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Title: The Bachelor: Paradise Island, Part 9
Pairing: Jack/Sawyer, Charlie/Claire
Summary: Jack turns to his sister for advice on Sawyer
Rating: PG-13
Note: Oh my God, how long has it been since I posted the last chapter! Finally, eh? This one is especially for isis2015, Happy belated birthday, hon! Thanks again to zelda_zee for the awesome beta! :)

Previous Parts



Sawyer wasn't answering Jack's calls. Jack supposed he couldn't blame him; he'd spent the week before dodging Sawyer's calls.

The last time Sawyer had answered his phone, the conversation had been short and strained. "Okay, so we won't see each other until after the show ends," Jack offered to the deafening silence on the other end. "But we still need to see each other on the show. And we still need to meet, talk things over before the next..."

"Do we?" Sawyer cut in. "I think you're doin' fine on your own."

Jack's heart actually hurt to hear the chill in Sawyer's voice. "I don't want to be on my own," he said after a slight pause. "I really want to see you."

Silence.

"If it has to be after the show, I understand. I just..."

"Yeah, I'll see you."

And the line had gone dead.

He'd actually thought that the biggest obstacle had been them getting together in the first place. Once it was pretty damn clear they were both crazy about each other, it had seemed like nothing else would matter.

Jack was torturing himself, reliving every moment of their one night together, and Sawyer clearly was not doing anything of the kind. He knew Sawyer had more experience at this, not just the whole guy thing, but the playing it cool afterward. Jack sucked at playing it cool. The only time he was able to pull that off was when he didn't care and he hated to admit how much he did care about Sawyer.

Jack felt like he'd been flung into the deep end of the pool and he was drowning. And the one person he knew would save him had been the one to push him in.

I'm overreacting, he told himself. He would see Sawyer again, he just had to wait, until after this nightmare of a show crawled toward its slow, painful ending.

The rush he'd felt when he'd first kissed Sawyer now felt like sinking. He found himself flip-flopping by the minute. It was madness to fall for another guy. It would never work and he was here to find a wife, not indulge in some impossible fling. Except ... he'd sent Gabriela home precisely because he didn't want to have to choose between her and Sawyer. Of the women who were left, he didn't feel anywhere near that same spark he felt with Sawyer. He couldn't say for sure that he'd felt it with Gabriela, only that he could envision a life with her more than he could with Kate or Shannon or Juliet.

And then he'd find himself questioning why he felt this intense regret about letting her go now, when it was conveniently too late. He didn't really want any of the three remaining women and he couldn't have Sawyer, so in retrospect Gabriela -- Italy, the gondola ride, everything -- was looking more and more like a lost golden opportunity.

He needed advice and he sure as hell couldn't turn to his father this time. Jack winced to think of Christian's reaction if he knew his son had tumbled so eagerly into bed with a man and just how much he was dying to do it again.

Jack dialed Claire's number, told her he needed to see her. The teasing warmth in her voice when she told him to "come on over, silly boy," was just what he needed to hear.

On the drive over, he debated whether to tell her the truth. She'd be understanding, he knew, and she wouldn't tell their father, but he wasn't sure if he could even put it into words. No one else knew and maybe that was for the best.

She used to run out to the driveway to greet him, but now, six months pregnant, she moved a little slower. She opened the door to him, smiling and demanding a hug. He always had to bend so low to get his arms around her shoulders and now he had to be careful not to hug her too tight, with that growing belly of hers.

"So what's wrong? Are those women giving you a hard time? Because you just say the word and..." she made a threatening gesture with her fist and Jack had to laugh, picturing an indignant Claire telling off Juliet or Kate or Shannon, all of whom towered over her.

"No, it's me. I've done something kind of stupid," he began.

"Sit first, then the whole sordid story," she insisted, settling onto the sofa and putting her feet up on the coffee table. She motioned Jack towards the adjoining chair. "So what have you done that's so stupid? Besides signing up for a reality show in the first place?"

"Well, that would be my first mistake," Jack laughed. He felt more at ease already, being here. "My second one would be falling for someone who isn't on the show."

"Oh!" She sat forward with interest. "That's rotten timing."

"Yeah, isn't it?" he rubbed his jaw, suddenly conscious he'd forgotten to shave that morning.

"So what's her name, then?" Claire said, nudging his knee with her foot.

Jack had been about to tell her the truth, really he had, but she was making it too easy for him to lie. "Uh... Sandy," he said, wincing inwardly.

"And what's she like?" Claire prompted.

This part was easier. "Blonde. Blue eyes. Really gorgeous. Killer smile. Incredibly funny and sweet."

Claire nodded. "You always liked the blondes best."

"She's nothing like Sarah," Jack bristled. "The complete opposite!" That part, at least was true.

"Well, then I'm sure I'll love her," Claire said firmly. "And she's got all the handpicked Bachelorettes beat?"

"Definitely," Jack sighed. "I mean, I like them. I do. I feel like I have a connection here and there, but it's nothing like with ... Sandy. I just don't know what to do. I only want to be with her now, but I'm stuck on the show. And she swore that she understood but I know she's jealous of the other women and ... what am I supposed to do?"

Claire patted his hand. "I think she realizes you're in a tough spot and if you have the connection you think you do, she'll be there when it's over. But, hey, you haven't even told me how you met her!"

"Oh," Jack hesitated, before giving her the first answer that came to mind. "She's part of the show, actually. She ... does the makeup. So I see her a lot, just not official dates or anything like that."

"Ahh." Claire was silent for a moment. "This is just a thought, and don't take it the wrong way, but did you ever think that maybe you're feeling more of a connection to her because you're not on camera with her? And you both get to be yourselves?"

Jack sucked in a breath. "I hadn't thought about that." He turned the idea over in his mind ... was that it, really? Was Sawyer so appealing precisely because their entire flirtation had been happening just between the two of them, without an entire camera crew filming their every move? He paused to think for a second what it would be like if they had been caught on camera and shuddered. And then he remembered Shannon. He wasn't going to go into details, but what happened with Shannon proved the case for Sawyer perfectly.

"Well, actually," he said, leaning back in his chair, "I have had some unauthorized off-camera time with one of the women. And although I like her quite a bit, I know we're not right for each other. So it's more than just whether the cameras are there or not. I think I'd feel the same about Sandy" -- the fake name was easier to say the more he dropped it -- "whenever, wherever I'd met her. I mean, I fought it for a long time. I didn't want to admit I was having feelings for someone who I'm pretty much not allowed to be seeing right now."

Claire nodded sympathetically. "I hope she'll wait for you then. But what are you going to do about the rest of your dates? And picking the final contestant?"

Jack grimaced. "I know. I've already been lying through my teeth. I've just got to keep it up a little longer. I've thought about going to the producers but ... I think I really don't have a choice. And, when you meet the last two, I hope you'll give me your input," he smiled. He briefly considered telling her about the behind-the-scenes sabotage, but then he realized he wanted her honest opinion about the remaining Bachelorettes and he didn't want to share his suspicions with her. "Maybe one of them is right for me after all..." he finished, suddenly feeling the need to retreat into the Bachelor mindset.

Claire regarded him thoughtfully for a moment, as if waiting for him to say what he was obviously holding back. "So do I also get to meet Sandy and make up my mind about her?" she asked teasingly.

"Uh ... sure, I'd love that." Jack said with a falsely bright smile, panicking at the thought. "Although maybe that should wait until after the show. I need all the moral support I can get in the next few weeks and if you like one of the real contestants, that'll make it a lot easier for me."

"Okay, no pressure on me, then!" She grinned. "I'll just pick your fake future wife for you, shall I?"

"God, would you?" he laughed, only half-joking.

-----

Over a lunch of grilled cheese and mashed potatoes -- she ordered him not to lecture her about indulging her craving for carbs -- they talked some more about her upcoming visit to the set. She assured him the doctor had given her the go-ahead to fly.

"As long as you can promise me there's grilled cheese on the island, I'll be there," she laughed.

"No problem," he grinned. "I guarantee it." He glanced at the clock. Four o'clock already. "I hate to leave," he sighed, but I'm flying back to ‘Bachelor Island' in the morning and I still have to pack. But I'll see you and Dad next week."

"When we get to render our verdicts on the final two?"

"Exactly. Whoever they're going to be... Can I just fast-forward through the next few weeks?"
Claire gestured towards the door. "Go! Pack! I'll see you next week."

"Okay, I'm going," he sighed.

After agreeing to call her when he arrived -- and if he needed more advice to the lovelorn -- he wrapped her in one last hug and was on his way.

----

It didn't take long to pack his clothes. Jack debated whether to take the incriminating DVD of Kate and Cassidy along. He was still of half a mind to show it to the producers, to demand an investigation, but then again, he didn't want it to result in Kate's early elimination. He ended up putting it in his sock drawer, feeling oddly like a teenager stashing porn.

He didn't try to call Sawyer again. He'd see him soon enough. And the talk with Claire had actually made him feel better about the situation, although he felt bad for the deception. He would love for her and Sawyer to meet. He was sure they'd get along like a house on fire, at least after Claire was sure Sawyer had Jack's best interests at heart. Which... right now, was probably the last thing on Sawyer's mind.

And like that, he had flipped back to despair. Claire wasn't going to help him get through these last remaining weeks and neither was Sawyer. Jack was on his own.

----

It was far too early when the car arrived for him, but Jack was ready. He hadn't slept much. His bed hadn't felt so empty since those awful days right after Sarah died.

The driver wordlessly took Jack's bags and stuffed them in the trunk of the limo. He was grateful for the lack of conversation on the way to the airport since he wasn't feeling particularly chatty.

All too soon, they had arrived at LAX. The whole crew was waiting at the gate already; Jack had the luxury of arriving last. He spotted Sawyer immediately, sitting a few yards away in a chair by the window, all his concentration on his Blackberry. Sawyer looked impossibly handsome -- wearing nearly the same leather jacket and jeans combo as the last time Jack had seen him -- and it took all of Jack's willpower not to walk over there.

Jack looked away quickly, not wanting to be caught staring. He couldn't help remembering their first flight together, how Sawyer had flirted with him the whole time without him realizing it. It was going to be unbearable if Sawyer was sitting next to him again but it would be even more unbearable if he wasn't. Either way, he didn't want to make a big deal of it. He'd find out soon enough.

He fought the urge to turn right around and go back the way he came instead taking bitter amusement in picturing the looks on all their faces if he did turn tail and make a run for the exit. He tried to calculate how long they'd take to tackle him and bring him back -- and whether they'd get it all on film. Steve was shooting him now, just routine filler stuff that would probably never get used. Jack ignored him, although he considered making faces at him just for the hell of it, because they hated it when he acknowledged the camera.

He was just wondering if he had time to hit the men's room before the flight boarded --- he could use a few minutes' privacy -- when his phone rang. He wondered if Sawyer was calling him and he turned in his direction before even answering the phone.

But Sawyer wasn't on the phone. He was just staring at Jack. As he realized Jack was looking his way, he started, as if he felt guilty at being caught.

Jack turned away quickly, feeling his face heat up as he struggled to decide what he saw in Sawyer's gaze. Longing? Regret? Mere friendliness?

The phone was still ringing and Jack answered it, glancing briefly at the caller ID.

"Charlie, hey," Jack greeted his brother-in-law, glad for the distraction from all things Sawyer. "What's up? I'm just about to ..."

"Jack, it's Claire." Charlie paused for just a second, but Jack already knew from the controlled panic in his voice that it was bad news. "She's been in an accident."

Jack's grip tightened on the phone. "What happened? How is she?"

"Another car ran a red light... Jack, it's not good. You'd better come."

Jack felt like he was going to be sick. "Where is she?"

"They took her to Cedars. I've got to tell your father yet, but I wanted to reach you before your flight."

"I'll be right there." Charlie hung up and Jack realized he hadn't said anything to reassure him, hadn't even said he was sorry.

He'd forgotten all about Sawyer but suddenly there he was at Jack's elbow. "Jack, you okay?" Sawyer hovered slightly, like he wasn't sure whether to touch Jack or not.

"No, no, I'm not." Jack's voice sounded like it was coming from someone else, far away. "My sister's been in an accident. She's in the hospital. And I'm going there, right now," he said, fighting back the images of a bloodied Claire, lying unconscious on some operating table.

Sawyer squeezed his arm, his touch helping bring Jack back to reality. "Of course you are. Hang on, we just need to tell Bob, tell him what's happened. Stay here, I'll deal with this," he told Jack, who nodded mutely.

"What the fuck? Turn that off," Sawyer snapped, angrily stepping forward to put his hand in front of the camera. Only then did Jack notice with a surge of rage that Steve hadn't stopped filming, had, in fact, filmed his whole conversation with Charlie.

"But Bob said..."

"Fuck, Bob. You don't need to film this. Jesus, give the man some privacy." Jack was surprised at how angry Sawyer was. Sawyer grabbed Jack by the elbow and steered him away from the cameraman. "Where the fuck is that asshole?" he muttered.

By now most of the crew and several other passengers had noticed the commotion and were staring at them as if wondering whether someone needed to alert security. He remembered his preflight fantasy of just running away and somehow, he convinced himself this was all his fault. He'd been blindly hoping for an out and now he had it.

"I need to go, I need to be there," Jack said, pulling away from Sawyer. "You tell them where I am..."

"Hang on a minute," Sawyer said, not letting go. "Let me explain what's goin' on and then I can come with you."

When Jack didn't answer right away, Sawyer, with a flash of rare uncertainty, quickly added, "If you want me to."

"Sure ..." Jack said, although he really had no idea if he meant it. The rest was a blur. He watched with a strange detachment as Sawyer spoke to Bob, watched them both turn and look at him and then was dimly aware of their exchanging heated words.

None of it mattered. He had promised he'd wait for Sawyer but he was taking forever and he couldn't wait any longer. He simply had to get to Claire, now. He headed for the exit, seeing only the "Ground Transportation" signs in his tunnel vision.

He found himself in line for a taxi and only then realized he'd left his bag behind. He had no money. He turned in desperation, near tears, and there, like magic, was Sawyer, running through the automatic doors.

"Jesus, Jack," Sawyer gasped. Whatever lecture he'd clearly been planning stopped there, either due to his being thoroughly out of breath or because Jack chose that moment to stop holding the tears back.

"I don't have any money," he said, his voice choking, and then Sawyer was folding him in his arms and telling him everything was going to be all right.

---

Sawyer gripped his hand in the cab and Jack didn't even think to care if the cab driver noticed.

"I just saw her," Jack said, not even looking at Sawyer, but staring down, drawing strength just from the sight of Sawyer's hand on his.

He needed to talk or he'd go crazy. The freeway was at a standstill and at this rate they were never going to get there. "I told her about you." Sawyer made a small noise, just clearing his throat, probably, but it made Jack look up.

"I really want you to meet her," Jack said and Sawyer squeezed his hand.

"I'd like that," he said with a nod. He was gazing at Jack with such intensity that Jack had to look away again. He hadn't exactly told Claire everything about Sawyer, but in this moment he somehow felt like he had, that Claire had given them her blessing anyway.

Tears welled up again. He had to stop thinking of his sister like she was already gone. She was going to meet Sawyer. Jack was going to have a really awkward conversation with her and then she was going to laugh and tell him he was being silly and everything would be all right. Just like Sawyer had said it would be.

----

Charlie wrapped Jack in a tight hug, not even acknowledging Sawyer's presence. "She's in surgery," Charlie said, his voice shaky. He looked nearly as haggard and out of it as when he'd been using, but Claire had sworn those days were far behind him. "They don't know anything yet." He nervously brushed his hair back and Jack saw that the inside of his hand was red, like he'd been biting it. Jack knew just how he felt.

"She was driving, and some bastard ran a red light. Smashed into her side, full-on, didn't even brake. Thank god the car had side air bags but, fuck, Jack, I shouldn't have let her drive this far along."

"It's not your fault," Jack insisted. "And you can't exactly tell Claire what to do, you know."

Charlie attempted a wry laugh. "Yeah, but even so... She's got a broken arm and probably a concussion. It's the internal bleeding. They don't know if she's going to be okay... or the baby." His voice choked on the last word.

Jack found himself offering every sentiment of false hope he could think of, even though he didn't believe any of it. Someone had to say it.

An awful silence fell between them and finally Jack realized that Sawyer was standing off to the side, there if Jack needed him but clearly trying to give Jack some space. "Oh, Charlie, this is Sawyer. He came with me. Well... he thought I could use a friend."

Charlie nodded vaguely in Sawyer's direction, barely registering him. Jack could have probably announced that Sawyer was, in fact, his boyfriend and gotten the exact same reaction. Still, he was glad Sawyer was here.

Jack offered to make the few calls Charlie hadn't gotten to yet, but he refused. "I need something to do," he said, rubbing nervously at his wrist, and Jack relented. He stifled the suspicion that one of those calls would be to a dealer.

He and Sawyer sat down in the hard, uncomfortable chairs of the unfamiliar waiting room. This wasn't his hospital. He wasn't here as a doctor, but as a family member. He'd always felt bad for the people forced to sit in the glare of the fluorescent lights, on these horrible chairs and wondered how they did it, hour after hour. The only other time he'd sat here helplessly, unable to do anything for someone he loved, it was for Sarah. This wasn't going to end the same way, he vowed. It just wasn't.

Sawyer didn't try to get him to talk, didn't try to reassure him anymore. Jack leaned forward in his chair, head down, hands clenched in front of him. He wanted, more than anything, to lean against Sawyer, to take what comfort he could from just being in his arms. He knew Sawyer would make him feel better but he didn't want to feel better. And he couldn't do it. Not here, not somewhere so public. He thought longingly, for a moment only, of his office at St. Sebastian's with its comfortable couch and a door he could lock and how he would just melt into Sawyer. But that wasn't an option here. He was ashamed of himself for even thinking of it, for wanting Sawyer at a time like this.

They sat in silence. Jack didn't dare look at Sawyer. It was only with the strongest self-control that he kept his gaze focused on his own hands. He jumped when he felt Sawyer's palm on the small of his back. The small gesture of comfort nearly broke him. He was barely holding it together and he couldn't afford to lose it now. He almost wished Sawyer weren't here. He was too raw to hide his feelings right now, too on edge to keep up the illusion that he didn't care as much as he did.

He was seconds from giving in, just sinking against Sawyer, when Charlie returned, Christian at his side. Jack jumped to his feet. His father's face was grim and pinched, as if he'd aged several years in a day. He hugged Jack briefly and he even imagined, for a second, that his father somehow felt more frail. Maybe it was just the unmistakable whiff of vodka that hinted at his weakness.

But when he spoke, it was with his usual quiet authority. He informed them who was operating on Claire and how much confidence he had in them. He glanced at Sawyer, who had also stood, and frowned.

"Oh, he's with the show," Jack said, immediately regretting his choice of words. "He's a friend. He called a cab for me."

"That was nice of..." Christian raised his eyebrows in Sawyer's direction.

"Sawyer." Sawyer introduced himself, stepping forward to shake Christian's hand.

"Right. But this is really a time for family, son." He pulled Jack to the side, but he didn't drop his voice in the slightest. "Jack, can't you get out of that goddamned show at a time like this? This is outrageous."

"Dad!" It felt good to get angry about something and, as usual, the source of that anger was his father. "He's not here for that. They're not filming any of this. Sawyer's a friend. A good friend."

"Your father's right," Sawyer said after a bit of throat clearing, somehow managing not to sound the least bit insulted. "I should leave. I can call you later. Or, you know, you call me."

"Okay. Okay, then." Jack nodded. He couldn't ask Sawyer to stay, not under the disapproving gaze of his father. And it was good, really, that Jack wasn't going to give himself away now. This was not the way he wanted his father to find out about Sawyer and he was sure to pick up on it if Sawyer stayed.

It was fine for Sawyer to hug him goodbye though, he decided. It would probably be weird if he didn't. "Hang in there," Sawyer whispered in his ear. "You call me if you need me."

It wasn't much but Jack felt again like he had when Sawyer had whisked him into that cab, when he had held his hand. He had half-decided to tell his father to fuck off, to insist that Sawyer stay, but Sawyer was already walking away.

----

The next few hours were the longest of Jack's life, but when the surgeon emerged a little after 1 a.m., Jack could tell that it was good news, just from the way he carried himself. Relief flooded through him in such immensity that he wasn't aware of just how much tension and worry had gripped him. The doctor gave them the prognosis: Claire was out of danger but they still weren't sure about the baby. They would know more in the morning.

"Can we see her?" Charlie demanded anxiously and the doctor nodded. "She's still unconscious, but yes, you can see her. Just for a few minutes."

He led the way to Claire's room. She looked so pale, almost as white as the pillow under her head. If not for that and the cast on her arm, and the tubes and wires, she might look as if she were just sleeping. Charlie took her left hand gently and squeezed it, but there was no response.

Standing on her other side, Christian brushed his hand over her cheek. He gazed at her with a tenderness Jack had never seen on his father's face before. Finally, his father stepped aside and Jack approached his sister. He was almost afraid to touch her, afraid he'd find her as cold as she looked, but her skin was warm. Her chest rose and fell of its own accord. She was alive. She was going to be all right.

Christian's beeper went off and he stared at it. "I think I can take this now," he said, nodding. He squared his shoulders, as if the balance of the universe had just been restored. He looked sober. It had been hours since his last drink. "Jack, are you going to stay? You should go home, get some sleep. Both of you."

"Yeah, okay," Jack said. He and Charlie trudged out to the hall reluctantly. He ran his hand through his hair. He really had no idea how long they'd been at the hospital but he probably looked as disheveled and worn out as Charlie did. "I'm gonna stay," Charlie said firmly. "I couldn't sleep anyway."

Jack nodded again. He didn't have the energy to try to persuade Charlie to go home and he knew his brother-in-law was too stubborn to listen to advice anyway. Jack doubted he'd sleep either but he wanted to at least shower away the last few hours, maybe change clothes. He gave Charlie a fierce hug and promised to return in a few hours. "Call me if anything changes," he made Charlie swear. He was halfway to the parking lot when he realized that he didn't have a car. And he still didn't have any cash.

He dialed Sawyer's number. He'd want to hear the good news, at least. Sawyer picked up instantly. "She's going to be okay," Jack said, feeling the tightness in his chest loosening as he said the words. "They don't know about the baby yet, but it looks like she's going to make it."

"God, that's great news, Jack." The warmth in Sawyer's voice made his eyes sting.

"I thought I'd go home for a few hours. She won't be conscious 'till morning, at least, and..."

"You need a ride." Sawyer finished for him. "I'll be right there."

"Thank you," Jack said softly. "For everything..." but Sawyer had already hung up.

--

Sawyer was there in less than half an hour. He pulled into the loading zone at the emergency room, swinging the passenger door open for Jack. He'd changed his shirt and jeans, but his eyes were red, like he hadn't slept any either. Jack got into his car without a word. He strapped in and just stared straight ahead. Without asking, Sawyer drove to Jack's house.

He didn't have to invite Sawyer in; it was understood that he wanted Sawyer here. Once inside, with the door safely closed, he finally gave into the urge to wrap his arms around Sawyer, to rest his head on his shoulder. Sawyer held him tight, one hand running soothingly over the scruff of his hair.

"It's okay," Sawyer said softly. "It's all gonna be okay."

"Thank you," Jack said, his voice muffled against Sawyer's jacket. He wanted to tell him so much more but that was all he could manage for now.

He slowly disentangled himself from Sawyer. He was painfully aware that he smelled like stale sweat, that his breath must be foul. Mostly though, he was just exhausted. Two nights of next to no sleep had worn him down. "I'm going to take a shower," he announced, holding Sawyer's hand and pulling him slightly towards the bathroom. He half hoped Sawyer would join him but Sawyer didn't follow.

"You hungry?" Sawyer asked.

"No, not really."

"You need to eat," Sawyer insisted, not at all swayed by Jack's response. "I'm gonna make you something."

"Okay," Jack mumbled. Sawyer knew where the kitchen was and he had no idea what there was to eat but it didn't much matter. He stumbled to the bathroom and stripped off his clothes. The water was hotter than he'd like if he wanted it to jolt him awake but right now he wasn't sure anything could do that. It didn't seem worth fiddling with the faucets. He wasn't going to be in here that long anyway. He pictured Claire again, so tiny and vulnerable looking in her hospital bed. He was going to just take a short nap and get back immediately. He didn't want to miss it when she woke up.

He pulled on a T-shirt and pajama bottoms and wandered into the kitchen. Sawyer was serving up two plates of spaghetti with what looked like a homemade sauce. "That smells amazing," Jack said, and realized he was hungry, after all. He sat down at the counter. It seemed ages ago since they'd eaten breakfast here together, but having Sawyer serve him -- even grating fresh parmesan on top of the pasta -- felt comfortingly familiar. Sawyer had poured a glass of red wine for himself, but Jack waved his away. He didn't need it.

He dug into the food eagerly. It tasted just as delicious as it smelled. Jack wolfed down a whole plate but declined when Sawyer, with a pleased, almost maternal smile, offered more. "I can't," he pleaded. "I can barely keep my eyes open."

"Okay, at least I got some food in ya," Sawyer nodded, beginning to clear the plates. He piled them in the sink and then turned and leaned against the counter. "Jack, I.... I wanted to say I'm was sorry."

"About Claire?"

"No ... well, yes, of course, I'm sorry about that. But I mean I'm sorry I wasn't around. I just... you don't know how tough it is, to sit on the sidelines and watch you... on the show."

"Oh." Jack blinked. "No, I get it. It's a rotten situation. I don't blame you." He was too tired to be having this conversation now, but he had to get the words out. "I'm sorry that I kind of ignored you at the hospital, that I didn't... well, I didn't fight for you to stay. My dad..." he trailed off, not sure what he was going to say and embarrassed that he'd let his father intimidate him, once again.

Sawyer was looking at him oddly. "What do you mean? You were worried about Claire."

Jack nodded. Of course, he was just overthinking things. Had he gotten the wrong idea about Sawyer again? Was he just here as a friend? Was that what he was saying? It didn't matter what Jack's family thought about him, in that case. There was nothing to worry about because there was nothing between him and Sawyer after all.

His head hurt. "I need some sleep," he said and Sawyer nodded. "I'll let you know... I'll give you a call when there's some news."

"Oh." Sawyer looked surprised. "I... kinda thought you wanted me to stay. I'd be glad to. I can drive you back."

Jack nodded, unable to fight the weary smile taking over his face. He held out his hand. "Come on, then." He couldn't quite read Sawyer's expression as he walked towards him, as he placed his hand in Jack's, but Sawyer was here with him and that was all that mattered.

He led Sawyer to his bed, watching sleepily as Sawyer shucked off his boots and then his belt and jacket, followed by his jeans and T-shirt, until all he was wearing was his underwear. He turned down the bed around Jack, who had simply laid down on top of the blankets and was half asleep already.

Sawyer tucked them both in and then he nestled up against Jack, draping an arm over him and pulling him closer. "Get some sleep," Sawyer whispered in his ear and Jack felt himself dropping off, safe and warm in Sawyer's arms.

"Love you," he mumbled, kissing Sawyer's shoulder. He was asleep before he knew whether Sawyer had answered him.

Next on The Bachelor: Paradise Island -- The Bachelorettes meet Jack's family!

Comments

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eponine119
Oct. 23rd, 2007 01:40 am (UTC)
I love the tale of Jack and "Sandy." And then you get into the heavy drama there, with Claire's accident! It's so great the way you incorporate all the characters in this, adding in Claire and Charlie.

I was just wondering if I'd missed a part of this, because it seems like it's been awhile. Happy to see some now!
halfdutch
Oct. 23rd, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)
Ooh, you're fast! I was still tweaking it! :)

Glad you like this installment, and heh, I couldn't resist the heavy (melo)drama. Fastest way to reunite an estranged couple, yes? It's been a little over two months since I last posted a chapter. I didn't intend for it to be that long but real life kind of swept me up, which is both good and bad!

Thanks for reading!
isis2015
Oct. 23rd, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)
Before I get into the fic, can I just glomp all over you. *glomps* You have no idea how relieved I am to hear from you. The news is scaring the crap out of me. A couple of our friends were evacuated this afternoon, and I have no idea how close the fire is to you. *hugs* Stay safe, alright?

Now, on to the fic!

I have always loved the idea of Claire as Jack's confidant. I think that, as brother and sister, they would have that kind of relationship where he could go to her for friendly advice (unlike Christian who sucks outloud at giving it) and really take in what she gives him. It also sets up nicely what ends up happening with her.

I think my heart may have broken a little when Jack suddenly stopped and realized he had no money for a cab and everything sort of caught up with him and he finally just stopped and let Sawyer hug him. I've had moments like that, where you loose your momentum and a second later, everything hits you like a brick.

And, of course, Christian wouldn't be Christian if he weren't being a rude asshole and complicating things in his own special way. :/ I violently dislike him (as if that's not apparent).

I am also the biggest sucker for Sawyer taking care of Jack. And I really think that Jack needed someone to take care of him in that moment. Or he wouldn't have eaten or done much of anything. I'm really glad that he has Sawyer there for him, and I can't wait to see how they finally get through all this junk and are able to be together.

Thank you for this fic, darling, but most of all thank you for posting so I don't have to go to bed tonight worrying about you. ♥
halfdutch
Oct. 23rd, 2007 02:47 am (UTC)
Awww, sweetie I'm fine and far from danger. *hugs hard* The air's a tad hazy, that's all. But yeah, I'm watching the news too and it's really scary. I didn't even think anyone would be worried but, yes, I'm out of harm's way!

I know you love Jack and Claire as brother and sister, and it was really fun to write it for you! (And C/C too! ;D) And, of course, I have a big ol' soft spot for Sawyer taking care of Jack since he was so incapable of coping with possibly losing someone so close to him. I couldn't resist getting them together again before the end of this series. :)

Thanks again for thinking of me, hon! Happy to put your mind at ease! ♥
zelda_zee
Oct. 23rd, 2007 03:36 am (UTC)
Another great installment. I especially liked the H/C nature of this one - like I said, I've been craving H/C fic. And I'm glad that Claire's accident brought Jack and Sawyer back together - and that Claire's going to be okay. Jack conversation with Claire was great, I really liked that. And the ending, awww. As always, can't wait to see what's next!
halfdutch
Oct. 24th, 2007 03:21 am (UTC)
Thank you, hon! I'm always in the mood for H/C, I think. And I adore Sawyer taking care of Jack, of course. Glad you liked the convo with Claire and Jack. It was fun to write! And good to be writing again. :)
vixerunt
Oct. 23rd, 2007 04:20 am (UTC)
This zombie comment brought to you by a Nyquil and Benedryl combo.
Ahhh...Lost fanfic. How I have missed thee in the current drought...

First, thanks for posting this! I've really been enjoying the series so far and I was curious to see where you were taking it next. I like this little interlude between the madness of filming the show. It was nice, and new for me, to see a fic showing Claire and Jack as brother and sister and having a normal, sibling heart to heart. It was great. And I just loved that Charlie is the husband! *sniff*

I did enjoy the "Sandy" story and how much Jack opened up about his feelings without ever letting the truth slip. I wonder how she'll feel when she finds out the truth. Actually, even more than that, I want to know which of the girls she'd choose for Jack!

Anyway, looking forward to the next part. Especially if the "I love you" at the end turns Sawyer into a basket case. I must have read something like that or seen something and just triggered my memory...

...

Pretty Woman! That was it. Well, I hope for no Pretty Woman moments and their love will be free and won't always be said when one thinks the other is asleep ;-)

Great work as always! Can't wait for the next.
halfdutch
Oct. 24th, 2007 03:25 am (UTC)
Re: This zombie comment brought to you by a Nyquil and Benedryl combo.
It has been a drought for a big chunk of Lost fandom, hasn't it? I've been too busy to get back to this but it's fun to dip my toe back in!

Glad you like the new development with "Sandy" and the inclusion of Charlie. One of the few times I've written C/C! And I enjoyed writing Jack and Claire as brother and sister.

And, ha, Pretty Woman! That definitely wasn't on my mind as I think I've seen it once and maybe not all the way through. :)

(Also, feel better!)
cmonkatiekatie
Oct. 23rd, 2007 06:28 am (UTC)
The last half of this made me simultaneously awww and sniffle. Those boys! mmm, I love how you're weaving all these canony things throughout - with just the perfect little tweaks. Know what else I love? I missed the last one so i got to have a sweet little Bachelor Fic catch up session.
halfdutch
Oct. 24th, 2007 03:26 am (UTC)
Awww! *snuggles you* Thanks for catching up!
alemyrddin
Oct. 23rd, 2007 09:06 am (UTC)
yay! another part!

I love how much plot you are putting into this, with Claire's accident and everything.

"I don't have any money," he said, his voice choking, and then Sawyer was folding him in his arms and telling him everything was going to be all right.
This scene is so realistic and heartbreaking, it's true that in times of great distress the smallest thing makes people break down in tears.

And of course Jack crying on Sawyer's shoulder out of that cab and Sawyer taking care of him, cooking for him and snuggling with him - those scenes are just too cute for words.

:)
halfdutch
Oct. 24th, 2007 03:33 am (UTC)
Oh good! I was worried it was too plotty! This is probably the last major wrinkle, before getting back to the contest, I think.

And aww, I'm so glad you liked that little moment of Jack breaking down when he realized that he'd forgotten his wallet. And good thing Sawyer was there. I'm such a sucker for h/c, especially when it's Sawyer taking care of Jack. Or vice versa! :)
1flying_wonder
Oct. 23rd, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
That is so weird! I was just thinking about this fic this morning and wondering if there was ever going to be anymore of it. I'm so glad there is!
halfdutch
Oct. 24th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC)
Wow, what great timing! :) I've been wanting to get back to this but I just haven't had time. Thanks for your continued interest and support!
astra2104
Oct. 23rd, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
Oooohhhh!! *bounces and is all glowy and excited*

Aww, this is so good! And now you're laying on the angst and poor Jack is all broken and needs Sawyer, and just...I love Claire!!! She's gonna be okay, right? She has to know the real story about Sawyer, she will love him!

This is getting better and better, hon; I can't wait for the next part!

halfdutch
Oct. 24th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)
Awww, yay! Yes, Claire will be okay. :) I had to get Jack and Sawyer back together somehow and an emergency will definitely do that. Glad you like this, with all its twists and turns! *mwah!*
siluria
Oct. 23rd, 2007 07:33 pm (UTC)
YaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaY more bachelor fic!!! I love this au, love the twisted tale and can't wait to see how Jack digs himself out of his mess :) I also really liked how you had Jack getting rid of Gabriela because she was the one he felt he could settle down with.
halfdutch
Oct. 24th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
Aww, happy to make you happy with more fic! And I've always liked Gabriela best of all the women Jack's been attached to during the course of the show. I do think she would have been good for him. I think part of the attraction on his part is his needing someone to take care of, but I also really like the idea of someone taking care of him! :)
luna481516
Oct. 23rd, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)
Jack felt like he'd been flung into the deep end of the pool and he was drowning. And the one person he knew would save him had been the one to push him in. I loved that line.
This is so introspective and it goes along with the angtsy events in the plot. And I love Sawyer taking care of Jack and the snuggling and Jack being too tired to lift his head beyond Sawyer's shoulder.


halfdutch
Oct. 24th, 2007 03:41 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you, hon! I've had that dilemma myself, when you want comfort from the one person who's causing your grief! And I love Sawyer taking care of Jack when he really needs him.

(And I love that icon! One of my favorites.)
haldoor
Oct. 24th, 2007 04:02 am (UTC)
Oh God, I had missed the last part! GAH! But I'm all caught up now, phew! And it's still great! The tension and the angst! OH! Sorry, my comments aren't very coherent right now, but I'm still loving it!
halfdutch
Oct. 24th, 2007 04:17 am (UTC)
Yay! Thanks for catching up! So glad you're still enjoying it! And yes, I love ramping up the tension, what can I say? *chuckles wickedly*
iorwen107
Oct. 25th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
What a lovely surprise to see you updated this wonderful fic! And a nice treat to read on the long bus ride to work. Thanks! And I can't wait to see Jack's father's reactions to the ladies.
halfdutch
Oct. 26th, 2007 04:41 am (UTC)
So glad you're still enjoying it! And happy to provide entertainment for the bus. :)
mistry89
Oct. 28th, 2007 08:53 am (UTC)
I love this show ... I mean story! Jack seems to be consistently missing cues or thinking he has, with Sawyer. As I haven't ever seen one of these shows, do they have to get married to the "winner" in the finale, or does it sort of fade to a "and we'll give you updates on the blossoming romance" thing?
Cheers!
halfdutch
Nov. 1st, 2007 03:26 am (UTC)
Oh, you're so sweet to refer to it as a real show! Wouldn't this be fun to watch? :)

In the finale on the real show, the Bachelor selects one of the women from the final two (and sends the other home in tears, usually). A proposal isn't always part of the equation and I think only one of the Bachelors has stayed with the woman he picked at the end, partly because they have to not see each other after the show wraps, not until it airs, which can be a few months. So that's a tough strain. And many of them are long-distance relationships. Anyway, the track record for "true love" is very low! The media does report on whether they're still together so it kind of never ends for the couple until they break up!

Thanks for reading! :)
elise_509
Oct. 29th, 2007 02:13 am (UTC)
Oh man, look at you, luring us into Jack and Claire sibling sweetness, making us love their relationship to pieces, and then smashing us with the car crash, broadsiding the lovely moment of brotherly/sisterly love. Man. I didn't see that coming and it really was tragic. I feel so terrible for Jack (and Claire and Charlie, obviously) and how much he needs Sawyer but can't quite figure out how to have him.

The ending, with Sawyer wanting to stay and Jack assuming he was going to leave, and how it all played out from there, so simply sweet and caring and perfect.

Can't wait for the next part!
halfdutch
Nov. 1st, 2007 03:27 am (UTC)
Awwww! *smishes*

I really enjoyed writing the brother/sister relationship and I'm so pleased that you liked it so much! And that you like how it's all playing out. *happy sigh*

Comments like this make it all worthwhile! ♥
obreesprit
Nov. 21st, 2007 08:00 am (UTC)
I love this fic!! You really do have excellent plot twists and the way you prtray the characters remains true to who they are, yet puts them in this totally new light. I think it's great that you can pull this off so well. *is jealous* Thank you for making this all plotty! I love plot.

The story has been so sweet thus far and I can't wait to see what happens later and how everyone around Jack reacts to the revelation of his real lover. It's so exciting-- I want more!

Thanks for sharing!
halfdutch
Dec. 21st, 2007 12:10 am (UTC)
Thank you! (Sorry I missed this comment until now.) Very glad you enjoy the plottiness and the suspense! I hope to get back to it after the holidays.
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