Notes: This is Sawyer/Claire, and it has nothing to do with my Shannon/Boone collection. And I do love feedback.

Sawyer called Claire "Angel".

When he said it he twisted it between his lips, trying his hardest to make it sound rude and mean and dirty, but they both knew that it was a term of affection, that there were no bad feelings behind his nickname for her, like there were behind the names he had for everyone else. But he couldn't let his gruff façade falter, so when he called her Angel he spat it out as if it were a curse, but they both knew what he really meant, and how he really felt.

Sawyer wanted so badly to be close to Claire. He wasn't as bad as anyone would have guessed, and he had a fiercely protective side that kicked in whenever he thought about Claire, and about her baby. But he was too scared to let anyone see what he really was, that he wasn't as tough as he liked to let on. So he mostly avoided Claire, and retreated to making snide remarks when he was around her. Somehow she knew, though. Somehow she could see exactly how he felt. So when he called her Angel she smiled at him - a very sweet and secret smile, as if to say, 'I'll never tell your secret'. - and he'd share the smile, enjoying the warmness of her attention and affection.

He hated that fucking British musician. Charlie was always writing sweet, stupid songs that made Claire swoon. He followed her around like a lovesick puppy, suggesting names for the baby, telling her bad jokes that made her giggle, doing all the things Sawyer could never let himself do, and Claire smiled sweetly, and giggled like a school girl, and made Sawyer insane with jealously.

When the baby was born, and when Claire went through hours of painful labor, Sawyer couldn't allow himself to show his concern, his care. He sat on the beach while Claire's screams echoed through the trees. He let Jack and Boone and Kate, and yes, even that fucking musician bring that beautiful child into the world. Sawyer couldn't bear to be there. He was frozen on the beach.

He swallowed his pride that night and walked to the caves. He found Claire, dozing against a fading airline pillow, a perfect little bundle in her arms. When she saw Sawyer she smiled.

"Hey, Angel," he said, trying to keep the sneer out of his voice. "Tough delivery?"

Claire nodded, weakly. "I think I may of broken Charlie's hand."

"Speaking of, where is the boy wonder?"

Claire let herself laugh at Sawyer's bitter comment. "Getting me some water."

They sat in awkward silence for several moments before Sawyer said, "So, do you have a name?"

"No. I was going to name him after his father, but…well, that didn't turn out so well. I've just been taking different suggestions from people. Do you have any?"

"Nope, afraid I don't. I'm not much one for naming babies."

Claire just smiled at him, that secret smile that she reserved only for Sawyer, and he had never wanted to kiss anyone so much in his life.

Then Charlie came stumbling in, a flustered, frantic breeze of hurry. "Hey Sawyer," Charlie said, slightly baffled at the presence of the loner in Claire's shelter. "What are you doing here?" Charlie's voice had an edge to it, an edge that was filled with mistrust and suspicion.

"Nothing," Sawyer said defensively, putting his guard back up after Claire had almost made it completely tumble down. "Just thought I'd check out the island's latest miracle. I'll be on my merry way now."

He slept at the caves that night, just in case. In case of what exactly, he wasn't sure.

So Sawyer watched from afar while Claire and Charlie raised the child together, eventually adopting the name Charles for the young boy. They both shamelessly beamed with pride at their little makeshift family, and Sawyer hated them both.

Nothing changed for Sawyer during the rest of their time on the island. He harassed Kate, just for the fun of seeing Jack squirm, and he continued to be the outcast. Sometimes he would fail in avoiding Claire, and actually have to converse with her. Their conversations were strained, and after awhile her secret smiles began to wan, and eventually they disappeared all together, as she and Charlie made friendship into something more.

Eventually they were rescued, which was something Sawyer never liked to think about. He likened his missed chance with Claire to that of the loner in high school. The guy who was in love with the sweetest girl from afar, and then had his chance to tell her on prom night, but he never did. On the boat immediately after the rescue, everyone was uncertain. Alliances were now broken, relationships seemed unimportant, and nobody was quite sure what they would do about the bonds they had formed on the island. Sawyer always thought that if he'd had a chance to sway Claire from Charlie, it would have been then. But as usual, he was frozen.

Claire married that fucking musician junkie. Sawyer had wanted to warn her not to, that he would only end up breaking her heart in the long run. Sawyer knew guys like Charlie, knew that now that he had the means that he wouldn't stay clean. But when he saw Claire, smiling brighter than anything, dressed in her white wedding dress, cleaner than he had ever seen her, he couldn't say anything. He just watched as the woman he loved from afar married a man he hated. When the priest proclaimed them husband and wife Claire smiled at Charlie, a small smile that had once belonged to Sawyer.

Sawyer had been right, though. Charlie and Claire hadn't been married a year when he was awaken in the middle of the night by Claire's phone call. He could hardly understand her, she was sobbing so hard. She begged Sawyer for his help, said that she was too embarrassed to ask any of the others. Sawyer didn't know what to do. He finally settled on sending Claire enough money for Charlie's rehab. And when she called him again, months later, he did the same.

Sawyer never hated Charlie more than he did at the funeral. He watched everyone he knew shake their heads, saying things like, 'It's a shame. So young…' It was a shame, but not for Charlie, who deserved everything he had coming. It was a shame for Claire and her son, who were left without a husband, and without a father. Sawyer worried about what would become of Claire, and he hated Charlie more than he'd ever hated anyone.

He sent money to Claire every month, even when he couldn't afford it. He never let her know it was him. But when all the survivors met every year for their 'reunion' Claire smiled at Sawyer, with that sweet, secret smile, that he was able to once again claim as his own. And for Sawyer, that was enough.