It started with the simple act of getting an extra blanket for that cute girl.
The memories were real, the touches were real, the glow in his eyes was real, and, oh yeah, those lips were definitely real.
Charlie had honestly never thought about it until now, but pregnancy weight was pretty damn cute.
He feels the darkness closing in around him with the rise of pain in his throat, and suddenly the flash of a golden goddess takes it all away.
He amuses her by drawing lines in the dirt- "Carrots can go in this row, potatoes in this row, don't wanna plant the onions too close-" silly as anything, but she loves him for the effort.
The tree doesn't provide much shelter, but they giggle as they duck under it anyway.
Claire looks at little pebbles that stick out of the sand, smooth and round and dark as candies, and idly muses that a little chocolate would go great with this peanut butter.
A flicker of a smile works well enough for him.
She's only aware of two things: Kate calling for the ambulance, and wanting someone to hold her until this pain went away.
He pretends not to be awoken at the soft fingertip tracing the shell of his ear.
"What was so wrong with Turnip-Head?" Charlie asked, ducking and laughing as Claire moved to swat at him.
Claire is pretty fortune she's sitting down, since her knees weaken a little at the sight of Charlie's lips puckering around his finger.
A cliche, but one all too true- a part of Claire died right along with Charlie.
"Not until we're rescued," she murmurs one night in his arms, "just to be safe," to which Charlie nods in understanding and just caresses her more gently than any guitar he's ever owned.
Claire tilts her head back and moans at the feathery strokes, coming to the conclusion that yeah, this was a lot better.
They were both crippled by their own issues, possibly a big reason they connected as well as they did.
Claire knows she should be happy, even with the ship appearing on the horizon and Aaron in her arms and Charlie gently hugging her, but she still can't stop crying.
He doesn't even care that "Run Through The Jungle" plays in his head at top volume as dirt flies from behind his feet, he is saving that baby.
The breeze whispering through the trees talks of danger and deceit; she knows she's not hearing things.
Freedom before had always meant the sun in your face and wind in your hair, but being surrounded with that 24/7 soon lost its appeal.
Holding the bundle that was this baby in her arms for the first time, it suddenly hit home to Claire that it wasn't just about her anymore.
He knew he owed Locke a lot, but he didn't recall not saying a word about all the time Claire was spending with him to be part of the deal.
Claire just brushed off the tape on his knuckles as another artistic idiosyncacy, but still couldn't tear her eyes away.
She didn't have an idea where this fruit came from, but she concluded, as Charlie kissed a piece into her mouth, that it was more delicious than almost anything.
"We'll get through this together, I swear."
She just hopes they can both always mean those words.
"'Tis but a scratch," he jokes through his wincing, but Claire just does her duty and swabs the alcohol on his face.
Red-tinged eyes that are almost all pupils, shaking figure although it's not that cold tonight, hands struggling to hold the teacup- Claire decides it's best she stay away from Charlie for a little while.
The chord had been running through his head for weeks on end, with faint words about golden hair and love, and the first thing he asked for on the ship before food or water was a proper pen and paper.
Charlie can brag to anyone he wants about what a big deal he used to be, but Claire wasn't fazed- after all, everyone was equal on this island.
She'll talk about Sydney and he'll ramble about Manchester, both knowing in the back of their minds how ironic it was they spent their youths needing to leave home but this island time just wanting to see it again.
"You tell me, love, does a polar bear scream 'tropical island' to you?"
She has a child to take care of and an island to survive, it doesn't make sense to be afraid of some storm!
All the same, she leans close to Charlie as the thunder reaches deafening levels outside their tent.
"Family isn't about who you're born to, it's who you connect with," Charlie says the first time Claire tells him he doesn't need to act like a father.
Aaron fusses in his stroller while Claire studies the cheaply-printed map she bought at the market, knowing the long walk is going to be worth it when she reaches the apartment building.
It always bugged Charlie that the Professor could make a microwave out of banana wood and coconuts but never thought of building a boat; at least this crew was smarter in some respects.
He makes sure Claire watches him wrap up the DS ring in its new velvet box, explaining, "He deserves the best on his 13th, don't you think?"
"You think I'd let you slip away that easily?" Charlie asks with that endearing smile after all tears have been shed, and Claire has to agree that nah, she really wouldn't.
What she doesn't know won't hurt her, is his reasoning on neglecting to reveal the statue's contents.
Family by circumstance and fate; Charlie looked around at the people in the church, the woman by his side, and the boy in his arms, and finally felt complete.
"I'd say that looks like...a camel," Claire giggled and pointed at the sky from where they lay on sand-gritty towels.
False hope is better than none at all, Charlie decides as the gull slips from Claire's hands and eventually becomes a speck in the distance.
A tumble of images flash before his eyes, and his last coherent thoughts are of a smiling cherub and honey-haired angel.
Being trapped in the middle of nowhere is no picnic, she figures, but still a hell of lot better than being the burden she is.
For one blissful morning, the sunshine isn't oppressive as a small ray beams through the hole in the makeshift shelter, smiling on the little family inside.
Watch over me as I watch over her, he thinks to the moon every night.
Claire wrinkled her nose at the dead fish washed up on shore; it was either a none-too-subtle metaphor or a smelly reminder of Fry-o-lators and cheap bosses.
So she wasn't as stylish as the departed unknown hairdresser, but all the same, Claire hummed in satisfaction as she worked the scissors along the ends of Charlie's hair, admiring its dark-straw color.
They hold each other in content and all the love in the world, feeling nothing but peace...and then there is only white light.