Title::..Suitcase of Memories
Characters::..Jin, Claire, Aaron, Kate and Charlie
Pairing::..Mild CC and Jun
Author's Note::..First of all, I stole the title from the lyrics of a beautiful Cyndi Lauper song (Time After Time), I couldn't think of anything else and I thought it kind of fitted, considering this is kind of a compilation of Jin and Claire's time together. They're two of my favourite characters (her: she's ridiculously adorable and so pretty, him: he's so sweet it'll rot your teeth out!) so in this fic I've put together their shared moments and I added a reunion for them in the finale, 'coz after she had goodbye to him on the raft Claire and Jin didn't really see much of each other…
Summary::..Jin had been very intimidated to approach Claire the first time he saw her...
Jin had been very intimidated to approach Claire the first time he saw her. She had been sitting beside the water, deep in thought with her pen moving swiftly across the page of her small diary. The first thing Jin had seen was her incredibly swelled belly. His stomach had dropped at the sight of this. Where was her husband? He should have been here, taking care of his pregnant wife. As Jin shuffled closer he realized there was no wedding band on her finger, this worried him even further.
He extended the platter of sea urchin and said a handful of words in Korean. He didn't expect her to understand, he only wished to gain her attention. She appeared very friendly, even though he could tell she was refusing – he didn't need to speak English to understand the word 'no', coupled with a shaking of the head. He insisted, explaining she needed to eat to help keep her baby strong. Perhaps she could understand, because she had considered the urchin again before finally taking a piece. He congratulated her and told her to enjoy it as she placed the piece in her mouth.
What happened next was very confronting for Jin. She jumped out of her seat and began to speak in a high-pitched, squeaking voice. This confused him, had she enjoyed the urchin this much? He took an uncertain step away from her. She grabbed his wrist and pulled it toward her stomach; he was too shocked to respond. His hand reached her round stomach as she continued to exclaim happily. He had dreamt of the day Sun would become pregnant and he would feel their child moving around in her womb.
He didn't allow himself to enjoy the sensation; it wasn't his moment to treasure. He ripped his hand away and left. He had done everything in his power not to look at the bump. But when he glanced back he looked straight at it. What was within the large bump frightened him. He was afraid to admit how much he craved a child. He didn't think about children much anymore as he was worried of the large wedge it would produce between him and Sun. He didn't want her to feel like less of a wife because she could not carry his children. He hoped Sun did not come into contact with the pregnant blonde and as he walked away he planned on avoiding her. Seeing her swollen stomach had torn open the wound he had been trying to hide.
Claire considered herself lucky that she had one fond memory of Jin. She saw the confrontations he had with the other people trying to live on the island. She was relieved she hadn't annoyed him when he had offered her the orange stuff. Jin had made a good first impression on her. The orange stuff had woken her son up and allowed her to breathe easily. She wished she could find a way to communicate with him so she could thank him for the magical orange square. After watching the way he interacted with the survivors she didn't try approaching him. She didn't want to pre-judge him, but she couldn't deny that keeping away from him seemed like the best thing to do.
She had barely seen Jin since that day. Except for his presence at group gatherings she might be forgiven for believing he had been eaten by the thing in the jungle. She thought it was possible he had been avoiding her. Their first meeting had been exciting for her, but judging by his reaction he hadn't shared her emotions. He had rushed away, muttering unhappily in Korean. At the time she had been too ecstatic to notice his reaction, she had been swept up in the untouchably optimistic moment. Reflecting back on it now she was certain she had frightened him.
Of all the people to be sitting with her in the jungle as labour pain swept over her she hadn't thought Jin could help her relax. She knew he couldn't understand her and this gave her the freedom to confide in him. She didn't have to worry about him telling anyone else. He wasn't going to try to give her advice. He wasn't going to look at her with pity in his eyes whenever he saw her after this; she doubted he knew what 'scared' meant. She didn't want pity, all she wanted to do was get all of this off her chest and he listened. He absorbed her pitch and expression, interpreting.
He said something, his voice soft and his face sincere. She looked at him, wondering how he could believe so strongly. The first time they had met she had feared her baby was dead and he had proved her wrong. Would the same thing happen again tonight? She was deeply worried, but he nodded.
Claire's screams silenced and the jungle was engulfed in the quiet. A moment later the space was filled by her baby's first cries. They all fell silent, soaking in the noise. Claire began to laugh, relieved. After this the joy spread and they all celebrated. They looked around, laughing and rejoicing. The anxiety melted away. For that moment they forgot about all of their previous worries, they saw everything pure and beautiful wash away the evilness they had faced on the island.
Jin felt brave enough to approach Claire now. She looked like a natural mother, bouncing her son as an attempt to calm him down. Jin didn't think of Sun and their childless marriage. Instead he looked at Claire's face, watching all of the emotions play out on her face. It was a welcome change to see her smiling again, after watching her writhing in pain for so long. Charlie moved aside to allow Jin to get closer. Kate clapped him on the back, their smiles couldn't be removed. Claire's eyes were shining as the baby began to settle.
"It's Claire's baby." Kate told him.
"Baby." Jin repeated. It didn't sound as smooth as when it came from Kate's mouth, but it was close. This renewed the trio's elation, Charlie chuckled and Kate gave his arm a supportive squeeze.
Claire grabbed his hand and pulled him in close to her, he didn't resist this time. She looked deeply into his eyes. "Thank you." He heard the phrase differently to all of the time Michael had said it to him. The sincerity in her words was inescapable. She was glowing.
Claire handed Aaron to Charlie as they sat in the pew together. It had been so long since she had held him so securely in her arms and this had caused her to forget how heavy her baby-son was. It felt good to hold him so tight and know with every pore in her body he was safe after years spent worrying after him. But she couldn't cradle him any longer; her arms had begun to cramp. Charlie was happy enough to hold Aaron while Claire surveyed the church and the familiar people filling it. Her heart was filled as countless memories flew effortlessly into her mind, which received them as happily as an empty filing cabinet.
A sealed off piece of her mind had been unlocked and the memories rushed to fill it again. She could remember the island and all of the times she had shared with these people. She didn't think of any of the fear, she remembered only the good times. All around her people were smiling and embracing. She stayed seated beside Charlie; she had already greeted everyone in the room. She had shared words with everyone and yet she didn't feel satisfied. She was waiting for something. Although she couldn't put a name to it she felt something was missing. The puzzle wasn't complete just yet.
"It's Sun and Jin!" Shannon exclaimed. "They're finally here."
Claire was on her feet and striding toward them before she realized what she was doing. When Shannon moved Claire saw Jin's face and everything clicked back into place. She lost her inhibitions and ran toward the Korean couple. She and Jin collided, she felt him stumble back a few paces as she enthusiastically threw her arms around his shoulders.
She thought of the frightened man on the beach. But when she pulled away she saw a completely different man. He was smiling, delighted to see her. They stood together for a few moments, absorbing all of the lost memories. She felt complete now, her full island experience returned to her. With an assuring smile he said something in Korean and she instantly identified this as the phrase he had said to her the night of Aaron's birth. Any shadows of doubt were removed from her mind.