A/N: Woah. So, so sorry about the long-ass hiatus this story took! Especially with no warning! That was unexpected. And thing is, I can ruffle up a billion excuses life,college, laziness... but the main reason was that my interest in Lost took a hit. I have a short attention span, and - generally - when I'm hooked on something a web site, a show, a story... for a long period of time, eventually I get bored with it and I have to drop it for a bit so I can get into back to it later. And that happened with me over the last few weeks, but now I'm back and I won't be going away for over a month again :p At least I didn't leave y'all hanging at a very bad spot. Heh.

So, to make up for that, I got carried away and this turned into a very long chapter. So long, I had to cut it. And to keep you guys from another few day's wait, I'm posting this now and there'll be another chapter (the "second half" of this) up in a day or two. It's pretty much done but I've only revised the first part, so yes. I'll attempt to get into a regular update pattern again, and I'll be working on posting that other story I promised last time :p Spring break's this coming week, so things are looking good!

Thanks for sticking with me, and enjoy!

---

Kate's eyes instantly found the timer as Sawyer urged her gently through the door. She watched the red number flash from '16' to '15' with a ding that barely made her blink. As Sawyer's warm hand left its spot on her back, reality came flooding back. She shook her head clear and opened her mouth to speak, but the realization that she had nothing to say slapped her in the face. Wrapping her arms around herself, Kate watched as Sawyer stalked deeper into the room and gathered his pack. He looked up offhandedly and regarded her for a moment before breaking the heavy silence.

"Gonna get a move on it, sweetheart?"

Kate chewed on the inside of her cheek; her gaze trailing to a burn on the carpet by her feet. Instead of verbally answering (mainly because she didn't trust herself to speak at the moment), she nodded absently and walked past Sawyer. Snatching her bag off the couch she'd disposed of it on earlier, she disappeared into the bathroom.

Sawyer sighed, unsure of how things between and Kate would progress after this. Finding it easier to not think about the future (their future), he set his mind on the task at hand.

The alarm dinged and Sawyer let his eyes scan the room for anything they might have forgotten.

---

The bathroom was as empty as they had first found it.

Kate had gone in knowing this.

She needed to put some physical space - a wall, a door, anything - between herself and Sawyer. With everything that had happened over the past day, just being in the same room as him would be enough to crumble her defenses. And now that they (hopefully) had a way out, she couldn't risk that happening.

The shower handle screeched as she turned the water off; her eyes closed against the cool liquid that was dripping down her face. An inhale of breath, a count to five, and she was ready.

Making her way back into the main quarters, she instantly sought out Sawyer's form. He was standing with his back to her, facing the farthest bookcase division, his finger raised as he followed it across the many titles lining the shelf before him. From her prior investigation, Kate knew most of the works along the wall were scientific studies, textbooks, case files and unknown documents. She watched as Sawyer wrapped his hand around a dark navy leather cover and pulled it from the shelf to examine it more closely. Kate fought a smile, knowing that he was up for reading most anything, judging by his rapport on the island thus far. Things weren't about to change.

Turning away, she continued forward to the door that led into the miniature laboratory. Twisting the knob, she waited for the lights to automatically flicker on before stepping into the cool air.

She was unsure of the reasoning that had brought her back into this room, yet she now found herself standing in front of the large, stainless steel sink. A simple cabinet was stationed beneath it, almost tauntingly begging to be opened. Letting her backpack slip down to the floor, Kate pulled out the top drawer and regarded the row of cased syringes that lay tucked inside. A fresh image flashed through her mind; an image of an arm and a needle. The picture faded, only to be replaced by one of gleaming, hazel eyes. Eyes lacking the spark of life.

Before her mind could fill in the missing details, Kate slammed the drawer shut and leaned against the counter.

There was nothing for them in here.

But, perhaps, there was something for them to bring back to the camp. Something that shouldn't be left behind only to be destroyed. (That is, if their suspicions about the timer were indeed to come true.)

Gathering herself yet again, Kate reopened the cabinet and extracted one of the packed boxes, ignoring the Dharma notepad and pens that took up the rest of the drawer. Her eyes traveled to the glassed shelves hovering over the sink: beakers, flasks, vials... (Breakable.) Further down: scales, balances and weights... (Useless.)

Kate's footsteps bounced off the walls and against the hum of the air conditioner as she walked further into the room. The last countertop was stacked with an assortment of metal instruments. She ran her fingers over a scalpel, peeling it off the rubber mat it lay on and turning it in her hands. They had knives and scissors back at their hatch, but she figured Jack would be able to appreciate this little token (if he was willing to ever speak to her again, of course. And if she ever got back from this adventure with Sawyer, she highly doubted he would.) Ironically, this sharp little tool was, to Jack, the equivalent of a gun to Kate and Sawyer. Something that just felt right in their hands.

The door to the room flew open (Kate hadn't noticed it shutting in the first place), causing her to visibly flinch. Sawyer paused at the entrance, pinning her with an amused look.

"Think you've been hangin' 'round the doc too much, Freckles." They both looked down at the device in her hand. Kate shrugged.

"There's some useful things laying around here. I figured I'd bring them back with us."

"Ah," Sawyer chuckled. "A peace offering. You and Jacko been kinda edgy with each other as of late." His eyes glittered, playful but sad, in the bright light. "Guess the only way to his heart is the literal one, huh?"

Allowing herself a smile, Kate turn back to the counter. A collection of sterilized needles caught her eye and she picked them up as well. Walking back to kneel by her bag, she glanced up at Sawyer.

"You ready?"

He replied with a nod.

Zipping the main compartment and slinging the pack over her shoulder, Kate got to her feet. She cast a final look around the room as Sawyer turned and stalked out the door. Her gaze landed on the shadowed shelves lining the far wall - on one of the central containers, and more so, on the deformed creature floating within it. Kate stared at it for a long second, her forehead furrowed in though.

"Better hurry it up. Time's tickin' down to the fourth minute, and this is one show I'm doubtin you'll want front row seat to..."

Sawyer's voice faded off as the door gently flowed shut, snapping Kate out of her trance. With a sigh, she stepped forward, reached for the knob and gave the door a careless tug.

This time, however, it didn't swing open.

(No.) She jiggled the handle. (No, no, NO!) Her heart starting racing. (This is not happening.)

"Sawyer!" Her shout was drowned by the sudden onset of loud beeps. Confusion gave way to total fear; they were past the fourth minute mark and she was stuck in this room. Alone.

She banged her fists against the metal of the door, but the pounding was instantly dulled by the thick isolation.

Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.

"Sawyer!" (He's got to hear me. He's got to get me out of here.) "The door's locked!" Nothing. "Sawyer!"

Her eyes stung and she cursed herself for it. Her foot dove into the bottom of the door; she needed some kind of physical pain to calm herself down.

But she was too numb to feel.

The lights flickered and Kate's fists stopped midair. Her hands shook as they hovered between her and the door.

Another flick and she was plunged into absolute darkness.

Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.

(Calm down. Relax. You can do this.) Her fingers traced the wall framing the door. They brushed against the light switch. (You always find a way out.) She turned it on and looked back over her shoulder expectantly, waiting for the soft yellow light to offer her some hope.

(You always get away.)

But the light never came. Instead, five glowing red numbers appeared against the dark wall.

000:42

Ding.

(You always run.)

000:23

Ding.

But there was nowhere to run to this time.

000:16

Ding.

She turned her back on the door and slid down to the ground.

000:14

Ding.

("Kate...")

000:08

Ding.

The solid matter behind and below her suddenly disappeared.

"Kate!"

She blinked and found herself blinded by the strong light. The jarred fetus she'd been staring at came into focus and she quickly looked back at the source of the voice.

Sawyer stood holding the door open. His eyebrows were lifted in wary amusement.

"I said, you'd better hurry it up. Ain't got much time left..."

Kate swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded.

"Right, sorry... I was..." Her eyes drifted back to the far wall. "Thinking," she added absently.

Sawyer let out a sigh. "Yeah, well, it happens." When she didn't reply, he knocked on the metal behind him for emphasis. "Any day now."

She tore her gaze from the end of the room and forced herself past him and out the door. (It had all felt so real...)

Sawyer snorted in annoyance, sending an angry look around the clean, white room before following.

The door slid shut and the lights flickered off.

One of the contained organisms on the opposing wall twitched inside its confined quarters.

---

Sawyer adjusted the pack on his good shoulder and made his way across the room. He tossed a look back at the counter as it dinged to the third minute. It didn't count down in the same manner as the one back at "their" hatch. Sawyer was glad they wouldn't be sticking around to see if that was a good or a bad thing.

Kate was already by the door leading out towards the tunnel. As Sawyer reached her, she spun around sharply.

"Wait. The pup."

For a moment, her words made no sense. Then Sawyer remembered.

"The pup. Of course..." Her lifted a hand and shrugged. "So, where is he?"

Kate walked around him and scanned the room. "I don't know. I left him here with you."

Behind her, Sawyer left out a growl. "Well excuse me. Ain't like I've got much experience with this sort of thing." He stepped up next to her and shouted into the room. "Hey, dog! Come 'ere!"

The silence was broken only by the alarm.

"His loss." Sawyer backed up. "We've gotta go." Kate didn't move. "Now." He reached for her arm but she stepped further into the room.

"He's got to be in here somewhere."

"Damn it, woman." Sawyer went for her arm again. "You're going to get us both killed over some damn animal." She evaded him once more, moving around the corner table. She stopped suddenly, frozen, her gaze cast downward. Sighing, Sawyer came around to her side and peered towards the ground.

There, curled up against the nape of the dead wolf - almost perfectly blended - was the young canine. His glassy yellow-gold eyes looked up at the two towering humans, and slowly he lifted his head to regard them with a sad curiosity.

Sawyer felt Kate shudder beside him and he felt like an idiot for (wanting yet) not knowing how to comfort her. Doing the best he could given the situation, he scooped down and plucked the puppy from the ground, balancing its soft body in one hand as he used the other to cover the dead animal's head with the sheet. Standing up, he turned and deposited the creature in Kate's awaiting arms. She seemed to come out of her daze as the soft fur brushed her skin and she tightened her grip; her mouth tensed into a thin line.

She'd seen far too many empty, lifeless eyes today, but now wasn't the time for giving into her emotions.

"All right. Let's get out of here." She turned and walked briskly around the table and towards the door.

Sawyer looked back at the counter as it reached the final minute, then followed.

---