Title: Punching Trees
Original post date: 20th February 2006
Spoilers: Up to Fire + Water
Summary: Charlie is prepared to wallow in his own self pity but Claire wants to know why he would do what he did and she wont rest until she knows.
Disclaimer: give me an F! A! N! F! I! C! T! I! O! N! And we all know what that spells don't we? Yep that's right, I don't own (or even pwn) Lost and all of the characters and situations therein – I just borrow them from time to time for my own sadistic writing pleasures.
Spiky, stabby, throbby piece of bollocksy shit!
Charlie scowled to himself and tried to reposition his wrist without moving it – a difficult task at the best of times. His head wasn't helping either. Both his cranium and his arm were throbbing in tandem and both of them kept giving particularly painful spasms every so often – just to irk him or so it seemed.
The headache was no doubt due in small part to his brain telling him to just give in and go have a fix, that it would make the pain would go away. Charlie mentally pushed the craving away angrily – it was after all, the reason he'd gotten into trouble in the first place.
The wrist was a completely different matter to the headache. He knew the pain there was mostly due to his refusal of aspirin. Whilst it had felt like a stoic thing to do at first he had swiftly realised that he was being foolish – although he didn't have the stones to go and grovel to Jack now.
It was getting far too late in the afternoon for grovelling.
And then there was the heat on top of all of that – as if he hadn't been in a bad enough mood already. The heat on top of the pain in his arm, the inadequate (at least in his opinion) sling his arm was resting in and the pounding headache (which seemed to be getting worse). Charlie found himself feeling more and more miserable the more he thought about it.
Muttering to himself, he closed his eyes and leant back against an airplane cushion, which Jack had helpfully propped against a tree for him. Maybe he could try taking a nap – it was hot enough that he might just be able to doze a little which would hopefully make the headache dissipate at least a little.
Charlie wriggled his back up against the cushion, grunting a little as he tried to get comfortable and, unwittingly, moved his arm causing a long moment of gritted teeth and suppressed swearing. Surely he hadn't used his arm for stuff like this before? Why the hell was he using it so much now that it was injured?
And come to think of it, why was he bothering to not swear out loud? It wasn't like anybody was around and even if they were they couldn't really tell him off for swearing could they? It was a free island wasn't it? The thought gave him a savage sort of pleasure and he moved his arm again, just enough to feel a stab of pain shoot up his arm causing another gritting of teeth, another grimace and a string of creative verbal cusses.
'…Fucking bloody arm!' He concluded and then sighed, feeling slightly better.
And then he heard someone walking towards him, their footsteps crunching swiftly through the sand.
He deliberately sat still and let his head loll a little to the side. Hopefully whoever it was would think he was asleep and sod off to leave him to nap – or wallow in self-pity. Whichever took his fancy really. The visitor stopped next to his feet and he had a feeling that they were standing with their hands on their hips staring at him.
Just pretend you're asleep Charlie, they might just bugger off and leave you alone…please just go away – I don't want to see anybody now. No more people today for Charlie thanks very much…
'I know you're awake,' a female voice said, the slightest shard of iciness detracting from her normal, warm drawl. He knew who it was after the first ringing syllable and sighed to himself. And of course she would know whether or not he was awake wouldn't she?
'I wasn't pretending to sleep,' he lied and blinked his eyes open to look up at her, they began to water immediately with the glare behind her, the glare that was silhouetting her so she looked more angelic than ever….
Well at first glance anyways. He focused a little harder on her and tried not to feel pleased at the fact that he'd been right – she did have her hands on her hips. And she was also staring at him with an imperious look on her face. It didn't suit her at all he thought – it was more a Shannon-esque type expression.
Wait…Shannon was dead.
'Yes you were,' Claire scoffed and before Charlie could answer she jumped feet first into the deep end. 'So how did you do it then?'
Claire opened her mouth as thought she was about to start yelling but then she took a breath, composed herself, and tried again. 'You know what.'
Charlie turned his head away. He didn't really want to talk about it. Especially not to Claire.
'Your wrist Charlie, how did you hurt it?'
'I suppose Jack asked you to come and give me a lecture did he?' Charlie said sullenly.
'He asked me if I would come and talk to you,' Claire corrected him. 'Being as you don't seem to listen to anybody else – not that you've always listened to me for that matter…'
Charlie's eyebrows shot up. 'I always listened to you! I never once asked you to listen to any of my problems…'
'That's because you always changed the subject whenever we started talking about you and your bloody problems,' Claire interrupted coldly. 'In fact, you just did it again a few second ago. Now I'm going to ask you again: how did you hurt your wrist?'
Charlie fumed silently for a second as he considered lying to her but he'd done too much of that already. He might as well get a cheap thrill in seeing her incredulity when he told her. His left hand curled protectively around his injured wrist and he made sure he wasn't looking at her when he replied in barely more than a mutter.
'I punched a tree.'
'You did what?' Claire's eyes widened and…there it was! The incredulous look! Charlie tried not to grin – he knew her too well sometimes.
'I punched a sodding tree.'
Claire stared at him for a moment, mouth open slightly. 'Why would you punch a tree?'
'Because I was angry?'
Claire took a sudden step forward, sat down next to him and leant forward.
'What the hell made you angry enough to make you want to punch a tree?'
Charlie didn't answer at first. The intensity of her stare was making him a little nervous – like she actually cared what his answer was.
Claire processed this for a moment and then nodded.
'Okay. Why did you make yourself angry – or rather, how did you make yourself angry?'
'What are you? A shrink?' Charlie scoffed. 'I don't need this right now Claire, okay? I've got the worst bloody headache in existence and my arm is hurting like a bitch…'
Claire rolled her eyes. 'Yeah, Jack told me you wouldn't take any aspirin,'
'Is there anything he didn't tell you?' Charlie said nastily.
'He didn't tell me that you had a headache,'
Charlie pinched the bridge of his nose. This really wasn't doing anything to help – he had a feeling this headache as going to become a full-blown migraine before this conversation was over.
'That would be because I didn't tell him that I had a headache.'
'Because the only reason I have the sodding headache in the first place is because my sodding brain is trying to tell me that breaking out the sodding heroin is the only way to stop the pain in my arm!' Charlie snapped.
Claire was still for a long moment.
'How many times did you just use the word "sodding" in the sentence Charlie?'
'Would you rather I'd have said "fucking" instead?' he said sourly, glaring at her.
Claire didn't say anything and Charlie felt his anger dim slightly. He knew what was happening – talking about the drugs, reminding himself that his body was starting to crave them again…
'Oh Jesus,' Charlie moaned and leant his head back until it hit the tree trunk and then he closed his eyes. 'Good job. Now you've got me thinking about the sodding stuff I'm probably going to start all over again with the withdrawal symptons. You watch, my hands are probably going to start shaking in a minute…'
'What do you mean withdrawal symptons?' Claire sounded accusing. 'I thought you said that you weren't using? Or were you lying to me again?'
'I'm not using,' Charlie glowered at her. 'I haven't used in over a month now.'
'So how can you be going through withdrawal right now then?'
'Because, for your information, withdrawal is a long and slow and very painful process and it's taking every single ounce of willpower I have at the moment to not just find and rip open one of those little packets of powder and snort the whole bag in one sitting – which would probably resulting in me going into a happy little drug-induced coma.'
'Don't,' Charlie said warningly. 'You have no idea – no idea what its like to be addicted to something as potent as heroin and then have to go cold turkey with absolutely nothing to relieve the constant cravings, nothing to stop the shakes and the sweating and the uncontrollable vomiting and then, just when you think you've got it under control you look down and realise that your hands have started shaking again.
'And do you know how I got through all of that? Do you know how I got through the past month without turning into a twitching wreck?
'I had you, Claire. And Aaron for a while. And as selfish and pigheaded as it might sound, you gave me something to hold onto. When you went missing – that was the worst I've ever felt. If I'd known about the drugs then I would have turned to them without a seconds hesitation if I thought it'd stop everything from hurting...'
He stopped speaking abruptly and turned his head away from Claire who was staring at him quite silently, her mouth open very slightly.
'I think that's the most I've ever heard you talk about your addiction,' she said, very quietly.
Charlie snorted. 'That's probably because I don't like talking about it.'
'I guess…' Claire hesitated. 'I guess that's understandable.'
Charlie didn't answer. He hadn't meant to say as much as he had – he had a bad habit of blurting things out he shouldn't really say when he got really fired up.
'But you still didn't tell me why you were angry at yourself before,'
'My God. You're unbelievable. You know that don't you? You just never give up.'
'No,' Claire said smugly. 'I don't. Now are you going to tell me or am I going to have to wheedle you some more?'
'Bloody stubborn woman…'
'Yes, I am. Are you going to tell me yet?'
Charlie rolled his eyes, conceding defeat.
'I was angry at myself for lying to you, for screwing everything up so badly, for not telling you about the drugs, for not taking better care of you, for taking Aaron from you, for thinking that my opinion actually meant anything to you…'
'It matters,' Claire said suddenly and Charlie froze mid sentence. Claire flushed slightly and began to stammer.
'I just, you know when you, you know, when you kept saying that Aaron needed to be, needed to be, you know, baptised and all? Well, well I went and talked to Eko and I…well I got it done. Aaron and I. He baptised us, Eko did. Both of us.'
Charlie gaped at her.
Claire nodded timidly. 'I know that you wouldn't have what you did for no reason.'
Charlie leant his head back against the tree and closed his eyes in relief.
She'd had him baptised after all. Thank the Lord.
Opening his eyes, he reached out his uninjured hand and touched hers. 'Thank you,' he murmured. 'It means a lot to me that you think that.'
'It doesn't mean I'm not still furious with you,' Claire added and Charlie laughed to himself. Well fair enough I suppose, he thought. 'What you did…the way that you did it…'
'I could have probably gotten the message through in a better way,' Charlie finished her sentence. 'Yeah I know. But it's done now. I'm surprised you're talking to me at all really.'
Claire allowed herself a small, wan smile. 'Me too actually.'
There was a silence punctuated only by the sound of the waves breaking on the shore and then Claire stood.
'I'd better be getting back.'
'Don't go punching any more trees okay?'
This earned Claire a half-suppressed snort of mirth from Charlie and she smiled again, if weakly, before she walked away.
Charlie waited until she'd one then readjusted himself against his cushion until he felt truly comfortable and then his eyes sought out the afternoon sun, bleeding its light into the clouds.
It wasn't until several minutes had elapsed that he realised that his headache was gone.