A/n: seems kind of depressing, esp. the last few paragraphs, but i suppose if you still think about it, its kind of hopeful because C/C still end up together. . .in a way. . .this came to me while I was listening to Roger Daltry's song, when the music stops, although that is the only line I could decipher. . .the lyrics are posted in full before the story, i think in some ways it relates, what do you think?

WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS
It's been a long hard lonely winter
Life it's so cold and all alone
Now I don't no what made you stop here
But I'm so glad you came alone
So when the music stops, think it over
I'll ask the band to play your song
And when the music stops.
Think it over
And maybe I can take you home
Take you home

Just cast your mind way back ,to last summer
Oh when the sun shone all day long
Just think of the days we spent together
Just like the music soon it they'll be gone
So when the music stops.
Think it over
Before you take your things and your gone
And when the music stops.
Think it over
And maybe I can take you home
Take you home
I'll take you home
Take you home
Oh I'll take you home
Take you home
Take you home
Take you home
I'll take you home

I) Liam sat at the desk in his cabin, the gentle waves of the sea rocking him into a stupor. It was the closest he had been to sleep in a week, plagued by nightmares of his brother, Charlie. 'Nobody even knows who the sodding bass player is!' he had said, angrily, but it wasn't true. He knew. And he missed him.

Two years ago the list of people had been on the crashed Oceanic flight was published in every newspaper around the world, the biggest newsmaker since star wars. It was headline news because they should have found the wreckage, maybe even one or two survivors, within a couple of hours. They found nothing, no sign that the flight had even fallen from the sky. Liam had been unconcerned about the list at first, in fact, he looked at it disdainfully. Not even alphabetical. Why?

He read the list of victims only out of boredom, a coffee-break reader to keep his mind off his own troubles. John Locke, Claire Littleton (pregnant). . .his heart stopped. Right after the woman called Claire, there was a name that stood out as though it were bolded, or was that just his head pounding that emphasized it? Charlie Pace. Charlie. His little brother. Gone, alone somewhere in the ocean with only the other passengers for company.

Liam was not a religious man; never had been. Yet some small part of him wondered at that moment about the people his kid brother would share eternity with. He scanned the other names quickly, making up horrible pasts that would surely bring the dead companions of his brother to. . .to what? Kill him? Too late for that, he thought grimly. Yet here he was, worried that his dead brother would be hurt by this John Locke (probably a professional hit-man, at best), or this vicious Claire (since when did whores have enough money to travel?). He repeated these stories of the evil passengers to himself for two sleepless weeks, until they became demon-men and women who had lured Charlie into their clutches just to use him as a sacrifice to the Devil. On the Sunday of the third week, he told his wife that Hurley and Claire made plans to torture his brother even in death, while his soul slept restlessly. His wife told him he needed to sleep.

Eventually his life got back on track, and he came to terms with the Charlie's eternal absence. Sometimes, though, he had nightmares; nightmares where his brother and his companions were on an island, and they hung him until all of the life was forced out of him again, or thrust him into a fiery volcano as an offering to heathen gods. Those nightmares plagued him now, two years to the day, when he was on his friend Paul's boat in the middle of the ocean.

A knock came on the door, pulling him out of his dreamlike state. "Whoisit?" he asked, his voice slurred with painful memories.

"It's Paul. Liam, mate, I think you'd better come listen to this. We picked up a transmission. Plane wreck. I think," there was a pause, as though Paul was unsure of what he was saying, "I think it was your brothers flight." Liam was up and out the door before Paul could breathe in, running to the room he knew the transmission would be received in.

"Help us," a foreign voice was saying, "we crashed a year and a half ago. There were 47 survivors. One died. There are people here, trying to kill us. A young man is in serious need of psychiatric attention, he's been in a state of depression for a year. Please help us." A number played, and Hank, the man who had picked up the transmission, muttered 'Six months, seven days, and 12 hours.'

"What?"

"This message has been on a continuous loop for more than six months. Nobody's heard them yet. I don't know how we did. We shouldn't have picked this up, its out of our range. Miles out, I think."

"I don't care if its in bloody Russia!" cried Liam. "If there's a chance my brothers with them, we've got to help!"

"Of course. Thankfully, it's not in Russia. We should be there in less than a week."

II) It was Kate who saw the boat coming for the island, one early morning in what she supposed was late July. She couldn't remember anymore. What was time when you lived on an island? It didn't affect you, and you didn't affect it. She hadn't aged in two years, not at all. No one had. Well, except Charlie.

She yelled frantically to the others on the beach, and they immediately, cheerfully began to pack their things and light signal fires; three, for three of anything meant S.O.S. Kate ran up to the caves, giddy like a schoolgirl whose crush had just told her she didn't have cooties.

"Jack! Jack!" she cried, grabbing his arms and spinning around excitedly. "They're here, Jack! They've come to rescue us!"

"Kate, I think you've been staring at the horizon too long. . ."

"No, they're really here! We're going home! You better start packing, all of you!" she said to the crowd of gathered survivors. No need to tell them twice; they doused several of the campfires and thrust their few possessions into ragged, dirty suitcases. Only one campfire remained lit. Charlie's fire.

For more than a year he had stared into that fire, silenced by the pain that had surrounded him since Ethan hung him. .. since they found Claire and the baby dead by the sea. He was severely emaciated, only eating when Locke held him back and Jack force-fed him. He wished they wouldn't. Couldn't they see he was better off starved to death?

Claire smiled to him from the fire. No one could smile like she could. The baby cooed and blew spit bubbles, and Claire smiled. Picture perfect. Except that they were gone, and he wasn't with them. The baby was starting to grow now, starting to talk. He taught him bad words when his mother wasn't listening, and he'd get punished for it later on. But even when she was mad at him, she kept smiling. Wide smile, that truly reached from ear to ear. Soft lips he never got a chance to kiss before. Love. He loved her. Dead. She left him. Gone. His reason to live.

"Charlie?" Jack said gently, sitting down beside the weak, empty-eyed man. "We're going home, Charlie. Don't you want to go home? Let me help you gather your things."

Didn't he understand? Home was here. With Claire, with the baby. He called the baby Donovan, though the poor child's mother hated it so. He didn't care. She had no name for him. Donovan was a name, and that was better than being a no-name. Charlie didn't move from his log by the fire.

"Let me pack your things for you," said Jack, voice still gentle as feathers. "I'll take them to the boat, and we'll come back to get you when it's time to go. Okay?"

He forced himself to speak, something he hadn't done since he confessed he didn't know where Ethan had taken Claire. "I'm not going."

"Don't say things like that, Charlie. Don't you want to see your old band mates again? You're brother?" But Charlie said no more.

III) "Have you seen my brother? I'm Liam Pace. Have you seen my brother, Charlie?" Liam asked the people crowded on the beach, repeating his question until at last a large man answered him.

"I'm Hurley. You're Liam, Charlie's brother?" Liam nodded, remembering how Hurley had once plotted to torture his dead brother. "He should be here. He needs help, dude. He hasn't been right since Claire died." Claire. The whore? He guessed all his theories about the other survivors must have been wrong. Hurley seemed sad to remember this Claire girl, and nobody would be saddened by the death of a whore.

"What do you mean, 'hasn't been right'?"

"I dunno, man. He used to be cool, funny even, a second funny guy when the fat one wasn't enough. But he changed. He hasn't spoken or even played his guitar since they brought her body back. Guess he was, like, in love or something. Weird little guy. Miss him."

Another man stepped out of the crowd then, in his forties and balding. "I'm John Locke," he said (hmm. The hit-man.). "Charlie's in the caves. I think you better go see him." Liam shook his head, not wanting to intrude on his brothers everlasting grief. "If you don't get him down here," said Locke seriously, "no one will."

Liam bit his lip, wondering what to do. He'd never seen Charlie depressed before; sure, he'd had ups and downs, but the downs were not so very far down that he refused to speak. And not playing his guitar? That was his sanity. It had always been about the music with his kid brother. All this over a girl? Girls came and went in Charlie's life, and they went more often than they came. None sent him into darkness, not even the ones he cared about. He just wrote a song about it and moved on. This Claire must have been pretty special, more than just pretty like the girls he used to lust after. He didn't know if he could help him, there.

But he would try. "Where are the caves?" he asked frantically.

"Follow that path right to the end," answered Locke, pointing and an apparently well used trail leading up to the mountains. "Charlie's will be the only campfire alight."

Liam hardly heard that last thing said, having turned to run up the path so quickly that the blood rushed to his ears. He passed one or two people on their way down from the caves, but nobody was up there when he reached them. At first he though the hit-man was mistaken, but then he caught site of a quickly dying fire in the corner. A small figure was seated next to it, wrapped in shadows, just staring.

"Charlie?" he asked quietly, slowly walking over to sit beside his brother. "I missed you, Charlie. We thought you were dead. I had crazy ideas that these friends of yours would torture you in an afterlife. Funny, eh? I don't even believe that junk." An empty silence filled the air when Liam stopped talking. Charlie said nothing, didn't even acknowledge his brothers presence. "Charlie? Talk to me, kid."

Still that ringing silence. Liam filled it up with boring tidbits about his life the past two years, though he didn't know at that point whether Charlie was listening or not. "Had another baby, boy this time. Named it Charles, after you. Looks like you, too. Got your old smile. He'll be a whole year old in a few months. I'm sure he'd like to meet his cool uncle. . .My wife's started going to this psychic, recently. Crazy, I say, but he claims he knew your plane would crash. He sent a woman off on it for that reason, hoping to kill the evil within her or something like that-"

"Claire." The single word rang through the caves with an eerie overlapping repetition. The first thing his brother had spoken in years, and Liam had no clue why he said it. He began to doubt his ability to bring Charlie to the beach.

"What?"

"It was Claire he sent away. Her baby. . .there was something wrong with him. He wanted to make sure she would raise the kid on her own. The good in her would counter the evil. He sent her here. I hate him." Charlie still hadn't taken his eyes off the fire. Liam sighed. He didn't think he was getting anywhere.

"Who was she, Charlie?"

"Everything."

IV) Liam sat in silence for a moment, watching his brother stare into the fading flames. Locke was wrong, he decided, I'm no good for this task.

"It's my fault," said Charlie finally.

"What?"

"Charlie can't keep promises, even when the life of the only one he loves is at stake. Charlie promised his Claire that he wouldn't let them get her, but he did, and now she's gone." Liam looked sharply at his brother, startled by this sudden insanity. Charlie, for the first time in two years, tore his eyes away from the fire. They were overflowing with long overdue tears.

"I'm a screw-up, Liam. Can't do anything right. I could have become a doctor, then I wouldn't have had to leave to get Jack. Ethan wouldn't have found us. But no, I wanted music. Maybe if I had my life sorted out before the flight, I would have met her in the outside world. No Thomas, no evil baby. Happily ever after, the way the faery tale's supposed to end. Stupid, stupid Charlie. Can't do anything right. Can't even save sweet Claire."

"You aren't a screw-up, Charlie."

"Stupid, screw up, Charlie. Washed up junkie rock god, didn't deserve an angel, but got one all the same. Didn't tell her. Thought I'd wait. Thought we'd be rescued and I'd tell her then, thought we'd spend our lives together. Didn't think, that's my problem. Never think."

"Why don't you come with me to the boat, and when we reach Australia, you can tell her parents about her time on the island, about how much you loved her. It'd make you feel better. . ."

"Love her. I love her. Not past-tense. See, there, she waits in the flames for me. It's time I went to her. Kid needs a daddy. Thomas won't do, I'll step in. Goodbye, Liam. Tell your kid he'll get to meet Uncle Charlie and Aunt Claire one day."

Before Liam even knew what was happening, Charlie had stood and thrown himself into the flames. The hottest part pierced his weak heart, but he didn't seem pained. In fact, he looked happier than Liam had ever seen him, even as the roaring fire ate away at his flesh. Even then he didn't fully understand that his little brother was dead, not until a spark soared through the air and ignited the abandoned bass guitar. Then he understood.

The music had stopped more than a year ago. When the music stopped, Charlie was dead.

Liam's howls pierced the silence of the mountains and startled the excited survivors on the beach. Somehow they all knew what had happened. Two years ago to the day, a fated plane crashed into a mysterious island, allowing only 47 lucky passengers to live and grow. This day, 45 left, knowing that fate had taken two of their number to keep the island quiet. The junkie and the single mom.

Fate sparked the odd couple, but love kept it flaming.

The music of the island played on. . .