Author: Girl Who Writes
Warning: A few vague Season Two spoilers
Pairing: Sayid/Claire friendship.
Summary: When you watch your friends dying at every turn, when you watch the tiny graveyard at the top of the beach grow, home seems very far away.
Everyone dreamed of rescue, Claire knew that. When they first crashed, it became fact. When we get home… When we get rescued… It was natural that when turned to if. And then people stopped talking about. Between Walt's kidnapping and the discovery of more survivors, their chances of rescue grew less and less. When you watch your friends dying at every turn, when you watch the tiny graveyard at the top of the beach grow, home seems very far away.
Sayid had tried to give away all of Shannon's old clothes only days after her death. And Claire had taken a few of the girl's things; Shannon was far taller, but beggars cannot be choosers stranded on an island. Claire had Shannon's passport tucked away in the back of her diary, for when Sayid had healed. Shannon's clothes were the expensive, tiny things Claire had seen inside glossy copies of Vogue and never imagined she'd ever own – the silky, ice cream coloured dresses and softest tops she'd ever touched. And Sayid had handed Claire Shannon's pink shawl for Aaron with a sad, regretful smile.
Claire would wrap Aaron up in that shawl and sit on the sand, talking to him about 'home' – about the toys he would have, the new clothes, everything she'd ever missed out on; everything she'd ever wished for but never had because money, like her mother, was stretched thin. She painted a picture for her baby son of teddy bears and story books and ice creams in the park.
Aaron's hair grew dark blonde, with his Mama's soft blue eyes, and a giggle for anyone who chose to play with him. Claire would hold him close and tight, wrapped in the pink shawl whilst Charlie stumbled around the beach in a drug-induced haze, her face white with terror that he'd come after her and her baby. But Locke and Sayid stood guard for her and her baby, and kept them safe and happy.
Watching her baby crawl across the sand in the hot sun, watching her hand-me-down designer skirts wear through, her hair tangling into a white blonde halo around her head, she wished for home with brand new pillows and a hair brush and toys for Aaron. She smoothed aloe leaves along his sunburn and nappy rash; crushed leaves for his colds and wiped his face with an old skirt when he had a fever.
And she cries with happiness when they are found, sun burnt and tired, by a passing cruise ship. She dances Aaron along the shore line, thinking of plush bath towels and new shoes and winter days. Sun laughs at her – or maybe with her – at her pleasure to be going home.
When the first dinghy comes out to take them back to the ship, Sayid tells her to get in it, to go to the ship with Aaron, and he'll fetch their things. She protests but is secretly pleased when she is settled in a cabin on the boat, where there is shampoo and pillows. Aaron dribbles on the stiff blankets and screams for hours when they leave the island.
Bali is the first stop, for doctors and stiff, new clothes (nothing as nice as Shannon's hand me downs, which Claire hides in the corner of her bag) and a dozen cups of sweet tea. Sayid is always there, offering to watch Aaron while she takes a nap or gets herself new clothes. She doesn't see Charlie at all, and wonders briefly if he's okay.
And then her castle comes crumbling down. She's the only one returning to Australia. She never thought of that before, that she'd be left behind. She leaves the day after the Americans, and watches them pack and exchange phone numbers.
She writes her mother's number down, and tears are shed, and before Sayid gets onto the plane, looking tense and drained, she hands him Shannon's passport with a sweet smile and a kiss on the cheek.
Home was not the superfluous haven she imagined, sun-drunk on the sand. Home was moving back with her mother, in the tiny weatherboard home outside the city. The sun beats down just like the island, but here there is the rising smell of petrol, garbage and suburbia.
She sleeps in her old room, on the single bed with the springs digging into her back, and the flannel curtains with pink and blue elephants hanging over her tiny window. Aaron sleeps in the crib at the end of her bed, which she knocks into when she goes to the bathroom.
The house is small and falling apart, her new clothes are from the thrift store and Aaron's toys are cheap and breakable.
There's no Sayid to protect her when Thomas comes to visit his son. There's no sun, no stars and no dreams of something better in the old house. There's a job at a grim café in the shopping center, and when she looks in the mirror at the lank haired girl, she wonders why the island was so bad after all.
Claire's mother goes out one morning, and she's tired of doing laundry and sitting around the tiny house that's built like a rabbit warren, reading cheap magazines. She pulls out Shannon's old clothes, and puts on the grey dress that's too long and a bit tight, but so lovely and it smells like the beach.
She dances with Aaron on the verandah barefoot, her hair swinging and she tells him about how it can only get better. She cuts oranges and apples up for lunch, and lets Aaron toddle around in his nappy. She chats to the young guys who live next door, waxing surfboards and laughing. One of them flirts with her, admires her dress and doesn't recognize her or her baby from the papers.
Claire's mother comes home, pinched face and clothes smelling of fried food. Aaron is dressed and the neighbours promptly dismissed and she's sent inside like a child.
"Just because everything is different now, doesn't mean anything has changed around here, Claire," her mother snaps and Aaron cries for campfires, for Sayid's easy protection and friendship, and for the dreams his mama had about being home again. And she holds her son tightly, wrapped in a dead girl's shawl.