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The Other - 12 - The Whisperers
by Ellin (sapphire_child)
at July 18th, 2006 (08:02 pm)

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Title: The Other – 12 – The Whisperers
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 “No Bravery” by James Blunt
~*~

Charlie knelt down awkwardly beside Sawyer. He was riddled with holes, full of bullets and he’d lost far too much blood. There was nothing they could do for him now but he tried to make a bit of light out of the situation.

‘You got yourself banged up pretty bad, huh?’

Sawyer gave a short laugh and then began coughing violently, bringing up a large quantity of blood. He took in a short breath before continuing. ‘Yeah. Gave Them somethin’ to think about for a minute or two that’s for sure.’

Charlie could hear Claire beginning to cry beside him. Glancing back at her for a moment, he reached out and took her hand in his before squeezing it gently.

‘Hey, Charlie,’ he turned back to Sawyer. ‘Can you do somethin’ for me?’

Charlie merely nodded.

‘Kill me?’

There was a long silence before Charlie nodded. Claire immediately pulled her hand out of his and stepped back, sobbing quietly into her hands. His own hands trembling, Charlie stood up and aimed Claire’s gun. Sawyer blinked up at him, a hint of his usual, sarcastic smile on his face.

‘You’re a pal,’ he said as genially as if Charlie had just offered him an extra rationing of boar meat. ‘Tell Jack I said seeya.’

‘I will.’

Charlie didn’t know how many bullets Claire had left in her gun.

He only needed one to finish the job.

‘Charlie!’

He turned his head, blurred vision coming to rest on two figures running madly towards him. Vaguely he registered them as Kate and Sayid before she was at Sawyers side, lightly slapping his face.

‘Wake up Sawyer, wake up.’

Sayid allowed her a few moments of self-inflicted denial before peeling her gently off the corpse and folding his arms around her where she sobbed for a long moment. Claire was still shaking with silent sobs and Charlie moved to put his arm around her shoulders – she looked ready to collapse.

‘Are you both all right?’ Sayid said over Kate’s shoulder. Charlie nodded grimly and – after a moment – so did Claire. Sayid grimaced his approval. ‘Good. We need your help. Jack has been knocked unconscious and there are a lot of people who have been wounded. I cannot tend to them all by myself.’

‘Or put out all the fires alone,’ Charlie agreed in a murmur. Claire nodded her acquiescence, sighed and brushed away her remaining tears, shrugging out from underneath Charlie’s arm to address Sayid directly in a soft but clear voice.

‘Just tell us what to do.’

~*~

The next few hours were horrific to say the least. As the sun rose slowly over the beach, the devastation caused by the Others was exposed, piece by piece. More than once a body was turned over in hopes that they were alive, only to find that half their face was gone or – even worse – it was somebody that they had once known, shared a moment of companionship with, even loved.

The most awful of these moments had been, without a doubt, Jin finding Sun’s body crumpled underneath a tree, her eyes wide and horrified, her face caked with dried blood. His grief stricken howls had jarred sharply with the slow crashing of waves against the shore and had frightened the hell out of the messenger who had come hurrying down from the caves at daybreak to see whether it was safe yet. Within an hour, everyone who had been up at the caves was down at the beach lending a hand. They had survived the night completely unscathed and were suitably horrified at what had happened to their stubborn, beach dwelling counterparts.

Hurley, who had never been good with blood, was given the job of looking after the still-unconscious Jack as well as baby Aaron, whom Claire had entrusted to him when she had set out from the caves the night before. Grace joined him, bouncing Hayley worriedly on her knee, trying to keep out of everyone’s way as they rushed hither and thither, putting out the remaining fires and tending to the wounded. By midday there was a pile of corpses over near the other graves and Eko had enlisted the help of two men to dig graves whilst he blessed the bodies.

Charlie and Claire worked tirelessly, with their little medical knowledge they did the best they could, Charlie often doing the physical deed whilst Claire calmed the patient – whoever it may be. Sayid was in his element, barking out orders left right and centre and people followed his instructions as best they could, their faces pinched into expressions of discomfort as they shifted, lifted, cleaned, sutured and bandaged again and again.

But there were still more deaths. People were continuing to succumb to wounds too horrific to even detail, and everywhere there was blood seeping into the sand, imprinting a thousand horrific nightmares onto people’s eyelids.

Close to ten in the morning, the sun well up now, Jack finally opened bleary eyes and demanded to know what was happening. Hurley had the difficult task of telling him and then making him stay still and rest, insisting that he had a concussion.

‘I don’t have a concussion!’ Jack had said in his stubborn way. ‘I’m just a bit dizzy, that’s all!’ And with that he had tried to sit up, only to fall sideways into the sand.

It didn’t take much convincing after that to make him stay put.

‘Dude, you’re better off staying here than trying to help people and like, fall on them or something,’ Hurley had pointed out and for once, Jack actually listened to him.

~*~

By midday, enough order had been restored for the survivors to take a break. Several people collapsed into sleep, the cave dwellers continuing to care for the wounded whilst Sayid soldiered on. Claire returned to her son for several hours and Hurley was given the unpleasant task of helping Charlie to identify who had died and cross them off the flight manifest – mercifully it hadn’t been lost or burnt in the melee of the previous night.

‘Are you sure that we’ve got this right?’ Hurley asked, shaken, as he stared at the piece of paper in his hands. ‘Cause, dude…’

‘I know Hurley,’ Charlie rubbed his eyes. He’d never felt so tired; his stomach felt like it was eating itself inside out and his injured ankle desperately needed to be strapped. And there was still so much work to be done…

Hurley was silent for a long moment, toying with the pencil in his hand before he spoke. ‘If we’re right, if all these people have actually died and we haven’t screwed up…’ he paused, reading and re-reading the number on the page. ‘…Then that means that there’s only twenty five of us left dude.’

Charlie rubbed his eyes again and tousled his hair. ‘Yeah, I know Hurl.’

‘Twenty five dude,’ Hurley said emphatically. ‘Twenty five.’

‘I know Hurley!’ Charlie snapped.

‘That’s like, half of us,’ Hurley said, awe struck. ‘And Sun was pregnant! These guys are crazy – I mean, why would they do that?’

‘I don’t know!’ Charlie began to limp away swiftly.

‘I have to go tell Jack the final number,’ Hurley called after him. ‘He made me promise that I would. Do you…’

‘You tell Jack!’ Charlie yelled, whirling around. ‘I don’t want to hear it Hurl! You weren’t here last night, you don’t understand. This is all my fault!’

‘What?’ Hurley looked genuinely confused.

‘Oh just sod off!’ Charlie said irritably. ‘It’s not like you’d care anyway – even if you did understand.’

And with that, he stomped off, grimacing at the pain in his ankle. He wandered aimlessly amongst the wreckage of their meagre civilisation for a while before finding himself on the vast expanse of beach they frequented. He scanned it once, surprised to find Claire’s lonely silhouette there. She was still sticky with blood and staring at the ocean, lost in her own private grief. Aaron was nowhere to be seen.

Charlie paused before heading up to her. Despite how awful he was feeling, he still couldn’t help but think that she looked worse than he did and she probably didn’t need to deal with his self-inflicted angst right now. He came up behind her slowly, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. She stiffened for a moment but when he spoke she gave a small sob of recognition and pulled his arms around her, replacing her arms with his, frantic for some shred of comfort. A bit taken aback, Charlie rested his chin on her shoulder, closing his eyes when he felt her tears tickling against the side of his face.

‘I had to get away,’ she ventured in a small voice. ‘It was just…all too much. Just all too much.’

‘I know,’

‘Thank God,’ Claire drew a deep, shuddering breath and Charlie felt her ribs shake beneath his embrace. ‘Thank God I’ve got you.’

The two of them watched the horizon for several long minutes, both of them feeling surprisingly cold despite their physical closeness and the heat rising from the sand beneath them. It seemed incredible to Charlie that only yesterday they had stood very much like this in a moment of defiance to anything that could come between them or hurt them. Now however…

‘It feels different,’ Claire mumbled suddenly and Charlie frowned against the side of her face.

‘What does?’

Claire sighed heavily and turned slowly until she was facing him, her hands gripping the front of his shirt. She didn’t raise her eyes to his, preferring to stare at his chest as she continued to speak.

‘It feels different when you…when you’re actually holding the gun, pointing it at someone, intending to kill them...’ And finally her eyes flickered up to his, sad and empty. ‘I guess I understand now how you felt before. When you…Ethan…’ she shut her eyes for a long moment and several more tears squeezed their way onto her cheeks.

And before he could even think about stopping himself, Charlie leant down and kissed her, soft and chaste. Her eyes flew open for one startled moment before they flickered shut again and she leant into him, cold, bitter tears falling down her face as she deepened the kiss.

It was Claire who finally broke the kiss, stepping out of Charlie’s embrace carefully.

‘I should go to Aaron,’ she said apologetically, avoiding his eye. ‘I haven’t really paid him much attention today.’

‘Fair enough,’ Charlie said, putting his hands in his pockets, feeling suddenly awkward. ‘Is he with Grace?’

‘Yeah,’ Claire tucked her hair behind her ear. ‘I’d rather Kate take him but…she’s otherwise indisposed at the moment. It’s not really fair for me to burden her with him after Sawyer...’

‘Do you want me to stay with you?’ Charlie interrupted. Claire froze and for a long moment Charlie wasn’t sure whether she would burst into tears or begin to yell at him but then she nodded slightly and the two of them fell into step on their way back to Grace.

She seemed agitated when they arrived, pacing back and forth and throwing the occasional, worried glance at Aaron in his crib and Hayley, who was curled up in a swaddle of blankets next to his crib.

‘What’s up Grace?’ Charlie asked as soon as they were within earshot. Grace looked up and gave a cry of relief, looking positively frantic as she raced up and grasped the front his shirt desperately.

‘Sayid just came past here. Charlie – he said that Jack wanted you. He needs you. Right now.’

‘Can’t it wait?’ Charlie said, frustrated. ‘What’s happened?’

‘He said it could not wait,’ Grace’s eyes were wide and fearful. ‘He was running to try and find you. It’s urgent.’

‘What’s urgent?’

Grace scoffed. ‘You think he would tell me? He does not trust me.’

‘He’s had people lie to him before,’ Charlie said dismissively. ‘It’s understandable that he’d be wary of you. Anyway, where is he now then?’

‘I told you!’ Grace said, angry now, and she slapped his chest for emphasis. ‘He ran off to find you! But Jack needs you right now Charlie.’

‘Fine, okay I’m going!’ Charlie said, matching her anger. ‘Christ…could this day get any worse…’ his eyes came to rest on Claire who was kneeling by Aaron’s crib and shushing him and he hesitated.

‘You go,’ she said quietly. ‘I need to look after Aaron.’

Fuming, Charlie turned back up the beach again. Within minutes he had found Jack and was kneeling beside him, ignoring Hurley who was more than surprised at his sudden appearance.

‘Hey, Grace said that Sayid told her you wanted me. What’s up?’

Jack glanced up at him with bleary, confused eyes. ‘What are you talking about Charlie? Sayid’s…’

‘Right here,’

And sure enough, he had materialised as if out of nowhere, a bottle of water in his hands and an expression of bewilderment on his face. ‘And I was not looking for you.’

Charlie stared at him blankly. ‘But Grace said…she said that Jack wanted me and that you were looking…’

Hurley, Jack and Sayid stared at Charlie blankly for a long moment and then all three of them jumped in unison as he leapt to his feet and hightailed it back up the beach, their concerned yells chasing after him.

As he got closer to where he had left Grace and Claire the scene before him began to unfold in full technicolour detail. It was almost like watching the climax of a movie. As Charlie began to accelerate, Grace reached back and pulled out a black something from the waistband of her pants. It glinted dully in the sunlight and when he realised what it was, a strangled scream choked its way out of Charlie’s throat, stumbled across his tongue and burst into the still air.

‘Grace!’

Grace gave a tremendous start, whipping around and firing a poorly aimed shot at him, which grazed past his side. Claire, meanwhile, had gathered Aaron in her arms and was backing away swiftly, looking abjectly terrified.

‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ Charlie screamed, still running towards Grace. ‘What are you doing?’

‘I have to kill her!’ Grace’s face was alight, a transport of demented beauty. ‘The whisperers have never been wrong before. She has to die Charlie, don’t you understand? Don’t you see?’

‘Grace,’ Charlie said as firmly as he could and was terrified to hear the squeak in his own voice. ‘Put the gun down now.’

Grace stared at him, a mixture of confusion and hurt mingling on her face.

‘Danielle said that this was the only way to…’

‘Rousseau said? Did she put you up to this?’ Grace’s silence said it all. Charlie took another step forward, appealing. ‘Grace, Rousseau is crazy.’

‘No she is not!’ Grace yelled and she actually stamped her foot. Charlie froze, worried she might try and shoot at him again. ‘She hears them too! The whisperers! They are real Charlie and they have never been wrong before! I must kill her and raise her baby!’

‘Nobody is going to raise this baby except for me!’ Claire burst out unexpectedly and Grace turned back to her, raising the gun.

‘Be quiet!’

‘Wait a minute,’ Charlie took another step forward, alarm bells were beginning to ring in his head. ‘How did you get a gun?’

Grace watched him out of the corner of her eye nervously as she answered.

‘I found it on the ground. The whisperers told me where to get it from.’

‘The whisperers told you to go find a gun and then come and kill Claire.’ Charlie said flatly.

Grace looked at him pleadingly. ‘Please Charlie. You must understand…’

‘I’m not going to even try understanding anything until you put the gun down on the ground and talk to me reasonably.’ Charlie said firmly. ‘Come on Grace, you don’t really want to do this. You would have already…’

‘You do not understand me!’ Grace screamed and for a moment she looked as mad as Rousseau. ‘You do not know what I have been through!’

‘You think I haven’t seen things that aren’t there?’ Charlie yelled. ‘You think I haven’t heard things that I couldn’t possibly be hearing? Why do you think Claire kicked me out in the first place? I nearly drowned Aaron because I thought that it would save him. Because I listened to the whisperers Grace.’

Grace was beginning to cry. Her hands were shaking.

‘Just put the gun down slowly,’ Charlie took another step forward. ‘Just put it down slowly and we’ll talk okay? We can sort this all out…’

Grace let out a throaty wail and then slowly, slowly, she knelt down and placed the gun on the sand before placing her hands over her face and sobbing pathetically. Charlie darted forward and picked up the gun then stood back, moving slowly towards Claire.

‘That’s good Grace,’ he babbled. ‘That’s really good – okay so now what we’re going to do is…’

But before he could finish his sentence, Grace had let out a final wail and launched herself back onto her feet. Her hands outstretched towards Claire, she began to run straight at her. Claire turned her back to the crazed girl, her immediate instinct to protect Aaron. She let out an unearthly scream as Grace tried to snatch Aaron from her arms and the two of them turned in deadly circles.

‘I do not need a gun to kill you!’ Grace raged, placing her hands on either side of Claire’s head in a movement Charlie had seen executed only the night before on another survivor, Neill.

Before he could even register what he was doing, Charlie had raised the gun and squeezed the trigger, emptying the remaining cartridges without even thinking. His eyes blurred with sudden tears and through the mist of them, he watched as the two of them fell to the ground right in front of him.

After a long, shocked, pause, his eyesight seemed to return and he stared at the bodies on the ground. There were two babies crying out but the sound of them seemed half muted as he took several wobbly step forwards and then collapsed onto his knees beside the closest body.

She was quite clearly dead, blood was trickling from her open mouth and her eyes were wide and staring. The other however was very much alive – the only bullet she had suffered had hit her a glancing blow on her side and had miraculously missed the baby in her arms.

Wordlessly she passed her son to him and then pressed her hands to the wound on her side.

‘I need Sayid,’ she said, her voice shaky but clear. ‘Put Aaron in the cradle and then go and get him.’

Charlie nodded dumbly, still not looking at her. ‘I shot Grace.’

‘I know,’ Claire whispered, her face was tear-stained for what seemed like the millionth time today. ‘I know you did but Charlie, I need you right now okay? I need you to get Sayid for me.’

And Charlie finally looked her in the eyes.

‘I don’t know if I can do much more of this,’ he whispered. ‘It’s all too much… everything just seems to be happening at the same time and…’

‘You only need to do one more thing,’ Claire whispered back frantically. ‘And then I promise you’ll be able to rest. Just get Sayid.’