by Dreamality

Rated G

Summary: There's a lot more to Claire's memory than a jar of imaginary peanut butter.


"Why do I remember peanut butter?"

There was no need for me to ask that question. The answer was made clear to me as soon as I looked in your eyes, so hopeful and so happy. I remembered peanut butter, that was true. I remembered watching you lick your finger and being convinced that you tasted the extra smooth peanut butter you had miraculously found me. I remember tasting it myself and I remember it being real.

The peanut butter wasn't important, though. I realized it when I asked you that question. There's a reason it was the first memory to fight its way through the haze that bogs down my mind. It was the strongest memory because it came tied to the strongest emotion. Stronger than the hate Ethan felt for me and much stronger than the concern Jack feels for me.

I can see it clearly now. That day on the beach, baking beneath the sun. I had been dozing in the shade, dreaming of Thomas. Was it Thomas? It's so hard to remember… but his accent sounded remarkably British and for some reason there was rock music playing in the background.

When I awoke, you were there. Taking my clothes off the line we had put up together. You knelt before me in the sand, smiling and excited and obviously proud of yourself. I questioned your sanity when you produced the empty jar and my disappointment threatened to crush me. I was craving peanut butter, real peanut butter, not air.

Then you showed me how to taste it. And it was, as you said, the best bloody peanut butter I had ever tasted.

That day, in that moment, on that beach, I fell in love with you.

I couldn't admit it, not even to myself. I couldn't bring myself to write it in my diary because I was still naïve enough to think we might be rescued. I didn't want to admit it and allow myself to fall in love because I knew that once we were rescued you would leave my life forever.

Now I realize that there is no rescue coming. My hope is gone, but I'm not afraid. As long as you're here, I'm not afraid. I can allow myself to trust you. I can even allow myself to love you, because your eyes tell me that you might love me, too.

You're the only face I remember. I see the others –this doctor who wants so badly to help me, the woman who knows how to use a gun, the Southern man, Shannon, all the rest. I see their faces, see their stares, see them look at me with fear, and I don't really want to remember them.

Then I look at your face. You always look at me. Your eyes never dart away to study your fingernails intently and you never stare at my stomach as though afraid it's going to pop. You always look into my eyes.

I remember you, Charlie. I remember your peanut butter. I remember falling in love with you. I want to remember the rest, and it's coming. Bits of memory and snatches of moments we shared together. There was luggage and there was a wheelchair, I think. I remember the smiles you gave me and the feelings they stirred. There was a moment in the jungle. You put your hands on my stomach and felt my baby move. You helped me.

Ethan took us both, you told me. How did you get away? Why didn't you take me, too?

When I go to lie in my so-called "bed" that night, I remember.

The force of it makes me gasp for air and I have to grope for water. I take gulps of it from the peanut butter jar and feel salty tears course down my cheek.

It's there, in my mind, as fresh as it was when my eyes first saw you hanging lifelessly from a tree.

You tried to escape, I remember. You tried to knock him out and carry me away, even though I'm far too heavy for you. It made him angry. Very angry. And he killed you.

I remember watching you die. I remember feeling like a little bit of me died as well.

Now you're alive. I lost you and you found me.

As though you sense my distress, suddenly you're here in my cave. You kneel beside me and put your arms around me, rocking me back and forth.

"You died," I sob into your shoulder. "You died! I saw you die!"

"It's all right, Claire. I'm alive now, and I'm here, and I won't let him take you ever again," you promise. "He's gone now, love. He's gone and he'll never hurt you again."

You don't understand that I'm not afraid of being hurt by Ethan anymore. I'm afraid of them coming for you. I'm afraid of losing you again and I'm afraid of never having your love.

"Charlie, Charlie, please." I don't know what I'm asking you for. You seem to understand anyway and hold me a little tighter. "I watched you die. He made me watch."

"I know, love. I remember." You sound as though you'd rather be me right now. Without memory, alone in the dark. You don't want that. It's hell.

Only now I have a light. It's you and I can see again. I remember you promising to take care of me. You did, Charlie, you took care of me because you gave me hope when I was with Ethan. I was so afraid until you came to me in my dreams, an angel bathed in white light. You told me that you would find me again and you did.

I look up at you and through my blurred vision I see that you're crying, too. My mouth opens, ready to tell you everything, ready to tell you that I love you and that I remember. You shake your head and put your finger to my lips.

"It's all right, Claire." You already know.

You kiss away my tears and hold me to your chest until I fall asleep. When I open my eyes the next morning you're still there, still watching me, still keeping me safe.

Suddenly memory isn't so important. I can find everything I need in your eyes.

The End.