Vendetta

Synopsis: A study of Charlie's struggles with the Others. Includes how Mikhail helped Ethan with his mission, how Juliet tried to save Charlie and Claire, how Scott was murdered and other untold mysteries. Ends with the final Mikhail Vs Charlie face off.

Characters: Mikhail, Ethan, Juliet, Charlie and Claire. Mikhail & Juliet POVs.

Authors Notes: This Monday I was on a very looong boat journey and this brutal little fic started writing itself in my head. It borrows much from my first Lost fic LATE which sought to unravel the mystery of Charlie and Claire's kidnap experience. I think I have done it better here. I've also taken lines from the original script for 'Raised by Another'. The first two chapters of this story are set in S1 while the last chapter is set in S3 and will feature some of my trademark Chesmond.

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"Mikhail…Mikhail, it's Ethan…pick up!"

Mikhail was weeding his garden when the voice came through over his radio. Juliet Burke was with him. The tedious woman had come to his station pleading for more news on her sister. When he heard Ethan's voice Mikhail had been grateful for the distraction, though he didn't particularly wish to speak with him either.

"What is it that you want?" he asked, shortly.

"I'm in a difficult situation, Mikhail…" Ethan answered hurriedly. "Hurley, that fat Californian, is taking a census. It's only a matter of time before they realise I wasn't on their plane. And I've just discovered that Claire is having contractions out in the middle of the jungle. There's no time to make the list. If we don't take Claire to the Staff now, she'll be of no use to our research…"

Mikhail frowned. "Why are you bothering me with this? I'm not involved in fertility studies. Take her to the station yourself."

"I can't just take her, Mikhail!" hissed Ethan, his toneless voice bristling with a rare flash of anger. "Charlie, that jumped up little Englishman, he's with her! He's always with her. They are sitting together on the path right now…"

Mikhail smiled at Juliet and moved out of earshot.

"Could you not simply…take him out of the picture?" he asked.

"Mikhail, I'm trying to prevent Claire from having an early labour. I don't think killing her friend in front of her will help to soothe her. I need your assistance. We have to keep this situation controlled. Bring sedatives, blindfolds, rope and meet me at the drop off point. Quickly! This may be our only chance..."

Mikhail lowered the radio and turned back to Juliet. She had crept up behind him to listen. Judging by the look of fear and disgust on her face she had heard everything that Ethan had just said. Mikhail kept smiling.

"It appears we have a new patient for you, Doctor Burke…"

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Juliet watched from the bushes as the English boy and the pregnant girl came strolling through the jungle together. They were walking side by side, brushing shoulders and smiling contently, relaxed in each others company.

"I'll approach from the front and distract them," Ethan whispered to Mikhail. "Then you two can come from behind. Try not to let them see your faces. Cover their eyes as quickly as possible. Don't worry if they cry out. Nobody will hear them. They are too far from their camps. Once they're drugged we'll proceed directly to the Staff. I can't risk staying here any longer..."

Mikhail nodded, grasping their mission. Juliet could feel her cheeks burning and her breath coming in short tense bursts.

"Is there a problem, Juliet?" Mikhail asked coyly.

Her face tightened. "Why should I have a problem, Mikhail? We are just planning to assault and kidnap two innocent people after all."

Mikhail smirked, amused by her disapproval. "I'm glad to hear that you don't have a problem. We are relying on you to ensure everything goes smoothly. I would hate for you lose another pregnant woman…"

Juliet swallowed her rage and followed Mikhail round to the bushes that lay behind their prey. The young couple had halted on the path. The girl was pressing the boy's hand to her swollen belly. Both of them were smiling. Their smiles faded when Ethan appeared on the path before them.

"Hello there," he said, pleasantly.

"Ethan…where's Jack?" Charlie asked in confusion.

"Jack? Oh, I didn't go and get him."

"What do you mean you didn't go?!" Charlie persisted, sounding nervous.

Claire suddenly began to whimper. Ethan turned to her and took a step closer. Charlie wrapped a protective arm around her shoulders.

"I know you're scared," Ethan soothed. "It's okay."

"What are you talking about, you git!" Charlie barked, starting to twitch with panic. "One more step and I'll…"

Juliet leaned forwards, disturbing the bushes. Charlie and Claire flinched and turned at the sound. Mikhail swiftly pulled her back. The young couple looked back to find Ethan standing right in front of them.

"I'm sorry it's come to this," he said, flatly.

There was a pause. Then Charlie broke from Claire's side and launched himself at Ethan. Claire stood screaming, frozen in shock and fear. The fight didn't last long as Ethan caught the smaller man by his arms and pinned him to the ground. Mikhail then shoved Juliet between her shoulders and they burst from the bushes. The tall Russian seized the pregnant girl from behind and placed a rough hand over her eyes. Claire's screams grew louder. Charlie yelled furiously for them to let her go.

"Sedate her!" Mikhail hissed. "Quickly…"

Juliet reluctantly took out the needle and injected Claire.

"Shhhh…nice and easy," she said, gently as she could. "They are not going to hurt you. I promise. I'm so sorry, Claire…"

Claire continued to squeal, tremble and weep until the drug took effect and she went limp in Mikhail's arms. Juliet placed her hands on the either side of Claire's face, checking her pulse and her breathing.

"The boy too…" Mikhail ordered.

Juliet turned to look at Charlie. He was struggling as Ethan held him to the ground, pressing a knee to his lower back. He was trying to raise his head to see Claire, but Ethan kept him facedown with a forceful grip on his hair.

"Why don't you just leave him?" Juliet suggested. "Claire is all you wanted. We don't need to take him too. Why not leave him here?"

Mikhail considered this vaguely. Then he shrugged.

"If we leave him, we will have to kill him."

Juliet heard Charlie's breathing hitch in a terrified gasp. She moved quickly before Ethan could even think about snapping his neck. She knelt at his side and plunged the needle into his arm. When this was done, they dragged the two of them off the jungle path. Secluded in the bushes, they blindfolded their captives and tied their hands as a precaution. Mikhail then lifted Claire in his arms while Ethan slung Charlie over his back. They headed for the Staff.

As they walked through the jungle, Juliet kept glancing over her shoulder. She was sure she had heard somebody yelling not too far behind them. A man yelling the names 'Claire' and 'Charlie'. She believed they were being followed.

They came to a jungle clearing. Mikhail and Ethan laid their prisoners down and moved off to speak in private. Juliet sat by Charlie and Claire, pretending to examine them. She noticed the tapes on Charlie's fingers. If this person following was going to have a change of rescuing these two they would need a trail. And Juliet wanted them to be rescued. Claire might be safe as long as she was useful to their research, but Charlie would almost certainly be killed if she didn't do something.

Juliet tore off one of the bandages. Charlie stirred.

"Wha…what are yer doin?" he mumbled, barely lucid.

Juliet pressed the tape into the earth and then squeezed his wrists.

"Keep quiet if you want to be saved..." she whispered to him.

Charlie's brow creased with confusion. Claire lay motionless and insensible by his side. Soon after Mikhail and Ethan returned and continued to carry them off through the jungle. It wasn't long before they came to another clearing beneath the shade of a banyan tree. It was here that they were met by Tom, Colleen and Alex who Ethan had also radioed asking for assistance.

Charlie and Claire were laid on the ground once more. An argument sparked between Ethan and Tom over the incomplete list and the rash decision to abduct Claire in this manner. While they were fighting Juliet reached for Charlie's hands again. She found that Charlie had already scraped a second piece of tape from his finger. He palmed it to her with a quiet nod. Cole then snapped at Ethan to "Save it!" and suggested they kept moving. They were just about to leave the clearing when Mikhail halted them. He had noticed the tiny piece of gauze that was lying in the dirt.

"Get him up!" Mikhail barked, pointing at Charlie.

Ethan hauled Charlie to feet. Mikhail cut the ropes from his wrists and inspected his hands. Two of the lettered bandages were missing from his fingers. Mikhail pressed the tape against Charlie's blindfolded face.

"Have you been leaving these?" he asked furiously.

Juliet held her breath, expecting Charlie to give her up. The Englishman mumbled incoherently, his legs wobbling and his head lolling on his neck. Mikhail grasped him by his hair, yanking him upright.

"Sorry?" he sneered, condescendingly. "What did you say?"

Charlie curled his lips back from his teeth.

"…said I'm used to stronger drugs than that, yer wankers…"

Mikhail's fist slammed into the side of Charlie's head. Ethan allowed him to fall in a heap on the ground. If he had been semi-conscious before Charlie was most definitely out cold now. Mikhail scowled over him.

"He's been leaving a trail for his people to follow," he swiftly deduced. "I had the feeling there was a group tracking us. But no matter. We will beat them at their own little game. Ethan and I will take him off in this direction. We will continue to leave the trail of tape and draw them away from the girl. The rest of you take her onto the Staff covering your tracks as best you can."

Juliet watched as Tom carried Claire off on one path while Mikhail and Ethan took Charlie on another. She told herself it was her duty to stay with Claire and make sure that she and her baby were safe. Then another part of her insisted that she wasn't just going to let them kill the Englishman. It was the same part of her that woke up sweating after dreams of her ex-husband being hit by a bus.

"I'm coming with you!" she called after Ethan.

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When they reached the summit of the hill, Mikhail threw Charlie down from his shoulders, dropping him into a muddy puddle.

"Enough!" he complained. "We kill him! I'm sick of carrying him."

Juliet wiped the rain-soaked hair away from her face.

"Mikhail, you're not just going to kill this guy!" she protested. "You've no reason to kill him. He's done nothing to you!"

"He's not a good person, Juliet…" said Ethan as though trying to persuade her. "He's a drug addict, a liar and a thief…"

"And what kind of person are you, Ethan?!" Juliet spat back. "You think I don't know what you have done?! You people…you just take the ones you need and kill the ones who get in your way! Like you killed Edmund!"

Juliet was screaming at them now. Her raised voice was echoing around the treetops. Mikhail stepped forwards and struck her hard, knocking her unconscious as he had done to Charlie. Juliet crumpled to the ground.

"Our followers will have heard that," he pointed out to Ethan. "Go down to them and deliver a warning. Inform them that we will kill one of the prisoners if they insist on pursuing us. Make sure they know it is a serious threat."

Ethan hurried down the slope. While he was gone, Mikhail glanced around the hilltop. He noticed some vines hanging down from a half circle of trees. He dragged a stump of wood beneath these vines and stood on it while he twisted and knotted them into a noose.

He glanced back at the English boy lying unconscious and blindfolded in the puddle. Mikhail had been mildly impressed that the little man had put up a fight, spoken back to them and attempted to leave a trail for his friends to follow. He had to respect him for trying. But Charlie was only a pawn in this game. It was time for him to die.

Mikhail stepped down from the log just as Ethan returned.

"They won't turn back," he panted. "It's that heroic doctor of theirs. I gave him the message, but he kept on fighting me."

"So we carry out our threat," Mikhail said simply.

He nodded towards the gallows he had erected. Ethan shook his head.

"Never mind that! Let's snap his neck and be done with it."

"If the doctor finds him with a broken neck, he will have no reason to stop. He will chase after us in a vengeful temper. But if he believes he can revive him, then he will halt and attempt to save him."

Ethan frowned. "But what happens if he…"

"Enough! He is already coming. We do it my way."

Mikhail and Ethan lifted Charlie from the ground and carried him over to the noose. Together they held him upright on the stump of wood while coiling the vines around his throat. When this was done, they let him go and knocked the log over.

For a moment the two men watched in sick fascination as Charlie began to choke, splutter and kick his legs. He made a feeble attempt to raise his arms and hold off his strangulation, but his limbs were numb and heavy with the sedative. All he could do was wheeze and writhe as his cheeks turned purple and the life was squeezed from his body. Ethan began to laugh. Mikhail caught his eye and started laughing along with him. These were two men who didn't laugh very often. They had no friends or family to share their laughter with. But Mikhail and Ethan had this one common bond. They were both ruthless and efficient killers. It was hard not to take pleasure in something they did so well. It felt good to have somebody savour it with. Someone who took the same perverse satisfaction in a merciless execution.

Their laughter was halted by the sound of approaching feet and voices.

"They are coming," Ethan said, blandly.

Mikhail nodded. They lifted Juliet between them and slipped away into the jungle, leaving Charlie hanging limply in the trees. The two men would never know that in a few moments time, two friends would experience a similar rush of happiness by saving Charlie's life as they had felt upon murdering him. If Mikhail had known this he probably would have laughed again. This simply meant he could kill Charlie twice...

To be continued...