Rating: PG-13 - bad language, reference to child abuse, fairly graphic description of hunting, and a little bit of sex-type naughtiness. In general, if you can watch either show, you can read this.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these settings or characters, excepting the one who's an embryo, who is purely the creation of my own mind, but she doesn't get much dialogue, so . . in general, not mine, please don't sue.
Summary: Sequel to <A HREF=http://www.tthfanfic.org/story.php?no=6114
>Survival</A>; this is a Faith-centric vignette-ish thingie, crossover with 'Lost', AU for now (depending on whether canon contradicts me before the end of the season). Faith/Sayid.
"I’m being stupid," Faith announces as he walks into their shared cave.
"Do you want an answer to that?" Sayid asks, and then ducks out of the way of the shoe she throws at him. "I’m going to take that to mean no," he surmises, crouching down beside her and going still. She glances up in irritation after a long silent moment, and sees that he is holding out a piece of fruit, brows raised questioningly.
Faith snatches it away, feeling surly and childish and too discombobulated to care, and takes a deliberately vicious bite without saying a word. She swallows it skin and all. He sits cross-legged on the floor, and watches her; she tears another hunk of flesh out of the papaya and glares briefly back at him before averting her eyes, chewing determinedly.
"There is more," he offers when she’s finished the fruit.
"Nah, I’m good," she says, ignoring the cramping of her stomach and the guilty tug in her gut that says she ought to be eating better. "Five by five. Whatever. Thanks," she finishes curtly, debating licking her fingers and instead wiping them on her pants, just because licking them might seem flirtatious and wiping them might ruin her pants. Clothes are scarce, and she’s already wrecked one pair today, so why not screw up another? She feels like breaking things, breaking things and screaming. The wall of the cave is rough and cool at her back, curved so that she has to sit vaguely hunched to stay pressed to it, and she wants the stones digging into her back.
"You know, that guy is a real asshole sometimes," Faith comments after a moment. "Most times I like him, but sometimes he just really needs kicking in the head."
"Locke?" Sayid asks.
"No, the Easter Bunny," Faith snaps back. "The *other* dude who was trying to feed me bear liver."
"Faith -" Warm fingers close over hers.
"I just felt weird about eating it, you know?" she blurts out hastily, interrupting him before he can ask the question.
"Liver, or bear liver?" he asks, tilting his head to the side, brow furrowing.
"I dunno," she shrugs irritably. "I said I was being stupid. It’s not gonna make a whole lot of sense. I mean, fuck, if even I think it’s dumb, it’s probably pretty fucking dumb."
"Why would Locke offer you the liver?" Sayid presses. He’s learned better than to argue when she’s running herself down; he just ignores it, and contradicts it in how he continues to treat her, as if she is competent and intelligent and worthwhile. Sometimes that makes her want to argue – to get it through his head what a really bad idea it is to trust her.
"Ask Locke," she snaps.
"I did," he retorts. "He said it was not his to tell."
"Yeah, well, it’s not," Faith agrees, but offers nothing further. She hears him draw in a breath, about to speak again, and rushes ahead, babbling. "There were a couple times it almost got me. Like, this close, claws going by so I could feel the breeze from them, and teeth right in my face, and it was fucking *huge*, really fucking strong, and it was almost like – almost like home, I guess, almost like doing what I was made to do, and then just when I’m feeling all high on it, there’s Locke being all like, drag it back to camp, cut it up, let’s have us some bear steaks. And it just . . it just seemed *wrong*, you know?"
"I do not think I understand," Sayid says, frowning.
"It’s just – it gave a good fight, you know?" she searches his face for comprehension, and sees concern, but not understanding. "Whatever, fuck it, it’s dumb."
"I think I see," he says after a moment. "To eat it . . it dishonors it? There should be more .. more ceremony to it. More significance."
"I don’t give a fuck about shit like that," Faith protests, though more to herself than to him.
"Do you not?" he asks, challenging.
"It’s just that fighting it makes it – it’s sorta like – well when something finally gets one up on me, I hope it doesn’t cut my fucking liver out," she finishes sullenly. "I don’t want to be something’s fucking breakfast. That’s just – like, go for the heart at least. That’d be different. They always do that in stories and shit, you know? I think I remember that from way back when I actually paid attention to shit in school . . must have been like, eight or something . . there was this story about a knight and a dragon and when he killed it he cut its heart out and ate it. And that’s cool, you know? That means something. What?" she demands when she sees how he’s watching her.
"You were born to the wrong century," he comments, bemused and affectionate.
"Yeah right," she scoffs. "’Nuther century and I would have been like, married off at twelve and popping out babies -" she cuts herself off, eyes darting sharply up to his face and away again, and realizes immediately that she’s screwed up – that she should have kept talking, like she hadn’t said anything wrong. He saw the way she flinched; he has an annoying habit of seeing everything, and everything behind it.
"I do not think so," Sayid says, and pulls her hand to his lips, kissing the knuckles.
"Whatever," she responds. Her stomach growls audibly. "There’s more fruit, right?"
"Just how different are Slayers from ordinary women?" he asks. She looks up.
"You have to ask that?" she quips suggestively. "Damn, I must be doing something wrong." He doesn’t take the bait; he just watches her, all sober and serious, until she looks away. "We’re stronger, faster, heal better, all that shit. You know this stuff."
"But not in other ways," he presses.
"Just ask the damned question," she snaps, pulling her hand away from him.
"Are you pregnant?" he asked bluntly.
"Yeah, I am," she responds, looking to the side, down at the cave floor, anywhere but at his face. The smell of roasting bear meat is wafting in from outside, making her mouth water and her stomach churn at the same time. She leans back and her hair catches on the rock, pulling; she scruffs at a rough place on the floor with her toe, and moments pass.
"Say something," she finally demands.
"I am an idiot," Sayid murmurs quietly. He sounds disgusted, and his tone feels like a punch in the gut, like all the wind has been knocked out of her.
Faith stumbles blindly to her feet, throwing herself out of the cave and away from him. She doesn't know where she's going, except *away*; someone is calling after her, trying to keep up as she tears through jungle, ripping and shredding as she goes, leaving a trail of ruined foliage to equal any destruction ever caused by the bear she'd killed that morning. By the time the angry haze recedes enough for her to be aware of what she's doing, there's nothing but green around her, the sound of wind in the leaves and the eerie still silence of all the little live things that know she is a predator. Somewhere far off, a bird calls out. There are hurried footsteps just a little ways behind her, but no other human sounds.
She thought the voice that followed her was Sayid, but it's not - it's Locke, panting with exertion, and she wonders how far out of camp they are, and in what direction.
"What are you doing?" Locke asks, leaning with his hands on his knees and trying to regain his breath.
"Hunting," Faith says, looking down and seeing a knife in her hand. Her pulse is still loud in her ears.
"We have more meat than we need," Locke argues. "Some will spoil as it is."
"Yeah?" Faith demands belligerently.
"This is a closed ecosystem -" Locke begins.
"Whatever," Faith cuts him off, turns to leave.
"You told him, didn't you?" Locke calls after her, and she pauses again, turns back. Something is stinging in her eyes.
"Yeah, I fucking told him," she spits out. "Thanks a lot for creating the opportunity, and while we're on the subject, how the fuck did you know anyway?"
"What did he say?" Locke presses.
"None of your fucking business," she snaps. "He did cartwheels of joy. Sent me flowers. Took me out somewhere nice for dinner, called his mother, you know, what people do when - just none of your fucking business, alright?"
She's never actually seen a man react that way to news of impending fatherhood, but it's how it happens on TV, how it *should* happen. Her sense of what should be is sharpened by her awareness of what is, and she knows that what is usually involves some name-calling and recriminations and eventually an offer to pay half-way to take care of it. That's not an option here, and she doesn't want to know if he'd suggest it, if it were.
She doesn't want to know what she'd do, if it were. She'd kick herself in the head if she could for how stupid she's been, thinking a shared mat on the floor of a cave, just the fact that he was still there every morning, meant she had a little slice of what should be.
"It's my business if you're going to be wasting our resources because of it," Locke insists. "That's everyone's -"
"Fuck that shit," she interrupts, and takes off.
Locke's words won't stop echoing in her head, and in the end she hunts rabbits, which are harder to catch than she expects - different from bigger game, quick, full of jack-knife turns and darting into places she can't reach. It's not as satisfying as a fight but it blows off steam, lets her wind down, and when she's caught two she builds a fire and attempts to roast them.
She slits the intestines of the first, and ends up tossing the carcass whole off into the trees, grimacing at the smell. The second one she manages to clean effectively; she tries to skin it, thinking of rabbit fur coats in the windows of Macy's back in Boston, just before Christmas. One year someone threw red paint on the windows, but as a rule, keeping up with the Joneses trumped tender sensibilities. Her mother had rambled at times about wanting a fur coat, and Faith had been young enough once to protest that fur was mean. It had earned her a slap, and she had nosebleeds on and off for the next day. She remembers an impatient school nurse, finally calling her mother when she showed up for the third time before lunch with a wad of paper towels stuffed up her nose.
Her mother came to get her and took her out for ice cream, in November - butter pecan, her favorite - and said she was sorry, and tried to explain the significance of a fur coat, and smelled sourly of brandy and gave her number to the guy who pumped their gas on the way home.
Faith thinks her mother tried, really honestly tried. It just wasn't in her, that's all. The guy from the gas station turned out to be the type with wandering hands, and eventually her mother caught on and threw him out. There was more ice cream - chocolate chocolate chip. She remembers the little ice cream stand was out of butter pecan that day, because her mother had cried, and screamed at the girl at the counter. Butter pecan was Faith's favorite.
She rips the rabbit skin, and the fur and her fingers are slippery with blood. Eventually she gives up, disgusted, wiping her hands on the nearby underbrush and grimacing when she can't get rid of the stickiness. There are little dark drips of blood all over her clothes, two big spots on the knees because she'd knelt while she worked.
The roasted carcass is black on the outside, still bloody at the inside, but somewhere in the middle the meat is sweet and perfect and gone too quickly. She considers trying to find the other dead rabbit and salvage what she can - maybe a drumstick or two - but realizes almost as soon as she thinks it how impossible it would be to find something that doesn't move, in all that dense green. It's possible she could locate it by smell, she thinks, and remembering the smell squashes any remnant of desire to make the effort.
Her small fire goes out for lack of tending, and she sits there in the stillness with the last tendrils of smoke curling up into her hair, listening to the lack of life around her. The aroma of charred meat is not as strong as the smell of blood, and there is still the lingering stench of spilled guts. Her stomach does an uneasy jig, and she swallows repeatedly, wishing she had water.
Somewhere above the canopy is a blazing afternoon sun; the heat doesn't usually bother her, but sitting there with nothing to do but think and nothing she wants to think about, Faith feels sweat dripping down her back. She's unsure how long she sits there, knowing she needs to head back in, or find water on her own, before she blinks and shakes her head as if waking from a trance and finally pushes herself to her feet. The shadows don't help her to tell the time; in the jungle everything is all mottled shadow, depths of translucent green, sometimes so thick it feels a bit like being under water.
Faith used to imagine that, as a kid - being able to breathe under water. She loved to swim, would hold her breath as long as she could, eyes wide and stinging in the dull gloaming light, watching the bubbles float up to the shimmering surface. She wondered what would happen if she just took a breath - just sucked in the water like it was air. Maybe she *could* breathe under water - how did she really know the difference? What if everyone was wrong - or what if she was different, special? Her lungs always started burning before she could quite make up her mind, enough to scare her and propel her towards the surface.
Everyone *was* wrong - she was different, was special. Half of her felt vindicated when she found out, but the other half felt cheated and enraged. The quarry had changed hands by that time, and the new owners put up chain-link fence with barbed wire at the top to keep the kids out. Her mother was dead. The little ice cream stand had closed, melted into a dilapidated huddle of rust and graffiti. The guy from the gas station wasn't the last of his kind. It was too late to be special, and the soft blue world of the submerged quarry was still closed to her.
The humid air is heavy on her skin, heavy in her lungs. This is almost the opposite of plunging into those chill depths; she feels tethered to the earth, weighted down, scalded. But it is not so opposite as dingy warehouses and abandoned buildings in the August heat, drowning in dust and the smell of human refuse, had been. It is different here, alive, though it goes quiet around her - the jungle tries to keep its distance.
Despite her thirst she follows the winding path that her feet find, without goal or direction. This takes her to the lagoon, which makes her briefly ponder the possibility of as-yet undiscovered Slayer instincts, related to the finding of water.
Then she sees Sayid sitting on the shore reading, and all her hazy bemusement vanishes, the full weight of the unguarded evening sun seeming crash into her as she emerges from the trees. He doesn't turn around and seems absorbed in his reading, and Faith wonders if she could just turn back and disappear into the trees. She knows where she is now, not far from camp, and if he's here that means she can always get water there.
"I thought you would come here eventually," he says, laying the book down.
"You care?" she scoffs.
"Yes, I do," he responds earnestly, standing. The light is deep and golden, gilding his skin; she thinks he's beautiful, and tries to swallow down the burning feeling in her throat at the sight of him. Lust she knows, and lust this is not, though it's in there.
"Right," Faith responds coldly, crossing her arms, satisfied with the hard edge she hears in her voice. Her fingers are still sticky with rabbit's blood against her skin, and she's suddenly very conscious of the blood drying under her nails. It makes her feel vulnerable, though she knows he's not squeamish - it would be better if he were, if she could be sure of frightening and disgusting him.
"Back at the cave, I misspoke," he goes on, apologetic, and she backs up a step as he approaches, hating the way his voice can pull at things inside of her.
"You said what you meant," she retorts flatly, back nearly to the trees.
"No," he shakes his head, frowning. "I mean - yes, but not as you took it."
"How many ways are there to take that?" she snaps. "I'm knocked up, you're pissed off, it's pretty simple."
"I'm 'pissed off' at myself," he insists, and the burning in her throat seems to have worked its way up to her eyes. She thinks that if she cries, here, now, in front of him, the ground may just have to open up and swallow her for shame.
"Yeah, I got that," she shoots back.
"No, you did not," he argues, and he knows her well enough to reach out and take hold of her forearm, holding her there.
"Let go of me," she demands flatly, feeling the heat of the day sinking down through her skin and running out through her pores, muscles tensing. She's never fought with him, not physically, not even in jest - it would be too easy to go too far - but she's about to.
"I am an idiot for endangering you," he goes on, as if she hadn't even spoken. "You and - and the child. For this to happen here, where there are no hospitals, no medicine or vitamins, you cannot even eat properly -"
"What?" she interrupts, disoriented, jarred out of her tension.
"I should have taken precautions, at the least I should have been paying attention and noticed sooner -"
"You're upset 'cause we're here?" Faith asks, incredulous. "Like - you would be not upset, if we were somewhere else?"
He stops his guilty ranting, looking into her face, and his expression is wary and guarded, full of contained fear.
"There is Jack, at least," he offers, after a moment. "At least there is a doctor, and Claire's son is healthy, as is she -"
"And you're worried about scaring me?" she blurts out in disbelief. "That's what you're doing now, you're trying to take back everything you just said 'cause you think you scared me."
He opens his mouth, considers, and closes it again. "I have never been in this situation before," he says finally. "I do not think I am handling it very well."
"Welcome to the club," Faith snorts, and hugs her arms tighter to resist the impulse to just launch herself at him and never let go. All is not good, she tries to remind herself, all is far from good, in all the ways he just listed. She can't quite make herself care. He begins to pull her towards him.
"Don't, I'm all gross," she protests.
"You're beautiful," he retorts.
"No, really, I've got rabbit blood all over me," she argues half-heartedly as he pries her hands loose from her arms and tugs her forward until she's caught against his chest. It's too hot for this to be comfortable, but she relishes it, letting her arms slide around him.
"Are you frightened?" he asks after a moment. Her ear is plastered sweatily to his neck and his voice is a soft rumbling.
"Your voice is nice," she murmurs contentedly, then realizes he's asked a question, a fairly significant question. "Yeah. I mean, a little. A lot. Scared shitless probably covers it."
He pulls back, looking stricken.
"Not of all the island crap," she hastily assures him. "I mean just of - fucking hell, I'm gonna have a kid. That doesn't scare you?"
"You don't want children?" he asks.
"I dunno. Maybe. Back home, it was like - so far beyond possibility," she tries to explain, and as she does she begins to feel a strange awareness settling somewhere down in her gut - that this is real. There's a little someone inside her, right now. "I never thought about it, y'know?"
"But you are thinking of it now," he presses.
"Yeah, well, not a lot of options here," she shrugs, grimacing. "What?" she asks when she sees his sudden lack of expression.
"You don't want to have this baby," Sayid says, flatly.
"Well thanks for letting me know what I want," Faith retorts, wondering how she managed to fuck that up so quickly, but not really surprised.
"No, that's not -" He stops short, letting go of her and backing away but holding her gaze, pushing his hair out of his face with both hands. "That is not what I was saying, I am not trying to tell you how to think, but I don't know what you want and I don't know what to do to make this right." Sweaty tendrils like spiraling wires cling to his wrists, and Faith remembers the taste of that skin. She jams her hands into her pockets to keep from touching the damp places where his hands had been on her body, chilled with evaporating sweat. Considering the temperature, she thinks she's really wearing way too many clothes, but she feels exposed.
"You're pissed off again," she points out, baiting him, wishing he'd snap. She can almost feel his frustration, making her want to twitch, though she digs the tips of her fingers into the pockets of her pants until they're curling into the flesh of her thighs, and keeps still. A bead of sweat runs down her back, and her hair is clinging to her neck, itching.
"Am I wrong?" he demands.
"Yeah, you're wrong," Faith shoots back, and he doesn't look like he believes her. She doesn't blame him - it's the sort of thing she'd say on reflex, just to get under his skin. "You're wrong," she repeats, mumbling, looking down at her bare feet. They're brown and dirty and on the left, the biggest toenail is cracked and ripped half away. She doesn't remember doing that; there's crusted blood, but that doesn't mean its hers. She thinks something like that should have hurt - she should have noticed that at the time.
He's sudden crouching down in front of her, placing himself in her line of sight.
"I'm wrong?" he asks, carefully.
"Yeah," she says, digging her injured toe into the sand until the scab cracks and it stings.
"I'm glad," he offers.
"I'm not," she sighs, flopping down to sit cross-legged in the sand, pulling her foot up onto her knee and picking at the nail, making it bleed. It still doesn't hurt like she thinks it ought to, but she remembers hearing somewhere that it's better for a cut to bleed - that it keeps it from getting infected, washes the dirt out. "I mean, me with a kid, that's gotta be like, the official shittiest idea ever."
"Why?" he asks, pushing her hands away and pulling her foot into his lap, dabbing at the blood with a corner of his shirt. She leans back, letting him fuss with it, though it's starting to more than sting. "You should wash this," he says after a moment, when she's said nothing.
"It'll be fine," she shrugs. "Won't even be there by tomorrow." Her foot is still resting on his thigh, and he's tracing idle patterns over the sole of it with his thumb. "There's no ice cream here," she blurts out after a moment, and he looks up, puzzled. "It's what my mom used to do, when she fucked something up, she'd get me ice cream. Like that made it better or something." She shrugs. "Always said I was never gonna do that - guess I won't. Can't."
"I wish this had not happened here," Sayid answers, studying her toes with rapt attention, and his hair is falling back into his face. He tries to shake it out of the way, a quick impatient movement. "But a part of me is glad." He looks up, waiting for her reaction, but she doesn't know how to react, and her confusion must show in her face because he goes on. "Because it could not have happened elsewhere."
"I dunno," Faith quips, "I was checking you out, y'know, at the airport. Thought you had a nice ass." It's true, but it's also a desperate attempt to break the tension. He flushes faintly, embarrassed, and it makes something inside her wobble and clench that he can look like that.
"It would not have been like this," he insists, at the same time she blurts out, "Wouldn't have worked out like -" They both hesitate.
"When I was younger, I just expected I would have a family of my own, eventually," Sayid says quietly. "It was simply how one's life progressed; the idea that my life might go differently, never crossed my mind. It was one of many things I didn't question."
"Yeah, well, motherhood was really not on my list of plans," Faith returns. "But that's just - it shouldn't matter now, right? I mean, who knows what you'd want or what you'd do if things were different, 'cause, things aren't different. They just are what they are and you've just gotta deal and - fuck, that's not what I mean. I want this baby," she says earnestly, though she can't quite believe the words are coming out of her mouth. "Even though it's probably the stupidest fucking idea I ever had in my life, which is really saying something, I want - I want it to have a chance, you know? 'Cause, I mean - you could go around thinking everything's one big fuck-up, really, if you thought about it hard enough. If you think about all the stupid little shit that everybody screws up every day, all those people, and it all adding up, then you get the idea that the whole world and how everything happens isn't how anybody meant it to happen, and fate is just fucked in the head, and it doesn't - it shouldn't matter." She stops, takes a shaky breath. "It just shouldn't matter, why anything is the way it is, or if anybody wanted you to start with or if you were meant to be or whatever, you should just - you should get a chance."
"Have I mentioned recently that you have a most unique way of looking at the world?" Sayid asks, tilting his head, wearing expression she can't quite decipher. There's a part of her that's tempted to think he's laughing at her, and she pulls her foot back, tucks her arms in to her sides, wary.
"Yeah, whatever," she shrugs awkwardly, beginning to regret saying so much. She's tense, as if expecting a blow.
"You think of things in a way that I never would," he insists.
"Right," she snaps. "I'm just gonna shut up now."
"Please don't," he says, and he's faintly smiling. She doesn't know why, and she glares at him in embarrassed annoyance for the length of time it takes for the drop of sweat collecting at her collarbone to drip over and run down between her breasts, faintly tickling, and suddenly the whole situation is overwhelmingly ridiculous. Her own lips are curving upward all on their own, until they're both grinning at each other like a couple of kids with ice cream sundaes.
"You won't hate me, then, for being pleased?" Sayid asks, though by now he's got to know the answer.
"This is so completely fucked up," Faith shakes her head. "You get that, right?" He quirks an eyebrow. "I think I can forgive you," she drawls, mockingly serious.
"Oh, good," he says, and reaches out to brush her hair away from her face. She catches his wrist and tugs, cackling wickedly at the surprise on his face as he tumbles forward, all off balance, his knees knocking into hers. Then her lips are crashing into his, all hot and hungry, and she laughs into his mouth when her head hits the ground a bit harder than she intended and their teeth clink painfully together.
He pulls back, looking down at her like she's gone out of her mind, which she allows is a real and genuine possibility. Faith lays there on the ground, looking up at his shadowed face, his hair all golden and glowing around the edges with the sun behind him, and sticks her tongue out at him. She feels drunk, giddy, and knows it's unlikely to last, but determined to enjoy it while it's there. He takes that as an invitation, lunging down to capture her tongue and her lips again. She loses herself in it for long moments until the heat becomes overwhelming, and she pushes him off her with both hands against his chest.
"It's too fucking hot," she complains, rolling to follow him as he props himself up an elbow, all flushed and dark-eyed. Her feet are still all tangled up with his, and she has the idea that if they tried to stand right now they'd both fall on their asses. "I was looking for water here, y'know."
"Very good idea," he nods quickly, hands going around her waist and sliding up, catching the hem of her tank top on his thumbs and tugging it along. "You should get in the water immediately. We wouldn't want you to overheat."
"Are you trying to seduce the pregnant lady?" she demands, pretending outrage.
"Yes," he says, thumbs sliding along the undersides of her breasts.
"Kinky," she teases.
"Well, I have to keep you from getting bored," Sayid retorts.
Faith falls back against the sand again, laughing uncontrollable, so hard there are tears running down her face within seconds.
"What did I say?" he asks, from somewhere above her and a little to the left, out in the golden blur that the day has become through the tears. She tries to regain some control, but then she's off again, laughing almost to hard to breath.
"B-bored," she manages, gasping for air. "You said -" She pushes herself up to sitting, wiping her face and scrunching her nose, trying to blink the world back into focus. "Dude, I am so *not* bored." But he looks worried again. "That's good," she clarifies. "It's a good thing. Five by five. Cool. Bored equals bad. Don't go all freaked out on me again, we just went over this."
"I know," he says, but he's not reaching for her again, and she scowls in frustration. She's had about all deep and meaningful she can handle, and the combination of nakedness and water was sounding like a really good idea before she got distracted.
"'Cause, you know, all that island shit, that's - well, it's true," she tries impatiently to explain, "But it's about the only way I'm ever gonna go nine months without like, getting mauled by a vampire or something. Having some demon drip some goo on me that'd make the baby pop out with three heads or some shit, y'know? That's what my life is like. This is as safe as I get. This is -" She stops, suddenly swallowing hard and hearing what she's saying. "This is just about as safe as I've ever felt."