Title: An Unending Quiet
Rating: This part is PG-13, but it's going to end up being rated R. :)
Pairing: Charlie/Claire, with implied Shannon/Sawyer and Jack/Kate
Summary: Claire comes back broken and Charlie will do anything to keep her and the baby safe… even if it means leaving the island.
Spoilers: All the way up to "All The Best..."
Disclaimer: Lost isn't mine. The song "I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me" is by The Masterless Men and I just picked it apart mercilessly to use as chapter titles. :)
Thanks to everybody who reviewed this originally. However, something went wonky with it and I had to erase it and repost it but I did read them and thank you so much. :)
Part One: I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me
Charlie had given Claire a necklace when she had… returned home. It was not much, simple really. A string of pretty shells laced together with a piece of twine. He had painted a few of them shades of gentle pinks and blues from a kit he'd found in the luggage. He'd made one for the baby too, although he'd admitted with a blush that if might be a bit on the girly side for a little boy.
In the dark of her cave, Claire ran her finger nail over the contours of the shells and sighed. It had been almost two weeks since they'd rescued her, but it felt much longer. Every minute felt like years and she had never felt more aware in her whole entire life. Everything strange was a threat. Every new person she met was the enemy. It was a change for her, since she'd always been so open and trusting, but that was a mistake she couldn't afford to make again.
Accordingly, her eyes drifted over to James, who was sleeping snuggled all up in one of her old sweatshirts. Her heart tightened and she felt herself tear up. She couldn't resist lifting the baby, cuddling him to her breast gently. He made a sleepy noise and pillowed his head against her breast.
Claire looked past him, staring into the darkness with an animal alertness. Her shelter was completely empty, save for the two of them and possibly a few spiders. She could hear the others out by the fire. Jack was talking to Kate in a low murmur and she could just make out Walt's excited tone as he babbled to Locke. Sayid, who had moved off of the beach upon her return, was on sentry duty, standing alert outside the entrance of her nook.
She knew she had Sayid to thank for so much. It was his military experience they'd drawn on to enter the underground bunker she'd been kept in for the whole three weeks of her captivity. He'd planned the whole organization, from who stayed on watch (Charlie, due to the bruised ribs he'd suffered, Jack, who was to important to risk, and Boone) to who actually entered the compound, the "brawn of the beach" Charlie called them, with an affectionate scorn.
She knew she would never forget how she'd felt when Sayid had burst into her room, followed by Jin, Sawyer, and Kate, who was cradling her son with a natural gentleness. Claire had been kept in good nutrition, as her main purpose was to nurse her son and she needed to be healthy for that, but giving birth in such primitive conditions- and blindfolded, no less- had left her weak. Sayid had carried her out, surprisingly without incident. She would learn later that they had only encountered Ethan, who Sayid had dispatched with a well placed blow from the US Marshal's pistol. All she knew at the time, however, was that they were her saviors.
Charlie had taken over once they were out. He had immediately lifted her out of Sayid's arms and carried her home, the pain in his ribs be damned. She had passed out somewhere along the walk, but she remembered nothing but a huge all encompassing sense of relief at seeing him alive and well.
Sighing, she laid her baby back down on her sleeping mat and tried to settle in herself. She was just about to doze off when a noise by the mouth of the cave jerked her awake. She sat up quickly, afraid but filled with a righteous maternal rage. When she saw who it was, she relaxed and leaned back down.
"Sorry," Charlie mumbled, stooping low to enter her nook. He crawled over to her and sat down beside her, reaching over her to cup James's cheek. "Didn't mean to wake you."
Claire shook her head and smiled at him. He understood her silence, better than anybody else here, she thought. Jack had tried his hardest to cure it, prodding down her throat with a spoon to determine if there was any actual nerve damage. Her eyes had watered, she had gagged, and Charlie had threatened to kill him if Claire had to go through anything else on top of everything. She didn't talk anymore, Charlie had said, and that was just that, thank you very much. Jack had sighed and written it off as post traumatic stress. She needed a shrink, he'd said, not a doctor.
Claire knew what she needed and it wasn't a psychologist. It was him with his funny stories and his own understanding quiet. She smiled at him again and patted the mat beside her.
Obligingly he moved closer and tickled at her knees until she giggled in an odd soundless whoosh of breath. Charlie basked in that and had to work hard to swallow the lump in his throat. Seeing Sayid carry Claire out of that horrible place had been the crowning moment in his life. When he had held her himself, the weight of her in his arms was sheer beauty. Her hair had tickled at his nose and he had called on everything in him not to cry at the wonder of it all. Claire was back with him and this time, he'd see to her continued safety, even if he had to lay down his life for her.
Trying to lighten the mood, he joked, "Bunch of loud buggers, aren't they? Showing no respect for the new mum and her little one."
She nodded, a teasing spark flying across her eyes. Using her right hand, she clapped her thumb against all four of her other fingers, trying to imitate a mouth. Charlie laughed and bobbed his head, encouragingly.
"That's right. All they do is jabber! Bloody ridiculous, if you ask me. You should see them out there, Claire! Jack is making an absolute prat of himself, falling all over Kate." At her questioning look, he added, "She's up visiting from the beach. Talking about moving up here too, actually. A lot of them are. Don't feel safe divided up."
She could understand that. Looking away from Charlie, she scooped up James again. Once he was cradled in the circle of her arms, she again faced him. She was so wide eyed and innocent looking that he had to swallow, hard. Carefully, he opened his arms and pulled her into his embrace, so that she and the baby sat between his legs. She leaned back and scooted around until she was comfortable.
"Better?" he asked.
Claire nodded, her hair tickling at his nose. He rested his cheek atop her head and held her. She felt herself begin to relax in the familiarity of him. The material of his jeans was rough against her legs, but pleasant, and everything about him felt so warm and… safe. Groping for his hand, she clasped it within her own and snuggled in even deeper.
"Want me to stay until you fall asleep?"
She concurred with a jerk of her head and shut her eyes. Charlie pulled her closer still and, with his free hand, gently stroked his way over her son's face. Humming softly, he kept his grip on her hand steady. Just before sleep claimed her, she heard Charlie sigh and murmur something into her hair that sounded strangely like home.