Everything happened so quickly that Charlie Pace barely had time to react.
All he knew was that one minute he was sitting by the campfire with Hugo and Desmond, singing songs and getting drunker by the second-and the next, he was on the ground, seeing stars, the wind knocked clear out of him-and Desmond's hand was gripping his throat like a vice.
"You don't want to know what happened to me!" the Scott was screaming at the top of his lungs, "when I turned that key! You don't want to know!"
"Get off !" He was getting close to suffocating, flapping about like a fish out of water on the sand-but his efforts were in vain. He was dying.
"You don't want to know what happened to me!" Desmond's violent screams now a continuous ringing in his ears-
-when suddenly the pressure lifted, and he was on his feet in a flash, watching both Desmond and Hugo tumbling to the ground, falling over each other in tandem.
"You don't want to know," the crazed Scott was still jabbering, crawling about like a wounded crab on the sand. "You don't want to know what happened to me!"
Charlie watched, dazed and stunned, as Desmond sank to the ground in defeat. "It doesn't matter what you do," Charlie could hear him mumbling helplessly-and suddenly Charlie was furious.
"What the hell are you doing?" he demanded, incensed, as Desmond continued to whimper out to the ocean.
"You can't change it," Desmond uttered, and to Charlie's disgust, began to sob like a baby. "You can't change it...no matter what you try to do, you just can't change it..."
Charlie didn't get it and from the looks of it, neither did Hugo, motioning the message to Charlie that Desmond must be insane.
"He's wankered," Charlie muttered, exhausted. "Let's get him to his tent. Alright, Des, come on, gimme your arm." Surprisingly Desmond let him assist in getting to his feet, and Hugo watched in a daze as Charlie, with Desmond's arm slung over his shoulder, lead him in the direction of the sleeping quarters. "Okay," Charlie heard himself saying to the man who could have killed him, "okay...I got you."
"You're a good man, Charlie." Desmond was slurring his words but the message still got through.
Charlie wondered if that were true-was he a good man? Could he be a good man?
"Listen, I'm sorry I tried to strangle ya, alright?" Desmond's words indicated to Charlie that the man was drunker than he'd thought.
"Fair play, mate," he heard himself saying instead, "here we go." He somehow managed to heft Desmond off his shoulder and lean him carefully against a nearby tree. In the light of the surrounding campfires flickering in the dark, he could see how truly out of it Desmond really was-and realized suddenly the anger had nothing to do with him. "Sorry I called you a coward."
"Ah..." A painful expression crossed Desmond's face, half visible in the shadows, "you're right, pal," he added softly-his words taking Charlie completely by surprise.
"Desmond," Charlie said then (desperately eager to change the subject), crouching low to face his distant-eyed companion, "you are gonna tell me what happened to you." He spoke with conviction, making sure that Desmond knew he would not just let this slide another time.
For a moment, Desmond simply stared-as though trying to figure out a puzzle only he could see-and then, softly, slowly, he began to speak: "When I turned that key..." A strange, enigmatic smile crossed his face, and Desmond weakly shook his head (Charlie not being able to tell if it was with amusement or sadness), before adding quietly, "my life...flashed...before my eyes...And then, I was back in the jungle." A grin unfolded upon Desmond's face (Charlie wondering what was funny, but knowing this was not the time to ask). "Still back on this bloody island," Desmond continued, his eyes squinting at his surroundings with contempt. "But those flashes, Charlie," he went on, turning to look back at his fixated listener, "those flashes-they didn't stop."
Charlie paused for a moment to let this all sink in. "So," he began slowly (all the pieces suddenly beginning to slide into place) "you're telling me that you saw a 'flash' this morning? That you saw Claire drowning? And that's how you knew when to save her?"
Something in Desmond's expression shifted, and Charlie wasn't sure what it was-but it seemed as though there was more shadows than light that circled Desmond's eyes, as he looked hard into Charlie's own. "I wasn't saving Claire, Charlie," Desmond declared quietly. "I was saving you."
Charlie's heart skipped a beat. (What had Desmond just said to him?)
"This morning," Desmond went on, "you dove after Claire."
Charlie blinked. Shook his head in adamant confusion. (No he hadn't.)
"You tried to save her, but..." Desmond paused, as though the next words were too painful, before adding gravely: "You drowned."
Instead of getting angry this time, Charlie laughed. "What are you talking about?" he retorted, amused by the utter absurdity of the situation, "I didn't drown!"
Desmond, however, was not laughing-instead, his eyes were full of urgency, and they were frightening. "When I saw the lightening hit the roof," Desmond said, voice full with a pain that seemed so sincere that Charlie's voice caught in his throat and he couldn't argue, "you were electrocuted."
Charlie couldn't say a word.
"And when you heard that Claire was in the water," Desmond continued even quieter, his voice filled with a great sadness that chilled Charlie to the bone, "you drowned, trying to save her."
None of this was true. It wasn't-but if it wasn't, why couldn't he say anything? His lips were frozen; numb.
"I dove in myself so you never went in," Desmond insisted, and the distress mixed with the heaviness of grief too real for Charlie to ignore, "I've tried, brother. I've tried twice to save you, but...the universe has a way of course-correcting, and...I can't stop it forever." Desmond stared back at Charlie, as Charlie stared back at him-into the eyes that proclaimed to see his future. "I'm sorry," Desmond pleaded, breathless, "I'm sorry, because...no matter what I try to do..." Desmond was on the verge of tears. "You're gonna die, Charlie."