Across Enemy Lines
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 Notes: First and foremost, thank you to everyone who has stuck by me since the beginning of this fic and thank you to everyone who has read this story. I really appreciate you taking the time to do so and I'm glad so many of you have enjoyed my work! Secondly, I want to make sure you all realize that this update is an Alternate Ending. That means you don't have to read it. It's not part of the story I already wrote. It starts off in italics as part of Chapter Six. Once the italics are removed, that's where the Alternate part comes in. Thus, if you read this ending, disregard Chapter Seven.
This Alternate Ending will not be a happily ever after. There's your fair warning. I didn't want to make a sad ending, but since this was inspired by Romeo and Juliet, I felt that I had to give you the opportunity to see a tragic ending. So… if you don't want to see your favorite characters, well… you know… meet a tragic demise… then don't read this chapter. Just read Chapter Seven so you don't have to get mad at me.
When they reached the caves, Jack did not allow himself to feel relieved. He knew the real test –the delivery of the child– was yet to come. Kate ushered them to the small area set up for Claire and the three men carefully lowered Claire to the ground. She had long since left the world they saw and had recessed into a trancelike state induced by the intense pain of the contractions, the fear of the jungle, and worry for Charlie. Jack used a cloth soaked in warm water to mop off her forehead.
"Someone get me a bottle of water for her to drink," Jack said shortly. He heard footsteps hurry away and return quickly. He was handed a water bottle and Sayid tipped Claire's head back so Jack could pour in a few small sips. Claire choked and coughed and spit most of it up.
"Jack. What happened to Charlie?" Locke asked in a low voice. Jack's shoulders tensed and he exhaled sharply.
"He went running into the jungle after the monster. He wanted to distract it so it wouldn't go after Claire," Jack explained.
Locke nodded. Jack's explanation only confirmed what he already believed. Decisively, he said, "I'll go find him."
"What?" Jack turned around quickly. "No! Locke, we can't lose you, too!"
"Don't worry, son. I know how to take care of myself all right," Locke answered. He glanced at Claire, who appeared to be having another contraction. "Your responsibility is to her. We can't lose her."
Jack nodded. He knew arguing would get him nowhere with John Locke. The old man went to his briefcase and selected a few lethal-looking knives from the arsenal he had. As he strode from the caves, a faint song echoed through the cave. Jack and the rest of the people in the cave turned to stare at Claire in surprise.
"Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see. Que sera… sera…"
The voice stopped, and Locke paused momentarily. He heard Jack say something in a frantic voice, and Kate responded with like fear. Locke heard many voices, but none belonged to her. The lightest breath of breeze passed over him. It almost felt as if it caressed his cheek, however briefly. When Locke gazed up at the night sky, he could almost believe that the stars were the eyes of those who had already passed on, watching over him, and one seemed to be winking at him. Although tears were entering Locke's eyes, he smiled and mouthed the words "thank you" before rushing off to find Charlie.
Charlie sat at the edge of a cliff with his legs dangling towards the black water far below him. There was no breeze where he sat, yet still he shivered as if her were cold, or as if the icy ghosts of her past were going through him. His eyes were focused on the horizon at the millions of burning stars. All of them could be dead, could have died a thousand years ago and were now only showing Charlie a shadow of their once bright lights. They had lived and died without anyone noticing or caring. The thought was sad enough to bring tears to Charlie's eyes. They spilled over and fell down his face, dripped off his chin, and were absorbed back into the earth.
He was no surprised, nor was he comforted, when footsteps approached him from behind. Locke sat beside him and watched the tears that were still glimmering in the moonlight on Charlie's face. His expression was grave, and although Charlie did not look at his face he could already read the answer written in the tired lines and wrinkles. His face crumpled and his shoulders slumped as he put his head in his hands. He didn't want to ask the question, he didn't want to hear the words that would cement his fate.
He asked anyway. "What happened?"
Locke sighed heavily. "I'm sorry, Charlie. She's… gone."
"And the baby?"
"Why, John? She was so good, so pure. The rest of us, we all have our evils, our own secrets we have to bury and hide, but she didn't. She was open, free, innocent… why did she have to be the one to die?" Charlie asked. He turned to stare at Locke and his eyes reflected the sky above; dark and infinite.
"I don't know, Charlie. Sometimes things happen that we just don't understand. Can't understand. You have to accept it and keep going," Locke answered firmly. He didn't like the look in Charlie's eyes. It frightened him a little and gave him a chilling sense of foreboding. He wanted to snap Charlie out of it, but it was too late.
Charlie looked at the ocean. "The monster was chasing me. It almost got me. When it tumbled over the cliff it nearly took me, too. I watched it fall into the water. It sank straight down to the bottom. I don't know why, but it made me feel so bad, John. Why did they all die? Not a single one survived, not a single one, John! Why? Why her? Why not me? I would take her place in a heartbeat, John. Why did they all have to die?" Charlie was sobbing and his words were nearly incoherent. Locke remained quiet. He could not make sense of Charlie's words, but grief is a language that needs no spoken words. He thought it best to let Charlie let it out rather than bottle it up inside of him, although the sound was tearing Locke up inside. He knew what it felt like to lose a loved one and how easy it was to give up on living. He grieved for Claire and he feared for Charlie as he sat on the cliff next to the inconsolable man.
"Come on, son, let's go back to the caves. You need something hot to eat and then some sleep," Locke urged. He stood up and tried to lift Charlie to his feet. The younger man looked blankly up at Locke.
In a voice devoid of all emotion, Charlie muttered, "You go on, Locke. I'll be along in a minute."
"No, Charlie, you need to come with me now."
Charlie's eyes were closing. Locke could no longer look into them and see Charlie. All he saw was the sky, the vast, empty sky with its countless stars, stars that were probably all dead and gone or dying as they stood on that cliff. When Charlie spoke, his voice was like that of a demon's, and it make Locke shudder. "No, John. You go ahead. There are things I have to take care of."
Locke's eyes became sat. He reached out and clasped Charlie's shoulder for a second. Charlie pursed his lips and nodded as a way of conveying silent gratitude for all the things Locke had done for him. He received a nod in return, Locke's way of saying goodbye before he turned and walked away. Charlie went to the edge of the cliff and inhaled deeply, feeling the sea mist hit his face.
In the jungle, Locke stopped with his back turned to the cliff. His entire body tensed and he squeezed his eyes tightly shut as he listened with all his might and waited… waited… waited… both dreading and anticipating what was to come, he waited… very faintly and from a long, long distance, a splash was heard. It was over.
Jumping was the easy part. It was falling that scared Charlie, because with the fall came a rush that was all too familiar to Charlie's body. It was too similar to the drugs for Charlie not to start to fall back into withdrawal.
The slap of the water against his skin was not felt by Charlie, though hitting the bottom of the ocean did bring him out of his craving. The sandy bottom caught and cradled him, and the frigid water was like a blanket covering his broken body and hiding it from sight. Charlie felt his soul rise out of his body, sprout wings, and rise. Suddenly there was no more pain or sadness because he knew exactly where he was going and who would be there to meet him. One of the stars above him grew and grew until its light filled the sky, making it brighter than day. Charlie had to shield his eyes and for a moment an inexplicable fear gripped him. Judgment was coming, the ultimate Judgment, and he was unworthy.
Then a gentle touch caressed his cheek. Charlie leaned into it and smiled against the soft palm of the hand. When his eyes opened an angel stood before him, clad in clothes so white they seemed too perfect, too unearthly, and her golden hair shined as though the sun itself focused only on her. The being before him was ethereal and beautiful, and in her arms she cradled a babe with eyes bluer than the finest sapphires.
"Don't be afraid, my Charlie. I'll help you," Claire whispered. She smiled and rivaled all the stars of the universe in brightness. Charlie smiled, too, and they came together for a pure, chaste kiss. Then he looked at the baby and she passed her son into his arms. "He's your son too, you know. Not by blood of course, but spiritually. Do you believe it?"
"Yes," Charlie answered, ready to accept any words that came from Claire's mouth. "Are you in pain, love?"
"No. We'll never be in pain again, Charlie. None of us." Claire reached out a hand, which Charlie grasped while still keeping a hold on their baby. Together, they walked fearlessly towards the source of the light, their hearts swelling with love for each other.