Title: The Diary

Co-Authors: sapphirechild and pacejunkie

Rating: PG/K

Spoilers: up to and including 3x08 "Flashes Before Your Eyes"

Summary: When Charlie finds Claire's diary unexpectedly amongst his belongings one day, he returns it without really thinking about it. But when it keeps returning to his things, he starts to suspect that she might actually be leaving it there on purpose…

Disclaimer: Lost most certainly does not belong to either of us – although we would both very gladly write for them if we could. Thus why we spend our time writing fanfiction to replace the canon things we don't like. Erm…please don't sue us?

A/N: Claire's POV is written by sapphirechild and Charlie's POV is written by pacejunkie. Original fanfic idea by sapphirechild. So we're cool? Cool.

I can't pretend like you didn't hurt me – it still hurts a bit, to think about it. How you broke my faith in you. But I also can't deny that I miss you.

I miss your smile, the way you laughed like nothing mattered. I miss the quiet moments too, the ones that didn't need words or actions – like just us being there, together, sharing a moment was all that we needed. I miss the way you used to help me to my feet when I was pregnant and how you supported my lower back in just the right place every time. I miss our walks down the beach together and that day that we stopped and didn't move until the sun had gone down. I miss…well, loving you, I guess – as a friend and as possibly something more. I miss your constant support, your constant willingness to help me with anything that I asked. I miss the way you used to love me. Before you hurt me. Before I hurt you. Before the whole damn thing just blew up out of proportion and into our faces.

And I just wish I had the guts to tell you this to your face.

At first he thought it must be some kind of mistake.

Charlie had only moved his things back to Claire's tent two days after the hatch implosion. Claire had implied by her kiss that she had forgiven him, though she didn't exactly say so in words. She didn't protest either when Charlie had shown up with his guitar case and bags in hand at her imaginary doorstep much like when he had left. She smiled as he dropped his things back in the corner where he had always kept them – and life went on.

The next day, while Claire had taken Aaron over for a visit with Sun, Charlie found Claire's diary perched on his pile of clothes. He knew she normally kept it in the outside pocket of her bag. Sometimes she left it out when she was writing in it and got interrupted; but it always stayed on "her side" of the tent. If Sawyer had been there, Charlie might have suspected he was reading it again. The thought reminded him of the time that he had been guilty of that particular transgression himself. Now that Claire had forgiven him, Charlie was determined to be the complete opposite of the man he had been. He was no longer the bloody scum that had read Claire's diary, more curious about what she had written about him than where Claire might have been at the moment and what she was going through. He was going to be the Charlie that respected Claire's privacy, and respected Claire. So he picked up the diary and returned it to her bag. This time, he decided, things would be different.

But the day after that, the diary was back.

Bloody hell, he thought. He was alone again, and there it was, like the proverbial Australian boomerang. Charlie searched the beach, feeling as if someone were setting him up to fail, to screw things up with Claire all over again. Well, I won't have it. In one swift motion Charlie swept up the diary and was about to put it back with Claire's things when he stopped.

Why was this here after all? The only person who really could have left it there – twice – was Claire. So, Charlie deduced, if Claire left it there on purpose, there must be a reason why. Charlie couldn't truly be sure if he was reasoning or rationalizing. Maybe a part of him wanted to read the diary and was looking for an excuse to be a cad. On the other hand, he'd never know what the reason was if he didn't at least take a peek.

Charlie looked around the tent and beyond for prying eyes. When he was satisfied, he sat down in a corner, facing the tarp wall of the tent. Reading the last entry, he couldn't tell at first who Claire was talking about. Someone who had hurt her, betrayed her trust. Someone she missed. Well, he supposed that could have been him but she also could have been describing someone else from her past that had done the same things. When he got to the part about her pregnancy and the walks on the beach he knew. Claire was not only talking about him, she was talking to him. She was finally speaking to him, using her diary as a conduit.

Charlie's only question now was what to do about it.

He missed all those things too, but he didn't want to come on too strong or sound pathetic and desperate. He was truly sorry for all the things he had done but he had told her that before and didn't particularly feel like bringing up those uglier moments from the past. She didn't seem to be asking for an apology here anyway. Claire was communicating something altogether different, and it was coming from her heart. She was thinking back not to his mistakes, but to the good things. Charlie was flattered by her words. Girls were good at that sort of thing. Charlie had always had an easier time sharing his feelings in verse rather than prose. So, warmed and encouraged, he picked up a pen and wrote with a smirk,

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Claire missed Charlie,

and he missed her too.

Sure it wasn't Shakespeare, but it was a start. He returned the diary to Claire's bag and went off whistling to find Hurley.

Claire was surprised – to say the least – that Charlie wasn't at her shelter when she returned from her afternoon walk. It had become somewhat of a routine now, the two of them spent most of the morning together but after lunch they both disappeared for an hour or two to do something just for themselves. Charlie usually went romping around in the jungle with Hurley or found a quiet piece of sand and settled himself in for some serious guitar playing. Claire on the other hand, favoured long walks down the beach with Aaron, or some well deserved 'girl time' with Sun, whom she was becoming progressively closer to as the days went by.

She tried to put her mind to rest as she began to put Aaron down for his nap but her attention wavered as she surreptitiously glanced up and down the beach for any sign of Charlie returning. In her distraction, she gently bumped Aaron's head on his cradle and she panicked momentarily as he blinked in surprise and then warbled unhappily at her. Pressing a collection of butterfly kisses to her sons face seemed to placate him somewhat and Claire sighed in relief as his eyes flickered shut and he began to settle down.

She tip toed around her shelter trying not to disturb her son, tidying this and that, checking to see if her washing was dry yet, procrastinating. Finally, unable to help herself, she moved onto Charlie's belongings – in particular, the spot where she'd placed her diary that morning.

She had been disappointed when it had been returned to her bag the previous day without even an acknowledgement from Charlie that she had left it out. From his actions, she was very certain that he hadn't read it – even though she had quite deliberately left it there for him, temptingly marked at her most recent entry. Either that or he'd read it and just didn't know what to say. If he'd come up to her, diary in hand, and started talking to her about what she had written in there, would she have been able to talk about it with him? Probably not.

Today it seemed he had repeated the same process as yesterday – the diary was gone from his things and a quick check told her that he had returned it to her bag again. Claire sighed, wishing for once that Charlie's curiosity had overtaken his reasoning instead of the other way around. Thinking that she might write a new entry in there anyway, Claire pulled her pen out and flipped to her latest entry.

She blinked at the sight of someone else's penmanship cluttering the page below her most recent entry. Heart hammering madly against her ribs, she peered a little closer at the words on the page and her mouth widened into an excited smile at the realisation that Charlie had obviously not only read her entry – he had written her a reply too.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Claire missed Charlie,

and he missed her too.

Claire beamed even wider – if that was at all possible – and her insides glowed. It was a typically sweet offering from Charlie with just a touch of humour. Despite herself, Claire found herself thinking about the day he'd brought her an empty jar and somehow managed to convince her that it was full to the brim with the best peanut butter in the world. Biting her lower lip and already beginning to compose a reply in her head, Claire gripped her pen a little tighter and began to write slowly and purposefully.

I know I never told you but I remember most things now – you know, from before I was captured. Some things don't really fit together properly yet, but they almost do. It's kind of like…well like I've got a whole lot of snippets from a film in my head but some of the frames are missing and somebody's gone and put half of them in the wrong order.

One thing that's always been very clear to me is the day when you brought me peanut butter. The image of you holding that empty glass jar (you were so hopeful and sweet and earnest that day that it made the coldness in my broken heart melt a little bit) was the very first thing that came back to me after I lost my memories. Funny that something so small and seemingly insignificant would remind me so much of you.

I miss those days of imaginary peanut butter – back when we were just becoming friends and everything was easygoing. Everything seemed to become more complicated after I was taken. Sometimes I wish we could go back to that memory, to those days – even though I know we can't. I guess there's only forwards now huh?

When Charlie returned, much later that afternoon Claire acted as nonchalant as possible but that night by the fire as the two of them shared their stories of the day she had to fight hard not to reach out and take his hand in hers and squeeze it tightly. The next day, she put the final touches to her diary entry and casually left it out amongst Charlie's things again.

And now, she would have to wait.

Charlie read Claire's entry, now wise to the game they were playing, and responded:

I never told you how much I appreciated you coming to the caves with me that day. I know you didn't want to do it; you said you liked the beach and you still had hope of being rescued. I loved that about you, how no matter how bad things seemed you never lost hope. I guess I was hoping some of that would rub off. Claire, you'll never know how much you've done for me but moving to the caves was the very first thing. You made my life worth living again.

I can't put into words what losing you to Ethan did to me. I'm sorry if I still can't talk about it. It's too much. It may always be too much. In a way I think you're the lucky one for having forgotten. There's a part of me that wishes I could forget. I still have nightmares that I'm hanging from a tree only there's no one there to rescue me. When you came back, you rescued me.

I know we've been through too much to ever start over, but maybe we can take a different road, by doing some of those things we never really did. I left some imaginary roses in your bag. Will you go out on a date with me?

Claire's mouth curved into a pleased smile and she reached eagerly for her pen. Their messages were becoming more and more frequent as they began to get into a sort of rhythm.

I guess I've always been pretty positive you know? I never really saw the point in dwelling on all the bad stuff when there's so much beauty in the world. I've only ever been really down a handful of times in my life - when Thomas left me was the worst. For a while here I tried to focus on your worst features too, hoping that I'd be able to find a reason to hate you. The only problem was - as you obviously figured out from my first entry - I kept coming back to the good stuff again! I couldn't help myself. I wanted to be with you again. That's why I reached out to you.

The roses are beautiful by the way. I cut the stems short and put them in a jar next to my bed. And I would really love to go on a proper date with you. Well, as close to a proper date as we can get out here in the middle of nowhere anyway. I might be a bit rusty on the procedure - I might need some coaching haha. I guess the next question is where? When? Should I get Sun to watch Aaron?

And what makes you think that I've forgotten what Ethan did to you? And what he did to me for that matter? I don't remember all of it maybe, but I remember enough.

Thomas has got to be the stupidest wanker in the world for walking out on you. I know Aaron's not mine, but if you wanted someone around who could be like a dad for him, I would love that. Maybe it's still a touchy subject because of what I did, but you have to know that I would never do anything to hurt him and I never meant to hurt you. All I ever wanted to do was protect you both. I had these dreams that Aaron was in danger and I admit I wasn't thinking straight. Saving Aaron was all I could think about, and because no one was listening to me I got frustrated. But I realize now that I had no right doing anything without your consent. Aaron's yours, and I'm happy to be a part of his life as much as you'll let me.

But getting back to us (yes, us), there's this lovely little private beach that Sayid told me about. If you think Sun would watch Aaron tonight I could take you there. I'll lean on Desmond and see if the brother can spare a bottle of wine. Oh, and one more thing...

I miss that little tinkly sound in your laugh like wind chimes and the way your eyes light up when you smile. I miss the games we played while we did laundry together. I miss hearing the excitement in your voice when you'd go on about astrology (you promised to do my chart, remember?). I miss the times we spent just sitting together and not having to speak. I miss seeing the expression change in your face as you wrote in your diary. I like to think that I could tell when you were writing about me.

Well, I guess that turned into many more things but when I think of you I just can't stop.

Last night was...it was wonderful Charlie. I don't think I've smiled that much in weeks. Months even. It almost felt like we were back to where we started out again. Well, apart from the whole, you know, kissing part. That was a bit new - but it was nice all the same. Thank you for being such a gentleman - not that I think you'd ever try to take advantage of me or anything like that. What I mean is, it was just genuinely very nice to be...appreciated? No, it was nice to feel like a woman again - not just the pregnant chick or the young mother with the baby. When you look at me I really start to feel like I'm somebody instead of the nobody I used to be. But then you've always seen me for me haven't you?

I've been thinking all morning about what you wrote in here yesterday, about wanting to be like a dad for Aaron. I don't want Aaron to grow up without a father - the way I did - but I'm worried that if I give you the green light we'll just end up right where we were before with me being upset with you for being a better parent than me. I know you didn't mean to do it but I already have enough doubts about my parenting skills as it is - I was going to give him up for adoption for goodness sake! For now I'll say that you can be there for him, you can take care of him and love him all you want but my word is final - as it always should have been. And if you do anything I don't like I'll be sure to tell you this time instead of just getting jealous and upset like last time. It was as much my fault as yours really in that respect. Aaron is my son and while I appreciate you wanting to help out with him, I need to figure some things out by myself without you hovering like a second shadow.

I know it's soon but would you like to "go out" again tomorrow night? I like our new spot and Aaron was really good for Sun yesterday. We might as well make the most of a good thing while it lasts right?

Claire put the diary back among Charlie's things, considering her words and hoping they weren't too harsh. She wanted to trust Charlie but where Aaron was concerned she still felt she needed time. She took a deep breath and decided she needed to clear her head. A swim always helped her to do that. Claire picked up Aaron and went in search of Sun to see if she would watch the baby while she took a walk and a dip in the ocean.

Yesterday had been one of the worst days of Charlie's life. First he learned that Eko had died, then Claire had nearly drowned, and then…he didn't even want to repeat it to himself. He was so shaken he had forgotten about the letter writing campaign that he and Claire had been doing until the next day. After being pulled back from the brink by Desmond, Claire seemed to have forgotten too; neither of them mentioned it.

Now, the following day, Charlie found Claire's diary again and read the last entry, written before the previous day's tragic events. When he read Claire's words regarding Aaron he felt the sting. Claire was still mistrustful; perhaps of him, but more likely of her circumstances in general. She had insecurities of her own, apparently. Charlie could understand what that felt like. He didn't want to do anything to make her feel insecure in her abilities as a mother. He had only wanted to help, because really, who couldn't use some help around here? Claire was trying to put her foot down easy but Charlie could read between the lines. He needed to back off where Aaron was concerned and just concentrate on Claire. He had thought that he could do that without very much trouble – but now there were bigger concerns on his mind.

He spent the rest of the day thinking and planning, far from Claire's sight. At sunset, he left her diary out where she could find it. When she did, she would open it up to just one line:

Come meet me at the church.

Claire read Charlie's latest entry three times by the fading light before it really sank in. She hadn't really thought about how Charlie might react to her diary entries but flipping back through to her last entry she was suddenly mortified that she'd upset him without really meaning to. Had she really been too harsh? She didn't really think so, but Charlie could be very touchy about certain subjects.

Like Aaron.

She scanned the entry once more. He'd only written six words but they'd gotten her thinking more than all of the others he'd written. What would be waiting for her at the church? She hoped he wasn't still upset about her accident. It had been frightening but it was over now and she was completely fine. Knowing Charlie, she thought, he probably wishes that he'd saved me instead of Desmond. I don't want him to feel bad about that. How could he have known? Desmond had clearly just been in the right place at the right time.

Tension was beginning to twist and writhe in her stomach. Claire slammed her diary shut and scooped Aaron out of his cradle. He protested at being disturbed but Claire ignored him and began to run towards Sun and Jin's shelter, intent on leaving him with Sun whilst she went to the church.

They weren't there.

Claire mentally swore and turned in frantic circles for any sign of where the two of them might have gone. Five agonising minutes later and still no sign of Sun or Jin, Claire began to make her way over to the half finished framework of Eko's church.

Charlie sat, back up against one of the supporting beams of the skeletal frame, waiting. He didn't know what he would say when Claire arrived. He had tried rehearsing it, but each time the words were more awkward, full of foreboding. Would she even understand? Charlie wasn't sure if he did.

When he looked up and saw Claire climbing the small hill to the building site he startled. What was she doing with Aaron? He had hoped she wouldn't bring him. Well then, he was going to have to make this short and to the point. He felt a twist in his gut like a knife with each step she took. Each agonising stride brought her closer and closer...

"Claire," he called to her as she reached the rise. "Stop right there."

She entered the perimeter of the frame and stopped.

"Why? What's wrong?" she asked.

"Just sit down," he said and then softened his tone because he sensed he was alarming her. "Please."

She sank slowly to the ground, eyes fixed on him the whole way down. The sun had almost fully set and it was becoming difficult to see Claire's shape across the distance of the church. All the more reason to get on with it, he thought. He took a deep breath and plunged in.

"I need to stay away from you and the baby," he said, averting his eyes from hers. "I'm putting you in danger."

"What are you talking about?" she asked, her incredulity was obvious.

"Desmond," Charlie continued. "He can...see things. See the future. He said he saw me die twice and that he saved me but no matter what he does, it's going to happen sometime."

Claire frowned and shook her head, confused, "But Desmond saved me, not you."

"It was me," Charlie sighed. "I was the one struck by lightning. I was the one who drowned trying to save you."

Claire blinked. Gripping Aaron tighter she crawled a few feet closer. Charlie selfishly fought his impulse to stop her because no matter the risks, more than anything he needed her close right now.

"You..." she began. "You were the one who tried to save me?"

"Yeah," he said, choking back tears. "But I failed. Now I'm a ticking bomb. You can't come near me Claire. I'm sorry."

Claire stared at the man before her, utterly speechless, for a long moment. Was this really the same man who had risked his very life to be with her? To save her and her son no matter what the cost?

"A ticking bomb." she repeated flatly. Charlie was silent and Claire gave a short, sad laugh. "You know, it's funny. I once said something similar to you. Do you remember?"

Charlie's face scrunched up. "Claire..."

"It was the day on the beach when I passed out from the heat. You brought me water…" Claire closed her eyes as she began to dredge up the fragmented memories she carried within her. "I told you that I felt like a time bomb sometimes - you know, the responsibility of looking after the poor pregnant girl and her unborn baby." her eyes fluttered open again. Charlie was still watching her, silent and still. "And do you remember what you said to me then?"

Charlie gave a sudden, dry sob and turned away from her.

"You looked me right in the eye and you said to me, 'You don't scare me'."

Charlie's shoulders began to shake. Claire allowed him a moment before pushing herself to her feet. Slowly she moved forward, circling around until she was standing right in front of him and then she knelt down in front of him and reached a hand to touch his cheek, tilting his eye line back up to hers again.

"You don't scare me either Charlie."

"Claire," Charlie shook his head at her, fighting a losing battle with his tears now. "I don't want anything to happen to you because of me. I can't protect you. It was all I ever wanted to do — for you and for Aaron. But now I can't."

Claire didn't even hesitate. She wriggled around so that she was sitting next to Charlie, wrapped an arm around him and then rested Aaron in his lap. Charlie flinched and tried to pull back but Claire stubbornly held on even tighter, pressing her forehead against his.

"Then I'll protect you," she whispered. "There's no such thing as fate, Charlie. You choose your own path. We don't know how much time any of us have left but I know I don't want to spend the rest of my life without you. Desmond will look out for you. We'll all do the best we can."

The next morning dawned bright and early, the sun bathing the beach with a soft, warm glow. In comparison, Claire and Charlie woke up slowly that morning, gently entangled in each other, their breathing in tandem.

It was the first time that they'd really slept together. Charlie had been tentative to share a bed with her – even before everything that had happened with Desmond – but the previous night seemed to have marked a new turning point in their relationship and when Claire had offered him the space next to her, he'd accepted it gladly.

The morning wore on into afternoon soon enough and Claire automatically pulled out her diary – not really planning to write in it but not really planning to read it either. She flipped idly through the last few entries she and Charlie had written each other, smiling indulgently at a few choice sentences. She then flipped forward, through the last few blank pages. She was surprised to find that there was only a few dozen left.

She'd have to make these last few pages count.

With that thought in mind, Claire pulled out her pen and wrote one, final message to Charlie. It was a three word sentence, simple and concise – but it was also one that would determine the course of their relationship from here on in.

This time she gave the small book directly to him, interrupting him from his latest bout of private guitar playing. Charlie blinked, surprised at her forwardness but took it and instantly cracked it open to the latest page. Claire bit her lip as he read her words and then surprised her by pulling her pen out from where she'd left it wedged between the pages and he quickly scribbled his own message in return before passing it back.

Claire sat down beside him before reading it.

I love you too.

Claire turned to him and opened her mouth to speak but Charlie was already leaning in, planting a soft kiss at the corner of her mouth and then reaching out to take her hand. He returned the smile she had given him and then turned his gaze out to water. Claire's words died in her mouth as quickly as they'd begun to form and her eyes followed Charlie's to the edge of the horizon and stayed there.

They sat there for nearly an hour together and neither of them said a single word.

They didn't need to.