Okay, finally, I finished another PB&J one-shot! This one was particularly hard for me to write, I'm not really sure why. But I'm satisfied with the way it came out. So please, read and review!
Love from Kaci
The sand shifted slightly as Claire sunk her toes down into it. With one hand she caressed Aaron's cheek, and with her free hand she pushed her hair out of her face for what seemed like the thousandth time this morning. She smiled down at Aaron in her lap, soundly asleep once more after an hour of trying to calm him. As much of an inconvenience it was to be woken up at the crack of dawn every day, she rather enjoyed these times of relative peace and quiet before everyone else was awake. The soothing beams of sunrise fell across them, filling her with a sense of contentment.
But still something was missing right now.
And as she looked down at the makeshift bjorn her son was cradled in, she knew what – or rather who – it was.
It was Charlie.
Charlie was the one person who seemed to understand her on this whole bloody island. The one person who truly cared about her. The one person who…
Did he love her?
Yes, she suspected he did. But she was always so uncertain. And somehow, even though she had grown to love him so much, the thought of him loving her in return sort of… scared her. She didn't know why. Maybe she was afraid of getting hurt again. That was the logical explanation. But can logic really be applied when feelings like this are involved?
But there was still something about him that made her feel different than any person had ever made here feel before. He made her feel wanted. He made her feel like a –
Her musings were abruptly interrupted by a flower that came from seemingly nowhere and dropped gracefully into her lap. She scooped it up and cradled it gently in her hands. It was just an ordinary baby blue lily, but in Claire's tired eyes it was a rare beauty. As its sweet aroma drifted up to her, she cast her eyes upward and met Charlie's quirky grin.
Her lips parted in a wide smile as they shared a moment of silence before Charlie spoke.
"Good morning, Sunshine," he said warmly. "You're up early."
"Well, you know," Claire said clearly but softly. She was a bit bothered by having her thoughts interrupted, but she knew that having Charlie next to her was exactly what she needed right now. After all, he was the best – and only – friend she had on the island. She couldn't think of one person she'd rather share this sunrise with. "Aaron's quite the early riser."
Charlie put on that lopsided smile that gave her butterflies every time she saw it. After all she had been through, all the horrors she had faced, everything she had endured, all it took was one little smirk from Charlie to feel like a childish smitten fool with a schoolgirl's crush. He gestured toward the sand next to her.
"This seat taken?"
Claire smiled and shook her head. Being around Charlie made her feel like an idiot sometimes because she could never keep that goofy smile off of her face. "Have at it," she invited, and Charlie joined her on the sand. As their eyes met once more, he held her gaze for a few extra moments, prolonging the shared smile. Finally, Claire looked down at the flower, and his eyes followed hers.
"Where did you find this?" she asked, sounding somewhat in awe.
"Ah. You see, you walk into the jungle, right? Take the first left, it's the third bush on the right, you can't miss it," he explained animatedly, gesturing wildly for illustration. "Oh, and if you come to the tribe of psychotic cannibals, you've gone too far."
Claire laughed. Damn, get that big stupid smile off your face, you idiot! She found herself thinking. You probably look like a bloody lunatic!
"You have got the sweetest smile I've ever seen," she heard Charlie say. Before she had a chance to respond, he moved swiftly on. "Do you like it? The flower?"
"Oh, Charlie, I love it."
"Good. It matches your eyes, you know," he said, seeming like he'd give what he was going to say to her a lot of thought. He eagerly reached over and picked up the flower from her open palm, and the brush of his fingertips on her sensitive skin did not go unnoticed by either of them. He held it up near her eye level for a moment before that pesky bit of hair slid forward once more. He gingerly tucked it behind her ear, and as he did he placed the flower there as well. They shared yet another smile. His hand lingered on her face much longer than necessary…
Just a bit longer…
And suddenly he felt like as long as that delicate skin was beneath his fingers that all would be right in the world. Like one little touch could save his soul. He allowed his hand to remain for as long as reasonably possible before returning it to his lap with disappointment.
A silence fell over the three of them. An awkward, bittersweet silence. Charlie kicked himself mentally for letting his emotions take control once more. He wondered how much longer he would be able to hide the fact that he was madly in love with Claire.
Claire's face was resolutely calm and neutral as she looked down at Aaron, but on the inside, things were going crazy. The way he looked at her, the way he touched her sent thoughts flying around in her head. There was so much bearing down on her right now. She couldn't remember half of her life on the island, her baby was constantly in danger, she was terrified to be alone, and she had lost all hope for rescue. But somehow, somewhere in the middle of all the mayhem, there was a little bit of hope in the form of Charlie. God, she couldn't help but adore the man. She couldn't think of a single thing she had ever done to deserve the love of such a thoughtful, endearing person. And for some reason, this made her want to cry.
Jack had warned Charlie about Claire. He warned him about pregnancy hormones, baby blues, and mood swings. He warned him about how Claire might go from laughter to tears without warning. He told him that it was normal, that it was nothing to panic about. But Charlie couldn't help but feel his heart breaking as her looked over at Claire and noticed that her eyes were sparkling with tears.
Claire's head snapped up, a quasi-natural smile on her lips, but those same shining eyes remained.
"You're… why are you crying?" he asked with concern, placing his hand on hers.
"Why'd you do it, Charlie?" she said, her voice near breaking.
"I'm sorry. I'm just being over-emotional. Forget it," she said, trying to move on.
"No, Claire," Charlie said. The look in her eyes was killing him. He felt the overwhelming urge to take her pain away. "What is it?"
She heaved the sigh of a tattered soul and met his eyes. "It's just… I don't understand. What did I do to deserve you? To deserve everything you do for me? Why would you want to get yourself killed… for me?"
Charlie didn't mean to say it. He really didn't. He promised himself long ago that he would contain his feelings as long as possible. But seeing the agony and confusion etched on her face, all his inhibitions dissolved. He squeezed her free hand in both of his, looked her straight in the eyes, and said, "Because, Claire Littleton, I am in love with you."
The moment the words fell out of his mouth, the moment her eyes widened and her lips parted in shock, the moment that their friendship fell out from under them, Charlie immediately regretted it. He let go of her hand and returned his own hands to his lap. He had really done it now. He had shattered all the comfort between them with those nine words, with that one confession. He grimaced and shook his head at his hands.
What he didn't know was that behind her wide eyes, something was becoming undeniably clear to her. Every uncertainty, every doubt she could have possibly had about him instantly vanished. She knew it now. Finally, she was sure.
They were in love.
That was the difference. That was why the way she felt around him was so unbelievable. She wondered absently if everyone else could see this, and she was fairly certain they could. She almost laughed aloud as she considered how long it had taken them to realized this. And as she looked over into Charlie's eyes, a beautiful blend of blue, grey, and green, she found uncertainty. That same uncertainty that had just been knocked out of her.
She was almost sure she knew was he was thinking right now. He was probably thinking he had made a huge mistake. He was probably thinking that their relationship had been ruined by his unrequited love. He was probably anticipating that they could never really have what they once had together. He was probably anticipating a broken connection between them. He was probably anticipating the "I just want to be friends" speech any minute now.
He probably wasn't anticipating her loving him in return.
He probably wasn't anticipating having his doubts knocked out of him as well.
He probably wasn't anticipating what happened next.
Claire reached out to him, putting her fingertips on his jaw, turning his face back to her. His eyes were as wide as hers had been. He definitely hadn't been anticipating this. She looked upon his surprised expression and couldn't help but smile. Love was indeed sweet. The smile that played on her lips softened as she spoke. She spoke not only for his benefit, but also for her own. All the guessing was about to end, and she was glad for it.
"I love you," was what she said. It wasn't simply the words, but the way she said it. She spoke as if there was no one she could possible love other than him. And there wasn't.
And in that moment, they knew. They would both entirely sure, all fear or reservations were gone. Her hand slid up to his whiskered cheek. One of his hands made its way to her hair, to the nape of her neck. He didn't kiss her. She didn't kiss him. But rather, it was a perfect, mutual kiss. As their lips met, they found sanctuary in that kiss. They knew that this was right, this was meant to be.
But the kiss couldn't last forever. After all, no amount of love can change the fact that one needs to breathe. But they remained close, foreheads pressed together, lips mere inches from meeting again. Once more, they shared a smile, and this time neither of them felt foolish. Charlie's voice came softly, hoarsely, breathlessly as he spoke.
"Fancy a walk, love?" he said. A laugh slipped from Claire's lips as she nodded slightly. Reluctantly, they moved apart. Charlie took one of her hands, the other supporting the baby, and together they rose.
Together. Though all of this was so new, in the back of their minds that knew that from now one, everything they did would be together. And they couldn't imagine wanting it any other way.
As they walked slowly down the beach, the tide lapping playfully over their feet with each leisurely step, Charlie stole another kiss. Just a simple as that. Just a little kiss. And yet, little kisses like that between them held so much intimacy, and they always would.
Charlie had been right about one thing. Things between them would never be the same.
They would be better.