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The Outlaw James Ford (PG)

TItle: The Outlaw James Ford
Summary: Jack wants to know more about Sawyer's real name
Characters: Jack, Sawyer, Kate
Rating: PG
Spoilers: The Hunting Party
Note: Inspired by a discussion with foxxcub about how disappointing it was that we didn't get Jack's reaction to hearing Sawyer's real name. Also not on the to-do list. *looks around guiltily* Claiming for fanfic100, prompt "Writer's Choice"



James Ford. Locke had just casually dropped the name, Sawyer's real name, and before Sawyer could explain why he wasn't going by that name, gunshots rang out and Jack had run hard towards the sound of them.

It wasn't until much later, when he lay in bed, going back over the events of the day, how everything had gone wrong, that he remembered. The moment to ask Sawyer about it had come and gone. But he kept turning it over his mind, trying to make the name fit Sawyer. It didn't. He tried to imagine what he'd been called as a boy: Jim, Jimmy, maybe even Jamie. Or was it always just "James?"

The next time he saw him, he would find a way to ask him.

It wasn't until the following afternoon that he approached Sawyer. He wasn't sprawled in his chair, soaking up the sun, and his head wasn't buried in a book. He was sitting cross-legged, hunched over something in his lap.

When Jack got closer, he saw, to his surprise, that Sawyer was stitching up a rip in a pair of jeans, squinting through his glasses as he concentrated on his task.

"Didn't figure you for the sewing type," Jack said, dropping his backpack onto the sand.

Sawyer looked up, frowning at being interrupted. And then he smiled, that easy, practiced smile that had nothing to do with being glad to see him. "Easier to do it yourself sometimes, Doc," he said with a tilt of his head. He waited, like he knew Jack was there to ask him something.

"Wonder if that's the same sewing kit," Jack mused aloud.

"As ...?"

Jack eased his shirt off, to Sawyer's amusement. He turned his back to Sawyer, gesturing towards the scar under his left shoulder blade. "Got cut up in the crash. I grabbed a sewing kit out of someone's luggage. But it wasn't something I could fix myself, so I asked the first person who came along to help me out."

"Let me guess ... Freckles?" Sawyer leaned back with a knowing smile.

Jack nodded, pulling his shirt back on.

"Well, now that's like somethin' out of a movie," Sawyer said with a grin, but there was a sharpness to his words. "Pretty girl helps injured hero. Hope you had a drink while she stitched you up, at least."

"Used it all to disinfect the wound," Jack sighed. "Good thing I had a few bottles in my pocket."

Sawyer's eyebrow rose, but he didn't say anything except to echo Jack's words. "Good thing."

When Jack didn't speak again, Sawyer finally added, "So, if that concludes this little social visit, you mind if I ...?"

"Sure, no problem." He paused before he added, "James."

Sawyer drew in a breath, mouth twisting to the side. "Didn't think you heard that."

"I did. And I'm just wondering why ..."

"Why." Sawyer drew out the word with a sigh. He took his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose, like they'd been hurting him. "Well, Doc, the short answer is none of your business. And the long answer is none of your goddamned business."

"Look, I just thought..." Jack took a step closer and then thought better of it.

Sawyer gave him a shrewd glance. "Y'know what, you and Freckles are so close. You go ask her."

"Kate?" Jack dropped his head and laughed, that odd habit he had of laughing when he was angry. Of course he and Kate were barely speaking right now. He just nodded, though, and shouldered his backpack and walked up the beach, leaving Sawyer to his sewing.

Maybe Kate knew, and maybe she didn't. More likely, Sawyer was just trying to get under his skin, as usual. Trying to get a rise out of him.

---

He found Kate in the garden, kneeling in the dirt, hands smeared to the wrists with mud.

"Looking good," he said, nodding at the garden.

"Thanks," she said, brushing her hair out of her eyes, leaving a large smudge of dirt on her forehead as she did so.

"You've got ... here..." he offered, wiping the dirt off, under her watchful eye.

"Thanks," she said again. She gave him a guarded smile. Last she knew, he was furious with her. And here he'd come to talk to her. She took in a deep breath, as if bracing for the lecture she was sure he was about to deliver.

"So, I was talking to Sawyer..."

"OK," she said with a puzzled frown.

"Turns out that's not his real name.'

Her frown deepened. "He told you that?"

"Not exactly. Locke read the manifest. Asked him why he chose the name Sawyer."

Kate sucked in a breath. "Oh. What did he say?"

"Nothing. So I asked him. He told me to ask you."

She rubbed her hands together, trying to shake off the dirt, before wiping them on her jeans. When she looked up, her gaze was hard. "I don't really think it's my place to tell you."

"Why not?"

Kate sighed, like Jack was a little boy who'd asked too many questions. "Because some things ... if you know them, you'll never look at that person the same way again. You don't know what I did, Jack, and it's better you don't. Just as I'm sure Sawyer doesn't really want me sharing his secrets."

Jack looked away quickly, and then back at her. "I didn't realize you two were ..."

Kate stood up, dusting the dirt off her knees." We're not. It's just ... we understand each other, I think."

"Right. Your connection." Jack said, unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice. "So you call him James when it's just the two of you?"

"James?" Kate's surprise was genuine. "No... that's his real name?"

"You didn't know?" The whole scenario he had constructed about the two of them in the last few hours fell apart right there.

"No. I just... No. I didn't. James. Huh." She looked like she was doing what Jack had been doing, trying to picture Sawyer with a different name -- and not being able to.

"James Ford. Sounds like an outlaw, doesn't it? Kind of Old West?"

"Yeah, it does," Kate smiled, wrinkling up her nose. "Yeah, that does kind of suit him." And then she was laughing. "Can't you just picture him with a six-shooter and a cowboy hat?"

"Glaring out from a ‘Wanted' poster?" Jack found himself laughing too. "Yeah, you know, I can."

"The Outlaw James Ford," Kate giggled.

They swapped images of Sawyer in an old Western: stepping through a set of swinging saloon doors, hat pushed back on his head as he smoked and studied his cards in a high-stakes poker game, then daring some four-flusher to "Draw, dammit."

When their laughter died down, Kate grew serious again. "Jack, you're not going to push him on this, are you?"

The ease of being able to laugh with her again faded all too quickly. "No. Don't worry," he said, snapping at her a little.

She laid her hand on his arm. "Go easy on him, Jack."

He bobbed his head, leaving her to try out how the name "James" sounded on her tongue.

---

When he wandered by Sawyer's tent the next day, he was wearing the mended jeans, and nothing else but sunglasses as he dozed in the afternoon sun.

He felt Jack's shadow fall across him and sat up, pushing the sunglasses up on his head.

"Don't worry," Jack said with a wry smile. "She wouldn't tell me."

"Ahh." Sawyer turned over this bit of information. "Well, lucky me."

"I don't suppose you know what she did ..."

"Me? Nah. We ain't exactly braiding each other's hair and swapping secrets, you know."

"No, I guess not. I wonder... why you two aren't together." It wasn't what Jack had meant to say, but it was certainly on his mind.

"Hell, doc, you playin' matchmaker?" Sawyer flashed his broadest grin.

"No, it's just, you seem so alike ..."

"And you can't figure either of us out. Am I right?"

Jack nodded, feeling suddenly adrift, like he did nearly every time he talked to Sawyer.

"Here's some free advice, Doc. You think we both got some secret sorrow, and it draws you like rotting meat draws flies. You're just itchin' to fix one or both of us and you're tying yourself up in knots because you can't. Well, some things can't be fixed, Doc." Sawyer's jaw tightened and his eyes went hard. "Some things, some people, you just gotta let be."

Jack looked away. No way Sawyer could know he was echoing Sarah's words to him. Nobody here except Sun even knew he'd been married. He ran his tongue along the inside of his cheek. Sawyer had his secrets, so did Kate. Maybe Jack's weren't as deep and dark as theirs, but they were his, and he was going to keep them, same as they were.

"Nice job on those jeans," he said at last, noting the surprisingly neat row of stitches across Sawyer's thigh.

Sawyer nodded his thanks. He ran his hand over the stitched-up area. "Yeah, guess I'm not such a bad hand at mendin.'"

"Well, your secret's safe with me. James," Jack added with a grin, not waiting to see Sawyer's reaction before he walked away.

Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
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foxxcub
Sep. 9th, 2006 01:02 am (UTC)
I want to send this to Damon and Carlton, because damn.

*hearts fic liek whoa*

*hearts you more*
halfdutch
Sep. 9th, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you, love! ;) *loves and snuggles*



eponine119
Sep. 9th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
"Here's some free advice, Doc. You think we both got some secret sorrow, and it draws you like rotting meat draws flies. You're just itchin' to fix one or both of us and you're tying yourself up in knots because you can't. Well, some things can't be fixed, Doc." Sawyer's jaw tightened and his eyes went hard. "Some things, some people, you just gotta let be."

I loved this whole speech. It's just so dead-on right and true for them, and their relationship.
halfdutch
Sep. 9th, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks. ;) Glad it seemed dead-on to you.
assassinofjoy
Sep. 9th, 2006 09:49 am (UTC)
You're fantastic with these snippets into Jack and Sawyer's relationship -- you really captured the dynamic of their friendship; I loved how intrigued Jack is to find out Sawyer's real name, but doesn't approach him directly about it. Also, that paragraph where Sawyer is telling him that some people can't be fixed -- YES. Just as good as the mangoes, sugar! Excellent work! *huggles*
halfdutch
Sep. 9th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC)
My pleasure, hon! ;) And wow, as good as the mangoes? *loves*
(Deleted comment)
halfdutch
Sep. 9th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you! ;) *twirls you*

And damn, I hope Jack gets to hear it one of these days. Maybe he just didn't overhear Locke at the time? I hope he'd have *some* reaction!
pippilottah
Sep. 9th, 2006 11:56 am (UTC)
This is the way it should have been. So I'm adding it to canon in my head :)

Brilliant fic.
halfdutch
Sep. 9th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC)
Oh wow! Thank you! ;)
deej240z
Sep. 9th, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC)
Why can't we get conversations like this on this show instead of staring down hatches, huh? Sawyer's fixin' speech was spot on. Sounded just like something he would say. Your stories always make a brite spot in my day. Don't ever stop!
halfdutch
Sep. 9th, 2006 11:59 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you! ;) *blushes* I wish we had these kind of conversations too.
siluria
Sep. 9th, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC)
I am disappointed no more, you certainly plugged a plot hole for me! Very good characterisation throughout.
halfdutch
Sep. 10th, 2006 12:00 am (UTC)
Aww, I'm honored! *bows* Thank you, m'dear!
xphile101
Sep. 9th, 2006 07:51 pm (UTC)
Very nice. You always write Sawyer very well, and this line, especially ("Well, Doc, the short answer is none of your business. And the long answer is none of your goddamned business.") rings true.
halfdutch
Sep. 10th, 2006 12:01 am (UTC)
Thank you! So glad you liked it! ;)
themoononastick
Sep. 10th, 2006 01:52 am (UTC)
This, this is just fucking brilliant. It should be canon and, as far as I am concerned, from now on it is - I'm gonna think of it as the missing scene that they forgot to put on the DVD set.
Everything about it is perfect - Jack's fascination and need to know about the name, Sawyer's reaction to his question, Kate's reactions and her not wanting to be the one who tells Sawyer's secrets... all just so spot on and utterly in character. Totally inspired. *memories*
halfdutch
Sep. 10th, 2006 02:59 am (UTC)
Oh wow, thank you! *blushes*

I was just happy to be able to write something and get it finished! ;) Let's hear it for those those off-the-cuff ideas that want to be written now. And it was nice to write some gen for a change.

(And now to get to that long to-do list!)

*loves*
zelda_zee
Sep. 10th, 2006 04:45 pm (UTC)
This is great. I agree w/so many of the other comments, that this could be/should be canon & I would like to think of it that way. Love the voices here, and how true the characters are, and just everything.

Loved this line, which struck me as perfectly Sawyerlike:

Well, Doc, the short answer is none of your business. And the long answer is none of your goddamned business

I can absolutely hear his voice in my head saying that!

I loved Kate telling Jack to go easy on Sawyer, not to push him. Nice - and an accomplishment, to portray Kate in such a way as to make me really like her, and in such a short space. I liked that she didn't spill Sawyer's secrets, that she was a good friend to him.

I liked Sawyer's speech at the end, how he tells Jack the same thing Sara had said. And his perceptiveness - Sawyer really does understand what makes people tick, and he's got Jack's number, that's for sure.

Funny thing tho, this fic made me think that an old west AU might be fun. Something to let simmer on the back burner maybe.
halfdutch
Sep. 13th, 2006 06:02 am (UTC)
Thank you!! Wow, I'm glad this made you like Kate and that it sounded true to them. I'm flattered!

And ooh, I'd love to do an Old West AU. (Had an idea for once, with Sawyer as an outlaw and Jack as the sheriff -- of course! But never wrote it.) And now I've used up a perfectly good title on this instead! ;)
inthekeyofd
Sep. 10th, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC)
Today is catch up day with fics..and all I can say about this is:

Dear Producers of Lost,

It seems you may have forgotten to add a missing scene in your Season 2 DVD Extras, see above for description.

Thank you.

Seriously, this totally should have been on the show, I know I would have enjoyed seeing it.
halfdutch
Sep. 13th, 2006 06:08 am (UTC)
Awww! Woo! Thank you, babe! *grins ear to ear*

I just know I wish there was a scene kinda like this one! Glad I'm not alone!
cmonkatiekatie
Sep. 11th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)
I came this close to forgetting to read this. phew.

This is going to be weird feedback, but with lost I'm sometimes willing to overlook strict attention to character in order to read a writer I like or a story that sounds promising. This story reminds me that it is possible for a fic to be so fiercly in character that its almost like watching the show, I can't remember the last time that happened. Their voices, the small gestures, the fantastic dialogue, it's like they're right there.

Except this is even better because it fills in a much needed gap, so I'm just going to go ahead and beleive that this is the way it happened, yep, I am.
halfdutch
Sep. 13th, 2006 06:09 am (UTC)
Oh wow! O__O That's like, maybe the best feedback ever! I'm printing this out and framing it and looking at it whenever I have a rough day!

*loves and snuggles*

THANK YOU!!

*sneaks in one more snuggle*
elise_509
Sep. 11th, 2006 03:38 pm (UTC)
"Why." Sawyer drew out the word with a sigh. He took his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose, like they'd been hurting him. "Well, Doc, the short answer is none of your business. And the long answer is none of your goddamned business."

That was so perfectly in character I could hear it exactly as if it were on the show. This whole thing, really, seemed so very canon. I wish D&C would take a hint from you and give us more scenes like this. I always wanted to know what Jack's reactionw as to Sawyer's real name. They never acknowledged that he was standing right there during that conversation andhe had to have heard.

One thing that really jumped out at me is how you described Jack feeling adrift when he's talking to Sawyer. I think that's so true of both his feelings with Sawyer and Kate. I think both of them make him feel lost because he can't get a handle on them and they won't let him try and help them, which is what Jack always wants to do. I just wanted to mention that cause I thought that was the perfect little sentence.

*loves you madly*
halfdutch
Sep. 13th, 2006 06:13 am (UTC)
Oh! *blushes*

You totally makes my day!

*loves for days*

I wish the show had more time for scenes like this. If I could bribe them into just letting Jack and Sawyer have ordinary conversations, I'd be ecstatic! I still want to know if Jack even heard! You think his interest would be piqued, if he did. ;)

I love my OT3 and all the dynamics that make up that triangle, so thank you for thinking I captured some of that here.

*beams happily*

gottalovev
Sep. 11th, 2006 03:38 pm (UTC)
oh, count me in as someone that adds this as "should be canon" fic!

it's greatly done. Poor Jack, not able to stay away from the issue. loved that Kate didn't tell him everything, she does care for Sawyer's feeling. and your Sawyer was perfectly in character all the way through.

*bisous* (kisses ;) )
halfdutch
Sep. 13th, 2006 06:15 am (UTC)
Merci! *kisses and bows*

I would hope Kate wouldn't tell Jack. Even though Sawyer spilled her secret (or as much of it as he knew), I think she still has sympathy towards him because his is just so damn ... rough.

alliecat8
Sep. 11th, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC)
This might not sound like the high praise I mean for it to be, but this fic made me feel very satisfied. It was so UNsatisfying that we never had any interaction between Jack and Sawyer over the name issue; I can't believe they didn't film it at some point, and I was hoping maybe it would be a deleted scene we'd see on the DVD. That, and Jack's reaction to Sawyer regaining consciousness. I feel like you filled in a void with this fic, and I love you for it!

And you know, somehow I don't think that Sawyer would react badly to Jack saying his name. I don't think he'd flinch like he does when other people say it. I almost think he'd feel proud. Sigh, I wish they'd let us see that someday. Thanks so much for this fic!
halfdutch
Sep. 13th, 2006 06:18 am (UTC)
Oooh, no, that's fantastic feedback, hon! ;)

Damn, I can't believe they let it go either. I guess it's too much to ask to follow through on a doozy like that and to actually let their two male leads interact!

Man, I'd love to see Sawyer's reaction to Jack saying his name, too. I wonder if we ever will. On the one hand, I like that it's still pretty much a secret and not everyone is going around calling him James. I guess I like to think, in canon, that Jack *didn't* hear it. That way maybe we can get his reaction when he actually does. *crosses fingers*

Thanks so much for the lovely comments!
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