Title: How the Story Goes

Author: Tinkerbell99

Rating: T

Disclaimer: The characters are not my creation, they belong to someone else.

Summary: Charlie is a story she's already written. John is a story she can't yet read. (Claire/Locke)

(Author note at end)


Charlie is a story she's already written.

It's a story that's flowed from her pen for the last fifty days but one that began long before. It's etched in the journal she carries today and was scrawled in its predecessor, bound in blue and waiting silently, placed somewhere in a forgotten drawer.

The names may change, but the story never does. Her life - presented as a Greek tragedy with an ending that only serves to facilitate the same beginning. It's a circle, she thinks.

First there was her father, but that was long ago and those pages have yellowed with age. Smudged with her mistakes and the tears of her mother, she doesn't need to reread the faded words in order to remember. She thinks that despite the books his absence inspired, they could see a summation in under a page. Maybe in one line, or even a single word.


Then came a series of shorter stories, all with the same theme. A thesis on loss. A dissertation on false love and heartbreak Claire was a pretty girl, but pretty never made them stay. She used to think that pretty mattered.

The volumes of her life that followed were filled with Thomas. The beginning was a fairy tale, the abrupt end a forgone conclusion.

Thomas left, but by then the twist was familiar. This was a story heard in childhood, a bedtime tale her mother would tell. Tears stained these pages too, leaving splotches and wrinkles in their wake. Even so, the writing was clear. It continued with its sharp lines and small curls until, one day, the story ended. Left alone and pregnant, she boarded a plane. That ink remains painfully stark on a naked page.

With the end of one story begins another.

Charlie is a story she's already written.

She knows this, and yet she writes it anyway. This time, her words are clear, the smudges few, and she already knows how this will end.

She thinks sometimes that she could write ahead of herself, ahead of her own life. She's written these words before, and so few of them will change.


She knows each line, she knows each word. She dreads the familiarity, but there is no other ending.

She writes, and she waits.

And one day, the epilogue ends. When she turns the page, there is nothing more to say.


Charlie is a story she's already written.

John is a story she can't yet read.

"You ever get the feeling like you've known someone, before? Like before you even meet them, you know how the story will end?" It's another day, passing with the setting sun, unrecorded in her journal.

Maybe he's humoring her fancy, because as he turns toward her question, she can't quite read his eyes. "You mean, like deja vu?" His hands are stilled from the object he whittles and he waits for her response.

"Kind of…It's like…my whole life I've gone in these circles…" She doesn't know what else to say, so she doesn't and the silence overtakes them.

Were she to write his story, she doesn't know where she would begin. He's a mystery to her.

Days pass until blank pages prompt her once more. "Do you believe in fate, John?"

A smile passes his features, and his eyes crinkle as he inclines his head against the sun. There's something in his eyes she can't read as the question passes them by.


Charlie is a story she's already written.

John is a story she can't yet read.

He's a mystery to her, and this is a comfort.

She's sure now that he won't answer, and it's days later when he finally does. She sits on the sand at the edge of the water. It's sunset and her journal rests beside her, unopened.

He watches her tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, unsure if she will welcome what he perceives as an intrusion. "The other day…You asked me about fate."

She looks away from the water and up toward him. There is no journal for her to close. She doesn't miss its weight. "Yeah." She smiles, suddenly shy, and ducks her head. "I'm sorry, I was just…I don't know. Sorry." Apologizing seems the thing to do, she doesn't know why.

He lowers himself to sit beside her. "What do you think?"

She wasn't prepared for this. "About fate?" He nods, not wanting to press her, not wanting to leave her. She hesitates before she speaks. "I…I told you before that I always thought of my life as going in these circles. Like everything that happened to me kept getting repeated over and over, and I couldn't stop it. And I guess maybe I thought that was fate. Or my fate. But now I'm not so sure."

"Why is that?" He's so calm, and so quiet. It startles her.

She's faltering now, and she stumbles over her words. "He left me, Thomas. I was already…I was already really far along and he left me." Out of confusion or out of care, he looks away - across the water. He's suddenly still, and she's silently scared. "It's like…as much as I try to fool myself, I always know how it ends. Thomas, Charlie. I always just thought that's how it would be. They leave…"

She doesn't remember why she started this conversation, or even if she's the one who did. These are the things she writes, not the things she speaks. This isn't how it's supposed to go.

This is different.

Wanting to run under his gaze, her words come out in a rush. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be babbling on about this. I should let you go back to-" She scrambles to stand, but not before being paused by kind eyes and a gentle voice.

"-Wait." She does, lowering herself to the sand once more. "You asked me about fate." Her gaze locks on his face as he watches the rolling sea. There's a cool breeze blowing. She thinks it's a change in the weather. Empty pages flutter in her journal.

"I think fate…is about breaking free. Free from those circles." She finds an unexpected peace as he turns toward her.

She thinks she's never seen eyes like his. Eyes that hold a novel unknown to her. It's not the story she always writes. These are eyes that wait in patience for her story. It's a story she's never been free to tell.

Were she to write his story, she doesn't know where she would begin.

John Locke is different.

He's a mystery to her, and this time she can't write the story. She doesn't know the end, only senses that it's not desertion.

She's broken free.

No more circles.


Charlie is a story she's already written.

John is a story she can't yet read.

He's a mystery to her, and this is a comfort.

No more circles.


A/N: I've never written Lost fic before, and Claire/Locke (Clocke?) is definitely new. I'd appreciate any comments you might have. Thanks for reading!