Desmond blinked as he read Charlie's message through the glass, before shaking his head, looking around frantically for something he cold use to break the door open. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a crow bar, and ran to grab it. He bolted back to the door, trying to pry the door open, his eyes fixed on Charlie, who had no air left.
"Come on" Desmond muttered desperately, heaving at the metal. He let out a triumphant yell when the door finally creaked open, and Desmond pulled it the full way open. Water gushed through the doorway, washing Charlie out with it. Desmond grabbed Charlie around the middle.
"Come on, brother, don't give up now," he panted, fear in his voice as he picked up Charlie's limp body. Desmond placed his fingers upon Charlie's throat, sighing in relief when he felt a weak pulse. Desmond looked around the room, realising with a start that it was filling up with water. Grabbing one of the scuba tanks that he and Charlie had spotted, Desmond put the tank on his back, putting the mouthpiece into Charlie's mouth, before gathering Charlie's unconscious form in his arms, and jumping into the water.
Claire watched the waves gently rolling into shore, lapping against the sand. She wriggled her toes in the sand, and smiled reassuringly at Aaron, who was in her arms. The baby had been restless and anxious all afternoon, seeming to be continuously on the verge of breaking into tears, but never actually doing it. It was slightly frustrating for Claire, whose nerves were already on edge from being worried about Charlie.
Charlie. He should have been back by now. Claire suppressed a shudder. There had been something off about Charlie's behaviour all day, ever since he had volunteered to go on the mission, and Claire had a frightening feeling that it had something to do with Desmond's premonitions. Hopefully, the feeling of dread she felt as if she was floundering within would be unfounded, and Charlie would be home soon. Maybe that was why Aaron was so grumpy, because he could sense his mother's distress, or maybe he just missed Charlie.
"Its okay, Aaron" Claire whispered, "He'll be home soon."
"Claire, are you alright?" A strongly accented voice asked. Claire jumped, before turning and smiling at Sun.
"Hi, yeah, I'm fine, I guess."
"He'll be fine, Claire." Sun said, smiling. Claire blinked. Had her fears and worries been that obvious?'
"Who?" Claire asked, and Sun rolled her eyes.
"Charlie, of course. Do you want me to look after Aaron for a little while?"
"Are you sure, he's been a bit grumpy today?"
"He'll be fine; you go off and do what you like. If I need you, I'll call."
"Thank-you, Sun" Claire carefully handed Aaron over, who grizzled once, before becoming silent once more, falling asleep. Claire smiled.
"I haven't been able to get him to sleep all afternoon. Thanks."
"Do not mention it" Sun said. A slight commotion from the tree line made both women look up. Jack, Kate, and the rest of the group that went up to telecast the message had emerged from the trees. Claire and Sun joined the crowd of people who ran to meet them.
"Did it work?" Someone asked.
"Did you see the others?"
"Are we going to be rescued?"
Jack smiled, "Yes, it did work, we sent the message, we did see the others, but none of us were taken or hurt, and I don't know if we're going to be rescued. Where are Charlie and Desmond?" Jack asked, looking towards Claire.
"They haven't come back yet," Claire said, feeling her heart tighten as she said the words. The group began to disperse, until Claire was standing with Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley, Sun and Jin.
"Are you okay?" Kate asked, and Claire nodded.
"I'm just a little worried. They should be back by now, shouldn't they?" The question was directed at Jack, who bowed his head, before looking back up, but avoiding eye contact with the younger woman.
"They should be, but they might have got held up, or maybe it was further away than we expected."
"Uh, dude, they're here" Hurley softly interrupted, pointing down the beach. They all spun around, and Sun let out a small gasp. They could see a lone figure walking slowly down the beach, carrying something limp in his arms. Claire knew in an instant that it was not Charlie that was walking towards them, and felt a sob rise in her throat. She needed to know, she HAD to know.
Claire ran. She ran down the beach, towards Desmond. She could feel the heavier footsteps of Jack behind her, but she ignored it, her complete attention on Desmond, or rather, the limp body he was carrying. Tears ran down her cheeks, and she pushed her speed up, pumping her arms harder than she ever had before. After what seemed like an eternity, but was really no time at all, she was skidding to a stop in the sand so she wouldn't knock Desmond over.
"Charlie?' Claire cried, looking from Charlie's limp body, to Desmond.
"Don't worry, sister, I think he's still breathing" Desmond said as Jack reached them. Jack instantly felt at Charlie's neck for a pulse, and Desmond carefully lay his cargo down on the sand.
"How is he, Doc?" he asked. Jack shook his head.
"He's barely breathing, and his pulse is weak. What happened?"
"We were there, and Charlie got rid of the shield. We received a message, from Penny, my girlfriend, but then one of the others, who we thought was dead, was outside, in the water, and he had a bomb. Charlie knew what he was going to do, and closed the door so I wouldn't drown, and locked himself in. The guy blew a hole in the wall, and the room Charlie was in filled with water. I got a crow bar, and eventually managed to pry the door open, but he was already unconscious."
During his explanation, Kate arrived, and gently rested her hand on Claire's shoulder, squeezing reassuringly.
"He'll be fine, Claire. He's a fighter, he'll pull through."
Claire nodded, but didn't trust herself to say anything. Jack, Jin, Sawyer, and Sayid carefully picked the younger man up and began carrying him carefully towards the camp, while Claire, Kate and Desmond followed slowly. Sun ran ahead to prepare the medical supplies, while the other survivors watched in a mixture of horror and apprehension as they saw Charlie, who had always seemed so full of life, being carried through the camp, his limp form seemingly lifeless.
As the men lowered Charlie to a stretcher in the medical tent, Desmond grabbed at Jack's arm.
"Brother, the people on the boat, they aren't who they say they are. They're lying. Penny doesn't know anything about it."
"She told you?"
"She told Charlie, who passed the message on." Desmond turned Charlie's hand over, revealing the smudged writing.
'Not Penny's Boat'
Jack frowned, and raised his eyes to meet Desmond's as the rest of the survivors, who were within hearing distance, exchanged fearful looks.
If they weren't Penny's people, then who were they?
Claire sat at Charlie's side, watching as he slept. She reached out her hand, brushing a few strands of his coppery hair from his face. Desmond had brought Charlie's unconscious body back mid afternoon, and it was now the middle of the night. She felt her need for sleep tugging at the back of her mind, but she shook it away. Sun had graciously offered to look after Aaron for the night, and Claire had decided that nothing would separate her from Charlie, especially such a trivial thing as sleeping.
"How is he, Sister?' came a voice from behind her, and Claire turned her head so she could see Desmond.
"He's still sleeping. Jack said that he probably won't wake up until morning," Claire told the Scotsman, before turning back to Charlie. Desmond paused for a moment, before sitting beside her.
"He did this for you, you know, for all of us, I guess, but mostly for you" he told her after a pregnant pause. Claire looked at him, her eyes sparkling with tears.
"Was that supposed to make me feel better?' she asked, and Desmond could hear the hurt in her voice.
"No, Sister, I didn't mean it like that. I had a vision of Charlie dying down there, and then you and the little guy getting onto a helicopter, to freedom. He, Charlie, figured that if he went down there and ended up dying, well, you and Aaron, and the rest of us, would get rescued. He was sacrificing himself." Claire swallowed, and blinked back tears and Desmond, not knowing what to do, wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulder.
"Do the others know?" she asked, and it took Desmond awhile until he realised whom she was referring to.
"I told Hurley everything I just told you, because he already knew about the visions. I sort of told Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and the rest that Charlie thought that by going down there, he would get you and Aaron and the rest of us rescued faster."
"He's a hero" Claire whispered, "and nothing anyone else says will change that, regardless of what happens here."
"I'm with you there, Sister." Desmond nodded his agreement, "if we ever get off this God forsaken island, then the world will know of Charlie, the Hero, Charlie the Brave."
Claire let a small smile at the moniker, "Charlie the Brave, he'd like that. I think he always felt he didn't measure up to the rest of the guys. Jack, Sawyer, Sayid, Locke, Hurley, Boone before he died, Jin, Michael, even you. They were all strong, able to fend for themselves, and then there was him. Weak, skinny, addicted to Drugs. A fallen Rock star on an island, trying to fend for himself, and then taking me in under his wing. Most of the stuff he did for the group was his way of trying to prove to them, to himself, that he could survive. Did you know that he saved Jack's life not long after the crash? We were staying at the caves, and there was a rock collapse. Charlie went in, and rescued Jack. He did it because he didn't think he had anyone. What he didn't know was that he, well, he already had me." Claire spoke quickly, her Australian accent becoming thicker. Desmond rubbed her back as Hurley ducked his head into the tent.
"Hey, dudes, how is he?"
"Sleeping. Claire was just telling me about how Charlie rescued Jack."
"Oh yeah. That guy never stopped being a Hero, honestly."
"What's your favourite memory of Charlie, Hurley?" Claire asked.
"The day we found the van in the forest. Easily one of my favourite moments on the island, and Charlie was right beside me. It was kinda like him saying, you know, screw death, I'm going to live." Hurley smiled fondly.
"I wish I was there to see him like that, so happy." Claire said, but Hurley shook his head.
"No, you saw him happy like that every friggen day you two were together. Whenever you were together, he was happy."
"Aye, that's true, brother, very true. As long as he had his bonnie wee lass, and the little bairn, he was happy," Desmond added, and Claire smiled at them both, remembering how good a father Charlie was for Aaron.
"What about you, Desmond. What's your favourite memory of Charlie?"
"To be honest sister, there are too many to pick any one, but I have to say that any memory that doesn't involve him dying in someway ranks very highly." Desmond gave a low chuckle, which was answered by a low groan.
"If you guys are going to talk like I've died, could you at least sodding wait until I've actually gone and Bloody done it." A new voice said. Claire's face burst into a smile as Charlie's eyes opened slightly, bleary in the faint lantern light.
"How do you feel, brother?" Desmond asked as Claire flung herself on top of Charlie, sobbing, and embraced him.
"Like I've been put through the ringer, actually. How the hell did I get back here? Last thing I remember is Mr. Eye-patch blowing up that wall and flooding the room. Hang on! The boat, it's not Penny's."
"We already know, dude, Desmond told us the whole story."
"Thank-god" Charlie exhaled and relaxed, letting Claire continue to sob into his chest.
"I found a crow-bar and was able to wrench the door open. I got you out, but you were barely breathing. I grabbed a scuba tank, connected you up to it, and dragged you back up to the surface. I put you in the outrigger, and paddled us back to shore, then I carried you back to camp. Jack's been looking after you ever since, though the wee lass here hasn't left your side." Desmond said.
"I cheat death once again, then" Charlie smiled grimly as Claire sat back up, still smiling. She tenderly ran her fingers through his hair.
"Desmond told me about his vision, about you dying down there. I love you, my hero." Claire let out a small giggle, before bending over, and kissing Charlie on the lips. When she broke away, Charlie grinned.
"I definitely could get used to this hero business." He said, and Claire playfully hit him on the arm.
"Ow," Charlie complained, "I'm the injured one here." He squeezed Claire's hand, and then turned his attention to Desmond.
"Have you had any visions since this afternoon?"
"None at all, brother." Desmond smiled, and Charlie smiled back.
"That's a relief, because I think I need a break from the whole cheating death thing."
"Just like I need a break from the whole saving you from death thing, and Claire from the worrying about your death thing" Desmond added.
"Where's Hurley, he was in here earlier?" Claire asked.
"He went to go find Jack. He left while you two were kissing" Desmond said, just as they heard footsteps outside the tent. Hurley re-entered the tent, followed closely by Jack, who, upon seeing Charlie awake and conscious, went instantly into Doctor Mode.
"Charlie. How do you feel? Are you in any pain? Do you want anything to eat or drink?" he asked, and Charlie paused thoughtfully before speaking.
"I feel kind of tired, and my ribs really hurt, I'm not really hungry, though. A drink of water would be nice."
"Here you go," said Clare, passing him her bottle of water, which he drank from as Jack gently felt Charlie's sides.
"I don't think your ribs are broken, but they're a little bruised. They might be sore for a day or two, but then they should be fine. How much do you remember?"
Charlie paused, "Err, everything up until when the water filled up the room. I remember trying to breathe with only an inch or two of air left, but not much past that. I think that's when I passed out."
"That's good. You don't have a headache or anything?"
"No, I feel okay, just tired, and my ribs are sore."
"Good. Well, it seems as if you live to see another day, Charlie."
"Yeah, it does." Charlie nodded and smiled in agreement.
A few days later, Charlie sat on the beach, Aaron lying beside him on a towel, gurgling happily and smiling up at Charlie. Charlie had his guitar on his lap, and was gently strumming on the strings. At his side, he had a piece of paper and a pen, with words written upon it. He was writing a song, one of the many he had written during his time on the island. They all deviated from what he had written about when he was in Driveshaft. They were much deeper, and more thoughtful. Many were about death (inspired by those that Charlie was close to who died), love (inspired by Charlie's feelings about Claire), and life (inspired by everyone else, but especially Hurley, Desmond, and Aaron). There were also a couple about Charlie's overcoming of his drug addiction. If he ever made it off the island alive, Charlie secretly hoped to release a solo album, dedicated to those who never made it off the island. He grinned down at Aaron.
"I hope your mum likes the songs I wrote about her," he said, and Aaron giggled up at him. Charlie poked put his tongue, and Aaron imitated him. Charlie laughed. He'd always loved playing this game with the baby. He reached out a hand and Tickled Aaron's belly, and the baby laughed harder, kicking his feet and waving his arms about.
"I hope you aren't corrupting my son, Charlie" Claire called from where she was sitting, by the water's edge.
"Wouldn't think of it, Claire" Charlie called back, before breaking off when he heard someone yelling and pointing out at the water. Charlie frowned, looking out. The boat that had been spotted off shore, the one that Charlie had informed everyone that it was not Penny's, had, a couple of days ago, sailed off into the sunset, and hadn't been seen since, so theoretically speaking, there should not have been anything in that direction, except for water.
Except there was something there.
"Helicopter" Hurley yelled, "Dudes, Helicopter. We're saved. SAVED! No more stinking Darma rations, no more coconuts."
"Helicopter. Where?" someone asked.
"Over there," Kate pointed. Charlie raised his hand, shielding his eyes from the sun, and looked in the direction Kate pointed. He grinned when he spotted the Helicopter approaching the island. Claire left the water's edge, running up to where he and Aaron where as Charlie stood up, picking up the baby. She wrapped her arms around Charlie and Aaron, laughing.
"Charlie, we're going home. HOME."
"I know, love." Charlie grinned, kissing Claire on the lips. They stood together as the Helicopter flew closer. The word had spread, and now most of the survivors were on the beach, watching with mixed emotions. Some were fearful, frightened that it was a hoax led by the others. Some were hopeful, fearing that it was a hoax, but having decided to focus on the possibility it was a recue team. Then there were others who were just excited, ignoring the idea of it being a cruel hoax, and instead already planning tearful meetings with long lost family members. Charlie was in the excited category, while Claire was merely hopeful, especially when she realised that the Helicopter was not a military craft, or a rescue helicopter, but just an ordinary, privately owned helicopter.
The survivors stood in a group, watching as the helicopter slowly descended onto the island, blowing sand everywhere and making ripples in the water. The survivors watched as it landed, and began to power down. The side door of the helicopter was flung open, and a young blonde woman leapt put. Charlie began to jump up and down.
"That's the girl, that's the girl I talked to."
"Oh my God, Penny" Desmond yelled, breaking in to a sprint and racing down the beach towards his girl.
"Des" Penny screamed in recognition, running towards him. They met in an embrace, kissing passionately, both of them crying. Hurley wolf whistled, and Claire sighed at the romantic nature of the reunion.
Then, it dawned on the survivors that it was real, and not some cruel hoax brought about by the Others. They hugged one another and cheered, slowly walking towards Desmond and Penny.
Charlie walked hand in hand with Claire, a smile spreading on his face. This moment was fast becoming a candidate for his greatest hits list. He pulled Claire into an embrace and kissed her.
"I love you, Claire" he murmured. Claire grinned.
"I love you too, Charlie" she replied, before they kissed again.
"Hey, Brother. Quit snogging ye wee lass and get over her" Desmond called. Charlie rolled his eyes.
"Coming Des." He called back, leading Claire towards the other pair.
"Penny, this is Charlie, the guy you talked to on the radio."
"Nice to meet you face to face." Penny said, offering her hand, which Charlie shook.
"Likewise." He said, "This is Claire and Aaron," he added.
"Hi" Claire smiled.
"Hi. Charlie, you do realise that you're the one who brought me here. I was able to lock onto your position when we were talking. When you said you were on Oceanic 815, I knew that I had to come out, and then you said that Des was with you. I've already contacted Search and Rescue with your position."
"Dude, you are so, like, totally a hero." Hurley said, pulling Charlie into a bone crushing embrace.
"Nice one, Charlie" Sawyer added appreciatively, clapping Charlie on the back.
"Well done" Sun chined in, her arms wrapped around Jin happily. They were both smiling. Sawyer and Sayid exchanged grins, and lofted Charlie up onto the shoulders. Charlie squealed, before getting himself settled.
"Go Charlie!" Claire cheered, laughing, clutching Aaron in her arms. Charlie turned beet red, ducking his head shyly.
"Live it up Dude." Hurley yelled.
Charlie grinned, shyly. This was so much better than any concert he had played with Driveshaft. Instead of a rock God, he was a hero. He knew which one he liked being more.
"Woohoo" Charlie yelled, raising his hand appreciatively to the rest of the survivors, who yelled and cheered. Sawyer and Sayid let him down carefully, remembering his injured ribs, and Charlie went back to Claire's side, taking Aaron from her arms and hugging him tightly, before kissing Claire again.
Penny and Desmond had wondered back towards the helicopter to continue their reunion in a more private way, and Charlie couldn't help but think that they had the right kind of idea.
Charlie watched the sun set with Claire at his side and Aaron wrapped in a blanket in his arms. Because of the looming night time, it had been decided by the rescue crews to leave 'the evacuation' till morning. The survivors had been a little cautious at first, fearful of an attack by the others, but Jack and Sayid had told all they could about the others, with back up from the rest of the survivors. The rescue personnel had calmed their fears, by showing how heavily armed they were. Charlie, however, still felt the need to keep Claire and Aaron close to him, though he knew that if they were attacked, he probably wouldn't be able to do anything anyway.
Charlie glanced sideways at Claire and smiled, who grinned back, going up on tip toes to kiss him on the cheek.
"I love you" she whispered.
"I love you, and turnip head, more than anything else in the world." He replied, and Claire laughed, her hair shining gold in the setting rays of the sun. Charlie grinned, before kissing her on the mouth. Down at the camp, Hurly, Desmond, and Penny watched the little family up on the hill, silhouetted by the sun.
"What are you watching?" Sawyer came up form behind him.
"Charlie and Claire" Hurly replied.
"God, I can't believe those kids haven't slept together yet."
Who says they haven't" Desmond chuckled. Sawyer turned to face the Scotsman.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, who's to say they haven't left the bairn with Sun or Kate, and gone of to have a roll in the sand somewhere?" Desmond said. Hurley looked at his friend, before looking back up at the couple.
"I don't know. Charlie is still very, well, churchy. Despite the drugs and all that. He finished building the church that Eko built by himself. I can't picture him and her doing the nasty before they tie the knot."
"Speaking of which, chubby, time to pay up." Sawyer grinned
"We haven't left the island yet. The bet was that he'd propose before we left the island." Hurly said. Sawyer shook his head.
"He has less than 18 hours left. If he hasn't asked by the time they get on one of those helicopters, your ass is mine."
"I can't believe you betted on wether or not Charlie would propose while we were on the island." Desmond shook his head, though at the time he had declined to take part in the bet, only because he didn't think that Charlie would survive to get off the island.
"Well, ain't that the pot calling the kettle black. I seem to remember you betting me that Charlie wouldn't live to see his beloved England again."
"Yeah, but Desmond has, like, Devine Intervention going for him. Speaking of, have you had a vision lately?"
"No, not since he almost drowned in that Darma station."
"Well, that's good." Hurley said. Sawyer was looking between the other two with a shocked look on his face.
"Wait a minute. You have visions?" he asked Desmond.
"Only in the last couple of months, and only predicting Charlie's death in different ways."
"Someone upstairs really doesn't like Charlie, or really likes him. There was the lightening strike, the almost drowning trying to save Claire, the thing in the Darma station" Hurly said. Sawyers jaw dropped.
"Damn. And I just thought the kid was accident prone."
"Yep, Old Desmond here had been watching Charlie's back for ages now."
"Does the Kid know?"
"Yeah, he knows."
"Remember when he was all depressed before we found the truck? That was when he was dealing with it."
"Ah, and I thought it was him being moody or a withdrawal thing. Really, it was him thinking he was gonna die." Sawyer shook his head.
"Don't tell Jack, he won't believe it even if you did," Hurly seriously said.
"Hey, I am the person least likely to tell the Doc something. I am looking forward to getting off this God forsaken piece of land just so I can get away from him."
Penny watched the discussion with interest. It was obvious that Desmond had made friends with the Oceanic survivors, and she knew he would hate to loose contact with them.
Charlie woke early the next morning, and slipped out of his bed, crawling over to Aaron's crib. He smiled down at the just woken up baby, and gently stroked Aaron's chubby cheek.
"Hey Turnip Head. We go home today. You and me and your mum. You'll like it off the island. We'll still see everyone. Auntie Kate, and Uncle Des, and Uncle Hurly and Auntie Sun. It won't be so hot, and we'll be able to get you some real Baby clothes, and a nice comfy bed, not that there's anything wrong with your bed now. Uncle Locke did a good job making that, even though he's helping the Other's now. You and Me and your mum, the three of us together. I promise I won't leave her when this is over. I'm going to release my solo album, and then the three of us are going to go and live somewhere quiet, maybe by the beach, so we can pretend our plane crashed again. And I'll teach you to play soccer, and how to swim." Charlie winced as he said the last sentence, "Well, as well as I can anyway. I'm not brilliant at either to tell you the truth. I know that when I was going…down to the station, I left the ring to you. You're the closest thing to a son I have. It's a Pace family thing. Father to eldest son, except I got it when Liam was, well, sick. I need to borrow it little guy, to make us a real family. Can I do that? Can I love you and Claire forever? Live with you forever? Have you as my family?"
Aaron cooed and waved his arms in the air, smiling.
"I'm guessing that's a yes, Turnip head." Charlie smiled, before bending down and kissing the baby on the forehead.
"I love you, little guy" Charlie grinned, picking up the Driveshaft ring from where it had sat ever since the day that Charlie had left it behind. He moved back to Claire's side and kissed her sleeping body, first on the neck, then moving up towards her ear, then down along her jaw to her lips. Claire groaned.
"Charlie what are you doing?"
"Do you want to go watch the last sunrise with me?" he asked. Claire grinned.
"After being woken up like that, how can I say no?" she giggled, "but someone needs to stay with Aaron.
"We'll take him with us. It's his last day here as well. He's already awake. We had a manly talk."
Claire laughed and got up, Charlie turning his back so she could get dressed. He got Aaron up, changing him and wrapping him in a blanket to ward off the cool breeze blowing from the sea. The three of them walked together out onto the deserted beach, holding hands and whispering to each other as they passed the tents and walked up to the same hill they'd watch the sunset from. They looked in the opposite direction though as the dark sky slowly lightened.
"I love the sunrises and the sunsets here" Claire murmured as she leant back against Charlie's chest, her arms wrapped around Aaron.
"Me too, though not nearly as much as I love you and Aaron." Charlie kissed the top of Claire's head.
They watched as the sun slowly rose from the horizon, the shining reflection on the water complementing it. Charlie took a deep breath. It was now or never. He gently lowered his hand to Claire's spare one, and sank to one knee. Claire turned around to see what he was doing, and her jaw dropped.
"Charlie, what are you doing?"
"Claire, when we first met, I was a drug addict former Rock musician, and you were a young mother to be. We were both scared, and we didn't know what the heck we were doing. I think I was considered the least likely to survive by pretty much everyone, and yet you still opened yourself up to me. We had a lot of good times, and even more bad times. You were my friend from day one. I'd die for you a thousand times. I wrote the top five moments of my life out just before I went down, for Des to give to you when I didn't come back. The best moment of my life was the moment that I met you. I love you so much, Claire. You care for me, even after all the stupid things that I've done. I love you for that. Claire, I don't want us to be separated when we get back. I want to live the rest of my life with you and Aaron. Together, with the three of us. I don't care where we end up, as long as it's the three of us. You, Aaron, and me. I love you, Claire. Will you marry me?"
Claire froze, and then she smiled, tears gathering in her eyes.
"Charlie, from the first moment I saw you, I thought you were adorable. You were so kind, looking for peanut butter for me, and you were so friendly. When I thought you were dead, I cried so much, and I decided that if I had a boy, I would name him after you. When I came back, and you were okay, I was so happy. When Aaron was born, you were like the perfect father for him, even though he isn't yours. In my dreams, it's always the three of us together, happy. I love you so much, Charlie. Yes, of course I'll marry you."
Charlie paused for a moment, processing her answer, before a wide grin broke out on his face.
"You mean, yes?"
"Yes I mean yes."
Charlie got up and launched himself at Claire, kissing her passionately, Aaron trapped between them, though by his giggles, he didn't really mind all that much.
"Now you will be his dad," Claire gushed, and Charlie pulled away from her.
"I've felt like I was his dad from the moment he was born." He murmured, stroking her face with his hand.
"Oh, Charlie, I love you." Claire giggled, pulling him in for another kiss. They stayed like that for the next few minutes as the sun continued to rise into the sky, only breaking away so that they could breathe.
"Oh, Bullocks," Charlie muttered pulling away for a moment.
"What?" Claire asked, smiling. Nothing could take away the happiness she felt at that moment.
"I forgot the most important bloody bit didn't I?"
"The ring." Charlie pulled the Driveshaft ring from his pocket and grinned. Claire saw it and laughed.
"Oh, Charlie that's perfect."
"I had to ask Aaron if I could use it, though, since technically speaking it's his now. I probably should have asked his permission too. God I am a bad Catholic."
Claire stopped Charlie by kissing him tenderly, "I'm sure he gives his assent, Charlie. He loves you."
"Yeah, I guess." Charlie took Claire's left hand in his and looked up into her eyes.
"Yes" Claire giggled, and Charlie slid the ring onto her ring finger. Claire giggled.
"Oh my God, we're engaged."
"I know" Charlie grinned, and they embraced.
"C'mon, everyone else will be waking up and starting to pack up camp. Oh my god, this has been the best 24 hours of my life" Claire took Charlie's hand in hers, and Charlie took Aaron from her arms, and together they walked down towards the beaching, swinging their clasped hands. Claire nestled her head onto Charlie's shoulder, and Aaron comfortably lying tucked up into Charlie's other arm, looking up at his mother.
The rest of the Survivors were awake at this point and were breaking camp, slowly pulling down the shelters that had become their homes. Charlie and Claire went back to their shelter, and Charlie began to pull it down, while Claire gathered their belongings together
It didn't take long before they were both completely packed up. Everyone was taking stuff with them as memorabilia that they could use to remember their time on the island. Charlie and Claire had settled with gathering up a couple of Jars of sand, as well as the jar that had once held 'peanut butter.' Claire didn't mention it, but she knew that Charlie had the largest fragment of one of the Virgin Mary statues he could find hidden in his belongings, to remember how close he came to loosing everything. Several of the search and rescue personnel had cameras, and so lots of photos had been taken. Aaron had already had his first photo taken, and Claire had been promised a copy.
Claire frowned as she saw Sawyer scowling at her again. He'd been doing it all morning, and it was a little un-nerving. Charlie had obviously noticed it too; because he saw the way he was looking at the older man, confusion writer clearly across his face.
"What's wrong with Sawyer?" Claire whispered as the got their final packing finished.
"I don't know, but it's kind of freaking me out" Charlie admitted. Putting their bundles with the rest of the survivors' belongings, the newly engaged couple joined the rest of the group, which was clustered together. Desmond was the first to notice that the ring that had once represented Charlie's past, had found its new home, on Claire's ring finger, and his jaw dropped. He shot a single glance at Charlie, meeting his young friends gaze. Desmond quirked his eyebrow questioningly and Charlie let a sly smile cross his face as he nodded, kissing Claire on the cheek. Desmond grinned and nodded approvingly, pleased that his friend had his 'happily ever after.'
Hurley was the next to notice, and he was not nearly as subtle about acknowledging it as Desmond had been.
"Dude, oh my God, you popped the Question. Finally!" He exclaimed loudly, causing several members of the group to jump.
"Yeah, well, seemed like the right time to do it." Charlie shrugged, as Claire blushed, her cheeks turning pink. Charlie shuffled his feet nervously, not used to everyone's attention being on him. It happening twice in 24 hours, and both times in a positive way was frankly unnerving.
"Damn it, I hoped you wouldn't notice" Sawyer muttered under his breath as Hurley turned triumphantly towards the ex con artist.
"Ha, pay up time. You owe me fifty bucks, dude."
"You bet on Charlie not proposing on the island?" Kate laughed. Sawyer shrugged.
"I had to do something in my down time, freckles. I though the kid was too scared to. He's got more balls than I gave him credit for."
Charlie didn't know if the comment was a compliment or not, so he said nothing. Claire grinned as Kate, Sun, and Rose walked up to her, examining the ring. It didn't look like much, but they all knew what the ring meant to Charlie.
Charlie, on the other hand, was shaking hand with all the guys. Desmond and Hurley flanked him, and had their arms around his shoulders, reassuring their friend.
Once he had shaken hands with everyone in the camp, Charlie returned to Claire's side, relieving her arms of Aaron's weight. He kissed her on the lips.
"Ready to head back to the world?" He asked. Claire smiled
The word had spread across the world that the survivors of Oceanic 815 had been found on an island in the pacific quickly, thanks to satellite technology, and the internet. Liam Pace was lying on his couch watching his TV, trying to tire himself out before going to bed. The nightmares came less often when he was tired. Nightmares about his baby brother, little Charlie, killed on the Oceanic flight that had killed everyone on board when It had crashed somewhere in the pacific. Sure, the crash, and Charlie's death, had made Driveshaft huge once again; having gone platinum, but Liam couldn't care less. He'd give all the fame and money (all of which he, and the rest of the band, had donated to a trust fund for the families of the victims) if he could save his brother.
Sure, their last encounter had been bad, and they'd parted on bad terms but Liam felt responsible for his little brother, he always had. Ever since the day, in that hospital in Manchester, that the tiny, pink, squealing bundle of flesh had been placed in his arms, wrapped in a pale blue blanket, his father telling him that it was his new baby brother, Charlie.
The newsflash in the middle of the program brought him out of his musing. The headline crossing the bottom of the screen.
'OCEANIC 815 SURVIVORS FOUND!'
Liam took in a deep breath, and choked on it as his emotions broke out, tears pouring down his cheeks. His beloved Karen, who had been in the kitchen making herself a hot drink, was beside him in an instant.
"Liam, what is it?"
Unable to speak, Liam just pointed at the TV screen, croaking out a single word.
Charlie watched as Claire climbed into the helicopter, Aaron secure in her arms. Desmond stood beside him, watching.
"She's safe, brother. She's on that helicopter, and it's all thanks to you."
"Thanks Des. Really man, thanks. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be here today, and maybe Claire wouldn't be either."
"It's my pleasure, brother. Now get on that helicopter so we don't get left behind."
Charlie smiled and nodded, before he looked over his shoulder at the beach that had changed his life for ever. He turned his head back to Claire, who was smiling as she did up her seatbelt, before he followed in her footsteps and climbed up into the helicopter, Desmond at his heels. The small fleet of helicopters, as Penny's helicopter had called in search and rescue ones, rose into the air, and they flew towards the destination that the Oceanic survivors had been heading for, all those long weeks ago.
LAX Airport, Los Angeles, California in the United States of America.
Having gone through immigration and customs, and been examined medically, the oceanic survivors were shepherded into a large room with lots of comfortable chairs. Jack immediately picked up a newspaper that someone had left lying around, and began flicking through it. Sawyer rolled his eyes.
"Geeze, Doc, take a break. No one's gonna care that we're a bit behind on currant affairs. Hell, for the next week, we are going to be currant affairs."
"Dude, he does have a point," Hurley added, backing up Sawyer.
Charlie and Claire were oblivious to it. Someone had found some baby clothes, and they were dressing Aaron together.
"Aww, he looks so cute, all dressed up." Claire gushed in a rare moment of girlishness. Charlie laughed.
"Of course he does, with you for a mum."
""Flattery will get you everywhere Charlie." Claire giggled, pulling him in for a kiss.
The noise of a throat being cleared attracted everyone's attention, and the two young lovebirds broke apart reluctantly. A man in a suit stood in the doorway, holding a thick file in his hands.
"Hello, my name is Kevin Jones, from the Transport department of the US government. We've done our best to contact all of your families, and a lot of them have heard it on the news in the last twenty four or so hours, so they have come on their own record. Now, we're going to reunite you with your families. Do you have any particular order you want to be reunited in.
Jack paused, before he began to speak, and everyone else agreed with what he said.
Sawyer strode out of the room into the larger room being used for the reunions. Unsurprisingly, there was no-one there to meet him, but he did smile for the small media contingent that was trapped behind barriers at the opposite side of the room.
Hugo Stepped out into the room, and was immediately swamped by his parents. His mother clucked at how thin he had gotten, and his father just shook his head, tears leaking from his yes.
"Claire Littleton, Aaron Littleton, and Charlie Pace…"
Charlie led Claire out, grasping her hand tightly. She held Aaron tightly, cooing comfortingly in his ear as the baby took in all the people that were watching the young trio.
"Charlie. Oh my God!"
Charlie had barely enough time to brace himself before Liam's larger body collided with his own with enough force to almost knock the guitarist off his feet. Liam pulled Charlie close, burying his head in his younger brother's hair.
"Liam, man, I'm okay. You can let go. I can't breathe."
"I'm never letting you go, Charlie. I left you, and then I though you were dead."
"I know, it doesn't matter. How's my sister in law and niece?"
"They're good. Both happy that you're okay."
"Liam, don't worry about me. I'm fine."
Liam finally pulled back surveying his younger brother, searching for any noticeable shakes. Charlie noticed, and knew what Liam was looking for.
"I did it, Liam. I'm clean. I'm never using, ever again."
"I'm so bloody proud of you, little brother. Now who is this fine young lady you have with you?"
"This is Claire Littleton, my fiancé, and Aaron Littleton. They're my family."
"Charlie, congratulations. Mum would be so pleased right now. Welcome to the Pace family, Claire. We're an odd bunch, but I think you've got the oddest one to yourself."
"Hey" Charlie laughed as he put his are around Claire's slender shoulders. Liam stood on his other side, and together they walked out of the doorway. Once they had cleared it, Liam grabbed Charlie's arm gently, and leant in close, whispering in his brother's ear so no one else could hear.
"By the way, Driveshaft made it to platinum, and it was all thanks to you, Bro."
"P…platinum?" Charlie stuttered.
"Yeah, I know. We put the money towards charity, of course, since, well, you know."
"I don't care about the bloody money. Platinum! This isn't April fools day or something, is it? Platinum! Are you serious. This is officially the best day of my life. Number one on the greatest hits list.
"I'm so proud of you, Charlie" Claire beamed, before kissing him on the lips. Liam fell back, giving the young couple some space. His eyes were still leaking tears.
Following the Airport staff directions, Charlie and Claire moved towards the rest of their friends, large smiles spread across their faces as they looked forward to their new lives, together.
A.N. Wow, this story has taken me ages to finish, and I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out. I was devastated when Charlie died, and stopped watching Lost in protest, but this fanfic has kept me interested in the show.
Charlie and Clare forever
Reviews are much appreciated.