Night Time Confessions
It happens the first night they get back home.
Kate's in her bed, after a particular long day filled with tension and raw emotion, lying away from the window and facing the wall. It's been a long, arduous day for her, not just because she's had to deal with all those cameras flashing away at her, as well as an unwritten promise that she'll end up back in court for breaking her probation order, but because she's had to deal with all that and deal with the grief of losing Jack.
She doesn't know how anyone gets through losing someone they love because, frankly, it sucks. She hates it, and actively avoids anything and everything which might remind her of him.
Staring at the wall, her eyes wide open, helps her achieve this and she concentrates on the dancing shadows on it, which the window and the moonlight, faint as it is, help create. Her eyes fill with tears because, as hard as she's trying to forget, she can't help but remember that the space next to her used to be occupied. She used to be able to turn around and see him there, lying peacefully on his back, the occasional gentle snore leaving his mouth. Now, all she knows is left, is an empty space.
That all changes within the next few minutes.
She feels the covers being peeled back and can hear someone, as quiet as they are trying to be, slide into bed next to her. Her heart races inside her mouth, because she remembers Jack used to do that. His job, as expected, had him working all sorts of hours and, on the odd occasion it made him work until the early hours of the morning, he would sneak in, determined not to wake her - he always failed - and slide into bed next to her. She would hear his footsteps shuffle along the floor, feel his body lightly press against hers, hear his heavy sigh, and would inch a little bit closer, under the pretence it was just a maneuver she'd made whilst asleep.
She never could fool him very well.
So, cautiously, Kate turns around, trying not to let her heart get too ahead of itself. She sees a mop of blonde hair, and knows instinctively it's not Aaron. So that just leaves…
Claire's head bobs out of the sheets, her expression a mixture of wariness and vulnerability. Kate suspects the Claire she'd known was gone forever, yet the remnants of that Claire were not irretrievable. She still, however, feels quite stung about the fact she'd tried to kill her. It wasn't the act, so much as the feeling behind it. She'd felt extremely hurt that Claire could've hated her, even if it was just for a split moment, so much that she'd been prepared to kill her.
"Sorry," Claire whispered, looking abashed. "Did I wake you?"
"No," Kate reassures her, turning her body so she's facing the Australian. "What - What are you doing here? Couldn't you sleep?"
"Not really," Claire confesses, her eyes containing some sort of emotion Kate can't put her finger on. "I just wanted some company. It's my first night in a proper bed since…well, a long time."
Kate smiles weakly at her, realizing how hard this is for her.
"You looking forward to tomorrow?" she asks, wincing as soon as she utters the question.
Claire remains silent for a moment, looking quite contemplative. Kate, however, has learned to read people, and can see the underlining fear in her eyes. She knows that the younger woman is terrified of meeting up with her child again, knowing that he will not recognize her, knowing he will not love her as much as she does him.
Kate reaches out under the covers and finds her hand, giving it a tight squeeze for reassurance, surprised when she doesn't let it go.
"I don't know," Claire says, her voice choked with emotion. "I don't know if I'm ready…"
"You are," Kate insists firmly. "It'll take him some time to get used to the idea but children know their mothers, Claire. It won't be easy but I promised I would help and I stand by that."
Claire nods, still unsure, and Kate suspects there is more on her mind than reuniting with her child. She can tell because the Australian has always worn her heart on a sleeve, even during these last few days when it seemed like nothing could move her enough to help. She can always tell when she's got something on her mind, something which torments her to the point where Kate thinks she's going to lose her.
"What's wrong?" she asks gently, seeing her bite her lip. "Whatever it is, you can trust me. You trusted me to deliver your baby, why can't you trust me now?"
She sees Claire's eyes flash at that reminder, although she can't say with any certainty whether the reminder did any good or not. It hurts her that the woman who'd been her friend is still reluctant to trust her. Taking her baby away, as far as she's concerned, is a crime, and it could take years for them to regain the closeness they'd had on the island.
But the fact she's in her bed now, confessing her worries to her, shows that it's not impossible to get back what they'd lost. And Kate values her friendship with Claire more than anyone else's.
"I don't know how to be a mother anymore," Claire confesses, looking like she wants to cry. "I was never really good at it anyway, but now…I just don't know if I can do it. I've spent three years looking after a home made squirrel baby, pretending it was my child for God's sake! There's no way I'll be able to handle Aaron."
She sniffs loudly, and Kate stares sympathetically her, wriggling closer to her so she can grasp her other hand and try and talk some sense into her, because she knows the old Claire is in there somewhere. She refuses to believe that…that…thing had stolen her friend away forever.
"As I recall," she says softly, "you were scared by the idea of being a mother before and you managed to get the hang of it."
"That was because I was a different person back then," Claire cries, her voice bordering on hysterical. "I had lots of help and Charlie was alive then…"
She suddenly sucks in her breath, and a look of panic crosses across her face before distorting into a look of remembrance and sadness, which Kate puts down to the fact that she'd obviously not thought about her past in a long, long time, and there are a lot of unresolved emotions she has to deal with.
"You still miss him, don't you?" she asks quietly, grasping her hands that extra bit tighter, as if sensing her friend is falling apart.
"What do you care?" Claire snaps, withdrawing her hands and clamming herself up.
Kate sighs heavily. She knows it'd been a naïve hope, but she'd kind of expected a little bit of normality to seep into their lives once they'd come home. But maybe she's not the kind of person who has a normal life, who deserves a normal life. She'd had three wonderful years of being a mother before her conscience kicked in and convinced her she had no right to be one to a little boy who wasn't even hers. She'd had the love of a man who, it seemed, was finally hers and hers only, only to lose him to a much bigger force than she'd ever reckoned - the island.
As her mother would've said, she's made her bed and now she has to lie in it.
"I'm not your enemy, Claire," she says, a little bit harsher than she wanted to. "Believe me, I'm not. I know you've got in your head that I took your son away because I was selfish and wanted him for myself but that isn't true! I took him away because we looked everywhere for you, and I had to make sure your baby was safe. We didn't know what had happened to you, if you were even alive."
"You came back, all the same," Claire whispers, her scowl melting. "You came back for me. I don't know why you did - I wouldn't go back for me."
She melts into tears, hiding her face into the pillow despite the fact her shaking shoulders are a dead giveaway.
Kate reaches over and pulls her into a hug. As weird as it sounds, this right here is the only bit of normality she has left. She doesn't have Jack anymore and, as from tomorrow, she will no longer have Aaron the way she had before. She only has Claire, her only true friend from the island left. Sun is dead, Sawyer disappeared as soon as the plane touched the ground, leaving her only with a wistful smile and a lasting scar on her heart, and Hurley is still on the island.
"It's going to be ok," Kate whispers, even though she knows there's a good possibility it won't be ok.
"I'm sorry," Claire whispers, pulling herself up. "I've been a mess for a long time. I don't mean to take it out on you."
"It's ok, sweetie," Kate whispers back, her eyes brimming over with tears. "I lost someone too. I'm just as much a mess are you."
And they spend the rest of the night catching up on what they've missed, with Claire filling Kate in on how she spent three years nursing the wounds Charlie's death and Aaron's absence had given her, and Kate filling her in on her brief relationship with Jack and all the things about Aaron she didn't know - like how his first word was mommy, and his fascination with the sea.
And in that one night, although it seems weird, them sharing a bed, it's the most normal either of them have been in a long time.
In the most platonic way possible, they enjoy the moment, both of them desperate to get back that closeness, that bond, they had shared on the island. But, at the same time, they know that on most occasions, what ends up lost more often than not doesn't come back.
They both hold evidence of that in their hearts, both through the people they'd lost and through the relationships which had disintegrated through time.
So maybe when something's broken - a relationship, a person, a heart - it's not always wise, or easy, to put it back together again. Maybe it's just better to pick up the pieces you have, even if the pieces only turn out to be memories, and move on.
So, in some ways, the aftermath of being on the island turns out to be the hardest part of their journey so far.
A/n: this was a little one-shot that would not leave me alone. I think some sweet platonic Kate/Claire was needed in the finale, and we did get it in the form of the sideways world and the odd moment on the island but I love the idea of this happening. This is purely friendship, not femslash.