Author's note: I am so sorry I haven't updated in a while, but I've been horribly busy with school! I'm swamped with work until July 3, so don't expect much until then, but after that I hope to finally have to time to sit and write more.
Thank you so much for your reviews and kind words. They're all very much appreciated.
This fiction was written to the sound of many songs, but one I definitely associate it with is Lullaby for a Stormy Night, by Vienna Teng. It's here (.com/watch?v=lp69_dByl80) in case you'd like to hear it (please ignore the Bambi video, lol). Just a suggestion, really.
I hope you enjoy the ride! Comments are always welcome.
Lullaby for a Sunny Morning
Tastes like pennies. A metallic, rough flavour invades her tongue like liquor, a sudden mix of warmth and something she can't quite identify.
She's not awake, not yet. She knows she's being pulled into full consciousness, but it happens slowly, almost unnoticeably, so she has enough time to feel the transition, to know that she's alive but not quite, she's awake but she's not really present.
When she and Sawyer made their way home on the night before, a few hours after he caught her on top of that mountain, she went straight to the bathroom, without a word. He respected her space; allowed her to shower quickly and then to slide into bed without eating or talking to anyone. She turned off the light in the bedroom. The hallway was still lit, so she could see the movement outside.
Juliet laid on that bed for a couple of hours, listening to the noises of the home she now shared with three men. She heard Sawyer walk into the kitchen, and she could picture Miles' face perfectly, his eyes rising from the book in front of him, curious as to where the other two had been. She had heard Sawyer's response to his expression ("None of your business, Bruce.") and noted the Asian man's silence in response.
She had followed the steps Sawyer took throughout the kitchen, preparing a quick meal without really knowing how to cook. She had heard him flip the pages of a book calmly. When she heard his steps approach the hallway, she opened her eyes for the first time to stare at the stream of light coming from underneath the door. She saw him cross the hallway to the bathroom and shower quickly, just as quickly as she had.
He sang in the shower. A slow, almost bitter lullaby, like the one she had heard him sing in the pier a few days ago; it made her smile, a genuine smile that invaded her breath, from her lungs to her throat, and that almost stopped the headache she knew was approaching. He sang, and she smiled, closing her eyes again, allowing herself to be lulled into an altered state of consciousness in which the sounds Sawyer produced took over all of her senses, leaving no space for taste, for sight, for smell.
The smile was still on her face when he stopped singing, and she heard him dry himself, and then get into the sweat pants and t-shirt he used to sleep. She heard him leave the bathroom, leaving the door ajar, and she heard his steps on the hallway. And then he stopped in front of her door, reducing the light that came in, forcing her to lift her head in order to see properly.
He didn't move, and for a moment they were both stuck between movements. It was as if time had frozen for a second, leaving them both hanging. She didn't know if she wanted him to come in, and he didn't know if he wanted to, so he stood at the door, his hand lifted and closed, his knuckles ready to hit the soft wood, to announce his arrival.
Juliet sighed, allowing her head to fall back. This break in her resolve seemed to extend itself to Sawyer, who moved slightly. His feet were apart, and she could imagine him placing the palm of his hand on the door instead of knocking. That wasn't like him, but then again he hadn't been the same for a while.
Sawyer left a moment later, his sigh following him until he got to the couch. Juliet doesn't remember falling asleep, but she knows that the last thing she does remember is the sound of his body, ruffling through the sheets.
She's still not fully conscious. Her right leg is draped over her left as she is lying on her side, but her kneecap hurts the muscle below and she feels the need to move. Her hair is covering her face, and she feels slightly suffocated by it, lifting a hand to remove it and allowing herself to feel everything she didn't feel before, when she was still in limbo, still not awake but not quite asleep either.
This is the first time she's slept through the night without interruptions of any kind. She must have slept for about ten hours, and her body resents all the rest. Her muscles are achy, but somehow her spirits are lifted. It's as if all the crying, the breakdown, the despair from the night before had been left behind in that mountain. She's free of that weight now, or at least of a big part of it.
She smiles before even opening her eyes. She knows the pain is not there, and that's enough to make her greet the world with joy for the first time in months, maybe even years.
"It's good to see you smile like that."
Her eyes shoot open and she lifts her torso to regard the foot of her bed, where Sawyer is sitting, his legs thrown to the side of the bed in a relaxed manner. His hands are resting on his lap, and his hair is hanging on the side of his face. He looks stunning, but then again he always did, and she always noticed.
She brings a hand up to her face, pulling herself upright and trying to cover herself a little; the tank top she's wearing to sleep barely covers her full breasts, and she's very aware of the fact that he will, indeed, stare. When she is able to open her eyes again, however, he is gazing out the window beside her, an expression of calm washing over his face.
"What are you doing here?" she's finally able to articulate, after following the path of his eyes and realizing there's nothing outside.
"I came to see how you were doing, Blondie," he says, and crosses his fingers over his knee. "I was expecting you to have a rough night, but I didn't hear a sound from this end, and I was starting to think you'd smothered yourself while trying to muffle the sobs."
She glares at him, but the light tone in which he talks about the events of the previous day make her feel more at ease. She was dreading the conversation in which it would be brought up, she she's happy that he's addressing it in such a casual manner. Still, the glare is required and she doesn't spare him.
"No need to get pissy, Barbie, I was ready to come into the room and save you from drowning yourself in your tears."
"Is there a reason for you to be here, James? Other than mockery?" she asks, and his face turns serious. She feels a sense of coldness in the pit of her stomach, and clutches the sheets against her chest.
"Jin and Bruce Lee were called to have breakfast with Horace."
They stay silent for a moment, Juliet taking in the information and trying to make sense out of it with the small sense of awareness she has regained since she woke up. Sawyer is silent. His face reveals concern, but his pose is still genuinely relaxed.
"How long ago was that?" she manages to ask, still holding the fabric against her, as if to protect herself from the news.
"About an hour. I think it's nothin', to be honest." He looks away, and the coldness in Juliet's abdomen becomes heavier. "But we do need to align our stories."
The first thought that comes to Juliet's mind at that moment is that it is indeed strange that they've been there for a few days and they still haven't talked about that. They still haven't had a conversation with the intent of defining a story for them to tell the Dharma people. All they know for now is that their boat sank near the island, and that they have a relationship with the hostiles, but they know nothing more.
"You're right." She nods, and he smiles, his dimples showing. "Who are we?" The sigh she punctuates the question with allows him to know how weary she is of being 'someone', of pretending, of never being able to be who she wants to be.
"Listen, Juliet. We don't need to be nobody, we just gotta change our names. We don't need to do anything different from what we would in…"
"We do, James." She interrupts him, "We need to be the kind of people the Dharma Initiative would take in." She smiles when she realizes his pained expression is solely for her. "I don't like it, but that's the way things are for now."
"I know." His reply is dry, but she knows he'll come around to it. He smiles, at last, and his dimples show again, this time deeper. "So, who are you?"
"I'm Juliet Carlson."
"It's my maiden name."
"You're married?" His look of surprise drives her to laugh loudly, but she set her face straight a minute later.
"We're not talking about that."
He sighs and smiles, as if expecting that reaction, but she can still read the question in his eyes. "So, you think it's safe for you to use your maiden name now?"
"Why? It's not like they know who I am. Yet." Sawyer's glare makes her laugh, and she tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. "You, on the other hand, are Mr. LaFleur."
"Damn right I am. I was the commander of that boat, you know? Sailin' through the farthest seas, bringing you people from the future since 2005," They both chuckle when he is done making his point, but the sadness that invades the air is unexpected, their faces growing serious in the bright light of morning.
Juliet lowers her eyes to the bed linens, her fingernail scratching the surface lightly, and Sawyer thinks he had never seen a woman this beautiful. He loved Cassidy, but he wasn't attracted by her beauty, he was attracted by her money, and then by her willingness to give everything up for him. He loved Kate, but the first thing he noticed about her was her fierceness, the fierceness that seemed to be long gone now. This was something different. He doesn't love Juliet, he barely knows her. But that kind of beauty is uncanny, it's almost mystical. Her blonde hair is tousled from sleep, her shoulders are bare save for the spaghetti strap of her top, and the while sheets are balled up against her chest, her skin shines in the sun, and he can't tear his eyes away.
"What?" she asks, and he suddenly hears the noise again, the rustle of the tree just outside her window.
"Nothin', Blondie." He looks down at his shoes, and she looks at the window. "So, what's our story?"
"We need them to get back. We'll need to know what they told them," She says, simply, and he sighs.
"Yeah, but meanwhile." He sees her relax, and leans the small of his back against the foot of the bed. They're both more relaxed now, the sheets that were previously clutched now simply spread over her chest, and one of his knees on the bed. "What were we doing? On the boat? Who are the three of you?"
"We were taking a crew to film a documentary. About sloths," their chuckles rise in the air, and Juliet continues. "Jin is a tour guide and Miles is a cameraman. You're the captain of the boat, I'm a nurse who came along to look out for you. The rest of the documentary crew was lost in the ocean, as well as the equipment."
"Sounds like a good story." Sawyer nods and leans forward, looking at Juliet more closely.
"It's lousy. Besides, you already told Horace about the Black Rock." She makes a goofy grin and he smiles with her. "That one'll have to do. That is, if they didn't screw up already."
They stay quiet for a moment, and Sawyer finally dares to ask the question that has been lingering on his mind.
"So, how are you feeling, since yesterday?"
Juliet doesn't show how hard it is for her to answer that question. She knows he was holding out on her, not asking her everything he wanted to know, and she knew he was doing it out of concern. Now, however, she's not sure whether he's doing it out of mere curiosity, or real interest in her person. That insecurity leads her to cover herself up more fiercely again, but then she lifts her eyes to meet his.
He is sincere in his interest, she can tell. She was always good at reading people, save for the giant mistake that Edmund had been, but even then, she knew exactly what she was getting herself into. She could read people well, and she knew there was no ill intention behind Sawyer's question, and it made her feel safe, all of a sudden, made her feel cherished in a way she hadn't been for a very long time.
"It's…" the words get caught in her throat involuntarily. It's like a wall, like a cork on her windpipe, preventing her from talking. She has to fight it in order to be able to continue that sentence. "It's just… It happens sometimes, when I'm… overwhelmed."
"Overwhelmed? We were having a quiet afternoon." He says, smiling, and she knows his intention is not to question her motives, but to lighten her mood.
"I got overwhelmed by the sense of… normalcy. I rarely had that. I don't know how to deal, and my body shuts down and I need to get away, I need to run someplace and hide, and be there until it passes." She finishes the sentence with a sigh, and brings her palm to her forehead, as if it was holding the weight of her head.
"Or until you get yourself killed." She nods at his words, knowing exactly what he means. She knows she was close to death the day before, she knows that if he hadn't come up, she probably wouldn't be there. "Listen, sweetheart, I can't spend my time running uphill, looking for you every time you disappear."
The statement hangs in the air as tears fill her eyes. She decides not to cry, her hand coming up to rest against her mouth as she looks away from Sawyer's face. His expression is one of regret, as he thinks he shouldn't have gone that far, but all she wants to do is reassure him that she just doesn't know how else to react.
Sawyer lifts himself from the bed and runs a hand through his hair. "I didn't mean to talk like that. I won't barge into your business again."
"No." She replies quickly, "It's not your fault, I'm just… I don't know."
He looks away and prepares to leave, but Juliet's voice makes him stop in his tracks.
"Yeah?" He doesn't turn around, and she can't fight the tears anymore.
"Thank you. For taking care of me." The last word is only murmured, a sob taking over her chest, making him turn around. "I'm sorry I'm such a mess, I wasn't like this before." She's still not crying, but she let go of the sheets and her eyes are facing him, staring at his.
Sawyer moved quickly from the door to the bed, his hand finding Juliet's cheek before she could react. He allowed his fingers to run until they found the space right behind her ear, and as he saw her eyes lift up to meet his, he lowered his face, whispering, "We're in this together. I'll take care of you, Blondie."