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the Other - 03 - The Prayer
by Ellin (sapphire_child)
at April 22nd, 2006 (02:06 pm)

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Title: The Other – 03 – The Prayer
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. The book “Ludmilla” is an actual book by Paul Gallico and I promise I don’t mean anything malicious by stealing an excerpt from his excellent writings. The lyrics in the cut are from “Slipped Away” by Avril Lavigne
~*~

‘Well he seems fine,’ Jack handed Aaron back to Claire who gladly pressed him to her breast to calm him down. ‘There’s no signs of parasites, he’s still growing and gaining weight which is a very good thing…’ he paused to smile at Claire. ‘You’re doing an excellent job Claire.’

Claire hushed her son and then gave Jack a half smile. ‘Thanks,’ she murmured.

Jack smiled back but then his demeanour grew slightly awkward and he cleared his throat. ‘What about you? How are you doing?’

‘My back gets a bit sore from time to time,’ Claire said absently, her hands automatically soothing her son as she spoke. ‘Probably just from sleeping on the ground all the time – especially when I was pregnant – that would have really thrown it out of whack.’

Jack nodded, studying her. ‘You’ve probably got lordosis – it’s very common in pregnant women. That’s where the uh, posture changes because of the weight of the baby in the womb. Tilts the pelvis forwards to allow for the extra weight out in front.’ Claire nodded in recognition. The term didn’t sound familiar to her but the effects did. ‘You just need to work on your postural muscles, learn to keep it neutral again.’ He shifted uncomfortably again and Claire busied herself with her son. ‘And I uh, didn’t mean just physically. How are you doing yourself? You know, with Char - ’

‘I’m fine,’ Claire said a little too quickly and Jack stared at her. ‘What? I really am fine! I mean, I was coping all right without him anyway wasn’t I? And its not like he’s going to be gone forever, is it? He’ll come back when he’s ready…’

‘Claire…’ Jack began gently.

‘Don’t Claire me,’ she bristled as he reached out to touch her in a gesture of reassurance. ‘I’m not worried because I know he’ll be okay out there – he’s not stupid Jack. I mean even if he’s hurt he’ll get back somehow, he’ll figure out a way to get back to me – I mean us. He’s just – you know he’s probably lost. That’s why it’s taking him so long to get back, or maybe he’s –’ she paused, slowly becoming aware of the tears on her face as her breathing turned to a long drawn out moan. Jack reached for her again and she recoiled. ‘Don’t touch me! I’m fine okay? I’m fine, and so is Charlie. You know he’s probably on his way back right now! You just wait and see! He’ll come back – he has to come back – ’ Claire gave a great, gasping sob. Jack moved to support her only to be pushed away again. ‘I’m fine!’ she bawled.

‘You don’t look fine to me,’ Jack said firmly and finally Claire allowed him to put his arms around her. Aaron was crying as well now, his cries mingling with Claire’s desperate sobs. ‘It’s okay Claire.’

‘But it’s not!’ she sobbed. ‘I didn’t even say goodbye to him properly that day Jack! Oh god… what if he’s dead? What if Charlie’s dead?’

‘What if he’s not?’ Jack countered immediately. ‘There’s no use dwelling on the negatives if…’

‘What if they took him? What if the Others took him?’ Claire was verging on hysteria now; her free hand was clenching and unclenching the fabric of Jack’s shirt as she gasped for air. ‘What if they’ve hurt him? Oh god what if they’ve killed him Jack? What’ll I do if he’s dead?’

‘He might still turn up,’ Jack repeated, rubbing her back a little awkwardly. ‘We just have to be patient. Kate and Locke are still out there trying to track him, remember? And I mean, maybe he is just lost, like you said before…’

Claire pulled away from Jack very suddenly and looked him straight in the eye, an utterly formidable expression on her face.

‘He’s been gone over a month now Jack. A month.’

Jack opened his mouth to say something but then closed it.

Claire looked down at her son and began to quiet him again – only just realising the effect she’d been having on him. As she wrapped him more snugly in his blanket a tear ran down her nose. ‘It’s my fault if he’s gotten himself hurt Jack. He left because of me.’

~*~

‘You were talking in your sleep again last night,’

Charlie glanced up from his breakfast, mildly interested. A piece of cereal was caught on his lower lip and his tongue darted out to retrieve it before he answered.

‘Really? What was I saying?’

Grace looked pointedly at him as she answered. ‘You kept saying something about “the baby” and then you would say her name.’

Charlie sighed and went back to his cereal.

‘Are you ever going to tell me who she is?’

‘I already told you,’ Charlie said, exasperated. ‘She was on the plane when it crashed. She was pregnant when we crashed and she just had a baby boy almost a month and a half ago now. She’s…she was my friend.’

Grace eyed him shrewdly for a moment. ‘You’re sure that’s all?’

‘I’m sure that I still don’t want to talk about it,’ Charlie said, a little sharper than he had meant to. Grace looked quite put out but she shrugged and went back to her own breakfast.

It had been five days now since Grace had stumbled across Charlie, sprawled underneath a tree in the jungle and in that time not a lot had happened. They had spent hours talking, probing each other delicately for answers but there were certain areas that they skirted around with a great amount of trepidation. Charlie had been delighted in the record collection which was much more extensive than in The Swan and featured some of his personal favourites. Grace had been quite amused by his attachment to the record player and often sat and read whilst he settled down and listened to music.

After the first uncomfortable night on the squashy couch, Charlie took to sleeping in a sort of giant nest of blankets on the floor, after pushing the couch up against the wall to make space. Grace had eyed it curiously but not asked any questions and so he had continued to curl up in it every night.

It was on the third day that Grace had her first major contraction since Charlie had gotten there. She was reaching for her book, a bout of laughter still catching in her throat from something Charlie had just said when her face paled and her bottom lip was tucked in behind her teeth.

Charlie was still smiling when she put her hand on her stomach but his face dropped too, when he realised what was happening. ‘Grace?’

Grace had waved an impatient hand at him and Charlie watched silently, wondering if he should do anything but within a minute or two the contraction had subsided and Grace looked up at him – a quiet, unspoken fear in her eyes.

And then she had smiled awkwardly, dismissively rubbing her tummy. ‘They happen sometimes. I’ll be okay.’

‘Yeah, I know.’ Charlie had said and then busied himself with the record player. Being with Grace – this monstrously pregnant young girl – constantly reminded him of happier times with a more rotund Claire. The fact that Grace was incredibly curious about the woman he had left behind wasn’t helping matters either – she would bring her up ten to a dozen times a day, asking where she was from, what she looked like…Charlie was loathe to discuss the matter of Claire however, and Grace was constantly knocked back in her attempts to find out more.

‘You don’t want to tell me about Him – whoever He is,’ Charlie had pointed out quite brusquely one day. ‘So I’ll make you a deal – I won’t ask you questions about Him if you don’t ask questions about Claire.’

Grace finished her breakfast in silence and then left the hatch to go to the graves as per usual. The first time she had done this, Charlie had gone into a blind panic, thinking that she really was one of the Others but when she returned without guns or hordes of people, he calmed down enough to ask her where she’d been. Grace had led him to the graves and explained that it was her mother and Him – although she refused to give any more information past that.

After finishing his own breakfast, Charlie wandered aimlessly into the main living area where most of the books and the record player was situated. After a quick flick through the records and finding nothing to tickle his fancy, Charlie turned instead to the library, tilting his head sideways to read the faded titles on their spines, pausing at a red spine which read “Three Stories by Paul Gallico” followed by a list of their titles. Sighing heavily and deciding it was better than nothing, Charlie flopped down into the nearest chair and began to read the first story about the love between a crippled man and a young girl, brought together by an injured Goose.

Impatient, he flipped through several pages and then gave up and went onto “The Small Miracle” which was about a sick donkey only to flip to the third and final story – hoping it too wasn’t about an animal.

He was disappointed when he realised that the third story was also based around an animal – a cow as it were – but as he flipped to the back of the book he saw the word “prayer” repeated several times on the same page and despite himself, he stopped to read it.

“For a prayer need not be a rhetorical address, or an itemized petition, or lips moved soundlessly inside a cathedral, or even words spoken into the air. A prayer may be a wordless inner longing, a sudden outpouring of love, a yearning within the soul to be for a moment united with the infinite and the good, a humbleness that needs no abasement or speech to express, a cry for help in the darkness for help when all seems lost, a song, a poem, a kind deed, a reaching for beauty, or the strong, quiet, inner reaffirmation of faith.

A prayer can in fact be anything that is created of God that turns to God.”


Charlie stared heavily at the small book in his hands and then he folded down the corner of the page and shut it again. When Grace returned he waved it at her. ‘Can I keep this?’

Grace looked puzzled but agreed and Charlie tucked the book carefully under the corner of his blankets before continuing with his day.

~*~

After Jack had left, Claire had managed to pull herself together enough to continue with her day. With John and Kate away looking for Charlie, her main companion had become Sun. She was good company and the two had more in common now that Sun was pregnant. She hadn’t stopped by this particular morning however and Claire was beginning to think that she was going to have to go and look for someone to talk to and keep her mind off things when a quiet, deep voice sounded from behind her.

‘Hello,’

‘Oh,’ Claire turned her head and smiled. ‘Hi Eko.’ He was standing there, tall and imposing, water bottle in hand but he was smiling in welcome and Claire couldn’t help but feel her spirits lift a little with the corners of his mouth.

‘How are you today?’

Claire hitched Aaron a little higher in her arms. ‘Oh, we’re okay.’

‘Can I sit for a while?’

‘Of course,’ Claire gestured to the spot next to her and Eko took a seat, drinking deeply from his water bottle

‘I heard that you were upset this morning,’ Eko said after he finished swallowing his mouthful of water.

‘Who told you that?’ Claire asked quickly.

Eko paused before answering. ‘I went to talk to Jack this morning and he was talking to Ana-Lucia about it. He is very worried about you.’

‘Well…’ Claire looked embarrassed. ‘Well I’m okay now.’

‘That is all right then,’ Eko said, sounding relieved, and Claire fidgeted with Aaron’s blanket before transferring him to her other shoulder.

‘Can I-can I ask you something? Eko?’

‘Of course,’

‘I was just wondering…’ Claire trailed off and then laughed, shaking her head. ‘I’m probably going to sound so stupid to ask this but I honestly have no idea…’

‘If it is an honest question then it is never stupid,’ Eko said firmly.

Claire bit her lip and then her words came out in a rush. ‘Well it’s just that I don’t know how to pray.’

Eko actually laughed but then he saw the expression on Claire’s face and softened his mirth into a smile instead. ‘Is that all?’

‘I need to learn,’ Claire said anxiously. ‘I need to pray for Charlie – that he’ll be safe. I mean, I was angry at him – I still am – but I didn’t really want him to run off into the jungle by himself. I mean, he’s been out there for more than a month now – what if he’s hurt himself and can’t get back? He could be dead for all we know…’ her voice choked off the end of the sentence and she looked down at her son to hide the burning tears that were collecting on her lower lids.

‘You do not learn how to pray,’ Eko explained slowly. ‘A prayer can be many things. And it does not have to be memorised words from the Bible – you can make your own prayer.’

‘I don’t know how,’

‘Of course you do,’ Eko said patiently. ‘Tell me exactly what it is you wish to pray about.’

Claire looked slightly embarrassed. ‘Shouldn’t I be kneeling or have my hands clasped or something?’

‘Your hands are otherwise occupied,’ Eko pointed out. ‘But if you would like to kneel and clasp your hands…?’

Claire shook her head. ‘I guess I’d feel a little silly if I did…so I can just sit here and hold Aaron and pray?’

‘Just say what it is that you want to say Claire,’ Eko said. ‘I will listen and if I can help you at all, I will.’

Claire took a deep breath.

‘Charlie and I were strangers – we met by chance, became friends by default and then somehow he ended up becoming so involved with my life it felt like he was trying to push his way in all the time. Charlie is religious but he’s also a drug addict. He lied to me and he hurt me and he took my son away from me but when I think about him I keep remembering all the things he did for me before. The peanut butter…and all the other sweet things like helping me with my washing and with Aaron – even if he did get a bit carried away with that particular…duty. Did you know he…he killed a man for me? I didn’t ask him to. I didn’t ever think that he would…but I know that he would do it again in a heartbeat. But killing is a sin isn’t it? So if he ends up in hell then it’ll be partially my fault won’t it? And it’s already my fault that he’s left now – though it’s not my fault that he couldn’t stand not being with me, he brought that upon himself. What did he expect me to do? Forgive him? I trusted him above everyone else and he still lied to me.

‘I didn’t want him to leave. But I also kind of did because I figured it’d give me the space I needed to get over him, only now I keep finding that I don’t want to get over him. I’d still count him as a friend – I can’t say that he’s never done anything for me and shrug it off because he did do so much for us, me and Aaron both. Everything he could physically, emotionally do he did for us. He went to hell and back to save both of us. I’m not sure if I want John and Kate to bring him back but I’m terrified that they won’t be able to find him. If he’s dead – if he’s gotten hurt at all then it’ll be my fault and…I’m sorry.’

Claire shut her eyes painfully. There was a long silence and then Eko’s hand touched her lightly on the shoulder.

‘You have been missing Charlie?’

‘Yes,’ she whispered.

‘You have been hoping for his speedy return?’

‘Yes,’

‘Then you have already prayed for Charlie,’ Eko said. The sound of a small kerfuffle broke out a little further along the beach as he spoke and Claire frowned and opened her eyes to see, wondering what was happening. ‘You do not need to add an “amen” to the end of a sentence to make it a prayer.’

‘Yeah…’ Claire nodded, trying to blink the blur of tears away as Eko too saw the commotion down the beach. ‘What do you suppose is happening?’ Claire asked.

‘I do not know,’ Eko said, frowning but he stood quickly and offered Claire his hand. ‘Although it looks like we should go and find out.’

The two of them walked down the beach in silence, trying to hear or see what was going on. As they drew closer, Claire saw a flash of a long mane of dark curls and she grabbed Eko’s sleeve very suddenly.

Kate.

Which meant that…

Claire broke into a trot and broke through the small circle of people surrounding Kate and John, including Jack who was asking them a million questions at once. Claire didn’t even listen to him, she glanced quickly around the circle before racing up to Kate and grasping her arm.

Kate jumped and whirled around but her face softened when she saw who it was.

‘Did you find him?’ Claire demanded, not even waiting for Kate to open her mouth.

Kate shook her head sadly. ‘We lost the trail about three weeks ago.’ Claire felt like her knees were about to collapse. ‘I’m so sorry Claire.’

Claire turned to look at John who was shaking his head at Jack. ‘John?’ he paused mid sentence to turn and face her.

‘Claire. We lost him. I’m sorry.’

‘Not as sorry as I am,’ she said, her voice hitching with anger as well as sadness. ‘Did you even try John? Did you even want Charlie to come back?’

‘Of course I did!’ John said, instantly angry. ‘You think I would have gone out into the jungle for a month trying to track him if I didn’t want to find him? You’re the one who didn’t tell us he was gone until he’d been gone for almost a full day!’

‘Oh so this is all my fault is it?’ Claire steamed. ‘It’s my that Charlie left, it’s my fault that you had to go looking for him…’

‘Isn’t it?’ John said acidly.

Claire stared at him for a moment, lower lip trembling, and then she turned and ran.