Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize and everything you do not.
Author's Note: So this is my first time attempting a LOST fic and I'm excited. The flashback's are in a sort of warped timeline, so don't try to follow them... they're just sort of random, reflecting on separate things that happened back in Charlie's life before the island. Credit for the summary and the lyrics in this fic goes to the DriveSHAFT website (driveshaftband dot com). The lyrics are taken from the song Broken (from the album Pente). This is also (obviously) somewhat AU and somewhat repetitive to things that were already shown on the show, but I wanted to put it all down in writing, so here it is... Please enjoy and review!
A LOST Story
by Fiyero Oberon
Claire sits on her stool by the cradle, gently bobbing Aaron up and down against her shoulder. Her dry lips move fluidly as they whisper a lullaby to sooth the baby, and as Charlie listens with his eyes closed, he almost senses the baby's feelings as it calms, as the wailing sobs die down and change into gurgles, which in turn soften into gentle snores. Charlie's thick lashes flutter open as Claire tenderly lies Aaron down on the thin mattress.
Charlie stands and runs his hands through his hair, then down his chest and round to brush the dirt off the seat of his jeans. Straightening the dirty T-shirt, he steps out of his tree hiding place.
"You've got a nice voice," he says, and she jumps and lets out a yelp. She checks to see if she has woken Aaron, but the baby still sleeps and she looks back up at Charlie.
"You startled me," she says in her thick accent. "Aaron's sleeping, so now's not a good time," she says, a tone of heavy bitterness in her voice.
"Listen, Claire –"
"No, Charlie," says Claire, standing now. "I'm sorry, sort of, but I don't want you near my baby. I'm just not… not ready, okay? I'm just not comfortable with a… a…"
"Druggie," he supplies.
"…near my baby," she concludes.
"Right," Charlie says. "I… uh… I mean… okay…" Charlie turns awkwardly and starts to stumble off barefooted through the sand. He feels so out of place in his body – outwardly he just told Claire that her decision was understandable by walking away, calmly and humbly, nodding in a bumbling sort of way… but inside he was surging with anger. He had been there for her during her pregnancy, he was as good a father as Aaron would ever know, and he had to hide behind a tree to see him…
"…going to give him up for adoption anyway," he mutters loudly over his shoulder as he stumbles away.
Behind him, he hears Claire let out a high-pitched noise of offended frustration. "How dare you!" she cries, and he can hear the hurt her voice. "How dare you say – get away from here!" He doesn't turn to see her, though Aaron is wailing again and he can sense the tears rolling down her round cheeks. "I hate you, Charlie Pace! I hate you!"
There's a crashing noise as the door slams shut and Liam staggers in, his head through the neck hole of shirt, but otherwise bare-chested, no pants, and boxers wet with a liquid that Charlie decides he doesn't want to know what it is. With Liam comes the all-too-familiar stench of vodka and beer and Charlie, already aggravated with his brother, sits down at the piano again.
"Hey, Liam," Charlie says as his brother stumbles forward. "I've been writing, wanna hear?"
Charlie begins playing the notes of the song he's been working on.
"No, no, no, listen!" Charlie plunked out the notes again and began singing:
The betrayal unbearable, the hurt cripples me
From that first shared look
Fatal as it was, I was –
"Shuttup, Charles!" Liam brought his hands down on piano, striking the keys to create a thoroughly unpleasing crashing noise. "You can't play," Liam drawls. "You suck. We both suck. But you suck worst of all. There's never gonna be a band. You know why, Charlie? You know why? It's because you're bad, Charlie. You're awful. Dad should have killed you the moments you were born – DAMN IT!"
Charlie had slammed the piano lid down on Liam's fingers. "You're drunk," Charlie said, pulling Liam away from the piano. "Go lie down."
"I ain't lying up," Liam hiccupped, staggering toward Charlie, who had sat back down on the piano bench. "You're a worthless son of a mother." Liam reaches out and slaps Charlie across the face. "I hate you, Charlie."
Standing, Charlie's lower lip quivered as he looked straight into the dilated pupils of his older brother. "I hate you too, Liam." Charlie's fist sank into Liam's gut and as his brother bent over in pain, his second fist came up and collided with his brother's jaw.
Charlie recognizes Kate's slightly husky voice, but he doesn't move; he lays shirtless on the beach, eyes closed, his left hand holding the Virgin Mary statuette on his chest and his right traveling up and down, feeling thoroughly the crevices and dips and folds of the statuette's robes.
Charlie feels the sand shifting as Kate sits down next to him. "What's up?" she asks.
"Claire sent you," he says, tossing the statuette onto the sand and throwing his arms straight out; one hand smacks into Kate, but he doesn't care.
"No, actually, she didn't."
"Liar." But Charlie's head turns and he opens one eye in a squint, peering up at Kate. She squints down at him and her mischievous smile spreads. "How'd you know to come?"
Kate raised her eyebrows. "Half the camp just heard her screaming at you, and you're now laying half-naked on the beach of a deserted island fondling a statue of Mary. Obviously something's wrong."
Charlie turns his head again and looks at the Virgin Mary statuette, lying in the sand. He points a finger at it. "It's that," he says simply. "It torments me."
Kate's voice has a ring of skepticism: "The Virgin Mary statue torments you?"
He smiles, but only barely. "It's kind of a long story." He pauses to think for a moment, then changes his mind: "Well, I guess it's really not long. But I don't really want to talk about it."
Kate just looks at him in her simple, profound manner. "Talking it out can help sometimes."
Charlie looks longingly out in the ocean and wonders briefly how torturous it was when that Joanna woman was out in the blue waters drowning… when Boone could not save her…
"Sometimes," he says pensively, "I think it might be easier to just drown all the troubles away."
Kate seems to follow his train of thought more easily than he expected. "Killing yourself won't help anything, Charlie," she assures him quietly. "It will only hurt more people, only make matters worse."
"Yes," he says, sitting up and looking her in the eye, "but it'll make Claire happy, won't it?"
Liam grabbed a bottle of some sort of alcohol – Charlie couldn't tell what kind because his vision was so hazy from drinking so much – and threw it on the ground, smashing it to pieces and sending shards of glass and sprays of liquid all over the room. The four boys screeched and wailed with laughter and Charlie felt the crotch of his boxers become wet because he was laughing so hard. Liam threw himself back onto the couch, landing oafishly on top of Patrick.
"Gerroff me!" Patrick roared, pushing at Liam and making little effort.
Sinjin had his shirt on backwards and was trying with difficulty to eat his shoe – Charlie thought for a moment of telling Sinjin what he was chewing on, but decided the sight of the guy sitting flat on the floor gnawing on a sneaker was too amusing to ruin.
"Go on, then, Charlie," Patrick urged, "it's your turn!"
"We're not even playing a game!" Charlie protested and the four boys erupted in peals of more laughter.
"Here." Liam threw a permanent marker at Charlie. "Think of a name for the band."
Charlie raised his eyebrows, thought fuzzily for a moment, glancing at his mates, and then scrawled "Drunkard Reels" on the floor.
"Whazzit say?" Sinjin asked, craning his neck to see.
"Says Drunkard Reels," Charlie slurred. He threw down the marker triumphantly.
"Whazzit mean?" Sinjin demanded. Charlie shrugged in reply and Sinjin popped the top off of a bottle of vodka and swung it through the air, soaking Charlie in the alcoholic liquid. "Gimme the pen," he said and, as Charlie handed Sinjin the fat, black marker, he reached out and grabbed Patrick's arm. Block letters were written out across Patrick's limb, reading "GreenLight."
"I like that," Patrick said, twisting his neck to look at the words on his arm.
"I don't," Liam said loudly.
"You didn't even read it!" Charlie announced.
"I still don't like it. How about THE VODKA BAND!" The groans turned into more peals of high-pitched childish laughter as the four boys rolled with hilarity.
"Give me the marker," said Liam. He wrote on the back of the couch: "Your mom eats fried chicken."
"WHAT IS THAT?" Patrick squealed through his shrieks of laughter. "Fried chicken!"
"I like it," said Liam, grinning. "C'mere, Charlie, let me see your hands."
Charlie stumbled foolishly over to Liam and held out his hands in fists. Liam tapped the open marker on his chin, trying to look thoughtful, but only succeeding in black lines drawn across his chin, mouth, and cheek. "How 'bout this…"
"Are you trying to get yourself lost in the jungle, Charles?"
"Shut up." Charlie brushes past Locke, kicking his way through the thick ferns. "You don't know what's going on with me, you don't need to –"
"Claire is mad at you because of the heroin in that statuette," says Locke, the wrinkles around his eyes crinkling as he smiles. "The whole island knows what's going on with you two, Charlie."
"Then the whole island knows I'm a druggie." Charlie spits in the ferns and heads deeper into the jungle, his mind set on finding that monster…
"I didn't say that!" Locke calls after him. "I said they know there's drama between you and Claire and – oh, forget it…"
Charlie doesn't turn to see Locke walk away, just heads deeper into the forest, ducking beneath branches and tripping over moss-covered logs. A thought occurs to him suddenly: How is that everything is so green here when it seems that it very seldom rains?
The thought doesn't bother him long, however, before his thoughts are back on Claire: she doesn't understand, she's never had the power of a heroin addiction driving her insane night and day, she doesn't know what sibling pressure he endured before turning to heroin, she can't possibly know what it's like to have people screaming at you because you did something wrong, because you're doing something wrong…
But that small, wicked little voice in the back of his head says, "Yes… she must have."
And, of course, as always, that small, wicked little voice in the back of his head is right.
Charlie can't even begin to imagine the pain Claire must have gone through when she found out she was pregnant. Charlie had never actually impregnated a girl, but that doesn't mean he hadn't panicked on more than one occasion. But now he tries for a moment to imagine what should must have gone through: the pain of telling her parents, her family, her friends; the pain of that boyfriend leaving her; the pain of knowing that what she did was wrong, as reminded to her by her parents over and over; the pain of the actual birth of Aaron on the island…
Without consciously making a decision, Charlie turns around and begins marching back to the beach.
"Hey, Liam… um… we need to talk."
"Oh… um… okay… come in."
Charlie grabbed the nearest book, opened it, and pretended to be reading; Veronica walked uneasily into the room, eyes darting around at the overstuffed furniture, the papers lying on the floor, the sticky messes of who-knows-what in various places, and Charlie, in boxers and a wife beater, lying across the couch reading a novel upside-down.
"Could we talk in…private?"
"Oh, yeah, sure." Charlie heard Liam stalk over to the couch, where his feet were hanging off the edge, and he suddenly yanked off Charlie's socks, exposing the bare skin of Charlie's feet to the freezing winter air. "Charlie, out," Liam said, and Charlie diligently sat, stood, and walked out, his nose stuck in the upside-down War and Peace.
Charlie walked into the kitchen and shut the door, but could see over the open bar anyway.
"Here, have a seat." Liam gestured to the couch, but Veronica wrinkled her nose and looked at the couch with a hint of dislike – Charlie figured he knew the reason, but didn't want to jump to conclusions about his older brother. "Or… here…" Liam sat on the couch and pointed at a lounge chair, which Veronica reluctantly took. "So… what's up?"
Veronica looked very elegant, even perched on a lumpy lounge chair in a sticky men's apartment room. Her brown hair sat on her shoulders, silky and chocolate, and her cherry-red lips were pursed in a ladylike fashion. She wore a dark blue burberry coat that fell past her knees and her feet were set off by a plain pair of black heels; she looked completely out of place in the dark and dank apartment.
"Liam, I…I believe that I might be… well, no, the tests read positive, so I definitely am… that is to say… Liam… I'm pregnant."
Liam's face fell; Charlie knew instantly that Liam never intended on having his nights of rowdy fun and pleasure turn into a whirlwind of responsibility and needs. "I… uh… okay… okay…are you… you're not… getting an abortion are you?"
Veronica rolled her eyes. "My mother prohibits it. Not that I couldn't do it anyway, but no, I'm not aborting it."
"Okay… okay… All right, we can do this. It'll take some getting used to, of course, but I know that I can be a good father and – "
"Um, actually, Liam, that's why I came over."
Liam's eyebrows skyrocketed and Charlie braved himself for what he knew what was coming next. Veronica shifted awkwardly in her chair and swallowed several times before she said what she had come to say: "Liam, I don't want you to raise our child."
"Oh… uh… okay…"
"It's not that I don't like you or anything like that… I just think that there are better men out there to be the primary male influence in my child's life than you would be. Are you… I mean… are you okay with that?"
Charlie was blazing inside; how dare she ask if he was okay with that! Would she be okay if she went through childbirth only to have Liam take the baby away and say there are better female influences than her? Of course Liam was not okay with that, Liam would demand some sort of custody over that child, even if Veronica begged –
"Yeah… yeah… that's okay…"
"All right …"
Charlie felt dizzy; was Liam insane?
"Well… I guess… I'll see you later, then, okay?"
Charlie looks down at the Virgin Mary statuette in his hands; she appears so serene and one would never guess what awful secret lies behind those praying hands, behind that smiling face, behind those robes of azure and white…
With a swing as powerful as his arms can handle, Charlie hurls the statuette out into the water. A satisfying plunk signals the Mary's contact with the water's surface and Charlie lets out a contented scream of pleasure, finally glad to be rid of such a wicked plague, the heroin plague…
Charlie turns around slowly to see Claire's round face looking at him, dried tears streaks running down her cheeks and her fair hair blowing lazily in the breeze. "Charlie, I'm sorry, okay?" Her eyes glisten again with new tears and her hands fly up to wipe them away. She steps toward him slowly, her eyes still sparkling with wet…
"It's okay, Claire," he says, reaching out to take her hands. "I understand the pain you've gone through, with Thomas leaving you alone with Aaron, and what your parents must have put you through – "
"I never knew my father," Claire says, tears spilling over again. She begins to pull a hand away to wipe away the tears, but Charlie's hands are faster and he runs the pads of his thumbs over her cheeks, wiping the wet away. "Charlie, I know that what you're going through is only made worse by the way I treat you and I'm so, so sorry for that, and I –"
Charlie cuts her off with a kiss – his parched lips meet her chapped lips, but neither seems to feel the dryness… Charlie pulls away only when he hears Aaron crying up at the beach. "Aaron…"
"Kate's with him…"
"Claire, I –"
"I saw what you did just now," she says in a rush. "And I… I think that's really brave of you. I love…" But Claire doesn't seem to be able to finish the sentence, and he can see in her eyes that she really wants to.
"You don't need to say it now," he says supportably. "We don't want things to rush." His mind flickers to Liam and Veronica and he wonders whatever became of his brother's unknown child.
"Okay," Claire says. Charlie takes her hand and they wade through the shallow water; his jeans soak through around his ankles, but he really doesn't care.
The sun shining full-on in Charlie's eyes was the only thing that seemed to make him get up. He was tempted to just move to another spot and fall asleep again, but glancing around the room, something stopped him.
Sinjin was asleep over the arm of the couch and Liam was spread-eagled in the middle of the couch; Patrick was in a heap on the floor. The entire place seemed to be covered in markered attempts at band names:
"Heaven's Day" was on the table.
"Maya's Love" was on Patrick's forehead.
"GreenLight" read Patrick's arm.
"Your mom eats fried chicken" said the couch.
"THE VODKA BAND" was on Sinjin's leg.
"Heaven's Devils" was on Liam's chest.
"Drunkard Reels" read the floor.
Charlie suddenly looked at his hands; "SHAFT" was written on the back of his left hand and "Drive" was scrawled on his right.
"SHAFTDrive," Charlie said aloud, testing the sound of it. "DriveSHAFT."
And with a smile and a new band name, Charlie fell back asleep.