Sleep. It evaded her.

Hand on her back to support the weight of the child she carried, Claire raised herself from the airplane blanket and wandered outside. She shouldn't be there, she knew. It was dangerous. Ethan may come back. They wanted her baby, and so she must be extra-careful. That's what Jack said. But it had been so long, so long since she had seen the stars.

The island stars were brighter than city ones.

Stars had always captivated her. Ever since she was a little girl, and her favorite lullaby was "catch a falling star." Ever since she took astrology in school, and learned that the light they saw from the earth had often gone out some thousands of years ago. Looking at the stars, she saw memories of better days. Life had been like this once, for all people. Island life. Happiness. Why had they forgotten to be happy? When had material things become more important than love?

Love. What did she know about love, anyway? She had always thought she was in love with Thomas. She had thought they would be together for all eternity.

An eternity that the light of the stars laughed at.

A mortal life they managed to escape.

I've waited all my life

For the day when love appears

Like a fairy tale in days gone by

He will rescue me from my fears

In her dreamy state of mind, her thoughts wandered like feathers in the wind until they landed on another person. Charlie. She wanted to believe he was different. Since they had been on the island, he had treated her like an angel, like a goddess. And he hadn't even known her.

Thomas only treated her like that when he wanted something in return.

That alone led her to dream that the new joy she had found was real. But how could she be sure? Such a confusing thought, was love. Was it based on just emotions? She had always believed in love at first sight. Silly, she knew, but somehow it always seemed like when you met that special someone, you should know.

She thought back to the first time she had seen Charlie. He had been sitting with some other people around a campfire, waiting for the rescue ships to come. He looked different then; happier, perhaps, but that happiness was like a mask. She hadn't known why then. Now she knew. It was the mask of drugs. The mask of false hope.

Then there had been noises in the woods. The monster. She had run over, just like everyone else, to see what was coming for them. Fear took her heart, but somehow, she had remained calm throughout the ordeal. She hadn't known why then. Now she knew.

Charlie had stood less than a foot away from her, unconsciously protecting the time bomb of responsibility he didn't even know.

Stop.

I'm being silly. It was just an overall feeling of protectiveness.

Had it been love at first sight, then? Or had time and circumstance thrown them into a friendship, that from day one she had hoped would develop into something more.

Was there even a friendship so strong as she dared to dream?

Or were the sweet thoughts that plagued her at night fleeting as the light of a single star?

Someone stood near her. Behind her. Caring arms reached around her, clasped her hands gently. She felt his warm breath on her neck, brushing it softly at an angle, and she knew his eyes had drifted up to the flawless night sky.

And now I feel him standing close to me

And how can I tell him what he means to me

My heart stands still -- has he come?"

"You shouldn't be out here," his enchanting voice echoed in her mind. This was what love should be like, she decided. Charlie's gentle voice. The song of the stars.

"I couldn't sleep." She hadn't meant for her voice to sound so soft, so romantic.

"Still?"

"Still." Not since she had been rescued had she slept a full night. The dark circles under her eyes were enough of a give away, but even her voice was slurred and low, lacking in the passion of a fully awake being.

Lacking the passion of eternal light of stars.

"If I ever find Ethan, I'll kill him before he has a chance to count two sugar plum faeries."

"Don't. Not for me."

"Anything for you, love."

Oh starry night

Is this the moment I dream of?

Oh starry night

Tell me, is he my own true love?

There was silence for a moment as the two stared up at the light of the stars that were gone from the universe. Claire realised with surprise that it was not an uncomfortable silence, not like with Thomas. This was like a dream without sound; a beautiful romantic (a/n: as in knights and princesses and etc.) movie with mute on. But even the most perfect silence must be broken eventually.

"Have you ever thought about eternity?" Charlie was stunned by this deep question. He never had.

"If I'd been thinking about eternity, I'd have wanted to see it, and then. . .well. . .i wouldn't have been a bloody drug addict, for one thing." She supposed it should have scared her that Charlie had been a junkie, but he'd told her the whole story and all she could feel was sorrow, not fear. She had been angry at Liam for a while, but Charlie had since told her he still missed his brother, and now. . .now she didn't know who to be angry at.

She dreamed of him at night; she dreamed that they had just arrived on land and she introduced him as her fiancée to her mother; she dreamed of her father walking her down the aisle in a little church outside Sydney, and there he was, with the goofiest grin on his face; she dreamed that they were back in Australia and he was taking their son out while she rested because the shock of non-island life had weakened her. Then she woke up to the first morning's light, and realised that none of it was real; that he was already up and helping Locke hunt, or doing odd jobs around the caves. If he was nearby, he would realise she was up and come over to her, asking if she needed anything, offering her what little food they had.

She wondered which life she preferred; the busy, modern style in the Outside, or the cozy, old-fashioned comforts of the island.

Either. As long as he was there.

Every night I think of him

Here in my lonely room

Waiting for my prince to come

Wondering if he'll be here soon

"You should try to sleep, Claire," he said gently, never taking his hands from hers.

"I told you, I can't."

"I don't want you going into labour too tired to remember to breathe," he continued, and she knew he was right. It wasn't fair to the baby, to be born with a mama to tired to feed him; it wasn't fair to Jack, to have to look after both newborn child and weary mother. Labour would be longer and more painful for her if she didn't sleep, and that probably meant if would be more painful for Charlie's poor hand.

"You sound like an over protective husband, Charlie."

"Do I?" he asked, releasing her hands momentarily and moving around to face her. He had a small smile on his rough face, and his eyes were lit with something she hadn't seen in a very long time.

Hope.

And I sit patiently, waiting for a sign

And I hope that his heart longs for mine

He calls my name, is he the one?

"Did you know," she said after a moment, realising that she had been staring up at him like a star-struck teenager, "that the stars we see now don't even exist anymore?"


He glanced up at the twinkling specks of light quickly, and then stared into her eyes, confused. "What do you mean?"

"The light takes so long to reach the earth that most stars have burned out already," she paused for a moment, afraid that he wouldn't believe her, or prove her wrong. She always feared things like that. "Not even stars can escape death."

"But they do."

"What?"

"The stars . . .their light shines on after they're gone. Forever, maybe, if the universe goes on forever. Bloody stars, trust them to be the only immortal things."

"The only thing that lasts forever?" The thought depressed her a little, though she realised it must be true. Charlie said it, and Charlie wouldn't lie.

"Maybe not the only things," he said unsurely, after a moments thought. "Love lasts forever too."

Oh starry night

Is this the moment I dream of?

Oh starry night

Tell me, is he my own true love?

When had he gotten so close to her? She hadn't noticed, but now his eyes couldn't be more than half a foot from hers. She could feel his breath hit her dry lips.

"Claire. . ." he faltered. She looked into his eyes, and saw glimpses of a violent internal battle. Squeezing his calloused hands for reassurance, she urged him to continue. His eyes that were like slits of hope surrounded by a veil of shadow closed momentarily, like stars in the night sky, and she could tell he was gathering all the courage he had.

What for?

For her?

"I love you, Claire. I don't deserve you, but I love you." He looked down, eyes blurred with pained tears. He reminded her of a little boy who just broke his mothers favorite vase, and was ashamed to admit it. Far from breaking her heart, though, he made it beat with an intensity she had never known before.

"Charlie. . ." He glanced up at her, tears blurring his eyes, and his mouth open as her drew ragged breaths. Again, he misinterpreted what she was saying. Last time he had wanted to be friends, and he thought she didn't like him enough. This time, he loved her, and he thought she hated him.

"Ok. Sorry, Claire. . ." He started to turn away. She had to do something then, she knew, or she'd loose the last dream she held on to. She grabbed his arms and, with all her little strength, pulled him back to face her. "Claire, you don't have to-"

She put a thin finger to her lips, smiling sweetly, and he quit talking. She was amazed at the power she had over him, and she wished silently that she didn't have so much control. It frightened her.

Oh starry night

Is he the one that I dream of?

Oh starry night

How will I know

Will his love show?

Is he my own true love?

Before he knew what she was doing, her soft (though dry) lips were pressed against his. He stared at her in shock and wonder, before his vision melted away and all that was left was the perfection of their kiss. He felt himself putting his arms around her, embracing her wholly despite the baby-rounded belly. All he knew then was that he loved her, and her unborn child, and that he never, ever, wanted to let go of her. Yet it was he who broke the kiss, though only for a moment.

"Claire. . .?"

"Shh. . .I love you too, Charlie," she whispered. They kissed again, glowing with the secrets the night had taught them to share.

"I told you love lasted for eternity," said Charlie later, his arm around her protectively as they drifted off to sleep.

Just like the light of the stars.