stefanie_bean: (Hurley and Claire)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 36: A New Hope
Pairings: Hurley/Claire, Kate/Sawyer
Characters: Hugo "Hurley" Reyes, Benjamin Linus, Desmond Hume, Claire Littleton, Kate Austen, James "Sawyer" Ford, Rose Nadler, Bernard Nadler, Carole Littleton, Aaron Littleton, Background & Cameo Characters, Original Non-Human Characters
Rating: M
Length: 4601 words
Status: Multi-chapter, WIP
Notes: Fantasy and supernatural elements. Think American Gods on the Island.

Summary: Hurley is now Protector of the Island, while Claire, Kate, and Sawyer head back to our world. But when it comes to love, the Island has ways to get you where you need to be.


Chapter 36: A New Hope

On the spring equinox, the night of Hugo's return, Claire parked the Ford Escape on the circle drive of Our Lady Star of the Sea. She scraped the curb with the tires and grumbled to herself, Why do Yanks have to drive on the wrong side of the road? The church grounds were silent and deserted, sending through her a shiver of fear mixed with excitement.

She hurried around the back of the church, to the squat stone building which Eloise Hawking had called “the shrine.” It was here that Hugo would appear from the Island. A snaking brick path took her through clusters of poppies and wildflowers, instead of lawn. Soon she reached the shrine, covered in climbing roses erupting into bloom.

The oak door stood shut. Thin threads of light pierced the cracks, as if something bright lurked behind the facade. It's opening, she thought as her heart skipped a beat. It's the right time after all.

The enormous mystery stopped her for a few seconds. It would be easy to turn around, walk back down the path, go back to the safety of Topanga Canyon, and never know what lay behind that door. Her pounding heart almost left her faint and breathless as she stood, deciding.

I wouldn't miss this for anything. She placed her hand on the rough wood as if it were a big man's thick and heavy chest, and it swung open with no resistance at all.

A great wind pulled her into the shrine. Swirling, it fluffed her hair about her ears, and lifted her short ruffled skirt. She'd expected to find bright light like a miniature sun, but inside, only moonlight dusted the grass and roses.

A strong sea smell filled the shrine, a scent rough and intimate as clean-washed flesh. Claire knew that shore well. She'd walked it up and down until her legs ached; had stolen from it sea-bird eggs still warm from the nest, slippery egg-slime running down her throat.

Iodine seaweed had laced that shoreline with huge ropes. Dusty sand caked your feet. Above the symphony of waves hovered a fresh and fragrant air found nowhere else. She would have recognized it anywhere.

In the very center of the shrine, air rippled like the surface of a wind-swept pond. It jelled into a shining oval blue as an Island sky.

Claire stood frozen, as a hulking silhouette filled the bright oval. Now he was clearly visible, his shaggy mane flung about his head. Another ocean-fresh gust swirled up, and the Door opened fully. Light poured into the shrine, spilling over Claire.

Hugo stepped down from mid-air carefully, as if testing how far he stood above the ground. He swayed a little as he squinted into the darkness, his head and shoulders back-lit by sunlight. “Claire? Is that you?”

“Over here.”

His face brightened like a searchlight just switched on.

When she took his hand and pulled him towards her, he breathed out her name again, not a question this time. Together they collided belly to breast. Big as a world, he drew her into his orbit.

Claire lifted her chin to Hugo, eyes fixed on his beaming face, and the kiss pulled them together. He hung back a little at first, as if shy, so she teased the kiss out of him with her tongue, licking the inside of his mouth with tiny delicate movements.

On tip-toe, she took his face into her hands, nuzzled the roll of flesh beneath his chin, then buried her face in his neck. He smelled of wood-smoke and clean air, and tasted salty.

He lifted her so that her feet left the ground. One flip-flop slid off her foot, then the next. To keep her from sliding down his belly, he propped her up with one arm under her rump, then pulled her to him in a great hug. “How'd you know when to be here?”

“I looked on an equinox chart.”

“Man, I am so glad you made it.”

“Me too.”

In the rosy moonlight, he lowered her down over the curve of his body and held her face between his hands, planting little raindrop kisses over her cheeks and down the long curve of her throat.

The air itself felt alive. Responsibility tugged on her, and she pulled back, to reach for the car keys. "I borrowed your dad's car."

"So you can drive now. Super."

"It's not so bad, now that I've got my lefts and rights straightened out."

When they reached the SUV, the carillon in the church tower struck eleven. Hugo held out his hand for the keys. “Not that I don't trust you. I'm sure you're a great driver. It's just that driving's one of the things I miss on the Island.”

As he slid behind the wheel, Claire said, "Oh, wait, you're going to need this. A present from Richard Alpert.” She dug around in her bag, then handed him a wallet.

Hugo opened it, and broke into a wide smile. "Man, this is fantastic." One by one he pulled out the thin plastic cards. "Ha, a new license. Visa card, too. Oh, looky here." He drew out the crisp bills, flipping first through the hundreds, then the twenties. "I got to make sure to pay him back."

"No, you don't, silly. It's your money."

He drove seamlessly through thick surface-street traffic, windows down. Cool night winds played over his hair, and the air had a faint spicy smell. On Santa Monica Boulevard, a car charged up behind him, tail-gating, and he waved it around. "I guess, um, everybody's down at my house, then?"

She hesitated, not wanting to disappoint him. "Mum's in Topanga, as she didn't want Aaron out late at night. Schedules and all. Then, with Kate, her mum's very sick. She and Sawyer left this morning for Iowa, to see her. She doesn't have much time, apparently."

"Man, that sucks." He fell silent, tilting his head a bit as if listening to something.

The quiet unnerved her, leaving her suddenly insecure. "So I'm afraid it's just me."

"Just you,” he repeated.

There were a lot of stoplights, and they seemed to miss each one. “Oh, just your luck. And this traffic, it's worse than an hour ago.”

“Yup, I can't seem to catch a break,” he said in a luckiest-guy-in-the-world tone, as they came to rest behind a Lexus SUV almost twice their size. He relaxed back into the deep bucket seat as if he'd been born there, a round and calm Buddha of the boulevard.

Finally, she worked up the nerve to ask, “So, what else do you miss? Besides driving.”

Hugo got that faraway look again. “Pizza. Rose and Kathy try, but they just can't get the crust right. Nachos, with sharp cheddar. It's gonna take a year for our cheddar to get ripe like that. And cheeseburgers. Man, I do miss cheeseburgers.”

Something in his light and playful tone made her glance at him with a bit more sharpness than she intended.

As he coasted to yet another stoplight, he was smiling, bathing her with those warm, brown eyes. “You. I really missed you.”

A delighted laugh flew out of her like an uncaged bird. In answer, she rested her hand on his thigh, and kept it there all the way to the Reyes's house.



* * * * * * * *


As Hugo let himself and Claire in, only a faint television glow lit up the downstairs. The tall curtains were drawn, filling the enormous house with shadows, so he flipped on the kitchen light. "Mom? Dad?"

David padded into the kitchen, pulling down his grey Lakers t-shirt, then reached for his son. The hug went on a long time, as if he might never see Hugo again.

Claire knew how that felt.

Bussing her cheek, David said, “Hey, Claire, just as gorgeous as a couple hours ago.” He waved at the double-wide refrigerator. "You kids hungry? Help yourselves."

Hugo opened the freezer door and poked around. "Hey, Dad, are those tapes still down here?"

"On the sideboard.”

"Awesome. Thanks." As David left the room, Hugo opened a few boxes of frozen snacks and arranged them on trays. "You like nacho bites, Claire? Maybe a Hot Pocket?"

"Think I'll just have a drink." Claire peeked inside the refrigerator. "Yum, 'Double-shot Mochaccino.' That'll hit the spot. Want one?"

"Nah, coffee makes me jittery. Anyway, far as I'm concerned, it's afternoon."

"That's some jet-lag."

Hugo chuckled as he loaded the tray into the microwave, then noticed the clock, as if suddenly aware that it was halfway to midnight. "Oh, Claire, you must be wiped." His gaze roamed over to the videotapes. "You probably got to get back. I kinda hoped that maybe—"

"Mum's on duty tonight, Hurley, so I'd love to watch a movie. A bit of iced coffee, and I'll be wide awake."

David passed by the kitchen door, carrying a pair of reading glasses. "Take 'em upstairs, OK? All that 'Da-da-da, dum-de-da, dum-de-da music, it's gonna wake up your mother."

"That's the Darth Vader theme, Dad. We might not even make it to Empire."

"Either way. 'Night, now."

Claire smiled at David. Then, maybe her eyes deceived her, but she could have sworn he gave her a wink as he said, "G'night, sweetheart."


* * * * * * * *


It took a few trips, but Hugo and Claire wrestled up to Hugo's room a couple of snack trays, a liter bottle of lemon soda and two Double Mochaccinos, as well as the Star Wars trilogy VHS boxed-set.

Hugo shut the bedroom double doors with a click, and Claire settled herself onto the small couch which faced the wide-screen television. His room was the same as six weeks before, except for a couple of cardboard boxes in the corner, the anonymous kind handed out by storage lockers.

Claire turned the VHS box over in her hands, caught in Darth Vader's black, insectoid gaze. "I'm surprised this isn't out on DVD."

"It is. I never bought it, though." When the FBI warning appeared, Hugo clicked the pause button. "I was in Australia when the DVDs came out. I was gonna get them soon as I got back to the States. 'Course, we never made it." For an instant, something leaden and sad seemed to weigh on him. "After the Oceanic Six got back, I didn't even want to. Everything... kinda went flat. Like I didn't care about Star Wars anymore."

Oh, sweet baby. So much has happened to us both. With no effort, she drew him down next to her on the couch. Together they filled it, so she snuggled close. "Tapes are just perfect. Go ahead and start."


* * * * * * * *


The remarkable thing about actually watching what had once been background noise was how much sense everything made. Random fragments like fighters swooshing through space, cries of horror, hushed moments of sadness: all knit together to form the story of a shy young man catapulted by fate into a war for both freedom and his own soul.

Not only did Claire watch the movie, she felt it through the warm closeness of Hugo's body. He leaned forward at tense moments, or jounced with delight during the space battles. She took in the film not only with her eyes and ears, but her skin as well.

The iced coffee carried her all the way up to the Battle of Yavin. Then she hung her legs over the couch armrest and slumped down onto Hugo's thigh. She drifted off, only opening her eyes when Hugo shouted, "Yahoo!" as the Millennium Falcon appeared in a bright circle of sun and sent Vader's ship cork-screwing off into space.

"You want me to rewind that part, where Han shows up?" Hugo said, as the Death Star exploded into a nova of fireworks.

"I'm fine. Just had to get my second wind."

The sad heroic theme erupted into triumph as Leia gave Luke and Han their medals. When the credits started to roll, Claire turned to Hugo. "What, no award for Chewbacca?"

He rolled his eyes, but not at her. "No kidding. He did get one later, in a comic book."

"Not quite the same, I should say. Back in a sec, just got to stretch." The large, sand-colored room had an attached loo, almost the size of a bedroom itself.

When she came back, face freshly-splashed with cold water, Hugo said, "It'd be cool to watch the next one. They sorta go together, like one long movie. It's okay if you fall asleep.”

The first film had been a rousing adventure story. There was no way she was going to sleep through this next one, though. Claire sat at the edge of her seat all through Luke's sojourn on the swamp planet Dagobah, home to Jedi Master Yoda.

When Leia gave Lando the stink-eye, Claire said, "Oh, Han, how can you not see it's a trap?"

Things went from bad to worse for the little band. By the time Han was ready to be lowered into the carbonite freeze, and Leia told him that she loved him, tears trickled down Claire's cheeks.

When Hugo said in a soft voice, "You okay?" she knew that he'd been watching her as much as the film.

Luke, all full of piss and vinegar, challenged Vader to a fight. She gasped in shock as he struck off Luke's hand. Then, as Luke catapulted himself into what looked like the tunnel to infinity, Claire said in a haunted voice, "Oh, poor Luke. He wanted to die, didn't he?"

"You know when he got sucked into that air shaft? I bet Vader did that, to save him."

They both spent the rest of the film on the edge of the couch, hands tightly clasped together. Luke got his new mechanical hand, but Claire felt twinges of doubt. "Now he's part machine like his father, isn't he?"

Hugo sat rapt in the emotion of the moment, as Luke stared out into horizonless space, his arm around Leia, but not holding her as a lover would. Hugo's eyes were damp, and he let go of Claire's hand long enough to wipe them. "The end, it gets me every time."

"I feel so sorry for Leia. She's just told Han she loves him, and then—"

"I know."

All the caffeine and sugar suddenly drained from Claire's body, washed out in a flood of emotion. The digital clock on Hugo's bedside showed that it was almost five o'clock. In a few hours Aaron would wake up, and for the first time since returning to Los Angeles, she wouldn't be there to greet him.

Don't feel guilty, she told herself. Mum's got things in hand. She wanted me to go.

Claire stood up, suddenly weak in the knees. She plopped onto the big bed, with its plush quilt of little animal-skin printed squares. Hugging a pillow to her chest gave her something to hold onto in the storm of feeling.

She couldn't get Han and Leia out of her mind. How long had they danced around one another on Hoth, making smart remarks like there was no tomorrow? Sure, down inside the space-whale thing they'd finally kissed, only to lose each other in that city in the clouds.

Hugo was speaking. "...So if you want, there's a bedroom right next door, or you could sleep here and I'll, um—"

She was tired of dancing. Of missed starts. Of lost opportunities. "In here."

"Awesome." He lingered for a few seconds, hand on the back of the couch as if to support himself. The tape finished rewinding, but he made no move to eject it.

She patted the side of the bed. "Don't go."

"You want me to—?"

With only her in it, the bed seemed enormous. "That last movie was just so intense." Then, embarrassed, something occurred to her. "Look, if your mum wouldn't like it, of course I'll bunk down in the spare. I don't want her mad at me."

He crawled onto the bed next to her, very close. With him in it, the bed didn't seem so big anymore. "She's not gonna be mad. She really likes you."

"I like her as well, Hurley. Your dad, too. They're good to us when you're away. I don't want to bollocks that up."

"You won't."

"So, this is okay, then?"

Her heart sang when he nodded, Yes, then leaned back against the padded headboard, where he welcomed her into his arms. She snuggled so near that their noses touched, and slid her hand up around him to stroke his round arm and side, the lush flesh tender beneath the fabric.

Before she knew it, they were kissing in between deep breaths, more rapid with each mouthful. She clambered up onto his lap into a straddle, hiking up her skirt. There was so much of him, all of him so warm and full.

Massive life form readings, indeed. Her smile broke out, wide and uncontained. From the tense muscles of his back, his deep breaths, she knew he was straining with desire.

Her, too. Never had she wanted anyone this much, in such a wildly reckless way. She rested her head on his broad chest, and the stark proof of his excitement pressed against her thigh.

He sighed out her name, then took a deep breath. "We're gonna have to... If we don't, I don't know how much more I can take."

"I know what you mean."

His face was serious under the dark red flush. "It's not just 'cause you're so gorgeous, even if you are. Or that all I want to do is... well, yeah, of course I do. But it's not only that."

She slipped off his lap into a cross-legged position. "I'm not casual, Hurley. I don't want anything casual."

He placed her hands on his chest, over his heart, now pounding so hard that his breast trembled from it. "I swear, Claire, I don't, either." His earnest face stood open and revealed, waiting. "By all that's good and holy, if we were together, I'd never leave you."

Four, five steps across the room to the door, that's all it would take. Downstairs to that comfy red couch in the great-room. Then, a morning phone call to Mum. Is that really what you want?

Or she could stay in this cave-like room, work her hands up and down this man's soft body, take him into, over and through her. No more staring out at the horizon, waiting for the future to start. Hers rested in the massive weight of the present. This moment. Now.

"We are together,” she said. “And I won't leave you, either."

Despite the pre-dawn gloom, every space inside Claire filled with light. She leaned forward onto him, burying her face in his neck, overwhelmed. Into him she fell, swooning in the dark as their mouths found each other again, melting into one another.

He stroked her breasts, and suddenly she hungered for bare skin. Clothes, why did people wear so many, with all these zippers and buttons and fasteners? She pulled off her gauze shirt, and guided his fingers to her bra hooks.

When her breasts fell free, all he could do at first was stare. As he reached for her breasts, she gave his shirt a small tug. "Fair's fair.” Obediently he lifted his arms, and she slid off his t-shirt, worn thin as silk by home-made soap and bright Island sun.

In the cool air, her nipples crinkled. Across them she laid his open palms, moving them in slow rotation. When he put his mouth to her breast, rolling the nipple in his tongue, she moaned in sheer delight. Encouraged, he pulled her up closer, up against the headboard. From one breast to the other he went, sending her dancing out of her skin with desire.

He came up for air, face crimson, mouth swollen and half-open. It was clear that in him the wave was beginning to crest, full and heavy. Any moment it would break, and sweep them under.

Never mind, she was ready for all of it. For all of him, whatever might come.

Into the surf of his desire she dove, falling on his tender mouth, lips puffed up twice their size with blood. He collapsed onto his back, the mountain of his body spread out before her, hunger in his eyes. She shimmied out of her skirt and underthings as quickly as she could.

He put his hand to the waistband of his boardies, then stopped. "I, um, don't have anything. To use, I mean."

Her words spilled out low and urgent, like prophecy. “It doesn't matter, Hurley. Call it what you want: fate, destiny, the Island. If there's a child out there for us, nothing we use will make any difference.”

Once more he seemed to listen to some faraway sound. He turned to her, convinced. “You still... want to?”

“Only if you do.”

"A kid would be so awesome."

“I don't know if that'll happen. What I do know is, I won't sleep with a man who wants the fun, but not the child.”

In answer, he pulled the sheet up like a tent, inviting her in. The shock of naked skin against skin sent her reeling. He kicked aside his shorts, then eased her up onto his body, fluid as a waterbed beneath her.

As she sprawled atop him, resting her head on his breast, he slid into her easy as a hand into a glove. She lost herself in the whole warm length of him, round and about, in and over and through, overwhelming and timeless.

When the onrush came, it started in the deepest, lowest pit of her spine, then rolled like thunder up through her belly, into her chest, straight to her heart. She rocked on him without thinking, wild, while his strong hands clasped her hips. His slow, deliberate thrusts went on until he spilled into her, drowning her in a cloudburst of feeling.

He fell back in a mountainous heap, winded. When he opened his eyes he wore the broadest smile she had ever seen. "Wow."

Down onto him she sank. He continued to hold her close, even after he slipped wetly out of her body. Off to the side, dawn's first fingers outlined the windows with cool light. Claire had never felt so safe, so wanted, so secure in her life. Hugo had barely pulled up the sheet around her shoulders when she fell into sleep's soft embrace.


* * * * * * * *


When Claire opened her eyes, bright sunlight in the eastern window told her it was mid-morning, maybe later. Alone in the crumpled bed, she stretched out on her back, her body a little tender. Handled. Loved.

Above the bed arched a huge, curved symbol, molded into the ceiling plaster. An omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet. "The last?" The last what? What does that mean? Those movies, they've gotten into my head. And one more to go, yet.

Wrapping herself in the checkerboard quilt, she cracked one of the bedroom's double doors. They opened to an open walkway which circled the great-room below, forming a kind of atrium filled with daylight. From below drifted up the sounds of cutlery and conversation, along with the delicious smell of fresh-brewed coffee.

Three Reyeses, it sounded like, making enough chatter and laughter for a group of six. Hugo was giving some kind of update, which she was missing. Never mind. There would be time later. A little, at least.

The attached bathroom looked even more lavish in the morning light. After showering, Claire toweled off the signs and scents of Hugo's body, but the warm inner glow remained. Now, the trick would be to get downstairs with the minimum of embarrassment. At least if Mama Reyes was mad about a girl up in her son's room, she hadn't sounded like it.

Then something hit her. Oh, God. Mum. Claire reached for her ditty bag, where her phone was, but she'd left it downstairs. If she's been blowing up my phone, hopefully Hurley will have answered it.

Halfway on her "walk of shame" down the spiral staircase, Claire called out a tremulous "G'morning." For an instant the conversation stopped, along with her heart.

At the bottom of the stairs, David gave her the most mischievous, knowing look. "Hey, Sleeping Beauty."

Carmen hugged her, taking in her damp hair, the vanilla-scented conditioner. "Good, you found the shower. That son of mine, what kind of host did I raise?"

There was no hiding the blush which ran from Claire's neck to the roots of her hair.

"Ma," Hugo protested. He poured Claire a mug of coffee, then loaded it with sugar and cream. "I hope this is all right."

"It's perfect." She cast about, trying to remember where she had put her bag.

Carmen didn't miss a trick. "When Hugo came downstairs, he called your mother first thing. He told her you two had a late night watching movies, and that you were sleeping in." Her tone didn't have a trace of irony. Nor did she scrutinize Claire the way she had Kate, the time when Claire had shoved the pregnancy tests under Kate's pillow. I guess Carmen doesn't need to pry when she already knows the answer.

If David let loose a chuckle like he wanted to, Claire was going to die right there on the spot. Time for a deflective maneuver. "Hurley, was Aaron okay?"

Hugo looked up from loading the dishwasher, and his smile lit up the room. "He's great. Carole wanted to know our ETA. Said I'd ask you when you got up."

Claire took a long sip of coffee. "Pretty soon, if you don't mind."

"Ready when you are. Dad, where're the keys to the Hummer?"

"That drawer under the microwave. You don't want to take the Camaro? We finally got it out of impound."

Hugo rummaged for a few seconds. "Thanks, Dad. Maybe some other time.”

“Just don't get pulled over. That Hummer's a cop magnet.”

“Oh, and the Camaro isn't? I promise I won't speed. Claire, you all set?"

His backpack was ready to go, sitting by the side door which led to the garage, along with one of the cardboard boxes originally from his room. "What's in that?" Claire said.

Hugo wore the same look of mischief as his father. "You'll see. Don't open it. It's a surprise."

Nobody got out of the Reyes house without a long sequence of kisses, hugs, and last-minute questions. Of course Carmen and David had to help load the Hummer, too.

It wasn't until Hugo and Claire had cleared the street and turned out of sight of the house, that he glanced at her with a sweet, apologetic expression. "My parents can be kinda intense."

"They're wonderful."

"I didn't get to, uh, really say good-morning."

“That's okay. You can when we arrive. Look, I'm going to let Mum know we're on our way.”

All the way up to Topanga they chatted about the Island, his life, hers. Claire folded her hands over the pit of her belly, a little smile playing about her lips.

(continued)


(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-15 12:51 am (UTC)
desdemonaspace: (Default)
From: [personal profile] desdemonaspace
This was lovely. It also made me miss my husband, which is not a bad thing!

You said you had a hard time writing love scenes. It doesn't show. Of course, explicit love scenes can be hard to write, and embarrassing, if a family member stumbles across it. This was just perfect. I want so much for Hugo to have a happy ending. Claire, too.

I like how Claire is hip to the island's plan for them: " If there's a child out there for us, nothing we use will make any difference." Hugo already knows it.

I did find one tiny misspelling that a spellcheck mightn't have caught: one of the things I mis on the Island.

So Hugo has his consort now and an heir on the way. I cannot wait to see how this unfolds. Thanks for writing it.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-15 02:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefanie-bean.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you liked this chapter!

I want a happy ending for Hugo and Claire, too: I have, ever since the finale of the show.

Also, thanks for pointing out the mistake: fixed. I appreciate it.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-15 02:59 am (UTC)
desdemonaspace: (Default)
From: [personal profile] desdemonaspace
When I read about your Hugo, it always reminds me of my own "Hugo".

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-15 12:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefanie-bean.livejournal.com
OMG your late husband looks so sweet. I am so sorry you lost him. :(

That makes me happy, though, that this story can bring a little of that back to you.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-15 12:47 pm (UTC)
desdemonaspace: (Default)
From: [personal profile] desdemonaspace
It's the character of your Hugo that reminds me of him. It's this rock-solid integrity combined with utter sweetness that does it. He's the kind of guy Claire can lean on, and you don't bring Hugo's weight into it, (which is really irrelevant when you love the guy). He's really devoted to her, and it shows.

It's such a pleasure to read, Stefanie. Keep on.

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