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Lost and Found

Fandom: Lost (TV Series)
Title: Lost and Found
Pairing: Jack/Charlie
Rating: R
Genre: Slash, Angst




**************************************************


Sitting by the waterfall, missing his drugs as he had never missed anything in his life, Charlie was moaning and shaking sporadically. 'How stupid to have thrown away the only thing keeping me sane on this sodding island,' he thought savagely. 'Stupid bloody Locke and his stupid bloody moths!' Charlie would have gone to find Locke and punched him in the face if he could only muster the will to stand. As it was he simply huddled in miserable silence, too sick to even think clearly.

Everyone had left the shelter of the caves for various reasons, to explore the jungle, forage for food, or look to see what else could be salvaged from the bit of airplane nearby. Charlie had made a few lame excuses that had not really fooled anyone and remained in the cave. He sat down near the waterfall, hoping the sound of the running water would calm him and take his mind off the burning need that grew worse by the minute. He knew he could not hide his condition from the others much longer, Hurley could be pretty observant, and that weird Korean guy was always watching everyone. Who could tell what he was thinking?

Charlie shivered and wiped his dripping nose on his sleeve. And what would they do when they found out he was a junkie? Banish him to die in the jungle probably. They already thought him a useless screw-up and this would not help his case any. He could have hid it a bit longer, delayed the inevitable for a month or more at least with the stash he had. Maybe even long enough for them to be rescued... but even in his unstable state Charlie knew that was not going to happen anytime soon - if ever.

At a sound outside the cave, he looked up and saw Jack walk in. The doctor had cleaned up since the cave-in but he still held his dislocated arm stiffly as he walked. He saw the state of Charlie and went to sit beside him.

"It's getting bad, isn't it?" he said gently.

Charlie glanced at him with red-rimmed eyes and nodded. "I can't do this, Jack. I'm sick. I've gotta have something - anything." He wiped his nose again and pulled his jacket close around him. "Was there anything in the luggage, something to take the edge off?"

"No, Charlie, there isn't anything you can do but ride this out. I'll help you all I can but..."

"No!" Charlie practically shouted. "The others will know." His eyes took on a desperate, pleading look. "Jack, they'll never accept me, not even Locke, if they see me like this. I have to go out on my own till it's over, till I'm clean." He was up and pacing now, waving his arms around wildly. "I'll go off on my own, not far but far enough so they won't hear. This is going to get worse, I know it, I can feel it. It's worse already." He fell to his knees and pressed his knuckles into his eyes.

Jack sighed and knelt beside him, placing a consoling hand on his shoulder. Charlie shrugged him off.

"Charlie," Jack said firmly, "you can't go off into the jungle alone. You know you won't survive. I've seen people go through this before. It's not something you can do alone."

Charlie gulped and hiccupped. He glanced at Jack and smiled weakly. "If I don't survive, at least you'll all be rid of me. Bloody useless Charlie, right? More for the rest of you and all that."

"Don't talk like that." Jack said, "I don't know why this happened, none of us does, but we survived a plane crash that should have killed us, Charlie. You can survive this too. We need every person to make it but we have to stick together. No one is useless, no one is redundant. Hell, I wouldn't be here right now if you hadn't gotten me out of that cave. Let me help you now."

Charlie seemed to consider this, but then he closed his eyes and shook his head. He stood unsteadily and began to gather up some full water bottles and a little food. "I'll be all right alone, Jack. I won't go far but I don't want to stay and be sick in front of everyone."

Jack tried again. "Don't do it, Charlie, don't go. We all understand; none of us will judge you."

"Judge me?" Charlie snarled, "That's all everyone's been doing since we got here, judging each other, fighting with each other. No one thought Locke could kill a boar, no one believes Sayid will get the transceiver to work, everyone looks at Kate like she might kill us all in our sleep. None of us know or trust each other, Jack, and even you, you said yourself no one is going to find us. You don't think we'll ever get off this island. Face it, we've all made our judgements and I've been judged most expendable, even by me." Jack opened his mouth to protest but Charlie charged on, "Don't bother to deny it, Jack. This is best and you know it, best for me and everyone." He zipped his jacket, threw his pack over his shoulder and trudged off, a small, frail-looking figure dwarfed by the tall, thick trees.

Jack sat for a long time thinking about what Charlie had said. He was still debating on whether to go after him when Michael and Walt came in.

"Everything all right in here?" Michael asked, "How's your arm?"

"Fine, it's fine," Jack said absently.

"Walt and I are heading back to the beach. I have to take my turn at the signal fire."

Jack looked up as though just noticing the two were there. "Are you sure you won't reconsider?" he asked. "I know it might not seem like it after what happened today but this is the safest place to be."

Michael shook his head apologetically. His hands were on his son's shoulders and Walt was looking up at him as he answered. "We have to try, at least a little longer."

Jack smiled, "We'll be here when you're ready."

Michael nodded and the two left. Jack sighed and started refilling some empty water bottles that lay nearby.

Through the rest of the day the others trickled back in, talking of this and that, drinking from the newly filled bottles, or just sitting in thoughtful silence. Locke was the only one who asked about Charlie and Jack told him he had decided to spend the night on the beach, thankful that Locke accepted the explanation without asking any other questions.

As night fell, Jack found himself thinking more and more of Charlie. He knew the young man must be pretty sick by now and he wondered if he'd found suitable shelter to ride out his withdrawal. Jack hated to think it, after what Charlie had said, but he wasn't sure the kid would recognize a safe place if he saw one.

The others had settled in for the evening when Jack decided he could take it no more. He slipped out of the cave, hoping he wouldn't be spotted, and went the direction Charlie had taken. Though he had promised not to go far, Jack could picture him getting lost and wandering in circles, or ending up miles away without realizing it how far he had gone. He wasn't in a sound frame of mind right now.

Jack had gone maybe a mile and a half when he heard small whimpering sounds coming from off to his left. He followed the sounds and soon found Charlie, lying in a hollow at the foot of a massive tree, doubled over, moaning.

He went to him immediately and knelt beside him. Lifting Charlie's head, Jack looked into his glazed, tortured eyes and stroked his hair soothingly.

"Bugger off!" Charlie ground out through clenched teeth before another spasm tore a cry of pain from him.

"No." Jack said firmly. "I'm not leaving you Charlie. Like it or not I'm going to help you."

He took one of the water bottles Charlie had brought and wet a cloth, bathing the tormented young man's face and neck. "Just breathe, Charlie, breathe through the pain," he urged softly.

"It hurts, it hurts so bad!" Charlie cried, curling tighter, his arms crossed over his stomach. He shook and moaned until the cramps passed as Jack rubbed his shoulder and spoke soothingly.

"I know Charlie, I know." Jack sighed.

All through the night Jack held him, forced him to take a little water from time to time, helped him move away from the shelter to vomit and relieve himself. All the while Charlie wept and begged, cursed and threatened, craving the drug one moment and being too sick to care about anything the next. Eventually Jack was forced to remove Charlie's clothing to wash away the sweat and make him easier to clean after elimination. He wrapped him in the blanket Charlie had taken with him and held him as he shook his way through the pain that tore at him apart inside.

At one point Charlie threw off Jack and the blanket and ran into the surrounding jungle, screaming, "I am a rock god!!" forcing Jack to chase him down and tackle him. He pinned the naked, squirming kid to the ground, using his weight to hold him so he could not hurt himself while Charlie spat out curses and accusations. For almost twenty minutes Charlie ranted and struggled beneath him before finally going limp. Jack scooped him up and carried him back to the tree, looking around nervously for any creature that might have been attracted by Charlie's psychotic ranting.

As morning approached, both were exhausted and Jack held Charlie's head on his lap as the young man fell at last into a light slumber. Jack watched him sleep, his face peaceful and, oddly, angelic in the early morning light. Charlie was a good guy, Jack thought to himself, his puppy-like eagerness to please and impulsiveness could be endearing - when it wasn't so annoying.

He touched Charlie's cheek, brushing his hand over the light stubble there. Jack thought back to the way he had looked, running naked through the jungle, screaming something about being a 'rock god', and now Jack smiled at the memory, comparing that image to the wounded creature he held in his arms. He looked at Charlie's hand, with its chipped nail polish and tape wrapped around each finger with the word "love" written upon it, and he felt a twinge of affection tug at his heart. He leaned back against the tree, a numbing weariness overtaking him, and within a minute he was asleep also.

Sometime later he awoke to find Charlie was no longer resting upon him. Frantically he looked around, soon spotting the young man standing a few feet away, holding the blanket around his shoulders, staring off into the jungle.

"Charlie?" he called softly, but the figure didn't turn around.

He rose to his feet, his limbs stiff, his dislocated shoulder throbbing painfully, and made his way over to Charlie. "How are you doing this morning?" he asked, coming to stand beside him.

Charlie stared hollowly off into space. "Better." he mumbled.

"Are you hungry?" Jack asked, "You really should eat something."

"What will become of us?" Charlie asked, ignoring the question.

Jack was silent for a moment. "We'll survive."

"Survive for what? Until that thing in the jungle eats us, until we run out of food or water, until we kill each other. What are we surviving for?"

"For ourselves, for each other. It's what people do Charlie." Jack said softly.

Charlie sighed and pulled the blanket tighter around him. "I wish I had something - someone - to survive for, but I don't."

His voice sounded so empty, so hopeless, Jack was worried. Getting the drug out of his system was a good thing but if the depression caused by the withdrawal made him give up...

On impulse, he took Charlie's chin between his fingers and turned his head toward him. Jack's eyes locked with Charlie's and he caught the questioningly look in them just before he leaned in for a kiss.

Charlie blushed and pulled away. He shifted about awkwardly, looking at Jack then looking at the ground.

"I must taste terrible." he muttered shyly, but Jack could see from his body language he was not upset by the kiss itself.

"I've had worse." Jack grinned and was happy to see Charlie smile also.

"So what's all this about then." Charlie asked uneasily, looking at him with slightly watery eyes. "What about Kate? Or is this just pity?"

Jack took in the sight of the rumpled, unshaven young man who was somehow so appealing despite his smelly, disheveled state. He looked into Charlie's eyes. "If it was pity, you'd have to be pitiable, Charlie, and you're anything but that." he said honestly.

He held his arms open invitingly and Charlie faltered and then moved into the embrace. Jack hugged him and he felt Charlie nuzzle at his neck. With nothing between them but Jack's sweaty clothing and the flimsy airplane blanket, each could clearly tell how the other felt.

They moved back to the shelter of the tree and Jack, his hands on Charlie's hips, pressed his back against the trunk and looked into eyes. "If you have any reservations, tell me now." Jack said. Charlie responded by letting go of the blanket, allowing it to fall away and reached for the doctor, ripping his shirt open.

A couple of hours later as they sat beneath the tree, both now dressed and Jack sewing the buttons back on his shirt with the travel sewing kit he had found in the wreckage, they heard someone approaching.

"Jack! Charlie!" Locke called.

"We're over here," Jack shouted, and soon Locke joined them.

"Where have you two been?" he asked, and Charlie felt a stab of panic at the look in his eyes, a look that said he already knew the answer.

"We were... um... um..." Charlie stammered, flustered.

"I thought I'd seen some luggage from the plane out here." Jack broke in. "Charlie offered to help me salvage it. But we couldn't find it."

"Seeing things again?" Locke asked, and Charlie could not miss the twinkle in his eye.

Jack laughed, "No, I think we just went in the wrong direction." He stood and put his shirt on, wincing as he pulled it on over his sore arm. "I'd better be getting back." he said to Charlie.

"Sure, me too." Charlie said. He started to follow Jack when Locke put a hand on his chest and stopped him.

"Do you believe me now?" Locke asked.

"About what?"

"That this island has magic."

Charlie smiled, fiddling with the tape on his fingers. He glanced down at the word written there. "love" it said.

"Yeah," Charlie said, watching Jack as he walked away through thick grasses. "Yeah, I think I do."


end

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