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The Other - 13 - The Child: Part II
by Ellin (sapphire_child)
at July 18th, 2006 (08:06 pm)

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Title: The Other – 13 – The Child: Part II
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 “Delicate” by Damien Rice
~*~

They buried Grace’s body with the other dead in the late afternoon, and they marked her grave with a modest wooden cross. Charlie protested of course, insisting that she buried with her mother, near the other hatch, but it was too far to go and too dangerous. They all knew now of the warning that had been issued to Charlie and Claire and nobody wanted to cross the line again for fear of the wrath of the Others.

The funerals were quick – there were too many people for anyone to speak for long on who they had lost. Kate offered a few words for Sawyer only to break down into hysterical tears and find solace in a grim faced Jack. Jin seemed beyond everything and managed only a few stuttered phrases in Korean before cutting off completely and just hanging his head. Everyone was about to move on when he raised his face again, to try for a final message that everyone could understand.

‘Sun,’ he began. ‘I, love you. Always. I miss, you. Always. Jin-soo sad. I always miss. Always love.’

When they reached Grace, Charlie felt like cold hands were gripping his throat but when Eko nodded to him he stepped forward nonetheless, Hayley bundled up in his arms. Her dark eyes were bright and wide-awake, as though she understood the importance of what was happening. Claire was standing well apart from him, Aaron nestled in his Bjorn – the wound on her side, although not deep nor fatal, was still painful and she found it hard to hold her son properly.

‘Grace was an – amazing individual,’ Charlie offered quietly to the small, solemn assembly. ‘She was raised here, on the island from a young age and in her short life she saw and did things that most of us would never have even dreamed of.’ He paused to take a breath and found his voice cracking as he continued. ‘She was fifteen years old when I met her, but she always seemed much older to me. She was strong and tough, resourceful and proud. She helped me when I’d given up on myself. When everyone else had turned away and just let me disappear.

‘She was kind, she looked after me and I looked after her in return. I delivered her child and she trusted me enough to let me make the decision to come back here when the going got too tough out there.

‘I killed a man for her. I don’t know whether that decision was right or wrong but I’m glad I did it. I’m also glad that when the time came, I was able to end her life as well – when she became a danger to me and to the people that I love.’

Everyone turned to glance at Claire and Aaron at this but she ignored their stares, her eyes were on Charlie – the only one who didn’t turn to her. Instead, he glanced down at the infant in his arms, barely a month old and a silvery tear ran down his nose and onto her tiny face.

‘I know that she’d want me to take care of Hayley.’ He said quietly, everyone hanging on his words. ‘I just hope that I can raise her okay here. I’m not exactly the maternal type but...’ he fought for a moment to keep his tears in and then gave up. ‘I hope you can finally rest in peace Grace. I promise I’ll do my best.’

~*~

By the time the funerals were over and the bodies had all been buried the sun had set and everyone began to retire to their various ruined shelters or new temporary homes, huddling around fires. Charlie followed Claire back to her shelter, unsure of where else to go and whilst she didn’t stop him or question his presence, she hadn’t spoken a word to him since before the funerals – in fact, since she had asked him to get Sayid to tend to her wound earlier that day.

Confused by her behaviour but not discouraged by her lack of communication, Charlie left Hayley with her while he went to refill their drink bottles. When he returned, however the infant was yowling her lungs out and Claire was studiously ignoring her, trying unsuccessfully to shush Aaron instead.

‘Why don’t you try and calm Hayley down instead for a while?’ Charlie scolded as he scooped Hayley into his arms and began to calm her himself.

‘Because she’s not my baby,’ Claire said, her voice cold. ‘She’s not my responsibility.’

‘Maybe so!’ Charlie began angrily. ‘But couldn’t you at least…’

‘Grace tried to kill me,’ Claire said flatly. Charlie barked out a sarcastic laugh. ‘I know you trusted her,’ Claire continued. ‘And you knew her for much longer than I did – but she tried to kill me!’

‘And look what happened to her!’ Charlie jumped in. ‘Look what I did to keep you safe!’

‘I didn’t ask you to!’ and suddenly Claire was on her feet, holding Aaron close to her, her face screwed up in rage. ‘I never asked you to kill for me!’

‘Well I never asked you to kill for me either!’ Charlie bellowed back.

Claire froze, her mouth open slightly in shock.

‘I never asked you to kill for me,’ Charlie repeated, a little quieter. ‘But you did. And now you know how I felt when I killed Ethan – when I…when I shot Grace.’

Claire stared at him for a moment longer, her face slowly crumbling into tears again.

‘God…’ she whispered. ‘God Charlie, why didn’t you just stay here? If I’d just talked to you two months ago…’

‘Maybe I wouldn’t have left?’ Charlie predicted grimly. ‘Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten lost? Met Grace? Lead the Others back here? Maybe you’re right.’

Claire’s lip trembled as she put Aaron back into his cradle with shaking hands.

‘I guess we’re both to blame really.’ She said shakily. ‘Aren’t we?’

‘I guess so,’ Charlie said sourly. ‘And now that we’ve sorted that out, can we please sort out this whole avoidance-of-Hayley thing you’ve got going on here? Because there is no way that I can raise her without your help.’

And with that, he presented Claire with the fussing bundle in his arms.

‘My side hurts,’ Claire protested immediately.

‘You were holding Aaron just fine a few minutes ago,’ Charlie said accusingly. ‘You said you felt guilty for everything that had happened? Make up for it now – help me to look after Hayley.’ The look in his eyes left no room for excuses, Claire hesitantly reached out and took the tiny bundle, automatically soothing her. Within moments, Hayley had brought her loud fussing down to a soft keening moan instead. Charlie stepped forward and brushed a hand over her fine, dark hair and then looked up to catch Claire’s eyes.

‘We can do this.’

Claire nodded slightly and managed a tremulous smile. ‘I’ve no doubt.’ But then she bit her lip. ‘It’s going to be hard work though. Two babies…’

‘We’ll manage somehow,’ Charlie reassured her. ‘We’ve been through worse – right?’

‘Too true,’ Claire hesitantly leant up to press her lips against his, soft and chaste. ‘I guess it can only get better from here, right?’

~*~

Danielle Rousseau readjusted her hold on the rifle in her arms, wincing – her injured arm was still painful and she almost wished that she hadn’t refused painkillers from their doctor the day before. Levelling the sight with her eye, she watched Charlie and Claire intently. They appeared to be having some sort of an argument. Claire’s face was red from exertion, her hair falling across her face. Charlie looked just as angry; his face in a furious scowl as he gestured with the bundle in his arms.

Rousseau pursed her lips as she suppressed a snort of derisive laughter. The two of them were almost laughable to watch when they fought but she knew from her own personal experience that it was foolishness to go after either one of them – for the other would surely follow soon, looking for revenge.

That is if the latter didn’t attack you first. Rousseau still had the scars on her forearms from where Claire had torn into her flesh with her fingernails to prove that point.

The motion of Charlie handing Hayley over to Claire snapped Rousseau back to attention. Taking note of the uncomfortable expression on Claire’s face, she peered at the two of them carefully and wondered if she should even try and take the child from them – from the look of fierce, paternalistic pride on Charlie’s face she wasn’t feeling particularly game, even if Claire looked less than pleased with the arrangement.

She lowered her rifle slightly and took to peering far sightedly from her hiding place in the jungle. The far off, fire silhouetted images of Charlie and Claire were still talking as she leant up to kiss him tenderly. Rousseau’s breath hitched but she didn’t look away as Charlie wrapped his arms around Claire and Hayley both, pressing his lips to her forehead. The sight was enough to make her want to burst into miserable tears – the thought of familial love a mere shadow of memory for her now, something once had and lost.

A blink of an eye later, she was up and walking into the jungle, leaving nothing behind but a lingering presence of sadness.

~*~

‘Charlie?’

‘Mmmn?’

‘I really missed you.’

Charlie let out a long, soft sigh as he buried his face in Claire’s long hair. ‘Yeah. Me too.’

‘Do you think…’ Claire pulled back enough to look him in the eyes again, her face solemn with thought. ‘Do you think that we’re…that maybe we’ve…we can…I mean, have we…?’ she trailed off looking thoroughly confused and more than slightly annoyed at herself but Charlie only chuckled lightly as he took Hayley out of her arms.

‘If I knew what the hell you were talking about, I might be able to answer that,’ he said genially. ‘As it is, I’m bloody exhausted so I’m going to find a piece of sand to curl up on here...’

‘Wait,’ Claire reached out and put a firm hand on his shoulder. ‘You don’t have to sleep on the sand.’

‘Where else am I going to sleep?’ Charlie said, non-plussed. ‘It’s not like there’s much else for me to sleep on apart from the cushions that didn’t get crispy fried – the ones we salvaged…’ Claire nodded along as his voice slowed and trembled to a stop. ‘From your old shelter…?’

The two of them stared at each other for a long moment and then Charlie finally spoke up.

‘You want me to sleep with you?’

‘Yes,’ Claire said but when his eyes glinted mischievously at her, she hastily jumped in with, ‘But not like that!’

‘Like what exactly?’ Charlie said, his eyebrows rising up his forehead.

Claire rolled her eyes. ‘You’re such a bloody man sometimes. I’m injured for Chrissakes!’

‘I know, I know,’ Charlie held up a hand in defeat. ‘I was joking love, you know I was just joking.’

‘I wonder sometimes,’ Claire muttered as she sank onto the scattered remnants of her bed. ‘And if you keep teasing me then I might just have to retract my offer.’

‘Oh you wouldn’t want to do that,’ Charlie said as he settled down beside her and the two of them began to organise themselves a little better around the snuffling bundle of Hayley. ‘I’m a terrific hot water bottle.’

‘I’ll bet,’

The moment when they both lay down was an awkward one, the two of them trying to stay close but still apart as well as not squashing Hayley in the process, but after several moments of awkward shuffling and one terrifying nose-brush, the two of them settled down quite comfortably, knee to knee and forehead almost touching forehead, Hayley nestled snug between their bodies and Aaron’s cradle acting as a headboard.

And it was in this moment of companionable warmth and familial love that Charlie began to cry quite silently. Claire, oblivious to the slight trembling of his knees, kissed his nose by Braille and muttered a “good night” before settling down for a heavy night of exhausted sleep. Charlie however lay awake until it was almost dawn, unable to do anything but cry out all the tears that he’d been holding in for the past two months and thank God that, despite everything that had happened and everything he had seen and done, he somehow hadn’t lost Claire.