For the thefutureislost ficathon. In which five years have passed, people have gotten on with it, and I finally write Kate and Hurley! [Ed. It is seriously loopy, how Jossed everything I wrote for this goddamn fandom is.]

it takes a village
By Gale

SUMMARY: Getting on with it.


It’s been almost five years, but sometimes it seems like a week ago.

People still wake up yelling every once in a while, with night sweats and bad dreams. One of the girls still on the beach has to be tied down because she sleepwalks; she agreed to that the second time Steve had to dive in and pull her out of the ocean at two in the morning.

There are almost seasons, on the island: hot, not quite so hot, mad dogs and Englishmen, and rainy. It never snows, but the temperature dips sharply enough during rainy that it might as well be winter. They scavenged all the clothes they could find in the first few weeks there, and everyone’s careful with what they have, because their supplies of needle and thread are scarce, and Jack commandeered most of them, and anyway it’s not like there’s a mall nearby. They make do.

Making do is almost the island’s motto, now. You make do with the clothes you have, the food that’s available, the company around you. There’s no room for waste anymore, not with the babies on the way.

And oh, did Jack’s eyes cross when he heard *that*. Claire was one thing – eight months pregnant when she boarded the plane; again, you deal with it, you make do – but people were *choosing* to have kids out here, with no medical supplies to speak of, no pain medication, where actually *anything* could go wrong—

“People are going to have sex, Jack,” Boone told him one afternoon. They were washing clothes at the time. “The first ones were – what, probably Kate and Sawyer—“

Jack winced at that.

”Sorry,” Boone said, only meaning it a little. But they were the first couple he could think of springing up, except Sun and Jin, who were already married, and Charlie and Claire, who were understandably skittish about doing anything that might lead to babies. Being kidnapped and thirty-six hours of labor would do that to people. “But that was after about four months, and to tell you the truth, I have no idea how they held out *that* long.”

Jack stopped beating a pair of pants against a rock long enough to say, “If you’re going to drag out that old saw about sexual arousal and stressful situations-“

”It’s true,” Boone said, half-glancing at him. “People react to life-and-death situations by having sex, by renewing their connection to life.” Jack snorted at that. “And anyway, it’s not like there’s anything to do now but get ready.”

”I know that,” Jack said. “I’m just saying – hell, I don’t know what I’m saying.” He rubbed his forehead. “I didn’t even deliver Claire’s baby. I’m not an obstetrician. I have no tools, rudimentary training, nowhere near enough drugs—“

”People were having babies before Demoral and Tylenol-3,” Boone said, reaching out and wrapping a hand around Jack’s wrist. “They’ll be fine. So will you.”

Jack looked down at Boone’s hand wrapped around his wrist, the small nicks and cuts on his fingers and knuckles. Eventually he nodded.

*

No one’s stopped hoping to be rescued, but almost everyone has pushed it to the back of their heads. Thinking about it too often is torture, like dreaming about something you can’t have. Instead, people talk about what their lives were like, back in the real world: what they did, who they were. It’s like telling ghost stories around the campfire.

No one tells ghost stories around the campfire. No one likes tempting fate any more than they already do.

“There’s no such thing as ghosts,” Michael said decisively, wiping the blood on the rag he carried with him. Clothes, unless they’re hunting clothes, are too precious to waste with stains like blood.

Sun shook her head and picked up the insides, tossed them back into the water. Let the smaller sea creatures have some, too. It was better than leaving remains behind to attract the larger predators; if they wanted boar, they found it, they didn’t let it find them. “Not ghost, exactly. But spirits? Yes.”

”Oh, *spirits*,” Michael said, nodding, but he was grinning when he said it. Sun smiled back, even though she was a little irritated. Michael never took her seriously when she said things like that. She could talk about farming and basic irrigation techniques, and theater and art, and they’d almost be seeing through the same eyes, but let her even edge near something esoteric and Michael started making jokes. It was the only thing about him she didn’t like.

So Sun let out a long breath through her nose and said the same words she always said: thank you for this gift, which we will not waste, and return back if we can. She was never all that spiritual even as a child – her father frowned on it – but it seemed the right thing to do, here.

*

Food is plentiful, even if it’s not terribly varied. Fruits – passionfruits, mangos, small red things not even Sun knows the name for, but taste like oranges and plums – and fish, boar or small game. Fresh water. No one goes hungry, though they’ve learned how to hoard and the proper amount of rationing in times of crisis, which still occasionally happen.

They’re thankful there’s no such thing as winter, because there’s no store of salt to use as a preservative. But they’ve learned how to dry the fruit out and how to mask the scent of meat so the bigger predators don’t come investigating.

Locke leads a hunting party out once a month, occasionally – very occasionally – more, but never more than twice a month. He’s already worried the pigs might be getting smart enough to start avoiding their part of the island, and the last thing they need is to go hunting for days at a time to get meat. They could do it, though. If they had to.

“Why can’t I?” Walt asked, every once in a while. “Why can’t I go with you?”

”We’ve had this talk already,” Locke told him, every time he asked. “You’re too important, Walt.” He’d never told the boy *why* he was so important, but that was all right; Walt never asked.

Walt scowled at him, the sight more impressive at fifteen than it had been at ten. He was growing like a weed, and with his hair in a couple dozen braids (Shannon’s doing, since her pregnancy had her laid up with nothing better to do), he looked more like his father than ever. And – not. It was strange, but that was all right. Locke was used to strange things, by now. “That’s not an answer. I’m better with a knife than Boone is, and *he* gets to go.”

”Boone is an adult,” Locke said sharply. “*You* are not.” He lets his voice soften. “Not yet, anyway.” He waited for Walt to accuse him of playing favorites again; he did it every time they had this particular conversation, and every time Locke had to correct him. The idea of playing Walt against Boone was ludicrous; they were both his children, both his – apprentices, for lack of a better word. He would sooner lose any half dozen of the others – some of them, anyway – than lose either of them.

Walt didn’t seem to grasp that, though. He just saw that Boone got to go hunting and *he* didn’t. Locke wondered, sometimes, if this is what it was like to actually *have* children, and every time he did, he was momentarily grateful he and Helen hadn’t reached that stage in their courtship.

”When you’re sixteen,” Locke finally told him, and it seemed to settle Walt down. For the moment, anyway.

*

Personal hygiene is a thing of the outside world. The last of the deodorant was gone years ago, and while there’s a sweet-smelling herb that can be pressed into something *resembling* soap, it’s not the same. But it covers the smell of people as best it can, and they’re all grateful. And no one wastes it.

Lots of things are gone, now – deodorant, toothpaste, soap. Condoms. It’s as good a reason as any why there are children on the way, now.

“You know,” Shannon said suddenly, “we were spoiled brats when we were kids.”

Sayid looked up at that. “I can believe that,” he said carefully, watching her face to see how she’d react. But she just smiled.

”Boone less than me, I mean. But we – if you’d told me the first couple months we were here that we’d still be here in five years, I’d have gone batshit. Thrown a complete tantrum, stomped off in cute and impractical shoes, the whole works.” She shifted on their bed and reflexively put a hand to her belly. “Ooof. She’s kicking, today.”

”He,” Sayid said, but that’s a reflex, too. There’s no way of telling which one she’s going to have, and it’s not the sort of thing he wants to ask Jack. The man already looks harried most days. He reached out and touched her stomach. “Not much longer, you think?”

Shannon shrugged. “A couple of weeks.” She leaned down as best she could and brushed her mouth across his. “Lisa,” she murmured. “After my mom. If it’s okay with you.”

”I was thinking—“ Sayid cleared his throat. “Nadia might be nice, too.”

Shannon thought for a minute, then touched the tight drum of her belly. “Lisa Nadia,” she said, as though tasting it. She smiled. “I like it. Do you like it, little girl?”

There was a hollow thrum against their hands, as if in agreement.

*

Things are different, here; real world experience doesn’t always apply. Zoe used to work as a manager at The Gap, and now she spends most mornings in the garden with Sun. Steve was two semesters away from his BA in art history, and now he fishes with Jin (and Hurley, who, once he got the knack for it, was pretty damn good at it). Jack’s the only one who does anything close to what he used to do, and even that’s stretching it, because there isn’t a lot of call for surgeons on a mostly-deserted island.

Or Claire, who’s spent the last couple of months with the hunters. That one still makes Kate blink. Little tiny Claire, who could hardly stand up without someone helping her balance when they first met, walking around in shirtsleeves toting a sharp stick with a knife in her belt. It suits her, somehow, and it’s not like Charlie minds; if anything, he *likes* staying back at the caves with Adam.

Of course, if anyone had told Kate that boarding the plane for the States was the best thing that could have ever happened to her, she would have laughed and tried to headbutt them. It’s a good thing she didn’t, though; she’d hate to have to track a fictional person down and apologize, because *this* is the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

She’s not Maggie Ryan here, or Kate Ryan, or Kate Ford, or Katie Wilhelm or anyone else. She’s just Kate, a dead shot with a handgun and a pretty good swimmer, one of the better trackers though she usually doesn’t go out hunting. People knew who she was, and most of them knew at least a little about what she’d done, and they weren’t scared of her. Just lately she’s spent most of her mornings working on things for the babies – building cribs, setting aside room in the caves, helping Jack ration supplies for the deliveries.

In the real world, she’s Kate Ryan of a thousand names, wanted for murder and armed robbery; out here, she was just Kate, the only one besides Claire and Charlie who could get Adam to quiet down when he started squalling.

She doesn’t really mind if they never get found.

*

No one talks about sex, but everyone does it.

Not *everyone*; there really isn’t anyone around close enough to Walt’s age, and he’s just at an age where that’s going to be a problem, which is great for Michael because just the fact that he has a teenager now is enough to give him hives. But almost everyone.

Couples didn’t spring up overnight. There were more than a few people sneaking off into the barest edges of the jungle after a while, in groups or pairs or – less often, with screaming monsters lurking around – by themselves, coming back flushed and panting and grinning, earning baleful glares from everyone else. But it took a while for people to actually pair off, eating meals together and doing chores in pairs and – occasionally – small groups.

It’s no skin off anyone’s nose, and if you want to be gay or straight or other, then bless. When you’re trying to figure out if you have enough meat to last to the end of this week or the next, there isn’t a lot of time left over to wonder about someone else’s sexual proclivities.

“So what do you guys do, anyway?” Walt asked.

Boone didn’t look up from what he was doing; they’d both gotten enough lectures on the virtue of not getting distracted during skinning and wasting meat. “Who?”

“You and Jack,” Walt said. “You know. Sex stuff.”

Boone looked up at that. “That’s none of your business,” he said flatly.

“Dad said I didn’t need to know unless I was planning on doing it, in which case he’d tan my hide from here ‘til Christmas,” Walt said. “And John said it was none of my business, too.”

”Well, John’s right,” Boone said.

Well, *duh*. “What about my dad?”

Boone was silent for a couple of seconds. “Your dad is right for *him*,” he finally said. “But you’re old enough to make up your own mind about some stuff, I think.”

Walt was silent, too, mulling it over.

He’d never had a brother before; his mom and Brian had talked about it a few times, but never for very long. He’d *really* never thought his brother would be a tall, skinny white guy almost his dad’s age, but – well, that’s what Boone was. (His dad didn’t know it, his having a brother, but sometimes Walt got the idea Jack suspected. That was okay. For an adult, Jack was almost cool.) And Walt figured it was an older brother’s job to talk to him about stuff like this, so—

“I like girls,” Walt said, breaking the silence.

Boone didn’t look surprised or anything; he just nodded. “You’ve been making eyes at Sharon for the last two weeks.”

”She’s smart,” Walt said, suddenly feeling defensive. “And she knows a lot about sewing, and she was the one who made that hammock out of vines—“

”And she’s only eight years older than you,” Boone said, “which probably doesn’t hurt.”

Walt glared at him but didn’t say anything. Like he’d *asked* to be stuck on a deserted island with little help of rescue and no girls his own age. Right. “So do you think she’d say yes if I asked to go fishing with her tomorrow?”

Dating was one of the hardest things to adapt to this place. There was nowhere to go for coffee, no movie theaters, no restaurants. You shared chores with someone, you went for a walk, you made a point of eating with them at meals. Walt had never tried to go out with someone before, so this was all he knew.

“She might,” Boone said, setting aside a final piece of meat. He checked the edge of the knife and made sure it was sharp enough, then handed it to Walt. “She might not. It’s hard to tell, with girls.”

Walt made a noise to show he was listening. “But do you think she’ll say *yes*?” he pressed.

”If she does, she’s stupid,” Boone said, getting to his feet. “I’m going to get some water. You’ll be all right ‘til I get back?”

That was the other irritating part about having an older brother: they were always asking to see if you were okay. Walt was fifteen, not five, and he was better with a knife than Boone. “We’re not that far from the caves. I’ll be okay.”

Boone nodded once and slung the canteen around his neck, then left. Walt watched him go for a while, then started slicing away more pieces of meat.

Maybe, he thought, asking would go better if he gave Sharon something first. He had a necklace John had helped him make, bones strung together with the thinnest of the thicker vines. Girls liked jewelry; at least, that’s what he remembered.

He’d ask Shannon after dinner, or maybe Claire. Brothers were never good about that sort of stuff, especially not ones who dated guys.

*

Only half a dozen books survived the crash, and Sawyer had read them all. So of all of them, he was the one who suggested talking more at night. Everyone was surprised. He wasn’t sure whether to be offended or flattered at that.

He went with ‘flattered’. Easier to piss people off that way.

It wasn’t much, at first; it had barely been six months since the crash, so people were still skittish, and a lot of people – Sawyer included – were still waiting to be rescued. They didn’t see why they should open up about their lives to people who were still mostly complete strangers.

Doc went first, not that that surprised him. He talked about med school and growing up an only child, and some BS story (Sawyer could tell it was BS, and from the way her eyes narrowed during the little recitation, so could Freckles) about what he was doing in Australia. Almost against himself, Sawyer thought it was …interesting.

God, he really *must* have been bored.

But then, the whole thing was like that, like - what did they call it, a catharsis or something. If there’s one thing he’s learned working cons, it’s that people *like* talking about themselves, given half a chance, and if anything, being stuck on this piece of rock made that need worse.

Everyone talked, even Locke, who was not the most open and honest guy Sawyer had ever met, but hey, he wasn’t about to piss off the crazy guy in the woods with the knives. Anyway, *his* story was about some campaign he pulled off in Vietnam (“not during the war, after it”, Locke added, but by that point everyone was too engrossed to pay attention).

Michael talked about his art, and why he gave it up. Sticks talked about the time she was married, and now *that* was interesting, because the girl wasn’t wearing a ring. Sun knocked him flat on his ass when she sat down and spoke slowly, in halting English – fucking *English*, what the *hell* - about what her life was like back in Korea, mostly her childhood.

It was amazing what you could get on people when you kept your ears open and just let them talk.

Sawyer didn’t take a turn.

*

Probably the worst part was the lack of hygiene products. Not toothpaste or shampoo, the *other* kind.

It wasn’t even, Rose had said once, how messy and undignified the whole thing was; five years on a deserted island with four days’ worth of toilet paper, and you overlook everything messy that isn’t actually an emergency. For her, it was the cramps. Jack flat-out refused to ration ibuprofen for something that didn’t involve fever or amputation. As a compromise, the women were allowed free reign with any and all Midol and Pamprin they could find.

So once a month, a woman would troop over to the Other Caves (as they were called, half-sarcastically, because Kate and the others had had murder in their eyes when Sayid innocently called them the Women’s Caves, because that’s what they *were*, but no one said it when any of the women were in earshot), and stay there for a week or so, and then come back, and no one talked about it unless it was necessary. Things were different out here, but not *totally* different.

“That’s the one thing I miss about being pregnant,” Claire said, letting a long breath out through her teeth. “Nine months free of cramps and gummy bleeding.” She’d already had her daily ration of Midol, so she was falling back on Lamaze breathing. It actually wasn’t working too badly, though she’d cheerfully punch Charlie in the teeth for actual medication. Some things just didn’t change.

”Yeah,” Shannon said dryly, “just spotting and the pain of childbirth.”

”It’s pain,” Claire said. “You forget it. *This* month becomes worse than *last* month, and it all overwhelms labor.” She looked and saw Shannon eyeing her skeptically. “No, really, you almost forget it.”

”’Almost’?”

”To an extent,” Claire admitted. “Not entirely.” She snorted. “I actually *wanted* natural childbirth. Can you believe that?” She thought back to that time every once in a while and could have cheerfully walloped still-in-Australia-Clare for that little idea. No, you silly bint, you’d actually like a great deal of morphine. Or Demerol. Or whatever was handy.

Shannon shrugged. “Yes.”

Claire turned to look at the taller woman. Shannon was full fit to burst, and not just with child. She had *notions*, too. “Shannon,” she said slowly, not wanting to scare her friend off. “Just – don’t make any decisions, okay? Jack will ask if you want drugs-“

”And I’ll say no,” Shannon said simply.

Privately, Claire thought that that would last up until she got about halfway dilated before changing her mind in a very strident tone of voice, but she didn’t dare say that out loud. All she said was, “Well, he’ll ask anyway.” She smiled. “You know how men are.”

*

Hurley still isn’t sure when it stopped being “the island where we’re stuck ‘til the rescue plane comes” and started being “the place we live, and if the rescue plane comes, hey, great”, but he’s pretty sure it happened around the same time Charlie and Claire got married.

No one was all that surprised at the announcement, but when Charlie asked Locke to perform the ceremony, it was like a switch had been flipped. Suddenly everyone was making plans and preparations, everyone had something to do, and it – it wasn’t just this spit of land they were stuck on. It was *home*.

Hurley hadn’t been to a lot of weddings in his life, let alone participated in any, so he had nothing to compare it to. Every woman on the island suddenly had fifteen things to do and no time to do them in; even Kate, who wasn’t the mostly girly chick he’d ever met, spent her mornings with Charlie and Michael, trying to create something like a canopy. Shannon quit being a bitch long enough to rummage through the impractical clothes and shove together something that, surprisingly enough, *looked* like a wedding dress. A slightly goofy, way too trendy wedding dress, sure, but it looked nice on Claire.

The wedding itself was simple, just a couple of Bible verses Locke quoted from memory and a cobbled-together version of the ceremony, except without the part about serving your husband. Everyone dressed in the nicest clothes they had, which for a lot of them meant their least-ratty shorts and shirts, and some of the women had garlands of flowers in their hair. Hurley was Charlie’s best man; Shannon was Claire’s maid of honor. They didn’t have any other bridesmaids or groomsmen.

Hurley remembers looking around during the gushy parts and seeing most of the women with wet eyes; hell, some of the *guys* looked bright-eyed, and he kept telling himself that the prickling behind his eyes was just allergies or something, or the sun being too bright. He remembers, too, looking around at the rest of them gathered in a small crowd, just watching.

He remembers Sawyer leaning over to whisper something to Kate, who elbowed him in the ribs hard enough to shut him up for the rest of the ceremony; but then, at the end, he was the one who reached out to take her hand, both of them looking surprised at the gesture but not enough to move away. He remembers seeing Sun standing between Jin and Michael, and all three of them looking completely peaceful at the situation, and making a mental note to not ask any questions. He remembers looking out and seeing Jack’s hand laced with Boone’s, almost the same as Kate and Sawyer a couple feet away, and thinking, Dammit, I owe Charlie fruit.

They were all together, all of them, as if they’d known each other for a decade instead of maybe eight months; gathered here to celebrate two people they knew and loved getting married.

And that was when Hurley had stopped worrying so much about getting rescued. Whatever happened, happened. There was a reception to go to.

*

They have two major – you could call them holidays, though really, they’re not. They’re feast days, for lack of a better term. It’s the only times of the year the hunters go out for any reason other than necessity, but everyone does their part. There are more fruits than usual, and plenty of fresh water, and people bust out what remains of their good clothes. The men even shave.

There are fires ringing the camp, from the caves down to the beach. Someone – usually Jack, as nominal leader, though Locke’s done it a couple of times now, and Charlie on one memorable occasion – says a prayer for those they lost in the crash, and those at home, and those here. “And the safety of those who are coming,” Jack adds this last time, and no one argues with that.

It’s a good time, though – a time to relax your guard just a little, and remember that in spite of all the protests and denials, life goes on.

“We’ll be dead in another couple of years,” Jack said, making Boone look up. ”No, I mean – back in the real world. You’re gone for seven years, you’re considered missing and legally dead.”

”Jack—“ Boone looked startled at that. “God, I completely forgot. It’s been that long?”

”Five years next month,” Jack said. He shifted his weight a little. “Sometimes I think we died in the crash, you know.”

Boone didn’t say anything, just looked at him.

“We all died,” Jack went on, “and we’re just – stuck here for some reason, and our bodies are at the bottom of the ocean.” He still remembers helping get the bodies out of the lagoon, how the flesh had almost dripped off the bones like water. It was like something out of CSI. It’s not the best memory he has; it’s too easy to picture anyone around him looking like that, somewhere. Somewhere out deep.

Boone kept silent for a minute. Then he shoved his sleeve up, exposing three inches of twisted, gnarled scar tissue. “You see this?” he asked.

Jack pressed his lips into a thin line and muttered, “Unfortunately.” Two years before, Boone and Locke had stumbled into a boobytrap Ethan and his men had left behind. Twenty stitches later, that was all that remained. It was the only part of Boone Jack didn’t like to see.

“Dead people don’t get scars, Jack.” Boone pushed his sleeve back down and touched the neat white hole on Jack’s forearm; that one was thanks to a stray bullet from one of Ethan’s men. “See? Not dead.”

”I know that,” Jack shot back. “Intellectually, anyway. But instinct—“ He shook his head.

“Instinct,” Boone said clearly, “is bullshit.”

Jack glared at him. “Really.”

”It is when it tells you you’re dead, yeah, Mr. Obviously Not Dead. Excuse me, *Dr.* Obviously Not Dead.”

Jack pressed his lips into a thin line and looked away.

Boone reached out and turned Jack to face him. “Jack. We’re safe, we’re healthy, and there are going to be children here in a couple of weeks.” Shannon was one of the first ones due. Jack was still a little bemused about kind of being an uncle. “Dead people don’t have children, either. Just – just relax, okay? Just breathe.”

Coming from the nervous, easily stressed guy on the beach that first morning, it would have been laughable; but Boone wasn’t that guy anymore, hadn’t been for a long time. Jack had to remember that, sometimes.

“We should get some sleep,” Jack said, not moving away.

”The party’s barely started.”

”Yeah, but – there are things we have to do tomorrow.”

”No there aren’t,” Boone said. “That’s the whole *point*. Everyone eats too much, stays up too late, and sleeps in the next morning. It’s the closest we come to a day off, and you’re not exempt from it just because you’re Dr. Shepard.” He leaned close and murmured, “And for the record, dead people don’t get blowjobs, either, but if you play your cards right, I’ll prove that to you in a little while.”

Jack thought about it for a couple of seconds. He could sit out here worrying about things he couldn’t possibly change until it was too late, and maybe not even then; or he could go home with Boone and celebrate the passing of another year.

He let out a long breath. “*Sometimes* dead people get blowjobs,” he said, doing his best to keep a straight face. “That’s why there are mental health fa—“

Boone kissed him to shut him up as much as to actually kiss him, Jack figured, and that was perfectly all right with him.
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