Disclaimer: "LOST" is the property of ABC.


Juliet smoothed the fabric of the dress and stared critically at herself in the mirror. It didn't fit the same as it had when she'd bought it. She had to have lost weight here, or at least gotten more in shape, but she couldn't tell if it looked better or worse on her now than it had three years ago. Stretching out a leg and turning, she craned her neck to try to see the back of it. Maybe her butt looked a little better, she conceded. Of course, when she'd bought it, she'd only thought it looked good on her in the fitting room. The minute she'd gotten it home she'd regretted the purchased, but had never gotten around to returning it.

And anyway, the reason she'd bought it was because she had needed something to make her feel sexy. It was just after the divorce, and knowing that Edmund was with other, younger women while she tossed and turned alone in bed was wearing her down. She had known that just buying an expensive dress wouldn't make it better, of course, but she'd thought...well, she wasn't sure what she'd thought. That men would notice her? That Edmund would notice her? She'd worn the dress once, and only once, to the department Christmas party. Edmund had barely spoken to her -- he'd been far too preoccupied with the pretty young grad student he'd brought as his date.

There was a loud knock on the door suddenly, jarring Juliet out of her memories, and she yelled, "Just a minute!" For another few seconds, she studied her reflection. It was a pretty dress. It wasn't her thing, but it was very pretty.

She turned around to change and found herself face to face with Ben.

Yelping in shock, she tried to pick up her shirt and shield herself. "I said I'd be a minute!"

The look of surprise on Ben's face was almost comical, but he recovered quickly and asked with a lopsided smile, "Were you going somewhere?"

"The lab, actually, but not like this," she replied, attempting to shut him out of the room.

He stepped inside, rendering her efforts futile. Dropping her arms to her sides, she said helplessly, "You are not supposed to see me like this."

"Why not?"

Juliet's arms felt enormous and her chest exposed, so she crossed the former across the latter. "Because, I look...silly."

He raised an eyebrow. "You look like you want me to take you dancing."

"No." Juliet looked away from him. "I was just trying it on to see if it fit. I think I'm going to give it to someone."

A strange look flashed over Ben's face, but it was gone almost instantly, leaving Juliet to wonder about it. He thought she didn't see when he did things like that. But after a year with him, she could read him in all but his most secretive moods.

"I didn't realize you had anything like this," he said.

Shrugging, she replied, "No one told me I'd be coming to a tropical island. I had no idea what I needed. And I thought I might have to go to cocktail parties."

Ben chuckled and stepped closer to her. There was that odd look again. This time it remained on his face a little longer. After a second, he met her eyes, and she linked her hands behind her back, returning his gaze, her head tilted slightly. "I don't think you should give it away," he said idly.

She pressed her lips together before saying, "I don't need it."

"You look beautiful," he countered.

This drew a smile from her. "I'll still never use it."

She turned to face the mirror again and met Ben's eyes in the reflection. He smiled. "But you do look beautiful," he repeated quietly, coming close to her. He kissed her neck, then moved a strap of her dress from her shoulder and kissed the spot it had rested.

Juliet closed her eyes and relaxed into him, and when he put his hands on her waist, she shivered a little. The feel of his hands, warm through the slippery silk of the dress, was a delicious feeling. It made her feel, she thought a bit wryly, sexy. So, after all these years, the dress had served its purpose after all. Who would have thought?