stefanie_bean: (hurley claire 2)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Title: Scars
Fandom: LOST
Pairing: Hurley/Claire
Characters: Hugo "Hurley" Reyes, Claire Littleton
Rating: M for sensuality
Length: 2158 words
Status: One-shot, Complete

Summary: Everyone has scars, and Hurley and Claire share the stories of theirs. Set after "The End."

(A/N: Many thanks to inlaterdays for beta-ing.)


Scars

Claire and Hugo lie together on a bed in a motel room which smells of cleaning fluid, where the windows rattle every time a jet takes off from LAX. He's visiting Los Angeles from the Island, and has only three short days. He hasn't yet broken this hard-and-fast rule.

Claire doesn't want to sleep with Hugo at the big Topanga Canyon house which she shares with her mother and her son Aaron. The little boy is almost four, observant and full of questions, so Hugo and Claire just chill out in Topanga: watching TV, playing with Aaron, swimming in the pool. When they want privacy, they slip away to this obscure airport motel.

Nestled together like spoons, they drift in and out of the drowsy afterglow which follows love-making. She snuggles closer to him. He's huge, like a fortress, and she's on the inside, protected. Safe.

With circling motions, he caresses the corrugated burn scar on her left upper arm.

Embarrassed, she rolls over to face him. As she nuzzles his breasts, she says, “You've never asked me about it before.”

“I figured you'd tell me sometime.”

“You could just make it disappear if you wanted to, right?”

He could. He has that power now, but he doesn't want to. For one thing, it seems like cheating. For another, he wants her to trust him enough to reveal what happened.

She scoots up from his chest to look him full in the face. “I've got an idea. Each of us picks one of the other's scars, and they have to tell about it. We'll take turns. It can be a game.”

While he's traveled most of her scars with fingers or tongue, he doesn't always know their stories. “I dunno, that doesn't seem fair. I don't think I have that many.”

Implying that she does, which is true. “Are you sure?”

Now he's flustered. “So, um, who goes first?”

They do rock, paper, scissors. She wins, and traces the tiny pits which speckle his face. When he comes to her from the Island he sports a full beard, then razors off everything except thick mutton-chops. Even so, they barely conceal his marred cheeks, and these she touches.

“I had bad zits in middle school,” he says, hesitant.

“No shame, no blame. That's direct from Dr. Curtis.”

This game is harder than he thought, and he's glad to change the subject to Claire's psychiatrist. “How're you liking him?”

“He's kind. Last time he asked about you. And the best part is, since he knows about the Island, I don't have to lie to him.” She kisses Hugo's plump cheek. “So, you had zits.”

He likes that she doesn't say, “Oh, they're not so bad,” or “Some people have it so much worse.” Late afternoon sunlight slides between the blinds and back-lights her hair with a golden halo. Her cool lips across his face seem to bless it.

She knows that he wants to hear about the burn scar. “It was the first time he sent me to the Temple, to deliver some stupid message. I don't even remember what. But instead of letting me go, the people there grabbed me. And then—”

She's talked to Dr. Curtis about it, a lot, but the memory still hurts. “They shocked me with these clip things, hooked up to a battery. They called it a test, and said I failed.” Telling doesn't take away the memory of the hot iron which seared her flesh, or how she had to cauterize the infection, using fire to heal fire. “They did that to Sayid, too.”

“I know.”

He draws her close to him, pulling her up against the long, sloping front of his nakedness. Warmth flows over her like a bath, encircling her, spreading over her skin and muscles, seeping down through her spine. He kisses the scar on her upper arm, as if saluting a vanquished enemy still worthy of respect.

Claire repeats, “Don't make it go away.”

Of course he won't.

Now it's her turn. She runs her hand down the curve of his leg until she comes to a small cavity nestled in his right heel. Even though she knows the story, she wants him to tell it.

His face falls. “Sea urchin got me right when you got kidnapped by Ethan. I had to use a stick for a few days to get around. So I didn't go looking for you when I should have. Then, when Locke and Charlie couldn't find you...” His voice trails off, and for an instant it's like old times, with him feeling helpless, useless.

“It's okay. I was locked up very tightly. Nobody could find me.” She brings her face down to where sea urchin poison has eaten away the flesh of his heel. Then she rests by his feet as he lies stretched out before her, big as a mountain.

Hugo finds the bullet wound with its puckered skin on her upper thigh. “This looks like it hurts.”

“It's mostly numb,” she says in a stiff voice.

“Is this, uh, too much? Cause if it is, you know, we don't—”

“One of the Temple people shot me. I tried to stitch it. Kind of bollocksed it up, I'd say.”

“Oh, Claire,” he breathes out, sounding so sad as he rests his hand on the old thigh-wound.

She scoots up to the top of his thigh. He trembles, but not from shyness. She's lain on that soft cushion more than once. The difference is that neither of them are drunk on each other's flesh. Instead, they're both cool and wide-awake, and naked to each other in a way they've never been before.

Intimately, she runs her finger around the scar of his circumcision. A thrill goes through him and he starts to thicken, even though they've already made love once this afternoon. He leans back, eyes closed, reveling in her touch, but it's almost too much, and if she does that any more, this game is over for good. So he takes her hand in his, stopping the delightful motion.

Her voice is full of sympathy. “Did it hurt?”

“What? Um, I dunno. I was a just a baby. It was in the hospital, when I was born.”

“Aaron isn't.”

“Nope. I guess Jack never wanted to bother.”

“I never asked him to.”

In a teasing voice Hugo says, “Maybe you should kiss it, to, you know, make it better.”

She brushes him lightly with her lips, because the afternoon is fading, and she knows how making love with him lasts a long time, until pleasure turns her inside-out like a glove. She doesn't want to stir that up right now, since both Aaron and the passage of time are starting to weigh on her.

So she pulls herself up to a cross-legged position on the bed, springy and saggy as only cheap motel beds are.

It's his turn and he's at a loss what to pick next, as his fingers drift like migratory birds over her skin alternately pale and reddened from the LA sun.

“I never used to get a sunburn on the Island,” she says. “Weird, huh?”

He doesn't answer, just explores the silvery-white lines which run down her stomach and along the insides of her thighs.

She smiles. “That's too easy. You know where those came from.”

Then something bold occurs to her. She lays her hand across his broad belly and his breath stops for a few seconds. “Is this okay?”

He nods, but his darkened eyes and furrowed brows compel her to ask again. “You sure?”

Again he nods, and all at once what started out as a game takes on a whole new, serious cast.

She runs her fingers lightly around his lower belly where the flesh is the softest. His stretch marks extend up the curve of his belly and sides, each ridge a tiny stream-bed dry from the passing of years.

“Hurley...” She wants to give him a way out, because he looks so genuinely unhappy now.

He draws in a deep, calming breath, as if this is the hardest thing he's ever had to do. “I wasn't a fat kid. But when I got to be twelve, thirteen, I dunno, a lot of things started happening. My dad, well, by then we knew he wasn't coming back. And my brother Diego started getting into trouble. Then my Grandma Titi died. Mom started working nights, weekends. And I um, kinda discovered cheeseburgers.”

She strokes his belly with both hands, taking in the lines, the fat, the cellulite.

“It just sort of got ahold of me.” What he doesn't tell her is that by sixteen he'd become this stumbling, ungainly giant who didn't fit into the school desks anymore. Yet he still stayed light on his feet on the basketball court, which was no consolation, because he was too ashamed to wear his school team's silky, clinging jersey.

He passes his hand all down the whole voluptuous length of him, anguish in his eyes and voice. “My whole body, it's just one big scar.”

She sits perfectly still. “You offered to take away mine. But what about yours?”

It wasn't so long ago that she had sat on a scrubby Hydra Island beach, no longer caring. She would have sunk right along with the Island, all because she didn't want Aaron to see her as she was: a crazy shell of a human being. So she understands wanting to cut off a huge chunk of yourself, in the hope that maybe this time you can become a different person. One who fits in. One who's acceptable.

He lies there half-raised up on his elbows, skin golden in the fading light. He's taking her words into his heart very seriously. He's considered it, she can tell.

Finally he says, “Nah. It wouldn't be, like, me.”

“No, it wouldn't.”

“Dr. Brooks said I over-ate to punish myself—”

“You mean, as a kind of self-harm?”

“Yeah. But Dr. Curtis said it was probably a way to make myself feel better.”

“Self-medicating, in other words.”

“Right. You know, the way some people use booze or drugs. Then Dr. Curtis said that not all—”

“Not all coping methods are automatically bad,” she says, joining her voice with his. “He's told me that, too.”

Hugo points to his body, still not sure of something. “All this can't be so great for you, though.”

Astonished, she laughs. She can't help it, because he's wrong, so wrong. “I love your body. And not in some phony 'Oh, I see your true inner beauty' way.”

Hugo believes her, through and through. Oh, she loves his body, all right, because why else would they be here in this room? Back at her house they try so hard to keep their hands off each other when they sit across the breakfast table, or plop down on the over-stuffed couch in front of the TV, their thighs pressed together, smoldering.

That's why as soon as the motel room door's locked and the long vertical blinds are drawn, she throws her clothes to the floor and climbs into bed, arms open in invitation. Just a few hours earlier, she stretched out her long white neck like a swan as he moved inside her flesh, slow and deliberate. She cried out, gripping his hips to pull him further in. And while he didn't think two people could get any more naked than that, he's willing to admit he was wrong.

Claire runs her finger around the deep font of his navel. “One more round?” Before he can answer, she buries her face in the mountain of his belly and fills his navel with her tongue, rolling it around in circles of delight. When she surfaces, he has never loved her more than at this instant.

“I love your body, Hurley. And I love you. All of you.”

“I love you, too.” They've never said it before. Why not? he wonders, because it rolls off the tongue so easily.

Evening swiftly approaches. Aaron will be waiting for his mom to come home and make his supper. Hugo's time is short, too, so every moment of this seventy-two hour visit has to count. Tonight he'll whip up his special hand-tossed pizza at the Topanga Canyon house, where his parents will join them for dinner. As usual, his mother will complain about the tortuous, twisting drive up the canyon road. As usual, she'll fuss over Aaron as she darts side glances at Hugo, her oblique looks suggesting what she refuses to ask.

Soon, Ma. Soon.

He says, “I guess scars kind of hold everything together, don't they?”

As she dresses, she nods and flashes a smile like a sunbeam at him.

Hugo's body is a scar, yes, but like Claire's, scars are made of strong stuff. He's not going to wish away his scars, or hers.

(the end)


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