Title: Mourning Song
Summary: A little bit of post-Outlaw fun. Somewhat more angsty than usual for me. Charlie/Claire, with mentions of Ethan, Locke, and the baby.
Disclaimer: Not mine!
When the first drops of rain fall through the canopy of leaves to land against her face, Claire does not move. She stares wide eyed at the trees so far above her outstretched body and barely even blinks as the cold water splashes against her cheeks. Somewhere, she wonders why the water is so cold; why there is nothing tropical about this shower. Mainly, she can feel the ground, hard and uneven beneath her sham of a mattress, and she can hear the gentle crackling of the fire a few feet away from her. She thinks everybody might be sleeping. Charlie's bed is so close to hers that she could reach out and touch him if only she extended her arm but she hesitates. Things are fine between them- things have always been fine between them and she understands about earlier, really she does- and she does not wish to wake him.
This shower is hers and hers alone. Letting her mouth tilt upwards, she shuts her eyes and basks in the icy streams that run over her body. Strangely, she feels cleansed. It's with this realization that Claire changes her mind about Charlie. Shifting almost to her side, she reaches out and gently shakes his shoulder.
Blue eyes cloudy with sleep and heavy with his burden blink open. He sees her smile, a beacon in the darkness. Then, the sky opens and the rain no longer caresses her skin. It beats down hard, strong enough to push past the canopy, and it pelts her face in its fury. She clenches her eyes shut in confusion. This isn't cleansing. This is fury, cold and unadulterated, and she still can't figure out why the water is so frigid. She thinks she clenches his shoulder too but she isn't sure. All she knows is that the rest of the camp is awake now and running.
Strong hands grab her arms and she's being pulled to her feet. She opens her eyes enough to realize it's Charlie, although she can barely see him through the downpour. Everywhere the rain touches on her body stings. He glances at the canopy, perplexed, and Claire guesses that it's never rained like this here before. Then his hand finds hers and before she has time to think another thought, he's dragging her towards the shelter in the caves. Hunched over, she lets him, trying not to lose her footing in the river of mud their camp is rapidly becoming. Bewildered, she looks at her things but he won't let go of her hand and she can't get them.
Under the outcropping of rock it is drier. Claire can't resist the urge to pull at her pant legs, trying in vain to keep them clean. She's soaked through to the skin and cold now.
"Why's the rain like ice?" she gasps, rubbing at her arms. She wonders if this is an island mystery she can't remember.
Charlie looks at her grimly and shrugs. He's shivering too and his hair is plastered to his forehead. They stare at each other for a moment and then he's reaching out to her. She goes willingly and huddles in as close to his warmth as her belly will allow. One hand snakes up under his hoodie to press against the heat of his t-shirt clad back. The other falls to rest against her stomach. He freezes, surprised by the contact. Then he's squirming out of her arms and out of his hoodie. She blinks at him, briefly offended and hurt by the loss of him. He smiles at her almost hesitantly before moving to drape the garment over her shoulders. Claire is too big for it to zip up and, with a rueful smile, he doesn't bother trying. Instead, he moves back into her embrace and they turn as one to gaze out into the abandoned open area.
Almost abandoned, she amends. Shocked, she notices that the older man- Locke, if she remembers correctly- is standing perfectly still in the downpour, arms outstretched. Against her side and all around her, she feels Charlie start, but she senses it isn't entirely from seeing him. Knows it's because Locke's gaze is locked firmly on them and he isn't smiling. There's something accusing in his eyes that makes Claire hug Charlie tighter; makes him return the gesture. She can't look at Locke for long but Charlie seems riveted.
Against the dampness of her hair, his voice is little more than a whisper. She is surprised she can hear it at all.
"It's almost as though the island is mourning Ethan."
His words send a shiver racing up her spine. Almost against her will, her fingers grip at his arm, tightening until her hand looks more like a claw and her knuckles ache. He won't look at her and she can't look away.
Inside her belly, her baby is dancing. Just last night, she had dreamt about having Jin feel it; had recalled with a wonderful clarity the joy she felt. For the first time in as long as she can remember, she doesn't feel happy. A sense of foreboding threatens to overwhelm her and she just wants the baby to be still. This isn't the time for dancing. This feels wrong. Her hand falls away from Charlie's arm and she places her palm hard against her protuding belly. Stop, she wills, please don't respond to this. But there's no denying the steady beat beneath her hand; no denying the panic it sends spiraling through her.
She tries to think of walks along the beach against the setting sun; tries to remember the jokes Charlie had cracked earlier in the day. She wants warmth but his eyes are somehow vacant and full and the rain that pounds the ground knows no comfort. Claire is alone and all she feels is cold.