Title: The Good Man
Author: Edie
Summary: "Tumultuous gazes lock and the tension between them crackles like the flames." Because everybody has to write Homecoming follow up. :)
Disclaimer: Sadly, Lost still isn't mine!
Rating: PG-13

The Good Man

Their eyes meet across the fire. Tumultuous gazes lock (I couldn't look after you but, by God, I'll watch her) and the tension between them crackles like the flames. Claire's are filled with an odd peace, or as close to that as they can get given the situation. He is angst personified because (I killed him and I'm glad) it's over.

Everybody else is sleeping and they're not sitting together. Claire had retreated to the other side of their campfire after what she had said to him and Charlie feels too much of everything to go to her. Should he feel bad? He doesn't know. He feels worse that he never knew Scott than he does over killing Ethan. Something deep inside of him is sick at what he did but it's only a very little part of what he's feeling. He thinks God was tired of him long before tonight. Thinks the fate of his soul has more than been determined. He figures he might as well go to Hell over something worthwhile, something more meaningful than snorting away all the royalties Liam hadn't screwed him out of, and if it means he never has to wonder about her safety again, he'll gladly burn for all eternity.

Bring Ethan back to the camp, indeed, he thinks as he scuffs at the ground with the toe of his worn shoe. Bunch of sodding idiots if they thought that would work. Charlie doesn't care for debating Ethan's worth. Doesn't care if he should have been interrogated. All he knows is that it was completely beyond him to stomach the thought of that bastard sleeping anywhere near his Claire.

He senses more than sees her stand. He doesn't look up from the hypnotizing allure of the flames as he hears her foot falls getting closer. He doesn't want her to look at him and see whatever it is that reflects from his eyes. He half hopes she's going to bed.

She isn't. She pauses beside him, takes an audible breath, and sits down.

"You weren't kidding, were you?" she asks and there is a hint of a smile in her voice despite everything, "Do you ever sleep?"

Hearing Claire's voice is still a bit of a shock to him. He could bask in the gentle accent of her voice forever. He composes himself for a moment and thinks he's done a good job when he can smirk at her.

"Highly overrated, love." God, he thinks he's forgotten how blue her eyes are. How softly her blonde hair falls in waves over her shoulders. He doesn't think he has ever seen anything so beautiful but then she's smiling at him and he knows he's wrong. "Besides, you don't seem about ready to turn in, so I'm not so sure you should be talking."

She lets out a breath that is almost a suppressed giggle and says, "I know. Too much excitement today. I feel…"

He knows. Stares at her dead on when he replies, "That's the trouble with trying to sleep, isn't it? When your brain won't just bloody shut up for two seconds."

"Charlie."

She stops and looks confused. He tries to look encouraging as he turns his body towards her. His eyes drop to her lips, parted and so prettily pink, and when she notices she does absolutely nothing. The bother of course is that neither does he and so they're both left sitting there, hovering in a way that's beautiful at horrible at the same time. Then, she looks away but, as a healthy blush stains her cheeks, she seems less baffled.

"I wanted to say thank you," she tells him, so softly that he would have missed it if he hadn't been sitting so close, "For what you did."

"No problem, ducks," he says airily, as though it really wasn't.

Lies, all lies, because whether he regrets it or not he knows he'll spend years wondering if he should. Blue eyes lock on his and what he sees there makes him feel sick. He has seen that look before, long ago and from a different woman, but he knows unabashed trust when he sees it. She's a fool, he thinks, starting to panic. So he lucked out. Rid the world of the bad guy, however temporarily. Doesn't mean he's a hero. He knows himself, knows what he's done to so many people, and Claire shouldn't think he wouldn't fleece the shit out of her if he needed cash, just like he'd done to Lucy. Shouldn't look at him and seem so bloody sure that he wasn't a raving murderer. Out of habit, his fingers begin to twitch against his legs.

"Claire, don't," he implores, looking away, "Please don't look at me like that. I've done things and… I'm not what you think, alright? I don't deserve any of this. Don't make me into some sort of bleeding hero. I'm not a good man."

She chews on her lip for a minute, regarding him. Then, Charlie feels a warm hand cover his, pressing on it so that the twitching stops. He thinks she only means to give it a reassuring squeeze but he turns his over and latches on. She doesn't let go. Instead, she lifts it and presses it firmly against her belly. The heat from her stomach permeates his skin and shifts up his arm and he is so distracted by this that he almost misses the gentle prodding beneath his palm.

"That the baby?" he breathes. There is awe in his voice.

She nods. "You feel him kick, just there? He knows what you did, see. And so do I. You saved us, Charlie. Me and him, both. I don't care about anything else. That makes you a good man."

He has to move his gaze away from her, away from their hands and the soft vibrations under his. He is too moved for words and there is very unmanly lump in his throat. She leans in closer so that her cheek is against his shoulder and he has to suck in an unsteady breath. Charlie thinks killing a man is an odd way to find redemption but he feels it all the same, creeping slowly through him and warming his heart just as surely as her stomach warms his hand.

She changes the subject abruptly. "Nice to know we're all temporarily safe, right? I mean, how bad can this island be now?"

He can't stop his smile. "What's this then, love? Nobody bothered to tell you about the polar bears?"