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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Hour When The Ship Comes In
By Kassandra Luem
Kate finds Juliet at the top of a cliff with waves crashing against black rocks far down below. She doesn't really know how she ended up looking for Juliet; she tells herself it's because she wants to see for herself that she isn't up to something dangerous.
Juliet hasn't been with them for long and Kate's still wary of the woman with the blank stare and the icy demeanor. She tells herself it doesn't have anything to do with the bottle of rum she sees dangling from Juliet's hand as she leaves the camp and the fact that Kate has never seen Juliet so much as glance at anything alcoholic in all the time they've spent around each other. It doesn't have anything to do with the uncharacteristic drop of her shoulders or the way she hasn't talked to anyone in all of last week. Not even Jack, Kate notices with something akin to bitter satisfaction. What Jack could want with Juliet in the first place she can't possibly fathom, but then again, Jack has always had a thing for lost causes as she knows from personal experience and maybe that applies to Juliet too.
When Kate steps out of the dense forest she can't help but notice that only a few metres from where she's standing the ground just kind of disappears and all she can see beyond that is blue sea. And just where the ground ends and the sea starts in Kate's horizontal angle of view, blonde hair is gleaming in the afternoon sun.
Juliet's not moving and Kate doesn't want to startle her. The last thing she needs is an accident with someone ending up on the other end of this fifteen metre drop. So she doesn't move either. She just stands in front of the pulsating green forest behind her and stares at Juliet's shoulders, her head, her hair surrounded by nothing but vibrant blue.
And Kate knows, she should probably approach her, now that she spent the last few hours trying to track her down, climbing up all the way here in the blistering heat and the oppressive humidity that is a summer's day on the island.
But now that she's here and has determined that Juliet's definitely not up to anything dangerous to anyone other than herself and maybe an unanimated, unfeeling bottle of glass, Kate still can't bring her feet to move, can't bring herself to either take a step forward or to go back to the camp.
Because Juliet is standing right in front of her like a vision and even though she's standing with her back to her and Kate can't see her face there's something different about this Juliet. She looks softer up here on this cliff, less like an ice statue, human. This is not the woman who in a single, calculating move pressed a gun to her side as Sawyer lost it and started to bash up some of her people at Otherville. This isn't the woman who convinced Ben of her unwaivering allegiance only to betray him to Jack and everyone at the camp without so much as batting an eyelid. The woman in front of her is someone different and Kate is intrigued as to who she might be.
"You know, I know you're standing there. So you might as well come up here and tell me what you want."
At first Kate doesn't even realize Juliet spoke and it's only when Juliet turns around to punctuate her words with a raised eyebrow that Kate actually finds herself snapping to attention, angry and embarrassed for her momentary lapse in concentration.
"Well, maybe I don't want to come up to you."
She finds herself saying, hostility colouring her words as she redirects some of that anger towards the blonde in front of her.
"Fine. Then you might as well go back to the camp where you came from, I presume."
Juliet retorts, but her voice is different from what Kate expected. She sounds tired. Tired and wary, as if she really doesn't give a damn and that's new for Juliet. She always has some position or other when it comes to Kate and them being around each other. For Juliet to just not care at all is weird. Kate thought she'd be angry with her for following her all the way up, annoyed at her temper, her words and her in general. For Juliet to snap back and tell her to get lost and stalk someone else would've been completely and entirely acceptable. Would've been normal. For Juliet to act like this makes Kate wonder what's up with her. And so she's back to intrigued.
Being intrigued doesn't get her very far though, because Juliet turns back around facing the sea and there's only so much Kate can guess from looking at a slender, motionless back.
Slowly, she approaches Juliet. As she comes to a stop beside her she realizes two things. First of them, the bottle in Juliet's hand is missing the cap, but it's still full. Second, there are tear tracks on Juliet's face that shimmer on her skin like tiny rivulets of gold. Juliet still doesn't look at her and for a while they stand in silence and watch the waves rolling towards them in streams of blinding white light that crash and fragment upon reaching the black rock down below.
Finally, when Kate's already convinced Juliet's not going to speak and they're gonna spend the whole afternoon looking at waves and sea and blue there are two silently spoken sentences that penetrate her mind and tear the web of surreality that has started to cling to the scene.
"Precisely four years ago I stood here and watched the sub leave that had brought me to the island. Not a day goes by that I don't wish I had left right with them while I still could."
This is the most Juliet has ever ventured into her past in all the time Kate's known her and immediately her mind is connecting dots and putting things in place. She came on a sub? Voluntarily? What for? Kate wants to ask all of that, to push Juliet until she spills her whole story but something keeps her from it. Maybe it's the way Juliet doesn't look at her, almost like she's speaking to herself. And maybe it's just that Kate enjoys the peace and quiet the two of them just shared and even though it's Juliet a part of her just doesn't feel like arguing with the blonde woman just now. So she waits and after a few minutes of silence Juliet continues speaking.
"Ben recruited me, but I soon noticed I couldn't do what he wanted me to. He told me he could cure my sister's cancer if I stayed. She was pregnant, finally, after trying for ages. And now it seemed she was going to die before my nephew could even be born. So I stayed. I became his and continued to do whatever he wanted. I let him change me."
She shudders as she says "his" and when she mentions her sister and her nephew her face is full of something Kate can't place. For a second, Juliet looks alive and vibrant with longing before her story turns to Ben and her face becomes a cold mask of hatred that makes Kate's insides freeze up. She's silent now, afraid to break the moment, to break the spell that has the blonde doctor telling her all those things.
And she wants to know them, she realizes. She wants to understand what made Juliet come to the island, what made her hate Ben so much and what made her change from the emotional, loving woman she just glimpsed for the first time to the Juliet she knows. The cold, impenetrable and enigmatic woman she and everyone else, for that matter only trust as far as they can throw her. Something she's very aware works both ways.
So as Juliet continues talking in short sentences and that quiet, even voice of hers Kate finds herself listening intently, turning her head fully not to miss a single expression that might cross Juliet's face.
She tells her about how she thought Ben had lied to her and she had lost her sister inspite of anything. She tells her of his programme with pregnant women and how she tried and failed to save them and for a second there's a glimpse of the other Juliet again, the caring Juliet that feels guilty about each and every patient she couldn't save.
"You see" she says finally "you're probably right not to like me. Not to trust me. I don't expect you to."
Kate huffs and fumbles for anything to say. In the end she carefully takes the bottle from where it's dangling limply in Juliet's hand and takes a long swig.
"If I were you I'd have downed the damn thing."
That's when Juliet lifts her head and looks at her for the first time in what feels like ages. There's a question in her eyes and when Kate doesn't scowl at her or sneer or glare, a small smile starts spreading on her face.
"Yeah, I probably should have. At least then I wouldn't have carried it all the way up here for nothing."
Kate smiles too and for a second her brain protest that this is Juliet she's smiling at and sharing this thing with. But then Juliet takes the bottle from her and takes a long swallow herself and Kate finds herself involuntarily impressed by her lack of flinch.
And even though they don't talk about it as they empty the bottle between them while the sun continues to sparkle on blue, blue water there is something between them that wasn't there the day before.
It's in Kate's eyes when she looks at Juliet trying to really see her now, instead of just acknowledging from where her voice is coming. And it's in Juliet's smile when she comments one of Kate's remarks with a quip of her own instead of an icy glare and a sarcastic comeback.
Four years ago, Juliet watched her sub leave from this cliff. Today is the first day she feels like she might've arrived somewhere. A year ago, Kate's plane crashed on the shore of the island. Today is the first day she feels like maybe she's stopped falling.
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