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Waking Up

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I've woken up in tundra and savannas and deserts. I've entered my tent under a clear night sky, only to wake up the following morning with the flap ripped open by the wind and thick sheets of snow covering my sleeping bag. Hailstorms, heat waves, hurricanes. I've braved them all- slept right through them and rose in the morning feeling refreshed, if not a little achy.

But never have I desired to wake up more than I do right now. My brain is screaming, howling in pain from the latest jump in time. There's a steady stream of blood dripping from my nose, trickling down my neck before being absorbed by my shirt. Beneath me, I can feel the stiff, prickly jungle grass poking my back. Daniel is hovering above me, touching me, crying, calling my name, "Charlotte… Charlotte…"

I want nothing more than to open my eyes, and tell him I'll be fine. I want to see his relief, to know that the words he said yesterday (or should I say, the words he said fifty years ago?) were true. And maybe, if I'm being perfectly honest, just maybe I want to tackle him to the ground and kiss him properly. I've wanted to since that little twit with the rifle dragged him away to deactivate the hydrogen bomb.

My eyes won't open. They won't budge, and I'm paralyzed on the ground. I'm dying, I know I'm dying, and I never got to tell him.

I feel myself panicking, a rare occurrence in my short life. I know that Dan knows what's wrong with me; I saw it in his eyes after the first flash, when my nose bled and I forgot my mother's maiden name. I should be angry at him, the stupid sod. He could have warned me this was going to happen. I could have said a million and a half things to him that I wanted to say since we met on the freighter. Tell him I don't think he's crazy, that I think he's a genius, that I lo-

Well no, I wouldn't have said those words, because to admit that would be to admit that I'd lost sight of my reason to be on this island. It would be to admit that I was grateful the Kahana exploded, and Hurley and Kate, Sun and Gault had died. If they had lived, and the boat remained, he would have returned to Essex, and I never would have heard him admit that he loved me.

Who am I kidding? Sure, I have my excuses, but I know the real reason I didn't tell him. I wouldn't have wanted to say the words, knowing that when the next flash came, I'd leave him again. This sickness is getting worse with each flash, and eventually it's going to end my life. Or perhaps it already has.

It's too late to think about that now. There is only one way to tell him I love him too, and I don't particularly trust Miles to deliver that message to him.

"Charlotte, don't you dare do this…" His voice is far away now.

This is so bloody unfair. I'm being childish and whiney, and at this moment I don't care, because this is my reality. I want to wake up.

I scream it over and over in my head, the words becoming my newest mantra. Let me wake up, let me open my eyes and walk around, and find my birth place. I want to breathe, to walk, to feel the whirlwind of time travel without the subsequent pain, to make love to Daniel bloody Faraday in the middle of the jungle.

Wake up, Charlotte. Wake up, wake up, WAKE UP!

My eyes fly open, and my chest burns as I gasp a long breathe of air. The last rays of the sun are disappearing over the central mountain on the island, reflecting off the steal barrel of the gun in Sawyer’s hands into my eyes, blinding me.

I feel Daniel's hands move away from me, dropping me back on the ground. As my head connects with the dirt, I let out a yelp of pain. I don't care, because I'm alive, and Dan is here, and a blow to the head is the least of my concerns right now. A giant rush of relief is surging through me, and I'm sure it's surging through him too, because the pain that was in his eyes just seconds ago is now gone.

"Char… Charlotte, I'm so sorry," Daniel whispered. He sits me up, leaning me against him for support. His brow is more relaxed than it was before, the wrinkles smoothed, but not completely. He's still worried, and so am I. But it's alright, because, for now, I'm still here. I'm awake again, and I'm still breathing. I see what's left of our group after the leap. Locke is here, still looking like the bloody king of the jungle, as are Juliet and Miles.

"Good to see you breathing, Red," Sawyer mumbled. I nod in agreement. To argue over the nickname would be pointless.

It's too dark to travel now, and I feel too weak to move anyway. Locke announces that we'll be saying in this field tonight, as if making our encampment here was predestined in the stars eons ago. At this point, I'd be willing to believe it. There'll be no fire, because we don't know in what time we are, and who would see it and attack.

The others scatter, though not too far apart, and make themselves as comfortable as they can, but Daniel is still here with me. We don't speak, but he lays me down next to him and keeps an arm tight around my waist, letting me use him as a pillow. He's not a particularly strong man. He can never protect me from the physical dangers on the island, or from the havoc that the time traveling is wreaking on my body. But I know that he loves me, and that is enough.

His hands are running up and down my back, and I summon all my energy to push myself up and kiss him, long and hard and sweet, tongue dancing along his lips. Daniel takes a moment to respond, seemingly more shocked than anything else, and then he kisses me back and I'm not disappointed. There's just a hint of gentleness behind the kiss- more than anything it's forceful, strong, and something I would never have thought Dan capable of. I'm basking in the glory of it all, that I'm still here and Daniel loves me.

Both of us are not about to let this opportunity go to waste. He turns us over so I'm on the ground, and we're a tangle of hands and legs and torsos. We're awkward, frenetic, desperate, yet deep down, it's more passionate than anything I've experienced to this moment. It's that cliche moment that comes at the end of the movie, and I'm absorbing and reveling in every moment of it. This is what love is supposed to feel like.

Sawyer's going to have some sort of snarky comment about this in the morning, but I really don't give a damn. For now, we're alive, and that's all that matters.

I'm waking up.