Title: In Ruins

Summary: Post-Finale, Suliet/Skate/Jate; "Everything disappeared in a flash, much like those he felt as they skipped from time to time, past to present; bleeding noses, bleeding hearts."

Author's Note: Finally, a WIP! I've been working on the premise for this since the finale. You'll have to excuse me when I get rather AU…also, I'm not going to be addressing the whole Locke-Jacob-etc. mess. Sorry if you were looking forward to that. By the way, I don't own Lost, any of the characters, or the Green Day song lyric from which I stole for the title. You know my 'ships, you know my style. As always…

Enjoy,

Sara

*

Nothing's ever built to last
You're in ruins.

[1]

Everything disappeared in a flash, much like those he felt as they skipped from time to time, past to present; bleeding noses, bleeding hearts. He didn't feel the impact, only watched as everything fell apart around him. Kate held him; she was the last thing he felt, but not the last thing he saw. He grabbed her hand, held tightly, and she slipped away. He'd lost again.

He wondered if this was what it felt like to die.

Suddenly, the blinding emptiness jostled him, and he opened his eyes (he didn't realize he'd closed them – he was determined to keep them open to the light, he needed to see what would happen). It was bright, but nothing like before. He now held tightly not to Kate but to the rough arm-rest of his economy class seat. He rubbed his eyes, still rough from salty tears.

The Doc had done it; he'd put them back.

Sawyer looked around wildly, searching for faces, people. He knew they were mostly in business, some even in first class. The woman beside him shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. He didn't know her; she hadn't made it. Finally, his eyes landed on a familiar face – Ana Lucia. She was intently studying the book in front of her.

Then it hit him – he knew her. He remembered her. He remembered everything from the island.

He must have looked at her too long, because she seemed to sense his eyes on her. She looked up with hesitation, smiled slightly, and averted her eyes. He tried to gage her reaction. Did she remember him?

Was he the only one who remembered?

The plane jostled him again, and as he turned to look out the window, he realized they'd landed. He'd slept, seemingly, for hours, never moving, and here they were, at LAX. Miles away from the island; miles away from Juliet. (she had to be alive, didn't she?)

Ana- Lucia was alive, and she must be also; stuck on the island, under Ben's control. He raged to think of it. He wondered what consequences Jack's actions had had. How far back had the island affected people? Did Ben still remain there, under the influence of the Others? Was Juliet even there?

What had changed?

The plane slowed to a stop, and the Captain announced that it was 10:42 am in Los Angeles and they'd arrived right on schedule. Sawyer was out of his seat before the Captain had even directed them to do so. He grabbed his carry-on and hustled toward the front of the plane. People crowded in front of him. He saw Charlie file out in front of him, looking rough. He decided to chance it.

"Charlie?"

Charlie looked up and smiled. He remembered. "Hey, man." Sawyer smiled back, momentarily baffled. "Listen," Charlie continued, "if you want an autograph, can you wait until we get off the plane?"

Sawyer faltered. "I – no, I don't want a damn autograph," he said, more gruffly than he intended.

Charlie frowned, tugged on his guitar case, and shuffled away as quickly as was possible in the crowded aisle.

"Son of a bitch," Sawyer muttered. He leaned around the aisles, searching. Across the middle row, he saw her – Kate – handcuffed, sheepishly looking at the marshal. Without thinking, Sawyer lunged across the row. He didn't care to push people out of the way. "Freckles!"

She looked up at him, surprised. The marshal turned to face him. "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to step away. Can I do something to help you?"

He leaned around the marshal and met Kate's gaze. "Do you remember?"

She looked at him and replied softly, "Yes."

*

She woke with the sheet clutched in her grasp. Her hand cramped. Her eyes were closed tightly; her teeth ground together. She felt nothing but the ache in her hand. Saw nothing but the pink of her eyelids.

Carefully, she opened her eyes. The room was bathed in a soft light from the direction of the sheer curtains. Not her home in Dharmaville. Not her home anywhere. From her left, she could hear the shower running.

"James?"

There was no answer. He probably couldn't hear her anyway.

Juliet stretched in the bed, ignoring the pain that had set into her joints. She racked her mind, trying to figure out how she'd gotten here, where she was. Suddenly, it hit her, and she rose out of bed. The island, the bomb, the fall – she remembered it all. There was no way she could have survived.

Just as quickly as those memories flooded her mind, new memories overlapped them. Her head ached, so much so that she felt tears fall down her cheeks. Julian, picking him up from daycare; Jared, his father, picking him up from her home; sad smiles; Rachel…Rachel's funeral; work; Edmund. She saw herself with increasing clarity, performing all the duties before…before the island, but with several additions. Julian, younger, even, than she'd seen when Ben had showed her. She thought of the island, now blurry in her thoughts. She still remembered, but it felt like these things had happened years ago.

Had they?

In truth, they'd never happened – here she was in her home. She remembered decorating, cooking supper last night. She remembered that today was her day off. Lucky, she though, because she would have overslept.

Had it ever really happened?

She swallowed and tried to bring forward the memories of the island. Jack had said they wouldn't remember…why did she? She saw herself swinging over the drop-off, heard James' words – Don't leave me – she let go.

She let go. She was dead, then, wasn't she?

She could remember hitting the bomb, shear adrenaline driving her onward. Her body had been numb.

She leaned back into the bed, exhausted. The island had affected her life much more than she even knew. Because the radiation was prevented, Ben hadn't needed her to help pregnant women. Thus, Rachel had not been saved.

It all made sense for a split second, then crumbled in fleeting memories.

She lived in the present, but she remembered two pasts. One, however, seemed more like a dream. She knew that this could never have happened, all this silliness. It was merely a dream.

She brought up her hand to pull up the comforter, saw the sunlight hit her wedding ring – James, Edmund? – and she saw it. She pulled up her shirt and examined her mid-section. It was bruised where the chains had wrapped around her, faded, nearly gone, but still there. She looked back at her hand where the yellowed bruise on her wrist remained from James' grip, trying to save her. She could still feel him; she could still feel her love for him.

It had happened.