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find your way home

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"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket -- safe, dark, motionless, airless -- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable." --C.S. Lewis

Charlotte’s first impression of Dan was of a mole – a creature most comfortable in small, enclosed spaces, feeling his way around with the senses he has left. In light of that, she finds it ironic that after only days on the island – the open, expansive, island – it is she who is crawling into his tent, seeking peace and quiet from the outside world.

But it’s not like she hasn’t earned it. After their trip to the Tempest and then for supplies, she needs a break.

Growing up, Charlotte had learned very quickly she was the only one on whom she could rely. Her mother denied the existence of any island or “initiative,” and her sisters made it clear she was ridiculous for pursuing degree after degree in search of an imaginary land.

Her step-father, strangely enough, had been the only one to grant her stories any credibility, and for her 10th birthday gave her the Chronicles of Narnia. After finishing the first book, Charlotte had started crawling through their attics, and then their closets, looking for the hidden doorway to the world she knew existed. She never did know if he understood what he was encouraging.

It isn’t the most auspicious sign, she thinks, that it was Charles Widmore who had set her on the trail of the Dharma Initiative and who helped her put the pieces together just enough so she could follow them to this island. Not that it matters much anymore, as she hasn’t seen any sign of the DI since they’d parachuted in – and that includes the barracks she knows she grew up in.

Even here, after all her searching, she feels on her own. Most of the time.

Daniel’s tent isn’t much to talk about – it’s built to keep his equipment dry more than him, truth be told – but Charlotte doesn’t mind. She’s used to sleeping outside from when she’s gone on digs, so she doesn’t even have a tent set up. Daniel looks up from the notebook he was scribbling in to watch her gingerly step around the poles dug into the sand.

“Daniel,” she greets him, adding a smile. He’s told her she looks worried all the time, though if he were in his right mind he might be worried about living among strangers who had guns and didn’t trust them. She wasn’t being entirely fair, as they both knew, but she was also stubborn.

“Charlotte,” he replies in his signature wavering tone. She can’t tell if he’s surprised, distracted, or trying to remember if she’d said she’d come by. “I just wanted to say hi,” she interrupts his thoughts, belatedly thinking of an excuse. “I thought you might like to try the cards again?” she offers, reaching for the pack lying on his jacket and pulling her knees up to her chest as she sits down.

“Charlotte, we’ve had a long day. My memory…” he pauses, rotating a finger at his head in the universal crazy sign, “I don’t think it’ll be improved any.”

“Still, we should keep trying,” Charlotte persists and begins shuffling the cards as Daniel closes his notebook with a sigh. She hides a smile as she keeps shuffling; she’s sure the only thing Daniel really cares about is figuring out the island, but he really should keep trying to remember. She can’t understand his reluctance to do so; it’s like he knows there’s something he doesn’t want to remember.

Placing three cards face up before him, she wraps her arms around her legs and waits while he stares at them, rubbing his beard nervously.

“Why do you trust them so much, Daniel?” she blurts out, ignoring the card game. “They’re desperate, they’re stranded, and they seem to have a leadership problem. They don’t like us – probably because they keep catching us lying to them – so as long as we’re stuck here, we should probably act likewise.”

He gives up on the cards, looking at her instead. “But that’s the problem, isn’t it? If we encourage that attitude, that perception, they have no choice but not to trust us.” He opens and closes his hands in an attempt to express himself. “They have every reason not to trust us, but we have to try.”

Charlotte looks away from him, turning the cards face down, one by one. “Jin came up to me tonight,” she says hesitantly. “He threatened to… to hurt you, if I didn’t make sure his wife left the island with us.” She exhales slowly, hands pressing down on the cards. “We’re just an asset to them, Daniel,” she finishes, looking up at him again.

“Why… why would he think that would work?” Daniel murmurs, staring at the cards under her hands.

“Does it matter?” Charlotte replied. “We trekked through the jungle for them today, Dan, and they’re still threatening us. I think we should just watch each others’ backs, is all.”

“Maybe you’re right,” he sighs. “Is it time yet?”

She laughs nervously, unsure of his tone. “Ah, yes, time.”

“Well, a black queen of spades,” he points them out as he speaks, “a black eight of clubs, and… a red ace of diamonds.”

“Three for three!” she proclaims happily as she turns them over for him to see again. “That’s great, Dan, that’s real progress.”

He smiles back at her, a real one this time. “So maybe people can change after all,” he replies, straightening his tie as he sits forward a little, putting new cards down.

It’s difficult for her to swallow, but she does. “Maybe they can,” she echoes.