|between the lines (mind the gap) for irishunicorn03
||[Dec. 24th, 2011|10:18 am]
Title: Between the lines (mind the gap)
Warnings: Spoilers for all of Lost
Summary: Claire and Kate, before and after their reunion.
Author notes: Tried to combine as many prompts as I could. Hope the
1) Claire: slowly going crazy on the island.
2) Claire: raising Aaron (with or w/o Kate)
4) Kate: on the run (sort of)
Claire looks down at her hands, torn and bloody, then back to her lopsided hut. It looks like it might topple in the next gust of wind.
She knows she should probably be curious, or worried, or hopeless, but the only thing she feels is fury.
They left her, all of them. There is no trace, no hint of what had happened or where they had gone. When she found herself wandering in the jungle with no memory of how she’d gotten there she’d gone back to the barracks only to find them deserted. Four days later she tried the beach.
She had been sure that someone would turn up. That Jack or Kate or Sawyer would come tumbling out the woods to half-explain what the current plan was. She’d gotten used to being kept out of most of what went down on the island, she really didn’t care anymore, all she wanted was for one of them to show up so she could find out where to go and who had Aaron.
She stayed there for two weeks, getting hungrier and angrier each day, before he showed up. First he was wearing her father, then Boone, then Charlie, but it was always the same man. He told her they had abandoned her, that they were never coming back. He told her that she had to move from the beach camp because it wasn’t safe anymore, that the people who had stolen Aaron were coming back. He told her she had to set everything up, that she had to get ready. And then he left too
He left her to stumble through all the tasks the other survivors had done around her for months. All the jobs that they had spared here, because she was the poor pregnant girl. She’d thought then that it had been a kindness, but now she only feels cheated.
She learns, slowly. Her world narrows and her spectrum broadens. She sees the different angles of the leaves where someone or something brushed by. She sees the patterns the storms make and learns to predict them. She sees maps of the Dharma stations traced on the inside of her eyelids.
And if she sees a few things that aren’t really there, well, it isn’t like there is anyone around to blame her.
Kate sits in the parking lot of the drug store, fingers drumming on the steering wheel. The heat beating down through the windows is brutal, but she knows that isn’t what is making it so hard for her to breathe. She knows it isn’t the seat belt across her chest that’s making her claustrophobic. She bites her lip and thinks about Jack, about her probation officer, about the look on the marshal’s face when he finally got her in cuffs. Remembering that plane ride, having to hide her wrists and listen to his sneered comments, still makes her stomach clench and a whispered ‘bastard’ escapes her lips before she remembers about not speaking ill of the dead.
She knows what she wants to do and she knows how this little struggle is going to play out. Eventually drumming her fingers stops working. She stretches and leans her head back, knowing what she can’t do, what almost every instinct she has is fighting towards. For a minute she thinks about bumming a cigarette off the guy sitting on the guardrail, just to have something to do with herself.
She’d tried smoking when she was seventeen, when she first started leaving home for a few days at a time to get away from Wayne and realized life was easier if people left her alone. Whether it made her look older or let her blend into the background or just made her seem like the ‘kind of person’ you should avoid, she wasn’t sure. All that mattered was that people asked her fewer questions and looked her way less often. It all worked well until she realized it was making her slower. It was Tom that caught her, after she grabbed his biology notes, called him a nerd and bolted. He smiled and laughed as he caught her around the waist but it still made her break out in a cold, panicked sweat- no one had ever out-run her before. She’d quit immediately, without a second thought.
So instead she goes into the drug store to buy what she’s be avoiding. She’s itching to floor the gas pedal on her way back but the mantra of under the radar, under the radar, under the radar won’t let her.
Through the front door and straight into the bathroom, trying not to look at the furniture or the pictures on the walls, opening the box as she goes, wishing her heart would beat slower. As she slips on the cheap plastic gloves, she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. And she’s smiling.
But then the alarm on her phone goes off and that’s it; she drops everything before walking blindly back toward the door.
She can’t help smiling when she picks Aaron up from day care. It will get better, she tells herself, for the thousandth time. But the pressure that is threatening to crush her lungs and smother her heart doesn’t seem to let up as they head back to the car.
She buys 23 boxes of hair dye in that year, every color from platinum blonde to black stacked in the bathroom closet, but she never uses any of them.
Kate finishes putting Aaron to bed, cleans up the crayons strewn across the table and flops down on the sofa to watch tv. In less than twenty minutes she’s incapable of focusing on either the show or the storm outside. It’s making her anxious. She hates this now familiar feeling, the awareness that she’s walking that fine line between contentment and claustrophobia.
Two restless glasses of wine later Kate hears the door creak open and turns to see Claire standing, dripping wet, in the door frame.
‘No go on the date, huh?’
Claire makes a sound halfway between laugh and a moan. ‘He seemed nice enough,’ she says with a small smile though her tone made clear that that is the furthest thing from making a difference.
Kate feels the wry smile twisting her lips and prompts, ‘…but?’
‘On the way into the restaurant, I just,’ she moves over to the couch and sinks down, ‘I stopped. In the rain. And just… stood there.’ She turns so they are sitting face to face and Kate might have mistaken her expression as miserable, if she’d been able to convince herself that Claire still cared that much about this kind of thing. ‘He kept trying to give me the umbrella and… I don’t know I, just couldn’t go in there.’ She stares out the window again, pressing her palms slowly against one another. ‘He was nice about it, though,’
Kate watches Claire until the other woman looks up to meet her gaze. There’s a momentary flash of aggression there, like for a split second she had the impulse to defend what she did and tell the whole world that they could fuck off. But then the light shifts, the flash dims and her eyes are back to their usual icy blue.
‘Is Aaron down?’
‘Yup,’ Kate reaches out a hand and tugs the younger woman off the couch before leading her silently to open the front door. She sticks one arm through the door and, keeping her eyes on the grass outside, says, ‘It’s nice.’
They sit on the porch steps, letting the summer rain pound down on them for at least an hour. Rain always makes Claire think of the island. Each pinprick drop on the skin helps obliterate the picture of where she is and why; she almost believes that if she stood in the rain with her eyes closed longer enough, she could open them and be anywhere.
Long after the water starts to run in rivulets down the back of her neck, Claire stands and wraps an arm around Kate’s waist to pull her up. Kate’s shirt, plastered to he back, twists and rides up. Kate laughs as she sways on legs that had been most of the way to falling asleep and Claire’s fingers brush against the long scar that twists from above Kate’s hip around to the middle of her back.
It’s funny, Claire thinks, the marks the island left on us.
The two of them never took Aaron on vacations anywhere warm. They avoided beaches on principle unless they were covered in round stones or completely devoid of palm trees. And neither of them ever seems to react the ‘right’ way to playground scrapes and scuffles. They carry creams and bandages in their purses just like the other moms, but their comfort levels with blood and bruises are still clearly out of the ordinary.
Claire looks at the minute raindrops that had scattered on Kate’s lashes, they were standing so close she could have tried to count them if it didn’t look about as hopeless as counting her freckles. Yeah, she thinks, there’s ore than a little out of the ordinary in this house. And that poor, nice, ordinary guy never really had a chance.
Claire wraps her arm further around Kate; pressing stomachs, breasts and thighs together before kissing her. It’s dominant and possessive and still feels like a surprise habit every time. It’s the least probable thing she could have imagined… but she doubtless should have learned to expect that by now.
It’s been two years since the last time she saw him but there he is, sipping a beer that might as well be in a Dharma can for all that his face had changed.
‘So, you and the little momma still playin’ house?’ His smirk makes it damn clear that the real question is the one only being hinted at.
Kate takes a sip of her beer before answering, straight-forward and like it’s too obvious to be a charged question, ‘Yup.’
‘Well hot damn, isn’t that nice’. She looks up to catch a grin that is all bamboo shoots and salt spray, and a lopsided smile tugs at her mouth like a half remembered instinct.
‘And what about you guys?’ She can’t see a muscle move in his face, but suddenly his smile is completely different, it’s the one she never saw on the island. He pulls out his wallet to show her the latest picture of Clementine, this time in a soccer
‘Do you ever think about telling them…’ she hesitates, not sure which impossible thing to fill the rest of the sentence with.
‘What,’ his drawl hangs on that first syllable for a moment before breaking into a short bark of a laugh, ‘that we all went time traveling on a mystical, disappearing island? That we killed Others and other Others, and were always on the run from a smoke monster?’ No, freckles, as far as Clementine is ever going to know, I lived in a palm leaf hut, ate mangoes and went fishing.’
When he’s in fifth grade Aaron starts reading The Golden Compass. All his friends read it and their parents didn’t mind, so he knows they wouldn’t call it ‘inappropriate’ or something else annoying like that, but when he sees the polar bear on the cover he realized it might be better to keep it to himself (they always got weird around the polar bears at the zoo). So he reads it at night, after his bed time, with a book light he palmed off the display at a bookshop (he didn’t have to steal it, he’d had the dollar-fifty, he just wanted to see if he could).
He’d never liked books about dragons or elves or magic, always preferring stories about street-urchin that lived by their wits. Maybe it had something to do with the way she used to read them to him when he was little, the way she made the chases sound so exciting and how they used to look at each other in relief after each escape.
But he likes this one. The parallel worlds didn’t seem too ridiculous, not like wizard schools or troll kings, and he really liked Lyra and Lee Scoresby. They were the kind of characters that felt like people he’d known his whole life. He didn’t even mind the talking bears. It was all something he could almost believe, like the shooting stars his mom said you could see if you squint just right.
But the second book seemed a little too real. The boy realizing his home isn’t the same as other people’s. The mother who was afraid of strangers and spoke of ‘bad men’ (they only ever said things like that in their sleep, but that didn’t mean Aaron didn’t hear). And the scariest part was that the things he had once thought were all in his mom’s mind, the things that had seemed impossible, wound up being true.
No matter how nervous that part made him, or maybe because of how nervous it made him, Aaron felt like he had to finish the series.
And when he finds an abandoned library card in the hallway at school he pockets it and uses it to check out the books before tossing it in the trash. He hides the books behind a loose panel in the heating vents in his room. He pulls them down when mind feels like its racing too fast for him to stay still, and whenever he overhears something he knows he wasn’t meant to. They stay there for the next seven years but never grow dusty.