Pairing: Jack/Sawyer, hints of other slash pairings
Note: It's been nearly a year since lillyjk requested a fic with Sawyer as a pirate and Jack as, well, not a pirate. With a shaving scene. So here this is, finally, many, many months later, more or less (I hope), what you asked for. Originally requested for foxxcub's Kinks Ficathon, and she always kept encouraging me to finish the darn thing! OMG, it's done!! Many thanks to the lovely themoononastick for the beta. So this fic is dedicated to all three of you. *smooch*
Word count: 7697. Yar! 'Tis an epic!
Prompt: Star, fanfic100
They found him in a skiff, bumping up alongside the ship, like a child tugging on its mother's sleeve to be noticed. The men, roused from a becalmed sleep on this stifling hot day, surged to the railing, a shout going up when they saw the man in the small boat.
His body was draped protectively over a woman, so tiny they might have mistaken her for a young girl, but for her belly, swollen with child. She was clad only in a thin white shift, her hair and skin so pale that she looked like a drowned angel. Because even though the man had pulled her into the boat at great cost to himself, or so his mauled hands seemed to attest, she was dead.
They pulled them both up onto the deck and laid them down. The woman was beyond their help, but the man was not. He was senseless to his surroundings and burnt badly by the sun, but he was alive. They might have been drifting for days. There'd been no sign of smoke or fire on the horizon, no wreckage in sight. The skiff had seemed to come out of nowhere.
"It's the curse," Hugo muttered, but after being glared down by the captain, he kept his peace.
Sawyer ordered the man carried to his own quarters. The woman, they would send back to the sea, with as much ceremony as a drunken bunch of pirates could manage. Jin helped Sawyer clean and bind the man's bloodied hands and strip off his ragged clothing and dress him in a nightshirt, but still he did not come around.
After Jin left, Sawyer sat with the man, studying his face. It was a good face, strong and sensitive and already Sawyer was picturing him as a gentleman of some means, judging by the cut of clothes. He was obviously the rare good man who would go out of his way to save another's life. Sawyer had met far and few men like that.
He'd traveled, knew the sea, or so his tattoos suggested. These were not the usual crude hearts and mermaids, but intricate, beautifully drawn designs whose meaning was known only to the man wearing them. Not Tahitian. Chinese lettering maybe. And then there were those stars and flames inked along his inner arm, a strange secret he kept covered up, judging by the pallor of the skin around that exotic starburst.
The stranger's hair was as impossibly short as a few days' growth of beard, as if maybe his entire head had been shaved not long ago. Sawyer softly brushed his hand over the bristly nap of the man's hair. He could picture this stranger, or someone else, shaving his head easily enough -- and in entirely too much vivid detail -- just not why. Had it been done in the name of punishment or penitence? Or maybe the poor fellow had simply been ill. It was a puzzle.
Sawyer sighed and leaned back in his chair. It wasn't right to be thinking of a man plucked from the jaws of death that way. He should wait, at least, until the man opened his eyes and he could see the color of them.
Waking from dreams of fire, rushing water and terrified screams, the first thing Jack was aware of was the mute throb of his hands. He knew he could duck back under the cover of sleep, could just slip away again, as he'd been doing. But consciousness kept bobbing dizzily at the edges of his vision like the sea on which his tiny skiff tossed and he couldn't ignore it any longer. He opened his eyes, surprised to see dark wooden beams over his head.
He was in a bed, on a strange ship. He tried to sit up and someone pressed him gently back down, laying a cooling hand on his forehead. A cup of water was brought to his lips and he drank unquestioningly, the act of swallowing almost too much. A blur of a man hovered over him, with loose, blonde hair obscuring his face except for those keen, concerned blue eyes. "Just lay back," the man said softly and he did. Soothed by the stranger's reassuring manner, he sank back into blackness.
Jack didn't want to wake, but his throat hurt and his hands stung and he knew he needed water and something for the pain. He sat up, feeling stronger, and trying to take in his surroundings.
The cabin was spacious and not like any he had seen before. There were the usual maps and charts, but it was also stuffed with all kinds of curios -- an enormous, gold-edged mirror, what looked like a stuffed monkey, an African-looking figurine and a human skull sitting next to an impressive array of liquor bottles of all shapes and sizes -- so much that he couldn't take it all in.
He focused instead on the man slumbering in a chair opposite him. It wasn't the same man from before. This was a broad-shouldered black man with impressively muscled arms, now crossed over his chest. He looked like a sleeping mastiff, one Jack's instincts told him not to wake. His plain, well-worn clothes were not a uniform. This was not any kind of naval ship and very likely not a merchant ship either. Which left one last option Jack didn't want to contemplate.
But, no matter what manner of men he had been rescued by, he couldn't just keep lying here. "Hey," he said as loud as he dared, his own voice rasping harshly in his ears.
The man was awake in an instant, like a statue coming to life. He leaned forward, regarding Jack intently. "How are you?" he asked, his voice impossibly deep and timbrous, his gaze gravely intimidating.
"Where's Claire?" Jack asked. It hurt to talk.
The man did not answer him, but simply went to the door and called loudly. "Captain! He is awake!"
Behind him in the doorway a motley assortment of men peered from behind the man's broad shoulders. As he stepped back inside, they followed, crowding around the bed and openly staring at Jack.
None of them looked particularly friendly. There was a smooth-faced Asian man with razor-sharp cheekbones, a hard-eyed bearded man with long, curly hair who might be Persian, and a dour, fat fellow with wild hair and improbable sideburns. Jack wouldn't want to encounter any of them in a dark alley, let alone be cornered like this by the lot of them. He scanned their faces for the blonde man who had been at his bedside last night, but he didn't seem to be among them. Jack was beginning to think he had dreamed him up.
And then he walked in, a tall, lean man with dirty blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. The men parted as he approached Jack. He was simply dressed, like his subordinates, but he carried himself with quiet authority.
The relief Jack felt at finding a relatively familiar face among strangers quickly gave way to panic. He knew this man, that sharp chin and heavy brows and that hard stare that had captured his eye every time he'd seen it roughly sketched on a series of "wanted" posters. Captain James Ford, known as Sawyer to his intimates, the legendary pirate who had never been caught, even though the reward for him kept growing with each new exploit.
Jack closed his eyes for a minute, feeling well and truly lost as the room threatened to spin around him. Not even savage cutthroats would harm a pregnant woman, he tried to tell himself. He fought off an intense wave of nausea.
He opened his eyes again, putting as much steel in his voice and his manner as he could muster. "Where is Claire? What you have you done with her?"
Several seconds ticked by before anyone answered him. Something flickered in Captain Ford's eyes and then was gone. "We found a woman with you. Your wife?"
"Yes," Jack lied, seizing gladly upon the misconception. If they thought she was his wife, they would be that much more likely to leave her alone.
"Ah." Ford nodded and then he put his hand on Jack's shoulder. "I'm sorry. When we found you, she was already gone."
Jack's every instinct was to grab him by the shoulder and demand the truth from him, but looking into his face, drawn with sorrow in what might have been a mirror of his own face, he somehow knew he was telling the truth.
"She's dead," Jack said hollowly. He closed his eyes and slumped back against the wall. He hadn't even managed to save one person. Not one.
"Don't you all have posts you should be at?" the captain barked at the men assembled behind him and they shuffled out silently.
One man lingered behind, the Persian, whose hostile stare contrasted sharply with the sympathy he saw in the captain's face. Feeling caught by both, Jack dropped his head, staring unseeingly at his bandaged hands.
"We've sent her back to the sea," Ford spoke softly, his voice deepening. "We're not a very godly bunch here, but if you want to say a few words, or you'd like me to say a few words later ... to, well, give her a proper farewell... "
"Thank you," Jack said, moved by this stranger's respect for what he took to be his overwhelming grief. He should tell him the truth. But not tonight, he was too tired.
The captain nodded, regarding him thoughtfully for a moment. And then he quietly walked out, leaving Jack alone to grieve.
When Ford came back, in half an hour or so, he brought water and food on a tray. Since Jack's hands were useless, he fed him as you would a child. Jack was too weak to argue. A kind of numbness had settled on him. He drank the water and ate the bits of bread and the slices of mango the man fed him with his hands. Jack idly wondered why the captain himself would tend to him, rather than one of the crew and why he was in the captain's bed, instead of some hammock below deck.
He was too weary to think it through, too bone-tired to think about what was going to happen now. All he knew was that he was alive and his body demanded he eat and drink and rest.
He longed to shut his eyes again, but the captain was staring at him expectantly. "So what happened to you, then?" he asked, and Jack had no choice but to tell him.
In a few grim sentences, he relayed the tale of how sickness had devastated the crew and when fire broke out, there were too few hands to fight it. He had grabbed Claire and somehow managed to launch the skiff, even though, in his inexperience, he had smashed his hands trying to separate it from the sinking ship.
The pirate sat and listened quietly, his eyes dark and attentive. He didn't offer any of the usual words of comfort or make use of any tired phrase such as this being God's will. Jack didn't know whether to be angry or relieved to be spared the false sentiment. "Get some rest, " was all the man said.
He was gone before Jack could thank him.
It was daylight when he woke again. Ford was back, this time in a loose-fitting white shirt and tight black breeches that seemed like something out of a play about pirates he'd seen once. Except this was no play.
Jack should have been more alarmed, but being rescued by pirates suddenly didn't seem like the worst fate on earth. In any event, he was alive and if this was a pirate, then he'd met gentlemen with worse manners.
"Reckon you want to know where you are," the man said after Jack had finished his morning meal, self-conscious about the fact that he still had to be fed like an infant.
The man wiped at Jack's mouth with a napkin, and Jack didn't know if it was the gesture or the fact that he had a napkin to use surprised him more.
"This is the Sassafras and I'm its Captain. Never cared for titles, though. You can call me Sawyer."
"Jack." He held out his bandaged right hand and Sawyer smiled and mimed shaking it, and Jack had to laugh. It was the first time Jack had seen him smile; it wasn't just those deepset dimples that transformed his whole face, but something about the way those blue eyes lit up and were focused just on him. This was just the kind of man he would have instinctively warned Claire about, he thought with a stab of sorrow.
"Suits you," Sawyer nodded, as if he hadn't just seen the smile fade off Jack's face.
Jack looked up, dismayed to see that the dour-looking Persian had entered the cabin. He gestured to the captain, who walked over impatiently, as if annoyed at being interrupted. The two men talked with bowed heads in low voices and Jack knew they were talking about him.
The brief illusion that he was safe here, that this pirate was his friend, vanished as they both turned to look at him. Neither was smiling.
"I am Sayid," said the man in clipped tones. He had a British accent that sounded like he had been well educated. "Let me ask you something," he said. His arms were crossed, but he brought a hand up to his chin, tugging slightly at his beard as if about to pose a very serious question. "Why is your hair so short?
"Excuse me?" Jack glanced over at Sawyer, who nodded, indicating Jack should provide an answer.
Jack instinctively went to run a hand over his head, as he had gotten in the habit of doing, but then remembered the bandages. "Simple story, really," he said with a shake of his head. It was a harmless question. Might as well tell them. "Did I mention I was the ship's doctor? No? Well, there was a nasty case of head lice. I ordered everyone to shave their heads and no one would, until I went first."
He could hear Sawyer softly say, "Huh."
Sayid leaned closer. "Why was the woman's head not shaved?"
This was turning into an interrogation. Jack licked his lips, trying not to appear nervous. "There was no need..."
"But surely, if you were afflicted, she would have been too. If you shared a bed." Sayid smiled, a nasty sort of smile that he'd caught Jack in a lie.
And Jack couldn't be caught in a lie. They'd clearly mistaken him for some sort of enemy spy or someone after the bounty on Sawyer's head. "Well, yes," he said, forcing a smile. He looked toward Sawyer for support, but all he saw in his face was doubt.
"But," Jack continued with a careless gesture, striving for a lightness he didn't feel, "I didn't have the heart to butcher such beautiful hair. So I had her wash her head with turpentine."
The dark eyes of the Persian held his, as if the truth could be read there. He frowned, clearly not satisfied. "And the name of your ship?"
He quizzed Jack over every detail about the ship and its crew. About the accident. How long he'd known Claire. What they were going to name the baby. Jack gave him the same answers each time, but he was tiring quickly. He began to stumble over the words. And then Sayid threw in a new question: Where had he gotten those tattoos? Jack hesitated. He didn't like to talk about that time in his life.
"Siam," he finally answered, not meeting Sayid's eye.
"What were you doing there?"
When Jack didn't answer right away, Sayid pounced, "You are lying to me." He drew a wicked-looking knife out and held it under Jack's eye. "Let us start again. What is your name?"
"I've told you," Jack protested, tearing his gaze from the sharp blade to Sawyer, who had turned his back. His heart fell. Sawyer didn't believe Jack either. He wasn't going to stop this.
"Please," he begged. "I'm just a doctor. I can't possibly do any harm to you. Look at me," he said with a bitter laugh, indicating his injured hands. "You can be rid of me easily, just drop me at the nearest port. I won't say a thing..."
But Sayid wasn't listening. He pulled Jack closer, shifting the knife to his throat. "You lie like a dog." Jack closed his eyes, praying he would be quick at least.
"Sayid!" Sawyer's voice sounded loud in the cabin. "That's enough."
Reluctantly, Sayid released him. He nodded at Sawyer, and, with a last hard stare at Jack, walked out.
Jack let out a breath and fell back against the bed. "I thought you were going to let him kill me," he said, relieved beyond measure that Sawyer believed him, at last. But when he looked up, Sawyer's expression hadn't softened in the slightest.
Sawyer grabbed him by the shirtfront. "Who are you to question him?" he nearly shouted, face contorted with rage. "You're a stranger. Sayid would lay down his life for me. He's saved me more times than you could know." To Jack's great surprise, Sawyer tore open his shirt, revealing a scar on his shoulder. "The man who shot me? A complete stranger, like you. But Sayid found him."
Picturing Sayid's revenge all too clearly, Jack shuddered. Now Sawyer had shrugged down his shirt to show off another ugly scar on his right bicep. "Nearly bled to death from this. Know who did this?"
Jack shook his head, wondering what horrible tale was in store.
"That was Sayid." He grinned without amusement at Jack's confusion. "He stabbed me and then he saved my life and ever since he's kept me from harm. And brought woe to anyone who would try." He pulled his shirt back on, still glaring at Jack as if daring him to try something.
Arguing his own innocence at this point would only fall on deaf ears. "I'm sorry you were hurt," Jack said at last.
Sawyer looked at him oddly. Clearly, it wasn't what he expected him to say. "Yeah, well, it was a long time ago," he said. He stood lost in thought for a minute, and when he met Jack's gaze again, all his animosity had vanished. "Get some rest."
He ducked his head, talking to himself under his breath, and walked out of the cabin.
Jack let out a deep breath. He was shaking, he realized. He wondered if he'd been shaking the whole time. He kept his eyes on the door, fearful that if he fell asleep, there'd be a knife at his throat again.
But no one came and finally he slept.
The next few days passed in a haze. The sea and the sun had taken a bigger toll on Jack than he realized, and he was grateful they let him sleep.
The first time he woke and saw Sawyer sitting across from him, he stiffened, expecting another interrogation. But instead, Sawyer had simply smiled and offered him some water, like the first night. Like the entire scene with Sayid had never happened.
Sawyer talked about things like the wind and the current and where to find the best rum. He didn't ask Jack more about himself and gradually Jack felt at ease around him.
The question of his being someone other than who he said was seemed to have been forgotten. At least by Sawyer. And Sawyer was the captain, so if he vouched for Jack, than Jack was safe. And he did feel safe here.
Whenever he woke, Sawyer was there to feed him or give him water or see if he needed anything. There was something incredibly reassuring about Sawyer's constant presence. Jack had to admit that Sawyer had a better bedside manner than Jack himself. Jack had never been that patient or charming, he knew. But if he had dimples or a smile like Sawyer's, he imagined a few patients over the years would have been a damn sight more cooperative.
He drifted off again, knowing that when he woke, Sawyer would be in that chair, reading or sleeping or just carefully watching him.
But when he opened his eyes again, hours or days later, the cabin was dark. And empty. He wasn't worried, really. But he might as well get up, since he was feeling strong enough for the first time since the shipwreck. He walked slowly, careful not to trip over anything in the darkness because his injured hands were useless if he stumbled and fell.
Fortunately, the door was ajar, and he was able to nudge it open with his shoulder and walk out onto the deck. The brilliance of the night sky took him by surprise. His world had been nothing but blistering sun and then the blessed darkness of the cabin and he'd almost forgotten the stars existed. He scanned the sky, trying to place a constellation he recognized, but navigation was never his strong suit. He shivered a little in the night air but he welcomed how the briskness of it cleared his mind.
He stood, still a little unsteady on his feet, soaking up the beauty of the night. And then he heard snatches of song, just off to his right. As he got closer, he realized it was Sawyer. His head was down, and he had a nearly empty bottle in his hand. Jack didn't recognize the song, but a very drunken Sawyer probably wasn't doing it much justice either. His voice was surprisingly beautiful, but there was a melancholy to it that surpassed any mere drinking song. His face, in profile, was almost unbearably sad. Jack turned to go, feeling guilty for unknowingly intruding on a private moment.
A movement overhead caught his eye just then -- a shooting star streaked across the night sky. He hadn't seen one since he was a boy, probably. And so he wished something a boy might wish, in that moment, that the man who'd shown him such kindness wouldn't ever be that sad again.
He made it back to the cabin without incident and lay in that big bed, wondering what tragedy had befallen Sawyer. Maybe it was nothing, maybe he was just a melancholy drunk, like so many. But Jack had seen men in all kinds of pain, of the body and of the mind, and he had glimpsed a sorrow in Sawyer that didn't come from a bottle of rum.
He'd dozed off when he felt the bed shift. Sawyer was sitting on the edge of the bed, pulling at his boots and cursing like he had heard few men curse in his life. It was almost funny, except that now Sawyer had gone from a sad drunk to an angry one as he tugged ineffectually at his uncooperative boots. Jack would offer to help, but really, what could he do? So he just kept still, expecting Sawyer to give up soon. But at last he got them off, throwing each one across the room in succession.
And then he collapsed onto the bed, within inches of Jack. Jack hugged the wall, still not wanting to disturb Sawyer, whose bed this was after all. He'd displaced him long enough and who could blame him for wanting to sleep in his own bed? In his drunken state, perhaps he'd simply forgotten Jack was there. But then Sawyer sighed and turned towards him, his hand landing on Jack's thigh, his head nestled into Jack's chest.
Jack held his breath. All the stories he'd ever heard about pirates came back to him, how no man, woman, or even animal was safe around the bloodthirsty brutes. He didn't dare draw breath as he braced for some sort of assault, but none was forthcoming. Sawyer was asleep.
He forced himself to breathe but his nerves were too on edge to simply follow Sawyer in slumber. Jack couldn't remember the last time he'd shared a bed with a woman, and certainly never with another man. It was just the warmth and proximity of another body, he told himself, as his cock stirred with each involuntary movement Sawyer made in his sleep. But why, then, did he find himself studying Sawyer's face in the dim light of the cabin, particularly the curve of his mouth, so soft in sleep? And he wasn't even the one who was drunk.
Jack recalled, in surprising detail, how Sawyer had looked with his shirt half off, white cloth draped over golden skin. Sawyer had wanted him to see his scars, but he'd seen more than that. And now Jack couldn't get the image out of his mind. Here Sawyer was now, lying against him, warm and strangely inviting and it would be so easy to just roll closer, let his body press up against Sawyer's.
Instead, Jack spent an agonizing hour telling himself not to move, and utterly failing to distract himself from the overwhelming but pleasantly musky, rum-scented presence of Sawyer before sleep finally claimed him.
Sawyer was gone when he woke and Jack didn't know whether to feel disappointed or relieved. He was actually starving this morning, the first time he'd woken with a real appetite in a week. But it wasn't Sawyer who came in with his breakfast, but a short, sandy-haired lad who might be 15 or might be 25.
"Name's Charlie," he offered with a quick smile and a strong, working class British accent. "Cap'n's busy, so he sent me. Hope you don't mind." He chattered on amiably enough, but Jack was barely listening. Not until Charlie said something about "putting into port."
"Where?" Jack asked, although, he realized, it didn't really matter. He had no family, no one anxiously waiting for news of survivors. It wasn't until he thought about leaving the Sassafras that he realized how much he wanted to stay. Except that that wasn't an option. He'd taken up too much of their time and now they were anxious to be rid of him.
"... so that's why he set the memorial service for today," Charlie was saying. "You have to excuse him if he's not around much. Lost one of our own recently."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Jack tried not to appear too interested.
"Poor Boone fell from the crow's nest," Charlie continued in a hushed tone, shaking his head. "Broke nearly every bone in his body but still he didn't die right off. We all took it hard, but the Captain most of all. Three months now and he's still, well... you didn't know him before. But he's not been the same since."
Jack nodded in mute sympathy. Now, at last, he had the answer to Sawyer's melancholy. Except that the knowledge made him feel even worse for the deception about Claire. Here Sawyer thought they had something in common; it must be why he'd gone out of his way to make sure Jack had every comfort on board.
His reverie was interrupted as Charlie got up and came back with an armful of clothing.
"The Captain put aside some of his things he thought might fit you."
He helped Jack select something appropriate that fit well enough, a black jacket, white shirt, and black breeches that Jack thought might be the ones Sawyer had worn the other day. Charlie helped him on with a pair of boots and then stood back to survey his handiwork.
"Looks right proper, if I say so," Charlie said. "C'mon, they're expecting us topside."
Jack caught sight of himself in the mirror. He did cut a fine figure in the pirate's clothes, if an unfamiliar one. Except for the dark circles under his eyes, that shaggy beard and the splotchy, sunburnt skin, which was now starting to peel. He rubbed at his cheeks with the backs of his bandaged hands.
"I look terrible," he complained. "I need a shave."
"Sorry, it'll have to wait," Charlie said. "Captain's orders." When Jack didn't budge, continuing to pick at his face, he pulled at his arm. "But you can look your best when we get into Barbados. Sayid does a really nice shave, you know."
Jack shuddered at the memory of the knife held to his throat. "I'm sure he does."
The day was an appropriately gray one for Claire's service. The flag -- not a Jolly Roger, but an ordinary Union Jack -- was at half-mast, flapping loudly in the wind. The rain drizzled down as the men assembled on the deck.
Sawyer, his hair pulled back and tied behind his head, merely nodded at him, avoiding his eyes as Charlie brought Jack above deck.
He was glad now for Charlie's cheery company. He didn't belong among these men, who now regarded him silently. He couldn't shake his first impression of them, crowding around his bed and he had a momentary impulse to retreat to the safety of the cabin. But then Charlie took his elbow and urged him forward and the moment passed.
As they assembled for the ceremony, Jack imagined Claire under the waves, long blonde hair palely framing her face, like a mermaid, but he was glad to have been spared the sight of her dead.
The large, imposing black man who had first kept watch over him stepped forward and introduced himself as Mr. Eko. He handed Jack a flower, a pink and white tropical bloom. Jack took it, mumbling his thanks.
It was Eko, not the captain, who spoke. In a deep, booming voice, he quoted Scripture from memory, since he held no book in his hands, which surprised Jack but apparently none of the other men. Eko nodded at Jack and he threw the flower overboard, where it floated briefly on the waves, and then was swept away.
The company bowed their heads and then passed around a bottle. Sawyer, his eyes veiled and gray as the sky today, held it out to Jack, tipping it up to his lips. Jack choked a little as he drank, wiping away the excess with his sleeve, and then regretting it, since they weren't even his clothes. But Sawyer didn't seem to mind. He just brushed his hand over Jack's arm and then walked away, as if he had urgent business on the other side of the deck.
Sawyer was joined by Sayid, who cast a suspicious glance Jack's way. Jack turned quickly and found himself face to face with Mr. Eko's massive bare chest.
Eko gripped Jack's arm in lieu of a handshake and then stepped aside. The men had formed a line and filed past Jack in turn, some solemnly clapping him on the back or merely nodding to convey their sympathies. Individually, they were far less intimidating.
Still, Jack couldn't have been more uncomfortable. He was glad when Charlie led him back to the captain's cabin and he could stop pretending to have had his heart broken.
It wasn't Sawyer who came in next, but Sayid, who brusquely informed Jack that he'd heard he wanted a shave. Jack's heart sank. Instead of spending his last hour aboard with Sawyer, he was being palmed off on the one person here who truly hated him. Jack tried to tell himself Sawyer wouldn't let Sayid hurt him, but as Sayid pulled out a straight razor, he had to fight the urge to flee.
But Sayid barely looked at him. He merely continued his preparations, producing a bowl of water and proceeding to whisk up another bowl full of shaving cream until it was frothy.
Jack was trying to think how to turn down the shave without offending Sayid, who was as grim a barber as he had been an interrogator.
Someone else had already taken exception to Sayid's manner as well, for he was sporting a fresh black eye. If Jack had had the use of his hands, he would have volunteered to tend to it. Mentioning it didn't seem the best idea, however.
But Sayid had already caught him staring it. "It's my own fault, really," he said with a sigh. "You've met Charlie?"
"Charlie punched you?" Jack couldn't picture that at all.
"No." Was Sayid actually smiling? "I'm afraid I came between him and Mr. Eko."
"Eko." That was just as incredible an answer. "He seems so ... religious."
Yes, now there was a visible smile tugging at the corner of Sayid's mouth. "He is a man of strong convictions. And an even stronger punch."
"Ahh," Jack said, beginning to see. "And here I thought ... you're so protective of the captain."
Sayid quirked an eyebrow at him, not so secretly amused to see where Jack was going with this. "I am that," Sayid said with a jerk of his head as he poured hot water over a towel in a large copper basin. "But it is no more than that. He needs my protection. There are many things to be hurt by in this world," he said pointedly as he began to squeeze the excess moisture from the cloth.
Jack felt lost again. He thought they knew by now he was in no position to hurt Sawyer. Especially now that he was leaving. And since he was leaving, he might as well ask something that had been on his mind this whole time. "Why did you stab him?"
Sayid did not visibly react to the question, just kept wringing out the towel. "I thought he had done something he hadn't," he said quietly. Jack wasn't prepared for the intensity of his stare when he looked up. "I was mistaken. And I always pay for my mistakes."
He held Jack's gaze for a few seconds longer, studying Jack like he was a book in a language he couldn't read. "Here we are," he said abruptly, and began to wrap the warm, wet towel around his face.
Jack couldn't be sure, but he thought that might have been what passed for an apology from Sayid. Everyone was acting so oddly today.
Despite himself, Jack found himself relaxing as the heat soaked through the towel. When Sayid removed it, Sawyer was standing behind him.
"Thanks, Sayid, I'll take it from here," Sawyer said, patting him on the shoulder. Sayid nodded, with the barest of smiles, and left.
"Looks like you need more than a shave, you need to be stripped with turpentine," Sawyer said with that now familiar dimpled smile, and it felt like the sun had come out again. "And maybe sanded."
Jack couldn't keep from grinning. "I know. I look a sight."
"Not so bad," Sawyer smiled, taking off his jacket and rolling up the sleeves of his white shirt. He remoistened the towel and briskly rubbed it over Jack's cheeks and jaw. "This hurt?"
It didn't hurt, exactly, but Jack made a small noise of protest and Sawyer stopped.
"Too rough?" Sawyer asked, looking Jack full in the face. He ran a thumb over Jack's jaw, like a painter testing a canvas.
Jack could only shake his head. Unbelievably, he was more nervous now than he'd been when he saw Sayid get that razor out. Something about being this close to Sawyer made speech impossible.
"All right then, Doc," Sawyer said with a quick nod. He lathered up the brush and turned to Jack, bending down so he could liberally daub shaving cream over Jack's whiskers. The cream felt good on his skin, cool and silky, and the tickling of the brush made him shift in his seat. He'd gone to a barber before, but with Sawyer he was agonizingly aware of every touch, every flicker of expression that passed over Sawyer's face. The cabin was warm and getting warmer by the second.
He didn't know where to look when Sawyer put down the brush and took up the razor. Sawyer was busy concentrating on keeping the skin taut with one hand and drawing clean strokes with the other, so Jack might have gotten away with staring straight into those intense blue eyes of his, but he had to look away after a second or two. Looking down gave him a choice of views; Sawyer's chest, peeking through the open vee of his shirt, or, even worse, Sawyer's crotch.
Jack forced himself to breathe slowly. And to look past Sawyer, to the wall beyond. He found himself staring at his own reflection. He'd forgotten the mirror hanging there. His cheeks were noticeably flushed, he was embarrassed to see. He could use some air. He looked away from the mirror, and found his eyes wandering back to Sawyer.
The captain was looking down at him thoughtfully. "Your wife used to do this for you?"
That familiar guilty feeling whenever Claire was brought up hit him and Jack hissed in a breath. "No."
"No?" The word was soft, almost intimate, barely heard over the razor scraping over Jack's cheek.
Jack licked his lips. His throat was suddenly dry. "She wasn't my wife."
"Ahhh." Sawyer's eyes flicked over Jack's face and he paused for a moment. "Well," he said, with a hint of a grin, "can't say I'm all that big on marriage myself."
"No," Jack said, swallowing nervously. "No, it's more than that. The child she was carrying wasn't mine. We never ..."
All the friendliness faded from the pirate's face. His voice, when he finally spoke, was cold. "I see." He'd just begun to shave Jack's neck, and now the blade hovered just under Jack's Adam's apple.
Jack searched Sawyer's face for some sign of sympathy. "I didn't mean to lie to you. I thought she was still alive. When you asked me if she was my wife, I said yes. To protect her."
"From the likes of us." Sawyer's heavy brows drew together in a scowl.
Still mindful of the blade, Jack nodded. Sawyer didn't say anything, just continued to scrape the razor down Jack's throat in careful strokes. Jack didn't dare move. At any second, he expected the blade to slip. His injured hands lay loosely in his lap. He clenched them hard, biting back the pain he was causing himself.
"You know," Sawyer said at last, "No offense to the dead, but a little slip of a girl like that never did much for me."
"No?" Jack's voice came out strangely breathy.
"No. I've always preferred them taller. With dark hair. How 'bout you, Doc?" Sawyer bent close to Jack, his lips practically brushing Jack's ear. "You like blondes?"
Jack's stomach fluttered. "Some."
"Mmmm hmmm." Sawyer pressed his thumb against Jack's jaw, urging his head back. Jack didn't dare swallow or breathe as Sawyer shaved around his Adam's apple. Sawyer stepped back to survey his handiwork. "Much better," he said with a satisfied nod.
He took the towel, gently wiping away the remaining traces of shaving cream from Jack's cheek and neck.
"So you were never married?"
"Not even engaged." Jack shook his head. His heart was beating so hard, he was sure Sawyer could see it through his shirt.
"Uh huh." Sawyer calmly dabbed at a stray bit of cream on Jack's ear, as if he had all the time in the world. He put down the towel and grabbed a bottle of oil, pouring out a little into his hand. He rubbed it together between his hands, warming it, and the scent of sandalwood filled Jack's nostrils. He then began to massage it into Jack's face, in slow, sensual circles, fingertips lightly brushing into Jack's hairline.
Jack couldn't suppress a moan at Sawyer's touch. There was nowhere to look now but up into those piercing blue eyes. Sawyer cradled Jack's head in his hands, standing perfectly still and just staring down at him. Jack opened his mouth to say his name, to tell him everything, but there was no need. Sawyer bent closer, pressing his forehead into Jack's. His nose brushed against Jack's, his breath hot on his cheek. "God, Jack," he said, and dug his thumbs in under his jaw.
"Please," was all Jack managed to say before Sawyer kissed him. He pulled Jack closer, all heat and ragged breath and rough need. The scrape of his beard was almost too much for Jack, whose senses were already screaming from the prolonged seduction of the shave.
And then Sawyer's hands, still slick with the oil, slipped inside his shirt, tugging at the hairs of his chest. Jack's mouth fell open, panting after Sawyer's as he moved to nuzzle Jack's neck.
Jack bit his lip as Sawyer's hand moved to his knee and then slowly teased it over his thigh. He thrust up into the heel of Sawyer's palm, gasping as Sawyer encircled his rigid cock through the cloth.
"Let me help you with that," Sawyer said in his ear, voice husky with need. "Seeing as you can't use your hands."
"Yes, Sawyer, please," Jack gasped, cursing that he couldn't help Sawyer undo the buttons on his borrowed pants. And he swore again at how Sawyer was taking his sweet time. He trailed his index finger down Jack's cock, then brought the finger up to Jack's mouth. "Sawyer," Jack begged before giving in and taking the finger into his mouth, sucking on it in desperation.
Sawyer's mouth hung open in a wicked grin. "Good boy," he said. He took his hand from Jack's mouth, swirling his own tongue around the finger. And then he pulled Jack to him, kissing him hard as he took his cock in hand again, rocking against him as he brought him to the edge.
"God, oh my God," was all Jack could gasp, his words lost in Sawyer's mouth as his body exploded under Sawyer's touch. He stifled a cry as he came, eyes stinging at the intensity of the rush.
He fell back limply against the bed. Sawyer lay next to him, nipping at his lip and then his neck, until he finally came back to himself and returned the kiss.
"You know, I'm no doctor," Sawyer said, propping himself up on his elbow and tracing Jack's lower lip with one finger. "But it's my considered opinion that you're not ready to take care of yourself just yet."
"No?" Jack was still trying to catch his breath.
"And we could use a doctor on this ship," Sawyer said, "someone's always getting hurt."
Jack's face clouded, remembering Boone. "Charlie told me about ..."
Sawyer shushed him, pressing a finger against his lips. "The dead are dead," he said softly.
Jack sat up. He chose his words carefully. "I have an idea that's why you've been so kind to me. Because you thought I'd also lost someone I loved."
Sawyer's mouth twisted in a sad smile. "Maybe that was part of it at first."
That wicked, dimpled grin crept back. "Well, now Doc, there's no way in hell I'm letting you leave."
"Oh no?" Jack laughed. "I don't have a choice in this?"
"Yeah, you can shut up and kiss me."
Sawyer cursed as the mango slice slipped from his mouth. He went to grab for it, but Jack slapped his wrist.
"Hold still," Jack ordered. "You don't have the use of your hands, remember?"
Sawyer sighed. "Dammit, I'm the captain."
"And I'm your doctor," Jack said sternly. He picked up another piece of mango and brought it to Sawyer's lips, holding it just far enough away that he had to strain for it.
"You're a fucking bastard. You know that, don't you?" Sawyer complained, but he was smiling.
He was ready for the next slice, but Jack pressed this one against his lips until the juice ran down his chin. "Oh, you're gonna pay for that," Sawyer promised, but Jack was already lapping up the juice from Sawyer's face.
His tongue slipped inside Sawyer's mouth and then Sawyer swore and brought his hands up to run through Jack's hair. "Cheater," Jack grinned.
"Pirate," Sawyer pointed out with a smirk, grabbing Jack and throwing him back on the bed. He ran his hands over Jack's arm and down the curve of his ass. This was a lot easier when they didn't bother to get dressed.
It had been two months and he still couldn't get enough of Jack, could barely keep his hands off him. "Sorry you threw your lot in with a bunch of wicked pirates?" he asked.
Jack just answered him with a kiss, taking Sawyer's head in his hands. He turned on his side, away from Sawyer, offering his back to him. "Jack Shephard," Sawyer breathed in his ear as he reached for the oil. Jack reached back, helping him slick it over his cock, body twisting in readiness. "God, you're magnificent," Sawyer said as he thrust inside. Jack arched against him, head falling back against Sawyer's shoulder, giving up his body and mouth to Sawyer completely.
Sawyer loved to watch Jack stroke himself, those strong hands pumping in time to Sawyer's thrusts. He loved the choked-up way Jack always said his name when he came. Sawyer growled in Jack's ear, biting down hard on the lobe. Every time was like losing his mind, every time just as intense as the first time. Sawyer licked the back of Jack's neck, the taste of mango mingling with sweat and the faint scent of sandalwood.
He loved to lay like this afterward, with Jack pressed against him, and idly trace and retrace the patterns of Jack's tattoos. He thanked the current that had brought Jack to him. He trailed a finger over one of the stars on Jack's arm. "Lucky stars," he murmured. "You gonna tell me what these mean one of these days?"
"One of these days," Jack agreed sleepily.
One of these days, Sawyer would tell him how he'd wished on that shooting star, wished Jack would stay. Not that he really believed in that kind of thing.
Still, here Jack was. Here to stay.
-- END --