illwynd: (Hurley is awesome)
[personal profile] illwynd
Title: When the road becomes a cul de sac…
By illwynd
Disclaimer: Lost isn’t mine or it would have ended differently.
Rating: PG
Characters: James, Hugo, mention of more
Notes: Just a wee little ficlet, set a couple years after the finale.
x-posted to [ profile] ficinabottle

He gets the phone call early one morning. He’s driving home on that drab and empty stretch of the 15 bordered with bare hills and tan rocks that turn coral red at sunrise, and the radio, tuned to oldies, is on softly, and he can barely hear the buzz of his cell phone on the dash. He usually wouldn’t even answer, ‘unregistered number’ flashing on the screen, but he does and he nearly wrecks.

“Dude! Glad I got ahold of you,” Hurley’s voice crackles through the phone, welling with that permanent cheerfulness that he always had. “How’s it going?”

“Hugo? What the hell… how did you…?” James sputters, his hands slipping on the wheel as he yanks it over to a stop at the side of the road. If he didn’t pull over now he really would wreck. He hadn’t even been sure that Hugo was still alive.

He listens, there on the side of the road, as Hurley gives him the 2-minute version. His stomach’s doing backflips and he can barely believe what he’s hearing. He’d sort of got used to not knowing after more than two years being gone from the island—not knowing was the least of the things he’d had to get used to. It wasn’t that bad. After a while he closes up the phone and laughs to himself, more from nerves than anything else. When he gets home, he trades the night watchman uniform for jeans and a t-shirt, and tidies up a little, but there’s not much to do. The last time he had company was six months ago when Kate showed up on his doorstep. She’d brought pictures of Aaron—Claire had sent an envelope full of them—and they’d talked for a couple hours, both edging around sore spots until there was nothing left to say. James wonders if Hurley’d gotten his number from her. It had to be either her or Miles. The rest of them had disappeared, taken off with no forwarding address, more than a year ago. Once in a while he gets an inexplicable postcard from Richard. Last year he got a Christmas card, a month late, from Frank. It’s good to know they’re alive, but it’s hardly lengthy correspondence.

Later that night Hurley’s standing in the doorway, looking the same as ever. Hugo glances around at the walls, sizing the place up, but of course there’s no pictures. Just a couple of posters and a bland art print James had found for 50 cents at a yard sale. It’s of a vase full of sunflowers. Hugo sort of nods as he plunks down on the couch, and a minute later they’ve both got beers in hand.

Finally, he gets to hear the whole story. He listens in silence.

“So it’s like it always should have been, now,” Hurley says at the end, with an air of utter calm and a broad smile. “Oh, and Rose and Bernard said to say hi, too.”

It’s good to hear. Even about the damn dog.

He knows that Hurley’s offering a return to the island without saying it. But he can’t do it, even if some part of him wants to. It’s bad enough missing them all while he’s here. On the island he wouldn’t be able to go two steps without remembering. So he just grins at Hugo and says he’s glad it’s all working out. Says to tell everybody to stay outta trouble. Hugo pulls him into a hug before he goes, and then stands back, claps a hand to his shoulder, gives him a look: if you change your mind, I’ll be here.

“Don’t be a stranger, Hugo,” he says, and he raises his hand in a little wave just before he closes the door.

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