Spoilers for Season 6 Finale!
YAY! My first LOST story! I'm really excited. I never thought that I would be writing Miles/Claire, but it was an idea that came into my mind and wouldn't leave until I'd written it down. I ended up kind of liking it, in spite of its angstiness. I hope y'all enjoy it!
PS: Normal font indicates when they are alive, and italics indicate the flashsideways/afterlife.
Disclaimer: I don't own LOST, the island, Ajira 316, Miles Straume, or Claire Littleton. Or the song "Peices" by the band Red.
Love In Pieces
"I come to you in pieces, so you can make me whole."
Pieces by Red
Miles can't stop thinking about Claire.
He knows that she has only just been pulled back from the brink of insanity, and still stands frighteningly close to its edge. He knows that she is living only to see her son again. He knows that what is on his mind is the last thing on her mind. It doesn't stop him from thinking about her. It doesn't stop him from watching her throughout the flight, observing the silent tears that slide down her face, the whitening of her knuckles as she clutches Kate's hand, the way she holds her breath in every time they hit turbulence and doesn't let it out again until Lapidus yells reassurances from the cockpit.
When the plane lands painfully, just in time, on the mainland, it doesn't stop him from holding her just a little longer than necessary when he helps her climb down. It doesn't stop him from watching her walk away with Kate, and even though he knows he will probably never see her again, Miles watches, and Miles wants. He wants in a way that makes him nervous. Lust is an old friend of his, but this is more. Claire is a wreck, and he wants to repair her. She is shattered, and suddenly he is becoming enamored with the idea of making her whole.
Which is why, a year later, he buys a plane ticket to Australia, and knocks on her door, and is greeted by a different Claire than the one he last saw walking away from the battered fuselage of Ajira 316. She's clean and pretty again, but there is still something less about her, something missing. The smile she gives him is laced with caution and apprehension, which only makes sense because, after all, she never actually knew him. She lives with her mother and Kate and her son, and one thing leads to another and Miles never buys a return ticket.
Life goes by in a blur. Friends come to visit on occasion: Sawyer, Lapidus … Richard Alpert even shows up once, looking older but more peaceful. Once or twice, Hurley makes his way there, tan from island life. When Miles kisses Claire, she smiles and he thinks he feels something falling into place for both of them, and he realizes he just might love this woman.
He knows about Charlie. He knows that he is a replacement, a stand-in for something crazy and precious that is gone as quickly as it comes and can never be duplicated in this life. But it doesn't stop him, even though Claire has made it clear that she can never love him completely. Miles would have sworn that he would never be content to love fractions of a woman – he would never have believed that he would accept someone who could not be completely his. He would have scoffed at the idea that he would willingly care about a woman who could only give him pieces of herself, who had to keep some parts of her soul hidden away because they had been cracked too many times and the glue that held them together would not hold long if they were exposed.
But that is exactly what happens. She is his latest and greatest venture, and for the first time there is nothing in it for him, and for the first time, that doesn't matter. He loves Claire as much as she will let him. He cares for the little boy who has lost three fathers and now remembers none of them. One day, Aaron starts calling Miles "Daddy," and he doesn't stop. Miles, who did not get to know his father, finds he is not half-bad at being a father to this child who isn't even his. He even likes it.
He is still a far from perfect man. Not all his money is acquired honestly. He does not think very hard about this. What matters is, Claire is the picture of health and sanity. She is the mother she was afraid she could never be. Aaron is growing brighter every day, under the watchful eyes of all the people who love him.
Years pass. One night, Carol Littleton dies peacefully in her sleep. Claire cries like the world has ended, and Miles comforts her, even while he knows that he lost another piece of her. Aaron is a teenager, and he clashes with those who love him almost daily. All it takes is some shared stories of their own rebellious youths for Miles and Claire to remember this is normal.
When Miles' hair is mostly gray, and lines are starting to form around Claire's eyes, Aaron is grown and gone to school. Kate leaves soon after, and for the first time ever, Claire and Miles are alone.
For the first time in his life, Miles is content with what he has. He and Claire have been good for one another. After all these years, they fit comfortably together, like socks that weren't made to be a pair, but could be worn as one until the matches were relocated.
Not long after he leaves home, Aaron meets a girl named Ji Yeon, and not long after that, Miles and Claire become Grandpa and Grandma.
They grow old together, and they die, slipping into eternity one after the other, having lived the best they could while lacking pieces of themselves – having healed each other, patched each other up as best they could, preparing each other for an afterlife they were not destined to share.
It has been three days since Detective Straume's partner went missing, and he is confused. James wouldn't just leave without saying anything. Something strange is going on. Something nags at him, haunting his thoughts. Something he knows he should remember, but is afraid to learn.
No one else seems to notice anything, and he wonders if he is going crazy. He wonders if he should talk to his father about this.
Then, hours later, he sees her picture. The Widmores' benefit concert generated a lot of photos and videos that are being circulated everywhere. He opens a magazine on his lunch break, and there she is. Golden, ethereal, perfection with a veil of sadness. Just as he remembers her. But from where?
He runs his hand over the photo, and everything comes rushing back. The island, the Ajira plane. Feeling sad when he watched her go, even though he didn't know why yet. Knocking on her door. The first kiss. Aaron in a school uniform. A long car ride on a summer evening, Claire's golden hair blowing back in the wind, her laughter mingling with his. A long line of negative pregnancy tests. Claire's silent tears, the ones she managed to hide and the ones she never could. The fights and the apologies. The grandchildren… Claire had insisted all of them get baptized. No one but Kate seemed to understand why.
It hits him with shattering force, and in a burst of painful clarity, it all makes sense. His heart had given out at age ninety. He'd outlived Claire by only a year.
He already knows she is gone, that she is not in this particular world. He can feel her absence from it as keenly as he had felt her absence when she died. He wishes she would have stayed a little longer, and he wishes that he could blame her for leaving. But he can't. He always knew she was only his for a time. That he was just passing through her eternity. He wants to be angry about it, to curse fate and curse her, but he doesn't have the energy for anger.
He gets in his cruiser and starts to drive, but with no real destination in mind. There is no point going back to the station now that he knows he and everyone else in this world is dead.
Something makes him pull into the parking lot of a church he had never really noticed before.
Still clutching the magazine, he gets out of the cruiser and walks into the vestibule of the church. He has never really believed in much of anything, but the very air in here feels sacred. There is a couple there, just looking around. They turn when he approaches.
"Miles," says the man, his gentle smile framed by a dark beard.
"Hey, Dan," Miles replies. "Charlotte, good to see you," he says to the redheaded woman, who hugs him. "Do either of you know what we're supposed to be doing?"
"We're supposed to move on," says Charlotte. "But not until we're ready."
"Move on where?"
"To what comes next," says Charlotte as though this should be obvious.
"But… what comes next?" Miles asks. "How do we know?"
Daniel puts a hand on his friend's shoulder, fixing him with a serious gaze. "We don't" he says gravely.
Miles looks down at the rolled-up magazine. The bluest eyes in the world stare back at him, and his heart clenches.
"I don't think I'm ready," he says. "I don't think I can go yet."
"There's no rush," Daniel says softly. "You take as long as you need to."
Miles nods and turns to go.
"Wait," Charlotte calls after him. "There's an envelope here with your name on it." She presses it into his hand, and then she and Daniel watch Miles leave the church.
He doesn't open the envelope until he's outside, leaning against the cruiser, feeling a soft, calming breeze. The words he reads on the paper inside are in Claire's handwriting.
I know that you'll get here eventually, and hopefully this letter will still be here when you do. I have to move on with the others, but before I leave I wanted to let you know gain exactly how grateful I am to you. I don't know how I can ever repay you for our life together, for everything you gave up. I don't know why you aren't ready to move on when the rest of us are. But wherever you are, whenever you read this, I want you to know that there are pieces of me that will always belong to you. And I hope that I get to see you again, on the other side, somewhere where human jealousies and limitations will be gone and all that any of us will know is the purest love. I don't know what's waiting for me there, but I know that it is more than I can hope to understand. Don't be afraid of what's on the other side of the door, Miles. You of all people ought to know that death is not the end. Whenever you are ready, the people who love you will be waiting. And that includes me.
~ Love, Claire.
Miles blinks back tears. He tucks the letter back in the envelope, and, climbing back into the cruiser, he places the envelope and the magazine on the passenger seat. He starts driving toward the museum. He can think of at least one reason why he isn't ready to move on yet. Images of the last time he saw his father alive flash before his eyes. He can't go forward until Dr. Chang is ready to. He has only just found his father, he won't be separated from him again. It will take as long as it takes. Miles will finally get to have every conversation he's missed having with his father.
He can't wait to tell his dad about Claire.
Deep inside, a piece of his soul aches. But it is a familiar pain. It is a part of him. It is the only thing he has that is all his own.
Thanks for reading, and reviews are much appreciated!