By Delia Lavender

DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own LOST, John Locke, Richard, or anything pertaining to the T.V. Series. This story is

strictly for entertainment.

On the mainland, he couldn't have touched her. He would've been condemned as a "dirty old

man". But the people of the Island took a far different view of things.

On the Island, at the end of every day, there was a woman to bring him his dinner.

Every other Friday was Miranda's turn. John marked those days on his calendar. He put a little red

check under the date.

Richard, his right-hand man, made certain all unattached women took their turn serving the Chosen

One...even elderly Amelia and little Emma. Richard wanted John to meet all of them.

But certain women, like Miranda, Richard sent regularly.

John appreciated them all. He bantered with Amelia. He carved toys for Emma. He indulged in mild

flirtation with Cindy and several others.

And he listened to them. Commiserated with them. He comforted them when they wept.

Eventually, Richard sent women from the 815 Survivor group. John was especially gentle and

reassuring when he greeted them. They were always frightened and confused. Abandoned by their

leaders, they didn't know what to expect from John or the people they referred to as the "Others".

But Miranda was the one he desired.

Miranda was Island born, one of the youngest members of the "Others" - aka "Jacob's Brethren".

She was the only one who never knocked before entering John's house. She'd slip through his kitchen

door, leaving his evening meal in the refrigerator with a note:

"Mr. Locke's Dinner...Heat for 20 minutes at 325 degrees."

Twice she'd slipped by him, leaving before he could catch her. This made John grumpy. She

instinctively seemed to know when the kitchen was empty. Whenever he missed her, he'd have to

wait another two weeks for her to return.

How did she do it? Why did he even ask? She'd been trained in stealth just like the rest of Jacob's

Brethren. It was the one lesson she excelled at. She couldn't cook and she failed in the martial arts.

Recently John had witnessed a demonstration of fighting techniques. The women were ordered to

sneak attack, to leap up onto their partner's back and bring him down. All the women had

succeeded with the exception of Miranda...she had not only failed to bring down her man, but her

"victim" had taken off with her, trotting rapidly around the training area.

Everyone had laughed. Later John had looked for her, but the humiliated Miranda had disappeared

for the day.

He had wanted to offer her private lessons.

She was avoiding him, but he had a solution: if he locked his back door, she would have to knock.

John knew Miranda wouldn't slip away without leaving his dinner...that would invite another scolding

from Richard.

So he'd locked the door and waited for her to knock.

She'd been very shy, when he let her in. He'd sworn ignorance concerning the oven. He watched

her as she bent over, placing her casserole on the oven rack.

Such a beautiful girl. Slender, with fine bone structure. Lovely face with large, timid dark eyes. She'd

been wearing a long, cotton skirt and a peasant blouse...they were her only colorful clothes. She

must find them refreshing, John thought, after a long day spent in coarse khaki. As she bent over

the oven, her heavy, glossy braid had shifted, falling forward over her shoulder.

Of course, as soon as she finished she'd wanted to leave. But John had stood firmly between her

and the door.

He could be charming when he wanted to be, and he knew how to put a shy girl at ease. He told her

he wasn't very hungry...he said that he hated to waste food...couldn't she stay and help him eat?

This went on for a couple of months. John's desire grew as his patience diminished. He'd kept

Miranda talking, watching as she gradually grew more animated, more confiding. Sometimes he took

her out back to show her the constellations. He'd hold her arm so she wouldn't stumble in the dark.

After a while, he knew what he was dealing with. Miranda had been in love with William Pryce, the

young man who'd been captured by Widmore's men. William was the blindfolded man in the

surveillance film Ben had shown him. William was undoubtedly dead.

But all of Jacob's Brethren had suffered. A large number of them had been killed by either the

Survivors or the Freighters. Their losses were enormous in proportion to their numbers.

So Miranda's grief was nothing out of the ordinary.

And John decided to take matters to the next level. He'd told Richard to send Miranda EVERY Friday.

* * * *

She was always a little formal...she'd never let him get very far. The only contact she'd encouraged

was a fatherly arm around her shoulders - she seemed to find it comforting. He'd also stolen a

few chaste kisses.

He knew that Miranda was innocent, but was she indifferent to him...or just preoccupied?

John also knew that she never discussed him with others. He saw no amusement or speculation in

anyone's eyes. The women were flirtatious and he received invitations. Their treatment of Miranda

was no better or worse than usual. The people worked hard and obeyed his orders. John was careful

not to favor her in any way. He kept his gaze off Miranda and his hands in his pockets - at least while

they were working.

But one of these Fridays, he feared, he was going to lose his composure. He'd grab her as she

walked through his door, smash her terrible casserole and hurl her onto the kitchen table. In his

struggle to simultaneously rip her bodice, unzip his pants and fight his way through her petticoat, he'd

allow Miranda lots of opportunity to flail around. He imagined the contents of his overcrowded table

flying through the air and crashing to the floor. Since many items would be aimed at his bald head,

he could expect numerous cuts, abrasions and at least one black eye. At some point Miranda would

break the pepper shaker, causing uncontrolled sneezing and John's complete degeneration. He would

become a crazed, allergic lecher attacking a panicky girl covered in mustard, ketchup and spilled

Vitamin B.

And half the barracks would convene on his lawn, alarmed by the screams and blandishing pitchforks...

John cringed and shuddered, appalled by his own fantasies.

What on earth was the matter with him? What sort of man was he, to contemplate such an assault?

He was leader of Jacob's Brethren and leader of the Survivors. He was the Island's Chosen One -

he was supposed to protect women - not toss them with condiments and...and...

John took a deep, cleansing breathe and calmed down.

He was being foolish. Of all the men on the Island, he could offer her the most. He lived in a

comfortable, two bedroom house - but where did Miranda live? In a tent with two girls who teased

her. She would be better off with him. He must ask her...

He heard her tentative knock.

She stared up at him as he opened the door. Her grave, gentle eyes searched his. "Mr. Locke...

John? Is something the matter? Should I go away?"

He took the casserole from her, placing it on the counter. Then he gently drew her forward, into his

arms. "Please stay, Miranda. Tonight I'm going to teach you to cook."

The End