Character/Pairing: Michael, Walt, (the vaguest hints of) Michael/Sun
Summary: Everything Michael touches turns to pictures.
I’ll be your mirror
Reflect what you are, in case you don’t know
I’ll be the wind, the rain, the sunset
The light on your door to show that you’re home
Everything Michael touches turns to pictures.
Pictures can be practical or beautiful or both at once. Most of the time, Michael draws practical pictures: water pumps, perimeters, the schematics for a life raft. Michael devotes himself to these practical pictures for all the best of practical reasons and, in that way, life here isn’t all that different from his life back home.
It’s been a very long time since he drew anything for sheer beauty, or out of sheer love.
He finds, though, as the days pass, that his hands begin to stray. He holds his stub of pencil or bit of charcoal rescued from the fire and he intends to sketch an extension to the water pipes or a map of the new caves they’ve found behind the spring. Instead, he strays. His eyes and fingers stray to the margins of his paper and his thoughts stray elsewhere. He finds, before he realizes what he’s been doing, that he’s drawn the angle of the cliffs above him, the shape of a bank of clouds in the evening sky, the curve of a wave just before it breaks on the shore, the line of Walt’s small hand curled around a piece of ripe fruit, the arch of Sun’s eyebrow when she hears something that none of the others realize she can understand.
Once he starts, he finds it hard to stop. So he just lets himself go for a few days. He stops planning and diagramming, finds a place where he can be alone and just draws. He draws until his fingers cramp and his hands are stained with ash and charcoal. When he runs out of spare paper, he starts drawing on the rocks. In charcoal and chalk, berries and boar’s blood. He blends mud and clay and the pulp of rotting fruit to get the colors he needs.
Character/Pairing: Hurley, OCs
Summary: This is so not what he signed up for.
It’s a typical situation in these typical times
We’ll keep the big door open, everyone’ll come around
On the island, there are three Hispanics, six Asians, one Arab, five African-Americans, one Aboriginal Australian, five ‘other/none of the above’ and a whole bunch of white people.
Hurley knows this, of course, because he’s the one who counted everybody.
Hurley is Hispanic, so that’s three counting himself. Then there’s Pedro, a gardener from Newport Beach, and Scott and/or Steve’s girlfriend, whose name is Caridad.
Hurley’s dad was half Mexican, and his mom is less than one generation away from El Salvador. His dad’s mother, though, was the daughter of Polish farmers in Nebraska, and so Hurley grew up in what his schoolteachers politely termed a “tri-lingual” household because Mom and Dad and Grandpa Tito spoke Spanish and English, Grandma Reyes (formerly Rodzinski) spoke Polish and Hurley spoke a mishmash of all three by the time he was old enough to sit up by himself.
Pedro is a marginally-legal immigrant from Mexico. His English isn’t great, but it’s way better than that Korean couple’s. Plus, at least three other people on the island are fluent Spanish speakers, so it’s not a problem. Pedro’s daughter lives in Australia with her husband, who is not, Hurley learns from a long-suffering Pedro, Hispanic or Catholic.
Caridad’s background is more similar to his own. They’re both from middle class families, college educated, completely assimilated into California culture. Caridad’s family moved to San Diego from Guatemala in 1982, but she speaks better Spanish than Hurley does. Her Spanish is accent-less, effortless, free of the slang and California Spanglish that creeps in when Hurley talks. She barely remembers Antigua Guatemala, she tells him across the fire one night. They start out speaking Spanish, but it makes the others uncomfortable, to hear the words but not be able to understand, so they switch back to English without either one really noticing that they’ve done it. She doesn’t remember much about Guatemala, she says again, but she does have a memory of the flowers. Red ones, orange ones, white ones, purple, blue, all open at night in the gardens along their narrow street. She also tells him that neither Scott nor Steve is actually her boyfriend. He files that information away for further consideration.
Somehow in all this counting and documenting and organizing, Hurley has become the island’s unofficial administrator and coordinator. He counts heads and passes out portions. He listens to gripes and settles disputes and makes sure that morale doesn’t dip any lower than absolutely necessary. He keeps track of who lives where and who’s related to whom and eventually, if they’re stuck there as long as he begins to fear they will be, he imagines that he’ll be the one to count all the births and deaths and couplings and uncouplings.
This is so not what he signed up for.
There are good things, though: golf tournaments and singalongs and even the occasional birthday party. Hurley knows exactly when everyone’s birthday is. He has them all written down in a spiral-bound pocket calendar that he keeps in a waterproof carry-on bag, next to the passenger manifest and his hand-written census. He keeps it all safe and dry so he can go on counting, counting the days, the people, the amount of soap or tea or bandages.
Somebody needs to do it. He’s never been all that good with written words -- his spelling is truly atrocious, and his handwriting is worse -- but numbers? Numbers he gets.
And, anyway, it’s not like numbers are going to leave him alone, so he might as well go along with it.
He’s got a knack. He’s always had it, even before. He’s not genius-level or anything. He’s not going to take up calculus or theoretical physics anytime soon. But Hurley sees the numbers in everything, in the everyday: patterns and spreadsheets and amounts and headcounts.
And, the truth is, it’s all numbers. Keeping order, keeping everyone calm and organized: it’s in the numbers. If the numbers are wrong, if the spreadsheet gets unbalanced, it’ll fall apart, this fragile little society they’ve created. People will stop listening, stop working together; they’ll take matters into their own hands.
Character/Pairing: Hurley, Rose, Scott, Steve, Sayid, OCs
Summary: "The lamps are different but the light is the same: it comes from Beyond."
So weep at life
and leave me pray there
but still I should call it home
It’s Pedro who decides on Saturday evenings. His English isn’t very good, so he talks mostly to Caridad, who translates for the others. Only a few people are interested at first, which isn’t too surprising. But, Pedro says, everyone is welcome.
They make an odd group, gathered together on the sand at sunset.
The first time they meet, Rose comes forward and thanks him, clasping his hand in greeting. “This is a good thing you’re doing, Pedro. We should have done it long before now.”
There are twelve of them that first Saturday night: three Catholics, a Baptist, a Methodist, two Hindus, a Mormon missionary and four extremely freaked out agnostics.
Of the Catholics, Pedro and Charlie are devout, but Caridad is a Catholic-in-name-only. Most of the time back home, she says, looking a little uncomfortable, she doesn’t even make it to Easter mass. She can’t remember, she goes on to confess, the last time she actually gave something up for Lent. She says that, really, she’s there mostly to translate if Pedro needs her, but she hangs onto the tiny crucifix he gives her. In the week after they first meet, she’s seen wearing it around her neck.
The Protestants are Baptist, Methodist and Mormon respectively, distinctions that are a little fuzzy to the others. Rose is a Baptist -- but not, she says wryly, one of those Baptists -- and then there’s a middle-aged liberal Methodist from Grand Rapids named Denny. Caleb, the last of the three, is a nineteen-year-old BYU student from Nevada, who spent the past year as a missionary in Perth.
Ambar and Jaya are Hindu. They’re young, Oxford-educated and seemingly upper-class. They don’t say much that first night, but they stay the whole time. They come back the next Saturday, too.
Brad, Nikki, Tamika and Lisa, all of whom say that they believe in ‘something’ but not anything particularly specific, hang back until Rose encourages them to come and sit with the others.
They only have one religious text, and it’s a Bible. It’s a New International Version scavenged from someone’s carry-on luggage, but Tamika says that she has a notebook and that maybe they ought to write down songs or verses or sayings or whatever from other religions, too. Everyone agrees and when she brings the notebook back, Denny takes out a pen and writes on the very first page:
"The lamps are different but the light is the same: it comes from Beyond."
Everyone likes that and they decide to say it aloud every week at the start of the meeting.
More people start coming as time passes. Scott and Steve, it turns out, are both Presbyterians. Robin from Seattle was raised Jewish, but sheepishly admits that she hasn’t been inside a synagogue since her own bat mitzvah, and that guy with the rash is a practicing Buddhist.
One Saturday afternoon, Denny finds Sayid sitting beside one of the fires and asks if he’d like to join the others that night. Sayid declines, pointing out kindly but maybe a little ruefully that, “despite what you might see on CNN, not all Arabs are religious.”
Hurley won’t come, either, much to Pedro’s dismay.
“Dude,” he says, with an uncharacteristic flicker of something dark in his eyes, “just trust me when I say that religion? Is the last thing I need right now.”
Later though, after they’ve all come back from that week’s meeting, Pedro catches him reaching out a hand to touch the gold cross around Cardiad’s neck. She murmurs something about not really knowing why she wears it, but she smiles -- and so does he.
Character/Pairing: Kate, Sun, Jin, Rose, Shannon, OCs
Summary: In the end, it turns out that Jin and Sun are the ones who keep them all alive.
Take a ride upon a golden ray
Dancing in the sun, you’re miles away
Later on, it will become obvious that Jin and Sun saved all their lives. At first, though, no one really has any idea. They look to Locke and Boone, Jack, even Hurley. Sawyer, if they need something. But, in the end, it turns out that Jin and Sun are the ones who keep them all alive.
Kate figures it out before any of the others, but maybe that’s just because she knows how to read people. She’s accustomed to watching, it’s the only thing she’s ever been really good at. At least until now.
Kate watches Jin weave nets and catch fish. She watches him learn the tides and the pools and sharpen knives for shellfish. She watches Sun plant and tend and water. She watches as Sun learns the island’s plants and soil, and which leaves best catch the rays of the sun. When the time comes for Kate to stop watching, she offers Sun a hand, even though she knows that she’s probably more suited to Jin and his nets and sharp knives.
But Kate wants to grow something. She wants to plant a seed and watch it grow roots and get tall.
“You did this?” someone asks and Sun just smiles. “I think maybe I can help,” the girl says. She’s slight and tanned and blonde-ish and trying to speak slowly so that Sun can understand.
“Really?” says Kate, trying to take some of the focus away from Sun.
“I’m an ecology student.” She gestures at the neat rows of sprouting plants. “This is what I do. I’m studying sustainable farming. I usually spend my summers working on an organic research farm in Kansas, and last semester I went to Australia to do an internship on plant breeding.”
“That’s great,” Kate says, unable to believe their luck. “What’s your name?”
“Jenny. Jenny Hoople.”
“She really knows what she’s doing,” Jenny tells Kate later. “Does anyone have any idea what she did before? She must have been a botanist or a naturopath or something. Her level of knowledge is really impressive.”
Jenny also knows how to make soap and candles by hand. She teaches Rose and Shannon one afternoon after Locke comes back to camp with a bag filled with beeswax and stung fingers for his trouble.
People are surprised at first at the change in Shannon. She’s become downright helpful. Sayid encourages her, and Rose is gentle and patient with her and the two women tend to work as a pair at whatever task is at hand.
In the afternoon, Hurley brings them tea in plastic airline coffee cups.
“I miss Starbucks,” Shannon says, taking a sip of the weak tea and making a face.
“You can say that again,” Rose agrees.
“I never thought I would say this,” Jenny says, dipping string into the bubbling wax. “But so do I. I’m not sure which I miss more: writing them angry letters over their use of BGH-tainted milk or the soy chai lattes.”
“Gingerbread mochas,” Rose says, closing her eyes and shaking her head.
“Sugar-free caramel frappaccinos,” Shannon says. “Best invention ever.”
Character/Pairing: Walt, Sawyer, OCs
Summary: Walt doesn’t know most of the stories that get told around the fire, though it’s clear that everybody else does.
Now what is a blessing and what is a dream
Caught between portraits and none’s what it seems
And why is it that people expect there’s a change
When I feel I’m part of something I can’t see
I feel the same
Walt doesn’t know most of the stories that get told around the fire, though it’s clear that everybody else does.
“Then Bilbo says, ‘What have I got in my pocket?’ And, of course, Gollum has no way of knowing…”
“And he says, ‘That was a great nap,’ all sheepish and guilty-like…”
“Elizabeth goes walking in the woods every morning, but she can’t figure out why Mr. Darcy is always there…”
“So he takes the leftover tater tots and puts them in his pocket, so that he can eat them later in class…”
His mom hadn’t approved of television or movies, and video games had definitely been out of the question. It’s the reason he reads his Spanish comic book over and over, even though he doesn’t understand the words. Comic books had been even more forbidden than video games. And so it’s on those nights around the fire that he first learns about Luke Skywalker, Bridget Jones, the Lost Ark, Jack Bauer, and Frodo’s trek across Middle Earth.
He wonders vaguely whether, if Michael had been his dad all this time, he would have been allowed to play Kingdom Hearts and watch Cartoon Network and go to the movies like his friends. He thinks he probably would have been. His mother would have hated it, but Michael would have won her over in the end – and Walt finds himself wishing, just a little bit, that that was the way things really had been.
Sunset becomes his favorite time of day. Everyone finishes their tasks – hunting, building, planting, gathering, washing – and comes to sit by the fire. Sometimes there’s meat or fish to share, but more often there’s only the stories. Everyone is tired and dirty, hungry, worried, lonely. Some of them are still bruised and limping from the plane, or nursing fresh bumps and scrapes from the island. But there, in flickering shadow, they talk and smile and tell their stories.
It’s always something different, and it’s always new to Walt. The others tell the stories from memory, getting the details wrong, leaving out important parts and having to back up and start over, laughing, acting out the scary parts or doing funny voices. One night, Kate even convinces Sawyer to read aloud to them all from the book he’s got laid face-down and careless across one knee. Sawyer squints and strains in the firelight, but reads them the first two chapters of a book about children searching for their father on a wild, stormy night, with only witches and riddles to guide their way.
Walt doesn’t usually like Sawyer much, but when he promises he’ll let Walt read the book once he’s finished, it nearly makes up for it.
On another night, Denny gets to the end of his story – it’s the story about Harry Potter and his magic school and is rapidly becoming one of Walt’s favorites. Denny reaches a point in the story and just stops, even though it’s not the end.
“What happens then?” Walt asks, because that can’t be all there is to it. “Do they win? Do they beat Voldemort?”
“Well,” Denny says, “I don’t know. The books aren’t finished yet.”
“But,” Walt persists, “what do you think happens?”
The adults exchange a look and Denny shrugs slightly. But Addie, a fourth-grade teacher from Boulder, moves a little closer to the fire and smiles at Walt.
“Well, maybe, when they go back to school in the fall, they find out why it’s so important that Harry’s eyes are green. How does that sound?”
“And why’s that important?”
Addie hesitates a moment and Walt thinks that maybe she’s going to say she doesn’t know, but she smiles again and says, “Well, his mother’s eyes were green, right? And so, when they go back to school, the headmaster tells Harry that his mother was important, just like he is…”
She talks for another hour, until the stars are high and the horizon is lost deep in darkness at the edge of the world, and when she finishes, she says, “But, of course, that’s only one way it might happen.”
And Walt realizes then that’s true of all the stories they’ve heard so far, so he begins to think about all the other ways they might have gone.
Summary: There was singing on the night before Claire came back.
There’s always been laughing, crying, birth and dying
Boys and girls with hearts to take and give and break
And heal and grow and recreate and raise and nurture
But then hurt from time to times like these
And times like those
And what will be, will be
And so it goes
There was singing on the night before Claire came back. No one could ever quite remember whose idea it really was, but it probably wasn’t a coincidence that Charlie had headed down to the beach with his guitar and something approaching a smile on his face for the first time in days.
People gathered on the beach sometimes in the evening, to talk and tell tales and eat, if there was food. They would make their way down from the caves to join the others on the beach by torchlight, bringing extra water and news. That night, Charlie brought up the rear of the group, his guitar slung across one shoulder and a torch in his free hand.
“Well,” he said, choosing a seat next to Rose and sticking his torch firmly into the sand. “I hear someone’s requested a song.”
Rose, surprised but clearly pleased, said, “Oh, that’s a lovely idea, Charlie,” as he struck the first chord.
Everybody sang along. They sang their way from The Beatles and Cat Stevens all the way through Driveshaft’s third album and every song featured on the first season of The O.C. Hurley and some guy named Morgan did a credible rendition of 40 Oz. To Freedom, and when Charlie played Van Morrison, Jack took Kate by the hand and danced with her just at the edge of the fire’s light. Jenny Hoople, who had been on her way back to the University of Oregon after a semester in Sydney when Flight 815 made its unscheduled stop, turned out to know every word to every song Dave Matthews ever played.
“Can I?” Scott asked, gesturing at Charlie’s guitar.
Charlie handed it over, albeit a little reluctantly.
Scott grinned at the circle of faces around the fire, and launched immediately into the USC fight song. Cari and Steve, and Brad from Spokane started whooping and clapping and singing along.
Hurley groaned. “I’m stuck on an island with freaking Trojan fans.”
Jenny booed and yelled “Go Ducks!” through her cupped hands, prompting Steve to get up and chase her around the fire.
“Oh! And Clemens is sacked again!” he cried, tackling her to the ground in a fit of giggles.
Sitting between Shannon and Kate, Sayid just looked bemused.
“Ow, my sides hurt!” Shannon said, laughing so hard she had tears in her eyes, digging her feet into the sand next to him. He smiled down at her once, but she didn’t seem to notice.
When Shannon sang, her voice was clear and pleasant, sweet if not strong.
“Jack. Here,” Charlie said after she finished, holding out the guitar. “Everybody else has had a go.”
“Nah. Thanks, Charlie, I don’t play.”
“Pick a song then. Anything. I’ll probably know it.”
So he does.
“And as the moon rises, he sits by his fire, thinking about women and glasses of beer… He sings out a song which is soft but it’s clear, as if maybe someone could hear…” Jack wasn’t any good, but there was just something about that moment. The sky was clear, the stars high and the fire low, and they were all together in one place. They felt safe and warm and sleepy, with Charlie’s guitar soft in the background and the sound of Jack’s voice, “There’s a song that they sing when they take to the highway, a song that they sing when they take to the sea, a song that they sing of their home in the sky… Maybe you can believe if it helps you to sleep, but singing works just fine for me.”
Maybe it wasn’t even that moment. Maybe it was that, in hindsight, it was one of the last good moments for a long time.
*Incidentally, the epigraphs on each ficlet come from The Primitives, Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson.