Summary: Jack wants to know more about Sawyer's real name
Characters: Jack, Sawyer, Kate
Spoilers: The Hunting Party
Note: Inspired by a discussion with foxxcub about how disappointing it was that we didn't get Jack's reaction to hearing Sawyer's real name. Also not on the to-do list. *looks around guiltily* Claiming for fanfic100, prompt "Writer's Choice"
James Ford. Locke had just casually dropped the name, Sawyer's real name, and before Sawyer could explain why he wasn't going by that name, gunshots rang out and Jack had run hard towards the sound of them.
It wasn't until much later, when he lay in bed, going back over the events of the day, how everything had gone wrong, that he remembered. The moment to ask Sawyer about it had come and gone. But he kept turning it over his mind, trying to make the name fit Sawyer. It didn't. He tried to imagine what he'd been called as a boy: Jim, Jimmy, maybe even Jamie. Or was it always just "James?"
The next time he saw him, he would find a way to ask him.
It wasn't until the following afternoon that he approached Sawyer. He wasn't sprawled in his chair, soaking up the sun, and his head wasn't buried in a book. He was sitting cross-legged, hunched over something in his lap.
When Jack got closer, he saw, to his surprise, that Sawyer was stitching up a rip in a pair of jeans, squinting through his glasses as he concentrated on his task.
"Didn't figure you for the sewing type," Jack said, dropping his backpack onto the sand.
Sawyer looked up, frowning at being interrupted. And then he smiled, that easy, practiced smile that had nothing to do with being glad to see him. "Easier to do it yourself sometimes, Doc," he said with a tilt of his head. He waited, like he knew Jack was there to ask him something.
"Wonder if that's the same sewing kit," Jack mused aloud.
Jack eased his shirt off, to Sawyer's amusement. He turned his back to Sawyer, gesturing towards the scar under his left shoulder blade. "Got cut up in the crash. I grabbed a sewing kit out of someone's luggage. But it wasn't something I could fix myself, so I asked the first person who came along to help me out."
"Let me guess ... Freckles?" Sawyer leaned back with a knowing smile.
Jack nodded, pulling his shirt back on.
"Well, now that's like somethin' out of a movie," Sawyer said with a grin, but there was a sharpness to his words. "Pretty girl helps injured hero. Hope you had a drink while she stitched you up, at least."
"Used it all to disinfect the wound," Jack sighed. "Good thing I had a few bottles in my pocket."
Sawyer's eyebrow rose, but he didn't say anything except to echo Jack's words. "Good thing."
When Jack didn't speak again, Sawyer finally added, "So, if that concludes this little social visit, you mind if I ...?"
"Sure, no problem." He paused before he added, "James."
Sawyer drew in a breath, mouth twisting to the side. "Didn't think you heard that."
"I did. And I'm just wondering why ..."
"Why." Sawyer drew out the word with a sigh. He took his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose, like they'd been hurting him. "Well, Doc, the short answer is none of your business. And the long answer is none of your goddamned business."
"Look, I just thought..." Jack took a step closer and then thought better of it.
Sawyer gave him a shrewd glance. "Y'know what, you and Freckles are so close. You go ask her."
"Kate?" Jack dropped his head and laughed, that odd habit he had of laughing when he was angry. Of course he and Kate were barely speaking right now. He just nodded, though, and shouldered his backpack and walked up the beach, leaving Sawyer to his sewing.
Maybe Kate knew, and maybe she didn't. More likely, Sawyer was just trying to get under his skin, as usual. Trying to get a rise out of him.
He found Kate in the garden, kneeling in the dirt, hands smeared to the wrists with mud.
"Looking good," he said, nodding at the garden.
"Thanks," she said, brushing her hair out of her eyes, leaving a large smudge of dirt on her forehead as she did so.
"You've got ... here..." he offered, wiping the dirt off, under her watchful eye.
"Thanks," she said again. She gave him a guarded smile. Last she knew, he was furious with her. And here he'd come to talk to her. She took in a deep breath, as if bracing for the lecture she was sure he was about to deliver.
"So, I was talking to Sawyer..."
"OK," she said with a puzzled frown.
"Turns out that's not his real name.'
Her frown deepened. "He told you that?"
"Not exactly. Locke read the manifest. Asked him why he chose the name Sawyer."
Kate sucked in a breath. "Oh. What did he say?"
"Nothing. So I asked him. He told me to ask you."
She rubbed her hands together, trying to shake off the dirt, before wiping them on her jeans. When she looked up, her gaze was hard. "I don't really think it's my place to tell you."
Kate sighed, like Jack was a little boy who'd asked too many questions. "Because some things ... if you know them, you'll never look at that person the same way again. You don't know what I did, Jack, and it's better you don't. Just as I'm sure Sawyer doesn't really want me sharing his secrets."
Jack looked away quickly, and then back at her. "I didn't realize you two were ..."
Kate stood up, dusting the dirt off her knees." We're not. It's just ... we understand each other, I think."
"Right. Your connection." Jack said, unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice. "So you call him James when it's just the two of you?"
"James?" Kate's surprise was genuine. "No... that's his real name?"
"You didn't know?" The whole scenario he had constructed about the two of them in the last few hours fell apart right there.
"No. I just... No. I didn't. James. Huh." She looked like she was doing what Jack had been doing, trying to picture Sawyer with a different name -- and not being able to.
"James Ford. Sounds like an outlaw, doesn't it? Kind of Old West?"
"Yeah, it does," Kate smiled, wrinkling up her nose. "Yeah, that does kind of suit him." And then she was laughing. "Can't you just picture him with a six-shooter and a cowboy hat?"
"Glaring out from a ‘Wanted' poster?" Jack found himself laughing too. "Yeah, you know, I can."
"The Outlaw James Ford," Kate giggled.
They swapped images of Sawyer in an old Western: stepping through a set of swinging saloon doors, hat pushed back on his head as he smoked and studied his cards in a high-stakes poker game, then daring some four-flusher to "Draw, dammit."
When their laughter died down, Kate grew serious again. "Jack, you're not going to push him on this, are you?"
The ease of being able to laugh with her again faded all too quickly. "No. Don't worry," he said, snapping at her a little.
She laid her hand on his arm. "Go easy on him, Jack."
He bobbed his head, leaving her to try out how the name "James" sounded on her tongue.
When he wandered by Sawyer's tent the next day, he was wearing the mended jeans, and nothing else but sunglasses as he dozed in the afternoon sun.
He felt Jack's shadow fall across him and sat up, pushing the sunglasses up on his head.
"Don't worry," Jack said with a wry smile. "She wouldn't tell me."
"Ahh." Sawyer turned over this bit of information. "Well, lucky me."
"I don't suppose you know what she did ..."
"Me? Nah. We ain't exactly braiding each other's hair and swapping secrets, you know."
"No, I guess not. I wonder... why you two aren't together." It wasn't what Jack had meant to say, but it was certainly on his mind.
"Hell, doc, you playin' matchmaker?" Sawyer flashed his broadest grin.
"No, it's just, you seem so alike ..."
"And you can't figure either of us out. Am I right?"
Jack nodded, feeling suddenly adrift, like he did nearly every time he talked to Sawyer.
"Here's some free advice, Doc. You think we both got some secret sorrow, and it draws you like rotting meat draws flies. You're just itchin' to fix one or both of us and you're tying yourself up in knots because you can't. Well, some things can't be fixed, Doc." Sawyer's jaw tightened and his eyes went hard. "Some things, some people, you just gotta let be."
Jack looked away. No way Sawyer could know he was echoing Sarah's words to him. Nobody here except Sun even knew he'd been married. He ran his tongue along the inside of his cheek. Sawyer had his secrets, so did Kate. Maybe Jack's weren't as deep and dark as theirs, but they were his, and he was going to keep them, same as they were.
"Nice job on those jeans," he said at last, noting the surprisingly neat row of stitches across Sawyer's thigh.
Sawyer nodded his thanks. He ran his hand over the stitched-up area. "Yeah, guess I'm not such a bad hand at mendin.'"
"Well, your secret's safe with me. James," Jack added with a grin, not waiting to see Sawyer's reaction before he walked away.