As the weeks went by, people became aware of the change in Claire and Sayid's relationship. Everyone, save Charlie, had almost expected it, and was happy for them. Charlie spent more and more time on his own, half the time not even sleeping at the caves. They didn't worry too much until one afternoon when Jack showed up at the beach.
"Looks like that fence we built is holding up against those two." Jack said.
Sayid looked up from where Aaron and Ava were playing. "It keeps them out of the ocean anyway."
"Listen," Jack said, "You still have that gun I gave you?"
"Yes." Sayid pointed up. "It's right here." He untied a rope from the trunk of a nearby tree and lowered the gun, wrapped in a piece of tarp. "They are into everything. It wasn't safe to have it inside."
"You might want to keep it closer."
"We had six guns. Five from the marshal and one that Locke took from those dead smugglers. I have one, you have one, Sawyer had one on the raft, it's gone now. Locke has one. That leaves two. I got the gun case out last night. There's only one gun in there."
"Who had the key?"
"That's the thing," Jack looked sheepish. "I got careless I guess. The chain broke and I stopped wearing it. Anyone could have taken it from the cave and put it back without me knowing. But I think I have a pretty good idea who has the gun."
Sayid looked at him. "You are here, talking to me. You must think Charlie has it."
"Yeah. And no one has seen him for a few days. I'm headed out to find Locke, see if he knows anything."
"I'll go with you." Sayid said, pocketing the gun.
"Go where?" Claire asked. He hadn't seen her come outside.
"With Jack, to see if we can find Locke."
"Why are you taking the gun?" Claire asked suspicious that he was keeping something from her.
Sayid motioned to Jack to wait, and took Claire aside. "I think it would be best if you took Aaron and Ava to the caves for awhile. Pack some things and stay with Kate. Jack thinks Charlie has taken one of the guns."
"Oh, so you're just going to march off into the jungle looking for him!" Claire pushed him away. "You're the one he wants to shoot!"
"Exactly why I should go. I'm the one he has a problem with."
"Let Jack go. Have him get Sawyer. Why do you have to go?" Claire was struggling not to cry, and he put his arms around her. "Please don't do this." She said.
"I am responsible for this. I need to deal with Charlie."
"I need you to stay with us." Claire said quietly. "Doesn't that count for anything?"
Sensing this was gong nowhere, Jack interrupted. "You know, it is late to start out today. Why don't we all go back to the caves? You can help Claire get settled and we'll take off first thing in the morning."
Claire's look told Sayid he'd better agree.
"All right. Go ahead, we'll catch up."
Claire was already packing some clothes in a backpack. She settled Ava in the baby sling while Sayid packed some supplies in his own pack. Aaron watched with big eyes, wondering what was going on.
"Are you ready?" Sayid asked finally, picking Aaron up.
"Are you angry?"
"I'm upset because I want you to be safe." She took a deep breath. "You say you're responsible for this, but you're responsible to Ava, too." And to me, I hope, she thought. "If anything happens to you..." She turned away and he could tell she was crying. She was also partly right, he knew.
"If I am responsible to Ava," He said, "And to you, then I need to protect you. That means finding Charlie and getting that gun back."
"Charlie wouldn't hurt us. It's you he wants to hurt." She faced him now, Ava squirming in the sling.
He touched her face gently. She was too trusting. "What better way to hurt me than by hurting you. Any of you."
Claire hadn't thought of that. It didn't seem possible that Charlie would hurt her, or either of the children. But she hadn't thought he would do a lot of things he had done since she left the caves.
"We'd better go." She said. "We want to get there before it gets dark." Things weren't completely settled between them, but when he offered her his hand, she took it, lacing her fingers through his.