Title: No Aphrodisiac
Spoilers: Set about a month after 2x12, Fire + Water (written before the rest of season two airs though)
Summary: Claire begins to have some very "interesting" dreams and before long she finds herself sleepwalking again, her body drawn inextricably to one person...
Disclaimer: Lost isn't mine, this fanfiction however is. And the Whitlams, a fantastic band who write awesome music...well sadly I don't own them either. Their lyrics are cited throughout.
A/N: Written for Michelina's "First Kiss" challenge under the theme of "Dreams"
There's no aphrodisiac like loneliness
Truth beauty and a picture of you
The Whitlams – No Aphrodisiac
The ocean was almost completely still as she stood there. Unmoving. Her arms were crossed, hands loosely clasped about her elbows. The dawn sky was gentle today – a soft, misty grey hovering over the blue slate of ocean before her.
A hand touched her bare shoulder, the barest brush of fingertips. She made no effort to resist – she knew who it was – as his fingertips traced up her neck to push her hair away. His other hand slowly circled her waist and he pressed his face against her neck. Smiling slightly, she put a hand back to touch his face, the pleasurable scratch of stubble greeting her fingertips.
Fingers twining together, his lips sought out the pale column of her neck and her eyes flickered shut as his lips moved down her neck and then teased along the top of her scapula.
She opened her eyes and for one sweet moment she could still see the ocean before her, could still feel the warmth of someone holding her from behind, could still hear his voice murmuring in her ear…
And then she felt the warmth evaporate, the soft grey sky melted away. Only the crashing of the waves remained, and the sound of a fussing baby.
She blinked as her other senses began to return and John came into focus. She felt her cheeks flush as she sat up rapidly, trying to listen to his words but finding it nearly impossible in her half-lucid state. 'Sorry to wake you up,' John was saying apologetically. 'But Aaron's hungry.'
Claire took her son automatically and began to nurse him without much thought. She was still immersed in the dream she'd been having and was feeling quite embarrassed about the contents of it. She hoped to hell that she hadn't been talking in her sleep or anything like that when John had appeared. But he hadn't looked at her any differently than usual when he had handed Aaron over, not even a flicker to show that he'd noticed anything different.
It had been a long time since she'd had a dream of that ilk. But then it wasn't like she'd ever sleepwalked or sleep-talked before – at least not as far as she could recall…no, she was just being silly. John didn't suspect – why would he suspect a thing?
I was dreaming of you this morning
Dreaming all last night
Your greedy new manoeuvres
They woke me up in fright…
The Whitlams – Ease Of The Midnight Visit
She smiled to herself as he murmured roughly in her ear, tightening his hold around her waist oh-so-slightly and then his lips moved back to her neck. Her head fell to the side, allowing him to splay his free hand over her collarbone and kiss her neck with a renewed vigour, his hand trailing gently across her skin...
And then, quite suddenly, he wasn't there. Claire turned in a frantic circle and saw him hurrying away from her.
'Where are you going?'
He merely laughed over his shoulder in answer as Claire chased him into the trees.
'You've got to catch me first!' he called teasingly.
Claire put on an extra burst of speed and somehow her hand reached forward further than it should have been able to and grasped the back of his shirt, pulling him towards her. He overbalanced and staggered into her and the two of them crashed to the ground…
Claire opened her eyes and spat out a mouthful of sand.
Behind her, Aaron woke up and began to yowl.
'Claire?' Claire looked up quickly and was thoroughly surprised to see Rose staring at her, a bundle of washing under her arm. 'What happened to you? Did you fall?' she hurried forward to help Claire to her feet and then began brushing the sand off her in a fussy, motherly sort of way.
'I didn't fall,' Claire scraped some of the sand off her tongue with her fingernails. 'I don't know what happened. I was just sleeping and then…'
'You must have been sleepwalking,' Rose brushed a smudge of wet sand from her cheek and looked her up and down. 'There. That's most of it I think. Have you ever sleepwalked before?'
Claire shook her head, frowning.
'Well never mind,' Rose smiled reassuringly. 'You didn't go too far.' She glanced over at Aaron. 'It's just as well – looks like somebody wants some attention.'
Claire was at her son's side in a moment, sweeping him up into her arms and shushing him before turning back to Rose. 'Thanks Rose.'
'You're most welcome,' Rose smiled at Claire and Aaron until her eyes crinkled up at the corners and then turned to go.
After she'd left and Aaron had calmed down, Claire sat herself down and bit her fingernails as she thought about her dream.
The dream had never been the same twice; one night they'd be kissing on the dawn beach, the next they'd be meeting at midnight in a starlit clearing in the jungle, then she was up in the caves with him and they'd be hiding in the furthest, darkest corner they could find and…
There wasn't anybody she could talk to about this. Who here would understand the situation she'd found herself in now? Even John…Claire laughed bitterly to herself, imagining the conversation.
She glanced down at her fingernails, chewed and ravaged by a nervous habit she'd quit years ago and, ashamed, she consciously hid them from sight.
Well she had to tell somebody. She couldn't just sit and stew on this or it'd never go away. She pondered this thought for a moment and then a moment later she practically lunged at her bag, snatched out her diary and began to scribble furiously.
You sleep on and on
And when you wake my head is resting on your shoulder
I'm breathing you in
I'm breathing you in
The Whitlams – Breathing You In
Claire awoke slowly, the birds had just set up their morning chorus and as she wondered vaguely what the time was she suddenly became very aware of just what it was that had woken her. She looked down. His head was resting on her shoulder and further down her body she could see his fingertips drawing lazy circles on the soft skin of her belly where her rucked up singlet had exposed it.
When she moved her face down to rub against his, he opened his eyes in surprise and gave a small moan of protest. Claire smiled indulgently as he snuggled closer into her side.
'Don't get up,' he murmured, nuzzling her back down and closing his eyes again. 'It's so nice…so nice…'
'Mmmn.' She agreed and shut her eyes, pressing her lips to his hair as she did so.
He tasted like salt she thought. And like sunlight, and the fresh, soft rain which had fallen during the night. Claire smiled as she took a deep breath in and began to hum a song she'd heard a long time ago but forgotten the words to…
The hand on her stomach curled around to stroke her side.
Claire froze and cracked her eyes open the tiniest amount – terrified of what she might see, hoping that her eyes might lie. Her insides leapt up into her throat when she realised where she was and in an instant she was on her feet and running, gasping for breath.
When she reached her own shelter, she sat down heavily in the sand next to Aaron's crib and placed her trembling hands over her face.
She'd come so close to being caught… she shuddered at the mere thought of the consequences it could have entailed. A fingernail slid between her teeth again and she began to gnaw on it only to snatch her son up into her arms a moment later and begin rocking him. Anything to keep her mind off what she had almost done…
Meanwhile, the man she had left behind woke, his first action being to open his eyes and frown. He'd been having a good dream – for once – and then quite suddenly it had simply evaporated, leaving him with nothing but an imprint of gentle warmth against his side.
Sighing, he rolled over, closed his eyes and decided to try for a few more minutes of sleep.
That's the ease of the midnight visit
The ease of the midnight visit
Take a leap of faith, that you might be alone…
The Whitlams – Ease Of The Midnight Visit
Claire watched the ocean silently, Aaron asleep against her shoulder. The first rays of sunlight had just broken through the previous days rain clouds and she was taking full advantage of it, hoping the sun would somehow dissolve the fatigue that seemed to have nestled into her bones.
She was exhausted. And she looked exhausted. Kate had walked past a little earlier and had greeted her cheerfully but when Claire had looked up to say hello back Kate's face had twisted into an expression of utter shock at the dark purple smudges underneath Claire's eyes.
'My God Claire – you look exhausted! Why don't you go back to sleep?'
But she couldn't sleep – every time she did she was terrified that she'd be off down the beach again, cuddling up behind him again. That particular incident had only been a week ago and since then she'd been depriving herself of sleep, trying to make sure that when she did sleep, she was completely exhausted and therefore wouldn't dream. The plan had worked; the dreams had faded a little (for now) but she had found herself obsessing over them in her waking hours instead and scribbling page after page in her diary only to re-read and re-analyse her words for some kind of meaning she wasn't sure of.
She spent the day wandering from one end of the beach to the other; Aaron resting contentedly in the Bjorn that Charlie had made for him. By mid afternoon however, she was sick of walking and her feet and legs were aching terribly from pushing through the sand. She returned to her earlier spot by the sea but the daylight had faded from the rock where she had sat and Aaron felt so much heavier now. Even the ocean sounded angry this afternoon – every wave crashing against the rocks made her oncoming headache worse and worse.
At close to four o'clock in the afternoon she finally gave up and went to beg Jack for aspirin. He gave it to her grudgingly, telling her that she looked as though she needed sleep, not aspirin.
'Have you been having trouble sleeping lately?' he scrutinised her with his dark eyes and Claire felt her tongue knot with lies.
'Well…maybe a little. It's getting better though.' She smiled weakly.
Jack didn't smile back. 'Make sure you get some sleep tonight Claire. I don't want to be doling out meds to people just because they're not getting enough sleep.'
The brusqueness in Jack's voice stung a little. Claire blinked away her tears and crept back to her shelter, tail between her legs. John was there fixing something-or-other and she sat and watched him working for a long time, dazedly.
'You feeling okay?' he asked her after a while, concerned. 'You look a bit out of it today…'
'Just tired,' she sighed.
John immediately offered to take Aaron while she slept and without really waiting for an answer, he took the infant from her arms and began to walk him down the beach.
Claire waited until he was out of sight until she let herself cry. She was happy dammit! She had Aaron didn't she? And she had John to help her whenever she needed him, so why did she keep dreaming about him of all people?
Her feet began walking without her permission and by the time she'd realised where they'd taken her, she figured she might as well make the most of it. He was playing his guitar – as always. A sad song she'd never heard before.
He glanced up immediately. He wasn't smiling but he didn't seem angry or upset either.
'Hullo,' he said guardedly then looked down as though planning to ignore her. To her surprise, he continued talking. 'You look bloody awful today – if you don't mind me saying so.'
Claire tried to muster the energy to laugh and failed.
'Gee, thanks Charlie,'
Charlie shrugged and began to tune his guitar almost compulsively, glancing up at her every so often as she squatted down in front of him.
'And what can I do for you this fine afternoon ma'am?'
'I have to ask you something,' Claire surprised herself with the hollow ring to her words. It certainly got a reaction out of Charlie. He stopped tuning his guitar altogether and even looked her in the eyes.
Her tongue was working its way into knots again and she stuttered several times before she could get the question out.
'Did we ever-I mean…you know–did we ever…did we ever overstep-go past…friendship? Before Ethan…' Claire faltered at the look on Charlie's face. '…Took us?'
Charlie shook his head slowly, incredulity etched in every line of his face. 'No. We never did anything.' He frowned suddenly. 'Why would you even ask me that?'
'It's just I've been having these dreams…' Claire blurted and then realised that she shouldn't have probably said anything.
Charlie's face split into the first real grin she'd seen on him in a while. 'Oh these dreams eh? Dreams about what?'
Claire flushed angrily. 'I didn't come over her so you could poke fun at me Charlie.'
'True,' Charlie agreed, sobering slightly but his eyes were still sparkling. 'You came over here because you wanted to know if there was any truth in the naughty dreams you've been having.'
'They're not that bad!' Claire cried, frustrated.
'Well how bad are they then?' Charlie said quickly.
'They're…' Claire stopped herself and glared at Charlie. 'I'm not going to answer that Charlie.'
Charlie shrugged and continued to tune his guitar, grinning, his ears distinctly pink.
Claire sighed heavily and looked away from him as she continued. 'I started sleepwalking.' Charlie's hands stilled and Claire continued, knowing that she had his attention again. 'It's been getting worse over a week or two now. Last week I actually walked all the way down the beach from my shelter...'
Charlie's head snapped up – his mouth open in an 'O' of disbelief. 'That was you wasn't it? I wasn't dreaming! You came and…'
Claire nodded and Charlie stared at her.
'Je-sus…I wondered who – I didn't get a chance to see who it was but you felt so…familiar…I wondered if…'
Claire rubbed her brow, frowning. 'I'm sorry for doing that Charlie.'
'Who said I was complaining?' Charlie's eyebrows shot up underneath his fringe. 'I'm just chuffed that you're over here and actually talking to me for once!'
The corners of Claire's mouth twitched into a half-smile. She could see his eyes sparkling with mirth, his lips parted in a small, laughing smile. Her pulse rate was beginning to crescendo – being this close to him after all the dreams she'd been having lately...
'So the fact that I've been dreaming about you in a – you know – sexual kind of way doesn't interest you in the slightest?'
'Well I can't say it doesn't intrigue me a little,' Charlie admitted, tilting his head sideways to look at her, grinning. He hadn't seemed to pick up on her slight change in mood, or if he had he was doing a good job of playing along. 'But it's not like I'm really expecting you to just start snogging me or anything.'
'What if I did?'
Charlie actually laughed. 'Oh come on, you're not just going to snog-'
Claire took his face in her hands hurriedly before she changed her mind.
It was Charlie who finally broke the kiss, looking rather dumbfounded, but then he took Claire's hands off his face and frowned. 'Claire…' he shook his head. 'I-I...'
'Can't what?' Claire said breathlessly.
Charlie shook his head again and then caught her gaze, tentatively. He was still holding her hands in his as he continued. 'I never thought I'd actually protest to something like this but…you don't really know what you're doing, do you?'
Claire didn't answer and Charlie smiled thinly. 'Claire. Love…you're beautiful and I love you to pieces and I would really love nothing more than…than to have all of that with you. But you haven't spoken more than three words to me in nearly a month and then you just suddenly decide you want to come up and start kissing me? It doesn't work like that.'
'Who says it doesn't work like that?' Claire demanded.
'Well me for one!' Charlie said, his anger flaring up. He threw her hands away and refused to meet her gaze, angrily brushing sand off his jeans. 'I don't see how I should just let you do this to me after you refused to have anything to do with me for so long – for all I know this could just be some twisted way of getting back at me for lying to you!'
Claire gaped at him. 'You think I'm trying to…? Why would you even think that I could be capable of something like that?'
'People do some crazy things when they get upset,' Charlie's tone darkened. 'I'm living proof of that – I killed a man for Chrissakes!'
'I'm not trying to get back at you!' Claire insisted. 'I just…I don't know, I figured that these dreams had to mean something and…'
'You don't think that maybe they just mean that your libido is going nuts because you haven't had sex for nearly a year?' Charlie interrupted. 'Because hell, I've had dreams like…like that since we crashed here – I just didn't run off and try to jump the subject of my dreams when I woke up!'
Claire drew back from him a little – his words and the implication behind them stinging her more than the furious scowl on his face.
'Who did you dream about?'
Charlie's expression softened and he looked away. 'It doesn't matter...'
'Who did you dream about?' she repeated quickly. The way he'd said it had already told her, but she wanted to hear him say it, to make it tangible and real in her mind…
Charlie sighed but when it became apparent that Claire wasn't going to drop it, he turned his eyes towards her and fixed her with a piercing stare.
'Who do you think I dreamt about you daft woman?'
Claire shut her eyes in an agonising way. 'Why didn't you tell me?'
Charlie snorted. 'Because I was scared you'd freak out and run away from me. And more recently because I was scared you'd set Locke onto me with a sawn off tree branch if I tried to talk to you at all.'
Claire didn't respond for a long time and then she opened her mouth and her voice came out in a rush. 'Will you talk a walk with me Charlie?'
The hint of a frown touched Charlie's brow. The invitation was sudden and unexpected – as most of their conversation had been so far for that matter – but it was an invitation he didn't want to refuse, no matter how bizarre things were turning out between them. Walking with Claire was something he was good at and something he had missed since they'd had their falling out. How many times had they walked together down the beach? He still had so many fond memories of her waddling beside him, her huge belly out the front and that adorable bucket hat on her head…
'I really need to talk this through with you,' she said pleadingly. 'Please walk with me Charlie. We always found it easier to talk when we went walking didn't we?' she offered a pale hand to him. 'Please?'
Charlie hesitated for only a moment before taking Claire's proffered hand and allowing her to pull him to his feet. He retrieved his guitar from the sand before they set off and as they began to walk back along the beach towards the others Charlie realised that she was still holding onto his hand. It made him feel a little strange and he twined his fingers around hers experimentally.
Claire glanced at their linked hands and then gave him the briefest of smiles. Charlie smiled back tentatively.
Everything was beginning to feel different between them – again.