Tides Turning

Author's Note:Merry Christmas, everyone! I've been blocked as hell lately, hence the lack of updates here... But it's only two weeks until my birthday, so I guess I should at least try filling the mathom requests.
Let's start with a ficlet for cilly - my very first Lost fic ever. A bit sappy, but hey - it's Christmas, after all! πŸ™‚

Since Claire's disappearance Charlie had not been the same.

He never talked about what had happened -- whether because he couldn't remember, as he assured Jack time and again, or simply didn't want to face the memories, was anyone's guess. But although his body quickly regained full health, was fitter even than at the time of the crash, his mind often appeared to be elsewhere, far away from all of them. He did not even touch his guitar anymore, not once.

They tried to reach him, everyone in their own way, because Charlie had somehow managed to endear himself to pretty much every castaway. Even Sawyer could be seen offering him some of his pilfered treasures – a comic book, a pair of sunglasses, a bag of raisins, even a Playboy – with nothing but a defensive "Hell, the boy just grows on you, a bit like a weed – you just can't get rid of him!" in reply to Kate's amused comments.

But nothing really seemed to make a difference – Charlie accepted everything with sincere words of thanks and a smile that had more than just a trace of guilt in it. He seemed as happy – if such a word could be used in conjunction with him anymore – to see his well-meaning friends walk away, as to see them approach him.

One after the other, the castaways stopped trying so hard. Other things happened that were more important, concerning everyone's survival, and soon Charlie faded into the background, became a shoulder to pat in passing, a bit of casual banter exchanged around the fire. And being half-forgotten seemed to suit him just fine.

So it came as a surprise to everyone when, one late-summer evening, Sawyer came up to the caves, although he had already been there earlier to fetch some water. Hurley hailed him, but was ignored as Sawyer headed straight up to Charlie, who was sitting in what had become his usual place – the spot Claire had been sleeping in.

He had something stuffed in his backpocket – Sharon craned her neck trying to see what it was, but with little success. It looked like a magazine of some sort, and Sawyer seemed bent on hiding it from view as he knelt down next to Charlie. He whispered something that caused Charlie to look up in surprised disbelief and grip Sawyer's arm with what appeared to be considerable force. Sawyer didn't seem to mind, he just nodded and whispered some more.

Then he reached for the magazine and handed it to Charlie, who stared at the magazine, flipped through it, and then looked Sawyer intently, mixed emotions flickering over his face. It was the most animated anyone of them had seen him in a long time.

He spoke then, his voice carrying in the hushed silence that had fallen over the cave, hoarse with excitement: "What… what do you want for this, Sawyer?"

Sawyer just looked at him, seeming like a completely different person for just one second as he closed Charlie's fingers over the magazine, stilling their trembling with his hands. They remained like that for a while, eyes locked, then Sawyer shook his head and stood. "Just – bring your guitar down to the beach some day, alright?"

He smirked into the round of watching faces, challenging anyone to say something, and then left as quickly as he had arrived. Everyone crowded around Charlie at once, who sat still, hands still clutching the magazine, eyes faraway once more. But it was a different place that he was in, that much was obvious to all that watched him, not the place of his nightmares and dark memories.

Finally he shook himself, as if coming out of a dream. He looked up and smiled at them, a small smile, but one without guilt.

"He gave me music. Oasis, for guitar. What crap!" And Charlie laughed, grabbed his guitar and left the cave, heading for the beach.


Very bad? Acceptable? Liked it, even? *g* Lemme know, okay?