I wasn't happy with separating this story into two parts like it was before, so I deleted the other two and put it all together. I don't think it's finished yet.
I like to think outside the box and this is a pairing I hadn't seen any where. I apologize to Charlie/Claire shippers...the story just kind of wrote itself. Don't hate me, or if you do, don't tell me!
These are not my characters and I wouldn't survive for 40 minutes on this island!
Love's Labor Lost (and Found)
Sayid stared down at the baby in his arms but all he saw was Shannon's face. "What's happening to me?" She had asked, her eyes filled with confusion where just moments before had been joy at the birth of their daughter. One glance at Jack's face and the blood pooling on the ground had told him. He hoped the fear hadn't shown on his face. Sun, who had been there to help with the birth, had taken the baby from him. Jack told him to keep Shannon calm so he held her, telling her over and over that he loved her, that everything would be all right. But it wasn't. Jack couldn't stop the bleeding. It wasn't Jack's fault. Sayid told himself. Women died in childbirth all the time in places where there weren't any hospitals. In Iraq, things like this happened every day. Jack had looked at him when it was over, a look so full of sorrow Sayid had to turn away. He heard Sun whisper something about the baby and Jack said "This baby is NOT going to die."
It hadn't occurred to Sayid until that moment. How was he going to feed her? He had been too concerned about Shannon to even think about the child. With no mother to nurse her, he would lose his daughter, too. Jack came over and handed her to him. She looked at him with bright eyes, immediately grabbed his finger and held on tight. "Hold her." Jack said "That's it, support her head, wrap her up tight, keep her warm. I'm going to get Claire."
Claire? Sayid thought. It didn't register at first what Jack was doing, then "Jack," He called, "Will this work?"
"If she's willing, and I'm sure she will be, it should. She's still nursing Aaron and he's over a year old now. It's our best chance. I'll be right back."
Jack left and so he sat holding his daughter, trying not to let grief overwhelm him, trying not to blame this child for what happened to her mother.
Claire and Kate sat on the ground near the caves enjoying the coolness of the early morning and watching Aaron crawl toward a bug that hand landed nearby. Claire reached for him. "If I don't stop him he'll eat it." She told Kate, laughing. "Everything goes into his mouth these days." She picked up her son and held him close.
"I think I'll head to the beach and see how things are going." Kate said. "Maybe we have a new baby." Hurley had come the night before to tell them that Shannon was in labor. Jack had been gone all night.
"I'll come with you." Claire said. "Just let me change him first." As she turned to walk into the cave, Jack came stumbling out of the jungle. Kate gasped. He was covered in blood.
My God," She said. "What happened? Are you all right?"
Jack stopped and bent over, hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath.
"Shannon's dead." His voice broke.
"What did you say?" Kate touched his shoulder gently. Claire stood staring at them, clutching Aaron close.
"Shannon died. The baby...something went wrong. She was bleeding so bad...I tried...I couldn't stop it." He leaned into Kate.
"The baby, what about the baby?" Claire asked.
Jack looked at her. "That's why I'm here." He said. "The baby is fine. It's a girl. But without Shannon..." Jack stopped talking and walked up to Claire. "You're the only one who can help. Will you?"
Claire didn't hesitate. Handing Aaron to Kate she asked "Watch him, please?" Kate nodded. Claire followed Jack from the caves to the tent where Sayid sat with the baby. "I am so sorry." She said, tears streaming down her face. He knew that she and Shannon had spent a lot of time together the last few months. Claire was the only one who could tell Shannon all of the things she had wanted to know. She'd been so nervous about becoming a mother, especially since she hadn't remembered her own mother that well. Claire had been a good friend to her. Now she came and gently took the baby from him. "She's so beautiful." She said. "Let's see if she's hungry." She sat cross-legged on the ground and unbuttoned her shirt. Sayid turned away, embarrassed. "We'd better get used to this." Claire told him. "I'll be doing it a lot." She smiled through her tears and bent to help the baby get started. After a few minutes she was nursing contentedly. Sayid left them there and went to find Jack.
Jack was knee deep in the surf, washing Shannon's blood from his hands and arms. Sayid sank onto the sand and waited. "I know you did everything you could." He said when Jack sat down beside him.
"It wasn't enough." Jack said. "It wasn't enough."
"She shouldn't be alone," Sayid told him. "I want to bury her with her brother."
Jack was silent for a long time thinking how he had failed them both, first Boone, now Shannon. "I'll help you." He said.
Kate came quietly into the tent carrying Aaron, his hand twisting her hair as his head leaned sleepily on her shoulder. Claire looked up from the sleeping baby in her arms. "I can't believe she died." Kate whispered, glancing over to where Shannon's body still lay
"I know. It isn't fair." Claire found herself near tears again thinking about how excited Shannon had been. Nervous, yes, but looking forward, she had told Claire, to being a real family, the kind of family she'd never had.
"How are you going to do this?" Kate asked. "Take care of both of them, I mean."
Claire hadn't stopped to think when Jack came to her. She knew what she had to do, the baby would die without milk and she was the only available source. She wasn't stupid though. She knew that it would be easy for Sayid to simply abandon this child to her, not out of malice, just out of confusion and despair. She couldn't allow that to happen. He needed his daughter as much as she needed him. It was up to her to make sure he saw that. "I'm feeding her." She said to Kate finally, "But she is not my child. She needs her father. Sayid will have to take care of her, too."
"I know." Kate said. "But can he? Will he want to?"
Claire stood up and walked outside. "He doesn't have a choice. She is all he has left of Shannon. He'll do what he has to do. I just have to figure out how to manage this. He'll have to move to the caves, or I'll have to come back here. She'll need to nurse, even in the middle of the night." She remembered all too well those first months with Aaron.
"What will Charlie say?"
"This isn't about Charlie." Claire said, as she rocked back and forth gently soothing the baby. "So he won't like it. He's jealous of Aaron, so you can imagine how he'll feel about this." She wasn't sure how she felt about Charlie anymore. He had been a godsend when Aaron was born, and after, rescuing him from Danielle with Sayid's help. She would always be grateful. Lately though, he seemed resentful of the time she spent alone with her son, with anyone else but him, really. He was very possessive of her, even though their relationship had remained in some weird limbo between friendship and something else. She didn't like it, and yet, she couldn't bear to send him away. "He'll just have to accept it." She told Kate.
They buried Shannon that evening next to her brother. No one knew what to say. Sayid stared straight ahead, barely controlling his emotions, so Claire, holding Shannon's daughter, finally spoke. ." Love changes people. It changed Shannon." She began, looking at Sayid " She wanted this baby so much. I never would have thought we'd become friends, but we did. And I will miss her." Jack and Sawyer began to cover the body with earth and sand. When everyone walked away, Claire remained. She held the baby out to Sayid. "You should talk to her. Tell her about her mother." She said. He turned his back to Claire and the baby and sank down beside the grave unable to hold back his tears any longer. "Just hold her!" She begged. "I know this is hard." Claire kept walking toward him. "It's worse than hard. It's awful." She couldn't stop her tears now, either. "But she is your daughter. She needs you! What would Shannon want you to do?" He didn't look at Claire, but his arms reached out for the baby. Claire handed her to him carefully "I'll be right here if she gets hungry." She told him. Then she walked quietly back to the tent.
The baby seemed to know that something wasn't right. She slept only for a hour or so at a time. When she was awake, unlike Aaron, who had been happy to have anyone hold him, she screwed up her little face and screamed if anyone but Claire or Sayid tried to hold her, beating with her arms until she sensed someone familiar, usually Claire, holding her. Claire had relocated to the beach for now, royally pissing off Charlie who pouted and glared at anyone who tried to reason with him. Claire was exhausted and told him she didn't have time to deal with three children.
"Maybe it would be better if you stayed at the caves." Sayid told him.
"Bloody hell!" Charlie yelled at him. "You just want her to yourself."
Sayid looked at him incredulously, "The woman I love just died giving birth to our child and you think I'm trying to steal your 'girlfriend'? You are pathetic. Everything is not about you."
Luckily Jack came up then and led Charlie away before he could do something stupid. Now would not be a good time to throw a punch at Sayid. His anger was seething just below the surface. It wouldn't take much to set him off, and Charlie wouldn't stand a chance. "I think Sayid is right," Jack told him. "Either help her out by watching Aaron or something, or go back to the caves. Standing around here pouting is not going to change the situation. This baby needs Claire to live. So get over it." Jack watched him stomp off toward the caves. He'd have to keep an eye on him, he decided.
Weeks went by. They slept on opposite sides of the tent, with Aaron and the baby between them. It was awkward, but there really wasn't any other way to do it. Aaron was fussy in this new situation, wanting even more of his mother's now divided attention, and the baby needed to nurse during the night. Often when Claire would wake up to feed her, Sayid would be sitting outside the tent, near the fire. She knew he wasn't sleeping much. He went each morning and evening to Shannon's grave. She had seen him sitting there, his lips moving, but she didn't know if he was praying or talking to the dead and she didn't ask. He seemed to be sinking more and more into his sorrow. He rarely spoke to Claire and paid little attention to the baby.
"She needs a name, you know." Claire said to him one night.
"So name her." He said quietly, not looking up.
"She isn't mine to name."
"We didn't talk about girls' names, or if we did, I can't remember. Shannon thought it was a boy."
"There has to be a name you like. Your mother? Grandmother?" Claire was changing the baby and she was kicking and smiling up at her.
Sayid was quiet for a long time. He watched the baby now, her hands reaching up to grab Claire's hair. She was gurgling and cooing, soon she would be sitting up. All too soon she wouldn't need Claire anymore and then she would be all his responsibility. What was he going to do then? He didn't know anything about babies, or little girls. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. Shannon was supposed to be here. It dawned on him then that Shannon wouldn't have known any more than he did, maybe less, in fact, and they would have figured it out. He had never been one to worry about things he couldn't control. Wallowing in sorrow or regret was not something that he had been brought up to do. When there was a problem he faced it, made a decision, stuck it out. He had tried to do that with Nadia, but the crash had interrupted. He had done it on the island since then, even in his relationship with Shannon. It had started out as a problem to solve, a way to pass the time until they were rescued. He had cared for her, been attracted to her certainly, but he hadn't been in love with her and he didn't think she had loved him at first either. That happened later. Too late, as it turned out. But it wasn't too late for this child. He hadn't had the time he wanted with Shannon, but he could love this baby for both of them.
"Ava." He said to Claire "That was my grandmother's name. She was a strong woman. This baby will need to be strong, too."
"Ava, I like that." Claire said. "It suits her. Hello, Ava!" She said holding the baby up. Sayid came and took the baby and held her close. Claire took a deep breath. It was the first time he had taken her in a long time without Claire asking him to. Maybe this was a beginning.
10 months later:
"Come back here, you!" Claire laughed, grabbing for Aaron while trying to hold onto Ava who was squirming in her arms. Aaron screeched with delight at being naked and free from his mother's grasp.
"Whoa there, little buddy." Hurley scooped Aaron up in one arm and walked back to Claire. "Water. Bad." Hurley told him, pointing to the ocean.
"No! No! No!" Aaron screamed his favorite word.
Claire sat Ava down and held out her arms to her son.
"I've got him." Hurley said, swinging the toddler up onto his shoulders. "You take care of her. Can't have naked babies all over the beach, can we?"
Claire smiled and finished dressing Ava. Unfortunately the only baby clothes they had managed to salvage from various pieces of luggage were definitely for boys. No little dresses, and nothing pink, but Ava was so pretty even at ten months old, that no one would mistake her for a boy. "There you go." Claire said, sitting her down on the blanket. She immediately got onto her knees and started crawling away.
"Sayid and Jack better finish that fence they're building pretty quick." Hurley said. "I don't do water rescues."
Claire picked Ava up and plopped her back on the blanket, giving the baby her bracelet to play with. She took Aaron from Hurley. "Time to get dressed." She told the two-year-old.
"No!" Aaron shrieked.
"Yes! Yes! Yes!" Claire grabbed him and tickled his belly. He collapsed into giggles and she quickly dressed him. Of course, he would probably take the clothes off as soon as she turned her back. Sawyer had already nicknamed him "Naked Guy."
"So," Hurley asked, shifting from one foot to the other, "Have you seen Charlie lately?"
Claire's blue eyes clouded over. "Not since...well, you know." Claire picked up the abandoned bracelet and distracted Ava with it.
"Well, we burned the plane and all the heroin with it. So he can't get any more."
"Unless he had some squirreled away somewhere." She said angrily. "When I think about what almost happened..."
Charlie had never adjusted to Claire's role helping Sayid with Ava after Shannon died. They argued about it so often the first few months, and Claire was so upset, that Sayid and Jack had practically banned Charlie from the beach. After that, Charlie had been angrier than ever. Claire hadn't known about his addiction and neither had Sayid. Jack however, started suspecting that Charlie was using again, but had no idea where he had gotten the drugs. By the time Locke came back from his latest jungle romp and everyone put the pieces of the puzzle together, Charlie was in trouble. Sayid felt responsible for leading him to the plane, not to mention actually throwing the heroin at him. Jack was concerned that Charlie would do something stupid, like come after Claire, or more likely, Sayid.
Things had finally blown up one night several weeks ago. Sayid was with Sawyer getting water for the next day. Claire had just gotten Aaron to sleep and was nursing Ava. She didn't need to nurse as often now, but it was still the best way to put her to sleep. Claire was half dozing when Charlie sat down beside her. "Hey!" He'd said, brightly.
"Hey," Claire said back. It was so rare for him to be smiling lately, it reminded her of before, and she smiled back at him sleepily.
"So, you're almost done with this, right?"
"For tonight. Yes." Claire said, glancing down to check on the baby, and self-consciously to make sure she was covered up.
"Isn't she about old enough to stop this?" Charlie asked. "Then you and Aaron can come back to the caves where you belong."
"Charlie," Claire began, "I don't want to fight." Before she could go any further, Charlie had grabbed her wrist. Hard.
"Ow!" She cried, startling the baby"You're hurting me! What do you want, Charlie?" Ava began to whimper. "Now look what you've done!"
Charlie continued to hold onto Claire's wrist. "Put her down." He told her. Claire hardly recognized his voice.
"No!" Claire yelled. Ava started to wail. Why doesn't someone hear us, thought Claire? Charlie pulled at her, trying to get her to stand up. Holding onto Ava with her free hand, Claire struggled to get away. "Let go! Let go of me Charlie!" She was crying now. Ava slipped from her grasp and fell to the ground. They both screamed and suddenly Sayid appeared out of nowhere, landing a punch to the side of Charlie's head. Charlie went down and Sayid jumped on him, smacking him with his fists. Her arm free, Claire scooped up the baby and looked her over as Sawyer stepped in and with some effort, pulled Sayid off of Charlie.
"Don't kill him, Ishmael," He drawled. "although you might be doin' us all a favor. You'd feel so damn guilty afterwards, it would take all the fun out of it." Sawyer put a foot on Charlie's chest to keep him down.
Sayid turned to Claire. "Are you okay? Did he hurt you?" He took Ava from her and inspected his daughter himself.
Claire rubbed her wrist. "I'm all right." She told him. She looked down at Charlie. "You." Her voice shook. "You stay away from us! She's just a baby for God's sake! Leave us alone!" Claire was sobbing now and Sayid put his arm around her to comfort her. That set Charlie off again and he tried to get up, but Sawyer had him pinned.
"Come on Loverboy," He said, helping him up, "Let's you and I have a chat about how to woo the ladies since ya'lls tactics obviously ain't working." He held Charlie firmly by the arm and led him off down the beach.
"You're sure you are all right." Sayid asked Claire again.
"Yes." Claire said. "Is Ava okay?" The baby had stopped crying, but she was wide awake, looking at them with big brown eyes.
"She seems fine. You go in and sleep. I'll settle her down."
"Thank you." Claire said. "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't shown up."
"You would have thought of something."
"I should have kicked him in the balls." Claire said angrily.
Sayid actually laughed. "That would send a message." He agreed.
"It is the drugs, isn't it?" Claire asked. She just couldn't imagine the sweet Charlie she had known behaving like this.
"The heroin or the withdrawal from it, maybe. But Charlie has been angry about this for a long time." Sayid reminded her.
"Yes, I know." Claire was suddenly exhausted. "I think I will go to sleep." She kissed Ava on the top of her head, and then gently kissed Sayid on the cheek. "Goodnight." She said.
Sayid sat by the fire with the baby on his lap. He touched his cheek where Claire had kissed him. He couldn't remember her ever doing that before. They rarely touched each other, even living in such close quarters. Claire was there for Ava, not to take care of him. They had a practical arrangement that worked for both of them. Claire was a wonderful mother and she made no distinction between her own son and Ava. She loved them both, that was clear. He was in awe sometimes of the way she handled taking care of them. Without her, his daughter would surely have died, and he might not have survived losing her. So, in a way, Claire had saved him, too. Gratitude, he told himself. That's what he was feeling. It was natural to feel affection for Claire after all she had done for them.
Claire HAD been exhausted when she lay down, but now sleep was stubbornly out of reach. Her wrist hurt. She thought about Charlie and tears came to her eyes. Damn it. Why couldn't he understand? It wasn't like they had been lovers, he'd only kissed her once! And she and Sayid weren't doing anything, for God's sake. The idea was ridiculous. She rolled over and bunched up the towel she used for a pillow trying to get comfortable. She was proud of the way Sayid had gone from indifferent to a caring and involved father. He took care of Ava almost as much as she did. Sometimes he even took Aaron, so that she and Ava could rest, and the little boy adored him. But he obviously still mourned for Shannon, and Claire, truthfully, was happy just being a mother without having to worry about all of the crap that came with relationships. In her experience, men were unreliable at best and always wanted attention The last thing she needed was someone else to take care of. That settled in her mind, she drifted off. By the time Sayid came into the tent with Ava she was fast asleep.
Kate came the next day to see if she was all rightClaire's wrist was bruised where Charlie had grabbed her, but other than that she was fine. "I'm okay." She told Kate.
"No, you're not." Kate could see how shaken up she was.
Claire fought back tears. "That wasn't Charlie. She said. "The Charlie I knew never would have done something like that. He's back on the drugs, and I can't go through that again."
"Again?" Kate said. "I thought you didn't know the first time." Her question hung between them.
It was hard for Claire to believe they had been here all this time and still knew so little about each other. Maybe it was time for that to change.
"My mother drank." Claire said, sitting down on the sand. Kate sat down beside her. "She would go for a month or so and everything would be fine. She'd promise that this time it was over, she wasn't going to drink anymore. Then she'd take a drink and it would all fall apart again." Kate didn't say a word. She just listened. "My dad was gone by then and my sisters and I would be alone a lot. Sometimes she would leave us with a neighbor or some relative, but usually she just wouldn't show up from work one day. Once we didn't see her for a week."
"How old were you?"
"Eight or nine when it got really bad. Bethany was fifteen." Claire smiled. "If it wasn't for her..." Looking at Kate she said fiercely, "I loved my mother so much, and every time she promised she would stop drinking I believed her. I can't live like that ...wondering all the time. I won't put Aaron through that."
"No, you can't. " Kate agreed. She put her arm around Claire.
Later that day Claire knelt in the surf, holding Ava's hands in hers as the baby walked. Each time a wave swept over her she squealed and pulled her feet up. Claire laughed. She glanced over to check on Aaron who was playing in the sand. Looking past him, she saw Charlie watching them. Picking Ava up and taking Aaron by the hand, Claire walked toward him. "What do you want Charlie?" She asked.
"I want ...I don't want you to be afraid of me." He said. " I would never hurt you, Claire."
Ava squirmed to be let down and Claire shifted the baby to her other hip. She looked at him accusingly "But you did hurt me, and you could have hurt Ava." Claire reminded him. "You grabbed me and made me drop her."
"I'm sorry. I just wanted to talk to you."
"So talk." She stared at him.
Charlie looked at her, then down at his feet. "You aren't coming back to the caves, are you?" He looked up again.
"No, I'm not." Claire buried her face in Ava's hair inhaling the sweet baby smell of her.
"Is it because I...look I know you know about the ...what I..." He stuttered.
"The heroin." She said flatly.
"Yes. But I won't...I swear. I'm not going to do it anymore. It's gone, I promise. It's over. Never again."
"That's good" Claire told him "I'm hope so. I hope you can keep your promise to yourself. But that's not the only reason I'm staying here."
Claire took a deep breath. "I can't leave her. I love her, and she loves me."
"She isn't your child, Claire. She belongs to Sayid. He should take care of her himself."
"He does take care of her." Claire said angrily. "But she needs me, too. I'm happy here, Aaron's happy here, and we're staying."
"What about me; about us? Is this about him?" He looked down the beach to where Sayid stood watching them.
"Charlie, there isn't any us, not now. Maybe there could have been once, I don't know. I only know that I can't trust you. I would always be wondering ...I've lived that way and I won't do it again. Sayid has nothing to do with it.".
"I don't believe you." He said.
"Fine. Don't." She took Aaron by the hand again and turned to walk away.
"Claire," He called after her "Don't do this."
"I don't want to talk to you anymore." She said sadly. "Go away, Charlie."
Charlie was miserable. It seemed every time he tried to talk to Claire he made things worse. He knew this was his fault. Instead of being supportive when Shannon died and she went to help with Ava, he had been a bloody idiot. Trying to erase his feelings by going back to the drugs hadn't helped matters any. The drugs that Sayid had led him to. Sayid, he thought, there was the real problem.
"Hey Dude," Hurley interrupted his thoughts. "You going to the caves? I'll walk with you. Gotta do some laundry."
"Uh, I don't really want company right now, Hurley." Charlie said.
"Why not? You got some stash hidden around here somewhere you don't want me to know about?" Seeing the look on Charlie's face he added "Dude...I'm kidding."
"I just feel like being by myself." Charlie said. "Don't you ever feel like being alone?"
"Nope." Hurley kept walking beside him. "Sorry about Claire. Bummer. She's pretty mad at you."
"Yeah, she is. Or something." Charlie looked at him. "You live at the beach, you see them all the time. Is there something going on with her and Sayid?"
"Whoa. I don't spy on people."
I know, I know, but did you ever notice anything? Does he touch her, look at her?"
"Dude," Hurley laughed. "Where've you been? They live in the same tent, man. They gotta look at each other."
Charlie shook his head. "Yeah. I know, but you know what I mean, right?"
"I never noticed anything. They get along. They talk a lot. Claire's always smiling, but that's the way she is." Hurley paused. "He did bring her a flower the other day. I remember because she wore it in her hair, you know, tucked behind her ear, and Ava, she tried to eat it. It was pretty funny."
Charlie didn't laugh. I'm right. He thought. I knew it.
Sayid raised the ax in the air and swung. With a loud crack, the huge log split. He drew the ax back again, continuing to strike the log until it separated into two pieces. Then he shoved the next one into place and did it all again. Physical labor was satisfying for him. There was a sense of accomplishment in producing something that everyone could use. At first there had been the desperation to keep the signal fire burning. After over two years here, it had long ceased being a hope of rescue, yet he, Sawyer, and some of the others still kept the fire going. He didn't think it had ever gone completely out.
Sweat trickled off him now as he continued to work. Pushing himself like this was one of the ways he had dealt with his grief when Shannon died. What else was there? He had never been taught to talk about his feelings. His mother and father had certainly never shared theirs. He and his brothers and sister had known they were loved, surely, but beyond that, well, you took what life handed you and dealt with it. You didn't sit around discussing it.
Over a year had passed, and his grief had subsided. It was still there, but what once seemed a gaping wound that would never close, was now a scar. It ached occasionally, especially when Ava reached some milestone, like her first tooth, or when she started walking, or when he purposely touched it by thinking about Shannon. But now, though he never would have believed it, days went by when grief didn't shadow him, days when he was actually something close to happy. Ava had much to do with that. He hadn't known it was possible to love anyone as much as he loved his daughter. But Claire and Aaron were a part of that happiness too. He couldn't imagine life without them.
Ava had stopped nursing but neither he nor Claire raised the subject of her moving back to the caves. It wasn't because he couldn't take care of Ava on his own. He knew he could, but he also knew that Ava would miss Claire desperately and he couldn't see doing that to her for no good reason. He suspected Claire felt the same. He remembered the look on Claire's face when Ava said "Mum" the first time. She looked at him wide-eyed, wondering what to do. "She hears Aaron say it all the time." He told her "What did we expect? It's okay...that is what you are to her. There will be plenty of time to explain things when she is old enough to understand." So Ava called Claire 'mum' and Aaron sometimes called him 'da', mostly because he couldn't say his name yet and that's what Ava called him. They lived together almost like a family, but Sayid found himself wanting something more.
There was quite a pile of wood now, but he pulled down yet another log and kept working. The change he felt lately in his feelings for Claire was confusing him. With Shannon, the attraction was immediate and intense. He knew exactly what he wanted. There had been passion between them right from the start. The quieter feelings of loving her, of being in love with her, came later. The opposite seemed to be happening now. Thinking back he supposed that he loved Claire in a way from the moment she came to them. She did something that no one else could do. She saved his daughter. Living together was uncomfortable at first, but they became friends. So now, when he'd found himself watching her, wondering what it would be like to hold her, to kiss her, to make love to her, it felt strange, wrong somehow, and he pushed the feelings away. Until last night.
Last night they had been talking by the fire. Claire was telling him something silly that Ava had done that day and as she leaned forward, laughing, he'd taken her face in his hands and kissed her. She kissed him back at first, just for a moment, and he reached for her, wanting her closer, but she'd pulled away and gone inside. He didn't know what to say, so he sat there staring at the flames until he thought she was asleep. She was still sleeping this morning when he left.
Setting the ax down, he wiped his face with his shirt. He took a swig from his water bottle and looked over to see Sawyer staring at the woodpile.
"You pissed off about something or what, Ishmael?" Sawyer asked. "I ain't seen a pile of wood like that since Kate went off and left me for Jack." He grinned at him. "Did Claire go running back to Crackhead?"
"Not one for talkin' much, are you? Shoulda known that by now. Well, I suppose I talk enough for both of us. So, what's up with the wood?"
"We were running low." Sayid took another drink.
"Okay...I buy that. But not THAT low, you got enough wood there to build another raft." Sawyer rubbed his shoulder, remembering.
"It helps me think."
"What're you thinkin' about? Her?" Sawyer grinned again. "You never know what people are thinkin unless you ask 'em. Goes for women, too. God knows they don't volunteer any information. That's part of their fem-a-nan charms. She's got you though, that's for damn sure." He grinned.
"What do you mean?" Sayid was annoyed now. Was he really that transparent?
"I've seen the way you look at her. Can't blame you. Prettiest thing on the
whole damn beach. Hell, livin' in close quarters the way you two do...I'd be itchin' for something by now."
Sayid stared at him. "I am not going to talk about this with you." He picked up the ax and started walking.
"Women like to be sweet-talked." Sawyer said chuckling, "It's bullshit but I'm good at it. Let me know if you want me to share my expertise."
Sayid kept walking. The day he'd take advice from Sawyer about women he'd just as soon jump off a cliff.
He returned to the tent to find Claire packing a bag. "You're leaving?" He asked, his heart pounding.
"Leaving?" Claire looked up at him. "This?" She smiled. "These are things that don't fit Aaron or Ava anymore. I'm taking them to Sun, for the baby.
Sayid felt ridiculously relieved. "I thought...last night..."
"You think I'm going to leave because you kissed me." She looked up at him.
"It wasn't that bad of a kiss." She teased. "And I'm not going anywhere." She was serious now. "I just need time to figure things out."
Claire finished stuffing the back pack and swung it onto her shoulders. "I'm going to take these things to Sun today. You help Hurley with those two." She laughed, pointing to the beach. "I really think he's outnumbered." She kissed his cheek.
Claire enjoyed the walk through the woods to the caves. It was quiet, something she didn't have very much of. It gave her time to think. The whole time she was pregnant with Aaron she worried about what kind of a mother she would be. But she was good at this. Hard to believe since she didn't have much of an example, but mothering seemed to come naturally to her. Men on the other hand, were not easy for her. She wasn't a flirt, like Shannon had been, and she wasn't "one of the guys" like Kate. She always got nervous around someone she was attracted to. She had cared for Charlie and he hadn't made her nervous, but she was so very pregnant, romance had been out of the question. After Aaron was born, she was too busy and exhausted to care. It was just bad timing.
Sayid didn't make her nervous either, at least not until last night. She couldn't stop thinking about the kiss. Feelings she didn't know she had for him were suddenly just there, as if they were waiting all along. She just didn't know if she wanted to take the risk of losing what they had.
When she reached the caves she gave the bag of clothes to Sun and they sat and talked while they watched Jin and Jack repair one of the fishing nets Jin had made. Kate came over and the three of them spent a good hour tormenting a shirtless Jack about the meaning of his tattoos. After two years on the island he still refused to tell Kate anything about them. Jin kept looking over to check on Sun. He glanced at the bag Claire had brought. "Clothes." Claire told him. "For the baby." She pointed to Sun's belly.
"We have baby." Jin said, smiling "Soon."
"Yes, soon." Sun agreed. She turned to Claire. "Will you come when it is time?"
Claire wasn't surprised Sun would want someone who had been thorough the
same thing. Sure." She said, smiling.
"How's Ava?" Kate asked.
"She's great." Claire beamed. "She's walking pretty well and she follows Aaron everywhere." She laughed. "When she isn't following me or Sayid."
"How is Sayid." Sun said, smiling at her.
"Fine, I guess, why?"
Kate and Sun looked at each other.
"What?" Claire asked, laughing now.
"Well," Kate began, "Shannon's been gone over a year. You live with him...how do you feel about him? Don't you think about it?"
"Think about what?" Claire looked away. She wasn't about to tell them he had kissed her or that she had liked it.
"More than just playing 'mommy' and 'daddy'." Leave it to Kate to get to the point.
"I don't know." She said honestly. "Sometimes I think ,maybe..." she blushed. "But I have such rotten luck with relationships." She laughed. "The last thing I need is someone else to take care of."
"Maybe what you need is someone to take care of you." Sun said. She looked at Jin and smiled.
Claire thought about what they said as she took her time walking back to the beach. When she got there, she found Sayid asleep with Ava on his chest. Aaron was curled up beside them, sucking his thumb. She stood for a moment watching them sleep. 'I love them,' she thought. 'All three of them'. Aaron stirred and she lay down with him, pulling the child into her arms and laying her head on Sayid's shoulder. His eyes opened and he looked at her in surprise, then tucked his arm tight around her.
Later that night, with Aaron and Ava sleeping on the other side of the tent, he kissed her again, and when he moved closer, she didn't run away "Are you sure?" He asked. She nodded. They moved together slowly. There was no rush, no frantic need for this to reach it's peak. They had all the time they needed.
They were roused from sleep before dawn by Kate's voice. "Claire," She hissed, just outside. "Claire, it's Sun, the baby's coming."
Claire answered Kate and dressed quickly. "I promised her I'd come. " She told him.
Ava whimpered then and Claire turned to get her, but Sayid got up and picked up his daughter.
"I'll take care of her. You go, Sun needs you." He kissed her , just as Kate stuck her head in to see what was taking so long.
"Oops!" She couldn't help giggling.
Claire looked at Sayid and made a face. "It's a really small island. Everyone will know about this by noon."
Sayid's face darkened. "Including Charlie. Be careful."
"You, too. I'll be back soon with baby news." She kissed him again and went to meet Kate.
Kate was leaning against a fence post smirking at Claire. "You've been holding out on me!" She said.
"Not really." Claire smiled. "There wasn't anything to tell you before now."
"Well, now there is, so tell me." Kate said as they walked quickly toward the caves.
Claire just smiled.
"You can't stop smiling, can you?" Kate said. "I know what that means."
"What? And how do you know?"
"I couldn't stop smiling either after Jack and I..." Kate looked at her. "You did it, didn't you?"
Claire blushed and kept walking.
"Oh my God. Okay. I'll drop it." She smiled. "I'm just happy for you."
When they go to the caves they found Jack washing up with a huge grin on his face. "Sun should do this professionally. It was the easiest delivery I've ever seen."
"And...?" Kate and Claire said at the same time.
"Ava is going to have some competition for prettiest girl on the island." Jack said. "Go on in and see her."
They walked quietly in to the cave. Sun was dozing, and Jin was holding the baby.
"Oh, look at her." Kate whispered. "She's beautiful."
"Yes, she is." Claire agreed.
Sun opened her eyes. "You came." She said to Claire.
"Yes, but you didn't wait for me." Claire smiled.
"She was anxious to get here." Sun laughed.
"Does she have a name yet/" Kate asked
"Not yet." Sun looked at her husband. "We are arguing." But she smiled when she said it.
"We're going to let you rest." Claire told her. "We'll come back later." She patted Jin's arm as she and Kate left the cave.
Sun and Jin named their daughter Miya. She was a sweet baby and Jin was a devoted father. Sun complained that she only got to hold her when she was nursing. Claire took Aaron and Ava to the caves often to visit Sun and the baby. Sayid sometimes came along. He helped Jin build a cradle for the baby. Charlie was still living at the caves, but he usually avoided these gatherings. He sensed a change in Claire, and realized that while she might have been telling the truth before about Sayid, now they were definitely involved. It was obvious in the way they looked at each other. He ought to know, he used to look at her the same way. No one talked about it around him, but he had picked up on a conversation between Kate and Jack that left little doubt in his mind.
"Claire is happy, don't you think?" Kate had said.
"Sayid, too." Jack replied. "It seems to be good for both of them."
"All because of Ava." Kate had smiled, then, seeing Charlie, she had changed the subject.
He had even gone to the beach one night to see for himself. It was dark when he got there and he could see two figures by the fire. But as he moved closer he saw that it was Sawyer and some chick, not Sayid or Claire. He had started toward their tent, but decided not to torture himself with what he might hear. Instead, he turned and walked back toward the caves.