Title: Not Quite Goodbye
Characters: Charles Widmore, Eloise Hawking
Summary: Charles and Eloise decide who leaves the island.
Notes: Written for new_otherton prompt #6 "Risk".
The day was cool and pleasant, the ocean lying flat around Pala Ferry as Charles Widmore strode down the pier. The sun glimmered along the placid water, and he thought it looked more like a wavy glass floor instead of a liquid. It was just one of many little oddities about the island’s natural properties.
The way the light broke around the trees had always caught Charles’ attention. It seemed so abnormally beautiful, that Charles found himself observing it with more interest than he did the ancient infrastructure of long-forgotten civilisation, or the column of living smoke that had chased him and Ellie through the jungle, hand-in-hand, foolish teenagers are the way back to a scolding from Richard.
And here was Ellie now. Except it was ‘Eloise’ now. Charles always disliked being called Charlie, and his own admittedly pompous insistence at being called Charles appeared to have finally rubbed off on the very pregnant woman standing by the submarine. Just in time for her to depart from his life.
“Hello, Eloise,” he greeted. She turned to him as he approached, and gave him that sharp little smile.
“Hello, Charles. Here to convince me not to leave?”
“Not at all. The prospect of your son’s death is unable to convince you, so some well placed rhetoric is unlikely to make a dent in your plans,” replied Charles. “I’m just here to wish you well. It didn’t feel right to leave things the way they were.”
“Oh? You mean with us yelling at each other and you throwing a cup of cold tea at Richard?”
Charles sighed with a bitter smirk. “You’ve already shown that you’re willing to sacrifice your own flesh and blood for the sake of this island, for the sake of some….unknowable, utterly vague goal. But then I slowed down to think, and I have to ask…” He took one step forward. “Do you know something I don’t?”
Eloise stared up into his eyes. Oh, those eyes. He’d seen them smile. He’d seen them cry. And now he was seeing them without a glint of emotion. He had never believed those eyes were capable of being so empty until now.
“No, Charles, I don’t. But I’ve spent so long protecting this island, I….I’ve killed for it. As have you. And all in the name of a greater purpose. But we don’t truly have faith unless we’re willing to truly sacrifice,” she said with an even tone. “I will leave. I will raise the boy. I will send him back here. And I will kill him.”
Charles flinched at the mention of his son’s death. Eloise didn’t stop.
“I don’t expect you to understand now, Charles, but one day you will help me. You will understand that you and I….we’re not exempt from the rules of the island.”
Charles shook his head. “Of course not. But why leave now? Why not just…wait, and see what happens?”
Then, something strange happened. Eloise smiled. Not her crippling, critical smirk of superiority but a genuine smile. She placed one hand on his cheek. “Oh, Charles. I wish I could. But I can’t take the chance.” she said, tilting her head at him as their eyes locked. Her eyes were alive again. “The risk isn’t worth taking.”
Charles wanted to launch into his perfectly practiced argument. But he simply couldn’t. He could only say, “I won’t, Eloise. I won’t sacrifice my son. I’m allowing you to leave, to raise him, but when it comes to it….I won’t help you do this. If his death truly is destiny, if it truly is meant to happen…then it will happen. And I’ll be more than comfortable taking that risk.”
Another real smile, and now, quiet tears. “That’s what I always loved about you, Charles. You always believe what you tell yourself. But one day you’ll either learn, or be forced to learn,” she replied, and turned away quickly.
She awkwardly climbed the sub, and Charles called out, “Goodbye, Eloise.”
She turned her head back for a moment. “This isn’t goodbye, Charles. Far from it.”
The submarine hatch closed, and Charles Widmore watched the water tremble as it sunk. He stood there for a moment, telling himself he wouldn’t chance the life of his unborn child. He didn’t quite believe himself.