Summary: Jack and James are both alone on Christmas Eve.
Note: Written for foxxcub for lost_hohoho. She merely requested "Jack and James running into each other," but I had to go and make it a Christmas fic, so if it ends up schmoopy, well, blame the season! This is an AU to the AU since Jack and James are still just two guys who used to go to school together when the fic starts. Huge thanks to eponine119 and uberaeryn for reading over a few versions. Thanks also to inthekeyofd for some very helpful automotive input. And oh yeah, using the "Christmas" prompt for fanfic100. MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
James was the last guy at the garage. Christmas Eve and Rick had already sent everyone else home for the holidays, himself first of all. James didn’t mind. It’s not like he had anywhere special to be, and closing up the shop for the first time by himself was kind of a big deal.
Business was slow anyway, everyone having dealt with their car problems by now, or deciding to go carless for a few days rather than deal with the hassle before Christmas.
So he just had the Jeep’s transmission left to do when he heard a car pull up. He peered around the hood. Two men were getting out of a sleek gray Jag; the driver was a man in his 40s with silver at his temples. Distinguished-looking. Rich. The other guy was tall, but just a kid, he realized when he saw the letterman’s jacket.
James squinted. I know that guy, he thought, noticing the way he slammed the car door too hard, like he either wasn’t used to this car or was really pissed off. Possibly both. And then the name came to him. Shephard. Jack Shephard. Used to go to school with him. Was probably still the star quarterback. Great. Like he needed to see how James ended up. If Shephard even recognized him.
The elder Shephard, a doctor, James seemed to recall, strode forward purposefully while Jack followed behind, hands deep in the pockets of his jacket.
“You’re still working on the Jeep?” Dr. Shephard frowned. “I understood it would be ready by 5.”
James gestured at the open hood. “I don’t know who told you that, but I’m the one working on it and it’s not ready yet. Matter of fact,” he said, glancing at his clock on the wall, “it won’t be done today at all. Sorry. I’ve got to close up shortly and I’m not going to be able to finish this up in time.”
Jack swore under his breath and his father sighed heavily, as if this were the greatest annoyance possible. “Well, this couldn’t be more inconvenient.” He continued to glare at James, as if he were expecting him to magically have it ready in the next five minutes.
He turned to Jack. “I don’t have time to take you home. You can take a cab. Do you have money?“
“Dad!” Jack said, gesturing with his hands, even though they were still in his pockets. There was a faint whine in his voice. “So what am I supposed to do without a car all week? Why can’t you take a cab to work and I’ll take your car?”
His father shook his head sternly. “No, your mother and I will be going straight from the airport to the hospital when we get back. You wouldn’t want her to be without a car, would you?” He paused, weighing the situation while Jack and James stood by uncomfortably. “You really need a car?”
“Yes!” Jack looked like he’d just been asked if he really needed to eat everyday. He was doing his best to pretend James wasn’t there, but his shoulders were hunched in embarrassment. James took a step backward. He really didn’t want to know that Prep’s dad seemed to care more about his damn car than his own kid.
“And you don’t have any loaner cars?” the father was asking.
James stifled a laugh. Not in this dump. Instead, he just shook his head, trying hard to look properly apologetic.
“Alright, then, tell you what,” Dr. Shephard said, reaching in his pocket. “What’s it worth to you to finish it tonight?” He fished out a $100 bill and held it up in front of James, who just looked at it, then at Jack, who looked embarrassed at his dad’s waving money around.
The doctor misread his hesitation. “OK, $200,” he said, adding another crisp $100. “$200 to finish it tonight. Alright?”
Shephard could probably rent a car for a week for less than that, but James could use that money, and really, he didn’t have anywhere else to be. Was just going to head home and get some dinner and watch TV. “OK,” he nodded, reaching for the bills. “Might be a while,” he jerked his head toward Jack as he tucked the money into the pocket of his coveralls.
“That’s alright,” Jack said. He seemed anxious for his father to leave and James really couldn’t blame him.
“Good,” the doctor gave a tight, satisfied smile. “See you later,” he said to Jack who just nodded as he got into the car and drove off. “Watch the drinking, OK?”
Jack flushed and nodded. He continued standing there awkwardly after his father left. He turned, weighing James carefully, a warning in those dark eyes of his, like maybe he knew James was feeling sorry for him.
“Didn’t you used to go to Harris?”
Great, here it was. “Yeah. Now I don’t.”
Stung by James’s tone, Jack’s eyes narrowed. “Got somewhere I can wait?”
“In there,” James indicated the office. “Heater’s broke, though.”
Jack shrugged and headed for the office.
Good. He wasn’t up for chitchat with the Golden Boy anyway. He turned back to the Jeep reluctantly. He’d been looking forward to quitting time. This was probably going to take another hour or more and God knows what time he was going to get some dinner now. But it wasn't like he hadn’t worked through meals before. No big deal.
He glanced over at the office. Shephard was sitting at the desk, feet propped up like he owned the place. Figured. No wonder the guy had a sense of entitlement, if he and his dad went around buying people off everyday to get what they wanted.
He turned back to the engine and tried to forget about Mr. Star Quarterback, but after 20 minutes he found himself checking on him. Not sure it was OK, him being in the office by himself and all.
Shephard looked bored as hell, fidgeting like crazy and staring out the window. At least he wasn’t watching him. James hated it when people watched him work.
Jack took something out of his inner jacket pocket and tipped it up to his lips. Watch the drinking. Yeah, right. Prep carried a flask around. He always knew Shephard liked to party, but a fuckin’ flask? James had only ever seen one in the movies.
He caught James looking and he flushed but he didn’t hide the flask. “I’m cold, OK?” he said, instantly on the defensive. “You weren’t kidding about that heater. It’s the same temperature in here as outside.”
James shrugged and busied himself under the hood again. He couldn’t get the throttle just right. “Hey,” he called to Jack, who guiltily dropped the Playboy magazine he’d found. James had to fight back a laugh. Junior was no angel. He liked him a little more already.
“Need your help. C’mere a sec.”
“OK,” Jack unfolded to his full height and stretched, like he was coming off the bench. His jacket and T-shirt underneath rode up, as he stretched his arms, exposing a flash of taut stomach and a dark line of hair disappearing into his jeans. The kind of moment best enjoyed by one of the many adoring females of Harris High who used to giggle and elbow each other in the hallway when Jack walked past, but completely wasted on James, who just stood there, waiting for him to finish.
”What do you need?” Jack walked over to him and stood there expectantly, waiting to be told what to do. Something in the way Jack talked to him seemed different. Maybe it was a few belts of booze -- whiskey, he thought, by his breath -- or that he felt out of his element here, but he seemed almost deferential now. Maybe he was just less of a jerk without that hardass around.
“Need you to rev the engine.”
“OK.” Jack ducked his head and got behind the wheel.
“When I say, floor it. Good. Stop.” There, he almost had it. “OK, again.”
He had Jack do it a few more times, and the guy actually was helpful. Followed his instructions, at least. That was something.
“Got it!” he finally said, triumphant.
“So, are you done?” Jack asked, brightening, stepping out of the Jeep. He walked over to James’s side, peering at the engine along with him.
“Nope, not quite yet.” He jerked up his head when he heard the flick of a lighter. “What the fuck are you doin’? You can’t smoke in here.”
”What’s the big deal?” Jack shrugged, taking in a deep drag. “You smoke.”
“Yeah, not around engines, OK, genius? You want to take it outside?”
“Sure.” Jack shrugged, the open friendliness of a few moments ago fading like it had never been there. He strode a few feet past the garage door and threw his arms out exaggeratedly. “Happy?”
”Yeah. Ecstatic.” James rolled his eyes. Idiot. Funny that Jack had him pegged as a smoker. He shrugged. Guys were always hitting him up for a light or a smoke. He just looked like a smoker. It’s not like Jack would have really known that about him.
“Your dad know about all your vices?” He threw the question out before he had really decided to ask it.
“No.” He wasn’t sure if Jack was annoyed or amused. His head was down. “Your tell your dad everything?” He looked up as he said it, and dammit, he was laughing at him. Fuck, did he know that too? No way he could, right?
“None of your goddamn business,” James snapped, glad for the flash of hurt on Jack’s face.
Goddamn nosy prep jerk, he fumed, slamming the hood down. It was his own fault, for mentioning Jack’s dad first. Had to be a sore subject for him too, just ... He gulped in a deep breath, tried to let it go. You think he’d be used to casual questions. Happened sometimes, a stranger asking about his parents, people who couldn’t possibly know. Didn’t stop that flush of anger, though, that helpless feeling of rage that shot through him, stopping time for just that split-second that let people see just how much he minded the question.
He was rushing to finish now, eager to go home, get drunk himself. Rushing, so he didn’t notice he hadn’t set the strut holding up the hood quite right when he’d raised it again. He saw the hood start to fall out of the corner of his eye, and he jumped back. Knew better than to get his hands in there to try to hold it, but he didn’t jump fast enough. The edge of the hood clipped him, hit him full on the temple. The pain exploded in his head, sharp and hot, and he didn’t know if he yelled or swore but as he was still reeling from it, Jack was already at his side.
“Fuck, are you OK? James. James?! Where’s your first aid kit?”
“Over there... I think.” James gestured vaguely with his left hand, his right covering his head. Blood was streaming into his eyes and his stomach lurched, nausea already setting in.
“Come here, let me see,” Jack was back with the kit and trying to pry James’s hand away from his head. He took his head in his hands, peering intently at the wound. “It looks worse than it is, I think. Head wounds bleed a lot.”
“You a doctor too?” James groused. He felt lightheaded, like some girl, like he might pass out. He tried to grab the kit from Jack’s hand, do it himself.
“Hey. Let me. Your hands are filthy.”
He finally gave in, let Jack fuss over him, dab at the cut with a paper towel. He stared up at the ceiling, trying not to make eye contact with Jack’s face just inches from his own.
Jack was standing so close as he put on the bandage, he could smell the guy’s aftershave even over the scent of his own blood and the fumes of the garage. His hands were cold, but James could feel the warmth coming off him and for a second, just when standing started to feel like some kind of Olympic challenge, he almost leaned into him.
“You got it?” he asked, suddenly anxious for Jack to finish up and step back to a normal distance. “I gotta sit down.”
“Here, the office,” Jack urged, trying to take him by the elbow.
James had sense enough to shrug him off. “I’m not fuckin’ crippled, alright?”
He eased into the chair behind the desk gratefully.
“You should go to the emergency room. Get that checked out. Probably need some stitches,” Jack was saying. The guy was still hovering too damn close for James’s comfort.
“I’m not payin’ for any damn ambulance,” James muttered, leaning over the desk and fighting back the nausea.
“Don’t need to. You’ve got a car? I can drive you.”
“You said it wasn’t that bad, right? I don’t need a hospital.”
“Well, you should get that looked at. Pretty close to your eye and all.” Jack gestured to his own temple. He actually looked worried, like he cared whether James lost an eye or not.
“Well, you want to pay for that too, Prep?” he snapped. “Cause I don’t exactly have any insurance.”
“Look, I know people at the hospital. Maybe we can work something out.”
James never agreed to it, really, but somehow Jack had talked him out of the keys to his truck and was driving him to the hospital. He half expected him to drop him off at this emergency room and call a cab or something but he hung around. His being the son of one of their top surgeons didn’t carry enough weight in the emergency room, though, not enough to put him at the top of the must-see list. Seems every idiot picked Christmas Eve to get well and truly fucked up.
They’d been waiting half an hour already and the throbbing in James’s head was just getting worse and the bandage was long since soaked through. He must look a sight.
“Can’t I get a fuckin’ aspirin at least?” he groaned to the room at large.
A heavyset Hispanic woman with two hyperactive children glared in his direction.
“Well excuse the fuck out of me. I’m fuckin’ injured here.”
For some reason, this set Jack off into a fit of giggles, the kind he’d never expected to come from someone as big and tall as all that.
“You laugh like a girl, Shephard,” James would have shaken his head but that was out of the question, so he contented himself with glaring.
“Here. I’ve got an aspirin for you.” Jack was still laughing as he handed James the flask. “Wash it down with this.”
James pretended to swallow a pill, then took a healthy swig of whiskey. “Best medicine,” he sighed with appreciation. They took turns drinking, cruelly dissecting the denizens of the waiting room and what each was here for.
“Lightbulb up the ass, mos’ likely,” James’s words were starting to slur as he pointed to a thin, elderly man who was perched on the edge of his seat.
That got Jack going again. He was laughing so hard he was practically crying. He fell against James, playfully shoving at him. “Stop!” he finally gasped. “My sides hurt.”
”Well, looks like I’ll be here all night, so...” he grinned and tipped up the flask, disappointed when he got nothing more than few drops. “’s empty,” he pointed out sadly.
“FORD.” A woman with a clipboard called his name finally. Jack helped him up, which really wasn’t necessary and offered to hold his hand while he got stitches -- six of them -- which only had James swearing at him and calling him a fucking pansy.
He didn’t want Jack to see him get stitched up, worried he might end up crying or something equally embarrassing, but he didn’t and it was all OK. Didn’t even hurt that much.
It was about 10:30 by the time they finally got out of there. Jack insisted on driving him home. He wasn’t too keen on having Golden Boy here see where he lived, but he didn’t really see any way around it.
“Or, you know,” Jack began as they left the lot. Already he was driving the truck like it was his, a loose, easy grip on the wheel. He didn’t look at James as he talked, just straight ahead, his tone casual. “I was going to go to a party tonight but, you know, fuck it. So, I think I'm just going to kick back at home. We’ve got tons of food. My dad’s got a great bar. I kind of feel like I owe you dinner at least.”
“Yeah, how do you figure that?” James ran over Jack’s invitation in his head, tried to figure out what he meant by it. Sharing a flask and a few jokes didn’t exactly make them best friends.
Jack shot him a look. “Well, I made you work past dinner. And then ...” he stopped, clearly deciding whether to say what was on his mind. He started talking again but his voice changed, got softer. “I guess I hit a nerve when I asked you about your dad. I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m sorry if that was out of line.”
James waited for that feeling to hit him again at the mention of his father, but the automatic flash of anger was softened by the whiskey. Or he was just tired. “You don’t need to go out of your way for me,” was all he said. He gave Jack his address, and he drove him home in silence, since the radio was broken.
“So, can I come in and call a cab?” Jack asked when they got there. He slammed the heavy door hard, like he drove the truck all the time.
“Sure. If you don’t mind all the urban squalor.” James really just wanted to crawl into bed with a beer but he wasn’t going to fold until Shephard was on his way back home.
Jack grinned knowingly. “Ha. You should see my room.”
“What, you don’t have a maid?”
“Well, yeah, but you have to clean before she gets there.”
“Then what’s the fuckin’ point? Keys.” Jack tossed him the keys and he fumbled for the house key in the dark.
“Well, so she won’t think I’m a complete slob,” Jack laughed.
“Never understand you rich folks,” James said, unlocking the front door. “I had a maid, I’d never lift a finger ‘round home again.”
He flicked on the light, revealing a small, cluttered living room that was just as bad as he’d promised. A pizza box sat out on the coffee table and beer cans littered the floor. Half-folded laundry covered the couch and a stack of mail and magazines claimed one of the armchairs.
“Wow. You live alone?”
“Mostly,” James shrugged. “Aunt’s visiting her sick brother in Phoenix.”
He saw Jack process the “aunt” part of the equation, knew he’d add that up to come up with “Poor Little Orphan James.” He didn’t say anything though, just nodded.
“Yeah. On my own this year too. Better that way, really. My parents wanted to go skiing and being on vacation with them is just 24/7 nagging, you know?” He winced then and James could see him realizing that he might not know about parents, nagging or otherwise.
Maybe that was how Junior liked it, knocking around that big Beverly Hills mansion on his own. But James knew a lie when he heard it, knew that urge to stop people from feeling sorry for you. Better to make someone think you were an asshole or a fuckup than see that look in their eyes.
“Phone’s in the kitchen,” James said over his shoulder as he led the way. He opened the fridge, took out a beer, then grabbed a second one. “Hey,” he held one out to Jack. “You didn’t get dinner either. I think I’ve got a frozen pizza in here somewhere.”
Jack took the beer and popped off the lid. “Thanks. Sure.”
But there wasn’t anything in the freezer, so they ended up ordering from Domino’s. He thought Jack would want some fancy shit on his pizza, but they agreed on plain pepperoni.
James cleared away the couch and they watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the small black-and-white TV while they waited, quietly drinking their beers. Jack draped his jacket over the arm of the couch and slumped low on the couch, like James was.
When the pizza finally got there, Jack paid before James could stop him and they devoured it in silence, washing it down with a few more beers. The reception on the old set was so bad that when Jimmy Stewart exclaimed, “It’s snowing!” James snorted. “Yeah, you just noticed, Einstein?”
Jack gave an appreciative chuckle and James snuck a sidelong glance at him. It was weird, having Jack Shephard in his house. Good thing he had a buzz going already, or he would have made him nervous. “You’re not as big a prick as I thought,” he said without thinking.
Jack’s mouth fell open but then he fell into another fit of giggles. “God, you are drunk. Well, I always heard you were a first class asshole, myself. Getting in fights all the time. Weren’t you expelled?”
James shrugged. “Yeah. Once. Or twice. ” His forehead wrinkled in concentration. “Only once, I think.”
“Yeah, that’s catnip to chicks,” Jack smiled, downing the rest of his beer and crunching the can before tossing it across the room. “Girls always love a bad boy, don’t they? Man, you must have been swimming in it.”
“Me? Huh, I guess.” The room felt oddly close. “I thought they all went for the Golden Boy who can throw money around and toss a football like some fuckin’ pro.”
“So you telling me you never get any?” Jack’s head tilted back, eyebrows disappearing under his bangs, like James was trying to hand him a line of bull.
“No. Fuck, no. I’m just saying, you got more to offer a girl, that’s all.”
“What do you mean more to offer?” Jack sounded kind of belligerent now, as if being complimented pissed him off. “You mean money? Who cares about that? What else do you need to get a girl into bed besides those killer dimples, you shittin’ me? Man, I’ve seen you. All you have to do is light a cigarette or toss your hair and the girls just fuckin’ lose it.”
He flushed, thinking of Jack Shephard watching some girl watch him. Was he really jealous? Of him? The conversation had taken a turn somewhere along the way and left him behind. “Fuck, Shephard, you’ve got it made for life. You’re loaded.”
Jack made a dismissive noise and shook his head.
James took another swig of beer, eyes on the TV. The whole cast burst into “Auld Lang Syne” while Jimmy Stewart looked like he was going to start crying. Again.
Fuckin’ better lookin’ than me, too, he thought, glancing at Jack, sprawled next to him. But guys didn’t say that kind of thing to each other. So why did he keep noticing how often Jack looked over at him, instead of at the TV, how his drinking got sloppier and his tongue kept darting out to catch the beer spilling over his lips?
“C’mon.” He punched Jack in the arm, harder than he meant to. “You’ve got that jock thing going on. Man, I’d kill for your shoulders, and that arm of yours.”
He hadn’t even realized it, but their legs were brushing against each other now. Should have worried him, but it didn’t. Didn’t even worry him when Jack’s fingers grazed his face, tracing the skin on either side of his mouth.
He leaned closer to James. Whispered the next words in his ear. “You’re walking sex, don’t you know that, James?”
He held his breath as Jack’s fingers brushed over his face, across his lips. Fuck. FUCK. For a second, he panicked, thinking he should shove Jack off of him, but then the second passed and Jack’s mouth had taken the place of his fingers and James’s beer can fell from his hand and his hands were in Jack’s hair, pulling him closer.
Jack’s tongue slipped inside James’s mouth and he groaned, like he’d been waiting all night to do it. Maybe longer. He had James pinned under him now, pressing him into the sofa cushions and James felt like he couldn’t breathe, his heart was pounding like crazy and Jack was so damn heavy.
And hard. He could feel him, that hardness against his thigh and his own body answered as Jack slowly eased over that last little bit, until his cock was flush with his. There wasn’t anything tentative about him. Jack was trying to devour him, his mouth forcing James’s open wider, thumb pressed hard against the pulse point in his throat, like he was monitoring the effect he was having on him. James flushed at the friction Jack was causing, his heart going faster just because Jack was getting off on making his heart go faster.
Jack nudged his knee between James’s legs, his hand running along the seam of his jeans. “What’re you doin’?’ James asked, even while he helped Jack tug at the buttons of his fly.
“What’s it fuckin’ look like?” Jack’s voice had taken on a low growl that had him almost as hard as the hand that slipped into his shorts.
James’s head fell back and he arched into Jack’s touch, gasping. He wasn’t breathing air, wasn’t breathing at all. Unless maybe Jack was breathing for him, his mouth hovering an inch from his, moaning when he moaned, urging him on with words that made no sense. Jack was just this heat above him, ragged noises and the rough feel of his hand and the rasp of his tongue over his lips as he drove him closer to the edge.
No girl had ever touched him like this. Not like ... Christ! A strangled whimper was all he could manage through clenched teeth as he came over Jack’s hand, his whole body jerking hard, white lights sparking behind his eyes.
Jack was kissing him again, thumb rubbing roughly over that same spot on his neck, like he was the only one to ever touch James there.
His breath back, James reached for him now, but Jack sat back, grinning as he nipped at his lower lip. He pulled his shirt over his head, staying maddeningly just out of James’s grasp. So James went for his jeans, jerking them down his hips and Jack actually fought him on that and then fucking God, Jack was nearly naked on top of him, eyes shut tight and swearing as he rocked into James’s grip with enough force to knock James’s head back into the lamp on the end table. He was half laughing, half groaning as he came, collapsing heavily onto James. He skin was hot and wet and he was kind of trembling in his arms and James halfheartedly tried to get him off but he was just too fuckin’ tired, so he gave up.
He woke once, in the middle of the night. “Fuck. I forgot to close the shop!” he cried, trying to get up, get dressed, go fix things.
“s’ OK,” Jack mumbled. “’s locked up. ‘Member? I helped you.”
“Yeah?” He let himself be coaxed back down, back into sleep.
The morning sun was too bright. Too fuckin’ bright for L.A. in December. He sat up, rubbing his eyes because they were so dry they hurt. He winced at the brightness, at the sharp pain in his head. Flashes of the night before came back to him, heat and groans and Jack fuckin’ Shephard and he put his head in his hands.
At least the guy was gone. Must have called a cab and snuck out early.
He slowly got up, hand out to steady himself as he navigated from the couch to the chair to the front door. Fuck. His truck was gone. Prep was a goddamn thief. And a drunk. And a fag, apparently. And about to be really fucking DEAD once James got his hands on him.
He was going to get right on that, just as soon as he got some more sleep.
The door slamming brought him round again. Jack stood there with a big, apologetic smile on his face, holding a heavy-looking paper bag. “Hey, didn’t mean to wake you.”
“And just where the hell did you go with my truck, you sorry motherfuckin’ jackass?”
“Store.” Jack shrugged, not put off by the name calling. “Your kitchen is kind of a new low in bachelor living.”
He headed for the kitchen while James followed after a few minutes, grumbling about people moving in and making themselves at home.
“What the fuck is that?” he asked, pointing at two glasses out on the counter.
“Bloody Mary,” Jack said, like he was an idiot for not recognizing it. “Best thing for a hangover.” He handed James one.
He eyed it suspiciously. “What’s this in here, a fuckin’ salad?”
“Celery, dumbass. It’s good for you,” he said between crunches of his own celery stalk. “Plus,” he added, “it’s red and green and it’s fucking Christmas and you didn’t have any decorations so ... Cheers.” He clinked his glass against Jack’s, who just stared at him.
“You’re really fuckin’ strange, you know that, Prep?” He took a sip and made a face, even though it actually tasted pretty damn good.
Jack just laughed and leaned back against the counter. He didn’t even look hungover, the bastard.
“Merry Fucking Christmas,” James grumbled.