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The Other – 07 – The Broken Road
by Ellin (sapphire_child)
at May 19th, 2006 (07:45 pm)

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Title: The Other – 07 – The Broken Road
Spoilers: set from about episode 14 of the new 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 lyrics in the cut are from “Against All Odds” by Gavin DeGraw
Authors Note: I promise, promise, PROMISE that there will be C/C interaction in the next chapter.
~*~

‘Why didn’t you tell me that you had a gun?’

‘What?’ Charlie looked up vaguely from his bag into which he was cramming all manner of things. He fumbled underneath his blankets for the book he had filched from the library and shoved it in on top.

‘You had a gun all along and you never even told me,’ Grace was busily rushing hither and thither in the kitchen, gathering together a collection of food and full water containers. ‘Why would you do that?’

‘Because I wasn’t sure if you were one of Them,’ Charlie pushed his fringe out of his eyes for the millionth time. ‘I didn’t want you to know I had it in case I needed to use it – which as it turned out, I did.’

Grace frowned at him as he threw his pack onto his shoulders and stowed the gun in the back of his jeans before picking up Hayley from the corner of the couch and striding into the kitchen.

‘Are you ready yet?’ he asked impatiently. ‘Because you were the one who was panicking about being found and we have…’ he checked his watch. ‘About fifteen minutes to get as far away from here as we can.’

Grace silently scooped up her own bag and then hurried to retrieve Hayley. Once her daughter was in her arms, she offered nothing to Charlie other than a view of her retreating back. Charlie followed her down the corridor, wishing that he could take some of the records with him but knowing ultimately, that they would only slow them down – especially if they had to make a quick getaway.

They exited the hatch, silent as ghosts in the still afternoon air. The sun was just starting to think about setting and it was pleasantly warm in the dappled sunlight.

‘Shall we wait to see if they show up?’ Charlie whispered. ‘Or just go?’

‘Your people are almost a months walk away yes?’ Grace breathed.

Charlie nodded. The utter stillness of the jungle was beginning to creep him out.

‘Then we must move now,’ Grace whispered. ‘We must move now and as quickly as possible if we are to cover as much ground as possible before nightfall.’

‘And before They get here,’ Charlie muttered to himself.

Grace smiled weakly in agreement and then gestured for Charlie to take the lead which he did so with a certain amount of trepidation.

‘Erm,’ he glanced back at her. ‘I don’t suppose you know which way the beach is do you?’

Grace rolled her eyes and pointed. ‘That way.’

‘Right,’ feeling self-conscious, Charlie began to pick his way through the trees, occasionally changing course to make it easier for Grace. She still seemed fatigued from the night before and had to stop often to catch her breath.

‘I don’t understand what is wrong with me!’ she exclaimed in a vehement hiss when Charlie made her stop for the sixth time. ‘I used to be able to go faster than this!’

‘There’s nothing wrong with you,’ Charlie explained patiently. ‘You just had a baby is all. You’re exhausted and sore and I think she’s actually hungry again…’

Grace glanced down at Hayley, mewling quietly in her arms and sighed before pulling her top down so that it rested underneath her breast; completely oblivious to the reddening of Charlie’s cheeks or the way he looked away hurriedly.

‘Do you think that I could walk and nurse at the same time?’ Grace wondered out loud.

Charlie shrugged, still looking adamantly away. ‘I wouldn’t recommend it. If you tripped and fell you’d do quite a bit of damage.’

‘I’d do quite a bit of damage if I feel anyway,’ Grace countered. ‘With Hayley in my arms.’

The two of them fell into silence.

‘Why’d you call her Hayley anyway?’

‘I’m sorry?’

Charlie repeated his question and actually turned to look at Grace. She looked sad beyond anything he’d seen and a wash of guilt came over him.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said quickly. ‘I didn’t mean…if you don’t want to…’

‘No,’ Grace said firmly, flicking a tear away with her finger. ‘No it is all right Charlie. Hayley was my mother’s name.’

Charlie nodded and turned away again.

The sun had long since set by the time they settled down to make camp. Charlie lit a fire and the two of them huddled around it, wrapped in their separate blankets and their separate worries.

~*~

‘Charlie?’

‘Yeah?’

‘Are we going in circles?’

‘Uh…’

‘We’re going in circles. Aren’t we?’

‘Uh…yeah.’

‘It is also getting quite dark…’

‘Should we stop?’

‘Yes I think we should.’

It was three weeks since Charlie had stumbled across Grace and the hatch; it was two weeks since they had fled from the Star and it was just over one week since they had reached the beach and begun to follow it.

Except for the detour they had taken inland in order to skirt a small, rocky bay fringed with tall cliffs. A small rocky bay that had turned out to be not quite as small as they had originally thought.

‘What food have we got left?’ Charlie asked as he sat down with a groan, extending his legs out in front of him and leaning up against the nearest tree. Grace automatically handed Hayley to him as she lit a fire and then began to hunt through her bag. Hayley gave a disconsolate sort of cough and both Charlie and Grace eyed her worriedly.

‘She seems to be getting sicker,’ Grace fretted as she withdrew a small selection of slightly squashed fruits and a half empty, crumpled box of cereal.

‘She’ll be okay,’ Charlie said vaguely, his attention focused on the dozing infant in his arms rather than the food, which Grace was placing before him. ‘Aaron’s been sick loads of times. It’s what babies do – they get sick a lot. Builds up their immune system. That’s why they have breast milk, it helps with the immune system again.’

‘How do you know so much about these things?’ Grace asked, cutting open a ripe mango and burying her face into it.

‘Looking after Aaron,’ Charlie said vaguely. ‘I did quite a bit of that – for a while.’

‘Why did you stop?’

Charlie paused to swaddle Hayley’s blankets a little tighter before he answered, sighing heavily.

‘Do you know what Heroin is Grace?’

Grace shook her head and put her piece of mango down.

‘Right. Great. Well Heroin is…it’s a drug. Something that people take to…well they do it for lots of different reasons. To look cool, to feel included with a group, sometimes it’s just for the buzz, the high that they get off it.

‘I was a Heroin addict when we crashed here. I don’t really want to go into how that happened but yeah. So I was an addict. I had a bag of the stuff in my shoe but that was it – that’s all I had with me. So not long after we got here, I began to run out. Then I found out – ages later, after I’d gone through withdrawal from it and all that fun stuff – that there was this plane loaded with the bloody stuff. It was all in statues of the Virgin Mary. You know who that is?’

‘Yes. My mother used to read the Bible to me. He didn’t like it though. He said that…’

‘Yeah, yeah, cool. So anyways, I took one. I dunno why…it was just…I didn’t need it. I just needed to know that it was there – you know, in case I did need it. But I didn’t. So anyway, Claire finds out about the drugs and she freaks out, kicks me out of her tent thinking that I’m a danger to her, that I’m a danger to Aaron when really I wasn’t using at all. Then I started having these weird dreams, these nightmares. I started stealing Aaron from her when I was asleep – you know, like sleepwalking? She thought I was using again. And then I tried to baptise Aaron but she stopped me again. She didn’t speak to me after that. I think she thought I was trying to drown him or something.’

Charlie gazed into the sputtering fire between the two of them, not even really seeing the flames.

‘And then it all got too much. I couldn’t stand being around her all the time – seeing her laughing and being happy and safe without me. Everything I became here, on this island, was because of her. She changed me – I would never have befriended someone like her back in the real world. But here…she needed help and I helped her. I don’t know how to not help her anymore, to the point where I couldn’t even see when I was hurting and not helping. And that’s where I messed up.’

This was more information than Charlie had divulged in nearly a month of knowing Grace and she was eager to hear more. She hurriedly licked mango juice off her fingers and took Hayley back, allowing Charlie to select his own mango.

‘Tell me about her,’ she said softly, probing delicately. ‘Claire. What is she like?’

Charlie continued to stare into space for a moment, his fingers toying with the mango in his hands, before he spoke, his voice barely more than a murmur.

‘She’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever met. She’s like an angel – all long golden hair and the biggest, brightest smile I’ve ever seen. She seems to shine from inside her – like she’s got an inner glow. She makes me want to be good, to settle down, start a family, feel comfortable. But she’s not all sweetness,’ Charlie chuckled reminiscently. ‘Oh no. She’s got a stubborn streak in her, which is worse than mine. And she’s very strong willed – independent I guess you’d call her. Which is why she’s always been so unwilling to accept my help. Probably why I ended up forcing it on her in the end. Oh God – and her accent! I love it. The way she says my name, it cracks me up.’

‘How does she say it?’ Grace’s lips curved into a smile when Charlie adopted a high-pitched, effeminate voice and chanted his own name with the best Australian accent he could muster.

‘Chahlie, Chahlie, Chahlie, Chahlie, Chahlie…’

Grace tittered appreciatively and even Charlie had to chuckle.

‘It sounds better when she says it,’ he said apologetically but then the laughter died from his face. Grace went very still. ‘And now I’m coming back again.’ He said soberly. ‘Back home after nearly two months. She’s probably taken up residence with somebody else by now. That’d be just my luck eh?’

He poked the fire moodily. Grace didn’t say anything however and after a moment, Charlie began to speak again.

‘I miss her. I’ve been missing her since she kicked me out. But I don’t think she’ll have missed me at all. She forgot me so easily before – when Ethan took her. And then again when she wasn’t talking to me.’ He laughed bitterly and threw his half eaten mango away into the trees. ‘Figures that I’d need her more than she needs me.’

The fire crackled as night fell around them, enveloping their camp with shadows and darkness.