Across Enemy Lines
Rating: PG-13 for drug references, some language, minimal violence
Summary: The survivors split up into two camps. One camp, led by Jack, goes into the jungle where there is fresh water. The others, led by Sawyer and Sayid, stay on the beach to wait for the rescuers. A rivalry develops, but when love blossoms between two people from opposite camps, can the survivors learn to reunite? Or will this tale end in tragedy?
Disclaimer: Lost and all related characters, settings, plots, etc. belong to J.J. Abrams and ABC. I claim no ownership and make no money from this venture.
Author's Note: This story is AU, meaning it will not follow the actual plotline of the show. That should have been obvious just after reading the summary, but just in case you didn't catch that, please keep in mind that what's happening in the show may or may not have immediate relevance to what's happening in this story.
The night was very still. Not one breath of air stirred the leaves of the tropical trees inhabiting the jungle and a sticky, oppressive heat lay over the beach like a too-warm blanket in the middle of summer. Underneath the starry sky and the sickle moon, Claire lay flat on her back with her hands on her stomach.
She felt exhausted, yet her eyes refused to shut. Her baby was especially active that night, constantly kicking and moving. Every time he paused enough to let Claire slip to the very brink of sleep, another kick would jolt her fully awake. As usual, it soon led to a sudden and strong urge to go to the bathroom. Feeling frustrated and grouchy, she heaved herself to her feet and waddled off to the area that had been designated as the ladies' room. When she was finished, she began to walk back to the area on the beach that she considered "hers."
Her entire body seized up and stopped dead when the trees and bushes immediately to her right rustled. Images flashed through her mind of huge monsters with blood dripping from their fangs and of boars with foot-long tusks… she tried to scream but her throat muscles were refusing to work, as were her legs. She stayed as she was, paralyzed with fear, until the rustling stopped. A huge sigh escaped her and she took a step towards safety, towards the camp.
A dark silhouette came crashing out of the jungle and tumbled to the ground at Claire's feet. She gasped loudly, staring in shock at the figure before her. At the sound, it rolled to its back and stared up at her fearfully. Its chest heaved with exertion and its face shone with sweat.
Claire gaped for a moment, seeing but not believing. When she regained control of her muscles an instant later, she dropped to her knees. "Charlie?!"
It was indeed the Englishman. His gaze lost its fearfulness when his eyes were able to focus on her face and he sat up slowly. "Claire, why are you here?" His voice was rougher and deeper than usual, unless that was Claire's memory playing tricks on her.
Claire frowned. "This is the beach, Charlie. Why are you here?"
"The beach?" Charlie repeated, looking around himself in confusion. His eyes took in the small pieces of plane wreckage littered about, the seemingly infinite ocean, and the endless miles of sand along the shore. When he looked back at Claire, she appeared concerned. He quickly thought of an excuse and delivered it flawlessly with a little half-smile and a shrug. "Must have been sleepwalking."
That, of course, did not explain why his shirt was soaked with sweat or why his eyes were glazed over or why the slightest noise made him jump.
"Charlie, are you all right? Do you feel ill or–" Claire started.
"I'm fine," Charlie said tightly. "I just got lost, is all."
"You're a long way from your camp," she pointed out gently.
"Why aren't you asleep, anyway?" Charlie asked, glaring at her. He was eager to steer the topic away from himself as quickly as possible.
"The little one isn't in tune with my sleep cycle," Claire replied, giggling as she patted her stomach. For some reason the sound grated unpleasantly against Charlie's ears and he grimaced. His head was pounding and he rubbed his temples in an attempt to ward off some of the pain. Claire reached out to put her hand on his knee. "Charlie, are you sure you're not sick? I could get Sayid; he's got some medicine…"
"No!" Charlie hissed, his voice vehement. Claire's eyes widened and she pulled away from him quickly. Charlie forced his voice to sound gentler when he said, "Just… no. Claire, you know I'm not supposed to be here. Sayid would never help me. I have to go back to my camp now."
"Can you make it? By yourself, I mean?" Claire asked.
"Of course. I'm not an invalid, Claire," Charlie spat. He scrambled to his feet and started going back into the jungle, pausing only when he heard a slight groan. Upon turning around, he saw Claire struggling to get up with nothing to grab on to for help. Charlie walked back to her and put his arms around her, helping her stand up.
"All right then, are you?"
"Yeah," Claire nodded, giving him a smile. Her forehead creased then and her voice came out softer. "Charlie, you'll be careful, won't you?"
Charlie paused. He knew she meant for him to be careful of the… thing… or whatever was out there… but he didn't fear that. He only feared himself, especially at night. Now that his mind was clear, he could recall his earlier purpose. His eyes lingered on the inky black sea where the moonlight was reflected in it like a glittering diamond. It would be only too easy to throw himself in and end it all…
"Charlie?" Claire prompted, her voice a breath of fresh air jolting him back to his senses.
Charlie shook his head to clear his thoughts and forced a smile, just for Claire. "Yeah, of course. You go get some rest now, Claire."
"Thank you, Charlie. It was nice to see you," Claire said.
It was painful to look at Claire's honest smile, so Charlie turned his head away. Claire watched him walk off until the trees and the darkness swallowed him up. Then she returned to her place, where she had a chair to sit on during the day and a pile of clothes to use as a pillow at night. When she lay her head down, her eyelids began to droop as her mind raced.
Seeing Charlie was both a pleasant and unpleasant surprise. She hadn't seen him in –how long had it been? Two weeks? Three? – too long, in any case. She missed his humor and the way he actually looked her in the eye when they spoke together. Claire hated that the survivors had split up so completely.
It happened about a week after the crash. Jack had been arguing with a few others had been arguing over where to set up a more permanent camp. The clearheaded doctor thought they should go into the jungle where he had found the caves and fresh water. Sawyer was the loudest dissenter, voicing the thoughts of many when he said they needed to stay on the beach for the rescuers to see their signal fire. He found an unlikely ally in Sayid. After a few days, the arguments grew in volume until the survivors finally split.
Jack led a group of eighteen, including Locke, Charlie, Boone, and Hurley, into the jungle to set up a camp near the water. Kate followed after an argument with Sawyer about the doctor. The remaining 27 people who still held out hope for a rescue stayed with Sayid and Sawyer. Claire was one who stayed on the beach, as were Shannon, Michael, Walt, Rose, and the Korean couple, who were indifferent to the arguments. As the days passed and no rescue came, Claire began to regret her decision, but bad feelings left by the argument resulted in a rivalry between the two camps. The bruise on Sawyer's face was the result of a chance meeting with Boone in the jungle, and bad words had been shared between others who met people from the opposite camp. Claire doubted she could convince anyone to move to the other camp with her, and she didn't want to go alone. The jungle frightened her.
Just before dropping off into a peaceful slumber Claire thought of Charlie and wondered when she might see him again. Maybe, if he ever came to the beach again, she could go back to the jungle camp with him.
When Charlie woke up the next morning, he was facedown in the sand at the opening of the cave where camp had been set up. His head still hurt and he couldn't remember anything about the previous night. He sat up slowly, rubbing the sand out of the scruffy beard he had accumulated. He blinked a few times, trying to let his eyes adjust to the light, and found Locke sitting in front of him, offering a banana. Charlie's stomach turned at the thought of food and he made a face of disgust.
"How do you feel, Charlie?" Locke asked, though the answer should have been obvious from the look on Charlie's face.
"Like shite," he admitted. "What time is it?"
Locke squinted up at the sky. "Judging from the sun, about ten in the morning. You are a heavy sleeper." Charlie didn't want to admit that he had passed out, not fallen asleep, so he let Locke go on thinking that. "Eat this. You'll feel better with something in your stomach."
Reluctantly, Charlie leaned against the cave wall and took the fruit. "Where is everyone else?"
"Jack and Kate are searching the luggage for more medicine. A small group went to find more fruit and Boone is getting firewood," Locke answered. He paused for a moment, watching Charlie peel the banana and take a bite. "You were out late last night."
Charlie frowned as memory began to trickle back to him in snippets. He could recall laying in the cave, tossing and turning for an hour before getting up… trying to fight off the craving… losing… running through the jungle to escape the inner demons plaguing him… and ending up at the beach. He glanced back at Locke, who seemed to be waiting for an explanation.
"Yeah, I reckon I was," he answered. Suddenly a new thought came to him, stronger than the others. Claire's face, barely discernable in the darkness of night, was plastered on the inside of his eyelids, smiling at him.
"What were you looking for?" Locke asked.
"Her," Charlie replied, his eyes closed and his head leaned back against the uneven surface of the cave wall. He hadn't realized what he said until after it left his lips, and his head jerked up as he opened his mouth to correct his statement. Locke was looking at him calmly. As usual, he didn't question Charlie's somewhat odd behavior, and the younger man relaxed, knowing no judgment would come from Locke. It was nice to have someone to lean on during his painful withdrawal from heroin, he thought.
"Did she help?" Locke asked.
Charlie nodded. Locke looked away, his eyes seeing something Charlie would never glimpse. When he looked back, Charlie had to hastily wipe away a tear that had mysteriously appeared on his face.
"My son became addicted to cocaine when he was fifteen years old," Locke said suddenly. Charlie looked at him in surprise; it was the first time Locke had revealed anything about his past to Charlie. "We sent him to a rehabilitation center, and when he came back we thought everything was fine. Then I found another bag of it in his room. I dragged him out to the car and threw him in the passenger side to take him back to the center. His mother was in the backseat. We argued all the way there until he suddenly reached over and grabbed the wheel. He turned the car into oncoming traffic. He and my wife were killed instantly." Charlie didn't notice how Locke rubbed his leg and moved his toes as he spoke. He was concentrating on Locke's face, where in his eyes was a far-off look Charlie had never seen in them before.
Locke met his eyes for a second and nodded at the jungle. "This place has a special quality to it. There's something very beautiful about the jungle. If there's something out there that can help you, why are you sitting here?" The old man stood up and walked away without so much as a backward glance.
Charlie considered the statement. Subconsciously, had he really been looking for Claire that night, not a way to end his pain? How could he expect her to help him with his problems when she quite obviously had enough to worry about for herself? Charlie didn't even like being around himself, why should she?
Despite these doubts, Charlie still found himself rising to his feet and striding into the jungle.
To Be Continued…