Pain.

That was his first thought upon awakening. Pain, fire pokers shooting across his body, ping-ponging off his bones, burrowing into muscles and organs.

His head felt like someone had been kicking it, his arms were suddenly made of lead, and he could practically feel his body bruising. But his legs hurt most of all - his kneecaps ached and his feet were on fire.

Then, in an instant, everything stopped. A cool breeze seemed to glide over him, caressing his battered body. He could feel the sand under him, the sun beating down on him.

His shoes were missing. Bother, he really liked those shoes. He had bought them especially for this trip. It was so hard to go shoe shopping alone, mostly he just bought a likely looking pair and suffered the indignity of trying them on in the privacy of his own home. But these shoes had fit perfectly, had slipped on his feet easily - almost as if they were made just for him.

And now they were gone.

Drat.

He just lay there in the sand, staring at his stocking feet and trying to ignore the soft waves of pain ebbing all over his body.

All over his body.

Wait.

He focused on his feet, looking absurdly childish in their navy blue socks silhouetted against the brilliantly blue sky.

This was silly.

Focus.

Absurd is what it was.

Focus.

And impossible. He mustn't forget impossible.

Focus.

There.

His right toe wiggled. He could feel the cotton of the socks stretch with the slight movement. His heel was ground into the sand, he could feel the tiny bits scratching against his skin.

He could feel.

Slowly, inescapably, a smile spread across his face. It wrinkled his skin, pulled back his lips, exposed his teeth to the glorious sun.

He hadn't smiled in ages.

Not since -

No. No negative thoughts. Not when this...miracle, this glorious thing was happening to him.

To him.

Pushing himself to a sitting position his grin faded into an expression of wonderment. He touched his legs and could feel the weight of his own hand.

Amazing.

He struggled to his feet, the pain gliding away from him, brushed away by some provincial hand. Like a child, he took a tentative step. It was real, he could feel everything again.

He was whole.

Then the sound started to come back up. A horrible grinding noise began to fill his head. Somewhere nearby a woman was screaming. People lay all around him, blood soaked, groaning in pain. And someone was yelling.

At him?

He turned, marveling at the simplest body movement.

A man was gesturing to him, shouting something over the horrendous noise. He ran to the man.

He ran.

Helping the struggling survivors, walking along the beach, gathering debris, he passed the rest of the day in a daze.

Everyone around him was in shock. They bemoaned their fates; they were crying, gnashing their teeth, asking why.

But he knew. He could walk again. He could be the man he'd only pretended to be before.

It wasn't misfortune that had brought them to this Island. It was fate.

Destiny.

This Island had made him whole. It had made him real again. Here, he could live.

He could be free.

John Locke sat on the beach, staring into the pounding waves, wriggling his stocking feet into the warm sand.

He was home.


Disclaimer: John Locke and the LOST-verse don't belong to me. Obviously.

A/N: This is for Mermaidrain. She asked me to write about a character I hated. So, here you are. Reviews are coveted like shiny things.