Title: In the Eyes of a Young Girl
Author: Chris (Mesa!)
Feedback: Is greatly appreciated and deeply desired.
Characters: Desmond, Charlie, Claire
Pairings: Charlie/Claire, implied Desmond/Penny
Spoilers: Through Season Three thus far.
Summary: Charlie gets some relationship advice from everyone's favorite Scotsman.
Disclaimer: Nope, not mine.
Author's Notes: Inspired by pacejunkie 's wonderful Chesmond friendship fic, "How to Be a Hero." As a note, yes it's probably a little odd that Charlie suddenly becomes more awkward than he should be, but it made sense on some level in my head so I ran with it. ^^;;
Desmond wasn't certain what the argument was about, but if he had to take a guess, he'd probably assume it was something trivial. That was the problem with two people who were obviously shamelessly in love- they tended to have a penchant for getting into petty fights for no real reason. Even he and Penny hadn't been immune to that curse.
He had actually been rather amused on the outset by how much Charlie and Cliare reminded him of Penny and himself in the early days of their relationship, and while it hurt him in so many ways to recall his beloved, knowing that he very well might never see her again, he couldn't help but feel a pleasant wave of nostalgia whenever he looked at the young couple. Perhaps it was merely the helpless romantic in him, but he had decided at some point during his short time here that he would keep an eye on the pair and help them out whenever they needed it.
Today, it looked like they needed it.
Charlie moved away from Claire's tent, obviously perplexed about something. He might have walked right by Desmond without saying a word had the Scot not spoken up, causing him to stop and look at him.
"Something wrong, brother?" He asked.
The former rock star shrugged and cast a baleful look at Claire's tent where the lovely blonde Aussie was currently tending to Aaron. "I have a feeling that I've forgotten something very important, but I have no idea what it might be."
Desmond followed Charlie's gaze for a second, and then went back to carving his mango, pondering all of the fickle little things Penny used to get irritated with him about. A small smile crossed his face suddenly, and he was thankful that the British man was still watching Claire, lest he get the impression that he was being mocked somehow. In truth, he was merely recalling a very specific incident in his relationship with Penny which had led to her throwing a rather expensive pair of high heels at his head. When all was said and done, it really was a stupid fight, but that didn't stop him from making amends to the situation by reciting Shakespeare outside her window until she forgave him. In the end, it didn't really matter what the fight was about as long as it was eventually pushed aside and forgotten.
"I wish I could do something to make it up to her," Charlie sighed. "It's not like I can go out and buy her a present, unless the French woman's got a bloody mini-mall out there in the jungle she isn't telling us about." He flopped down on the sand in front of Desmond and sighed. "I'm a romantic failure, aren't I?"
"You're not the only man in the world whose ever upset a woman," the Scot chuckled.
"Oh right," Charlie arched his eyebrows. "And am I right to assume that you, Mr. White Knight, are included in that sorry lot of relationship screw-ups."
"On several occasions," Desmond replied pleasantly. He took a bite of his mango, musing silently to himself, before adding, "Women are strange creatures, Charlie. Sometimes they can make you believe that the smallest mistake will destroy your entire relationship, but it never does, and all it really takes to get back in their good graces again is one simple, romantic gesture."
Charlie looked at the Scot, his expression dumbfounded. "How do you know so much?
"About love, romance, relationships- all of it. You were giving Bernard love advice yesterday, and just today I saw you talking to Sun in a very advice-giving way and she and Jin haven't come out of their tent since. It's like you're some sort of Casanova or something."
Desmond promptly choked on his mango, and through his sputtering and coughing managed a strangled, "What?"
Charlie ticked off each point on his fingers. "You're charming, suave, your accent is definitely sexier than mine is, and you're starting to make me believe that chivalry does exist." He paused and then added, as an afterthought, "I'm surprised Claire hasn't fallen in love with you."
Desmond arched an eyebrow, and then began to tick off his own points on his fingers. "First of all: I'm going to pretend you didn't just call my accent sexy even though it is."
"Second of all: Chivalry does exist."
"Maybe in Bosnia or somewhere like that," Charlie rolled his eyes.
"And third of all: Claire's not likely to fall for me, because she's already head over heels in love with you." He paused, and then added with a wry smile, "And I know how to prove it."
"Are you sure about this?" Charlie asked. He and Desmond were currently standing behind a large curtain of foliage overlooking the path that Cliare usually took on her afternoon walks.
"About as sure as I am of anything, brother," Desmond shrugged, keeping an eye on the path as they waited for Claire to come by.
"How sure is that?"
"I see the future, remember?"
Charlie didn't look convinced. "I think I may have forgotten it already."
"It'll come back to you in time."
"And if it doesn't?"
Desmond paused and then smiled at the British man, "How good are you at mime?"
Charlie shot him a seething glare, which was quickly pushed aside in favor of another nervous glance at the leafy curtain. Any second now, Claire would be here, and then....
He swallowed hard. "Have I told you that I'm not very good at being romantic?"
"Eleven times," Desmond replied flatly. "That last one makes twelve."
"Then I think I've made my point relatively clear," Charlie said, equally as flat. "I mean... There was that peanut butter thing, but I've never achieved a level of romanticism akin to that since then. Mostly I'm just witty... Sometimes she doesn't like that."
"Don't worry, Charlie. Even if you completely bomb, I assure you, she'll still be pleased by the gesture," Desmond said reassuringly.
"Are you sure?"
"Only fools are positive."
Desmond grinned. "Yeah? You sure about that, brother?"
It took Charlie a minute to realize what had just happened, and when he did, he glared at Desmond, who merely chuckled and went back to watching for Claire.
"Looks like she's coming," he said. He turned to the younger man and winked, "Milady awaits. Now's your chance then."
"Maybe I can just-"
Before Charlie could beat around the bush and miss his chance, he was shoved out from behind the curtain by a rather impatient Desmond with no amount of gentleness. He stumbled onto the path, regained his bearings, and glowered at the foliage, deeply considering marching back behind them and giving Desmond a piece of his mind. A sharp gasp, however, diverted his attention, and he turned to see Claire standing a few feet from him, looking as if she'd just been startled by something. She sighed and rolled her eyes as soon as she realized that it was just him, relaxing visibly.
"Charlie, you scared me," she grimaced. "What are you doing out here?"
"I, uh... Came to apologize," he responded sheepishly.
Claire crossed her arms over her chest, smirking a little. For a moment, it actually looked like she had already forgotten what they had been bickering about. "Did you now?"
"I have a present for you. Well, I don't really have it. It's inside of me, because I memorized it, but when I get it out of me by... Saying it out loud, it'll be like a gift... For you. From me. Or-"
A small pebble suddenly struck Charlie in the back of the head and he yelped in surprise, whirling towards the foliage curtain and shooting Desmond a death glare through the leaves.
Claire blinked in confusion. "You're acting sort of funny today, Charlie."
"Am I?" He chuckled and then paused, blinking as he suddenly thought of something, "Wait... Is it the good kind of funny or the high-on-drugs funny?"
Another pebble struck him, harder this time. "Ow!" He cried out, whirling back on the foliage. "Stop it with the bloody rocks already!" He winced suddenly as he realized what this must look like from Claire's perspective and turned back to the Aussie, trying his best to look innocent.
"What's going on?" She asked, arching an eyebrow.
Charlie blanced, wishing that he hadn't suddenly become so nervous. He was never nervous around her before now. It was almost as if she had become some perfect being that he to impress if just for the honor of looking upon her beautiful face. He knew he shouldn't have let Desmond talk him into this... Of course there was no going back now.
He cleared his throat, knowing it was now or never. Silently, he prayed to God to help him remember that damn poem that Desmond had taught him, but God offered him no aide, and he mentally rolled his eyes Heavenward, a few slightly blasphemous thoughts coming to his mind. Thank you, Father. You're a brilliant matchmaker.
So he was on his own. He'd simply have to make do with that.
"She walks in beauty," he said, struggling to pull the poem from his memory, which caused his words to stumble awkwardly from his lips. "...Like the night of, um... Starless skies? No... Cloudless climes and starry skies. And all that's best... of, uh, dark and bright meets in the...." He trailed off, completely blanking, but covering for his mistake with a sheepish smile.
From behind the leafy curtain, Desmond smacked his head.
Suddenly, the rest of the poem came back to him and he quickly finished, the words running together in his haste to get this over with. "...Aspect and her eyes! Thus mellowed in that tender light whose heaven to gaudy day denies."
He gave Claire a hopeful look, and for a moment all she could do was stare blankly back at him.
And then she started laughing.
That was not the reaction he had been hoping for.
"What's so funny?" Charlie demanded, sulking a little. He had a strong urge to beat Desmond repeatedly about the head. If he found out that this was all some sort of funny trick conceived by the Scot to make him look like an idiot, there would be Hell to pay.
"I'm so sorry," Claire choked out between peals of laughter. She was doubled over, clutching her stomach as if in pain, and Charlie was sarcastically glad that she found his attempts at being romantic so terribly amusing. "It was just so funny. You're so adorable sometimes."
Charlie blinked. Adorable?
She straightened up, wiping tears out of her eyes, still giggling a little. "I guess I have to forgive you now."
Charlie couldn't believe what he was hearing. It had actually worked. "Well, whatever I did to upset you earlier, I promise it won't happen again." He paused, a thought coming into his head. "You didn't think that was the slighest bit romantic?"
She laughed a little. "It was cute." She gently planted a kiss on his cheek, before adding in his ear, "I happen to like cute."
She started to move off, pausing only briefly to turn her head in the direction of the foliage curtain, a smile on her face. "Charlie, make sure you tell Desmond that I said 'hi.'"
The Scotsman in question parted the curtain and stepped out onto the path, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "Hello, Claire."
She shook her head at the two men and rolled her eyes good-naturedly before heading off again. "I'll see you back at camp, Charlie," she called over her shoulder.
He nodded, even though she was looking at him and thus couldn't see the gesture, but he was too dumbfounded to care. For a moment, he couldn't even find words to speak as he stared at the back of her head until she was completely out of sight.
"I told you so," Desmond said matter-of-factly.
"She likes cute," Charlie mused. "I can do cute."
He turned to Desmond and grinned. "Thanks, mate."
"Anytime," the Scot responded with a grin. He started to head back to camp, but after walking about seven feet, he was stopped by the sound of Charlie's voice, which was suddenly quite a bit softer than it had been just a moment before.
"Hmm?" He turned back to face the British man, noting that Charlie seemed nervous for some reason. Not the comical nervous he had been during his botched poem recitation, but a more serious sort of nervous. He shuffled his feet and looked down, becoming very interested in a pebble lying beside his foot.
"Before you came here.... Did you have someone... A girl?"
Desmond closed his eyes, drifting away to the face of Penelope Widmore, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. He knew instantly why Charlie was so nervous- it was a tender subject and obviously he didn't want to upset him. This was far from an upsetting topic, however. Yes, sometimes it hurt him to think of his beloved, but other times, he felt as if her memory was the only thing keeping him sane.
"Her name was Penny," he finally said, his voice barely above a pleasant whisper.
Charlie smiled. "Well then, I hope everything works out, and you to get to be with her again. You deserve it."
Desmond was deeply touched by his simple words and almost wished to express to what extent, but all he found he could say in response was simply, "Thank you, Charlie."
That, however, was enough for Charlie to understand that he had said the right thing.