station.

She waves a clean, wet diaper over at the raft site, where Norris, Desmond, Scott and Michael take a break under a spreading tree. Desmond must be telling a story, probably a smutty one, because the men break out in laughter. Norris looks around nervously, as if not wanting them to be overheard.

“He's better now,” Rose says. “He won't be bothered anymore. Ever.”

Something cold slides through Hurley. “Rose, what did you do? Did you... kill him?” He's not talking about Norris, but about the dark entity that brought Norris back to life.

Rose looks genuinely shocked. “Oh, no, Hurley. He's not dead.” She pauses for a few seconds, as if figuring out how to explain it. “You know how butter is made?”

Hurley has no clue. What does butter have to do with anything?

She brushes past his skepticism. “First, you get milk fresh from the cow and let it sit. When the cream rises to the top, you skim it off and churn it into butter. But the milk you buy from the store doesn't work that way. It's been mixed up so well that the cream will never separate out. 'Homogenized' is what they call it.”

Quietly she waits, while he digests this. “You mean, you mixed Smokey and Seth up? So that Smokey won't ever rise to the top?”

“That's right, sugar. Not even in dreams.”

“How did you do that, Rose?”

She smiles with all the wisdom of the world.

At once something hits him with lightning strength, and he knows. “You and Bernard, you weren't lost. You met Jacob. And he offered you a job.”

“He was at this beach, checking his fishing traps. We got to talking. At first we were afraid, until he mentioned meeting you, and how Claire yelled at him about the plane crash.” She pauses, as if not sure she wants to tell the next part, but that only makes Hurley more desperately anxious to hear it. “How much he wanted you to take it on.”

“I didn't. I still don't.”

“'Course you don't, sugar. You're twenty-six years old—“

“Almost twenty-seven.”

“You and Claire got your whole life ahead of you. Bernard and me...” Her eyes grow misty.

They hang up the last of the diapers, and stroll together down to the ocean. Underneath the spreading ironwood tree, the “great lady” of the beach, they drink in the beauty of the sea, the pure blue sky.

“You want to know what the hardest part was?” Rose finally says. “Convincing that chucklehead Jacob that even if his momma 'had to' die after she passed the mantle to him, he didn't.”

“He wanted you to kill him?” Jacob was kind of squirrelly, but this is so much worse.

“Not me, Bernard. Who just laughed in his face. I wasn't laughing, though. I told him straight up I'd do his job, but it was gonna be my way. And my first rule was that nobody was killing nobody.”

“Hoo, boy, I bet that went over well.”

“Surprisingly well,” Rose says, clearly pleased with herself. “I also told him that after he had a little time to adjust, he was gonna clean up his mess, starting with Benjamin Linus and the rest of those Island hobos.”


“Jacob's just like you, Claire, and everybody else now. When his time comes, he'll die. He's gonna have to sweat for his daily bread. No more fire lighting itself, or fish flying into the pan, or fruit dropping into his lap from the tree.” Her face softens, and Hurley wonders why he missed the faint glow which surrounds her. “Bernard and me, we're gonna help him.”

Hurley wipes his brow, trying to take it all in. “Rose, I got to ask you just one more thing. What about us getting rescued? How's that gonna happen?”

She stretches out her hand towards the open ocean, and if this was a movie, the ocean would part right before her. When she lowers her arm, she's only Rose: stern but funny, friendly but don't try any sass with her, or she'll let you have it.

“There's a ship out there, Hurley. And it'll be here before you know it.”

Something else he knows, too. “You and Bernard won't get on it.”

“No, honey. We won't.”

A line of gulls sweeps across the white-speckled blue, and their cries sound like they're saying good-bye.


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