Summary: Michael wonders what to say about Kate; Kate has plans for Sawyer
Rating: R for subject matter, residual squickiness from last chapter
Note: A non-NC-17 recap is in this chapter, in case you skipped Part 9 because of the rating
The story thus far: Ethan kidnapped Kate and changed her into something like him, superhuman, seemingly unkillable, and evil. After Sayid discovered her secret, she killed him, but she decided to "change" Sawyer. Michael, who was along on the search for Kate, fled before this happened, and doesn't know what has happened to Sawyer or Sayid. Boone and Sun have been nursing Jack back to health; he was poisoned when Kate was abducted but he has no memory of that. Boone (who now knows Sun's secret) has only told him that he has been sick and that Kate has been, too. And in the world of this story, there is no Shannon/Sayid, Claire's dead, and Ethan's alive.
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Michael made it back to the caves without running into anyone, but he was pressing his luck. He hid behind a big bush near the most-traveled path, waiting for Sun. Finally, she passed by alone, holding a plant, as usual.
Michael stepped out, startling her so that she dropped it. He held out his hands palms out to reassure her. “It’s OK,” he said. “I just need to talk to you now. Alone.”
She nodded, looking over her shoulder. “This way,” she said, and he followed carefully behind her. They walked out to a field of tall grass several hundred yards from the caves.
“OK,” he said nervously. “I have a really crazy story and I think you’re the only one who might believe me.”
She nodded for him to continue.
He told her everything, not meeting her eyes when he got to the part about him running away. “What should I tell them?” he begged.
She took a deep breath. “I think I understand,” she said slowly, but she still looked confused. She seemed about to say something several times, but then gave an apologetic smile and said nothing.
“Well?” he asked impatiently. “Maybe this was a bad idea.”
“I think you must tell them the truth,” she said finally. “Lies ... cause more lies.”
He nodded, opening his eyes wide. “I know, it’s just ... I can’t believe it myself. And I’m afraid of what they’ll say to me. Or do to me.”
“Come,” she said, beckoning him with her hand. “We will tell Jack.”
“Jack?” Michael did a double-take. “He’s back?”
“Yes. He is much better now. Come and see.”
“Oh man, he’s not going to like this,” Michael said. Maybe there was still time to grab Walt and make a camp on the other side of the island. Then he thought of Ethan and the monster and decided that facing Jack was probably the least fatal option.
Sun and Michael entered the cave and saw that Jack was sitting up, happily talking to someone. Michael froze when he saw who it was: Kate.
“Look who’s feeling better?” Jack said, beaming at Sun and Michael. Kate smiled at Michael as if nothing at all had happened. It chilled his blood.
Michael had never had less of an idea what to say in his life. “That’s great,” he finally said, his head spinning. “Listen, I’ll leave you two alone,” he added, grabbing Sun. “We’ll just get out of your hair.”
He practically ran outside, dragging Sun with him. “What the hell am I going to do now?” He bent over, trying to figure out what it meant that Kate was here. Where were Sayid and Sawyer? Sun stood by uncertainly.
Shannon walked by and stopped and gave him an impulsive hug. “Wow, you guys did it. You found Kate!”
Michael mumbled something incoherent in response.
Sun nodded at them and busied herself with some nearby plants. She could still hear their conversation, but wouldn’t appear to be actually listening to them. It was a skill she had perfected since landing on the island.
“But I can’t believe Sayid’s dead,” Shannon continued sadly. “He should never have gone, with his bad leg.” She looked like she might cry.
Michael’s mind whirled. “What the fuck?!” he said to himself, but to Shannon, he merely nodded, seemingly overcome with emotion himself.
"Jack doesn't know," Shannon continued. "He doesn't remember anything that happened to him. He didn't even know she was missing this whole time. Boone thought Kate should be the one to tell him."
"Yeah ... good idea," Michael said with a sinking feeling.
(A few hours earlier...)
Kate waited breathlessly for Sawyer to wake up. She remembered how she had felt when she’d awakened under Ethan’s watch, like she was truly alive for the first time. Only she had died. He’d killed her. Horribly. She could still remember the terror, her utter revulsion, but now it was like recalling a bad dream.
She had fought wildly against Ethan, but despite all her desperate fury, she couldn’t hurt him. As they’d struggled, she was flooded with memories of that day at the bank, and how she’d taken a life without meaning to. Now she was ready to kill, fighting tooth and nail to stay alive, but she felt herself losing against his insanely superior strength.
As Ethan’s hands throttled the life out of her, she thought of Jack, lying so shockingly still on the ground and of Sawyer’s pleading expression just before she kissed him that first time. And her last thoughts were of Sean and the strange look on his face as he died in her arms. She had gone out fighting, clawing at Ethan’s face, and crying hot tears at all her missed chances.
She could remember all that now, but it was like it had happened to someone else, like a movie that she had been caught up in, but now it was over.
Her heart went out to Sawyer. It wasn’t pleasant, what she’d had to do, but she knew he would understand. He would appreciate the tremendous gift she’d given him. And they would be together.
“You were right,” she whispered in his ear. “We’ve always had a connection.” His eyes opened slowly, taking her in. Alarm and confusion spread across his face. “It’s OK,” she said soothingly. “You’re with me now. Forever.”
He swallowed and looked around him. He realized she had untied him and he put his hands to his throat, giving her a questioning glance. “Oh yes,” she said with a smile. “You didn’t imagine it. I’m so sorry,” she leaned in and kissed him. “But you can feel it, can’t you? The power? It’s so good,” she cooed.
He closed his eyes again, putting his hands over his face.
“It’s a lot to take in, I know,” she continued, vaguely troubled by how long he was taking to feel the change. “Maybe I can’t explain it as well as Ethan could. But you understand, don’t you?”
He took his hands away from his face and met her concerned gaze. His mouth moved, but he wasn’t saying anything. She realized he was trying to talk, but he couldn’t.
“Sawyer?” she asked, starting to become alarmed. “Say something.”
He shook his head, his brow furrowing. I can’t, he mouthed. There was panic in his eyes.
“It’s probably only temporary,” she said with a frown, stroking his cheek with her hand. “This will fade, too,” she said, indicating the enormous red welt around his neck. “Mine did.” She kissed his lips lightly. “Come on. It will be OK. But we have to get going. We have to beat Michael back to camp.”
Sawyer blinked and nodded. She helped him to his feet. He looked around. Sayid’s body was no longer there. “Don’t worry, they won’t ever find him,” she said, patting Sawyer on the arm. His gaze lingered where Sayid had lain, but she was already pulling him away.
“Come on,” she said playfully, leading him by the hand. “Wait ‘til you see our shortcut!” They walked about half a mile and Kate turned aside and began clearing vines away from a spot in the ground. Underneath was a metal door.
She produced a key, unlocking it and pulling the large doors open. Sawyer went in first, and she followed, locking the door behind them. They were in a large, concrete tunnel that seemed to go on forever. Amazingly, the walls were lined with lights, electric lights, which hummed softly. “Cool, huh?” she said, her nose crinkling up as she smiled. “This covers the whole island.” He looked around, amazed.
As they walked, she unfolded her plan. “So I need you to stay out of sight for a while,” she said. “Just remember where we’re meeting. And are you sure you can get Shannon to come with you? Even if you can’t talk to her?”
Sawyer nodded, his expression serious. “Good boy,” she said with a smile.
Michael’s mind raced, trying to think of what to say to Jack. Kate had gotten to him first, and whatever her story was, Jack would believe her. Why wouldn’t he? Michael couldn’t just march in there and accuse of her being someone other than Kate. Or of murder.
She had killed Sayid and probably Sawyer too, was all he could think, and he couldn’t help feeling he’d be next. Wait, Shannon hadn’t mentioned anything about Sawyer, so where ...
Michael jumped when someone grabbed his arm. It was Sawyer. He looked like he’d been to hell and back. “You scared me,” Michael said when he was able to say something. He noted the angry red marks around Sawyer’s throat. “What the hell happened out there?”
Sawyer put a finger to his lips, pulling Michael off to the side as he carefully scanned the area to make sure no one else was nearby. He pointed at his throat and shook his head.
“What’s going on?” Michael said. He couldn’t stop looking at the swelling and bruising around Sawyer’s neck, but finally dragged his eyes away to meet his intense gaze. “Who did that to you?”
Kate, Sawyer mouthed. His eyes were inexpressibly sad. Sayid’s dead, he said silently. She killed him.
“Why are you ...,” Michael started to ask, before realizing that Sawyer couldn’t talk. He shook his head. “This is fucked up.” He thought back to Kate’s strange behavior. “Sayid was right about her after all,” he said. “So why are you still alive?” Michael asked, suddenly suspicious.
Sawyer winced at the memory. He shook his head violently, as if to indicate that he couldn’t -- or wouldn’t -- explain. He looked frustrated. He obviously had a lot to tell Michael. He made scribbling motions with his hand.
“Yeah, you should write it down,” Michael said. “I don’t have anything with me. Don’t you have stuff back at your tent?”
Sawyer shook his head. I can’t be seen, Michael thought he was saying.
Sawyer said a lot of stuff, but Michael wasn't able to follow it all. She thinks I’m like her, he finally realized he was saying. Sawyer kept pointing at himself and in the general direction of Jack’s cave to help him understand.
Michael looked at him oddly, still trying to figure out what Sawyer meant. His eyes narrowed. Maybe this was some ploy on Sawyer’s -- and Kate's -- part to get him off his guard. “OK, I don’t understand how or why, but why should I even believe you?” Michael said, crossing his arms over his chest. “For all I know you are just like her now.”
Sawyer shook his head again, then put his hand up as it to say, “Wait.” He pulled out Sayid’s knife and looked around once more to see that they were still alone.
“That’s Sayid’s,” Michael said. He tensed to run, just in case Sawyer was going to try something after all.
It’s OK, Sawyer mouthed, pulling up his shirt and cutting himself on the chest, grimacing as he did so. The cut bled. See? he said, placing Michael’s hand on the cut. His eyes begged for Michael's acceptance.
Michael felt the cut and nodded. Then he pulled his hand back suddenly. “Sayid!” he said, mesmerized by something behind Sawyer.
Sawyer started, looking over his shoulder to where Michael was staring.
“Right there. I just saw ... well, he’s gone now,” Michael said. He looked at Sawyer fearfully. “That’s not possible, right?”
It seemed to him that Sawyer merely looked worried, not scared. And not surprised.
Michael leaned in to whisper. “He looked like he was trying to say something. And his neck looked like yours.”
Sawyer nodded and swallowed hard. He looked beyond Michael as if he could still see something there.
“Right,” Michael said, trying to put the image of Sayid out of his head. “I think we should get Locke in on this. If anyone can deal with Kate, he can. Why don’t you find some note paper and let him know what’s going on. I can talk to Jack, as soon as I can get him alone.”
Sawyer nodded, blotting the cut with some moss, waiting until it had stopped bleeding so he could put his shirt back down. Shannon, he seemed to be saying.
“What about her?” Michael said.
She’s in danger, Sawyer said. I have to warn her first.
Michael had more questions for Sawyer, but he merely nodded. “Good luck, man,” he said, shaking Sawyer’s hand.
Sawyer tilted his head in acknowledgment. You too, he said as they split up.