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the Other - 02 - the Hatch
by Ellin (sapphire_child)
at April 14th, 2006 (02:04 pm)

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Title: The Other – 02 – The Hatch
Spoilers: set from about episode 14 of the second season, from there its just spec and my muse having some fun.
Summary: Charlie, unable to cope with Claire’s estrangement any longer, sets off into the jungle alone. But after a month of pain and hardships, he stumbles across something he wasn’t ever expecting to find out there…
Disclaimer: Isn’t mine, never has been, never will be and I promise I’m not making any money – writing fanfiction is simply for my own self-satisfaction. Lyrics in the cut are from “Puddle Of Grace” by Amy Jo Johnson. The pun in these lyrics is most definitely intended and if you pick it up I’ll give you a cookie.
~*~

When Charlie opened his eyes nearly ten hours later, he nearly had a heart attack before he remembered where he was. Cautiously, he allowed his eyes to dart around the room he was in. It was relatively large, painted dully in neutral colours and the lights had been dimmed. There were four bunk beds set into two of the walls, on the third wall there was a low cupboard and on the final wall, a single door which was slightly ajar. Both the wall and the door had large Dharma logos painted onto them.

He lay there for a moment longer, feeling uncomfortable and out of place in an actual bed with a mattress, a pillow, sheets, a doona that was thick and plush and…Charlie wriggled about madly, wondering when comfort had become uncomfortable to him. Rolling over, he tried to snuggle down but there was no way he could fall back to sleep now – he was far too awake and this bed was far too soft...

Charlie glanced at his watch and was surprised too see the time was 2:37. ‘In the morning or the afternoon?’ he muttered. His stomach gave a determined grumble as he pushed the covers off and swung his feet out of bed, his feet touching cold concrete. He looked around for his shoes and, not finding them, tip toed over to the door and pushed it open noiselessly.

He was in a wide corridor, one end leading to a pair of heavy, double doors, the other to an opening which seemed to lead into what looked like a kitchen. The wall opposite his room was blank and bare save for a single, narrow door and what looked like a similarly narrow observation window. This instantly piqued Charlie’s curiosity and so he wasted no time in padding up the corridor, keeping a constant eye on the opening to the kitchen, and peering in.

The window was grimy, covered in dust and there were no lights on in the room but Charlie could still see how big it was. He pressed his nose up to the glass and squinted through the darkness, making out the shapes of desks, dozens of them covered in test tubes and beakers as well as what looked like it might be a microscope.

‘What the hell is this place for?’ he murmured.

‘You do not know either then?’

‘Jesus!’ Charlie nearly tripped over his feet as he took an alarmed step back towards the sleeping quarters. The girl was there, watching him quite silently from the kitchen door, her arms crossed on top of her belly. ‘You frightened the hell out of me!’

‘I am sorry,’

Charlie and the girl stared at each other for a long moment before she gestured into the kitchen. ‘You must be hungry. Would you like something to eat?’

Charlie’s stomach roared its approval as he stared at the girl – wondering if there was an ambush waiting for him in the kitchen. He nervously made his way down the corridor towards the girl who was watching him quite carelessly. When he was almost level with her, she turned and padded off into the cavernous kitchen. Charlie followed carefully behind, and his jaw dropped as he took in the enormity of the place. When the girl turned to him, he leapt backwards and she eyed him bemusedly.

‘I am not going to attack you,’ she reassured him, laughing. ‘I was just going to ask you if you would like some soup?’

Charlie nodded, not taking his eyes off her as she pottered over to collect bowls from the cupboard.

The girl straightened up awkwardly, one hand idly rubbing her lower back and she quirked her eyebrows at him.

‘Are you going to sit down or do you often eat standing up?’

‘No! I just…’ Charlie tried to think of some way to end his sentence but there was the smell of something warm and filling coming from the pot on the stove she was stirring and he decided to stop arguing and edged himself into a chair which sat at the kitchen bench, shutting his mouth firmly as she began to ladle large helpings of what appeared to be vegetable soup into the bowls.

He waited until she had awkwardly positioned herself at the bench and taken several tentative spoonfuls of the soup before he began to eat himself. The girl quirked her eyebrows at him again – amused.

‘Did you think perhaps it was poisoned?’

Charlie didn’t answer, his mouth full of soup. He shovelled in another spoonful before shaking his head and grunting in a non-committal sort of way. The girl hid her smile as she watched him eat through her eyelashes. He seemed to be near starving – the way he was eating. Although in his emaciated state, she could hardly blame him.

‘Do you like the soup?’ she asked presently.

Charlie glanced up and nodded. If his mouth hadn’t been full of food he would have grinned widely at her in thanks but as it were, he was busily spooning more out of the bowl even as he swallowed his current mouthful.

‘How long have you been out there in the jungle?’

‘About a month,’ Charlie said thickly around a piece of carrot.

‘Where did you come from?’

Charlie stopped eating and looked shrewdly at the girl in front of him. She gazed back at him quite steadily and after a moment or two he shrugged.

‘The plane I was on crashed here. I dunno where though. I have no idea where I am.’

‘Were there any others with you?’

Charlie paused again. ‘You’re not one of Them are you?’

‘Them?’ the girl asked.

‘Them.’ Charlie confirmed, as though this settled the matter.

‘Are-are you one of them?’ the girl retorted. ‘Because if you are then I have just wasted perfectly good soup on you.’

‘You’ve been here longer than me by the looks of it,’ Charlie gestured at her threadbare shirt with his spoon. ‘Do I look like I’ve lived here that long?’

‘You look like you are half dead,’ the girl crossed her arms and the two of them stared at each other. ‘How about you tell me who you are and then I will tell you who I am.’

Charlie snorted. ‘Who’s to say you won’t lie to me? Who’s to say that I won’t lie to you?’

‘I do not really think you are one of Them,’ the girls voice softened. ‘I knew one of them – for a long while. And he used to give me the most awful feeling…’ she shivered suddenly and Charlie frowned as her eyes slid out of focus. After a moment however, her eyes latched back onto his face and she continued. ‘You do not give me that feeling. I do not believe that you are one of Them.’

Charlie stared at her. The girl sighed and picked up her spoon again, toying with it before dipping it back into her soup. After a long moment passed, Charlie picked up his own spoon as well and took another mouthful.

‘Aren’t you going to start asking me questions now Charlie?’

Charlie began to choke on his spoonful of soup and it burned its way down his throat.

‘I’m sorry?’ he choked.

The girl took another delicate spoonful of soup before she answered. ‘It is only natural for you to be curious about me.’ She shrugged. ‘Especially as you do not seem certain on whether I am one of them or not. You will doubtlessly want to know where I have come from, how I got here, how I knew your name before you even told me, how I became pregnant so young…’

Charlie coughed, hoping that the burning in his throat would subside. The girl pushed a mug of water into his hands and he took a large gulp of it before speaking in somewhat of a croak.

‘Er, well I guess now would be a good time?’

The girl nodded and settled herself down to her soup again, occasionally glancing up at Charlie between mouthfuls.

‘What would you like to ask me? I cannot promise that I will have the answer to all your questions but I will try my best to answer them for you.’

Charlie’s brain went mad with possibilities and questions and theories each wilder than the last. Of all his experiences with the supposed “Others” on the island, he’d never dreamt in a million years that he’d find himself in the company of a pregnant fifteen year old who’d made him soup.

‘What’s your name?’

The girl looked up from her bowl, a look of utmost surprise on her face and then she did something Charlie had not expected from her – she began to giggle madly. He mentally smacked himself in the forehead. Of all the things that he could have asked her…

‘My name is Grace,’ she held out a hand towards him, still grinning, and Charlie took it, surprised at the callousness of her skin. ‘And yours is Charlie – yes?’

‘You never really explained how you knew that,’ Charlie said suspiciously, taking his hand back and nursing his fingers under the table.

Grace laughed again – she seemed a lot more at ease now. ‘Yes I did! Do not be so silly. I told you that sometimes I just know things – things like that.’

‘How?’

Grace’s smile faded a little and she tilted her head to look at him better. ‘Are you on the same island as I am Charlie? Is it so hard to believe that I could know your name before I ever met you?’

He didn’t answer and Grace went back to her soup, still giggling silently.

‘What else would you like to know?’

‘How’d you get here?’ Charlie leant forward, almost forgetting about his soup altogether.

‘I have been here since I was a very small child,’ Grace explained blandly as though she had told this story a thousand times. ‘My mother and I were on a big boat – my father was the captain of his own ship as he was very rich – and we were sailing around the world before I reached an age when I would have to go to school...’ Grace blinked hard several times and then looked down at her soup. ‘I’m sorry. It’s just very sad…’

‘What’s sad?’ Charlie asked, completely non-plussed.

‘We were shipwrecked,’ Grace explained, still looking down. ‘Here on this island. My father was swept away and drowned and all that was left was my mother and several of the crewmembers and me.’

Charlie stared at her, not liking the way this story was going. ‘What happened to the rest of them then? Your mum and everyone…?’

Grace lifted her head and stared blankly towards Charlie. ‘Oh, they died. One by one they all just…died. There was not enough food in the area, there were many accidents…or at least they thought that they were accidents…

‘We began to wander further and further from the place we had crashed, trying to find food. That’s how we found this place – my mother and I. This is where we found Him. He said he was a scientist. He used to lock himself in the laboratory all the time – he never let us in there with him. He used to hurt us. But we could not…we could never…’

She trailed off, abruptly stood up and took her bowl over to the sink to begin washing it out. Charlie sat very still, unsure of what to say. Grace stood at the sink for a long time, her long hair falling to obscure her face but when she turned back she was smiling again, if tremulously.

‘Well that is enough nonsense from me for now. Did you have any other questions to ask me at the moment?’

Charlie shook his head but then his eyes went to her stomach, asking the question for him. Grace followed his gaze and glanced down at it too, putting a protective hand over her baby.

‘You want to know how I got pregnant don’t you?’ she raised her eyes to Charlie who offered her something between a shrug and a nod. Grace frowned down at her pregnant bulk and Charlie noticed that the hand on her stomach was trembling slightly. Suddenly he wasn’t so sure that he wanted to know the answer to his question after all. She had mentioned a man – a man who had once lived here with her and her mother but he certainly wasn’t here now – and neither was her mother.

‘I do not think that is a question I would like to answer just now,’ Grace said quietly, shaking Charlie out of his thoughts. ‘But it will come in time. Is that all right?’

Charlie nodded.

‘I’m going to have a rest,’ Grace said vaguely. ‘Take a look around, have some more soup – whatever you want.’

The kitchen felt a lot quieter and emptier without Grace’s presence. Charlie finished his soup in silence and then washed his bowl out, the sound of it clunking against the metal echoing loudly.

His head was beginning to hurt but he felt a little too nervous to go back and sleep in the same room as Grace – she was still a relative unknown. He settled instead for poking around the rest of the establishment until he found a suitable couch to collapse onto. He hadn’t really taken into account just how exhausted he was – within minutes he was asleep again and even the sound of Grace accidentally dropping a mug of water and letting out a stream of vehement curses when it shattered wasn’t enough to wake him.