Summary: Jack finds Sawyer is his only ally
Spoilers: Up through "One of Them"
Note: Dedicated to my entire, amazing flist, especially the fabulous, sweetness incarnate, generous-to-a-fault uberaeryn, an uberfriend among friends. LOVE YOU ALL! Suggested by two prompts from foxxcub. Thanks BUNCHES to the amazing beta team of themoononastick, foxxcub, and eponine119. For fanfic100 prompt "Teammates"
When Jack couldn’t open the hatch door, he chalked it up to the usual fuzziness from his lack of sleep. It had become like second nature to work the complicated handle, even though it stuck sometimes, so he’d reached for it without thought. But his alarm grew as he tried it again. He was fully alert now -- and no matter how he tried, the damn thing wouldn’t open.
“Locke!” He yelled. There was a lock on the inside, only no one ever used it. Until now. There was no answer. He pounded on the door with his fist, knowing they could hear him inside. He tried the handle one more time, feeling like someone with OCD; he just couldn’t believe they’d locked him out.
He took a deep breath and hiked around to the top of the hatch, to the lid they’d blown off only a few weeks ago. With any luck, the ropes would still be there. But when he got there, the lid was no longer laying off to the side. It had been fused back on -- somehow. He stood staring at it, a sick feeling settling in his stomach.
Maybe this was some security measure Locke dreamed up, like adding a combination lock to the gun room. Or moving the guns. But he knew in his gut that this was done for only one purpose -- to keep him out. He tried to edge his knife up under the seams but Sayid -- or whoever -- had done too good a job. He couldn’t open it.
“JOHN!” He yelled, pounding on the glass window. When he got no response, he ran back down to the door, even though he knew it would still be locked against him.
“Locke! You have to let me in!” he yelled.
“No, I don’t think I do,” came Locke’s voice, as clear as if he were standing right next to him. “You didn’t know there was an intercom, did you?” Locke continued smoothly. “You don’t know this hatch like I do. And you see, Sayid and I talked it over. You’re not thinking clearly. You have to let us deal with the prisoner.”
“You’re going to kill him!” Jack yelled, only the pain in his hands stopping from pounding at the door again. “What gives you the right?”
“I thought you were starting an army, Jack.” Locke sounded altogether too smug and far too calm. “You’re the one who’s secretly declared war on the enemy. Well, this is part of war and you’ll just have to accept that.”
“I’m not going to accept torture and murder!”
“You were perfectly willing to risk everyone’s lives by not pushing the button,” Locke stated. “You just can’t be trusted, Jack. It’s too dangerous.”
“Fuck the button!” Jack was screaming now. “The medicine is in there. Clean water. The bed. I need to treat people in there.”
“You should have thought of that before,” Locke said, and Jack could picture his smug smile. He knew Locke could see him, thanks to that surveillance system of mirrors and he hoped he could read the murder in his eyes. “We’ll make sure you get what you need, only you can’t be in here,“ Locke was saying.
There was a faint buzzing and he knew Locke had signed off. He yelled and pounded some more, but it was useless.
He shouldered his backpack and walked away. He had to think and he didn’t want to do it here, where he was being watched.
The first person he approached for help was Ana Lucia. But she proved surprisingly unsympathetic to the fate of the man who called himself Henry Gale. She gave him an appraising glance as she said, “I thought we were on the same side, Jack. We can’t show them any mercy. I thought you got that.”
He looked at her as if seeing her for the first time too. “Mercy. Right. You wouldn’t know anything about that.” He shook his head and walked away.
She called after him, but he ignored her. No point in offering up his other arguments, that he needed access to the hatch to care for people, that this latest power grab was even more disturbing than Sawyer’s, that they needed to just stop Locke already.
He needed an ally, one that had his back, not one who itched to be in on the torturing. He sighed when he realized that meant turning to Kate. He still didn’t entirely trust her, but he knew she wouldn’t condone torture, at least.
He found her helping Jin fish. She no longer smiled when she saw him, but that had stopped hurting days ago. She was only protecting herself after he had shut her out.
“Hey,” she said shortly, giving him only the briefest of glances.
He told her how Locke and Sayid had taken over the hatch, locked him out. That he needed her help. She stopped and turned to him, giving him a long look before she finally said anything. “Locke told me how you almost kept him from pushing the button. Maybe it’s better if you’re not in the hatch.”
“Did you hear a thing I said? They’re going to torture that man to death. And aren’t you the least bit disturbed that they’re now deciding who can and can’t be in the hatch?”
She leaned forward, matching his anger. “You were ready to march out there and demand Michael and Walt back but you can’t fight the battle when it comes to your own door.”
“That’s completely different,” Jack sputtered. “And maybe it would have worked, if you hadn’t tagged along and fucked everything up.”
“I gave you an easy out,” Kate said with a hard smile and a dismissive gesture. “You would have gotten yourself killed if it hadn’t been for me.” She raised her hand to cut him off before he could interrupt her. “I know. It wasn’t right. I’m not proud of it. But Jack, you know yourself,” she said, her voice growing softer, more like the Kate he remembered. “You’d never back down. Your way of doing things will get people killed too. Can’t you see that?”
She looked genuinely concerned, but Jack wasn’t having any of it. “So you’re not going to help me either?”
“You have to pick your battles, Jack,” she said sorrowfully. “This is one you can’t win.” And she turned her back to him and cast her net into the ocean again.
Jin seemed fairly open to the idea of helping Jack, but then Sun took him aside and whispered to him, low and urgent and when he came back, Jin could only shake his head and shrug. “Sorry,” he said in his halting English.
“I’m a lover, not a fighter,” Hurley joked when he’d asked him and Jack smiled and let him be.
It was the same story with everyone else he approached and Jack felt his dignity slip away by degrees. No one was going to help him and in their eyes he saw their doubts about him. Apparently everyone had heard that he didn’t mind if that timer in the hatch went down to zero and that apparently was a worse offense than letting a stranger be brutalized because he might be the enemy.
Night was falling and he realized all his things were in the hatch. He had no place to sleep anymore. He could go back to the caves, but they’d let the fires go out there long ago. Starting over from scratch, by himself, didn’t seem all that appealing.
He was already on the beach and he sat down heavily on the sand, surveying his options. He could use his backpack as a pillow tonight. That took care of his sleeping arrangements. As far as the rest of it ... His gaze traveled to Sawyer’s tent, where he could just see the denim-clad legs of its occupant, stretched out lazily, bare feet dug into the sand.
Sawyer was the last person he’d ever go to. So of course, he was on his feet, walking toward his tent before he’d allowed himself to really think it through.
If Sawyer was surprised to see him, he didn’t let on. Just raised one eyebrow and said, “Evenin’, doc,” as friendly as you please.
Jack gave him a cockeyed look of his own, but before he could go through his pitch again, Sawyer handed him a tiny bottle of tequila. Like he was expecting him and had it ready.
Sawyer uncapped his own bottle and held it up in a toast. “Cheers, doc. Figured you could use a drink after the day you had.”
Jack just turned the bottle around between his fingers. “Yeah? What do you know about that?”
“Heard you got locked out. Locke posted the angels with the fiery swords and all?”
“Huh?” It had been a long day and Jack wasn’t up for Sawyer’s riddles. He started to pace but there was really no room. Instead, he found himself taking up a spot on the edge of Sawyer’s bedroll.
“Fall from grace, doc. You been driven out of paradise.”
“You’ve got it wrong,” Jack said bitterly. “The whole island is paradise.”
“Oh, right.” Sawyer exaggerated the “o” with his mouth. “I keep forgettin’ that.”
Jack unscrewed the cap on his bottle and downed the whole thing in one gulp. “Thanks,” he said, choking a bit on the unfamiliar burn of the alcohol.
“Saw you working the crowd, trying to drum up support for your little countercoup. Saw you got no takers. Not even Lil Miss Trigger Happy.” His glance was shrewd and Jack’s chin went up as it raked over him. He still couldn’t believe he was here. With Sawyer.
Sawyer grinned widely now, eyes glittering in the near darkness. “Figured you’d come lookin’ for me. And the guns.”
“I can’t shoot my way into the hatch,” Jack said testily.
“No, but I figure they’ve got to come out sometime,” Sawyer continued.
Jack leaned back and ran his hand over his face, trying to rub away some of the weariness. He wondered if Sawyer had possibly given this more thought than he had.
“So, an ambush?” Suddenly, he was tired, more tired than he could remember being since the night he poured all his blood into Boone, for nothing. “I don’t know. They could be holed up there for days. And by then, it’ll be too late. They’ll have killed that man.”
Sawyer downed the rest of his tequila and tossed the bottle, barely missing Jack’s head. “Guess you changed your position on torture in the last few weeks.”
"Sawyer." Jack sighed. "I never liked the idea."
"Right. Good ol' Saint Jack. Always strivin' for the greater good." Sawyer bared his teeth in a mirthless smile.
Jack could feel the anger radiating from him, even from a few feet away, and he thought for a second that Sawyer was going to launch himself at him, but the seconds passed and Sawyer didn't move.
"So you haven't asked what the price is."
Jack sized Sawyer up. Impossible to guess his endgame. Jack was still trying to figure why he even stole the guns in the first place. He did it to make Jack look bad. That was clear enough. And now? Could be Sawyer also wanted to get to Locke as badly as Jack did. Could be he just liked fucking with people; he saw an opportunity and he took it. He was completely in Sawyer's power, and Sawyer knew it.
"OK." Jack wanted his cards on the table, at least, even if he didn't know what game they were playing. "What do you want for them?"
"You do what I say, no questions asked."
Jack dropped his head and laughed. "Whatever you say? Like, what ... No." and here Jack stopped talking, not wanting to give Sawyer any ideas. There was no fucking way he was agreeing to a blind deal like this.
"OK then, doc. You can just march back to the hatch and maybe if you huff and you puff hard enough you'll blow the door in."
"You've got it wrong again," Jack said with a shake of his head. "I thought you were the Big Bad Wolf."
Sawyer actually laughed. "Well, hell, Jack, what does that make you? Lil Red Riding Hood?"
Sawyer got up and handed Jack another bottle and it was gone before Jack realized he'd opened it.
"Do we have a deal?"
"No," Jack grimaced.
"OK, I'll make it easy on you," Sawyer said, handing over a third bottle. "How about you just tell me about the first time you had sex?"
"WHAT?" Jack spilled some of the liquor down his shirt front. He dabbed at it clumsily, ignoring Sawyer's low laugh at his expense. He couldn't be drunk already, just from six little ounces of alcohol. He squinted, trying to calculate the volume of the tiny bottle in his hand.
"You heard me doc. Sex for guns. It's a pretty fair trade."
Jack shook his head, the ridiculousness of the request making him laugh. "Fair? You've got a really fucking lousy sense of what's fair, Sawyer."
"Never said I didn't. But what choice do you got, doc? Seems to me, you're pretty much over a barrel here."
"No, I'm really not." He stood up and drained the last drop of alcohol and tossed the bottle at Sawyer's head, so that he had to duck. "I'm not in the fucking mood for jokes and ..." He stopped short, irritation turning into anger now. "You and Locke, you're not that different. You both get off on power. You want people to come to you, bow to you, ask you for favors. You want to run things, you go right the fuck ahead. See how popular that makes you."
"I'm just as popular as I wanna be, doc," Sawyer stood now, blocking Jack from leaving. "But I know myself. I don't think you know a fuckin' thing about yourself. You get off on power, same as me. Same as fuckin' Mr. Clean. Same as anyone. Only you won't admit it." He actually jabbed Jack's chest with an indignant index finger. "Too fuckin' high and mighty all the damn time. Why not admit you like it? You want it?"
Jack stared him down. He could feel the vein throbbing in his neck like it did when he was within seconds of punching a wall. He saw Sawyer's glance dart to his neck, took satisfaction in thinking that maybe he could actually scare Sawyer. But something in Sawyer's expression, a fleeting hurt, gave him pause. Made him think of that exchange in the grove, right before the raft sailed. He took a deep breath and let it out again.
"There was a time I thought we could be friends. You did something generous for me, once."
Sawyer's gaze softened, just for a second, and then the flint was back in his eyes, his face cold again. "One-time deal doc. Hell, I thought I was gonna die."
"Is that what this is about? Sawyer, do you still want to die?" They were just an inch apart now; he could practically taste the liquor from Sawyer's open mouth as he huffed out an annoyed breath.
"Like you care," Sawyer sneered, turning away. "Go. Walk on out there, see how much you like being the odd man out. Ain't fun, doc."
"Then why the fuck do you do it?" Jack grabbed Sawyer by the arm, forced him around to face him. "Sawyer ... what are you afraid of?"
"So you'd rather fight than tell me ‘bout your love life, doc?" Sawyer gave a lopsided smile, but his eyes held an unspoken plea. "All the same to me, really."
"Sex and death, right. All the same." Jack leaned in closer, wanting something to shove Sawyer against, wanting to knock some sense into the idiot. "That why you blackmailed Kate into kissing you?"
"Now you're gettin' it, doc." There came that sly, mocking smile again, the one that he wore when he'd practically begged Jack to punch him. He took a step toward Jack, until there was no more space between them, until he was pressed up against him, chest to chest, thigh to thigh.
"Is this what you get off on?" Jack still had hold of his shoulders and now he shook him, succeeding only in shaking loose a low chuckle from Sawyer.
"Oh, Jack." Sawyer laughed, wearing an indulgent, amused grin now. "Be so much easier if you'd just tell me a little bedtime story. Then see, maybe you get a little hot. And I'd get a little hot. And then..." he reached out a hand to Jack's face, the back of his knuckles sliding over his cheek. "And maybe you're just tipsy enough ..."
Jack just stared at him. "You're hitting on me?"
"Don't be so fuckin' shocked, doc. You're not so bad lookin'. ‘Specially after a few bottles." Sawyer's thumb traced over the curve of Jack's lower lip, still frozen in disbelief.
Jack grabbed firmly Sawyer by the wrist, dragging his hand away from his face, down until both of their hands rested on Jack's chest.
"OK. You want to think you seduced me, go right ahead. But for the record, it takes a lot more than a few miserable drops of liquor to get me drunk."
And he took Sawyer's head in his hands and kissed him hard, hard enough to let him know that Jack Shephard was not the kind of guy who could be tricked into something he had no intention of doing.
Jack opened his eyes to blonde hair, a full head of it within an inch of his nose. He'd been sleeping, curled up next to a completely nude Sawyer. Sawyer, whose body was intoxicatingly warm and inviting against his. Jack’s first instinct was to get up, get out -- the hell out -- but his impulse to stay, to soak up more of the heat from the body next to him, was stronger. He pressed closer, just for a second, reassured by Sawyer’s steady snoring that he wasn’t going to wake him.
Flashes of last night played through his mind -- the tang of tequila mingling with the salt from Sawyer’s skin, Sawyer’s thumbs digging into his upper arms hard enough to bruise as they kissed, the breathless way he said “Yeah,” when Jack knelt before him.
His hand hovered over Sawyer’s shoulder, and then he drew it back.
Stifling a groan -- could you have a hangover from so little alcohol? -- he got up as quietly as he could and pulled on his shorts and his jeans, but in the small space of the tent, he lost his balance and tripped over Sawyer, landing hard on top of him.
"Sonofabitch!" Sawyer was awake and furious, like a cat that had had water poured on it.
Jack could only laugh at Sawyer's crankiness, which earned him a hostile glare. "I let you in my tent and this is the thanks I get?" he grumbled, pushing Jack off of him.
"Sorry," Jack said, laughter finally subsiding. "Look, I'm just going to get going." This all felt surprisingly normal, which only made him want to leave even faster.
Sawyer was up and looking for his jeans, sleepily rubbing a hand through his hair, unaware of or just completely unconcerned about whether Jack was watching him. And Jack, god help him, was watching Sawyer bend over, hair falling into his eyes, as he plucked his crumpled jeans from the ground. “You didn’t really keep your end of the deal, you know,” Sawyer was saying between yawns.
Jack really wasn’t too surprised. Trusting Sawyer with anything was never the smartest of moves. Not that Jack had been using his best judgment lately. “So you’re calling it off?”
“Pretty much, yeah.” Sawyer grunted as he tugged on his jeans. He flashed Jack a dazzling smile. “Unless you wanna give me a raincheck on that bedtime story?”
“Yeah, sure.” Jack said dismissively. He’d woken up with a new plan, one he couldn’t believe he hadn’t thought of last night. One that didn’t include Sawyer. There was nothing keeping him here. "Some other time."
He parted the tent flaps and strode out, conscious of Sawyer’s eyes burning into his back.
Jack had hiked about two miles into the jungle when he realized he was being followed. He carefully eased his backpack off his shoulders and made a show of reaching in for his water bottle.
“Relax, doc. Just me,” came a ringing voice from the underbrush, followed shortly by the man himself. Sawyer.
“Why the hell are you following me?” Jack couldn’t hide his exasperation.
Sawyer shrugged and reached behind him. He drew out a handgun and held it out to Jack. “Figured you could use this.”
Jack searched his face, trying to read his expression. “You’re going to just give me a gun? After everything?”
“You did the same for me once.” Sawyer said, stepping closer. He pressed the gun into Jack’s empty hand. “Or maybe I just wanted to even the odds.”
Jack weighed the gun in his hand. “Just in case?”
Could almost have been that same day in the grove, only with their roles reversed. He could almost believe that no time had passed, that everything in the meantime hadn’t gone so horrifically wrong. The jungle was hushed as if maybe time had stood still. He didn’t look up, choking back the memory of what Sawyer had said to him. How he had said it.
“Yeah. Didn’t work out so well for me, actually,” Sawyer said, breaking Jack’s reverie. He was shifting his bad shoulder when Jack looked up. “But all the same...”
Jack nodded and put the gun in his backpack. “All the same. One gun isn’t going to change things.” He held up his hand as Sawyer opened his mouth to protest. “All the guns wouldn’t change anything. Guns aren’t any use here.”
Sawyer gave him a hard stare, angered that his gift hadn’t had a better reception. Then his eyes widened slightly. “The dynamite. That’s what you’re out here for.”
When Jack didn’t answer, Sawyer shook his head, something like concern in his expression. “Jack. Do you have any idea what you’re doing?”
“You can’t handle that stuff on your own.”
“Yeah, well, guess I’m going to have to.”
Sawyer sighed. “Fuck, Jack. You can’t just ...” He swept the hair out of his eyes, as if taming a few straggly bits of hair was the best way to get a grip on the situation, and then he let loose a blue steak. “Look. I’m already out here. Where is this place?”
“Not far,” Jack nodded. “Not far at all.” He started off again in the direction of the Black Rock.
He glanced over as Sawyer fell in beside him. Sawyer's shirt barely covered the black gun handle sticking out of the waistband of his jeans.
For the second time in 24 hours, he wondered just how much of all this Sawyer had anticipated.
Sawyer caught his glance and reached around, gripping the gun lightly and flashing a grin. "Didn't think I'd give you my only gun, did you?"
"Two guns are better than one?" Jack tossed him the water bottle.
"Always." Sawyer's grin deepened as he took a long swig and then threw the bottle back. "Ok then. Lead on, doc.”
Note: The lovely and talented themoononastick has offered to take it from here. HURRAH! ;D