The fire crackled in front of him as his thoughts bounced madly from ones of joy to ones of despair. Joy that it was Christmas, despair that he was on an island, joy that he was off the drugs, despair that he had to go through withdrawal. Despair for the fact that Claire was missing, despair for the fact that he'd promised to protect her and failed. Stuck on despair, even though some part of him knew despair was foolish. Knew despair was for one who knew, beyond any doubt, what the end would be, and he didn't have that knowledge.

When he was 6 he woke up at three in the morning on Christmas. He and Liam had snuck downstairs ever so quietly to see if they could catch St. Nicholas coming down the chimney. What they'd found instead was a pile of presents addressed to them, and two parents fast asleep on the couch. 'Maybe they were waiting up for Saint Nick too, Liam!' said the tired but enthusiastic Charlie as he went to wake mum and dad up. In fact, they had been so exhausted after a big Christmas eve celebration, midnight mass(), and the secret bringing-in of the boys presents, that they had fallen asleep on the couch only an hour earlier.. Not that they begrudged their younger son for waking them up so early.

Walt was the only other person awake, but Charlie suspected it was not for the same reason. One was going through a hard detox from his long-used comfort blanket, not to mention depression after loosing someone so dear to him. The other was simply awake by instinct, aware somehow that today was special even if he didn't know the date. He didn't, of course. The only reason Charlie knew was that he had read Claire's diary, and figured out how many days had passed since the last entry.

He shouldn't have read it, he knew. But it had been there tempting him all of yesterday, and finally he had given in. He told himself it was for her good; he told himself he wanted to know anything that might help them find her. Secretly, he had wanted to see if she mentioned him at all; what she thought of him.

Dear Diary,
Last night I dreamed that I wasn't pregnant anymore. I woke up and heard this baby crying. I went towards the sound and found our hunter, John Locke, sitting at a desk with a deck of cards. The top card. . .when he drew it, it sounded like a knife. I asked him what was happening, and he told me I knew. I did know. But I was afraid. I lied to him, I told him I didn't understand. He said only what I already knew: "he was your responsibility, but you gave him away, Claire." And he looked up at me, and one of his eyes was black as coal. The other was white like snow. "Everyone pays the price now."

I heard something in the distance; the baby was crying again. I wanted to make amends, I followed it. There was a crib, filled with white blankets, out in the jungle. The baby's mobile was model planes, and as I approached, they seemed to. . .I know this sounds stupid now, but they seemed to hit turbulence. Then the mobile was spinning, and I was digging through the layers of blankets. I found. . .I found a pool of blood. Then I was screaming, and I was back in the caves and pregnant again, and horrified. Charlie was there; he was trying to comfort me.

Charlie is here now. He wonders what I find to write about all the time on this island. Little does he know. . . Later . . .He brought me tea. . .he asked me if I was alright. . .he told me we could be friends but I drove him away. I drive everyone away. Its less than two weeks until Christmas and I got rid of the only person here that actually seems to care about me. The only person I care about. Merry Christmas, Claire.

It was funny, he thought, though funny in a sick and twisted way, that he had believed he had driven her away. He blamed himself for her leaving the caves, even though he knew it had been Jack that sent her running for the beaches, even though he knew he had done everything he possibly could to help her.

He had lied to her. Sworn he wouldn't leave her. Sworn he wouldn't let anyone get her. Lied. Gone to get Jack. In too much of a hurry, got Ethan instead. Ethan. Ethan who wasn't on the plane. Ethan who wanted Claire's baby, and would do anything to get it. Ethan who had hung him and let Claire watch, let her see as the life drained out of him. Made her watch. Made her hear his last breath escaping, made her listen to his last desperate plea to Ethan and his men. "Don't hurt Claire. Please, kill me, kill everyone and everything on this godforsaken island. Let her live. God, please."

"Oh, but I'm afraid I have to. You see, she's the only one I wanted. Pity you had to die for her. Though, I'd expect no less of you, lover boy. Goodbye, Charlie."

Claire had screamed, and that was it; that was all he remembered. Everything was a blur, but somehow that moment evaded the fog of his memory. That single moment; hearing her scream, knowing they'd kill her, knowing he couldn't do anything about it-He'd gladly suffer every form of torture known to man to take that moment away.

The Christmas when he was 24 had been, up until that first island holiday, the worst Christmas in his life. Oh yeah, hopping around clubs and dark streets with Sinjin looking for a fix. Way to celebrate the season. Liam met Karen that year, Liam was starting to turn his life around. Could have spent Christmas with his big brother, could have made plans to get off the drugs, could have found a girl of his own. Could have avoided being on that fated plane, could be in a nice, warm home with his feet up by the fire, watching the Queen on t.v. with a wife, with kids.

Was it wrong of him to be glad it had happened this way? Here, on this island, with Locke and Jack to look after his withdrawal, with Hurley as a best mate and. . .and Claire. How could he ever regret having met her? Even if she was gone. . .he remembered a quote saying something about loving and loosing. . .he supposed that applied.

A slight commotion in the caves told him the others were waking up to a new, insanity filled day. He picked up his guitar, played a few bars of "you all, everybody," and tried to calm his nerves. Before monster-island had become his reality, before his band took off and he got into his Number One bad habit, life had been about the music. He hated Liam for taking that away from him, he loved Liam for letting him grow addicted to the fame and the drugs, for that was what had landed him here. He didn't know what to feel anymore.

"Hey, dude, it's Christmas!" he heard Hurley saying, probably to Jack or Kate, who sort of. . .ran things now that everyone had taken up residence in the caves. "we should celebrate, take time off or something. . ."

"We don't have time to celebrate," that had to be Jack, "Hurley, we're on an ISLAND. We need to hunt, we need to work on the transmission. We don't have time for presents."

"Dude, people are gonna go crazy if they have to work all the time. I don't know how it works in magical doctor land, but in the real world we have weekends for a reason."

Hurley had lost that discussion, but Charlie felt the large man sit down next to him and knew he hadn't given up yet.

"Charlie, it's Christmas! Come on, man, I'll get you something from the wreckage. . .What do you want?"

"You know what I want.." He hadn't meant to sound so sullen. He knew Hurley meant well.

"Sorry, dude, just trying to lighten the mood."

"S'ok Hurley. I'm sorry, mate, I didn't mean to bring you down. Maybe later I'll play some carols, ok?" He didn't intend to. Anything to be alone for a little longer. A lot longer. Hurly stood and went back to Jack.

"You gotta do something about Charlie."

"Well what do you want me to do, Hurley, hmm? I have 45 other survivors to care for, not to mention the fact that we have to go hunting every day just to survive. I'm not a psychiatrist, and I don't have time to go traipsing across the island looking for a girl who-" he lowered his voice, "a girl who's probably dead."

"Dude, you DON'T KNOW THAT."

"Don't I? Hurley, Ethan was only here to get Claire, to get her kid. You heard Charlie. All he wanted was Claire. The chances of them keeping her alive after the baby is born are. . .don't tell Charlie."

He put the guitar down, sent even further into depression by the truth of Jack's words. Focus on something, he thought, focus on anything else, anything but Claire. He tried to keep a rhythm on his lap, he bit his already short nails down to nothing. Arms folded loosely in his lap, he tapped his foot on the rock floor. Nothing worked. There was a commotion in the cave, but he didn't turn to see what the fuss was. He just wanted to forget. He stared up into space, trying to remember to the 3rd song on the band's little C.d. Suddenly, he felt something being placed in his arms, a warm, small, moving something. He looked down curiously, and staring back up at him were the wide blue eyes of an angelic little baby boy. His heart stopped, and he looked up and the person standing next to him quickly. It was Kate.

"Don't worry, Charlie, Claire's ok. Jack's just making sure the labour hasn't harmed her too badly. This is her son, Charlie. She wanted me to bring him to you."

Then, for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, he smiled. Kate even smiled a little back at him, though she was always more drawn to serious expressions that didn't show happiness. She walked away still smiling.

"Hey there," said Charlie softly, having calmed down immensely when the little baby was placed in his arms, "You have no idea how glad I am to see you." His voice was muted as his heart caught in his throat; the little boy was clutching his forefinger in his tiny hand. He felt as though he was melting. "I. . .uh. . .oh, mate, your gonna make uncle Charlie blubber like a schoolgirl, and nobody wants to see that." The baby didn't let go. He looked around sleepily, his eyes like blue shards of ice in the light of the fire. "Yeah. . ." said Charlie weakly, desperately trying not to break down in gloriously happy tears. "I guess you noticed this isn't quite what the stork told you to expect, eh? Trust me, no one told me to expect this either." He stared at the child in his arms again, trying (And failing) to come up with the words to express his utter joy. "It's Christmas, kiddo," he said finally, cringing at the weak attempt at a one sided conversation. "I know that doesn't mean much to you, what with being on an island and all, but where I come from Christmas is a pretty special day. You should be with your. . .your family. Your mother. Your beautiful, perfect, angelic, sweet-"

"Charlie?" Claire's Australian accent pierced his rambling chatter. He blushed, and turned to face her as she sat on the log beside him. She reached her arms out and Charlie readily placed the now sleeping baby in them. She rocked him gently in her arms, at peace at last. "I saw them hang you, Charlie. I thought you were. . .how did you live?"

"Jack. Jack. . .saved me. Trust him, always has to play the bloody superhero."

"I'm glad. . ." she trailed off, still rocking the baby, and still staring at him.

"Oh. . .uh. . .Claire. . .I'm sorry, I read your diary while you were gone." He was staring hard at his floor, feeling (or imagining he was feeling) her trust in her dissolving.

"Oh. Oh, well, that's alright, Charlie, I probably would have shown you anyways. . ."

He stared at her in amazement. She wasn't mad? He could have kissed her right then, as he had been longing to do for so long, if he hadn't been afraid of driving her away again.

"It's Christmas, Claire. I didn't get you anything. Bit of a long walk to the nearest Gap, you know."

"S'alright. . .I didn't give you anything either."

"Yes you did. . ." he said slowly, his face nearer to hers than ever, "You gave me everything." She stared into his eyes in wonder, hoping that all she had dreamed of over the past month or so would come true. It did.

As their lips parted he murmered something inaudibly. Well, almost inaudibly.

"I love you too, Charlie," she whispered, not afraid of anyone who might overhear them.

"This is the best bloody Christmas ever."

I don't know if that's accurate or not, it's based on my friend who basically follows the same religion pre-drug Charlie seemed to. I know very little about religion, so if I'm wrong, please don't sue.

Just a guess.