Summary: (Cheesy announcer voice): Jack realizes his true feelings for Sawyer
Rating: Sadly, still PG
Note: You’re not going to even read this chapter are you? Because all the smut’s in the next one. I don’t know why I bothered! ;-> Well, after you read the smutty one, maybe come back and read this, for closure’s sake.
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Jack walked as fast as he could down to Sawyer’s tent at the beach, imagining what he’d find there. Either Sawyer would be just fine and would scowl and tell him to fuck off in no uncertain terms, or he’d have downed the whole bottle of pills and then his swearing days would be over for good. Jack didn’t want to think about the second option, didn’t want to picture Sawyer’s body lying still and growing colder by the second.
How long was it since Sawyer had stormed off? Four or five hours, at least, Jack figured. Time enough for Sawyer to be in bad shape, beyond Jack’s ability to help him.
Walking through the sand, at night, with a bad foot wasn’t exactly easy going and Jack was doing some swearing of his own by the time he got to Sawyer’s.
He paused for a moment before going in, afraid of what he’d find. He took a deep breath and then opened the flap and looked inside. The tent was empty. It was only then that Jack really started to panic. If Sawyer wasn’t here, he could be anywhere. “Sawyer!” Jack called, knowing somehow that Sawyer wouldn’t hear him. There was no answer.
Jack thought of Kate. Maybe, just maybe, Sawyer was with her. As Jack hobbled toward Kate’s tent, he told himself that even if the two of them were in there fucking, he would feel nothing but relief. Except what he was really telling himself was that Kate wouldn’t throw herself at Sawyer in the same day she had just slept with him, and that Sawyer was in no shape for ... well, anything.
“Kate?” he said softly outside her tent. When there was no answer, he repeated her name, louder this time.
“Jack?” she asked, poking her head out. “What is it?” she regarded him warily, her arms crossed.
He skipped all formalities. “Is Sawyer here?”
“No,” she said slowly, giving him a puzzled look. “Why would he be?”
“Because he’s not at his tent,” Jack sighed. “I don’t know where he is.”
“And you can’t leave him alone for a second, can you?” she said, shaking her head. “You’re just proving my point, you know.”
“He’s missing and he took a bottle of sedatives with him,” Jack said hastily, not bothering to respond to her ridiculous theories.
“That doesn’t mean he ... Jack, you don’t really think...?” Kate said, starting to match his level of concern.
“I don’t know what to think, but he was really upset when he left. And he’s not exactly the most cautious of men.”
Kate smiled at that. “No, he sure isn’t. Oh, Jack,” she said, her hostility melting into sympathy. ”I’ll help you find him.”
“Thanks,” he said, returning her smile. “It is hard for me get around.”
“I’ll go get Locke,” she said. “Between us, we’ll find him. Why don’t you stay here? If we find him, we’ll bring him back here.”
“I’ll wait at Sawyer’s tent,” Jack said, glad he had brought his medical bag with him.
“It’ll be OK, Jack,” Kate said, pulling on a sweatshirt. She gave him a quick hug and then brushed his cheek with her lips. “He’ll be fine,” she whispered in his ear.
Jack nodded. He wished he were here to talk about what had happened between them today, but there wasn’t time for that now.
It had started to rain by the time they set out, Kate and Sayid on one search team, Locke and Boone on the other. Sayid’s leg still wasn’t fully recovered, but he could move faster than Jack and he wouldn’t hear of Kate going off alone into the jungle. Kate and Sayid picked their way along slowly, calling Sawyer’s name at intervals.
“Over there,” Locke called. “That could be him.” He and Boone approached the crumpled mass on the ground. It was Sawyer. Locke knelt down and turned him over onto his back. He flopped over easily. He looked like a drowned cat, his face covered in mud, his hair matted to his head, his clothes soaking wet. He didn’t respond when Locke shook him.
“Well, he’s alive, at least” Locke said with some satisfaction after checking his pulse.
Boone grunted at him. “Great, so he can live to harass Jack or someone else another day. You know, if he wants to die so badly, maybe we should just leave him out here.”
“You don’t mean that, Boone,” Locke said, gently reproving him.
“Maybe I do,” Boone said stubbornly. “He cut Jack! He’s like a wild animal. He’ll turn on anyone.”
“Animals only do that when they’ve been hurt badly,” Locke said firmly. “And you wouldn’t have come along if you really believed that about him.”
“Come on, let’s get him back,” Locke said.
They hoisted him up, staggering a bit under the dead weight.
As the minutes turned into hours, Jack wished he had gone on the search too. Just sitting here waiting was infinitely worse.
To take his mind off the mental image of Sawyer lying dead somewhere, he decided to poke around Sawyer’s tent. He didn’t expect to find anything that would reflect Sawyer himself. It’s not like any of them had a wealth of personal items that had survived the crash. Walking into someone’s campsite was hardly the equivalent of visiting their real home and being able to discern who they were by the books on their shelf or their taste in paintings. All he could see that seemed like Sawyer’s own stuff was his clothes; jeans and T-shirts surprisingly neatly folded in a corner.
He found himself wondering what Sawyer had been doing in Australia, what he had brought with him on the plane. From what little he knew of Sawyer now, he figured he traveled light. He seemed rootless, someone who wouldn’t have a lot of possessions tying him down, which made it all the more ironic that he had chosen to become a hoarder here on the island. Surely things didn’t mean much to a man like Sawyer.
And then he wondered what did matter to Sawyer. His twisted sense of pride, that mattered. That ruthless code of his of never needing anyone else. Jack had met men and women like Sawyer, people who had been so badly burned by life that their capacity to trust was lost forever. It killed Jack that that was probably true of Sawyer.
Sure, Jack had his own trust issues. Unbelievably, right now he would have trusted Sawyer more than Kate. He always felt Kate was playing a game with him, that half the time she was lying to him. Sawyer was just ... unavailable. If he lied, it seemed like self-protection, not manipulation.
Jack thought over Kate’s words. “You’re in love with Sawyer.” She was clearly just jealous of how much time he’d been spending with him. He had to admit he was intrigued by Sawyer. He wanted to figure out what made him tick, wanted to help him out of that hard, bitter shell.
But love? Hardly! Jack tried not to think what he’d do if Sawyer were dead, how he’d feel if ...
“Jack!” Locke was calling to him. He walked out of the tent and saw them carrying Sawyer. His heart settled somewhere in his abdomen and threatened to keep going past his toes.
“Bring him in here,” Jack said, snapping into doctor mode.
Locke and Boone shifted Sawyer onto his airplane seat and Jack waited impatiently for them to step aside. He leaned over Sawyer, taking his pulse, looking into his eyes. His pulse was weak but steady, the pupils reactive, and Jack sat back with a sigh of relief.
He didn’t like that Sawyer was so cold. Or that he’d been out in the rain for so long. He absentmindedly brushed Sawyer’s wet hair out of his eyes.
“I can’t tell how many pills he took but I think he’ll be OK. Now I just need to get him warm. And cleaned up,” Jack said to Locke and Boone, who were hovering behind him.
“What can we do?” Locke asked.
“If you can find any extra blankets, that would be great,” Jack said. He turned and looked at them both. “Thank you for finding him.”
Locke nodded and Boone shrugged, shifting his weight awkwardly. Jack noted his less than enthusiastic response, but chose to ignore it. Maybe if it were put to a group vote, they would have just left Sawyer out there to die, it occurred to Jack, and the thought made him sick.
After Locke and Boone left, Jack set to work peeling off Sawyer’s dirty, wet clothes. He’d already put aside a clean shirt and pair of jeans for him and he swapped out his boxers and jeans. What would Kate say about that, he wondered with a wry smile as he admitted that Sawyer had a very nice body.
He didn’t put a new shirt on him until he had cleaned and redressed Sawyer’s bear-inflicted wounds. Sawyer’s skin was clammy to the touch and Jack wished desperately he had him in a modern hospital with all the equipment of an emergency room at his disposal. Saline, heating pads, stomach pump; he could have used all of it and more.
He cleaned him up as best he could and laid his blanket on top of him. He marveled at how much dirt Sawyer had managed to get under his nails. It was like he’d been digging with them. Jack pictured Sawyer crawling on his hands before he’d passed out and it made his stomach knot.
Did he mean to kill himself? Jack wondered, feeling raw just thinking about it.
Watching Sawyer lie there so still and helpless was chilling. He’d told the others he thought Sawyer would be OK, but he couldn’t be sure. He took Sawyer’s hand in his, rubbing it to warm it up. And why was he suddenly thinking that if he kissed Sawyer now, he would wake up and smile at him and everything would be all right?
“Oh, God,” he thought. Was Kate right? He did want to kiss Sawyer. He stared, fascinated at the curve of his lips, at his strong jaw line, at that face that had gradually come to mean so much to him. “This isn’t possible,” he told himself sternly.
But why did he feel as if his world would end now if Sawyer didn’t make it? Why did he think that if some angel with a flaming sword suddenly appeared and demanded his life in exchange for Sawyer’s, he would gladly agree? This feeling went far beyond a doctor’s concern, he admitted to himself. And if Sawyer did recover? What then? He would hardly return Jack’s feelings. He’d be after Kate again, quick as a flash, leaving him ....
“Here are those extra blankets,” Locke said, interrupting Jack’s train of thought.
“Thanks,” Jack said briskly, getting up to take them. “I’ll just stay here and keep watch,” he said.
Locke nodded and Jack had the feeling he could see more than he was letting on. “He’s lucky to have you in his corner,” was all he said, and then he was gone.
Jack flushed. If even Locke knew how he felt, he was never going to live this down. Or maybe Jack was just getting paranoid.
He laid the rest of the blankets on top of Sawyer and grabbed one for himself, making a bed next to his patient.
“Jack?” Kate was standing over him and he looked at her sleepily. “I just wanted to let you know we’re back. That’s great they found Sawyer. How is he?”
“Hard to say. I think he’ll pull through,” Jack said.
Kate nodded, looking over at Sawyer. “I’m glad.” She sneezed suddenly.
“You should get out of those wet clothes,” Jack said.
“Yeah,” Kate said with a rueful smile.
He suddenly wished life were simpler, that he could be merely Sawyer’s doctor, and follow Kate back to her tent, help her out of her clothes and fuck her senseless.
“You take care,” she said. “Both of you.” And then she left. He could hear her sneeze again as she walked away.
He looked over at Sawyer and was alarmed to see that he had pushed all his blankets off. Jack went over and felt his forehead. He was burning up.
He put the blankets back on. Sawyer shoved them back off. He was conscious enough to realize he was too hot, but not lucid enough to respond when Jack called his name. And now he was shivering violently.
Jack sighed. He lifted Sawyer off his bed and, held him up, awkwardly reaching around to throw the airplane seat cushions on the floor. He laid Sawyer down on the makeshift bed and piled all the blankets on top of him. Then he laid down next to him, holding him tight.
“I’m not a doctor, I’m an opportunist,” he thought, almost mad at himself. But he had to keep Sawyer warm.
(TBC ... happy ending with smut, next)