Dreaming of a White Christmas
Genre: General (AU)
Summary: Okay, so it's a little early for holiday fics, but my plot bunnies wouldn't leave me alone on this one. It's a short one-shot about the survivors making the best of what they have to celebrate Christmas on the island.
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. I own only the plot.
The passing of the days was not well marked by those on the island. Their minds were preoccupied with more pressing matters, such as how to survive until the rescuers came… if they ever did. However, when Claire was going through the suitcases trying to separate the practical from the impractical and stumbled across a calendar, she began to think more about the amount of time they had spent on the tropical paradise turned hell.
Her fingers slowly ripped the plastic off the brand new calendar. It looked as though it had been a gift never used, one of those desk calendars with cutesy little sayings on each page. Claire flipped through the months until she landed on December 14, the day the plane had left Australia. In her mind she tried to count the days, recalling certain events that made each day memorable. As she counted she flipped ahead until the page marked December 22 lay on her lap.
Eight days. Had it really been so little time? To Claire it felt as though it had been a lifetime already, yet she was almost positive that she was correct. With a shock she realized that Christmas was only three days away.
Just over a week ago, Claire had been looking forward to Christmas with childlike delight. She was going to visit her sister in the States, landing at LAX to catch a connecting flight into Michigan. Only days before leaving her sister had called to warn her to pack warmly.
"We've just had a good blanket of snow left overnight. You're going to have your first white Christmas!" she had said giddily.
Now Claire was as far away from a snowy Christmas as she could be. With a small sigh she glanced upward at the blazing sun and rubbed her sunburned, peeling nose. There would be no snowmen building or snowball fights with her nieces and nephews this Christmas, she thought bitterly. It's really too bad that none of us will have a good celebration this year.
But why can't we? Claire glanced around the beach until her eyes fell on Jack, the unofficial leader of the camp, or so it seemed. He was walking along the shoreline with no apparent aim, so Claire heaved herself to her feet and waddled as fast as she could towards him, calendar in hand.
"Jack!" she called when she was within hearing distance. He glanced up quickly and, seeing Claire, came towards her with a concerned look. His eyes were, as usual, trained on her bulging tummy.
My eyes, Jack, look at my eyes! Claire urged, trying out her telepathic skills. They were non-existent, apparently, since Jack never once glanced up at her face.
"Is anything wrong, Claire?" Jack asked.
"Oh, no, everything's fine. I just wanted to show you this," Claire said, holding out the calendar. He took it from her hand and glanced at it, then looked back at her questioningly.
"What about it?" he asked curiously.
"Well, it's just that it's December 22. I didn't realize it was already so close to Christmas. I was thinking… I don't know, maybe we should… it might be nice to have a little celebration. It's so depressing around here, maybe we could liven things up," Claire suggested hesitantly. She still remembered his rebuff at her memorial service suggestion and hoped she had simply caught him at a bad time then.
Jack looked back at the calendar with renewed interest. He pondered for a moment, considering the idea. It would be a good way to boost morale, and it might bring people together more. They could certainly use more unity, that was for sure. Jack began to nod slowly, his brain already thinking ahead. "Yeah, yeah, I like that. Great idea, Claire. But what could we do?"
Claire bit her lip, thinking. "Maybe… maybe a holiday dinner? We still have some boar left, don't we? And we could organize a tiny little gift exchange?"
"Like a Secret Santa sort of thing. Yeah, that could work. That's great, Claire. I'll think about it some more and announce it tonight. Thanks for bringing it up," Jack said, finally glancing away from Claire's stomach to offer a fleeting smile.
That night, after the signal fire was lit, Jack asked everyone to gather around to listen to him. When he announced what date it was, Claire noticed most of the group exchanging looks of surprise. Christmas had snuck up on them as well. Jack explained that someone had suggested organizing a celebration of some kind, prompting nods of approval and voiced agreements.
Jack said that since not everyone celebrated the same holiday, it didn't have to be called a "Christmas celebration." It was just a time to give thanks for their survival and try to get to know each other, since it looked like they would be stuck together for awhile. Locke volunteered to go hunting again, and a few others agreed to go looking for edible plants or possibly fruit to add to the meal. Anyone who wanted to participate in the gift exchange put their name on a slip of paper and dropped it in a hat so they could pick out another person's name.
Claire, as slow-moving as she was, ended up being the last person to choose a name out of the hat. Jack offered her the final slip of paper, which she took back to her little area of the beach. Once unfolded, she read the name printed there in childish scrawl. Walt. Although she had never really spoken to him, she knew that he was the little boy with the dog. Claire smiled, happy with her choice. As she absentmindedly stroked her stomach she contemplated what a good gift for a young boy would be.
It was hard for everyone to be living on the island, but Claire thought it would be especially hard for someone Walt's age. To have no one his own age, no friends to talk to or play with, and only adults to interact with, would be frustrating. At least he had his dog, Claire mused. Perhaps when her son was older –assuming that they ever got off the island, of course– she would buy him a dog to grow up with.
In the meantime, Claire concentrated on a gift for Walt. Over the next two days she scoured the abandoned suitcases, along with a few other people who were undoubtedly looking for something to give their "Secret Santa," trying to find something Walt might like. When Christmas Day rolled around, she still had not decided on the perfect gift until it was nearly sundown.
During the day, there was a new sense of excitement among the forty-six survivors. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood as they went around gathering things for the feast. A few people hummed or sang Christmas carols as they went along, adding to the festive mood. Locke managed to take down two piglets with the kelp of Kate and Sayid, and along the way they discovered a treasure in the form of a few banana trees and coconut trees bearing fruit. It would be a welcome addition to their diet, which consisted mainly of flavorless plants that provided nutrients and cold boar meat.
At sunset the survivors gathered around the fire. Jack enlisted the help of several people to pass out the banana leaves that would serve as their plates and the small cups of water. Once people got their food they sat around the fire, either on sand or on the seats that had been salvaged from the fuselage. Claire found a place to sit next to Hurley, who was always so very nice to her, even though he always stared at her stomach fearfully. She wanted to assure him that her water was not going to explode anytime soon, but she thought that might make it worse.
"Happy Christmas, Hurley," she said with a soft smile.
Hurley laughed a little, as if he was wondering what was so happy about it. Still, he smiled back and said, "Merry Christmas."
Shannon was sitting apart from the crowd, her plate of food crowing cold beside her as she gazed out at the ocean, her knees hugged to her chest. She didn't look up when Boone approached, and when he sat beside her she turned away from him a little bit.
"Here," Boone said simply, tossing something small at Shannon. It landed next to her foot and she looked at it curiously.
"What's that?" she asked curtly, making no move to pick it up.
"A Christmas present. Just something I found in a suitcase. I drew your name out of the hat," Boone replied. He looked at her for a minute before getting up and walking away to sit closer to the warm fire.
"Hey, Boone!" Shannon called. He turned to look at her. "I didn't put my name in the hat."
"I know," Boone answered. "I did it for you. Merry Christmas, Shan."
Shannon waited until he walked away to pick up the present, wrapped crudely in some toilet paper. She snorted derisively, but opened it tenderly all the same. Inside was a compact mirror with a polished silver backing. Etched on the back were the words "Eternal Love" enclosed in a heart. Shannon turned it over in her hands a few times, feeling the cold metal turn warm from her own body heat. When she glanced in it at her reflection, her eyes lacked the cold glint they typically held. Instead they had an unusually bright glint in them, almost of happiness, or perhaps of love.
Kate looked around the beach, fumbling with something in her hands. When her eyes fell on Sawyer her lips thinned out into a line. As if marching to her death, Kate walked over to him, stopping a few feet away. He glanced up, a cigarette held loosely in his lips, and grunted to acknowledge her presence.
"I um… this… I have… this is for you, Sawyer. Merry Christmas," Kate said awkwardly, holding out the lighter to him.
Sawyer looked from the lighter to Kate and back to the lighter before reaching out to take it. Kate looked down, mentally preparing herself to hear a biting comment or a rude remark. Instead, Sawyer just pocketed the lighter and said quietly, "Thank you, Kate."
Kate looked up in surprise. He was looking back at her with not even a hint of his usual malice. She offered a small smile, to which she got no response. "You know, I was surprised when I drew out your name."
"Why's that, sugar?" Sawyer asked.
"You don't seem like the type to get into the Christmas spirit," Kate shrugged.
Sawyer smiled a little bit then. "Well, I'm a complex guy, sweetheart."
Kate laughed a little. "Whose name did you draw?"
Sawyer hesitated for a moment, then glanced towards the fire. Kate followed his glance to where Hurley was sitting with the pregnant lady. "Hurley. I think he liked the pocketknife I gave him, once he realized I wasn't going to cut him up with it."
"I'm sure he did. See you around, Sawyer," Kate said, turning to walk away.
"Merry Christmas, Kate," Sawyer said. Kate paused but did not turn around. When she returned to her place by the fire, there was a soft smile on her face.
Jack approached Locke with his gift in hand. The older man was sitting by the fire staring into it intently. In his hands he held the knife he had used to hunt the board for the holiday dinner. Jack was hesitant to interrupt his thoughts until Locke looked up at him, smiled, and nodded at the empty space beside him. Jack sat down and held out the present, a knife sharpener he had found in one of the suitcases.
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Locke," Jack said.
Locke took the sharpener, setting his knife down in the sand beside him. He looked it over and nodded, apparently satisfied. "This is a good tool to have. Thank you, Jack. You're a good man."
Jack didn't respond as he stared blankly into the crackling fire, feeling its heat wash over him.
"Go get it, boy," Walt urged as he tossed a stick for Vincent. The dog happily bounded to it and took it into his mouth before coming back to his boy and dropping it at his feet. Walt knelt down to ruffle the dog's fur, staring into the amber colored eyes that were his only source on comfort those days.
"Walt?" a female voice asked from behind Walt. He turned around quickly to find the pregnant lady looking at him, smiling a little bit. He stood up and looked at her for a minute, wondering what she wanted. "Hi, Walt. I'm Claire. I have something for you."
"You mean a Christmas present?" Walt asked with excitement. Claire nodded and held out a gift bag to him, which he took with childlike greedy hands.
Claire had stumbled across the gift bag while searching for Walt's gift. Inside she had placed things Walt might use to fill the time in absence of a friend to play with. There were a few coloring books and markers, some blank pages to draw on, and a few books he might like to read. Walt took each item out one by one, exclaiming over them as if they were priceless treasures.
"Wow, Claire! Thanks! All I found were some comic books in Spanish. I couldn't read them. This is all so much better!" Walt exclaimed. Claire smiled broadly at the sight of his excitement From behind her back she pulled out something else, her last surprise for him.
"There's one more thing, but this isn't for you," Claire said. Walt looked up at the item in her hand.
"For Vincent?" Walt asked. Claire nodded and gave him the stuffed animal.
"Unless he wants to share with you," Claire added. Walt looked at the stuffed teddy bear with a mixture of longing and forced disgust on his face.
"I don't need stuffed animals. But Vincent will love it. Thank you, Claire," Walt said.
"Happy Christmas. I hope you enjoy," Claire said, giving his short hair a little rub before walking away. It was getting late, and she was tired. Walt watched her go before turning to Vincent, the bear still in his hand.
"Hey Vince, you're a big boy now. I don't think you need this stuffed animal. I'll hold on to it, though, so if you ever get scared you can sleep with it," Walt said.
That night, when Michael came back to the area he and Walt had set their beds up in, he found his son fast asleep with a stuffed teddy bear tucked under his arm and Vincent curled up beside him.
It was dark when Claire went back to her place of the beach. Her baby didn't seem ready to settle in for the night, so instead of lying down she sat in one of the airplane seats, singing softly to the baby to get him to stop kicking. As she did so her eyes scanned the beach somewhat sadly. She had not received a Christmas present from anyone that day. Her thoughts were interrupted when someone cleared his throat from nearby. Claire glanced up to find Charlie, the nice Englishman who had helped her on the day she fell ill, standing beside her chair.
"Hello, Charlie," she said.
"Hi, Claire. How are you doing?" Charlie asked. He looked her straight in the eyes when he spoke to her, a welcome change from everyone else's averted glances and nervous looks.
"I'm fine. It's a lovely night, isn't it?" she asked, motioning to the calm ocean and the full moon.
"Yeah, it is. Listen, I just wanted to come see you, wish you a happy Christmas, and give you this. I drew your name from the hat, and I'm sorry it's coming so late, but you're a hard lady to shop for, you know," Charlie said. Claire laughed softly and took the gift he offered. It was wrapped in white tissue paper, which she carefully ripped away. In her hands was left a very soft square blanket of a pale yellow color, with small flowers embroidered on the edge.
"It's lovely, Charlie," she breathed, fingering the soft material.
"I found it in one of the suitcases. If you have a boy he might no appreciate the flowers, but until he's a little older he won't know the difference, yeah? And for a girl it would be fine," Charlie said. He was beginning to babble a little, as he tended to do when he got nervous. For some reason being around Claire made him feel like he needed to act the gentlemen and impress her, even though she was one of the few who didn't look at him and judge him.
"I'm sure whether I have a boy or a girl, this blanket will be perfect. Thank you so much. It was very thoughtful of you," Claire said, looking up at him with a huge smile on her face. Charlie's face lit up in response.
"It's no problem. I hope you had a good Christmas, Claire… or as good a one as is possible around here," Charlie said.
"Oh, I did. Charlie, who had your name?" Claire asked curiously.
"Good ol' Mr. Locke," Charlie answered with a grin.
"And what did he give you? One of his 400 knives?" Claire asked.
"No, he actually gave me a piece of advice," Charlie answered. He volunteered no further information and Claire, not wanting to pry, didn't ask for any. After a moment of looking at the ground, Charlie looked back at Claire and smiled. "Good night, Claire. Sleep tight." He began to walk away, his eyes still trained on hers. A faint blush graced her cheeks before she glanced down at the blanket.
The smile on Charlie's face didn't fade until morning.
When Claire finally laid down to rest that night, she spent a moment gazing out at the ocean. The moon was especially bright that night, she noticed. It shed its milky white light on the beach, making the light-colored sand glow white. At least I got my white Christmas, Claire thought with a wan smile.
End. Reviews and critiques appreciated. Thanks for reading!