stefanie_bean: (hugo and sun)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 4: Armies of Ghosts
Pairing: Hurley/Sun
Characters: Hugo Reyes, Sun Kwon, Carmen Reyes, David Reyes, Kate Austen
Rating: M
Length: 2951 words
Notes: Complete

A sensual, bittersweet tale of what happened when Hurley went to visit Sun in Seoul.


Chapter 4: Armies of Ghosts

There was a time you let me know
What's real and going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?


I remember when I moved in you
The holy dark was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah

- L. Cohen, “Hallelujah”


The next day Hugo walked to a small park in the middle of the city, where a red and blue pagoda soared above well-kept lawns and chrysanthemum-lined paths already covered with thick autumn leaves. Then he visited a chaotic, bustling department store where he bought a few silk scarves for his mother and an embroidered leather belt for his dad. He didn't think too much of the night before, not really, but instead remembered it along the whole length of his body.

By nightfall Hugo had convinced himself that she wasn't going to call, and he almost called her himself, to tell her he was going back to Los Angeles after all. It wasn't that he was angry, but simply that he almost couldn't take the uncertainty and despair.

Also, what they were supposed to say to Jin's father, Hugo hadn't any idea. Lying to reporters and Oceanic Airlines lawyers was one thing. Lying to his parents or Jin's was another altogether. He knew his own mother didn't believe a word of that Oceanic Six cock-and-bull story, as she had put it, although she kept her peace when it became clear that he didn't want to talk about his time on the Island, or the rescue. But he often caught his mother looking at him out of the corner of her eye, waiting for him to slip up. For all he knew, it would be the same with Jin's dad. No, with Jin's dad it would be worse, because unlike Jin, Hugo had come home alive and in one piece. Jin had not. Lying about how somebody had died just made it worse.


Hugo had turned off the television and was getting ready for bed around 10 PM when that same soft knock came on his door. He thought of getting dressed again, but the idea seemed silly, as she'd seen everything and more. The terrycloth robe provided by the hotel wouldn't have covered half of him anyway, so he wrapped a bath sheet around his wide hips and opened the door a crack. Sun slipped in, as if trying not to be seen. She smiled at the bath sheet and said, “It would be impolite of me to remain dressed.” So she stripped down to her underthings, so beautiful that he literally felt it as pain through the center of his body.

They sat together on the sofa wrapped in each other's arms, the lights turned low. “I didn't think Ji Yeon would ever get to sleep,” she remarked.

“Hmm,” Hugo answered, his face resting in the hollow of her neck where her shoulder began. Then he remembered the times on the Island when Aaron had been fussy or sick, so he asked, “Is she all right?”

“Just a tooth,” Sun answered. “But it makes her cry.”

“Oh, sorry." How had this happened, Hugo wondered, that she came to be here in his arms. Just my luck, he thought. Then in his imagination a crowd of women marched through his memory, one after another as if in a line. First came an older one, with a false leg and a thick Australian accent who said, “You make your own luck, Mr. Reyes.” There was his mother, who slapped him hard when he'd said that he was cursed. Then in his mind's eye he saw that poor soul, Danielle Rousseau, who in the thick jungle of the Island where no one would go, the place called the Dangerous Territory, had held him up against her thin wiry body and told him that he was indeed cursed. Finally he saw the college girls laughing, “Budai, Budai,” as they rubbed his belly.

He pulled Sun closer to him, breathing in her fresh garden scent. That's what it had to be, pure dumb luck.

Sun sighed. “Did I ever tell you that this hotel was where I first met Jin-Soo?”

“No,” Hugo said, wanting to keep nuzzling her, wishing she wouldn't talk, wondering where she was going with this.

“He worked here as a doorman. It didn't go over well with my father.”

“A doorman, huh.”

“Not for long. My father's business, well, it's mine now. And it had certain unsavory aspects. Jin-Soo got drawn into them.”

She crouched down beside him on the couch, resting her head on his stomach so that her voice was muffled when she spoke. “I was so angry at Jin-Soo. There were times I wanted him dead. And now he is.” She rolled over onto her side and reached for where her wedding ring would have been, but she wasn't wearing it. Even so, the fingers of her right hand still twisted around the ring finger of her left, still searching. “Oh, Hurley,” she sighed. “It wasn't Jin-Soo's fault. I got him into it.”

“That must have sucked.” Something occurred to Hugo, a thought which hung on like a low fever which he couldn't shake. “Sun, hey, you know, when I said Ji Yeon looked like Jin? You looked really sad, and it sounds crazy, but it almost looked like ... I dunno what it looked like,” he finished, feeling lame and clumsy. “It's just like there was something there. Maybe it's none of my business. Never mind.”

“No, it's OK,” she said, moving out of his embrace but still close enough that he could feel the rhythm of her breath. “I can tell you. It doesn't matter now. Before Jin-Soo and I went to Australia, I had a lover.” She waited a second for that to settle in. “His father owned this hotel. When I found out this was where you were staying, I almost couldn't come here.”

“I'm glad you did."

Sun went on, “Supposedly he took his own life, but I think my father had him killed.”

Hugo went white. “Dude,” was all he could say. No wonder she was being so cautious. “This was, like, right before you went to Sydney? That must have been really rough.”

Sun nodded. “Jin couldn't have children, so we thought. But that was before the Island, I guess. On the Island, when I found out I was pregnant, at first I didn't know what to do. I was miserable, thinking that the baby might not have been Jin's. Then that doctor, Juliet Burke, did a scan on me in the Dharma medical station. She told me that the baby was Jin's.”

“They can tell that from a scan?”

“Not exactly. But they can tell how old the baby is by its size. By the dates, Ji Yeon was Jin's.”

Hugo got it. “Which meant that if the baby was that other dude's, the baby would have been born on the Island all fine and stuff, like Aaron. So that stuff was all true."

"Stuff?"

"You know, what Juliet said. A lot of people didn't believe her."

"I know," Sun answered. "However, I couldn't take that chance."

"But if Ji Yeon was Jin's--”

“Yes. You understand. If the baby had been Jae Lee's, we wouldn't have had to leave. We could have stayed there like Rose and Bernard. Jin-Soo wouldn't have died.” It came out of Sun in a tumble, as if she'd been thinking about it for many months, but had never been able to say it to anyone. She reached for her wedding ring again, her fingers lost and aimless. “Oh, Hurley,” she sighed. “It all seems so stupid. Pointless.”

Hugo stroked her face gently and said, “You have an awesome little girl. Although that bit about your dad, well, that did kind of freak me out.”

“I'm not afraid of him anymore,” Sun said, with a bite in her voice. “He's never going to hurt me or anyone else close to me again.” Her body stiffened as she pulled her shoulders up. A fierce look rose in her eyes, and when she kissed him this time he felt her teeth up against his lips.

When they went to bed, she rode him hard, and Hugo almost didn't recognize her wild, almost anguished face in the dim night. Then her pleasure softened her, calmed her down, and she lay beside him, stroking his soft mound of belly. “Budai,” he said, and she gave him one of her small laughs.

Then, too soon, Sun slipped out of his embrace and dressed. Once again she asked him to call for a taxi, but this time when she bid him good-bye, she hugged him hard, so that he could feel the steel of her resolve underneath the soft cashmere of her pale, beautifully-cut suit and her tender flesh. “I am sure we'll hear from Mr. Kwon tomorrow,” she said right before she left.

Hugo said nothing, just gave her a light kiss. Afterwards, he lay awake for several hours, staring at the ceiling while a looming, ominous feeling hovered above him.

He slept in very late, only waking when early-afternoon sun shone bright through the western window. In the shower he looked down at the rolling hills of breast, the avalanche of belly, seeing his body for the first time as one which could spur desire and give pleasure as well. He'd just finished toweling himself off when the mid-afternoon call came.

“I talked to Mr. Kwon,” Sun said. He tried to read her tone, but she sounded even colder and more distant than she normally did on the telephone. “Hurley, I have to see you.”

“You know where to find me.”

“Not at the hotel. There's a coffee shop down the street from the Sejong Center, just a few blocks from you. Can you meet me there in an hour?” The anguish rang in her voice, loud and clear.

“Sure, but Sun--”

“I have to go. I'll see you there at 3:00.” Then she hung up.

Hugo wore his suit, because downtown Seoul definitely wasn't Los Angeles or Honolulu. Not everyone wore a suit, but the busy people hurrying through the crowded streets looked neat and put-together, not laid-back at all. The garment felt alien and constricting, even though the superb cut fit his body comfortably, because wearing something so formal just to go for coffee didn't set easily with him. He arrived early, to find that Sun had already taken a table on the sunniest part of the patio. When he moved forward to hug her, she stood up very straight. A slight hand motion and a tiny, discreet turn of the head signaled to him that he shouldn't, not here. “I ordered you a vanilla latte,” she said.

“Awesome,” Hugo replied, but his heart sank with a little jolt. That meant she was in a hurry, and couldn't stay long.

“I talked to Mr. Kwon.” He said nothing, so Sun went on. “He said that we didn't have to come to see him. That he didn't need comforting.” Her sad eyes were black hollows in the cold impassive mask of her public face.

“Jin was a pretty tough guy. Maybe it's like father, like son?”

“I don't know what to think, Hurley. It was a very strange conversation, crazy. Mr. Kwon doesn't believe that Jin is dead.”

The warm late September day suddenly became very cold, and a powerful sense of unreality seized Hugo. What was he doing here in this strange city with this woman, with this unwelcome knowledge which presented itself like a rude, drunken cousin at a family picnic? “Uh, what?” he finally stuttered, but he knew the answer even before it came.

“Mr. Kwon says that he was out late one evening, doing some work on the dock where he tethers his boat, when suddenly he saw Jin-Soo standing there. He didn't think he was dreaming. Jin-Soo told him to keep the boat ready for him, because when Jin-Soo came back, he was going to work alongside his father just like he was supposed to have done all along." Sun trembled for an instant before going on, as if the words were being torn out of her. "Jin-Soo told his father that he was going to bring me back, to be a fisherman's wife." Now she was really shaking, as if the same cold wind which blew over Hugo chilled her as well. “I'm afraid I argued with him, that such a thing couldn't be. Why did I do that, Hurley? After all we've seen?”

“We've seen a lot,” Hugo echoed.

“Is it possible?”

“That Jin is alive?” If that were really true, the enormity of what he had done, what they had done, washed over him like an acid bath. “Sun, when that freighter blew, it really blew. I dunno how anyone could have survived it.”

“Mr. Kwon was so calm, Hurley. Don't you think if Jin-Soo was alive, I would feel it?”

“Sun, I don't think it works like that.”

“So how does it work, then?”

“I don't know.” Hugo didn't want to tell her what he had seen. His dead grandmother standing on the neighbor's deck during the loud, busy house party, right before the deck collapsed. Dave from Santa Rosa who had showed up on the Island, before Dave flung himself off the cliff. And the feeling that he couldn't seem to shake, that right out of the corner of his eye, things were watching him, hovering around him, although no matter how quickly he turned his head to catch them, he never could. Sun didn't know that he had been a mental patient. There was so much she didn't know about him, and at this point, there didn't seem to be any way to remedy that.

Sun finished her drink, picked up her clutch bag and said, “I can't live in a world where these things happen. Thank you, Hurley, for coming all this way. And for being willing to go with me to Incheon, even if it wasn't necessary.”

At that point Hugo knew that whatever they had done, whatever those two nights had meant, it was over. “Hey, sure, no prob. Say hi to Ji Yeon for me.”

She didn't answer, just glided like a graceful dancer into the car parked right outside the coffee shop, then sank into shadow behind the powerfully-built driver who sat hulked over the steering wheel, his eyes invisible behind mirrored sunglasses.

* * * * * * * *

After Hugo returned to Los Angeles, he checked his phone every ten, fifteen minutes for a missed call. For all he knew, he could have been in the bathroom, or making another trip to the refrigerator. Or pumping gas, because God knows he burned it up driving up and down the Santa Monica freeway, as he traveled around the LA area like one of those birds whose navigation sense had been destroyed by atomic bombs, who circled randomly over thousands of miles of Pacific ocean as they searched vainly for land.

Or maybe he might have missed a call during the therapy sessions he'd recently started, three times a week. The middle-aged counselor reminded him far too much of that old psychic his dad had dug up somewhere, the one Hugo always suspected of being one of his dad's old girlfriends, before he had come back to Hugo's mom. The therapist wouldn't let him keep his cellphone on during their sessions, though.

Just like that horse-faced psychic, like Dr. Brooks from Santa Rosa with his white-blond hair and coke-bottle glasses, Hugo suspected that this current shrink was a fraud too.

At least she didn't want to talk about the Island, or any of the network of lies which Hugo navigated daily as if they were a shaky rope bridge laced over an abyss, about to collapse underneath him any moment. But each fifty-minute hour felt like three, as he gripped his silent phone hidden securely in the vast depths of his cargo pocket. About halfway through the session, reliable as clockwork, his heart would start to pound, then race, as he counted the minutes till he could get out of there and turn his phone back on.

It wasn't until the day after Thanksgiving, when his mother decorated the living room with a ten-foot aluminum Christmas tree covered with red glass Sacred Hearts and topped with a foot-tall gilt angel, that Hugo realized Sun-Hwa Paik wasn't going to call him. He would have to figure out something else to do with the rest of his life.

His father tried to help, was even sympathetic as he said, “So you went to Seoul, had a little vacation. What are you moping about? There are more fish in the sea. Go out and catch one.”

Instead of answering, Hugo got into the Camaro, drove to the nearest Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack, and ordered a family-sized bucket of hot wings. He headed out toward Kate's house in West Hollywood, then remembered that she and Aaron had gone to Las Vegas to visit Cassidy Phillips. So he drove around Griffith Park a few times, then parked on a hilltop overlooking athletic fields empty in the December sun, because Christmas break hadn't started yet, and the children were still in school. With grim, methodical determination and no pleasure, he began to eat.

A month later, Hugo led the LAPD on a careening chase down the freeway. On that day the dead would no longer be denied, and for him, nothing would ever be the same again.

(the end)


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