I'm Not Okay
A/N: I have to than k everyone for all the wonderful feedback, you guys are great to me. As for the pairings, nothing is set in stone, but I'm amending the possible *likely* pairings to either Willow & Jack, or her and Charlie. Anyway, this chapter might be a little weird in spots, but Locke is a weird guy, so that fits. As always, feedback is *very* appreciated. Just be kind :)
2: I’m Not Okay
“Are you sure you have everything?” Willow asked hurriedly as she and Kennedy hustled through the busy airport, dodging the crowds stalled in the middle of the terminal.
Kennedy huffed a bit and rolled her eyes. “Will,” she sighed, steps never faltering. “We’re packed, the bags are checked, and we’re about to board. I think I’ve got everything. Besides, even if I did forget something, it’s not the end of the world.”
The brunette slammed into the back of the witch, face covered in surprise as the redhead spun around to look incredulously at her. “Don’t say that,” demanded Willow, voice a little high-pitched and squeaky. “*Never* say that.”
“Sorry,” she muttered with a shrug, amazed by her girlfriend’s vehemence, “Didn’t know you were so touchy.”
“It’s a Scooby thing,” Willow said with an understanding nod. “Just trust me; saying something like that is bad luck. You say that, and then the next thing you know, there’s an apocalypse and I have to say ‘I told you so’.”
“Wouldn’t want that,” Kennedy remarked, pulling a face. Willow smiled at her sarcasm and primly kissed her on the lips.
“C’mon,” she prodded, hefting her carryon bag a little higher up on her shoulder, “We’ve got a plane to catch.”
Willow watched the crowd of people mulling about the remnants of the plane, still searching for any personal items, maybe a change of clothes. The search was pretty much in vain. The majority of the supplies, at least those that would be useful, had been fished out and put to use. Jack tried to keep tabs on the medical supplies, Kate and a girl she vaguely remembered named Shannon were looking through all the bags strewn about for clothes and even some blankets to keep people warm at night. Sawyer had taken to hording some belongings, none of which were his, but no one really confronted him about it. Whoever the owner was, apparently they weren’t missing their things.
Campfires lit up the beach, and some people were circled about the flames. Some talked, most just stared off into space, worse yet some shed tears. Whether they were tears of loss or waning hope, she didn’t know.
Jack and Kate had resolved to find the cockpit of the plane when morning came, if there was any of it to be found, and Willow had considered going with them. Jack, on the other hand, flat out refused to let her go. She had a concussion. As much as a help she might be, it would be more dangerous to bring her along should something happen. She didn’t want to be a liability, so she relented. But once she was well, there would be no stopping her from joining their explorations. Assuming they were still stuck on this god forsaken spit of land. She was kind of hoping they wouldn’t be.
There was a crunch of boots on sand and the redhead glanced up from her spot on the beach, knees bent toward her chest, arms crossed and resting atop them.
“Are you all right?” Willow studied the man, resisting a frown. She had seen him about, walking amongst the rest of the passengers, helping Jack with the wounded. But something about him, about his aura, made her wary. Not to mention he had that wicked scar along his eye. He just looked…creepy.
“Hmm, yeah,” she replied with a quick flash of a smile. It wasn’t much, but it was meant to be placating, and a little welcoming.
“Not lonely just sitting here by yourself?” Locke wondered with a raised brow.
Willow just shrugged. “It gives me time to think,” she said softly. “And I need that. My thoughts are all jumbled, you know? It’s been a crazy day.”
“That’s a bit of an understatement,” Locke smiled, taking the opportunity to bend down and sit beside her. “John Locke,” he said with a friendly smile. Willow couldn’t help but to smile slightly at the comforting gesture.
“Willow,” she returned in kind.
He stretched his legs out in front of him and leaned back, his arms bracing him. He bent his head back a bit, taking in a deep pull of air and just looking at the stars.
“Nice night,” he commented casually.
“You can really see the stars here,” she murmured, more to herself than anyone else. “I used to live in California, the land of smog,” she snorted a little at her own joke. “We never got to see stars like this. Plus we tried to avoid going out at night.” At his curious look, she stammered and smiled weakly. “Uh, gangs. *Bad* crime problem,” she explained lamely.
They sat there for a long minute, neither speaking. She didn’t know what his excuse was for the silence. She just wasn’t that great with new people. They tended to make her nervous. But she also wasn’t sure how to start a conversation with him. If she ignored that slightly uneasy feeling he caused, and just judged him by his outward appearance, he would have been a comforting figure. He looked like your friendly neighborhood older man, if not a little mysterious with the clothing and his scar. But as it was, she honestly couldn’t think of a good segue. Instead, she found herself just sort of blurting everything out in common Willowy fashion.
“I—” Willow stammered unsurely. “I feel like I should be crying, or something.” She frowned at her own words and sighed. She didn’t know why she was even sharing any of her feelings with a stranger, especially one that made her so uneasy. But she needed to get some things off her chest and he was as good a sounding board as any. That or the stress and trauma from a near death experience were finally getting to her.
He nodded. That was it. No comforting words, no reassurance. Just a nod.
“I mean, I see all these people, and they’re all doing something,” she explained, turning her head away from him to once again watch the odd assortment of people gathered on the island. “They’re helping the wounded,” with a look at Jack and Kate. “They’re comforting each other,” she said, with a glance toward the Korean couple wrapped in an embrace by the shore. “They’re grieving,” she finished. It wasn’t hard to find people who were grieving. They were everywhere, “But not me.
“I’m just sitting here,” she mumbled. “And that’s not like me. I’m the emotional one. I know I didn’t lose anyone on the plane. I know I’m not hurting like some people are, but still. I just…shouldn’t I be crying?”
“People deal with these situations differently,” he replied, voice steady, even grandfatherly. “Some people collapse under the pressure. They crumble the second things go bad. So they cry. That doesn’t make them better or worse than anyone else. That’s just how they are.” He looked around. It wasn’t hard to find people like that. The earlier hysteria on the part of some of the survivors had faded and most were left silently weeping, clinging to whatever or whomever they could for strength.
“And then you have those who like to keep themselves busy,” he continued. “Like Jack and Kate for instance. Look at them,” he said, nodding his head in their direction. “Jack hasn’t stopped running around all night, tending to the wounded and dying. And Kate’s right beside him, in the thick of it. Now, you can ask, are they really doing any good? The dying will still die. The heavily wounded will probably join them in a few hours. Not much the good doctor can do about that. He can barely ease their suffering. But that’s not the point. He needs to help. He needs to concentrate on the others. Fixing everyone else’s problems is a hell of a lot easier that fixing our own.”
He took a deep breath, a soft smile on his face as his eyes sighted the form of a very pregnant Claire quite far from were they were seated. “Some people like to talk. To friends, family, complete strangers, it doesn’t matter. Look at her,” he said, directing her attention toward the blonde. “See how she’s talking to the baby? Now, everybody knows the little one isn’t going to be saying anything back, but it gives her something to do. A way to let everything out, to keep her mind off it all.”
His smile faded away after a moment and his expression wasn’t exactly happy or sad. He seemed…neutral, like he was thinking back to something difficult to deal with, something he had worked to come to terms with. Past that she had no idea what he was thinking. This John Locke struck her as a man with secrets and she couldn’t imagine being able to decipher them all.
“And then there’s the survivors,” he murmured, his voice much lower now. Whatever revelation he was about to spout, it was much more personal. “Like you and me. People who have seen a lot. Who’ve lived through a lot of pain and trauma. Who are stronger for it.”
He finally looked her way, catching her eyes in an intense stare.
“They’ve been through disappointment after disappointment, and still managed to keep going. They’ve been ridiculed and stomped on and they fought their way past it all.” Willow didn’t break the stare, a little taken aback by his observations. “They don’t spend their time crying. Because they’ve done that before and it didn’t get them anywhere. They’re the planners, the strategists. They don’t try to accept their situation, because they’re too busy trying to figure out how to fix it. They don’t use busy work to distract themselves. They sit, and they think, and they solve the problem. And when they finally get home, then they will deal with it all. There will be time enough for crying when it’s all over.”
And then he smiled at her. It was more than a little disarming. After that, after all the dramatics, he was grinning at her seemingly without any thought to the previous, rather deep conversation they had been having.
“I should go make sure there’s enough firewood for the night,” Locke declared lightly, pushing himself up off the sand and brushing himself off. “You might want to wander a little closer to camp. It’s going to get pretty cold later tonight. The fire and the body heat will keep you warm.”
Willow nodded dumbly and he grinned again, a kind expression on his face.
“It was nice meeting you,” he offered casually, and then he had his back turned to her, off to play the forager.
“You too…” she murmured, even though he was out of hearing range.
That was just—weird. She had been right there with him up until his slightly too insightful comments. She wasn’t sure if she was just that damn transparent, or what, but his last few words had definitely left her a little unnerved.
Plus there was the way that man could do a total 1-80. One minute he was serious, even stern. The next he was grinning like friendly Mr. Goldberg from down the street.
Sighing in confusion, the redhead licked her dry lips and sat there, contemplating. Her gaze scanned the populated beach, eventually falling on a small group of people near the shore. They were talking softly, nothing unusual, but they were holding bottles of water that had been on the plane.
Grunting a bit, Willow stood, doing her best to brush off all the sand, but knowing she didn’t get it all, she started to make her way toward the crowd. She had to admit, Locke was right. She really did need to move closer to camp before going to sleep that night. And it wouldn’t hurt to try and talk to other people than Jack.
Besides, she remembered as she once again ran a tongue over her now dry and cracked lips; the fresh water was calling to her.