He's so tall and handsome as hell
She's so bad but she does it so well
I can see the end as it begins
My one condition is
Say you'll see me again
Daniel wanted to argue when Charlotte had told him that nothing lasts forever because he was pretty sure death was the most final thing in the world… which was strange because ever since he'd first met her on the freighter, he had the most irrational feeling that something bad was going to happen to her and that he had to protect her.
Which was utterly ridiculous because she'd had to save him from Keamy and his men their first night on the bloody boat.
Freighter, she'd always correct him with a teasing smirk. If the Captain hears you call his freighter a boat, he just might throw you overboard.
You'd jump in after me, he'd replied. This had caught her off guard for a moment, but she quickly put her armor back up. Don't be so sure, she'd said, the teasing tone suddenly gone and replaced with more of an edge. Her eyes had betrayed her, though, they always did. Of course I'd jump in after you, her eyes had said.
He knew the fear he had seen swimming in her piercing blue orbs wasn't a fear of the choppy water they were floating on; he couldn't quite place the fear, but if he had to hypothesize (and oh how he was good at that), he'd put his money on it having something to do with him.
Things had gone that way until they got to the island. They'd have a few sincere moments immediately followed by her sarcasm ‒biting with everyone else, more or less teasing with him‒ and he always felt privileged to see the softer side of Charlotte.
With everyone else, Charlotte Staples Lewis was a force to be reckoned with. She was caustic. She was bitchy. She was huffy and she rolled her eyes so much that Daniel sometimes wondered if they were going to roll right out of their sockets (even though he knew it was anatomically impossible). She rarely smiled, she didn't try to integrate with the group. She isolated herself, and he often wondered if there was more to it than she'd claimed.
I tried being nice to them, Dan, she'd said one night in their tent. All that got me was a bullet to the chest.
He had winced at that.
One night, after making it back to the island after the freighter exploded, he found her sitting on the sand with her feet in the water. The rest of the camp was asleep ‒had been for hours‒ but he'd woken up (tried to tell himself it wasn't because he missed her presence) and realized she was missing. In a panicked frenzy, he'd dashed out of the tent almost ready to organize a search party when he saw her frame illuminated by the moon. He had walked up behind her and whispered,
He saw her stiffen, unwrap her arms from around her knees and rub at her face. Daniel nearly panicked again, wondering what he should do.
So he said the stupidest thing he could: "Are you okay?"
He heard her sniffle a little and decided to sit down next to her ‒close enough to offer her some comfort, but far enough away that she could still have her distance. She turned her head away from him, pretending to hear a noise somewhere down the beach.
"I'm fine," she'd said after a beat, and he could practically feel the tension radiating off of her. He'd realized her entire body was rigid and tense, trying to keep herself from completely falling apart. She trusted him, he knew that. He also knew that after years of trusting no one, it was hard for her to let herself be vulnerable, even to him.
It broke his heart.
"You can talk to me, about anything," he said gently. He wanted to reach out and grasp her hand, but he figured she didn't want contact right now.
"I grew up here," she said slowly, every single word tight with the effort of keeping her voice steady. "We left, before the Purge. My mum and me, I mean. My dad… he died here, I imagine. I had to say goodbye to him, it was chaos, and that was the last time I ever saw him," her voice broke on the last word, and her hands flew up over her face as a sob caught in her throat.
"That's awful," he'd stuttered. Now he really didn't know what to do. He could deal with angry Charlotte, bitchy Charlotte, annoyed Charlotte, but sad Charlotte? Crying Charlotte? He didn't know how to handle this.
"And I stupidly let myself care for you, and you left, and you could've gotten blown up‒" she cut herself off, apparently not meaning to have said that aloud.
"That's why you keep everyone at a distance," he'd said quietly, giving into the urge to hold her hand. She squeezed his gratefully.
"My mum told me I was crazy when I'd talk about growing up here. Do you know how many shrinks I was sent to? A lot. Her and I never really got on much. My sisters and her are much closer. I'm kind of like the annoying cousin everyone has to put up with. Except I'm the annoying sister."
"I'm sorry," he said after a moment. "If I'd known, I… I wouldn't have left you. To be honest, I was planning a way to get 'stuck' here. I just wanted to get those people to safety first."
"I know," she'd said, then sighed. "I thought I'd be happy here. At least now I know for sure that I'm not crazy, but… the memories, they're hard. The only time I've ever really been happy was when I was a little girl growing up here."
"Maybe… you can be happy again. Like you said, nothing lasts forever...even sadness."
"Do you really believe that, Daniel?"
"I know it's true, because with you, I'm happy for the first time in nearly a decade."
At that, a smile lit up her face and she wrapped her arms around him.
Death, it turned out, was forever, but a different kind of forever than he'd thought. They 'woke up' on a date on a boat (this one actually was a boat, Charlotte teased him once they remembered).
"It was getting good," Daniel said, gripping her arms. "We were getting happy, then you… you…"
"Died," Charlotte supplied helpfully.
"Well, we can be happy wherever this is, together," she said.
Say you'll remember me…