stefanie_bean: (lost people)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 1: Tears at Midnight
Characters: Hugo "Hurley" Reyes, Jack Shephard, Kate Austin, James "Sawyer" Ford, Michael Dawson, Bea Klugh, assorted Others
Rating: T
Length: 1694 words
Status: Complete
Notes: Set between Season 2 and 3.

Summary: The quest to find Walt has failed. As Hugo makes his lonely way back to the beach camp, he discovers that the Island is stranger than he ever imagined.

Chapter One: Tears at Midnight

The trouble started the evening they buried Libby. At the funeral, Michael tried to convince Hugo to join him in a trek across the Island, to get his kidnapped son Walt back, but Hugo ignored him. He was in no mood for stupid, pointless adventures.

He couldn't shake Libby's last word, how she had whispered it out in two final, fatal syllables, hoarse and blood-splattered. "Michael."

Not Hurley, not Hugo, but Michael.

What did that mean? Libby's face had twisted with horror as she died, desperately gasping for air which never came. Her wide-open eyes were fixed with such intensity over Hugo's shoulder that at one point he turned around to see what was there. An unbidden, unwelcome thought came to him. This what what his Grandma Titi called "a bad death," one that you had to pray many rosaries to avoid.

Hugo had clung to Libby's hand for a long time, until Kate gently unhooked Libby's dead fingers from his warm, living ones. "Hurley," Kate said in a voice so tender it started him crying all over again, "We have to wrap her up before she gets stiff."

Sad and reluctant, he let go, although at first he wouldn't allow anyone but Kate or himself to touch Libby. Together they wrapped her in a coarse wool Army blanket. When it came time to move her body onto a stretcher, Hugo grudgingly allowed Sawyer to help.

Not Jack, though. Wasn't there something Jack could have done? He was supposed to be this great surgeon, but maybe he sucked at surgery as much as he sucked at bedside manner. All he did was give Libby heroin. For that matter, Jack hadn't saved the marshal, either. He and Sawyer just finished him off. Then Boone died in a pool of blood and agony. And even though Michael was fine despite his gunshot wound, he stood there like a statue, watching everyone in the Swan Hatch with round haunted eyes.

Useless. Useless as Jack. Useless as Hugo himself.

Now Hugo stood tongue-tied at Libby's grave, sick to his stomach with anxiety. Shame, too, because thirty-some pairs of eyes stared at him, waiting for eloquence, for closure, for something more than a few stammered sentences which proved to everyone else that Hugo knew virtually nothing about her.

Nothing except that he had almost thrown himself off a cliff, and then, because of her, he hadn't.

"She helped me," Hugo finally said. Incomplete, inadequate, but that was all he had. Then it was too late. It would always be too late, no matter what he said or remembered or did, because one clod hit the olive-colored shroud, then another, until her body was covered with pale brown dirt.

The funeral over, people headed back to their own fires, their own lives. Claire stood hand-in-hand with Charlie (Here we go again, how long would it last this time?), while Sawyer and Kate softly talked out of earshot. Every so often Kate looked over at Hugo with an expression of pity.

Michael once again pestered him to go across the Island. The guy was obsessed, Hugo thought, and Hugo knew obsession.

Hugo was ready to blow off Michael one more time, when a sudden, mad thirst for revenge swept over him. If he had a gun in his hand, and if their escaped prisoner Henry Gale stood there before him, Hugo would have killed him in an instant. No shit, Sherlock. He had never thought of himself as someone who could take down a man in cold blood, but on this night he wasn't so sure. Maybe it was as sweet as some people said. People did it often enough, didn't they?

Still shaking with desire as cold as ice, painful as brain-freeze, Hugo turned to Michael at the grave-side and said in a tight emotionless voice, "I'm going with you." Never had he wanted anything so much as to stand face to face with Libby's killer.

* * * * * * * *

Libby's tent was right at the tree-line, and as the sun went down, that was where Hugo headed. The rickety structure was already starting to lean from the wind. If you didn't tie those shelters up every day, they'd fall into a heap before you knew it. Even though Libby was never going to use this lean-to again, Hugo tied it up snugly anyway.

Under the tall, thin trees, Hugo felt eyes watching him as he worked. Eight or so of the group which Sawyer called the "Girl Scout Camp" sat around their fire. They lived in the farthest recess of the beach camp, right up against the jungle's edge, and nobody paid much attention to them.

Normally they greeted Hugo and welcomed him to their fire, but tonight was different. They had never fallen silent when he came over into their neighborhood before. They reserved that treatment for Charlie, or Locke, or Mr. Eko.

It must have been something in his face which kept them still and speechless, the only motion the ceaseless work of their hands. Some wove; some carved; some chopped with those long black obsidian knives which the men in their group made.

But then Sirrah and her friend Chen left the Girl Scout camp fire and approached Hugo, sweet Sirrah with her long cascade of black hair, Chen from Taiwan flush with his new mastery of English. Sirrah carried a coconut shell full of fish stew and offered it to Hugo. He waved them away, though, because the thought of food made him even sicker than he already felt. Sirrah gave a graceful little nod as she and Chen retreated.

Hugo crawled inside Libby's shelter and lowered the tarp to hide himself from the Girl Scouts' sympathetic looks. Even before the tarp hit the sandy ground, his cheeks once again were wet with tears. Libby hadn't slept on a pallet or anything, just one blanket laid directly on the ground, and another to cover her. So he clutched the top blanket, pulling it tight to his body as if it had been Libby herself.

He cried softly, not worrying about the Girl Scouts hearing him, because everybody on the beach lived by the same rule. If the tent flap was closed, if the tarp was down, no matter what kinds of interesting noises came from within, you didn't hear it. What happened inside the tent stayed in the tent.

Hugo put his face into Libby's blanket and inhaled what was left of her fresh scent, piney from the trees above and a little salty. Then it hit him that she'd gone all the way to the Swan Hatch to get blankets. Why? Why walk an hour round-trip when there were two perfectly good ones here?

For what it was worth, she actually had gone to get blankets after all. The Hatch blankets, shredded by bullet holes, had lain by Libby's side in a pool of her blood. At least she hadn't ditched him entirely, which was the first thing that had occurred to him last night when she didn't return. It wouldn't have been the first time that happened. But to go to the Hatch, that didn't make sense. Not that she had ever returned to explain anything. Not alive, anyway.

Hugo stared at the blue tarp ceiling, tears leaking unchecked now, the thin fabric tethering him to earth, to keep him from spinning away on a trajectory of grief. There was so much he'd never know now, starting with why she even liked him in the first place, gross, fat, stupid as he was. Where he knew her from, and not just the Sydney terminal or the plane.

Had she been real at all? Had he hallucinated her, just like that creature which had flung itself off the cliff, which had hit the water and crashed into the surf, but had never left a body or any sign of its presence?

Hugo touched his mouth where she had kissed him not twice, as he'd asked, but just once.

Then, as Hugo remembered that single, dry, close-mouthed kiss, something inside him broke like a dam. He had enough deaths on his conscience. Enough people had died because of him. No more, never again. It wouldn't bring her back, anyway. The desire to kill someone seeped out of him with his tears.

On the other side of the tarp wall, through most of that night, those clustered around the Girl Scout fire listened to his suppressed and stifled sobs, drawn in and out like the final rasps of a dying person, and said nothing about it.

In the first light of dawn, the Girl Scouts watched him with solemn, silent faces as he crept out of Libby's tent for the last time. Clad in a cocoon of grief too thick for speech or touch to penetrate, he headed back to his own shelter, and packed for what he had come to think of as his final journey across the Island. He didn't care, though. Might as well get eaten by bears, or torn by boars, as well as stay here.

As Hugo walked past the food tent, Frogurt tried to say he was sorry, but Hugo gave him a look as blank and hard as a concrete wall, one which made the smaller man turn and walk away, shaken. Kate handed Hugo a water bottle and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, but he brushed her off and moved on, not seeing the pain which crossed her face.

Jack was standing by the water tarp, fitting a pistol into the back of his pants. One of these days somebody's gonna blow their ass off, Hugo thought. But all he said to Jack was, “If we're gonna do this thing, let's do it.”



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