A/N: Okay, here it is, finally! The sequel to Better. If you haven't read Better yet, I suggest you do. It's not essential, but it will help. I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with the way this one came out... but, I'm okay with it.
So without further ado...
Night descended upon the tired forms of two young lovers, bringing with it a cool breath of air. To any person these two might seem like a normal couple, a simple love. But this was no everyday bond. This was no storybook romance. This was the complex tale of two lost souls, both with hidden scars that ran deeper than the world would ever know.
But they knew.
They saw in each other what no one else could see. They saw the little traces of goodness and purity beneath the lies and scars. They found sanctuary and promise within each other. They found redemption in each other. They found in each other hope that they had once lost.
Charlie pondered this silently as Claire slept soundly beside him. It had been two days since they had shared their first kiss, and since things had changed around their little home. They shared a blanket in the sand by Aaron's crib, tentatively close but just short of touching. As much as that had grown closer, they were still so cautious, so careful. It would take a while.
Charlie thought back over the last couple of days. They had walked, they had talked, they had kissed. They were rarely apart, and they walked the beaches hand in hand. He couldn't help but notice that people smiled more when they were around. He guessed that it was the first real love anyone on the island had seen in weeks. Sure, Shannon and Sayid had their thing. But no one really believed that was love, probably not even Shannon and Sayid. And after Boone died, everyone knew that Shannon would never truly love again.
Charlie rolled onto his back, his weary eyes staring into the clear night sky without really seeing it. He had never felt so… whole, so complete in his life as he did with Claire. And yet, he longed to be closer.
Abruptly, thrillingly, something bright tore across the sky, awakening his senses. Another flash, another streak. He sat up slowly, continuing to look up at the sky. It was brilliant, beautiful. Something that deserved sharing.
Charlie turned to Claire. Seeing her sweet face peaceful in sleep made him a bit reluctant to wake her. But then another star shot across the sky, and he couldn't help but imagine how happy it would make her.
"Claire…" Charlie said warmly, stroking her cheek gently. "Claire, love, wake up."
Her eyes open slowly, and she frowned in confusion. As his face came into view, her lips slipped back to a smile.
"Charlie. I… wait, what is it?" Claire asked, sitting up quickly, her tone becoming urgent and her eyes growing wide. All tiredness drained from her instantly. "Is it Aaron? Is he all right?"
"Aaron's fine," Charlie soothed her calmly. Her tensed body relaxed. "Come see. I want to show you something."
Taking her hand, he helped her to her feet. She gave him a curious smirk and walked with him outside. As soon as they had exited the small shelter, he turned to face her. It suddenly occurred to both of them just how miniscule the distance between them was. Mere inches separated them. Gradually, Charlie's fingertips grazed Claire's chin and lingered there. There was a long, breathless moment where they both awaited what was soon to follow. Then, ever so gently, Charlie nudged her chin, directing her face upward.
"Make a wish."
The next moment, a series of shooting stars darted through the sky. He heard a gasp escape Claire's lips as she watched in awe. She looked back into his eyes.
"Charlie, I… don't know what to say… it's… fantastic... you-"
Charlie silenced her with the smallest, lightest kiss, perhaps even a mere grazing of lips. But it was more than enough to catch her attention. He took her hand in his once more and pulled her tenderly down to the sand with him. They sat side by side, with an inch or so between them that betrayed their inner shyness. They held each other's gazes for a moment before they looked back up as one.
"It's beautiful," Claire said breathlessly.
"You still haven't made a wish," Charlie prodded softly. She smiled at the sky.
"I wish… oh, I don't know, I've never been good at this sort of thing."
She looked at him once more, and he reassured her with a smile.
"Oh, go on. What do you want? What do you crave?"
There was a brief and slightly awkward pause as they both considered the possible implications of what he had just said. They both laughed softly, attempting to shrug off the images that had just entered their minds.
"I… er… I wish I could have some more peanut butter," she said, feeling exceptionally foolish.
"You know, that can be arranged," Charlie said with a grin.
"Now you," she suggested.
"Ahh…" he sighed, thinking. He put his hands behind his head and reclined onto his back in the sand. Claire watched him silently for a moment and then did the same. Charlie looked over at her before closing his eyes happily. "I wish the island had indoor plumbing."
"Ooh, good one," Claire said appreciatively with a small laugh. "I wish I had some proper nappies for Aaron."
"What's wrong with the ones you have now?" Charlie asked, opening his eyes.
"Charlie, they're full of shit," she said bluntly.
"Your turn," she reminded him.
And so they went on, back and forth, wishing until they were out of wishes, out of stars. When they were done, they simply lay there in silence. It was a content sort of silence, but they both secretly wished they could think of something to say. As Charlie lay there, a song entered his head.
"Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket… save it for a rainy day…" he sang softly, without much thought to the song itself. Claire's eyes widened slowly as she watched the verse falling from his lips. "Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket… never let i-"
Charlie stopped singing abruptly for a very simple reason. Someone was kissing him. He opened his eyes and found Claire, one of her hands planted in the sand on either side of his head, and her lips on his. More out of shock than anything else, he broke the kiss.
"W… what... what was that for?" he stammered.
"Because, Charlie," she punctuated her statement with another small kiss, "you are perfect."
"Not quite," he remarked with a slight grin. "In fact, far from it."
"I know. And that's exactly why."
And she captured his lips once more, feeling happier than she had ever felt in her life. Apparently Charlie was enjoying this as well, for he sat up slowly, sustaining the kiss and wrapping his arms around her. They shifted slightly together, so that Claire was sitting in his lap, cradled in his arms. She could have sworn she saw sparks flying behind her eyelids as she thought to herself that as long as she could have his arms around her, as long as she could have his lips on hers, as long as she could have his love, that nothing and no one could ever hurt her.
The kiss was deep. It was strong. It was hot. Yes, there were tongues. Yes, it was steamy. But nothing was in a smutty way, all was gentle and innocent.
Her hands moved to his hair, satisfying her undeniable urge to feel his hair through her fingers as she ran her fingertips down his head to his neck, down his neck to that spot between his shoulder blades, down his back to his waist.
There are some things, some little feelings, some small sensations that no matter how insignificant they seem to the body, the soul cannot ignore, cannot forget. Such was the tiny flick of fingertips, the slight graze of Claire's fingers on the small sensitive patch of bare, exposed skin between the hem of Charlie's shirt and the waistband of his jeans.
Thoughts began flying through his mind, and his insides felt like they were on fire. As far as he could tell it was accidental, for her hands continued up his stomach, up his chest, and halted at his shoulders. But it had happened. And he couldn't seem to shake it.
Abandoning his logical judgment, he moved his lips away from hers. She made a small sound of protest, but stopped immediately as he moved his lips across her jaw, planting small kisses here and there. They brushed her earlobe, making her shiver involuntarily. He continued the trail of kisses down the side of her neck, then over to the middle of it, and then into the sensitive dip in her collarbone. She giggled lazily and murmured something about being ticklish before meeting his lips once again.
The next moment, a noise erupted from the small shelter behind them. The wailing cry of an unhappy baby. This time Claire broke the kiss, concern quickly clouding her sleepy gaze. She opened her mouth to say something, but he pressed a finger against her lips to silence her.
"Don't, love," he said quietly. "I'll take care of him."
Claire smiled gratefully and nodded, relaxing into the sand and closing her eyes against the bluish glow of the moonlight. Charlie made his way over to the crib and scooped Aaron up.
"'Ello there, little fellah," he said brightly over Aaron's cries, which subsided only slightly. "All right, all right!" Charlie said, with a bit of a laugh as he bobbed up and down, trying to sooth the child he now regarded as his own beloved son. He ran through a mental checklist, trying to diagnose the source of his crying. Food? No, Claire had nursed him less than two hours ago. Diaper? He held Aaron up and took a somewhat reluctant whiff of the baby's backside. No, not that.
"Oh, I know that this is about," Charlie said slyly. "Don't want to share your mum, do you?" He adjusted Aaron in his arms and lowered his voice a bit. "Well, I want you to know that I love your mother very much, and she loves me. But I also want you to know that we both love you more than anything. I don't know what's in store for us... But I know two things: I will always love her, and I will always love you. I'm always going to make sure you come first. Are we clear?" Charlie finished with a mock stern voice. Knowing that Aaron hadn't understood a word he had just said, it didn't surprise him when Aaron continued to wail desperately. He danced around, singing, talking, laughing, and finally after a solid half hour of attempting to calm Aaron, silence finally descended upon them as he laid a sleeping Aaron back down into his crib.
Strolling back over to where he had left Claire, he found her sleeping soundly in the sand. A grin fixed itself on his face as he lay down next to her. He closed his eyes, replaying the night's events in his head. Suddenly, he felt someone upon him.
He opened his eyes and saw that Claire had rolled over onto him and was resting her head on his chest. He smiled yet again and slipped his arm around her, holding her more closely to him.
That was the difference that one touch had made. That was the little change cause by the brush of Claire's fingers on his skin. It had dissolved the physical barrier between them. In the place of the barrier was an immense feeling of comfort. No longer afraid of touching, of kissing, of loving too much, they held tightly into the night, knowing that they shared something that few people would ever really know:
True, undying, unfailing, unwavering love.
And it was the best thing they could hope for.
A/N: If anyone's interested, my next fic will be called "I Feel Fine." Then I'm working on one called "Perspective." After that shall be "Sweet Child of Mine." I'm not sure what else I'm going to write, but I'm working on it! (just to clarify, these are all C/C fics)