Rating: PG-13/R for some sexiness
Pairings: Kate/Sawyer, a smidge of Sayid/Sawyer UST
Spoilers: Up through "Solitary"
Note: This is the chapter where I take a hard left away from the show. Wanna come along for a very strange ride? Once again, thanks to guineverekay for beta-ing!
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The story so far: Jack takes Kate out to a remote spot in the jungle for a birthday surprise, but they are attacked by Ethan, who kidnaps Kate and poisons Jack, leaving him for dead. Locke and Boone find Jack and bring him back to the cave, where he is tended by Sun and Boone. Sayid, Sawyer, and Michael find Kate out in the jungle. She is obviously traumatized but won't say exactly what happened to her and is vague on how she escaped. Sawyer and Sayid clash over Kate and old resentments while on their trek, but when the monster reappears, Sawyer saves Sayid's life. Oh, and Claire's dead.
Sawyer lay on top of Sayid, doing something he never did. He was praying. They were both breathing hard, but trying not to make any noise, waiting to hear if whatever was out there would find them in the bush or mercifully pass them by. Sawyer silently offered up the prayer of a man who hadn’t been to church in decades, but who thought, “What the hell, this could be it.” He’d prayed for death before, and now he took it all back. Fervently. With interest.
They heard crashing, and the earth shook around them, but they held fast and didn’t look out. “If I can’t see it, maybe it can’t see me,” Sawyer thought wildly, feeling like he was using dream logic in the middle of this waking nightmare. It had never worked in the dreams he had as a child. The terrifying thing, the devil or monster or whatever, always found him, no matter how well he hid.
His heart was thudding so violently he was sure they could hear it back in the camp. He thought maybe he could hear Sayid’s heart pounding too. Sayid’s lips were moving, and Sawyer was sure he was also praying, only to a different God and with much more experience.
And then suddenly everything was still. Neither man dared move for the longest time, but finally their cramped muscles demanded stretching. Sawyer carefully looked out. A downed tree was the only sign that something had passed nearby. He dropped his head and sat back, giddy with relief.
“I guess we’re not monster chow today,” he said, a smile breaking over his face.
“It is really gone?” Sayid said, not daring to believe it.
“Take a look,” Sawyer said. “It it’s out there it’s not only invisible, it’s being really, really quiet.”
Sayid peeked out and saw that it was true. “Praise Allah,” he said, closing his eyes. He started laughing with relief. He opened his eyes and focused them on Sawyer, who was looking up at the sky.
“Are you praying too, Sawyer?” Sayid asked, amused.
“I done my prayin’ already,” Sawyer said, still looking skyward. “Can I help it if that’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen?”
Sayid propped himself up painfully. “It is beautiful,” he said, scanning the bright blue sky. He smiled at Sawyer’s rapturous expression. He looked like a completely different person, transfigured somehow. He hated to interrupt his reverie.
“We should check on the others,” Sayid said reluctantly. “Can you help me up?”
“Sure thing, Sayid,” Sawyer said, his gaze and his thoughts returning to earth. Sayid’s eyebrows raised at Sawyer’s use of his real name, but he didn’t say anything. “You want a piggyback ride?” Sawyer joked.
“Um, no, thank you,” Sayid said laughing and shaking his head. They walked out, keeping an eye peeled for Kate or Michael. They came across Michael first. He still looked spooked, even though the danger was now over.
“You seen Kate?” Sawyer asked.
“Yeah ... I saw her,” Michael said slowly.
“So where is she?” Sawyer responded with irritation, the old animosity returning quickly.
“I think she went that way,” he said pointing. Sawyer left Sayid with Michael while he went to check on Kate.
As they watched him go, Michael turned to Sayid, whispering, “Does Kate seem ... odd to you at all since we found her?”
“She’s been kidnapped, so yes, I would say she is not herself,” Sayid said impatiently. Michael looked like he wanted to say something else, and Sayid regretted that he may have dissuaded him from doing so. “But perhaps there is something else going on,” Sayid added, looking at Michael carefully. He too, had been feeling that something wasn’t quite right about Kate, but he hadn’t yet been able to put it into words, even to himself.
Michael nodded vigorously. “OK, I’m not crazy. Am I? Because just now, we were running and she fell down and she had this huge gash on her arm. It was really bleeding. And then a minute or two later, it just wasn’t there anymore. I know this is a crazy fucking island, but is that even possible?” He leaned closer to Sayid. “I want to know. Is that even Kate anymore? Or am I just seeing things?”
Something clicked in Sayid’s mind. The French woman had told him to look out for people acting strangely. People who had been infected. “Not Kate,” he said aloud, his heart sinking.
Michael took him to mean he agreed. “Right, she’s not like our Kate, is she? I mean, is she?”
“Are you sure what you saw?” Sayid asked. “Are you positive?” That glorious feeling of miraculously finding himself alive moments ago was replaced with a sickening knowledge of what he had to do. What Danielle had told him he must do.
“I ... yeah, I am,” Michael said. “That’s not something I would imagine. It’s just too damn strange.”
Sayid frowned. He couldn’t be sure, could he? Damn the woman. Why hadn’t she told him what the signs were? What to watch for? He couldn’t ... not without absolute certainty.
He desperately wished Jack were here to talk to, but then again he thought Jack would never do what had to be done. That was up to men like himself. Sayid felt the heaviness in his heart returning. Was this the reason he was on this island, to torture and kill more people? Is that why Allah had spared him?
“Perhaps it would have been better if we had all died in that crash,” he said bitterly.
“What?” Michael said, thoroughly confused. “So are we going to do anything about this? I mean, if Kate’s not Kate ...”
“Leave it to me,” Sayid said sternly. “Do not say anything to anyone. Especially not to Sawyer.”
Michael nodded. “Say, what’s taking them so long?” he said.
Sayid looked at him, troubled. “Let’s call them, shall we?”
After calling their names several times, Sawyer and Kate finally emerged, looking flushed and somewhat guilty.
“Remember, say nothing,” Sayid said, noting Kate’s mussed hair, and Michael nodded again. “And act normally. She mustn’t suspect anything.”
“Kate?” Sawyer called.
“I’m here,” she answered, climbing down from a tree.
“Damn, Freckles, you some kind of monkey?” Sawyer marveled.
“Great, just what a girl loves to hear,” she said jokingly. She was muddied and the knee was torn out of one of her pants legs, but she looked shipshape otherwise.
Then he saw the blood on her arm. “You OK?” he asked, concerned.
“Oh, it’s just a scratch,” she said, putting the arm behind her. “So I guess the big bad monster’s gone, huh?”
“Yeah, it didn’t get to snack on us today,” Sawyer said smiling.
Kate seemed different, or rather, more like her usual self, looking at him with those unfathomable eyes and that half-smile. Maybe the monster scare had chased away the terrors she’d been through. Maybe. She was standing there smiling at him with a look he’d never quite seen before and Sawyer’s brain went a little soft.
“Come here,” she said, leaning up against the tree trunk.
“You got something to show me?” he said huskily.
“Yeah, I do,” she said as he came near. She tilted her face up, her lips parting slightly. “Kiss me.”
He leaned down and softly pressed his lips on hers. She grabbed him by the back of his head, pulling him in closer. Her tongue flickered out, gently teasing him. He gave a little moan and she opened her mouth wider to him. He put his hand on her neck, his thumb caressing her jaw line. He could feel her heart beating faster, hear her breathing speed up.
She had one hand up under his shirt, over his heart, which was pounding as hard as hers. Her hand worked slowly downward, unbuckling his pants. He pulled away from her, his eyes searching her face.
“Kate? Are you sure? I mean after...”
“Shhh,” she said, putting a finger to his lips. “It’s OK. I’m OK. Really.”
He nodded, still nagged by a vague feeling that something was wrong. Could she really want him, here, now, after everything? He remembered that Sayid and Michael were waiting for them.
“Kate, maybe we should do this later,” he said, glancing towards where he had left Sayid. “The others are waiting. And ... it just doesn’t feel right,” he added, mentally kicking himself for being such a boy scout.
“It doesn’t feel right? How does this feel?” she asked slyly, easing her hand into his pants.
“Kate!” Jack called to her. She lingered just out of his reach. Her image was blurry, as if she were behind some kind of veil. It was Kate and yet not Kate. Her hair was long and black and it billowed out around her head like a mermaid under water. She came closer, her lush red lips whispering things he couldn’t understand, making him feel warm and cold at the same time.
Jack was still running a high fever. He was semiconscious, but had only been lucid for a moment or two, long enough for Sun to force him to drink some of her concoctions. He’d thrown most of them back up, and Boone winced to see him in such agony. Besides the fever, he was now often doubled over in obvious pain, clutching his abdomen and groaning.
“You’re making him worse,” Boone finally snapped at her.
“It will work,” she said calmly, putting her hand on his.
He shook her hand off angrily. “I’m not going to sit here and watch you kill him!” he shouted.
“Like she understands what you’re saying,” Shannon said, sticking her head into the cave. “Stop yelling at her. She’s just trying to help him.”
“And I’m not?” Boone yelled at his sister. “I don’t even know what she’s giving him,” he glowered, pleased to know that Sun did understand what he was saying. “We don’t know anything about her. She could be a convicted murderer or something.”
“Why did she help me, then? You’re such a drama queen,” Shannon sighed. “Why don’t you take a break for a minute? Have you even slept?”
Boone closed his eyes. “I guess not,” he said, realizing just how tired he was.
“Kate, I’m coming,” Jack was muttering, his head turning from side to side. “Dad, wait! Where are you?” he called suddenly, sitting up and reaching out his hand. His eyes were open, but he was looking at something none of them could see. “Dad!” he yelled, his face desperate. Then he fell back in a heap.
Boone put his head to Jack’s chest. “He’s not breathing!” he said, panic seizing him. In an instant, he had Jack’s head tilted back and was breathing into it. “One, two, three” he told himself. “Dear God, let me be doing this right,” he prayed silently.