Title: Six

Author: Girl Who Writes

Rating: K+

Characters: Sawyer, Claire and Aaron

Notes: Written for lostfichallenge at livejournal, but missed the deadline. The challenge was to include the phrase "I hate you!". Please review, no one seems to like my stories anymore.

"I hate you!" the six-year-old screamed, his face red and white in anger as he pulled away from her grasp, tearing up the beach as fast as his little legs could carry him.

His mother seemed to crumple in on herself, turning herself back to the little shelter she and the little boy had occupied since the last storm; monsoon season caused virtually all the remaining beach dwellers to seek shelter in the caves, and return to the beach when the weather cleared up.

He doesn't leave his shelter for nothin'; he'd rather be soaked to the skin than lose his tarp and his things to the island. He sits there in the rain that's so heavy it looks like a wall around him. He presses the bunny book under his shirt; the tarp weighed down with rocks and rusted pieces of metal, streaming with cold rain water from head to toe while he waits it out.

And when the rain lets up for a bit, he tries to dry things out, the pages of the book swollen with water as he spreads it out in the sand. He goes to her shelter then, and tries to salvage whatever is left; another tarp, some rope – anything for next time.

She never stays behind, she bundles Aaron up in layers of clothes (the boy wears Shannon and Boone's clothes; Shannon's tiny shirts sewn up the middle to create pants, all in ice cream colours no little boy would choose; Boone's t shirts like giant dresses on him, swinging long, with political, new age slogans slapped across them) and hurries him up to the caves. Later, Claire, or maybe Sayid or Michael, will return for the blankets and their two bags.

The ground is still wet, but the sun is shining through weakly. Locke hovers at the edge of camp, watching as Claire knots her hair back in a ponytail and begins hanging clothes on the rope she's strung between two trees. Locke's own shelter is close to Claire's, and he lights a campfire for them all at night, and tells Aaron stories, as Aaron falls asleep in his mother's lap. Sayid's shelter is near Claire's as well, but further away than Locke's. And he knows that Claire takes care of Locke and Sayid – there are always full water bottles, there's always clean washing swinging on the rope for more than the slim woman and the blonde haired little boy.

Sawyer gets to his feet when Aaron tumbles towards his shelter, his little face streaked with tears and snot, his shirt (pink cotton, with black skirt-shorts) smeared with mud. He's every kind of dirty, as Sawyer's own momma used to say. He understands now – Claire had tried to coherence Aaron into a bath…

Aaron kicks the sand, his face still bright red and angry. And somewhere inside his head, Sawyer can see himself, somewhere.

"Roo," Sawyer nods at the boy and Aaron frowns at Sawyer, a scowl that he's never seen flutter across Claire's face. "Why are you cryin'?"

Aaron shakes his head angrily and kicks the sand again.

"You shouldn't yell at your momma like that," he continues, without moving from his airplane seat, which is clammy and wet from the last storm. Maybe he could ask Claire to wash his jeans too…

"She started it," Aaron mumbles and comes closer to him.

"Doesn't matter," Sawyer pats the ground beside him. "Your momma is always right."

And Aaron's face crumples like his mother's, an expression of heartbreak and betrayal. "My Daddy was always right," he says viciously, and Sawyer once again sees himself in the angry child. Charlie had been dead since the previous summer. Charlie, who stumbled down to the beach in the dead of night and screamed for Claire to take him back, and that he'd be a good daddy to Aaron. He remembers Claire's scared, white face, Aaron clinging to his mother, his face buried against her hip, his fingers twisted through the belt loops of Claire's shorts. And she stood strong, telling him to leave her and Aaron alone, to go back to the caves.

And he threw a Virgin Mary statue at the tree, a fragment catching her above the eye. And Aaron let out a strangled noise as Charlie pulled a gun from his pants and waved it around. And Sayid and Locke, who had been hovering close by, moved towards to him, with the intent to stop Charlie murdering the mother and her son.

Charlie croaked at Aaron that he loved him, dramatic to the end, the VH1 reject. And there was a bullet to the head and Claire screamed, swinging Aaron into her arms and trembling. And the boy reaching out for the rock star, slumped in the sand.

Sawyer ruffles Aaron's hair. "Your Momma's always right, Roo," he replies, looking out to sea. "Not Charlie." After all, he muses, Claire didn't blow her brains out in a drug induced stupor.

"Daddy made Momma cry," Aaron says, in his strange half-Australian accent; too many Americans on the island have diluted his accent to something that, to Sawyer, is almost charming. "She'd cry and pat my hair and promise me we'd go swimming." His eyes are blue, confused and sad.

"Come on, Roo," Sawyer gets to his feet, six years old than when he first got to the island. "Let's go and find your Momma. Maybe we can go swimmin' now."

He climbs up the beach, where Claire is sitting white faced under the trees, folding clothes slowly – there are four piles, and Sawyer recognises Sayid's dirt-coloured wife beaters in one of them.

"Mamacita," he says with a grin, Aaron's arms around his neck. "Roo here wants to go swimmin'. Thought we come and see if you wanted to join us."

She smiles, her eyes lightening, and tells them to have fun, and slips Sawyer a clean t shirt for Aaron. The inlet is small, and cooler than the beach, and Aaron splashes around with joy. A day's worth of dirt and grime washes off and Sawyer takes him back to his momma, clean and tired, as the sun goes to sleep in the water, as Aaron sleepily informs him. The sun is just a big jelly fish according to the little boy who doesn't know the meaning of the word "television".

She takes Aaron in her arms and smiles her thanks, and tucks Aaron into his little nest of blankets, his head lolling on his pillow, his arms cuddling a worn teddy bear, and his breathing evening out.

He goes back to his little home and looks back at the woman in front of the fire, wearing a dead girl's clothes and her face white with fear and grief. Her little boy sleeps, betraying his loving momma for a man who tried to hurt them both. He sees Charlie in Claire's pale face, in the red and purple marks around her eyes, in the anger and tears shed by the little boy.

He goes up to the grave site – Boone, Shannon, Charlie Pace. He kicks the dirt on Charlie's grave and curses him under his breath. "I hate you," he drawls, stalking back to the beach, where he'll take Claire a plastic comb and a tiny plastic figurine for Aaron. Because if he could spit on Mr Sawyer's grave, James Ford would.