Summary: It’s all that Charlie can do to stay cynical, to keep from hugging his knees and rocking back and forth. He’s surprised that the moonlit beach isn’t littered with people doing just that. It would certainly be an appropriate reaction, given the circumstances.
Disclaimer: I do not own Lost. At all. I wish but alas...
Author's Note: Set during 'Greatest Hits'.
Looking on the brighter side of life has never been Charlie’s fortay. And while his moods swing like a pendulum these days (as do, it seems, all of them), he finds them bouncing back and forth between unbridled cynicism and abject terror.
As if being in a fiery plane crash wasn’t enough, now there were things that went bump in the night bumping rather loudly indeed and mad Frenchwomen talking about dead people. It’s all that Charlie can do to stay cynical, to keep from hugging his knees and rocking back and forth. He’s surprised that the moonlit beach isn’t littered with people doing just that. It would certainly be an appropriate reaction, given the circumstances.
He sighs to himself and wishes that he weren’t shaking so much, that he could sit still without feeling like he’s going to come out of his skin. He needs a fix. He doesn’t want one, but he needs one. His stash is running dry, but he has a few more. In a couple of shoes in his bag. But he doesn’t have his bag. He’ll have to find it.
He wanders around the wreckage, searching for a secluded hiding place, somewhere to quickly get his fix and have it over with. Done. Until the urge hits again. But he can’t think about that now. Minute to minute, hour to hour, that’s how he has to live now. It’s probably the only way he’ll survive.
His wandering takes him nowhere, around in circles more than anything else. His mind races around him, too quickly for him to catch up. And when he finally stops – to look up, to take in his surroundings, just to breathe – everything stops.
He doesn’t know how he hadn’t noticed her before. Her stomach juts out a good seven inches in front of her, but that isn’t what Charlie sees first. Her face glows, even without the firelight around her. She seems the most clam, the most serene, of everyone around her. She seems the least shaken.
Maybe that’s why Charlie forgets where he’s going, forgets what he had needed only a moment sooner, and approaches her. She seems to be the only one that actually feels calm. It’s calming him down already.
A conversation is easy enough to start up, given the circumstances, and he finds she’s as warm and inviting in person as she is from afar. Her smile is tranquil, calming, and she’s easy to talk to, to get lost in. When she expresses doubt about being rescued, he can’t keep himself from reassuring her, keeping her hoping, believing, smiling.
She tells him her name (Claire) and he finds his focus shifting. He no longer needs a dark, quiet place to get a momentary fix, to give himself over to the temporary high. He doesn’t want to move, to wreck whatever is going on, because, he feels like things have slowly begun to turn around. And he wants it to last. Forever.
So he sits next to her, by the fire, and finally, he feels warm.
Charlie watched his words flow onto the paper, from his brain, through his pen, and then there they were, staring back up at him: a list of the good memories, the best parts of himself, preserved on paper, and, eventually, bound for the hands of the only one of them that really mattered.
There was no place for Claire but at number one. She was, and would forever remain, the best thing that had ever happened to him. And she deserved to know that, even if he wasn’t going to be around to tell her.
Charlie folded up the letter, gave it to Desmond, because he had always been the messenger, because he was the only one that could really understand what it meant. Charlie had made peace with the fact that he was going to die. The list had been the culmination of that. But writing down his memories, thinking about the night that he had spent under the starts with Claire was the one that made it clear to him exactly what dying really meant.
He was never going to see Claire again, never hold Aaron. Never see him grow up. He didn’t think that would really sink in until the last minute, when the rush would come, and, for that one minute, everything would be clear. And he could let it all go.
From there, he went on in a dreamlike state, making things clear to Desmond and protecting Hurley by pushing him away. Now that he had found his momentum, he didn’t want to stop. He just pushed forward, and when his feet hit the water, as the boat caught the current away from the island, Charlie felt the chill creeping into his bones.
And just like that, the quickly, he was cold again.