Title: Night Fall
Chapter 9: Lush Life
Author:halfdutch. Story by foxxcub and halfdutch
Summary: Kate recalls what happened at Lucky's -- or almost everything
Notes: This is an AU, set in Los Angeles in 1952. Sawyer and Jack are detectives, both in love with Kate. Claiming for fanfic100 prompt "Sunset."
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7
The night before ...
It had been far too long since Kate had driven herself anywhere. Tonight, she took such pleasure in guiding the big blue Caddy down the sharp curves of Laurel Canyon that she sang along with Dinah Washington on the radio. I’m a fool to want you, such a fool to hold you, to seek a kiss not mine alone...
Although where Dinah was blue, she was positively giddy to have ditched Sawyer. She wondered how long he would wait for her at the house before he checked to see if her car was in the garage. She pictured his growing impatience turning to panic and then to anger.
She had found herself goading him more and more lately, trying to break that smooth facade he always sported around her. She saw him joke easily with Jack or even people he’d just met. His face would light up with a sly smile and there was that spark in his eyes that he’d had when they first met. A spark that went out when he had gone to work for her father.
He was always so serious with her, even calling her “Miss Locke.” Which was ridiculous. So she’d call him James at every opportunity, delighting in ordering him to take her home with an airy “Home, James.” It was a joke, the stupidest of jokes, really, but he’d always just nod and turn the car back in the direction of the huge house at the top of the canyon. She’d catch his eyes on her in the rearview mirror, but when she’d smile at him, his gaze would suddenly snap back to the road.
Sometimes she would brush against him as he held the door open for her, and she swore she felt him hold his breath. But that was all. And she had had enough. Enough of the silent, respectful Sawyer who followed her around but whose mind was always a million miles away. Let him miss her. Let him panic. Let him grab her and yell how angry she made him. At least that would be something.
It only took a few minutes to reach Sunset Blvd. All of Los Angeles was spread out before her. The lights of the city twinkled like a Christmas tree. “I’ll take it,” she smiled to herself. It was just dusk, with the red and green of the traffic lights glowing like neon against the cobalt blue sky. It was Kate’s favorite time of night. Traffic was light. It was still early and the cars hadn’t clogged The Strip yet.
She pulled up to the valet station at Lucky’s and a young man hopped to open her door. “Evenin’ miss,” the red-jacketed valet said crisply as he presented her with a ticket stub. “I won’t have any trouble remembering which car is yours,” he added boldly.
She looked at him more closely. He was on the young side, but handsome, with wavy black hair. “Oh?” she asked, inviting him to flirt just a little more. She could use it.
“Your dress matches your car,” he said, indicating her light blue satin cocktail dress. It was cut low and flared out in a full skirt. If she ever danced, it would be the perfect dress for it.
“I guess it does,” she laughed, and swept into the club. If Sawyer had been with her, the valet would never have dared to flirt with her like that. She was going to have fun tonight, she could tell.
Most of the patrons usually clustered closer to the stage, but Kate liked it at the bar. She didn’t come for the music anyway. She eyed the poster announcing tonight’s entertainment: a rather bland-looking blonde named Shannon who probably hadn't been hired for her singing abilities.
She sidled up to the bar and parked herself on a stool.
“Your usual?” asked the bartender, who never cut her off and knew when to call a cab for her. She liked him.
“Yeah, thanks, Michael,” Kate said with a smile as she pulled out her cigarette case and tapped a cigarette on the counter. She took a matchbook from the counter, struck a match and lit up. One of these days she really had to get a lighter. Except that she so rarely had to light her own cigarette. That’s one thing Sawyer would do for her. Maybe that’s why she smoked so damn much.
“Where’s your shadow tonight?” Michael asked as he placed a stiff whiskey and soda in front of her.
“Guess I must have lost him,” she said, taking that first, satisfying sip of her drink. The liquor tasted good as it hit her tongue, even better as she felt the warmth spread down her throat and into her stomach. She probably should have eaten something before she came. Well, she could afford a cab ride. She could buy the damn cab if she wanted.
Her thoughts turned to Sawyer again. Her good mood seemed to dissolve into her drink. She wasn’t happy about trying to make him mad. She just wanted to know he felt something for her -- even if it was just contempt. So she provoked him and hated herself for it.
It would be so easy to use Jack to make Sawyer jealous. Except she couldn’t be that cruel to either one of them, or to herself. In a perfect world, she’d be with Jack, and if she ever turned to him, she could never turn away.
She knew how Jack felt about her. Every time she saw him he radiated that hopeless love for her and she ached to tell him that she thought of him so often.
On sleepless nights, she’d imagine his arms around her and remember how it felt to have him in her bed. And she’d rewrite the script, where she’d never sent him away that night and that he’d never left her side.
She’d marry Jack and he’d be so very good for her. He’d get up in the morning and make her eggs and he’d take her dancing and he’d hold her so tight, her feet would barely touch the floor. And they’d make love and she would fall asleep in his strong arms and feel completely safe and loved.
And maybe he would have nightmares from the war still, and she would whisper soothing things in his ear and rub his forehead until he fell back asleep. And they’d have children -- two or three -- and he would be the most devoted father and she would have everything she always wanted. And she would quit drinking.
It was a dream that could never come true, for so many reasons. If she had met Jack before Sawyer, maybe she would have run to him and not cared what her father thought. But she had met Sawyer first, and after that there couldn’t be anyone else.
She didn’t daydream about Sawyer the way she did about Jack. She couldn’t imagine a life with him -- or without him. He just was part of her, so deep inside her she didn’t dare to admit to herself how much she wanted him.
They were locked into this life, side by side, never touching, barely speaking, until she wanted to scream or slash her wrists or just finally kiss him already and damn the consequences.
If only Sawyer gave her the smallest hint that he wanted her, she would throw everything away to be with him. But every day he seemed to slip farther away from her and her world got darker and darker. And always there was Jack, shining like a beacon of goodness, waiting for her, if only she could let herself love him.
So she did nothing about either one of them, except try to drink them out of her head and her heart and to fail miserably at it.
Kate was on her third drink when the official entertainment began. She couldn’t be bothered to turn around and watch the show.
The bartender had gotten busy with the other patrons and Kate was suddenly wishing she had someone to talk to. She put another cigarette to her lips and like magic, a hand was at her elbow, offering her a light. She put her cigarette tip to the flame and inhaled before she took in the owner of the expensive-looking silver lighter.
He was young and handsome, with shockingly blue eyes underneath dark, bushy eyebrows. The effect was startling, making his eyes pop almost as if he were wearing makeup. He was dressed in a dark suit that was tailored expertly to his slim build. He gave her a crooked grin. “Hello Kate. That’s some dress, if I may say so.”
She blew smoke in his face and he just smiled and took it. “Do I know you?” she asked coolly, ignoring the compliment.
“You might, Kate” he said, again, and she didn’t much like the way he kept saying her name. “I know your father, slightly.” He held out his hand. “Boone Carlisle. Call me Boone.”
Now she placed him. She had seen him around with her father, although she had no idea what business they had together.
And the next thing she knew, he was sitting on the stool next to her. “I just can’t let a beautiful lady like you drink all alone. Do you mind the company?” he asked.
She considered this and finally said, “No.”
He waved down Michael with a hundred dollar bill. “The lady’s drinks are on me,” he said and Michael took the bill and nodded. “Keep the change,” Boone added and Michael gave him a polite smile, one in keeping with the dignified tone of the club and its high-class clientele.
Suddenly Kate wished she had gone to some dive instead. She thought nostalgically of The Liar’s Club. And Sawyer.
But he wasn't here, and this handsome stranger was. And he was making her laugh, making her forget about everything else. She leaned in toward him, encouraging his closeness, letting him know he could make the first move. She didn't belong to anyone; she was free to flirt with any man she liked, even if was just an empty exercise.
And then some sixth sense told her to look up and there was Sawyer, glowering at her from the other end of the bar. Guilt swept over her. He must be furious. He was going to come down here and grab her by the arm and haul her out and then give her the talking-to of a lifetime.
She dropped her eyes and leaned closer to Boone before he registered her distress over seeing Sawyer. She was having fun. She was having the best time -- or she would seem to be when Sawyer came to get her.
But he didn't come to get her. He just stayed where he was, drinking and frowning.
He hates me she thought, feeling the heat of his anger even across the room. I’ve finally done it, he really hates me now. And part of her felt truly free for the first time in years.
She moved closer to Boone, trying to lose herself in those stunning blue eyes. She ran her hands through his hair, kissing his cheek, fully aware of Sawyer's eyes on her. Maybe it didn't hurt him to see this, but she wanted it to. She wanted it to sting like crazy.
"Why don't we go somewhere more private," Boone said, his voice low and husky. "Have you ever been in the V.I.P. room here?”
“No, I haven’t,” Kate said, feeling suddenly that she didn't want to be alone with him. Something warned her against him. She couldn’t say why, exactly. If only Sawyer had come to claim her. Instead he left her with Boone, acting like he didn’t care. He doesn’t care, he doesn’t care, she thought wildly, and the thought made her reckless. She had nothing to lose.
“I’d love to go the V.I.P. room,” Kate announced brightly, putting on her most seductive smile.