Summary: Sawyer’s stuck under a dead bear, Jack’s stuck in a bear trap and they have to work together to get free (How romantic!)
Rating: PG for language, dead bear gore
Note: Building very slowly toward the smut. First, some bonding and some TLC.
Feedback: Crave it! Love it!
“How are we going to get out of here?” Jack asked, having tried for the hundredth time to pry open the steel trap biting into his ankle. He didn’t think the ankle was broken, but the trap’s teeth had torn bloody edges along his pants leg.
“You’re the man with the answers,” Sawyer said wryly, lying trapped underneath the carcass of the polar bear he had somehow slain. “I’m just along for the ride.” Along with his mauled arm and chest, he was beginning to think that the possibly two-ton bear was crushing his ribs in. Or maybe he would know once he was ever able to get out from under the damn thing. In any case, he couldn’t remember when he’d been in so much pain, and that included his recent run-in with the genuine Iraqi one-man interrogation squad.
“C’mon, Sawyer,” Jack said in exasperation, drawing out the name of his sometime rival, frequent headache, and the man who had just saved his life. He resisted the urge to give Sawyer a motivational pep talk. That kind of thing always backfired with Sawyer. He never knew what to say to him, how he’d react, and now here he was stuck with him, with maybe both their lives hanging in the balance.
Sawyer had taken his hand at first, just as a way to let him know he was OK, Jack figured, but after a few minutes, Sawyer had drawn his hand back, even though Jack kept his extended.
“Someone will come,” Jack said reassuringly, although he wasn’t sure he believed it himself. They were close enough to camp that Locke or even Kate might find them, but far enough from the beaten path that it might be ... weeks.
“You a bettin’ man?” Sawyer asked. “Because I think we may be here a while. You tell anyone where you were goin? Because I sure as hell didn’t.”
Jack thought back over his day. He hadn’t told anyone he was going to confront Sawyer about the ruined garden, in case his suspicions were wrong. He kicked himself now for being so discreet. “No, I didn’t,” he admitted.
“Yeah, and where’s Lassie when you need him?” Sawyer said, his sly sense of humor creeping back into his voice. “What’s that Lassie? Sawyer’s trapped under a bear? And the doc’s got his foot in a trap? Let’s go, boy!”
Jack chuckled despite himself. “Yeah, I don’t think Vincent will lead anyone here.”
Their laughter subsided and they were faced with their same painful situation. They had to get themselves free.
“You still have the knife?” Jack asked Sawyer.
“Yeah,” Sawyer answered shortly.
“Can you pass it to me?”
“You’re not gonna cut your foot off, are you?” Sawyer said hesitantly.
“What? No!” Jack answered, surprised by the suggestion.
“Well, then, you’re just gonna break it,” Sawyer sighed. “That a steel trap?”
“I guess,” Jack said uncertainly.
”Yeah, a knife ain’t gonna do you any good, doc. Anyway, I’m still using it.”
“The bear’s dead! What are you going to do, cut your way out?”
“Yeah, I am,” Sawyer said huffily. “If that damn Great White Hunter can do it, well so can I.” After a beat he added, “Try a tree branch. Even if it doesn’t work you won’t be slicing up your damn foot.”
“Good idea,” Jack said, scavenging for a salvageable piece of wood to try to spring the trap. He had seized on a branch and tried probing different points along the trap. There had to be a spring on it somewhere. He spotted a coil that looked like it might just be it, but pressing the tree branch against it didn’t help. He need something harder, something smaller.
Suddenly he remembered he had the key to the marshall’s suitcase on a string around his neck. Maybe he could use that. He untied the string and started pressing the key against the spring.
Meanwhile, he heard choking. “Sawyer! Are you OK?” he called worriedly.
“Peachy, doc,” came the answer after a minute. “Gravity is not being my friend here.” Sawyer was hacking away at the bear’s neck and blood and flesh rained down on him. He turned his head away as he worked but he was still nauseated by the gruesome work. Even his good arm was starting to tire and he’d made practically no progress. The bear just seemed to be getting heavier by the minute and he was getting weaker.
“Aha!” Jack yelled as the trap sprang open. “I did it!” He laid back for a minute, giving into his relief. Then he hobbled over to Sawyer, favoring his bad leg.
“Jesus!” Jack exclaimed when he saw the gory mess. He could barely tell where the bear ended and Sawyer began. There was blood everywhere. He noted how pale Sawyer looked under the drying blood and the set to his jaw that told him how much pain he must be in.
“Let’s get this thing off you, OK?” Jack said firmly. He pushed with all his might and the bear didn’t budge. He was hampered by not being able to brace himself on both legs. He slid to the ground, panting with exertion. “I can’t do it,” he admitted frustratedly after several more efforts. Sawyer just nodded. He was starting to fade. The fight was going out of him, Jack could see.
He sat down to ponder their next strategy, but now that he was face to face with Sawyer he found himself asking, “Why’d you do it?” Sawyer just looked at him wearily.
“You don’t even like me, Sawyer,” Jack said. “You said once you’d let me die if you had the chance.”
“Just a lot of hot air, doc,” Sawyer said, looking away. “You know most everything I say is BS.”
“You could have been killed.”
Sawyer didn’t respond, but the corners of his mouth turned down slightly.
“Do you want to die, Sawyer?” Jack said as gently as he could. He placed his hand lightly on Sawyer’s.
Sawyer shot him a sharp look. His face tightened in anger, and then he shrugged, letting his features go blank again. “They all need you. I’m expendable.” His voice was completely emotionless.
Jack opened his mouth to contradict Sawyer, but he couldn’t think what to say that wouldn’t ring completely false. “I think you just proved otherwise,” he finally said quietly.
Sawyer didn’t answer, just swallowed uncomfortably. “So what are we gonna do about this bear?” he said brusquely.
“Let’s both of us try pushing again,” Jack said. Sawyer nodded. On Jack’s count, they both pushed as hard as they could. “It moved!” Jack yelled happily. “OK, again!”
It took five tries to dislodge the bear, but finally Sawyer was free. He just lay there, gasping, now that the weight was finally gone. He let Jack fuss over him, trying to determine the extent of his injuries. “Can you sit up?” Jack asked.
Sawyer nodded, but his sharp intake of breath as he sat up confirmed what Jack suspected. “I think you’ve got a broken rib or two,” the doctor said with a frown. Jack slowly helped Sawyer off with his bloody shirt. His concerned gaze took in the deep bite marks in Sawyer’s arm and the ugly looking claw marks on his chest. His fingers gently probed around Sawyer’s lower ribs, stopping when Sawyer flinched in pain.
Jack took off his own relatively clean T-shirt and cut it into strips. Sawyer tensed as Jack wrapped several strips around his chest to bind his ribs, but the doctor’s touch was featherlight. He found himself relaxing as Jack bound his arm in a sling. There was something about Jack’s efficient demeanor that inspired confidence, he realized. Suddenly he could see why everyone trusted him.
In the past he’d always been fighting against him, trying to provoke him. Now all that animosity had just evaporated and for once he didn’t feel like Jack’s enemy. He grunted in approval as Jack finished up. “Nice job. I feel ... almost human.”
Jack smiled at the rare kind word from Sawyer. “Good,” he said. Jack sat and wrapped his own injured ankle, testing to see if he could stand. He grimaced as he tried putting weight on it. “I don’t think I can walk on it,” he said.
“Come on,” Sawyer said abruptly, standing up. He put his arm around Jack’s waist. Jack leaned on him uncertainly. “Will this be OK for you? I mean, your ribs...”
“Are you callin’ me a wuss?” Sawyer said with a hint of his usual smile. “I just killed a polar bear with my bare hands, boy, and you think I can’t take you? Try me!”
Jack shook his head, trying not to laugh. “OK, we’ll try it,” he said. “But you let me know if it’s too much, right?” he added, growing serious again.
Sawyer rolled his eyes. “Blah, blah, blah, let’s go already. I’ve seen enough of this fuckin’ neck of the woods to last me a lifetime.”
They gingerly picked their way down the hill. Despite Sawyer’s boasting, he was in obvious pain, but he wouldn’t hear of stopping. Perspiration formed on his forehead, but he stared straight ahead, willing himself to make it back.
Jack marveled at Sawyer’s determination. It was a side of Sawyer he hadn’t really seen before.
He was still trying to reconcile this heroic figure next to him with the Sawyer he knew: a malicious troublemaker who only ever thought of himself. True, he’d tried to help end the air marshall’s suffering, but at the time Jack thought that had just been some kind of macho bullshit, not a true sign of empathy. Sawyer would go out of his way for Kate, but that was just self-interest again, Jack thought.
He glanced over at Sawyer’s grimly set face and thought that this was maybe Sawyer’s true self, one he never wanted anyone to see. He wondered again why Sawyer had risked his life to save him, and what he would have done if their situations had been reversed. Would he have run? He didn’t like to think so.
“If it had been me versus that bear, we’d both be dead now,” Jack said, speaking his thoughts out loud.
Sawyer looked at him, startled by Jack’s words. “Well, good thing it wasn’t you then,“ he said with a grin.
“Aren’t you going to ask me if I would have done the same thing for you?” Jack asked, wondering why he wasn’t leaving the question unasked.
Sawyer let out a surprised laugh. “Come on, you’re always first in line to save folks. You worried about losing your title, hero? Don’t worry, I’m not gonna lay claim to it.” Seeing the hurt look on Jack’s face, he quickly added, shrugging. “You already saved my life once. You don’t need to prove anything to me.”
Jack wanted to protest that that day he had just been doing what he was trained to do, that it was only because of him that Sawyer had been in a position to need saving, but he didn’t want to stir up old resentments. He just nodded. They were nearly back to camp. Just a little farther and they could both rest.
“Oh my God! Dudes!” Hurley was sprinting to catch up with them. “What the hell happened to you?” He took in Sawyer’s bloody and bandaged figure with wide eyes.
“Little run-in with a polar bear,” Sawyer said, out of breath.
“Sawyer killed it,” Jack said proudly.
“No way, dude!” Hurley’s jaw dropped. “You guys look awful,” he added bluntly. “Can I help?”
“Yeah, help him,” Jack and Sawyer said at the same time. They looked at each other and laughed, while an astonished Hurley looked on. “Come on, doc,” Sawyer insisted. “I’m OK to walk on my own.” He stepped away from Jack and nodded at Hurley.
Hurley stepped in, taking over as Jack’s leaning post. He looked over in awe at Sawyer. “Dude, you’ve gotta tell me all about it.”
Sawyer grinned and winced at the same time. “Ain’t much to tell ...” he began.