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The Other - 09 - The Battle
by Ellin (sapphire_child)
at June 18th, 2006 (11:55 am)

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Title: The Other – 09 – The Battle
Rating: PG-13 for themes
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 “Nobody’s Listening” by Linkin Park
~*~

When Charlie finally woke the next day, he was surprised to find that he had company.

‘Mornin’ Chassy,’

‘Sawyer?’ Charlie sat up and gratefully accepted a bowl of fish. It had gone cold now but that hardly mattered to him – he probably would have eaten it raw. As he shovelled it into his mouth he began to ask questions. ‘What you doing here?’

‘Jus’ found out this mornin’ that you got back,’ Sawyer said, stretching out comfortably on the sand next to him. ‘Was nappin’ yesterday when you got back – someone was gossiping about you this mornin’ so I thought I’d come say howdy. See what you’d been up to.’

Charlie chewed his fish thoughtfully. ‘Lots of running around. Not much food. Found another hatch though – and this girl who crashed here when she was little.’

‘Yeah I heard about her,’ Sawyer snagged a bit of fish. ‘Seen her too. I don’t think your girl much likes this new one being on her turf.’

‘My…? Oh! You mean Claire?’

‘Well if she ain’t your girl then I dunno whose girl she is,’ Sawyer raised his eyebrows at Charlie. ‘Didn’t you kiss her yesterday? Cause that’s what I heard.’

‘Yeah,’ Charlie said, still a little off put by Claire being referred to as “his” girl. ‘Well, yeah, yeah we did. But she was the one who kissed me.’

‘What, you didn’t kiss her back?’ Sawyer said incredulously.

‘Of course I kissed her back!’ Charlie protested immediately. ‘What sort of a prat do you think I am?’

Sawyer held up his hands. ‘All right! All right Dickens! Calm down would you? Geez…’

Charlie picked out the final morsels of fish moodily. ‘I should go see Grace. She’ll probably have a mood swing and freak everyone out.’

‘I think she’s with the good Doctor,’ Sawyer drawled as he clambered to his feet. ‘I’ll see you around Charlie. You’ll have to tell me all about your grand adventure sometime.’

‘Sure,’ Charlie stood as well, shrugging off his blanket. ‘See you Sawyer.’

As he walked towards Jack’s tent, Charlie had to laugh to himself – he’d never thought that he’d end up being mates with Sawyer of all people. Even now, after he’d been gone for nearly two months, he had been practically civil in welcoming him back…

‘Charlie!’

Charlie frowned as he turned around. What now? But then his frown faded into a smile as Claire came bounding up to him, holding Aaron.

‘Morning,’ he said cheerfully as she beamed at him and readjusted Aaron in her arms.

‘Hi,’ she said breathlessly, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. ‘I’ve been looking for you! Do you want to take a walk or something?’

‘I’d love to,’ Claire beamed. ‘But…’ he began. Claire’s face fell slightly. ‘Probably not right now. I was actually just on my way to find Grace. She’s probably getting interrogated by Jack or something and…well, I need to make sure that she’s okay. You understand right?’

Claire’s face fell even further and when she spoke her voice was rapid and slightly higher than usual. ‘Oh. Okay. Sure. Just let me know when you are free so that we can catch up okay?’

As she turned to leave Charlie caught her arm.

‘Claire…its not that I don’t want to spend time with you…’ Claire regarded him quite silently. ‘It’s just that… well Grace has been alone for a long time and… well, I have to look after her. And Hayley.’

Claire didn’t answer, only shrugged and smiled, although there was something forced about it. ‘I know. Its okay Charlie, we can talk later. I’ll see you around okay?’

Fuming to himself and knowing that he’d just said all the completely wrong things, Charlie continued down the beach only to find Jack quite alone in his tent.

‘Where’s Grace?’ Charlie asked immediately, frowning worriedly.

Jack glanced up. ‘What? Oh hey Charlie. Good to see you’re up and about.’

‘Where’s Grace?’

‘Would you calm down Charlie? She just left actually, about five minutes ago. I think she was looking for you.’

Charlie swore irritably as he turned and hurried back out onto the beach, his head swivelling madly. Slowly, he became more aware of his surroundings, listening and looking intently for something, some clue…

Was that a baby crying?

Was that…two babies crying?

Was that two babies crying in the same place?

Charlie began to walk very quickly.

~*~

‘So how old is she?’

Grace glanced sideways at Claire who had picked Aaron up out of his cradle and was absently rocking him now, patting him rhythmically whilst he wailed. Grace tried to imitate what Claire was doing and was pleased when Hayley quieted a little. She seemed to know a few tricks, Claire, and Grace was picking up a lot even from just sitting and chatting, watching her.

‘Hayley is a month old now.’

‘It goes quick, doesn’t it? Claire said conversationally. ‘Aaron’s about two and a half months now. I guess that means we got pregnant at around about the same time – sort of February, March? The beginning of the year at least.’

Grace shrugged. ‘I suppose so.’

‘So obviously you had to deliver her by yourself?’ Claire shifted Aaron into a more comfortable position without even thinking. ‘That must have been stressful.’ She laughed a little but she looked a little wary nonetheless, unsure of how Grace would react to that particular memory. Her own labour had been painful enough for her to secretly swear off having any more children – unless of course she was back on the mainland and she had a lot of painkillers.

But then Grace half frowned, half smiled. ‘No. Charlie delivered my baby. He remembered how to from when you had Aaron.’

Claire opened her mouth to speak.

Then she closed it again.

‘Ch-Charlie delivered your baby?’

‘That is right,’ Grace said comfortably. ‘He did very well I think – under the circumstances. I was very frightened.’

‘Um…’

Claire and Grace both glanced up. Charlie was standing not more than five metres away looking decidedly awkward. He waved at them both, looking more than a little foolish.

‘There you are!’ Grace stood up immediately, looking pleased. As she spoke she strode forward and pressed Hayley into Charlie’s arms, smiling endearingly. ‘Do you think you can take Hayley please? For a little while only of course. I need to wash up a little. You understand.’

Charlie watched her hurry off, a blank expression on his face before turning to Claire who stared back at him, just as non-plussed.

‘Do you wanna go for that walk now?’ Charlie ventured hopefully. ‘Maybe it’ll calm these two down a little.’ He nodded at Aaron and then at the yowling bundle in his own arms.

Claire’s brow furrowed but she nodded all the same. ‘Sure. Just down the beach?’

Charlie jerked his head in affirmation and the two of them set off, feeling slightly awkward with the whole situation.

‘So,’ Charlie ventured after a while. ‘Aaron’s gotten a lot bigger.’

Claire glanced at him. ‘It’s been two months Charlie. Of course he’s gotten bigger.’

‘I know,’ Charlie said peevishly. ‘I was just making an observation. No need to bite my head off.’

They continued on in a quietly irritable silence for another ten metres before Claire simply stopped walking. Charlie took several steps before he realised and he paused to turn back and say her name, a question in his voice.

‘I thought you were dead,’ she said flatly, staring at the sand. ‘I thought that you were dead and it was all because of me.’

Charlie didn’t respond and Claire began to brush angrily at the tears collecting on her cheeks. ‘I’m sorry Charlie. I’m sorry that I didn’t stop you from running.’

‘Why?’ his throat felt dry.

Claire finally looked up, her eyes streaming. ‘Because I missed you, okay? I was worried about you and I missed you and now you’re back and I’ve barely spent three minutes with you because you’re too busy looking after somebody else!’

‘I told you,’ Charlie said exasperatedly. ‘I need to look after her. She’s just a kid Claire and yeah I know she’s been here her whole life but she’s still just a kid.’

Claire shook her head silently and Charlie scowled deeply, his anger rising. ‘Do you know how she even got pregnant in the first place?’ he demanded. ‘She was raped Claire, by one of Them. She was going to have to give birth, by herself, with no one there. Do you remember how scared you were when you were in labour? Can you imagine doing that alone?’

‘I’m sorry,’ Claire said quietly, a bite of impatience in her voice now. ‘I just thought that maybe we could talk, sort some things out you know? But if you have to look after Grace then I guess you have to look after her and there’s nothing much I can do about it.’

The two of them stared at each other angrily for a moment before Claire dropped her eyes and focused instead on the ocean. Charlie took a hesitant step forwards, trying to catch her eye.

‘Can I ask you a question?’

Claire didn’t turn back to him and she didn’t make eye contact. ‘Shoot.’

‘Why did you kiss me yesterday?’

Claire didn’t answer but her eyes flickered down. Charlie peered a little closer, getting into her personal space, invading her thoughts with the low timbre of his voice.

‘Was it just because you felt guilty?’ he murmured. ‘Or was it because you were relieved that I wasn’t dead, that you could start again with a clean conscience?’

Claire turned her face to him and had barely opened her mouth, a look of reproachful tentativeness on her face when there was the sound of someone yelling from further back down the beach. Both of them glanced back and automatically began to move towards the gathering throng of people, their bewildered voices mingling with the waves.

As they drew closer, Grace detached from the crowd and rushed over to take her daughter from Charlie.

‘There is a woman,’ she whispered as she bundled Hayley comfortably in her arms. ‘A wild woman and I think that she has been injured also.’

Charlie didn’t leave room for pretence. He began to push through the crowd, ignoring Claire’s protests and Grace’s bewildered questioning. Sure enough, at the centre of the throng of people was Danielle Rousseau. She looked pale, almost sickly, and after a moment Charlie noticed that she was cradling her right arm against her chest. She seemed to be having an argument with Jack.

‘-If you’ll just let me set your arm…’ Jack was saying exasperatedly.

‘No,’ Rousseau said emphatically, looking quite mad. Her hair was even more all over the place than usual and her clothes were torn and ragged as though she had been dragged through a thicket of thorn bushes. ‘I came here to deliver a message – to warn you.’ She paused dramatically. ‘The Others are coming.’

The crowd immediately began to protest.

‘Last time you came to warn us…’

‘This is bullshit…’

‘How do we even know…?’

‘Didn’t she steal Claire’s baby…?’

‘Why don’t you just leave us alone? Freak!’

‘Hey! Hey! Why don’t we all just calm down huh?’ Jack stepped forward angrily. ‘Let the woman say her thing and then we can deal with it okay?’

Rousseau fidgeted impatiently, her hand straying inexplicably to her rifle to worry the barrel. Charlie watched her carefully, unsure of what to think. She had certainly lied before – he had the scar on his head to prove it. He was just on the point of making an exit when Rousseau’s eyes caught his. Her expression changed immediately, her eyes widened and Charlie felt the need to take a small step back as she raised a hand to point a trembling finger at him.

‘You!’ she shrieked. ‘You are the reason they are coming!’ And a moment later, Charlie found himself on the ground, his mouth full of sand and a fist in his gut.

Somebody yelled out, ‘Jesus Christ!’ and then Rousseau was pulled off him. Charlie lay there a moment longer before sitting up slowly, wiping a smear of blood off his lower lip as he did. He was surprised when he felt a warm hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Claire staring at Rousseau as though she wanted nothing more than to clout her with a two by four but was refraining because she had Aaron in her arms. Rousseau was the complete opposite to Claire’s cool disdain however, she was still shrieking; spit flying from her mouth as she pointed feverishly at Charlie with her uninjured arm. She looked positively deranged.

‘He is the reason they are coming!’ she repeated, over and over. ‘He killed one of them, he did not cover his tracks, he was too clumsy…’

‘Danielle,’ Jack said firmly, his hands tight around her shoulders to keep her from injuring herself further. ‘We’ve heard your message now, the Others are coming right? So now what we’re going to do is go and set your arm okay?’

Rousseau looked agitated as she was led away and she glanced back at Charlie with every few steps. The passengers of 815 muttered darkly to each other as they made their way back to their shelters.

Charlie stood up, brushing sand off his jeans and tousling it out of his unkempt hair.

‘Are you okay?’ Claire asked, reaching out to examine his lip but Charlie brushed her hand aside, not wanting her to fuss. Claire seemed to take the hint because she fell silent as Grace came elbowing her way through the crowd.

‘Who was that woman?’ she demanded in a frightened whisper, her eyes still on Rousseau as Jack led her away. ‘Was she on your plane? She has been here a long time hasn’t she? Like me?’

‘Yes Grace,’ Charlie said heavily. ‘She’s been here sixteen years. Don’t listen to a word she says, she’s certifiable.’

A frown creased Grace’s face. ‘Certifiable?’

‘She’s crazy,’ Charlie clarified although he didn’t look quite sure of himself as he shoved his hands in his pockets and scowled heavily. ‘Nuts. Wacko. Insane. More than short the allotted amount of sandwiches for a decent picnic. Now, if you two ladies will excuse me, I’m going to go for a walk – by myself.’

And without another word he stalked off.

Claire glanced at Grace who was still watching Rousseau go, a look of horrified fascination on her face, and shook her head. She didn’t have time to deal with this girl or try and figure out what was going on in her head. She hitched Aaron a little higher in her arms and set out after Charlie.