Title: Mother Goose and the Rock God
Author: Me. :)
Summary: Written as a filler for simplykay for teffy's Snuggly OTP Ficathon. :) She wanted Charlie to help Claire name the baby and to see him playing dad. Hope she likes it!
Disclaimer: Not mine. Boo.
Spoilers: None, really. My own happy little timeline.
Mother Goose and the Rock God.
When the time came for him to have children, Charlie was going to be a horrible father.
It probably was for the best that he didn't have a wife or girlfriend kicking around, all glowing and persistent with their maternal urges. The fact that Claire embodied that statement entirely escaped him and, even if it didn't, he reckoned she had a lot more on her mind than knocking boots with him before setting up a cozy little island style home for their future blue eyed brood and the adorable bit of baby he was currently eyeing up.
He figured it didn't help that he had never been particularly close to his own parents. That achievement was solely Liam's, especially after he had gotten all cleaned up and baby having himself. His mother doted on Meghan and rightly so. Heroin had been his baby and it was bloody hard to dote on that.
Well, he didn't suppose he'd be a bad father exactly. More like an insanely clingy worried one. It had been two weeks since Claire had had her baby and already he was showing signs of being overprotective. It didn't help that this was the first time he'd actually been left alone with the little tyke. It also wasn't much to his credit that this was the first time he'd been alone with a baby… period.
As if aware of the scrutiny, the baby wrinkled up his tiny face and let out an ungodly howl. Gasping in shock, Charlie reached out and scooped him up, rocking him gently back and forth.
"It's okay, Baby," he cooed, "Uncle Charlie's got you."
The baby only seemed to cry louder at that, which panicked Charlie further. Standing, he began to pace back and forth, bouncing Claire's son in his arms all the while. He tried singing to him and after awhile this seemed to work. Relieved, he placed her son back down on his bed of blankets. Promptly he worried about him getting bitten by some strange bug that close to the ground (or worse yet, what if one crawled up his nose or into his mouth when he wasn't looking?), and lifted him up again. Eyes bright with tears, the baby gazed up at him.
"It's cause you don't have a name, isn't it," Charlie assumed, adjusting the infant so that his head was better supported, "I'd cry about that too. But don't you worry none about that. Your mummy's down with Auntie Shannon and Auntie Kate right this second trying to figure one out for you." A pause. "I know, Auntie Shannon naming me would scare me as well."
The baby released a breathy gurgle and Charlie smiled.
"What's that? You want Uncle Charlie to veto any nancy boy names they come up with? I'll see what I can do but then you have to promise me not to cry anymore for… oh, I don't know… twenty minutes. Sound like a plan, pint size?"
Apparently, it did because the infant yawned and Charlie watched with an absurd fascination as his wide baby eyes grew heavy. It was then that he noticed the tiny little scratches on his cheek and frowned. A hasty visual search of his surroundings ensured that he hadn't scratched himself on anything in the nook. Warily, Charlie checked through the blankets and made sure that his own shirt hadn't somehow caused the injury.
Awareness struck rapidly and made him feel all paternal and full of baby knowledge. Gently, so as not to disturb Claire's son, he lifted the baby's hand and eyed his fingernails, forehead lined in concern. Somewhere from a long forgotten recess of his mind, he remembered that babies could often scratch themselves. That just wouldn't do. After carefully settling the baby down again, Charlie stood and walked over to his things.
The baby needed gloves, obviously. He thought once he'd seen that somewhere. But what could make a glove? Pawing through his suitcase, he found inspiration in the form of a balled up pair of socks. A quick search revealed his pocketknife and, fifteen minutes later, he was back in the nook, cradling a baby with butchered socks on his hands.
Charlie had never been more proud.
Yawning himself, he leaned against the wall and cuddled Claire's son closer.
"You look about ready for a nap, Baby," Charlie said, gently tucking the blanket that was swaddling the infant tighter, "How's about we pop off for just a quick minute? We'll both feel much better after, I promise."
He found no protests there. Silently, Charlie watched as the precious little bit of life in his arms nodded off, bottom lip stuck out in sleep. Absently, Charlie noticed it was a carbon copy of Claire's nighttime pout. Running his hand softly over the crown of the baby's head, Charlie shut his own eyes and waited for sleep to take him.
The baby took him first. It was nothing more than a tentative prod but it was enough to make him open his eyes all the same. Looking down, he saw that one socked little hand had fallen to rest over against his heart.
He didn't mean to be so affected by it, really he didn't. The surge of emotion caught him entirely by surprise and made him blink down at the child in bewilderment. This wasn't how it was supposed to be, he thought. He should be down on the beach living it up with bloody Sawyer, not contemplating a nap in the caves with an infant. He had performed for thousands of people; had been loved by just as many, but he knew in one second that all of that was irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. He would give it all up if it meant more afternoons like this.
Smiling like a great big pouf, he lifted his own hand and laid it gently over the baby's.
The last thought that claimed him before he drifted off was that maybe the time to be a father had snuck up on him, bashing him over the head with the bloody rightness of it all. And, just maybe, he wouldn't wind up being bad at it after all.
Claire was in a hurry. A quick glance at the sun ensured her that it was later than she wanted it to be. Who knew naming a baby could take up so much time? Especially with Kate and Shannon's insistent teasing about her choice of babysitter- a word Claire had issues with. "Why are you matching names with Littleton?" they'd asked, all impressed by their own wit. Dodging roots and branches, Claire mimicked them sourly in her head before promptly attaching every name she'd thought of with Pace. A silly smile wiped the sneer off of her face and made her hug herself.
She was being ridiculous, she thought as she entered the open area in the middle of the caves. There was no way Charlie was about to sign up for that. She should be thankful that he was so willing to watch her baby, not occupying herself with ideas of what if. What if didn't matter. Charlie probably didn't want a baby and she was just fine with that.
Sighing, she shrugged to herself and entered her sleeping area. The sight there stopped in her dead in her tracks and filled her up with such a rush of sweetness that she almost choked on the lump in her throat. She told herself it was the hormones causing her eyes to water and her heart to thud all unnaturally. It had nothing to do with the picture before her, nothing at all. That, however, didn't stop her from staring.
Charlie and her son had fallen asleep in what was quite possibly the cutest huddle she'd ever seen. Her baby was tucked safe against her… friend's chest- and were those socks on his little hands? Charlie's head had fallen forward in sleep so that his chin rested on his chest and he was snoring slightly, although nothing more than quick little gusts of air. A smile tugged at her lips and she had to press a fist hard against her mouth to dampen the contented noise that was threatening to burst forth from deep within her.
It was then that she realized all at once that this was what home was supposed to look like.
Grinning now, she crept stealthily over to the pair and dropped to a sitting position as quietly as possible. She didn't want to disturb them. She just wanted to join them. The desire to be a part of their happy picture was so real within her it was almost a tangible thing. Gently, so as not to wake either one, she cuddled up into Charlie and watched her son with wide eyes as he gummed at his bottom lip. She noticed Charlie's hand pressed securely over her son's smaller one and that was the last straw. Leaning her head against Charlie's shoulder, she reached forward and covered both of their hands with her own.
Charlie came awake slowly, as though from the deepest sleep of his life. Awareness came to him slowly. He noticed blonde hair tickling his nose, smelt what he thought was sunshine, and then felt the press of a body larger than that of a baby against his side. Happiness made it possible to ignore the discomfort in his neck. Smiling to himself, he opened his eyes just enough to confirm what he already knew.
She jumped at being caught and, removing her hand, immediately attempted to shy away. He was quicker, however, and managed to get an arm around her without waking the baby. She stiffened almost instantly and tiny flecks of doubt filtered through his mind. Then she was softening into him and he thought he heard a breathy little sigh. Her hand returned, warm and pale in comparison to his skin.
"Hi, Charlie," she replied and wondered if she was blushing, "Was he good?"
"You bet, love! Cried a little bit when he realized Mummy was gone but I calmed him down good and proper. I sang to him."
She smiled into his shirt and moved her fingers enough to stroke her son's cheek.
"Did you pick out any names for him because I've got to tell you calling him nothing but Baby gets bloody confusing."
The names she had mulled over with Shannon and Kate flew through her mind and she frowned. Every single one of them had seemed like a good possibility down by the beach but now, here with Charlie, she found she didn't quite like any of them. Maybe she was still feeling punch drunk over the sight of him with her son or maybe she was on to something for once. Whatever it was, Claire went with it.
"We came up with lots of names," she eluded.
"And? What am I going to get to call Baby? Please nothing ridiculous. I'm begging you, Claire!"
She giggled and shook her head. He found himself smiling without quite knowing why.
When she didn't comment further, he was forced to continue prodding. "Well?"
Her fingers had found their way to his DriveShaft ring and were currently toying with the metal. He watched her distractedly as he waited.
She figured it was now or never.
"Well, do you have any good names, Charlie? I mean, I thought maybe… that is, I was just throwing around ideas in my head and… it's okay, of course, if you don't want to be a part of raising… it's probably stupid anyway, so…" She trailed off and debated the probability of dying of mortification. She hoped Jack didn't have the cure.
Charlie felt his mouth drop open. He wondered if he'd misheard her. She couldn't be implying that… She didn't possibly mean to suggest… She couldn't actually want him to step up to the plate and…? He was obviously going to have to start having his inner monologues out loud and in very public places because he just wasn't bloody ready! Her idea was bad and...
There was a soft little fist curled against his heart, trapped under his own palm. Another hand was on top of his, feminine and pretty despite how much the island had worn it down. There was a soft form nuzzled into his side who obviously believed in him.
What kind of sod would turn this down?
His voice was thick when he replied, "What's your father's name?"
He thought she sounded interested and hugely relieved. "Daniel."
Charlie nodded at that, tightening his grip on Claire. She snuggled in willingly.
"Mine was Joseph," he told her, his tone almost wistful, "We were going through a bit of a bad patch when I left for Los Angeles but he always meant a lot to me, you know? He bought me my first guitar and paid for my lessons, although we were always rather hard up for cash. Made sure Liam looked after me in school. And he loved my mum more than anything. I always thought I'd like to name my baby after him."
Her smile was soft when she turned to face him. Eyes luminous, she whispered, "Joseph Daniel, then."
"Joseph Daniel," he echoed, mimicking her smile.
Joseph Daniel Littleton, she thought, relaxing completely against Charlie. She felt him breathing, sure and certain against her side, and couldn't resist squeezing the hand under hers just a little. He smiled at her again before moving to rest his cheek against the top of her head. She sat like that until she felt his breathing even out and deepen; until she knew that the lure of his mid afternoon nap had been too great to deny.
Cuddled up against him, Claire corrected herself. Someday, she knew she would be holding a Joseph Daniel Pace.