Spoilers: Up through "Live Together, Die Alone"
Note: My first stab at femmeslash! Thanks ever so much to themoononastick for taking time away from her own writing to beta.
She's always in motion. Always on her feet, pacing. Like maybe if she walks enough, she can walk out of here.
I always feel like I'm interrupting when I come to bring her her food. Even caged, she intimidates me. I slide the tray through the grate and she takes it, barely looking at me. I keep expecting her to say something but she hasn't yet. Other than "Thanks."
She's not like Jack, who tries to draw me out, tries all too transparently to get me on his side. Sawyer likes to talk too. He calls me "Sweetheart" and smiles like we're friends. They're both so obvious.
I can't believe how different she is from Claire. Claire was tiny and fragile. As helpless as the baby they wanted to take from her. I felt sorry for Claire.
I feel sorry for Kate too, but only because she's so sad. Her green eyes are always downcast. But when she does look up, when her head tilts back and those eyes meet mine, her expression is proud, like the lioness I saw in one of the books in the library.
She scares me a little. I know what she's done, what she's capable of because I've read her file. I know more about her than Jack or Sawyer do. None of them know each other all that well, really. Two months and they're still strangers.
I think they've all underestimated her, because she is so very pretty, with that heart-shaped face and hair like a Boticelli painting, the one that the art history book says is so famous. She probably heard that all the time, back in her world, that she looked just like a painting.
Today, I've decided, I'm going to get her to talk to me. Instead of leaving after taking the tray, I stay and watch her eat. She eats like the food has no taste, her face blank. Finally, she looks up, notices me and frowns.
"Do you miss it?" I ask.
She looks at me carefully, like there's a hidden meaning in the question. "Miss what?" she says finally.
"Where you came from. Before this," I add.
"You mean, before the island?" She smiles, but it's not a happy smile. "It doesn't matter, if I do, does it? It's not like I'm ever going back."
Her voice is bitter. It's not until now that I realize that the proud stance is for show. She's given up hope.
She could be talking about being here, in this cell, but I don't ask. And she doesn't ask. Maybe she doesn't want to know what's in store.
"I'm sorry," I say, without meaning to. I cover my mouth, but she's already heard me. Her expression softens, just a little.
There's a flash of something in her eyes, a kind of fire there that makes me think I was wrong. She hasn't given up. She's just closed herself off.
"You're the one who helped Claire," she says, regarding me shrewdly, as if seeing me for the first time. "You're Alex."
She knows my name? I try to remember if I've ever told her. "Why do you say that?" I say, pretending a calm I don't feel.
Her gaze is kind. "Claire told me how you helped her. Thank you for that."
I can only nod. She's going to ask me to help her next but there's no way I can. Not this time. I don't want her to ask.
"Your mother's been looking for you," she says with a sad smile. "Did you know that?"
"My mother? My mother's dead," I say, shaking my head.
"No. Her name's Danielle," she insists, bobbing her head excitedly. "She was shipwrecked here shortly before you were born. And then you were taken from her. She's never stopped looking for you."
"You're lying," I say coldly, and walk out. I was wrong about her. She has an angle too, just like Jack and Sawyer.
"Alex!" she calls after me. The sound of my own name echoes through my mind for the rest of the day.
The next day, she's waiting for me.
"Hello, Alex," she says, watching me closely. "You've been thinking about what I told you, haven't you?"
"I don't believe you," I say with a shrug. I shove the tray in and prepare to leave.
"She's French," she says quickly, taking the tray but simply setting it on the ground, ignoring the food. Those intense green eyes never leave my face. "She's a scientist. She came here with an expedition. She's the only one left from her group. She's strong. She's smart. She's survived on her own in the jungle all these years. Sixteen years. Which makes you nearly 16."
She's making this all up, but she's very good at it. Maybe she knows I know all about her and now she wants me to believe she knows all about me.
"You don't know me," I say. "Even if I had a mother out there somewhere, who is she to me? These people are my family. The rescued me. Raised me. But even if I did have a mother, they would have told me."
"Think about it, Alex," she continues smoothly, pressing her face against the bars, even as I step back. "They stole you from her. Just like they wanted to steal Claire's baby. Just like they stole Walt. They've been lying to you all these years."
"No," I shake my head. "I don't believe you. You lied for a living. Changed your name. Ran from the law. Killed people. That's why you're here."
"What do you mean?" She's alarmed now. I can see her pulse fluttering in her throat. "Why did they bring us here?" Her voice is still calm, her words measured, but she's rattled. She's not hysterical, but the panic is there, below the surface. She's gripping an iron bar tight with her fingers, a hint of the violence she's capable of if she's free.
She reaches out to me, her fingers brushing my arm. "Please, Alex."
"I have to go," I choke out the words and run out. Because what I really want to do is open the door and let her out.
She's asleep on the floor when I come back the next day. I've never caught her sleeping before. I watch her for a minute, debating whether I should just leave the tray and go. The food from the day before is still sitting there, untouched. So the stain under her head doesn't make sense.
She's still not moving. "Kate!" I gasp and push the release for the door. I turn her over and see the nasty gash on her forehead. She's pale and she's out, but she's warm to the touch. I rip off some of my shirt and dip it in the fresh water I brought for her. I dab at the dried blood. Relief floods me as I realize that it looks worse than it is.
Her eyelids flutter and I tell her everything's going to be OK. She looks confused and a little scared. I give her arm a squeeze and brush the back of my hand over her cheek. "I don't think it's too bad. You must have banged your head against the bars."
She winces, bringing a hand to her head. She stares up at me in puzzlement. Her eyes aren't just green, but green and gold. She manages a weak smile and it's only then I realize that I'm still holding her.
I gently lay her back down. "I'll go get help," I say. She puts her arm over her face, hiding her eyes from the light.
As I run to get Miss Klugh, I wonder if she did this on purpose. I hate to think what might have happened.
The next day, she's wearing a bandage on her head. But I barely notice that because of what she's not wearing. Her shirt is off, and she's wringing it between her hands, attempting to wash it with her drinking water. I already knew she doesn't wear a bra.
When we brought them here, I was the one to escort her. In trying to pull her to feet, I'd missed her arm and grabbed her by the breast instead. I still blush at the memory.
She hears me and looks up. She makes no attempt to cover herself, just shrugs and gestures with the shirt. "Any chance of a shower?" she asks with a half smile.
My cheeks are burning and I'm sure she can see it from where she is. She smiles, wider this time, and pulls the wet shirt over her head. She's having a hard time of it. Now that it's wet, it clings to her like a second skin. I try not to stare at her breasts, even as they bounce slightly through her struggles to navigate the shirt over her nose and chin. But in no time at all, she's pulled it down and then she shakes her hair free.
"Your bandage ..." I point out that she's managed to dislodge it and she reaches up, trying to feel for it.
"Here, I have another one," I offer. She walks over to the bars. But even pressed up against them, I can't maneuver the new bandage into place. I let out a sigh and try again.
And then I stop. An idea has taken hold, one I know I should ignore, but I don't want to ignore it. Before I can convince myself to do the right thing, I've pressed the release on the door and stepped inside.
"Sit down," I say. She's not very tall, but she's still taller than me. She lets me guide her to a sitting position.
She waits expectantly, a small smile on her face. She's making me nervous.
"Hey," I say and I realize I sound shy. "I can take your shirt and wash it properly."
"Properly?" she says, a wicked lilt in her voice. "And what would I wear in the meantime?"
I take a deep breath and pull my own loose, handwoven shirt over my head. I have no bra to take off. She's looking at me now, smile gone, all seriousness.
She nods and pulls her T-shirt up, exposing her abdomen. I reach out -- her breath is making her abdomen rise and fall under my hand -- and help her inch it up and off. She has goosebumps and so do I.
Her wet T-shirt is crumpled in my hand and I know I should put it down -- or on -- and put on her fresh bandage. But then she says my name and everything stops. She kisses me -- she kisses me. Her lips are soft and she's pulling me to her and I shiver as her breasts brush against mine. I don't know what to do, so I let her do everything. She places my hand on one of her breasts. I'm afraid to touch her. I just let my fingers brush over the nipple and then down under the curve, just holding it in my palm, savoring the feel of her.
She sighs, like she likes that and her mouth leaves mine. She kisses my neck and then she takes my right breast in her hand. Her long hair brushes over my skin, like another kiss, and I watch her close her eyes as she brings my breast to her mouth. I can feel the tickle and the warmth of her tongue all over as she delivers those delicate little licks. I don't want her to stop. She starts to suck at my nipple and I push her away. Because I want to do this to her. And she lets me.
"You're beautiful," I say to her, and she says nothing, but she smiles and sighs and then she kisses me again.
That night, I pretend my body is hers. Tomorrow can't come soon enough.
But they don't let me see her for the next few days. When I see her again, everything has changed. She's in the corner of her cell, curled up in a ball. She's had a few sessions with Tom, I know now. I knew it was coming, but I didn't know how it would make me feel to see her like this.
I had seen it happen with Jack and Sawyer too. They stopped talking, grew grim and silent, retreating into the shelter of their own minds. I don't care that, on paper, Kate is more dangerous than either of them.
She wouldn't hurt me.
I walk into the cell and take her in my arms. But she shoves me away, face filled with hate. "How can you be part of this?"
"They're my family," I say. "Try to understand."
"They're monsters," she says in a low, hurt voice. "But you're not. You're not like them. How can just stand by while they hurt me? And Jack? And Sawyer? They've killed some of us, you know. Or did they lie to you about that too?"
I stiffen. "I know what you did. How you killed your own father. I'm not like that. I'm not like you."
She blanches, shocked that I know. But her response is swift. "He was hurting my mother," she says, shaking with anger. "Maybe there was another way but I had to stop him. Alex," she says, a note of pleading entering now. "You have to stop them. You know what they're doing is wrong."
And in that instant, I believe her.
I want to believe in a mother who lives in the woods, who's kind and loving and would never hurt anyone and has waited my whole life to find me. I want to let Kate go, and go with her. And together we'll find my mother who, since she is so smart and strong, will hide us and keep us safe.
"OK," I say, but the word sounds like someone else is speaking it. "I will help you. We'll leave, just the two of us. We'll sneak away and they'll never find us."
She bites her lip and smiles through her tears and then she kisses me. "And Jack and Sawyer, " she says softly, letting her head rest on my shoulder. "We have to save them too."
"No," I shake my head, trying to keep the smile in place. "We'll all be caught. It's too dangerous." I don't understand why she can't see that, but she keeps insisting.
"Jack and Sawyer, they're my family," she says with a throb in her voice. "We can't leave them."
"But we have to! It has to be just us two. Do you want to leave or not?"
"Without them?" She's still shocked that I don't see it her way. "No." She doesn't say it, but I know she's thinking. I would kill for them.
And maybe that's why I say it. I don't plan it, the words just come out. "It's too late anyway. They're already dead."
She goes pale and I think she's going to faint. "No." She says it so quietly, but it's as if she screamed the word.
I can see it in her eyes. She wants to kill me. And then it's like a light in her is switched off and she crumples against the wall.
I can't do anything for her now, except leave.
"I didn't want to tell you." I keep lying. Because I have to.
She's never going to smile at me again. She's never going to kiss me again.
I can't bear seeing her everyday, knowing she hates me. Knowing she wouldn't leave without them.
I thought if they were dead, she would leave, but with them dead, she doesn't care about me. She doesn't care about anything.
I've already broken so many rules. These few more don't matter. I steal some of the drugs Ethan gave Claire, the ones that kept her happy and uncomplaining and I put them in Kate's water. She's stopped eating, but she still has to drink water, at least.
I sit and call her name every 20 minutes or so, until she answers me. When she comes over to the bars with a smile on her face, then I know the drugs are working. She kisses me through the bars of her cell and calls me "baby," and everything is OK again. She's happier than I've ever seen her, and now, at last, she does remind me a little of Claire.
I've timed it perfectly. It's dark and Tom and everyone is busy with Jack. Or Sawyer, I'm not sure which. I just have to stop Kate from giving us away by giggling. I've brought everything we need. We walk all night and she starts to slow down but never once says she's tired. Finally, I pick a spot to camp and make our bed. She falls asleep in my arms almost immediately.
We're on the move again in the morning, keeping up the pace until we get far enough away. We stop for some food and water. She sits and sips at her water, following the flight of a bird overhead like she doesn't have a care in the world. She's beautiful. I kiss her and then I slowly take her clothes off. She lays back and lets me kiss her all over. She makes little "mmm" noises and squirms at my touch and I tell her I love her. But she's not really looking at me. I look into her eyes and the gold is gone. I lay on her chest, staring up at the sky along with her.
I can lie to myself, but this isn't Kate. And as soon as the drugs wear off, she'll want nothing to do with me. The only way to keep her is to drug her and I can't do that forever.
She's never loved me. Maybe never even liked me. And now she hates me.
A cloud comes out and covers the sun and she pouts. I help her get dressed and then we're on our way. I don't know exactly where we're going, just somewhere new. If my mother was really out here, I thought she'd have found us by now.
Everything is falling apart.
She can't go back, and now, neither can I. I can't go to her people. But I can take her.
It takes another day's hike to get close enough where I can let her go. She has no idea, just walks along, holding my hand and humming. I want to memorize the way sunlight falls on her hair, the way her eyes crinkle up when she smiles. I turn and kiss her, wishing she would kiss me back like she did in the cell.
It's time for a nap, I tell her, and she obligingly lays down and goes to sleep. I leave a note in her bag.
Dearest Kate, You belong with your family and I belong with mine. I'm going to look for my mother. Please don't hate me. Alex.
I want to write that I love her, but I know that her friends will read it and I don't want them to know. I wonder if I should tell her the truth about Jack and Sawyer, but it's too late for the truth. I did all this to keep her safe. I know she'll never rest until she saves them. And it will be the truth soon enough.
I put the note in her backpack, kiss her once more on the cheek, and then I start walking. I have no idea where I'm going.