Dancing with the Devil Part 2
"So," Charlie began. "What do you wanna talk about, Claire? Would you like to play... I don't know, Truth or Dare?"
Charlie wasn't sure but he thought he saw Claire roll her eyes. She didn't respond to the question for some reason. Charlie wasn't really sure why. She had just been acting so sweet.
Claire stood up. "Charlie, I'm gonna go walk around, okay? I'm feeling restless." Charlie stared at her with wide eyes. Didn't she enjoy his company too? Besides, it wasn't a good idea for her to be walking around alone on the island when Ethan wanted nothing more than getting her back. Charlie never wanted anything to happen to Claire. She had to be safe.
But before he could tell her no Claire, please stay, don't go away she had stalked out of the caves. Charlie was going to stand up and get her but, for some unfair reason, he had a flashback instead. Curses.
Charlie's and Lucy's footsteps rung out loudly in the huge museum. It had tall ceilings, lots of famous paintings, marble floors, and golden artifacts from long ago times. Each time Charlie noticed a new detail, the place just seemed even more expensive and valuable. He felt jealous. He'd never had much money.
And Tommy wanted him to steal from this place? There were cameras everywhere! It was an impossible job, plus, Charlie's hands couldn't stop shaking. He thought he might be coming down with the flu... or withdrawal. His drugs had disappeared in the middle of the night,a note from Tommy in their place. It said– you guessed it– "We're gonna rob your girlfriend, Charlie".
"You really think your dad will want to employ me, Luce?" Charlie asked uncomfortably. She narrowed her eyes at him tenderly.
"Charlie, why wouldn't he? You're honest, sweet, charming... What else could he want from a tour guide?"
"Competence," mumbled Charlie. Lucy put an arm around his shoulder gently and he tried to cheer up for her.
"Just wait until you meet my father, Charlie. You'll get on like a house on fire."
"If you say so," Charlie said, not believing her one bit.
Once they made it to the Meeting Place, a very fancy room that was closed off with ropes, Lucy gave Charlie a kiss on the cheek. "Go on, Charlie," she said, "I'm sure he'll love you."
Charlie took a deep breath and plunged into the room.
There was a large, ornate table in the center, which a middle-aged man was sitting at, drinking coffee out of a shot glass. The floors were very shiny and the walls covered with paintings of old, wigged men, and one of them appeared to be Lucy's dad.
"Ah, Mr. Pace!" Lucy's dad said in an upper-crust British accent. He nodded at Charlie and indicated the chair across from him. "Please, take a seat."
"Yes sir," Charlie said in a rush, and he flung himself into the chair, nearly knocking over Mr. Lucy's Dad's coffee. "You must be..." He froze, not remembering his name. He cursed himself silently.
"Francis Wimples David Orlando Heatherton," Lucy's dad said, not seeming offended. He smiled at Charlie but that just made Charlie even more nervous. They stared at each other for an excruciatingly long time, not saying a word. Charlie started sweating.
"Er, so, do you wanna see my resume?" he asked. Mr. Wimples Orlando Bloom, or whatever his name was, nodded. He looked like he didn't know what to expect from Charlie. Charlie slowly removed his resume from his plaid satchel and silently slid it across the table to Lucy's father.
"You want to be a tour guide?" Lucy's dad asked. Charlie nodded quietly. "Have you any acting experience?" Charlie bopped his head towards the resume, too afraid to answer him out loud.
"Ah... let me see... School plays. That's all? Are you good with people?"
"Usually," Charlie whispered.
"I see," said Mr. Hawthorne in a very flat sort of voice. Charlie, in a panic, segued into his entertainment mode.
"Yeah, I love people. I can appeal to a very diverse audience, too. Not to sound too self-satisfied, but every demographic loves me."
Mr. Heatherton look interested. Charlie continued hopefully.
"I don't know if you heard, but I'm in– I was in a band?"
"Er, yeah," Charlie said. This was kind of a difficult subject for him now that Liam had ceased any form of communication with him. Li was now living in Australia with his wife. Charlie missed him and hated him in equal parts. "It was called Drive Shaft. I don't know if you've heard of us; we were kind of more popular in South Africa than anywhere else."
"Oh really?" Mr. Heatherton was definitely interested now. "I've never heard of Drive Shaft, but I'll be looking into that... South Africa, eh? Blimey." Charlie was shaking now in excitement. "I used to play in band too but no one much cared for it. It was called The Rich and the Bloody Rich and the Bloody Messes, Too, if I remember correctly."
"Oh, awesome!" Charlie said. "R and R? Punk?"
"Jazz," Mr. Heatherton said. "But we weren't very good."
"Oh, come on," Charlie grinned at him. "You can't have been too bad."
"Believe me, we were," Lucy's dad said.
"So how'd you get into the museum business?" Charlie asked, sitting up straighter in his chair to appear more professional. He could get this job. He could get this job and pay Tommy off and pay Lucy back and buy plane tickets to Australia to visit Liam. He could make it.
"I bought this museum when I was twelve years old," Mr. Heatherton said wistfully. "I had saved up money for a year, and I favored the exhibits here. Ever since, I've operated as it's manager."
"Fantastico, as they say in the land of Spain," Charlie said. "Judging by the amazing quality of this place, you must be terrific." Mr. Heatherton nodded bashfully. Charlie went on, hoping beyond hope that he could win the job. "As a tour guide I would help tell all the different stories that made this museum what it is today. I could entertain in an informative way that would not only interest the people that come, but excite them. I would do this all with a positive attitude... You've inspired me, Mr. Heatherton. Maybe one day we'll buy another museum– together. That would really make my life."
"That's it," Lucy's dad said. Charlie froze. What could he mean? "That's it! You're hired. When can you start work?"
"As soon as needed, sir," Charlie said, his voice wavering in excitement and relief. "I'll need to be given some information to learn for this, but really, I've memorized things before."
"Great!" Mr. Heatherton checked his watch. "I'm mildly apologetic, Mr. Pace, but I've got other business to attend to now. I'll give you a ring later on today and we'll talk more business."
"Brill," Charlie said, and after a quick handshake with Lucy's dad he was out the door, in the hall of the museum again, his head spinning in amazement. He hardly even remembered what he'd said to Mr. Francis Wimples Heatherton but was very impressed with his self of the past.
Lucy was waiting outside for him and when she saw his smile she dimpled back at him and embraced him lovingly. "You got the job!" she said. Charlie nodded, his chin digging into her back a little bit.
"You were right, Luce," he whispered. "Everything's fine." And he truly believed that. Until he was walking to Sinbad's apartment that night to hang out. He was all alone on the street, but he felt safe in his spiky shoes and soft, flexible jeans. If he was mugged he could defend himself. He even had a job now, which was very good. Sinbad would be jealous.
But his mood was quickly ruined when someone grabbed his shoulder from behind. He turned around shakily, forgetting about stuff like self-defense, and was surprised to see Tommy's pellucid face squinting at him cruelly.
"Charlie," he hissed, making Charlie's skin crawl, "this "job" doesn't change a thing. You'll still rob your girlfriend. Because I don't need money. I need her car."
Charlie remembered extreme confusion and fear, and then he woke up.
"Claire!" he said, jumping up wildly. "Where!?" He ran through the caves but he couldn't find Claire and some people got angry at him for almost causing another cave-in. Not that the first one had been anyone's fault but Locke's. And Charlie had saved the day then.
He had to save the day again. He couldn't let Claire get caught by Ethan. He had to protect her. He hadn't been able to keep Tommy from Lucy– and that had ended horribly. He couldn't repeat anything like that with his golden-haired sweetheart. She was so vulnerable, being pregnant and having amnesia. It was scary to him. Scarier than moth men, even.
He walked out of the caves and right away he saw Sun and Jin. He was relieved. Being alone on the island was dangerous. Even just being with one other person was. Actually, they hadn't proved that groups were any safer yet, but Charlie was sure they would. He ran up to the Koreans and gladly grabbed there hands. They stared at him, bewildered.
"Claire!" he said loudly and clearly. "Where?"
They stared at him. Sun shrugged sadly.
Charlie didn't give up. Pulling Jin and Sun behind him, he set off into the jungle to find Claire.
"ETHAN!" Jack, Kate, and Locke shouted all at once, trying to jump up to the library's roof but missing and hitting each other instead. Jack and Kate fell onto the sand in a tangled mess and almost started kissing, but Locke collapsed onto them just then, and they rolled around, Locke and Jack punching each other as Kate cried and attempted to stand.
When they had all gotten up, Ethan was gone.
"Where'd he go!?" Jack demanded of Sawyer. Sawyer scowled at him.
"While you guys were lying around, he left a note up there and then ran off too fast for me to see. And you would have known that too if you had just thought before you acted. All of you!" Sawyer was angry for some reason. Jack didn't know why. Sawyer didn't get angry; he just got sad and started crying instead (not manly tears like Jack's, but wimpy, Southern tears that were fueled, no doubt, by a deep, deep realization of his inadequacy).
"Sorry, Sawyer," Kate said, sounding rumpled. "I guess we kind of messed that one up..." Her face was red and blotchy and she looked ready to cry. "We'll never catch him! He's too fast and this island's too big!"
"You're right, it is big," Locke said, and Jack's stomach boiled with rage at his voice. You'd think that Locke would at least have caught Ethan just now, being such a famous hunter and all. Didn't people worship his mundane ability to catch things? Obviously, fame wasn't everything.
"Kate, please don't cry," Sawyer whispered intimately. "It's not you're fault he got away. He's just too fast, like you said."
"Sawyer, leave her alone!" Jack snapped. "She's not your girl anymore, and you know it."
Locke looked impatient. "Is this really the time for romantic troubles, Jack!?" he asked rudely. "We need to focus on Ethan. What do you think would be a good plan, Boone?"
Boone just shook his head, rubbing his leg gingerly, and Jack swore. "Locke, did you hurt him again!?" he demanded. "Tell me. NOW."
"He didn't hurt me," Boone mumbled, just as Shannon and Sayid walked up to the group, looking concerned.
"Are you okay?" Sayid asked them. "Shannon and I heard screaming. Is everything all right?"
"No," said Nikki cattily, "duh. We're stuck on an island, without showers and good food and I can't become super rich here with diamonds. So no. Everything is not all right."
"Ethan's back," Sawyer explained.
"What!?" Shannon shrank into Sayid's arms fearfully. "Where?"
"We don't know where he went because those losers all stared rolling around on the ground for some strange reason instead of catching him," said Steve, who had joined the group along with Scott.
"Shut up, all of you stupid people!" Jack yelled at them, turning the attention back to himself. "I have a plan, so all of you can calm down!"
"Your plan is rubbish!" Locke shouted back.
"Plan for what?" asked Hurley. Jack wished they would stop listening in on this. Why didn't they all just go mind their own business? It was supposed to be a private conversation.
"The plan for my RAAAAAAAAAFT?" Michael said. Walt then kicked him in the shin, but Locke pulled him away before he could do anymore damage.
Jack was trying to pull out his hair but it was too short. He breathed in deeply, very, very stressed out. "No, no, no," he said to the group in general, which now also included Charlie, Sun, Jin, and Rose. "This is a plan for how to deal with Ethan's return. You all know who Ethan is, right?"
The insanely large group nodded, all staring at Jack. He tried to relax– cool as a cucumber– but he was too worked up at the moment.
"Well, he's back. And he wants Claire back, too. Yes, we have Claire again. And she is alive."
He paused for all the cheers and curious chattering, then went on. They all were silent again. Jack loved the attention.
"Now, this may come as a shock to most of you, but Ethan wants to kill us all."
Nikki screamed. Some olive-skinned guy shushed her and held her hand and Jack realized that she had a boyfriend. It offended him, but after glancing back at Kate, with her luxurious chocolate curls, he was able to continue.
"He'll only kill us, see, if we don't give him Claire. So, here's what we–"
"THEN GIVE HIM CLAIRE!" someone yelled. Jack looked around all over for the source of the interruption. It was that idiot, Arzt. Charlie was now pushing through the crowd looking vengeful, Kate was telling Shannon very loudly and pointedly about how some people were brainless jerks, and even Locke had viciously pulled a knife out of his pocket.
"Who is Claire?" asked Sully, who Jack though must have been the most annoying person in the world. Jack silenced everyone by blowing a whistle that he'd been keeping in his pocket. Most of them looked murderous, but they let Jack talk anyway.
"Claire Littleton," Jack said quietly, so that everyone would have to focus to hear him, "is a blonde Australian native in her early twenties. She's very pregnant, very sweet, and also very needy. As the de facto leader, it's my job to protect her, to protect all of you."
"And you're doing a great job of it," said Scott politely. "We all owe you a lot."
Steve seemed to disagree. "Well then, what's your plan, Jack? How do we avoid being murdered by this Ethan man?"
"Who is Ethan anyway?" Rose asked.
"A vampire who infiltrated our camp and tricked us all," said Hurley. "He was living on the island before us."
"Are vampires real?" Nikki's boyfriend asked. He had an annoying Brazillian accent that made Jack's neck itchy, a feeling he always got before he punched someone.
"That's debatable," Sayid replied.
"SHUT UP!" Kate yelled suddenly. "LET JACK TALK OR WE'LL GET NOTHING DONE!" Jack felt proud of her, how well she controlled the crowd. She and Jack were soulmates, really. They were so similar.
Jack swept his gaze over to anxious crowd. It seemed like all the survivors were there, other than Claire. They all looked up to him. It was... beautiful. "My plan is that we get everyone inside the caves, and station armed guards around every entrance. We can even have people take shifts. As long as we stay alert, there's no way Ethan could get in."
"Jack, you're wrong," Locke said. "Ethan wants us to all flock together like sheep. That way he can get rid of us faster. I say that two groups are safer than one. Half of us will stay at the beach, and the other half will hide in the caves."
Jack felt his face go red with frustration, but he had to admit that Locke had a point. He thought like a killer, and that made him even more dangerous. Jack decided that to avoid a scene, he would agree to Locke's plan. This time.
"Fine," he said, and Sayid gasped in obvious surprise. "You're right, John. We can do that. Now who wants to be a guard?"
Half the group, the part that Jack had never bothered to meet, wandered away, looking bored. They got into their little cabins, closed their little curtains, and went on with their hopeless lives.
"I'll be a guard, naturally," said Kate, taking setting up at once. Jack nodded at her stiffly, knowing in his brain that she was probably the best choice possible, though his heart wanted her to be kept super safe. She'd already been attacked by Ethan once this day. Two attacks could be avoided.
"I'll guard, too," said Sawyer. "I've read all about vampires."
"Of course, I'll watch over the beach," Locke said confidently. "I know this area of the island like the back of my hand and I can set up traps around the perimeter." Jack rolled his eyes. Yes, Locke could make traps. How clever. Jack wanted to watch Locke try and perform spinal surgery, just to knock his confidence down a few notches. The creep.
"Do you want me to help you?" Boone asked him.
"No, stay with Jack," Locke said. "I'll do it alone. I'll be okay. You stay too, Walt."
Walt looked sad.
"Anyone else want to guard?" Jack asked briskly. He glanced up at the sky and was worried to see that it was almost sundown. "Sayid?"
"Have I a choice?" Sayid moaned. Then he grinned barbarically. "Sure, anything to help. Boone, you watch over Shannon while I'm working."
Boone looked overjoyed.
"Great," Jack said. "And I'll help too. Okay, guys, we're going back to the caves. Um... luck, Locke. Watch over the beach bums carefully, I hate to see any of them die." Locke shook his head forbiddingly at Jack, which was kind of an odd response in Jack's opinion. An annoyingly odd one. One that made Jack very upset.
"Um, mans," Michael said shyly. "I'm gonna stay and work on my RAAAAAAAFT."
"Mr. Locke, please give him to Ethan," begged Walt. Jack quickly got involved. They had to get moving if they didn't all want to die.
"No, he's coming. Everyone that's here with me right now, excepting only Locke, is going to the caves. Come on!"
He marched away so that they had no choice to follow him.
The sun began setting as they tramped through the jungle, and Jack looked over all his people. He knew all of them, which was good and bad. Good that he didn't have to meet anyone new right now. Bad that he might be sad if they died, however unlikely that was. But he felt that someone was missing. He was going to protect everyone he knew here except... except...
He couldn't remember, but it was too late now anyway. A trip back through the jungle could very well be suicide, something Jack frowned upon. When they got to the caves, though, he felt like beating himself up.
"Jack," Hurley told him, "Scott's still at the beach."
Jack swore to himself, knowing that even though Scott was Locke's responsibility to protect now, he would blame himself if anything happened to the man. Because Jack was the de facto leader. He had to save the survivors. Not let them die.
Because he had what it took. And no else here did.
"Oh, there you are, Claire. I couldn't find you anywhere." Charlie gazed down at Claire carefully. She was sitting on the Doctor Rock, kicking her legs back and forth thoughtfully, rubbing her belly. Charlie frowned at her. He was worried.
"Hi, Charlie," she said. "Sorry I kind of walked out on you. I'm just feeling sort of... restless."
Charlie nodded silently. She couldn't go wandering around alone anymore. Not tonight. Possibly not ever again. Ethan might not be the only monster on the island.
Charlie wondered what Claire would do if she found out about Ethan's threats. Pretty badly, probably. She'd feel guilty. Charlie didn't want that, but he felt guilty because he wasn't telling her anything. She deserved to know. Who was he to keep things from her?
Charlie sighed. He wasn't the only person on the island that knew about Ethan. It wasn't really his responsibility to tell her everything.
"Hey, Charlie," Sawyer said, striding over to him casually. "How's it going."
"Very painfully, I must say. I wish this curse would go away." Charlie brushed his hair with his fingers and rubbed his eyes.
"It will one day," Sawyer said. Just then Jack stalked up to them.
"Sawyer, are you planning on guarding tonight or not?" he grumbled at the Southerner. Claire looked confused, and Charlie suddenly felt very panicky inside. He didn't want her to find out. But Jack and Sawyer continued going at it, despite Charlie's frantic head-shaking. Sawyer crossed his arms and nodded slowly, looking like an angry cowboy.
"Jack, do we have any sort of weapons to use?" he asked. Jack laughed.
"Yeah, dummy. We've got guns."
"What do we need guns for?" Claire asked, and Charlie felt sick.
"To protect you, of course," Jack snapped. "Duh." Charlie felt sicker.
"Why do I need protected?" she asked shrilly. "What's going on? Explain!" Charlie felt sickest. He needed to tell her now. She wouldn't settle without the truth.
"Someone wants to kidnap you again. So we're keeping you safe inside our den." Claire stared into his eyes for a moment. Charlie reached out to comfort her. But then their gaze broke and Claire started yelling at them all.
"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!?" she yelled. "Someone wants to kidnap me– again? When was I kidnapped before? I can't trust you people– I don't know you, or where I am, or what is going on– and if you explain, PLEASE, do it without RHYMING, for God's sake! I'm SICK OF THIS! I'M SICK OF BEING CONFUSED!"
"Calm down!" Jack growled. "I don't have time for this. Look, a guy named Ethan kidnapped you a couple days after our plane crashed here. I guess he gave you amnesia. Sawyer found you in the jungle, and now Ethan wants you back, so we're gonna protect you, okay, Claire? I've gotta split."
And he stormed off. Sawyer glanced apologetically at Claire and Charlie.
"I've gotta go, too. Ah... I'll check back with you two in a while." He smiled at them a little, dimpling as usual, and followed Jack's path.
Claire was frowning at the floor, drawing circles with her finger on the dusty rocks. Charlie sat there watching her for a long time, thinking or her. And Lucy. He wondered why he had flashbacks about such awful things all the time.
After almost an hour of silence, the sun had gone down, and the little light they'd gotten from a hole in the wall was gone. Kate swung by with a torch for them and set it carefully between two rocks.
"Thanks," Claire said quietly. Kate smiled at them, looking strained.
"You're welcome. Jack told me that you knew what was going on." Kate frowned at Charlie for a moment, but he shook his head darkly.
"Yeah, he did," Claire said. "You guys– thanks for protecting me."
"Not just you," Kate shrugged. "Everyone." She frowned again. "But we're not armed properly. Ethan's a vampire. We have guns. That doesn't work out."
"I always suspected vampires existed..." Claire sighed. "Why don't you just tell the doctor that you need stakes and garlic?"
"He won't listen," Kate moaned. "Anyway, I've gotta get back to my post. Claire, we're all just so happy to have you back. Charlie and me especially."
They watched her as she skipped away.
"I guess I shouldn't hand myself over then, should I?" Claire said, a smile tugging at her lips. Charlie shook his head. No way would he let her do that. Jack and Kate would protect them all. They would find a way do this without losing Claire.
Locke paced back and forth along the beach, completely alert at midnight. He held a stake in one hand and a sword in the other, and traps were set along the perimeter of the beach. The survivors were totally safe.
Suddenly, he heard footsteps coming toward him from the sand. He turned in their direction, getting into a fighting stance, ready for anything.
It was just Scott, though. His blonde hair was shining in the moonlight, making a halo above his head. He looked tired.
"Yes?" Locke said testily. He couldn't afford to lose focus by having a conversation right now. Scott was being stupid. Didn't he know that it was dangerous to be out tonight?
"Is it really wise to just have one guard for the entire beach camp? I've been lying awake in my bed in fear, to be honest."
"It's safe," Locke said. "Don't worry. Go get some rest. You need it."
Scott nodded quietly and walked back to his cabin. Locke continued his stake out in total silence. Until–
There was a whirring noise above him, and he looked up to see Seth Norris floating above the trees. He waved for Locke to join him in the jungle, then flew off.
Locke started breathing heavily. He wasn't sure what to do. It was his job to watch these people, but really, when was he ever going to get another another chance with Seth Norris!? Besides, Jack always bragged about being the "de facto leader". It was his fault if his faithful followers died.
After slipping his weapons back into Sawyer's stash to hide them, Locke sneaked into the jungle. Excitement bubbled in his veins. Finally, after an entire month, Seth wanted to talk with him. Locke thought of Seth as this magical island's protecter. He worshiped the island, and Seth. Locke worshipped almost anything possible. He believed in all the religions he could find, and also believed in other mystical stuff, like astrology, the Greek and Roman gods, Wicca, anything. He knew that the secret of his destiny was hidden somewhere in there, and he would try to find it even if it sacrificed any shot he might have had at a peaceful afterlife.
Seth was waiting for Locke inside the jungle. Without a word, he began walking further in, and Locke followed him without hesitation.
He recognized the path they were taking. It led to the hatch. Locke grew even more excited. Maybe Seth would tell him how to open it! That would be amazing!
By the time they reached the hatch, Locke was quivering with anticipation. What did Seth want? Locke was fully prepared for an attack now, too, but he didn't really expect one. Seth should know by now that he and Locke were kindred spirits.
"Hello, Seth," Locke said, keeping the joy out of his voice carefully. Seth looked him over approvingly, then nodded several times.
"So, you found the hatch," he said proudly. "Good. Very good. But you don't know how to open it."
"No," admitted Locke. "I haven't given up yet, though."
"Good." Seth smiled. "Well. How about I give you a clue?"
Locke couldn't keep the grin off his face. He knew it. He knew that Seth wanted to help him. One day, maybe, he and Locke could rule the island together. They would be the real leaders– doctors need not apply for the job.
"Please, Seth, I would be eternally grateful," Locke said, and Seth grinned. He reached slowly into his pocket and pulled out a photograph. Locke crept closer to see it, squinting slightly to make out the image because of the dark. It was a picture of a small plane, lodged into a cliff in what Locke immediately recognized as somewhere in this island's jungle. He looked up at Seth Norris for more details.
"You have ten days to find this plane. It's hidden deep inside my jungle. Inside the plane you will find another clue that will lead you to a resource that can open the hatch and unleash it's secrets. After ten days, I will move the plane, and the clue. That's all I have to say." Seth winked at Locke and jumped. Instead of landing he stayed suspended in the air, spread out his arms and flew away. Locke nodded to himself, and picked up the photo from where Seth had dropped it on the ground.
He stared at it for hours, trying to deceiver any secrets it might hold inside. He didn't realize he'd taken so long. By the time he'd finally gotten up, the sun was beginning to rise. He swore.
Any time now, Jack might come back to the beach and find Locke missing. He would aggravate Locke for days on end if he found he'd abandoned his station.
Locke slipped the photo into his pocket and ran back to beach.
Jack and Kate stared.
The wreckage was horrible. Everything on the beach was completely destroyed, including the library. And everyone was gone. Except Scott. His mangled, bloodless body lay in the middle of the sand, in plain view, for everyone to see.
"Oh my God, oh my God, oh MY GOD!" Kate started shaking violently in Jack's arms and he hugged her closer, rubbing her belly, trying to sooth her. It wasn't working. She was too shocked. And frankly, so was Jack.
"OH NO, PLEASE NO!" someone yelled from behind them. Jack turned around and saw Steve, pale and frightened-looking, running down to the beach towards them. "SCOTT!"
Jack watched morosely as Steve tumbled to the ground in front of his only friend. Steve shook Scott's body harshly, as if to suck the life back into him, but it didn't work. Ethan had killed him, there was no way around it. And shaking the man couldn't bring him back to life.
"Oh, Jack," Kate moaned, burying her face in his muscular chest. Jack stroked her hair, anger welling up inside him and the thought of why this had happened. Obviously, Locke hadn't done his job.
"Oh, my, oh dear, what happened here?" Charlie gasped. He had made it out of the jungle with Claire. Soon enough, everyone would be back out and see the nightmarish scene that lay before them all. Ethan was truly a monster.
When Sun and Jin came out and started screaming in Korean, Jack decided he'd had enough. Grabbing Kate's hand, he stalked down the beach. He was going to find Locke. And kill him.
Locke's normal hang out (as far as Jack knew) was a little plateau above the ocean, about half a mile away from the beach camp. As Jack walked he tried not to feel too disgusted to be walking on some of the same sand as Locke had at some point in his twisted, irrational life.
When he spotted Locke, who was indeed sitting on the plateau, staring at the water, he snarled in spite of himself. Kate wiped her eyes and saw Locke too. Her face hardened, and she and Jack exchanged a ruthless look with each other. She knew what that creep deserved.
"Hello, John," Jack snarled. Locke turned around, putting something into his pocket very quickly at the same time. "How interesting to find you here."
"Hello, Jack," Locke said, sounding, somehow, serene. Jack couldn't believe it. He began running towards the Bald, but someone grabbed him from behind and stopped him.
"LET ME GO!" he shouted, turning around to find Sawyer. Tears streamed down the Southerner's stubbly face. Jack hated that and tore off his own shirt, not bothering to struggle with Sawyer's grip. He didn't want the shirt to rip anyway; it had been expensive. Sawyer looked down at Jack's chest, seeming surprised and not able to think of anything to next. Jack took that moment to continue barreling towards Locke.
"Sawyer, just let him go," Kate said sadly from behind him. Sawyer apparently listened to her, because he didn't follow Jack. Right now, Jack's plan was to knock John down into the water using his shoulder as a weapon. He'd practiced this attack on evildoers many times before in his righteous past.
But Jack had never fought someone with equal skills before, and barely stopped himself from falling off the cliff when Locke rolled out of the way.
"You'll have to try harder than that to get rid of me," Locke said. Jack leaped at him, stretching his body out in midair like a flying squirrel to cover more width, but Locke dived underneath him and came up from behind. With his sweaty hands, he pulled Jack down onto the ground and twirled him around to see him, face to face. Jack had never seen such an ugly sight in his life.
"John, let go of me before I bite your nose off!" he rasped at him. Locke scowled.
"Jack, calm down!" Sawyer yelled, but Jack ignored him. Because Locke hadn't let him go, and Jack wasn't one to break promises, he leaned forward as far as he could and took several vicious snaps at Locke's face.
"JACK!" Sawyer yelled again. Jack stopped, breathing hard. It hadn't worked. Locke's face was still completely intact. The Bald smiled at him and just shook his head.
"John," Kate said coldly, "explain yourself. Everyone that was on the beach is dead."
"Not dead," Locke said calmly as he got Jack into an elbow-over-arm bar, "just gone. Except for Scott."
"How did that happen?" Sawyer asked, sounding distraught. "Weren't you guarding them?"
Locke smiled blandly at them and didn't answer.
"John, John, John," Jack said, grimacing and shaking his head, feeling insane. "You have no heart, do you? You have no soul. You have no care whatsoever for other living creatures. You have no empathy. But you do, sir, have issues."
"So do you," Locke replied sharply. "So does everyone here. Look, we can't change the fact that all those people are missing. Just forget about it."
Jack shouted swear words at Locke while Sawyer turned around and counted to ten in a very strained voice.
"Look, John," Sawyer said, turning back towards them, "the fact is that you didn't protect these people. No one from the caves died. We guarded them the whole time, and they're all safe. Did you abandon your post? Please, just tell us. We won't be angry."
"No," Locke said icily. "I don't know how Ethan got past my constant, vigilant guard."
"LIAR!" Jack said. "SCOTT'S DEAD AND IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!"
"Calm down, Jack," Sawyer warned, so Jack stood up and tried to work himself up further. He couldn't, though: Kate had grabbed his hand and begun to stroke it up and down, at a tempo of exactly 88 beats per minute, and he relaxed unwillingly. It was upsetting that she knew how to tame him.
"Look, what we have to discuss now is the fact that Ethan obviously wasn't lying when he threatened us. We have to find a way to kill him," Kate said pragmatically.
"Let's kill Locke instead," Jack said, but the fun had gone out of saying stuff like that.
"What if..." Locke began. He smiled disturbingly. "What if we pretended to give Claire to him, but in reality we were actually waiting for him..."
"With stakes..." Kate said.
"In the bushes..." Sawyer said.
"To kill him." Jack liked the idea, actually. It was violent, and he needed to be violent right now. He needed to work off all this new rage he had.
"But we'd need Claire to agree to this first, of course," Sawyer said in his stupid nice way.
"Tough luck," Locke chortled. Jack understood that somehow. Claire was a very needy, finnicky person and would no doubt refuse to help.
"No," said an Australian voice from behind them. "I'll do it."
Claire stood before them, hands placed bravely on her hips, ready for action.
Charlie was distraught.
Claire was going to act as bait in a plan to lure Ethan to them. Once they caught Ethan, they would get answers out of him. Then kill him.
They hadn't even let Charlie join the action team to come with Claire. Kate, Jack, Locke, Sayid, Sawyer and Steve were all allowed to go but when Charlie had asked to come along, Locke had slapped him hard across the face. He really did hate Charlie, which was quite horrible to think of.
It was still several hours until sundown. Kate, Sawyer, and Locke were busy carving stakes out of white ash wood to thrust into Ethan's chest. Sayid and Jack had agreed to letting them do that, but were bringing guns along as an extra precaution.
Not being able to come with them was dreadful. Even Kate agreed that they had too many people as it were going to try and hide in the bushes, and if they had seven people it apparently wouldn't be very secretive. Charlie disagreed; he would be quiet. Ethan wouldn't notice him. He just had to be there to watch over Claire. He needed to be.
He shifted his weight from foot to foot as he watched Kate carve a large piece of wood. He didn't quite know how to express his need without seeming to rude, or desperate. He wished he didn't have to rhyme, too. It bothered just about everyone.
That reminded him that he had wanted Sawyer's help to finish off the curse. Now, though, it probably wasn't possible, seeing as the library had been destroyed last night.
Ethan was so violent and powerful, and sneaky. He had gotten past Locke's constant, vigilant guard of the beach and kidnapped like fifteen people without the Bald even noticing. Very impressive. But very bad.
Just then, Claire walk by, dressed practically in yoga pants, a baggy tee-shirt and a nylon jacket. She was ready for the plan. It filled Charlie with anxiousness, seeing her like that, and he remembered when he'd felt the same way about Lucy.
Just the thought of his ex-girlfriend sent him into a flashback.
"Good-night, sweetheart," Charlie said to Lucy, adding a kiss to her cheek for a special present. She beamed at him.
"Good-night, you," she said. Charlie watched her out of the corner of his eye as he walked back to his car. She was so precious to him. He got into his jeep, shivering a little in the cold, still thinking of Lucy. He was never going to steal from her. He couldn't.
He pulled out of her long drive way carefully and started driving back to the city. He was half way to his house when he glanced behind himself and nearly jumped out of the car in shock.
"Hey there, Charlie," Tommy smirked, enjoying Charlie's fear.
"Why are you– what– get out," Charlie said, trying to sound angry. It ended out sounding like a timid whisper, though.
"No, we've got something to discuss."
"Tommy!" Charlie begged.
"We're going to rob your girlfriend, Charlie," Tommy went on calmly. "Make a right." Without thinking, Charlie made a right onto Twelfth St. He didn't really care. He didn't want Tommy to know where he lived, anyway.
"Tommy, please. I can't live like this. I'm already a mess because of withdrawal–"
Tommy cut Charlie with a cruel glare and a weird chzipp!ing noise that made Charlie shiver. "Charlie, kid, so sorry you can't live without drugs. Maybe you'll learn not to spend owed money on shoes and dates. Look, buddy, I'm going to steal your girl's car, and your going to help me. That's the end of it. Make a left."
Charlie made a left, praying silently for help. Tommy obviously need special care from mental hospitals or something. He wasn't really sane.
"Look, Charlie, we're just gonna do it tonight. Get it over with." Tommy's voice was so eerily relaxed. Charlie couldn't stand it anymore.
"Why do you even need a car!?" he blurted out. Tommy raised his eyebrows.
"Why not? Look, she must own a Ferrari. She's rich. I got a friend who needs a good car. Gonna loan it to him. He's got a job to do."
"Oh really?" Charlie asked shakily. "Who is this friend?"
"His name's Thomas," Tommy said. "Make a right on Mellark Rd."
Charlie realized where they were going and stopped the car. It didn't really matter, no one else was out driving. "You're taking me out to the museum."
"Because, Charlie, we're gonna wait for her until morning. When she goes inside, then we'll do it. She won't suspect a thing; I'll be hidden in the back."
Charlie started rocking back and forth, trying to get out of the situation. "Er, why can't I go home first?"
"I gotta keep an eye on you," Tommy said. "And I also gotta gun."
That was the point when Charlie began obeying every one of Tommy's orders. He hated himself as they waited in the museum's parking lot. Hated himself for being weak. For backing down to a gun. Liam wouldn't have been afraid. Then again, Liam was never afraid, and that didn't always work out for him. It was kind of like leprosy. He could hurt himself badly without noticing.
Lucy got to the museum around 6:00 in the morning. Charlie was parked in the corner of the parking lot, so she didn't see them. She just walked into work, completely innocent. Charlie was so angry he could spit on Tommy, but the man had a gun, so Charlie restrained himself.
"Tommy," he said, trying to be rational, and the next thing he knew he was knocked out by the butt of the gun.
When he woke up, he was parked outside Lucy's house. In her car.
It was time for action.
The sun was setting, and all the weapons were prepared. Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Locke, Sayid, and Steve were armed and dangerous, wearing jeans and jackets. It was slightly overcast, like it was going to rain, but they didn't care. They were going to get Ethan no matter what it took.
Claire was taking a couple minutes to calm herself, breathing deeply, sitting in the corner. She had read her old diary earlier, and it had felt just– bizarre, really to read something she wrote and no remember a thing about it.
Charlie didn't want her to go. He'd made that very clear. But Claire had seen what Ethan done to the beach. If she could get help get rid of him, she would. He was the bad guy. And Claire wanted to be a good guy.
When Kate came to collect Claire, her mind was set. She could do this. It was the bravest thing she'd ever done, but she could do it. Charlie saw her going and leapt to his feet.
"Claire, please, be safe out there. I'm just– I love you, Claire." He stared at her, his eyes wide and frightened, and Claire felt like crying.
"I'll be safe, Charlie," she whispered. "Don't worry."
Kate frowned sadly at them and led Claire away. Out of the group she had to go with, she trusted Kate and Sawyer the most. The others just bothered her, with their strange violence and anger.
"Hey, hey," Sawyer said soothingly when he saw her wet eyes. "Don't cry, Claire. You'll be fine. You're brave. You can do this."
Claire nodded and followed them out of the caves, tears dripping down her face. She didn't want to cry. She really didn't, but she was so afraid.
They walked quietly through the forest, Jack leading the group with a bright flashlight. They got to a spot that had a very large, pretty tree, and stopped.
Jack hissed instructions at the guards, and they hid behind various trees. Then Jack put Claire in just the right position and nodded at her, calm. She gave him a watery smile, and shivered.
It started raining very soon after that. Claire was soaking wet and freezing. And she was terrified. Any second now, a vampire was going to be sneaking out of the bushes to kidnap her. A terrible, bloodthirsty vampire who had super strength and speed.
She could hear her guards breathing hard all around her. She wanted to run. But she had agreed to the plan. She wanted to get rid of Ethan, didn't she?
Suddenly, there was a loud zipping noise in circles around them. Claire looked to her left and choked on a scream. She was sure she'd seen Ethan zoom past, but he wasn't there anymore. The zipping noise got louder on her right. She turned, and sure enough, there was Ethan, running faster than any human had ever done.
Then he was right in front of her.
"Hi, Claire," he said softly, staring directly into her eyes. She spluttered and whimpered, hugging her belly, and stepped away from him reflexively.
"No you don't," Ethan said, a smirk in his voice. "Don't walk away. You're coming with me."
The edges of Claire's vision went foggy and black. She was going to pass out. Everything seemed very distant all of a sudden. But then Jack jumped out and came to her rescue.
Jack grabbed Ethan from behind, and Sayid jumped on him from above. Locke tore out of the bushes with a stake, and stabbed Ethan in the leg. Kate and Steve followed behind him, stakes in hand, and Sawyer stepped in front of Claire, protecting her.
"WHAT IS GOING ON!?" Ethan roared, struggling against the many people that were covering him. Kate stabbed her stake into his other leg and he let out a horrendous scream of pain and fury.
Steve got Ethan's right arm, and Jack got his left. He was completely pinned to the jungle floor. Claire winced. She couldn't look at that. It was disgusting.
Kate was on top of Ethan now, breathing hard. She had a manic looked of hatred on her face that scared Claire. "Hi there, vampire," she whispered to him. "Thought you'd kidnap her again, didn't you?"
"Kate, be careful," Jack said.
"Ethan. Where do you come from?" Sayid asked coolly. Ethan snarled at them before answering. He sounded very wounded.
"The island. I was born and raised here."
Sayid took in this information, swallowing bitterly. "Are you a vampire?"
"YESSS!" Ethan hissed. Sawyer gave Jack a brief, triumphant look. Jack rolled his eyes, looking confused. Sayid was just about to ask something else, when someone new entered the clearing.
It was Charlie. And he had a stake.
Charlie was ready. He saw Ethan. Ethan was injured, vulnerable. Charlie had picked up an extra stake and was ready to do this.
He marched up to Ethan and stared at him, the vampire who had tried to kill him, who had kidnapped Claire, who had cursed him, who had killed Scott. He deserved to die. He really did. If anyone in the world deserved to die, he did.
Ethan stared back at Charlie for a moment, then smirked. "You can't do it," he taunted. Charlie's resolve was suddenly rock hard.
"You, sir, deserve the worst of punishments. Ethan, crossing me was a big mistake. You've tried to hurt people I desperately love. And so– through your heart–" he hefted the stake high in the air, tears of rage in his light blue eyes– "I plunge this stake!"
With one long, fluid motion he drove the stake down, down, down, not stopping when he hit Ethan's flesh. He kept going, crying hard, pushing and pushing, willing that evil, gloating look to leave the vampire's eyes forever. He pushed, blood squirting everywhere, until the stake touched the ground underneath Ethan. But the vampire was still not dead.
"You missed," Ethan gasped.
Charlie pulled the stake out, which hurt his arm, but someone grabbed it from him before he could stab again. Charlie was so blinded by tears that he couldn't see who it was.
"STEVE, LET CHARLIE DO IT!" Kate yelled desperately from the sidelines. Obviously, though, Steve thought it was his right, and he stabbed Ethan directly where the heart was supposed to lie on the chest.
"DIE, MONSTER!" he yelled, somehow still managing to sound boring. Charlie reached over and helped him shove it down into Ethan's chest, hoping that this was really going to kill him.
It did. But right before death overcame him, Ethan managed to scare them all out of their skins.
"You're next..." he moaned. "You're all next."
Then he died.
"Sorry, Ethan," Charlie said quietly. And he didn't have to rhyme it. The curse had been broken.
Lucy got home from work around an hour later. She had been crying. When she saw Charlie in her car, she screamed and ran over.
"Charlie! What are you doing?" she demanded. He was about to come up with a heroic answer (lie) but just then Tommy walked down the driveway, dressed like a detective.
"Ma'am, be careful," he said in his high pitched voice. "That man in the car is dangerous."
Lucy stared from Charlie to Tommy, her eyes wide and confused. "What do you mean, dangerous? He's my boyfriend."
"He stole your car," Tommy said. Charlie felt faint. Everything was going wrong. Obviously, all along Tommy's plan had been to turn Lucy against him! How could he want that? Charlie didn't deserve this! To calm down, Charlie turned on his car radio super loud. It numbed his brain in a satisfactory way.
"CHARLIE TURN THAT OFF!" Lucy yelled. Charlie did so, quavering with fright. Maybe he'd gone insane! Please, let him go insane. "Charlie, did you steal my car?"
"How– why, how could you think that? Don't you lo– care about me?" Charlie was deeply hurt. Tommy cackled like a dog again.
"He did, ma'am. He's a wanted drug-addict."
"No!" Lucy exclaimed in shock. "Not Charlie!"
Charlie leaned over and threw up all over Lucy's car. He was covered with sweat. Maybe he was a druggie, but he hadn't stolen this car and he wasn't wanted by the police. He had no idea why Lucy believed Tommy so easily.
Before Charlie could explain, the sky lit up bright blue and the word "TOM" was flashed across the sky. While Charlie and Lucy were distracted, Tommy grabbed Lucy, whistled, and a car drove up to the drive way, driven by a young guy with light, spiked brown hair. Tommy and Lucy were pulled into the car and drove off.
Charlie blinked away the after images of the flash, wondering how is life had been destroyed so quickly and simply.
"CHARLIE, YOU JERK!" Jack shouted at him. "NOW WE CAN'T ASK HIM ANY MORE QUESTIONS!" But Charlie didn't listen to Jack as he and Claire marched back to the caves, now safe.
"CHARLIE, YOU'RE A HERO, IGNORE JACK!" Kate called after them. Charlie ignored this, too, feeling numb. When he got to the caves, Joe the Moth Man was waiting for him. Charlie didn't even jump when he saw him. He just smiled blandly and dragged Claire away.
"Hey, hey!" Joe said. "Charlie! I need to talk to you, pal!"
Charlie stopped. "What?" It felt good not to rhyme, but Charlie felt to grumpy to really care. At least Ethan was gone though. No one would take Claire now. She wasn't Lucy.
"Listen, bud," Joe said. "That thing you just did– WOW, so tough– well, you deserve a bigger acorn. Almost as big as mine. You're mighty impressive."
"Charliewhatisthatthing," Claire said, sucking in her breath quickly, her turquoise eyes huge. Charlie took the acorn from Joe, waved him away, and led Claire back into his cave room before answering her. She looked slightly impatient.
"That was Joe," Charlie explained tiredly. "Listen, Claire. I love you. I need you. But can I please get some sleep? I'm exhausted."
"Oh," Claire said. "Yeah."
She wandered away, looking terrified still. Luckily, Sawyer and Kate took over with her so Charlie could get some rest.
He felt like he deserved it, and smiled down at his new acorn. His new badge of honor. I have Claire, I have a bed, and now, I can safely, soundly, rest my head. And stop this bloody rhyming forever.
"Boone!" Locke hissed, waking Boone up very rudely and suddenly. Boone sat up, rubbing his eyes as hard as he could to clear the blurriness. He blinked a few times. Now Locke was as clear as a pitcher of flowers.
"Whaat?" he groaned. Locke's face was full of excitement, which was very unusual as of late. He was always grumpy because the hatch wasn't opening.
"Look at this!"
Locke shoved a strange picture of a plane underneath his nose and waved it around a little. Obviously it was very important.
"What's this?" Boone groaned. Locke grinned at him, looking rugged and evil, and rubbed his hands together. They were all greasy for some reason.
"A clue. I found a clue."