He visits her because she is broken. (He's always had an affinity towards people like that.)
At the beginning, she aims her rifle at him, standing firm, young face tight and guarded, her eyes wary. "Who are you?"
He doesn't miss the slight fear in her voice and this comforts him a bit. She's not all gone, then. Not yet, at least.
He raises his hands, empty palms for her to see, shows her she has nothing to fear. Not from him. "My name is Jacob, Claire."
He smiles slightly. She lowers the rifle, lets it hang limply toward the jungle floor. Her fingers do not twitch around it.
"Oh." She says, her tone almost indifferent, but her curious eyes betray her as they roam over him, taking him in. "He told me about you."
She turns then, back towards her makeshift tent. It's almost an invitation. He decides to take it.
He does not need to ask what man she is referring to.
"He said you killed him." She says it boldly, stares straight into his eyes and waits for his response.
He nods and stokes the fire in between them. The island can get very cold some nights.
"I did," He affirms. "It was a terrible mistake I made, a long time ago."
"You regret it?"
He looks up at her. Surprise is etched on her face. He must have told her another story. It's nothing new. He even expected it.
He thinks of her name, scribbled on the cave wall, unknown by her.
My mistake is the reason you are here.
"Yes, Claire. I regret it more than anything."
Jacob never comes across his brother when he visits her. Not once. He won't say it's coincidence, after all this time.
"They're gone." She says, and like so many times, there is no emotion behind her words. Her eyes still say differently. "Everyone I crashed here with, they left. He told me that. When he was my father he told me that."
When he was my father.
His mouth forms a tight line. He'd be lying if he said this didn't anger him, how his brother takes on the forms of people others knew and loved.
But it is his fault. He started this.
She glances at him out of the corner of her eye.
"I know he wasn't my father."
She declares it as if trying to prove something, like she can't be deceived. He knows that's untrue.
His brother has already spun a web of deceit, and she is stuck right in it.
"I'm sorry, Claire."
She shrugs, brushing it off, and looks away. He pretends not to see the tear that slides down her face in the firelight.
"Will you stay with me?" She asks him as he turns to leave once again, her voice tentative and slightly bashful. It's almost like it's not even her.
He turns back. It is getting darker. She wrings her hands.
"Just until I fall asleep." She elaborates hurriedly. "Sometimes there are noises..."
She trails off, but leaves it that way. He can detect the slight fear in her voice again.
He approaches her, silent. She hangs her head like a child who has done something wrong. She won't look him in the eye.
He tucks a strand of her tangled blonde hair behind her ear. "Of course."
When she finally looks up at him the small smile on her face is one of relief.
She's on her own. She thinks she's found a friend in his brother, but that's not the truth. She is on her own.
There are times that he suspects she knows it too.
He sits next to where she lies in the tent, darkness enveloping them. Everything outside is so still.
She tells him her story because he is the only one who will truly listen. And he likes to, even though he's already known her story for a long while now.
She never asks him about his.
She talks about her mother, her father, how she found out too late that she had a brother, and of course, Aaron.
But she only mentions Charlie once.
She explains how they met, and the last time she saw him.
Then she goes quiet. He just waits.
"He loved me." She finally says, her voice low.
He lays a hand on her back tenderly. "What happened to him?"
He knows, of course. Charlie Pace. He remembers the day he crossed his name off the wall.
"He died." She proclaims baldly, as he supposes this truth should be said. He feels her shoulders tense as she curls in on herself.
She doesn't say anything else after that. She never talks about him again.
"How often does he visit you?"
She looks up at his question. He knows she doesn't need to ask who he's talking about. It's clear.
"About as much as you do." She responds, but in those wide blue eyes of hers he sees the question. Why do you ask? And then, right along with it, the crippling uncertainty. Are you going to leave me?
He nods, satisfied with her answer, and looks away.
I think I might have to.
His fingers gently peel back the collar of her shirt, running over the fresh wound at her shoulder. She sits, placid, and lets him do it.
"He already helped me take care of it."
He sees just that. He tugs the collar back into place.
"They said I was sick in the mind."
She says it almost like she's waiting for him to contradict it. He doesn't. (He can't.)
"They've got him, I know it," She states, sure and vengeful. "They've got Aaron. I just need to find where they're hiding him."
He gazes at her, sorrowful, and lays a hand on her shoulder. They've been over this many times before. "They don't have him, Claire. He's lying to you."
She pulls back suddenly, her features indignant (he sees the hint of desperation too). "Yes, they do. I know they do. Stop telling me they don't."
He can, in a way, understand how much she wants, needs , to believe this. To believe or know otherwise could break her completely, irreparably (as if she hasn't been already).
"He would never lie to me."
She says each word defiantly, unable to be swayed, and in her eyes he sees it.
He sees, clearly, the corruption, the damage that's been inflicted on her. Aaron is her obsession. His brother has exploited that because she let him do so. And now it is too late.
He says nothing back and after a moment, she relaxes.
Later that night, she cries hard, cries like he has never seen her cry.
She cries tears of frustration, sorrow, misery; she cries about everything and he stays with her while she does so.
The night is oddly still.
He holds her and she gratefully accepts, her arms wrapping around his middle, rough, small hands grasping at his shirt. She clings to him, rasps Aaron against his neck in between sobs like a litany. He holds her tightly and warmly, his hand running up and down her back.
When she finally falls limp against him, on the verge of sleep, he pulls away. His heart aches like it hasn't in a long time.
It's only when he's nearly out of the tent that she speaks.
"I won't see you again, will I?"
The resignation is evident in her tired voice. He thinks maybe even she knows how it has to be this way.
"No, you won't. I'm sorry, Claire."
He goes back to the cave, lifts the torch towards the wall. After a moment, he finds it.
He draws a line through it, setting her free.