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[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 48: Into the Mystic
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: 3157 words
Status: Complete
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 gets you where you need to be.

Chapter Index


Chapter 48: Into the Mystic

Penny almost knocked Sawyer aside to get to Kate, who lay flopping and breathless on Our Mutual Friend II's deck. Brusquely Sawyer said, “Hey, easy there, Mama Bear.” As far as he could tell, Kate mostly had the wind knocked out of her.

“Come on, love, let's get you below with Claire and the kids,” Penny said to Kate. Sawyer tried to follow, but Penny stopped him. “I'm sure Desmond find a use for you on deck.”

“Hey, dude,” Hugo said to Sawyer, drawing him close. “I really wanna hear about that horse.”

“Thought you were the one who sent Equus, boss.”

Fog draped the yacht from stem to stern, making it impossible to see anything farther than fifty feet. Behind the milky screen, Sawyer could hear the whine of another boat's engine. Maybe two, and they sounded way faster than Our Mutual Friend here. Above the engines echoed the steady whump-whump of a helicopter.

The thumping of rotors drew closer. Desmond called out, “Sawyer, at the helm. Fall in.”

Hugo stood at the bow, as relaxed as if he were on a cruise. He looked way too calm for Sawyer's taste. Turning to Desmond, Sawyer said, “Think you can outrun the US Coast Guard?”

Desmond just laughed, then shouted above the driving rain, “Hurley, it's time. Brace yourself, Sawyer.”

“What the—“ Sawyer barely got it out before everything went white.

Silent, too, as the sounds of both rain and engines switched off. A great wave lifted the yacht, then dropped her with a jerk. The white curtain parted, but not the way fog does. Instead, it seeped away like paint washed by a hose, thinning to nothing.

The choppy grey waters off the coast changed to ripples of blue-green which mirrored the sky. Sawyer and Kate had only come on-board a few minutes earlier, but the rocks and cliffs of Malibu had vanished. The same smooth blue extended in every direction, as far as Sawyer could see. Wherever the hell they were, it sure as hell wasn't US coastal waters.

The yacht's engines had shut down, too. There was no sound save for the wind and the slap of water against the ship's hull.

Desmond broke the silence. “Want to take the helm for awhile, brother?”

“You sure? This one's twice as big as the Elizabeth.

“Not quite,” Desmond said, his tone laced with amusement. “And it's not like you're going to run into anything out here.”

Hugo still crouched at the bow, a steady breeze blowing his hair backwards like a flag. When he crossed the long deck to Desmond and Sawyer, his face shone. “Isn't this awesome?”

“What'll be even more awesome is raising the mainsail,” Desmond said, the same gleam in his eye. “Hold her steady, Sawyer.”

The mainsail billowed out stark white against the sky's pure blue. Desmond eased the boat downwind into a close reach, where she slid into the embrace of the wind. Along she sped, while shrieking birds too large to be seagulls crossed above the port bow in a tight formation.

After a time, the women and children emerged from down below and spread themselves across the main deck.

“You better now, sweetheart?” Sawyer said to Kate. She sure looked it, in a one-piece bathing suit that must have been Penny's, and her face all dusted with rose around the edges.

She nodded, then joined Claire on the starboard side, Kate holding onto Aaron with a firm grip. Orange life vests made the two boys look pudgier than they were, as they craned over the hull's edge to spy the water below.

“Charlie's a bit miffed at having to wear a vest,” Penny remarked to Desmond. “I had him do so for Aaron, who's...” Here she bent in close to Desmond's ear, although Sawyer caught every word. “Not quite as seaworthy, I'd say.”

Sawyer cracked a smile despite himself. That would be just like Kate, to bundle the kid up in a life jacket. As the sails caught the wind at just the right angle, the yacht sped along smooth as you please. He could get into this, no doubt about it. Damn him for his own stupidity, not renting a boat and taking Kate on a day trip to Catalina Island.

Too bad the first and last time he'd piloted the Elizabeth, everything had been such a horror-show. That had been a clean, smooth ride too, until he'd thrown the Doc overboard for wanting to stay on the Island.

The same Island you're going back to, Sawyer told himself.

One thing bothered him, though. “Hey, skipper, those cutters that were chasing us. They had to have us on radar, right? What'd they see when we just blipped out of there?”

Desmond frowned, as if considering this for the first time. “Dunno, brother. My focus was on getting away without... consequences.”

Sawyer knew exactly what those “consequences” could have been. He gazed over at Kate and Claire, chasing after the children as they scampered about the deck.

Even though there was no way Sir Hugo could have heard them from his perch in the bow pulpit, he headed towards the stern as if he'd been in the conversation the whole time. “They didn't see nothing,” he said to Sawyer and Desmond. “First we were there, then bloop. Just like when the Island disappeared.”

“Aye,” Desmond murmured, his voice laced with fear.

Before the Island had pulled its vanishing act, Sawyer had already bailed from that doomed helicopter, but he could imagine. He seriously doubted, though, that the guys with the guns would have felt the same anxiety. “You don't think they wondered about us being on radar one second and gone the next?”

Hugo shrugged, apparently unconcerned.

“One more thing,” Sawyer said. Let it go, part of him said. The other just had to spit it out: not from cruelty, but because if it was his own kin, he'd probably still care. Despite himself. “Weren't you worried that when we 'blooped,' they'd go back for your momma and daddy?”

A flicker of pain crossed Hugo's face, and Sawyer was sorry at once. Hugo turned to face the wind, which made his tent of a t-shirt billow out just like the mainsail. After a few heartbeats of silence, his words drifted back to Sawyer and Desmond. “Turns out, you and Kate deciding to head back to the house gave Mom and Dad just enough time to get to the airport.”

Sawyer collapsed a little inside. “'Course they did.”


* * * * * * * *


Time passed, but it was impossible to say how much. The clocks on board Our Mutual Friend II had stopped working as soon as they emerged from the fog. Hunger and the tiredness in Claire's muscles told her that it was probably day's end, yet the sun hadn't gone down. In fact, there hadn't been any sun in the sky at all. The entire glazed-blue dome had shone with a light all its own, before fading seamlessly into a velvet blue night.

Since these were strange waters, Penny insisted that Charlie be clipped to one of the long cables used to secure crew and passengers on deck in rough weather. Claire and Kate didn't even have to convince Aaron; when Charlie got “leashed up” Aaron wanted to, as well.

They squatted, or crouched, or sat cross-legged on the deck for their supper of chicken stew and rice. The yacht seemed to have a mind of her own as she clipped along the same tack as before, at a steady speed.

Something nagged at Claire, no matter how she tried to suppress it. She was no stranger to sailing, thanks to Thomas taking her out on occasion on his family's twelve-meter Beneteau, and yachtsmen at the Sydney harbors loved to brag. Eight, maybe ten knots an hour were all you'd get, unless you were a racing yacht, which Our Mutual Friend II wasn't.

As Desmond opened a bottle of dessert wine for himself and Sawyer, as Hugo stretched out and drew Claire close into his side, she traced little calculations on the side of her leg. Say eight knots an hour, assuming this wind held up. That translated to maybe fifteen kilometers per hour.

Carmen had wanted to know how far Hawai'i was from Los Angeles. Forty-one hundred kilometers, Desmond had blurted.

Again, more tracing on the leg. That would take almost two weeks, assuming the wind held up, and that was just Hawai'i, much less the Island. “Hurley?” she said, not wanting to alarm anyone, but a bit irked that no one had mentioned this earlier.

“Hmm?” He was staring up at the sky, where several unusually bright stars began to peek out.

The tone in her voice must have caught Kate and Sawyer's attention, because they stopped chatting with Desmond and Penny. Embarrassed, she pushed on. “How long are we going to be on-board? Because I thought you had to be back to the Island within three days.”

Hugo turned to her slowly, glowing starlight reflected in his eyes. “Don't worry, I will.”

Was he serious? Desmond's small nod showed that he agreed. Claire shook her head, really confused now. “But... but that's not possible.”

Instead of answering, Hugo just pointed up. More stars had emerged, large as golf-balls, bright as candles. They glowed pink, red, pale blues, even light green. That wasn't possible either, she told herself. There were no green stars, that anyone had seen, at least. Planets, yes, like Venus. But these were stars, mounted high in the cathedral vault of the sky, so bright they cast faint shadows.

Kate's voice matched the hush in Claire's heart. “Where are we?”

“I don't rightly know, sister,” Desmond answered. “All I'm doing is following the compass. Which seems to track the wind.”

Hugo continued to gaze at the sky, his voice soft. “Or maybe it's the other way around.”

“Aye, maybe.” Desmond pointed upwards. “You recognize the stars, brother?”

“Recognize them?” Claire said, a little sharp. “From where?”

Hugo's voice sounded as if it came from faraway. “Remember, Dezzy, the beach behind the beach?”

Desmond picked up the chant. “The Island behind the Island.”

“Maybe this is the ocean behind the ocean.”

“It's like Pallas said,” Desmond went on. “Back at the dock on the Island. 'Channels on which others may not sail.'”

“I have no idea what you two are talking about,” Kate broke in.

“Kate, you remember that night I first came back to LA? I told you about the party,” Hugo said.

“I was upset, Hurley.”

“Sorry. I know.”

“Party?” Penny said. “What party?”

Desmond reddened a bit, even in the pale starlight, and a look passed between him and Hugo. “Go ahead,” Hugo waved at Desmond, his smile outlined by a faint sketch of mischief. “They've heard my take. Some stories make more sense when they're told twice.”

“Ho, ho,” Sawyer chuckled. “This is gonna be good.”

“Oh, I have no doubt about that,” Penny said, her tone warm in the darkness.


* * * * * * * *


Day blended seamlessly into night, and on the third one, the stars returned to their proper form. The familiar band of the Milky Way stretched across the sky once more, and Hugo breathed out a long sigh of anticipation.

Real dawn broke this time, as the tropical sun's edge lit the horizon with white fire. The winds grew fickle, the waves choppy, and everyone but the children had to crew or take their turn at the helm.

In a spare moment, Hugo resumed his perch on the bow pulpit, and Claire joined him, linking her hand in his. Over the horizon the Island waited: out of his sight, but not his senses.

Claire tugged at his shirt sleeve and pointed at the gulls whirling overhead. “We're almost there, aren't we?”

“I can't wait for you to meet everybody,” Hugo said.

“Hey, brother,” Desmond called to Hugo. “There's your lighthouse.”

Its light winked like a white jewel on the horizon, drawing them in. Desmond steered towards it, and soon they were met by a breathtaking sight.

Hugo had paddled around the Island, but circumnavigating close to shore wasn't the same as watching it emerge from the ocean's rim as if being born. Over the next few hours, mountain tops grew from tiny, sharp points to soaring emerald heights. Clouds of gulls shrieked above them, and the lighthouse continued to burn like a star.

All at once a strong wind blew them to the southwest, and try as he might, Desmond couldn't fight it. “Might as well let it take her where it wants,” he said, as the brilliant speck of light vanished around the curve of the Island's shoreline.

Just ahead, Hugo saw a gleaming strip of beach feathered with green palms.

On Desmond's call, he lowered the jib while Sawyer and Kate dropped the mainsail. The boat drifted in the surf a few hundred feet from the beach as Desmond dropped anchor. Everyone clustered on the starboard side, not wanting to move at first, just drinking it all in.

Sawyer was the first to put it into words. “It's our beach. Our old beach.”

Aaron darted over to Hugo and Claire. “Mummy, look, there are little houses.”

Desmond put one hand on Hugo's shoulder, the other on Sawyer's. “Ready to go ashore?”

“We don't have to swim for it,” Penny added. “Des, love, bring out the raft, all right?”


* * * * * * * *


The inflatable raft wasn't anywhere near the size of a Zodiac, but after two trips everyone made it to shore. Kate stood on the white sand beach she'd come to know as well as her own face, still reeling a bit under her sea-legs.

The food tent with its orange canopy was one of a few familiar landmarks, as most of the old shelters were gone or rearranged. Sun and Jin's old tent now held tackle, nets, and other fishing supplies. Claire's tent under the spreading tree seemed to have doubled in size, while a few new ones ringed the center.

Sawyer paced about. “Hugo, you want us to live here?” He didn't sound enthused at the prospect, Kate thought.

Hugo looked surprised. “Huh? Nah, I was just checking something out.”

“Checking what out?” Kate said. “Although I have to admit, it looks way better than when I saw it last.”

“If a ship comes to the Island, and if it's, you know, in trouble, and they're, um, supposed to be here, I want this to be the place where they wind up. First, I mean. So they can get used to stuff.”

“I get it,” Sawyer said. “Something like quarantine.”

Hugo frowned a bit. “Well, not really.”

Claire called out, “Hurley, what happened to my tent? It's splendid.”

“'Scuse me, guys, I want to show Claire around. Kate, there's water just northeast of camp. Want to get some?”

“Water?” This was something new. While Desmond and Penny made another trip to the boat for supplies, Kate grabbed a five-gallon plastic jug and circled around to the cliff face.

It was a lonely area, screened by a thicket of short trees, out of sight despite how close it was. A little pool had formed at the water-fall's edge, which overflowed into a small marshy delta. The ground sogged beneath Kate's feet as she climbed up the small rise to the wet cliff-face, and a clean smell of fresh water hung in the air.

She put her hand in the cascade before opening the water jug's wide mouth, and liquid silver played over her. Cold and clear and sweet it went down, and it wasn't until she drank that she realized how thirsty she was.

The jug full, she rested it on a rock, and then jumped at the sound of bushes rustling behind her, although she didn't turn around. Putting a growl into her voice, she said, “Sawyer, if that's you playing a trick, I swear I'll—“

Leaves rustled again, a lot of them this time. Now Kate did turn, slowly, and it seemed that the whole weight of the Island turned with her: water and sky, earth and plant, ocean and sand.

It wasn't Sawyer at all. There, half-hidden in a bushy copse, almost near enough to touch, stood the black horse.

She stepped back from the pool, almost forgetting her jug. With a mild glance, the horse passed by her, then bent down to drink.

Not it, Kate thought, getting a close look at the entire creature from muzzle to dock for the first time. She.

The horse raised her head, mouth dripping. She knelt once again before Kate with that peculiar, non-equine crouch, expectant.

From down the beach came Desmond's laughter, followed by Penny's smooth contralto. Above them rang out Sawyer's “Where the hell is she? How long does it take to go get water?”

Kate stroked the horse's wavy mane, then stepped back a few paces. “I can't. Not right now, anyway. Soon...” and here she ran her other hand down her own curved belly, “Soon I won't be able to, not for awhile.”

The horse rose to her full height of twelve, maybe fifteen hands, and nuzzled Kate from cheek to shoulder. I'll be here, her warm eyes seemed to say. In the shadows, in the deepest part of the forest. When you're ready, come find me. She ambled into a nearby thicket of trees, and was gone.

When Kate returned to the beach camp, trudging along with forty pounds of water in tow, Sawyer took it from her hand. Desmond and Penny crouched over a crackling fire, opening cans from Our Mutual Friend II's stores into a big iron frying pan.

The two boys were trying to catch seagulls at the water's edge, their shrieks of laughter blending with the birds' cries of annoyance. Hugo and Claire crept out of Claire's newly-expanded tent, their faces flushed.

Sawyer lightly tapped Kate's arm. “Looks like somebody's been checking out the honeymoon suite.”

“Sawyer, you're awful.”

He grinned, flashing dimples which caught the sun. “Told me he built it special for her. They'll come back here, sometime after Hugo introduces everybody around to the folks in New Otherton.”

Off-shore, the yacht bobbed like a white toy on the water. Claire approached Kate, her eyes shining, her hand warm as it slid into Kate's. “Thank you,” she whispered to Kate. “I mean it.”

Down at the shoreline, Hugo swept up one small boy into a great arm, then another.

“Come on, you ruffians,” Desmond shouted. “If your lunch gets cold, you'll answer to your mother.”

High in the ironwood trees, birds fluttered back and forth, spreading news of the arrivals across the entire Island.

(continued)

(A/N: The title is from the 1970 song by Van Morrison of the same name.)


(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-28 10:54 pm (UTC)
desdemonaspace: (Default)
From: [personal profile] desdemonaspace
Oh, this is lovely. What a hair-raising escape! I love Hugo's manipulations of reality, and how trippy the sail "into the mystic" was. Love the description of the sky and "stars," if they were stars. I really want to go there, into the mystic, too.

The feeling this chapter gives me is of such longing. Maybe it's because winter in Minnesota is so damn long, but the Island exerts such a pull on me.

I noticed one teeny typo - when you were doing the HTML to italicize the boat's name, you need to lose one slash. As I said, teensy.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-29 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefanie-bean.livejournal.com
I want to go "into the mystic," too. That's what fiction is for, I guess.

So glad you liked this chapter; it's nice to hear that. I could use a bit of encouragement right now...

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