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TITLE: Addiction
AUTHOR: Mnemosyne


Disclaimer: Not mine! JJ Abrams, ABC, etc, own all rights to the characters.
SUMMARY: What do you do when your drug runs out, and you're looking for a new addiction? Charlie-POV, with implied CharlieClaire.
RATING: PG-13, for some language and descriptions of drug use
NOTES:
This is a bit of a darker look at Charlie's personality, and how he handles his addiction. I'm a big Charlie/Claire 'shipper, and I wish them nothing but happiness forever and ever, but I couldn't help exploring the murkier aspects of Charlie's interest in the pretty pregnant girl. I hope you'll enjoy, and if you do, I hope you'll review! Thank you!







He was seeing red again. He tried to blame it on the drug, but knew that the powder was only a crutch to prop up his own flagging self-esteem. The anger had always been there in one form or another; a low, simmering sense of self-absorbed rage that liked to ask the question, Why me?


Right now, that question had changed slightly to Why not me? He was staring at the ocean, listening to the pounding of the waves as they pummeled the shore, and wondering about things like death and religion and what it would feel like to puke up pure bile when the food in his stomach ran out like the drug in his shoe. What kind of sick god would strand a guy in his position on this island? Was he supposed to clean himself up? Sweat it out of his system? How was he supposed to do that when his pores were sticky with salt water and grime? Wouldn't it have been easier to just kill him quick and have done, like the rest of the corpses in the fuselage?


He was being too literal. He knew that, and didn't care. He was angry at the world, at god (spelled with a small "g" in his head in a show of unspoken defiance), and at the pilot of the goddamn plane for turning off course and stranding them here in the first place. He was angry at Boone for taking the water; at Jack for not letting him pound in Boone's face; at "Joanna" for going swimming; at "Joanna" for dying.


At himself for putting her name in quotes in his head, as if she were nothing but a word on a page. At himself for not knowing how to swim.


"Shut up," he muttered, batting at his ear as if swatting a fly. "Just shut up."


He was tired of the nagging voice of self doubt that had been plaguing him for years. Back on the mainland he could shut it up with loud music and movies and, of course, a nostril full of uncut heroin. But there was no music here, and no movies, and the heroin had already been cut with a bit of Drano, he knew, because his dealer had been sticking him for weeks now, knowing Charlie would take anything at this point, and it was fast running out and soon even that would desert him. Then he'd turn into a sniveling ball of misery and any respect he'd earned on the island would go out the window like so much bath water. He'd be back to square one, and no one would look him in the eye again.


Perhaps that was why he felt so drawn to Claire; he understood isolation, although his was largely self-induced. He sought out solitude like a bear seeking a cave in winter. But Claire didn’t deserve the silent treatment she perceived from the rest of the survivors. Charlie could tell, just from the conversations he'd had with her, that she had an outgoing personality, and being shunned was probably killing her a little bit day by day. Charlie didn't see it, really -- she seemed to interact well enough with Kate and Hurley and the others -- but perhaps that was just his own conception of "alone" versus "with people." To him, a person wasn't really alone until he couldn't see a soul and heard nothing but cars on the street below.


He was thinking about her too much. This could be dangerous. At night, he'd lay down on his blanket, close his eyes, and see her behind his eyelids. It was a purely instinctual reaction -- he'd been envisioning happy things at bedtime since he was a child, to give him good dreams. The fact that his "happy thing" had gone from thousands of screaming groupies to a single pregnant woman with a scraped chin -- seemingly overnight -- was what worried him. She was warm, and sweet, and caring, and giving, and cute as a button in that little bucket hat, and in other words everything that was completely the opposite of his usual taste in women. Good girls went with altar boys, and bad girls went with the bassists.


Which made his newfound infatuation with the pretty, pregnant Aussie all the more disturbing. He should have been fawning over Shannon, or seeking out another woman amongst the survivors who matched his level of self-destructive energy. There had to be one -- everyone had their sell-out point, and most people reached it at one point or another in their lives. He should not -- SHOULD NOT -- have been hanging around the sick tent, chewing on his fingernails, watching Claire sleep and fawning over her like a wide-eyed puppy. There was no logical reason why he should be so drawn to her. She was attractive, certainly, with the first pair of true crystal blue eyes he'd ever seen. But she was also very, very pregnant, and that meant responsibility, and responsibility meant fire tracks where the soles of his sneakers had been. He should have been terrified of this woman and all her breakable bits.


But she didn't scare him. She made him feel good. She made him feel useful, and wanted, and IMPORTANT. Nobody had ever made him feel this way before. Perhaps it was just his lack of options, but he wanted to stay with Claire so she could keep making him feel this way. He wanted to keep feeling this good.


That was the point, wasn't it?


That was the whole frigging reason.


She made him feel good.


SHE MADE HIM FEEL GOOD.


There's something about a heroin high that can't be described with words, because when it's happening, you don't really think of it in terms of words. It's a full body release, and everything just melts away, and when you sober up, you can't describe it except for shadowy references to "the buzz." Charlie knew The Buzz well. It was his long-time friend. It was his closest confidante in times of stress; his helpful shoulder when he needed something to lean on. He'd gotten to know The Buzz inside and out over their lengthy association, and every second he spent with it, he wanted to double the next time around. The Buzz was fun. The Buzz was cool. The Buzz made him FEEL GOOD.


What was he supposed to do when he woke up one morning, snorted his last line, and said goodbye to The Buzz forever?


Well, first there'd be screaming. Then pain. Vomiting. Uncontrollable chills and visible shaking, as he twitched and spasmed and fought for control. And that was just the half of it. Charlie'd read enough flyers about drug addiction and drug withdrawal and why they were both a bad thing. He usually read them when he was high, and the only thing they ever did was convince him not to stop dosing himself, because sobriety wasn't worth THAT shit.


He'd always had an obsessive personality; it was what got him hooked on drugs to start with. It was what kept the bass line to "You All, Everybody" playing on a constant loop in his head day after day. It was why he wrote on his fingers, letting out some of his incessant inner monologue to face the daylight. He found something that interested him, and let it control him totally. Once his heroin ran out, it would leave an enormous vacuum in his life, and a black hole like that was liable to suck in anything to staunch the flow of self.


What he felt for Claire… was it love? He couldn't say -- had no experience with the emotion, didn't know what it felt like. It would be nice to say yes. But his perceptions had been out of whack since the first time he plucked an old needle out of his arm and decided this was the LAST time; after this he was ONLY going to snort.


So perhaps it was love, or perhaps it was obsession, or perhaps she was just his perfect new drug. She closed up a tiny crack in him that was already aching to be filled, but it was like the little Dutch boy plugging up the hole in the dam with his thumb. Sooner or later, the walls would collapse, and she'd be drowned in the deluge.


He didn't want to be a stalker. He knew that was how she'd probably see him. He didn't want to hang out on the fringes of her life, sucking off her radiance like a nicotine cigarette. He didn't want to get too close, because then she'd be bound to discover he was really only using her, leaving him to spiral in another yawning vacuum. Claire's heart seemed boundless, but again, it was all about perception; seeming was not being, and even those who are the most giving only have so much to give.


He sat on the beach and stared at the waves, and wondered about things like death and religion and what it would be like to puke up pure bile when the food in his stomach ran out like Claire from his life when she found out that addicts are always addicted to something. And sometimes, someone.



THE END



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