"Chiaroscuro" by S. Kiley

Disclaimer: ABC owns, I borrow. I make no money.

This is AU, based on possible spoilers/rumors regarding "Raised by Another" and "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues" . . . think of it sort of as a theory fic. I'll be continuing in my world, regardless of what goes on in these episodes, however

chiaroscuro

n. the arrangement of light and dark parts in a work of art

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Charlie took one look at Claire and knew that he was in deep shit indeed.

"Please tell me there's a leak in the roof, love," he said, eyeing the large puddle she sat in. Claire turned and looked up at him in surprise, her face tear-stained. The edges of her mouth were bleeding from a gag that had been roughly tied behind her head. Charlie's eyes grew wide. "Jesus Christ almighty." She said something unintelligible through the gag, her eyes reaching out to him.

Tossing the log aside, he dropped to his knees in front of her, reaching to untie her gag. The rag fell away in his hands, stained with blood and vomit. Claire took several deep breaths, filling her lungs with sweet, clean air. "Are you all right?" he said, pushing hair away from her face. She nodded and coughed, her body shaking violently. He reached around the tiny wooden pole to undo her wrists. Blood stained the rags the Frenchwoman had used to secure her hands. When he peeled them away, Charlie saw that it was from where Claire had rubbed the skin on her wrists away while trying to free herself.

"Charlie," a hoarse whisper called out. He moved back around the pole so he was facing Claire again. Her lips were blood-stained and chapped. He looked around and caught sight of a cup lying a few feet away. Grabbing it, he stepped outside and let the torrential rain dump a few sips inside.

Claire drank what he gave her greedily and he set the cup outside again to collect more fluid.

"Charlie," she said again, her voice still strained. "Charlie, I think I've gone into labor."

Charlie's eyes went wide. "Are you sure? I mean, are you positive?"

She nodded. "Yes, yes, yes." She broke off in a fit of coughing. Charlie brought her the cup of rainwater again. "The woman—she—she gave me a needle, Charlie. I feel all funny ever since. Things don't make sense to me. "

He slid a piece of hair behind her ear and held the cup up to her lips again. He didn't want to think about the sweet high he'd grazed on as he fumbled lazily with the loose knots the Frenchwoman had used to restrain him. He wasn't sure what she had used to drug them, but his body reacted like it was the heroin he had become so familiar with in months of chipping and years of addiction. As such, he'd been much more lucid than she gave him credit for—he'd have needed at least twice what was given to knock him out completely. Charlie supposed it was probably the only time in his life he was grateful to be a former drug addict. "She gave the same thing to me too. It . . . didn't have the intended affect I suppose."

She drained the cup, and took a deep breath. "How did you escape?" she asked. Charlie looked at her eyes and saw her working extra hard to focus on him. He hoped whatever the woman had given to Claire would have little or no effect on her baby.

"She thought I was out cold—got careless about checking the knots," he said, taking the cup back outside. "I surprised her and knocked her out before she could grab that goddamn taser business again."

"Where is she now?"

"She's tied up in one of the other huts." Charlie brought the cup back in. "And I was careful about the knots." He held the cup full of rainwater up to her lips again, cursing himself. "Look, Claire, I don't know where we are on this island. It took me an hour just to find you in this fucking Swiss family Robinson labyrinth she's got built. I don't—I don't know if I'll be able to find Jack in time."

Claire grabbed at his hand. "Charlie, don't leave me."

He put his arms around her and held her tightly. "I'm not going to leave you, love. I wouldn't dream of it, all right?" He pulled away and looked in her eyes. "I won't leave you. But I don't know what to do, Claire. Do you—did you take classes or anything?"

"No, but . . . Jack had a talk with me a few weeks back about what to do when the time comes."

Jackpot, Charlie thought. "What did he say?"

Claire smiled meekly. "Most of it boiled down to, 'come find me'," she said. Charlie's face went white. "And . . .stay warm," she said, trying to think of all the different things he'd talked to her about.

"That was it?" Charlie asked desperately.

She shook her head. "There's more . . . I'm trying to remember . . . ahh!" Her entire body tensed as another wave of contractions hit her.

"Claire, Claire! Claire, what do I have to do?" She screamed in agony, her back arching. He caught her hands in his own and let her squeeze. "Breathe, love, breathe." She wailed, tears streaming down the side of her face.

"It hurts, Charlie."

"I know, love. Breathe, please, breathe." After a few minutes, her sobbing softened, and her grip on his hands loosened. She looked up at him with red eyes. "Are you all right?" he asked, brushing hair away from her face. She nodded shakily. "Okay," he said. "Do you remember what else Jack said to do?"

Claire closed her eyes, trying to think back to that day in the jungle. "Need to keep him warm," she said hoarsely. "And . . . rub him clean. Clean his mouth and nose, so he can breathe. Need to feed him." Charlie nodded, encouraging her to go on. "Don't push during the contra- contraception?" she asked, confused.

"I'm afraid it's a little late for contraception now, love," he teased. She giggled a little and he smiled.

"'M cold, Charlie," she whispered. He stood and pulled off what was left of his shirt after using it to tie down the Frenchwoman, and draped it across her front.

"I'll be right, back, Claire. I think I saw a bed in one of the other huts," he said.

"Charlie-" she started.

He knelt back down in front of her. "Take it easy, love. I'll be right back, I promise. I need you to sit here and breathe, and try and remember what Jack said, okay?"

Her eyelids drooped and she nodded clumsily, easing a hand over her stomach. "I'll try, Charlie."