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If You Were Stranded...

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Summary: When that plane crashed, on that island, Buffy Summers was among its passengers, and no one was more surprised by this than her. Buffy/Kate Austen. Femslash.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > LostPatKFR1315,7351131,45829 Jan 0929 Jan 09No
Disclaimer: All that is BtVS related belongs to Joss and FOX. All that is LOST-related belongs to J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, and ABC. I profit none. Less than none.
Spoilers: Begins pre-the S8 storyline for BtVS, and within the flash forward time frame of S4 for LOST, but anything from any season of both shows is fair game to be referenced or played in.



To say she was disoriented, being suddenly on her back on the barn floor, with the giant face of her sister above her, would be an understatement.

“Buffy!” Dawn squealed in happiness. “Oh my god, you’re alive!” Her eyebrow quirked. “Geez. How come you’re so drenched? And who’s that guy?”

Buffy barely had a chance to look over at the unconscious man she’d been clutching onto before Willow and Xander were pulling her up and hugging her.

“Worried we weren’t gonna see you again, Buf,” he said.

“I’ve been trying to get a lock on you for three months!” Willow was teary. “Then finally today, I...” She trailed off. “Wow, you are all soggy.”

Buffy’s friends then let her breathe.

“It’s great to see you guys, too,” she smiled. “But first--“

“Still puttin’ people in comas, B. Old habits, yeah?” Faith snarked, announcing her presence and crouching down over her blonde’s teleportation companion. She could tell by Buffy’s face she wasn’t expected. “Somebody had to keep the sisterhood in line. Never figured it was anything but a temp gig, though.”

Buffy had too many thoughts, so she just bypassed all the “who’s-in-command” ones, and settled on, ”He’s not in a coma. But he does need to be in the infirmary like, now, and...how come my little sister’s huge? She’s the extremely opposite of little. She’s supposed to be done spurting.”

“I didn’t have sex,” Dawn said without prompting and much too quickly.

“Uh, we’ll get him a bed,” volunteered Xander, speaking of himself and Faith to get the hell out of there.

He and the Bostonian each went to grab an end, and they carried him outside.

“We’ll talk later,” Buffy promised her sibling.

Oh yay. She was back.

“Who is he, Buffy?” Willow re-asked the earlier question.

“His name’s Jin,” came the almost distracted answer.

“Oh,” the witch uttered once she realized she wasn’t getting anything else.

“And...?” The teenager prodded.

Buffy looked up. “And, what?”

“*Where the %@!& were you*?”

***

When her eyes opened, she was looking at water. There wasn’t much choice--she was facedown, submerged. Quickly, the need to breathe overtook her, so she maneuvered into a more vertical position, allowing her to float on the surface. Sucking in air and sputtering, she moved her now wet, blond hair back out of the way. She needed to get her bearings.

Needed to not think about how she almost drowned and died...again.

She heard the waterfall before seeing it. Based on said waterfall, the color of the natural, spring water in which she floated, and the greenery, she deduced this was some sort of tropical island. And well, if she had to be on a plane that crashed, she could think of worse places to land. Then her eyes went suddenly wide.

She’d been in a *plane crash*. And survived. How many lives did she have, anyway?

Leaving that thought behind, she swam to the edge of the sizable body of water, and pulled herself out onto solid ground. Getting to her feet, she could survey her surroundings in whole, and did. She stared at her liquid-y savior, musing,

“Huh, guess these aren’t just invented by water bottle labelists.”

That was when the unmistakable sound of an explosion reached her ears. She turned her head in the direction it had come from, knowing it was probably the plane, or a piece of it, or several. Meant there were probably other people nearby, other survivors of the crash. They could need help, and isn’t that what she did? Helped? Led?

But besides that, she knew she should go join them, because she could miss the rescue. Also, until rescue arrived, she had no experience surviving in the wild. Being alone in a foreign jungle was just a dumb idea. Standing there a moment, she decided.

To walk in the opposite direction. Buffy Summers didn’t want to be anybody’s leader. And she really had had enough of playing the hero. Just this once, somebody else could do it.

***

Night had fallen. She still hadn’t run into anybody, nor was she trying to. There’d been no helicopters overhead, no sign anyone was coming.

Thus she was glad she found shelter by the end of that first day, and was content to stay there. Very content. Why? No reason. Oh, except the noises that had rang through the jungle after dark. Noises more than a little King Kong-ian and apocalyptic in their scope. No leading, no heroics, and no fighting monsters. She was resolved, damn it.

So yes, she was very content. Sure, the two skeletons who’d already called the caves in this valley “home” were kind of a turn-off, and sure, the coffin (which she only opened to make sure nothing was undead) brought up some traumatizing memories, but she couldn’t say no to a shady canopy of trees.

Plus, the coffin had been inside the cargo compartment of the plane, which conveniently crashed here and contained useful items, too. Like luggage that held blankets, a lighter for the easy-making of fire, and a Swiss Army knife so she could cut into the fruit she’d been collecting. She was pretty much set.

While some part of her wondered what her friends were thinking, and why Willow hadn’t done a locator spell and just teleported her out of here, another part of her didn’t seem to care that she could be stranded. Maybe because that part of her doubted this was real. Maybe she thought this was somebody’s weird version of an afterlife/purgatory, that she was dead for good this time.

But footsteps were getting closer, thereby killing that idea. She could see the flicker of torchlight.

‘Great,’ Buffy thought, and then ducked behind some of the taller plants on the side opposite the wreckage.

It was a guy. An attractive, well-toned guy with a tattoo on his shoulder. He had close-cropped black hair and healthy stubble. The rest of him didn’t look so healthy, though. He looked exhausted, tired. For a few seconds he viewed the mini, freshwater spring with a smile, but then he viewed the coffin.

His expression became one of disbelief as he stepped up to it, seemingly trying to keep emotions in check. Putting his torch down, he opened the coffin, and upon seeing it empty, started going to town, destroying it out of...frustration? Anger? Buffy couldn’t tell exactly. After he was finished, he put his hands on his hips and took a deep breath.

She considered staying hidden, but he was going to register her campfire and blanket as soon as he calmed himself down. Taking a deep breath of her own, she cautiously approached him from behind. So much for resolve. Damn it.

“Hi,” she greeted.

He spun around, surprised to see her there, but somehow relieved at the same time. He took a second to notice the things she knew he was going to.

“Who’re you?” He asked.

“I’m...Buffy,” she introduced herself after an internal debate. “Who’re you?”

“Did...did you see...?” He sounded out of breath, and self-conscious at the thought that she’d been a witness to what he’d just done. “Never mind.”

“Never-minding,” she promised. “S’ not my business.”

“Were you on the plane?”

“Nope, I live here,” cracked Buffy sarcastically. “Like that Brooke Shields movie. But without the nakedness and creepy, ‘puberty’s-new-since-yesterday’ sex.”

He chuckled, continuing the emotional rollercoaster he’d been riding. “Been living here since we crashed? Alone? Because there’s a bunch of us down by the beach--“

“So you’re nameless?” She interrupted, half-because she wanted to know, and half-because she wanted to delay the inevitable meeting of more people. “’Cause, kinda sad if you are.”

“It’s ‘Jack,’” he properly introduced himself, and then held out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Buffy.”

She hesitated before resigning to fate and shaking his hand. “Yeah...nice. Meeting you, I mean. Too.” Beat. “How many people?”

***

Buffy came running into Command Central after her and her squad got back from the mission, when all the words she wanted to say were silenced. She stepped up next to Xander and watched what was on his bay of monitors. It was a broadcast from a Korean news station. They were showing footage from a press conference, subtitles ran along the bottom.

She knew the voice that was speaking. It was Jack.

“It-it all happened really fast. I remember the impact. I remember the-the plane filling up with water. A group of us got to the emergency door, and, um...got out before it went down,” he was telling the assembled press.

A reporter asked, “And those of you swam to the island?

“No. We had, uh, cushions. We had some life jackets. We were in the water for over a day before the current took us in. By then, there was only eight of us left.”

She stood there and watched the whole thing. Jack, Hurley, Sayid, Sun...Kate...they were all lying. And Kate was pretending to be...oh, shit.

“Xander...why’s Jin not here?”

“He saw this and wanted to get gone,” her friend answered. “So Will booked him a flight East; Leah took him into town, got him a lift to the airport.”

“You let him leave?” She panicked.

“Figured that’d be a yay. ‘Cause Will and the mystics are glamoured out. Keeping an international army of superladies quiet ain’t easy,” Xander told her. “But hey, if you’re pro-kidnapping now, don’t ya think that’s the sorta loop we oughta be in?”

“I didn’t kidnap...”

She hadn’t been the same since getting back. Today was the first time she’d been back in the field. Up until now she’d stayed around the Scottish Castle and trained the squads. Plus, shocking everybody, especially Faith, she didn’t kick the brunette slayer out and try to take over the reins. She couldn’t tell them what happened. Where she and Jin had been.

She just couldn’t; she had her reasons, same as the Oceanic Six.

“How ‘bout any loop, Buffy? How come you didn’t tell us?” He asked, not understanding. “We made it outta Sunnydale, remember? Willow tried to end the world, I ate the rawest pork chops known to man and woman...*ever*, and in August, Dawn turned the ripe, old age of four. So who cares if you followed in ‘Hanks-ian’ footsteps? We can deal. And besides, who wouldn’t wanna be that guy?”

“What guy?” Buffy was puzzled.

“Tom Hanks? Wilson?”

“‘Wilson’ who?”

He closed his good eye, feeling sorry for her. Without speaking, they both agreed to just move past her pop-culture ignorance. She took a deep breath.

“I know you’d deal,” she acknowledged. “But...”

He saw her face--she was still going to keep all of it under-hat. That didn’t discourage him, though. He just chose to go a different way, and forget questions like, “Why does Jin’s wife think he’s dead?” and, “Why did the news say, up until two weeks ago, that nobody from Flight 815 survived the crash?”

“I get it. ‘Survivor bond’ thing, right?” He gestured to the monitors. “Like ours, except, instead of mayor snakes and vampires, you had handy and nutritious, coconut radios.”

She smiled just to make him happy. “Yeah. It’s that.”

“Get to know ‘em pretty good?”

Some better than others.

***

Jack took half the beach people to the caves. He’d given a speech about needing to live together the night before, which was good for Buffy, as no one was looking to her for leadership. He had that covered, and she relaxed.

And while he moved in, she moved out. Not because she thought the beach locale would help get them all found, but because the caves had gotten plenty cramped. She stood down by the surf, sea breeze blowing across her face as the sun was setting.

“Tell the truth, Sweet Valley High,” Sawyer said with a smirk, coming up beside her, “you pulled up stakes just so ya could be closer to little ol’ me, didn’tcha?”

The vampire slayer was so over bad boys. However hot they might appear. She was. Really.

She didn’t look at him. Instead, she turned her head away from him and watched Kate by her tent, sitting cross-legged and knocking sand out of her shoe. “Maybe it was somebody else. Somebody else not little you.”

He turned his head as well, seeing who Buffy was watching. “Still a win in my book. Looks like I picked the right piece of Fantasy Island to call ‘home-sweet-home,’ after all.”

The dig at his manhood was completely missed.

When Buffy finally looked at him, her eyes were rolling. “I can hurt you. Badly.”

Then she started heading away from the water, toward Kate.

“Might like it,” grinned Sawyer, calling after her.

She just smirked knowingly to herself and bit back a response. Not even a full day yet and already she understood Sawyer well enough to realize anything she said would only encourage him. That was why she was choosing to keep quiet and screw with his head.

Kate shared a look with her as she came up to the tent, emptying the other shoe.

“Fun talk?” The freckled, currently barefoot brunette asked.

“The funnest,” replied a sarcastic Buffy, sitting down next to her. “How do I have three nicknames already? It’s like his superpower or something.” After Kate laughed, she had to warn her, “Be prepared for gay jokes. Probably.”

“No you didn’t.” Kate blinked. “He’s gonna be impossible now, you know that, right?”

It was Buffy’s turn to blink. “Oops. See, this is what happens when there’s zero time to have thoughts.”

Kate smiled. “You’re from California.”

“Don’t even,” the blonde said mock-threateningly.

“Take that as a yes.” Kate reached past the tarp entrance to her tent and placed her shoes inside. “Were you going home?”

“I was...on a trip. For work that I have,” Buffy hedged. “Don’t really know where home is anymore.”

“Me either.” Kate knew the feeling. “It definitely wasn’t in Los Angeles, that’s for sure.” She nervously waited a beat, then, “Do me a favor? Don’t ask any follow up questions?”

“Long as you promise not to ask me any,” smiled Buffy.

“Deal.”

They sat together in silence for a few minutes, before Kate spoke again. “So Jack said you were pretty much stockpiling fruit at the caves. Tomorrow, could you, um...maybe show me where you picked it? I need to have something to do.”

Buffy raised her hand. “Same here.” What she didn’t add, was that she needed something to do far from as many people as possible. “I think a beautiful friendship is starting.” She thought for a second. “Just totally ripped something off, didn’t I?”

“Close enough,” admitted a teasing Kate.

***

“You’re out of your mind.” Kate glared at Sawyer, who three days later, looked thrashed and tortured.

Courtesy of Sayid. Shannon’s asthma inhalers were missing; naturally, Boone suspected Sawyer. It got to the point where Jack gave the ex-Republican Guard interrogator the OK to get Sawyer talking by any means necessary. After their tree-tied victim couldn’t stand another bamboo shoot underneath his fingernails, he told Jack he would only talk to Buffy and Kate.

Must not have liked this “hurt” too much.

“Got it all wrong, Freckles--I’m finally thinkin’ clear. Ask me, everyone oughta get ‘Iraq-ified.’ Better than a day at the spa.” His words were labored, and he couldn’t really pick his head up.

“We’re not gonna--“ Kate began, glancing over at Buffy.

Buffy’s face was frozen as a deer’s when blinded by headlights, and it had been that way ever since she heard the man’s proposition.

“Seein’ how ya think I’m such a jackass, figured I’d let out my generous side, give you an Option B. But that girl’s clock is tickin’, so pick fast. Me or Thumbelina...there ain’t no C,” he told the brunette.

Kate shook her head. “I don’t understand you.”

“Yeah, I’m a damn enigma. Now stop wasting our time...which one of us has to pucker up, sweetheart?”

She looked skyward, biting her lip.

“You had to plant the idea in his head,” Kate accused the petite blonde next to her.

“What?” Buffy had finally caught up. “I didn’t know you were there! I was just...stretching. Neck kinks. Then saying this spontaneous thing, and...okay, it’s now backfiring. But *you* were the one sitting, having ‘shoe’ issues when--”

“Kinda sounds like you’re blaming me.”

“Can’t we blame him instead?” Buffy suggested. “I don’t plant; my plants die. Especially the fake ones. I have a beige thumb.”

“First time for everything.” Kate tried to lighten the mood. “Well, I’m not kissing him.”

Buffy gulped. “Whoa, wait, don’t we hafta spin a bottle first? Ooh, with that alcohol that blinds people.” She saw Kate’s mildly offended look. “Uh, not that I’d hafta actually be, um...if we did...” Her eyes closed. “I’m *so* the wrong Scooby for this.”

“The wrong what?” Kate’s eyebrows went up.

“It’s...sort of personal. And private. And not exactly pointy.” Buffy sighed, then. Her eyes were back open. “Shannon needs her medicine.”

Kate nodded. “If we can’t get it...”

“She’ll die.” The slayer didn’t want to be responsible for anybody else losing their life. Ever again. She worked up the resolve. “First time for everything. And, sorry.”

“What for?”

“If I suck at, you know, what’s about to happen. M’seriously out of practice,” Buffy put out there as a disclaimer, while they faced each other.

Kate was apprehensive herself, half because of the location. Her smile couldn’t hide it. “It’s just like falling off a log.”

This was just an odd place to be doing this. There wasn’t much green around, except extremely high up. It was some kind of clearing, and it felt like they were surrounded by gnarly, twisted looking tree trunks, both thin and wide. The bark was pale, sickly, and they stood on a floor of fallen, dead, browned leaves.

“Then fall off like it’s your seventh minute in heaven,” Sawyer interjected, rolling his head up much like a ragdoll. Remembering he was still there, they glared together this time. “I forget to mention that?”

“When did that saying make sense?” Buffy asked rhetorically, and one might assume she was trying to delay their fate. “Who falls off lo--?”

Kate wanted it over with. When she committed to something, she followed through and then some, which was what got her into trouble off the island. But this was different; she had a chance to help someone, and she wouldn’t give Sawyer any reason to have an excuse. Swallowing up Buffy’s words, she went for it.

Buffy, caught off guard, mostly played recipient. A pretty immediately willing recipient. She forgot Kate was Kate and just melted into the feeling--hell, the taste--of a really, damn good kiss. She’d been deprived of late, and this was an almost painful reminder what she was missing out on. She had to fight natural instinct in order to keep hands at her sides.

She didn’t want to send the wrong signal to Kate or herself, and she didn’t want to provide Sawyer with extra visuals. It’d be hard to deny the sparkage, however. Of course, as soon as she thought she was having the longest minute of her life, Kate finished. A full body shiver passed from head-to-toe, like an aftershock.

They were both aftershocked. That was obvious. Buffy subtly chewed her bottom lip. Kate tried to make wiping her forearm across hers seem casual. But their mutual, post-kiss daze was abruptly broken.

“I don't have it,” their audience piped up, sounding guilty.

“What?” Kate asked honestly, remembering he was there again.

Buffy turned around, her eyes narrow and angry. She knew what he was saying.

“The medicine. I don't have it, never did,” he further explained.

Kate stared at him, silently saying, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ “The book...they said you found it in their luggage.”

“The book washed up on shore, went in the drink with the rest of--“

The slayer had been moved to him, and it was here she punched him square in the face. He grunted through the pain, but otherwise said nothing. Kate came and led Buffy away, not even acknowledging Sawyer as she did.

“C’mon, we better tell Jack,” she told Buffy quietly.

Buffy was holding her hand, wincing. “Yeah.”

Kate saw her discomfort. “That’s why I woulda used my elbow.”

“Heh,” Buffy did her best to force a laugh, “where were you before my pain?”

Ow. That actually hurt.

***

Buffy was half a mile up the beach, away from the camp. She was training and didn’t want company. How it happened she hadn’t a clue, but her strength, her slayerness, was gone. Poof. And she couldn’t decide what to feel.

Yet another three days had passed, and she’d become even more withdrawn. The thing that defined her for eight years, that shaped her into the adult she was today (for better or worse), just, wasn’t there. Somehow she knew drugs weren’t the culprit. Not here.

Maybe if she punched and kicked enough air it would come back.

“How come you aren’t up in the Mesa with the others?” Locke asked, walking in her direction.

“Dunno, same reason you aren’t?” She replied.

Kate couldn’t figure Sawyer out? Well, she couldn’t figure out John Locke. His whole wise man mystique/attitude kind of pissed her off.

He smiled in his enigmatic way. “I’m not much a golfer.”

“I’d be less much.” She stopped her routine, and then ran her hands over her face. “‘Three-Wood’? Vaguely dirty-sounding.” There was a water bottle at her feet; she grabbed it and took a swig. “What d’you want?”

“Thought you might like some company,” he answered, crouching down when only a few feet separated them.

“No thanks. Sort of busy.”

He simply ignored her.

“You know why most people keep to themselves? Could be it’s just the type of person they are, and they’re perfectly happy walking their own path through life.” He scooped some sand into his palm and rubbed it between his fingers. “Or, they could have no idea what type of person they are. Maybe they forgot, maybe they never knew.

“So instead, they do their best to become who they *think* they’re meant to be. Only, what if their best isn’t good enough? They’d eventually realize...they got it wrong. Imagine feeling trapped, resenting some mask you can’t take off... looking in the mirror every morning and not recognizing the face staring back.

“To them, by choosing to spend their days alone, everyone else is being spared. Shame, really. If we could just step outside ourselves, even for a second, and see who we all actually are? Guarantee you *that* world,” He pointed out at the ocean, “would get a lot easier to live in.”

“Unless somebody sees that they’re evil.” Buffy tried to be light about it and not show that he hit close to home, though he likely already knew. “So...what’s your ‘why’?”

“Oh, all the above.” Locke smiled again. “At one time or another. What’s yours?”

There. He *did* know. God he pissed her off.

“I do stuff with Kate,” she said defensively, which was pointless.

“Not lately,” he said back to her.

That’s because “stuff with Kate” had gotten slightly awkward. But she wasn’t telling him that. Fine, if it would make him go away...

She exhaled. “I...had a mask, I guess.”

“Something happen to it?”

“Got lost. Trying to find.”

“Since we came to the Island,” he stated, getting to his feet, and she raised her eyebrows. “I wouldn’t waste your time. You’ll only find it again if the Island wants you to.”

“Um...huh?” She could barely manage that. He was nuts.

“Whether you realize it yet or not, you’ve been set free. That’s what...this place...does.” Closing their remaining distance, he put a hand on her shoulder. “Now’s your chance to discover who’s behind that mask. But if I’ve gotten it wrong, and you’re happy doing whatever it is you’re doing, I apologize.”

Last time she was happy, she was staring at a crater and thinking she wouldn’t have to wear that mask anymore. That she could be a friend, a sister. But again, she wasn’t telling him that.

A long pause went by before he realized she wasn’t going to share. His hand dropped off her shoulder. He adjusted the strap of his backpack.

“If I’m right, then there’s no excuse not to at least go watch Hurley’s tournament.” He turned and walked back along the same path he’d come. “Sure the rest of the camp’ll be glad to meet the real you.”

The real her--who was that?

***

Buffy should’ve anticipated this reaction, honestly. She stepped inside the Reyes’ house, closed the door behind her, and bent down over a passed out Hurley. When he fainted, boy, he didn’t do it quietly. He was lucky he didn’t crack his skull by falling into the circular, glass table holding down the decorative, area rug just inside the entryway.

“Hurley, seriously, wake up,” Buffy spoke, slapping his cheek.

He did, and his first sound was a scream. ”Gaaaah!” He tried to scramble backwards, backing himself into the low wall that sectioned off the living room, though the floor made for a slippery journey. “Get out of my house! And, I dunno, go be dead someplace else! I’m done being crazy. Which I’m gonna prove like, any second now, by, uh, not talking to you. Anymore. I mean it, so...Yeah. You better just leave...‘Ghost Buffy.’”

His eyes squeezed shut.

“Kay...fine. After the part where I’m dead because?” She asked a sensible question, staying where she was.

“’Cause you, you know,” He opened one eye, “exploded. On the freighter.”

“No, ‘annoying, science teacher guy’ exploded. A lot. I’d explode onto ‘Pop’ scenes only. O-only if there’s a shower I’m under, or another dancer demon and...you’re not gonna stop me, are you?”

“Dancer demon?”

Choosing not to acknowledge what he didn’t just ask, she illustrated her next words keeping her left palm flat and stationary, and her right index finger mobile.

“Buffy. Water. Jump. Splash. Right before...” She cupped her left fist, and then the universal “bomb detonation” mime happened. “Don’t say how ‘Bruce Willis’-esque; ‘cause it wasn’t. At all. Is *he* his own stunt-person?”

His other eye opened. “You really didn’t die? You’re not in my head?”

She shook hers. “Really didn’t. Not since that last time, anyway.”

Thankfully, Hurley was too busy getting up and coming to hug her to realize what she said. “It’s so awesome that you’re alive,” he said, happily.

She hugged him back, saying, “Jin, too.”

“No way. He with you? Does Sun know?”

Their hug ended.

“I dunno where he is,” admitted Buffy concernedly. “He was...staying with me, then he saw the press conference and split.”

“Probably because Sun said that stuff about him dying in the crash, huh?” Hurley bluntly deduced.

She then looked around warily. “Is anybody else here?”

“Just Mister and Ladytron, but they’re cool. I finally got my mom to go out for a while; she kinda hasn’t let me out of her sight since we got back,” he explained, to which she enviously smiled. “That why you’re here? To give us the heads up about Jin?”

She started following him to the couch.

“Plus the sharing a ‘survivor bond,’” she added, thanking Xander silently for unknowingly encouraging her. “I wanted to see how you were doing, and I had to talk to somebody. Can’t spill to my family.”

“Yeah, sucks, doesn’t it?” He could relate. “What we said...it wasn’t my idea. Jack wanted to lie.”

She nodded. “Probably a good call.”

He wasn’t so sure. “Maybe.” Beat. “You say ‘hey’ to anybody else yet? Like, uh...Kate?”

“I was kinda hoping you could tell them about me and Jin being still breathing. My world isn’t a place anybody should visit, Hurley. It’s more dangerous than even...” She tapered. “I-I can’t.“

“They came back, didn’t they? Your, uh, superpowers?” At her second nod of the visit, he finally sat and responded with, “Whoa.”

“My reaction? Less awed. More, ‘aw, crap.’ Wish they hadn’t.”

The ease with which she revealed that, shocked her. She couldn’t believe she could. As she sat next to him, she waited for him to say something else that never came.

She continued anyhow. “But...now that they are, I wanna prove I’m not--“

“--crazy?” He finished for her. “Don’t sweat it.”

“Why’d you believe me?”

He shrugged. “You believed me about the numbers. And even though you’re totally chickening out, I’ll tell ‘em you made it.”

“Thanks,” she said, gratefully.

“But sometimes? What *I* wish?” His voice got real conspiratorial.

“Think I know already.”

***

When Buffy had climbed to the top of the hill, she saw a crowd watching the camp hypochondriac, Sullivan, getting ready to swing. There was a red flag in the distance. People seemed separated into two groups--the men and the women. So she gravitated toward her gender, who were a few feet further ahead. She noticed Sawyer as she passed by.

“He came?” Buffy asked quietly, going next to Kate.

That wasn’t going to help her standing if *he* beat her here.

Kate was pleased to see her. “You missed it--he had to give up his sunscreen.”

“To me,” Shannon added.

“You played him for it?” Buffy didn’t quite believe that.

Her fellow, bitchier blonde stared at her like she was nuts. “Yeah, right.”

They watched Sullivan’s shot come up short of the “green.” As Rose stepped out of their group to take her shot, Kate handed her the club she’d been holding. The black woman continued to the agreed upon “ladies tee,“ where the ball waited. All females clapped supportively.

“Let’s go, Rose!” Kate and Buffy encouraged.

“Did you not hear us when we were all begging you to use the iron?” Charlie was saying to Sullivan behind them.

“Dude, chill,” Hurley said. “It’s only a game.”

“Bet you’d be singing a different ditty if you could actually make contact with the ball, Fat Albert,” commented Sawyer. Then to Michael, “No offense.”

Michael replied, “Bill Cosby’s the one offended, man. Somebody take my spot; I gotta check on my son.”

He started heading towards the caves.

“How’d you get invited, anyway?” Hurley asked the redneck. “And wait...you just said ‘ditty,’ didn’t you?”

Nobody else picked up on Sawyer exchanging glances with Kate. Nobody else except Buffy. Then Kate looked at Jack...before looking at Buffy looking and realizing she was caught. Buffy wondered what else she’d missed. The brunette wanted two, completely polar opposite guys? Oh the stories she could share.

Kate appeared to not want to meet her eye. “I’m...”

Behind them, the rest of their team whistled at Rose’s achievement. The ball hit the flag. Even Sun whistled. Did they have golf in Korea?

“Take the next shot, honey,” Rose told Buffy, trying to give her the club.

Buffy shook her head. “Nah, I’m okay with watching.”

“Go on,” the lady insisted. “You can’t be any worse than the boys.” The used-to-be Chosen One backed down and accepted the club. You didn’t argue with Rose. “Hope this means we’re going to see you a little more often.”

Buffy didn’t have an excuse not to. Her mask, “The Slayer,” wasn’t there to hold her back. She could connect again; she just had to want to. She was free.

“Definitely,” she smiled.

Kate got behind her and kneaded her shoulders like a trainer in the corner of a boxing ring while Ethan went and took his shot. Kate kept this up even as she walked her out to the tee.

“All right, it’s all in the hips. Don’t let us down.”

***

Buffy was in her motel room, checking her suitcase that lay open on the bed. Her flight left in the morning, and she needed to be positive the envelope was secured away. Sure, she could’ve teleported again, but she didn’t want to risk there being vomit or luggage being lost in an alternate dimension. Flying was the safer choice. And yes, it was hard not to laugh as she thought that.

The knock made her jump. No one knew where she was staying. Well, no one except Hurley, and she’d just spent most of the day with him, so who was it? She walked over, but there was no peephole to look through.

What kind of disrespectable, cheap motel didn’t have a peephole? She put her fingers on the latch, but hesitated. Why, she didn’t know. She had super-strength again.

Head shaking at her non-action, she opened the door, and then seeing her visitor, she wanted to hurt a certain lottery winner. Was her own fault, though. She broke the first, camp rule: If you don’t want other people to know something, never confide in Hugo Reyes. And what she didn’t want known was that she’d come to Los Angeles. She wanted him to say there’d been a phone call. But maybe *this* was what she wanted, subconsciously.

When Kate saw her, the brunette’s face slowly crumbled as it fought not to cry. A combination of disbelief, anger and hopefully gladness, was written there. She marched into the room. Buffy could only think to shut the door and brace herself.

“I had to find out...that not only aren’t you at the bottom of the ocean somewhere...but that you’re here, in *L.A.*...from Hurley. *Hurley*. Why the hell wouldn’t you tell the rest of us?” Kate glance down at the suitcase, and when she looked up, Buffy was facing her. “Me?”

If they were in the jungle, something would make them run now. Like polar bears or black smoke or whispers that made one’s spine chilly. If they were in the jungle, this conversation wouldn’t get a chance to happen. If they were in the jungle, they could pretend this conversation didn’t need to eventually happen, and go back to kissing.

Except “eventually” was here. Boy, did Buffy miss the Island.

The End?

You have reached the end of "If You Were Stranded..." – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 29 Jan 09.

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