Summary: Jack's determined to have a Merry Christmas, even if it kills him
Note: Written for gemjam for lost_hohoho. She asked for "Jack/Sawyer, post-island, decorating their first Christmas tree together." Angsty, but not overly so, I hope. I'd love to write the Sawyer birthday prompt later, if you like! ;) Enormous thanks to zelda_zee for the beta! Using fanfic100 prompt, “children."
Sawyer couldn’t even come with him to get the fucking tree. He’d just stayed sprawled on the couch, beer in hand, watching the game while Jack stood at the door, waiting for him to change his mind.
Sawyer had perfected the art of pretending Jack didn’t exist. He didn’t move a muscle, other than to bring the bottle to his lips.
Jack finally had to go by himself and he didn’t care that he slammed the door behind him. Already this Christmas, their first real Christmas together, was a failure. Which, he had to admit, made it just like every other Christmas he’d known growing up.
He flipped on the radio in the car and as luck would have it, someone -- he had no idea who since it wasn’t Elvis -- was singing, I’ll have a blue Christmas without you... “With you is more like it,” he grumbled out loud and switched the radio off.
What was wrong with putting up a Christmas tree? Sawyer had already commented on Jack getting out all his mother’s decorations and setting them on the coffee table in preparation. He pointed to the neat labeling on the side of each box. “Now I know where you get it from,” he said, eyeing the boxes with distaste.
“What?” Jack didn’t like the edge in his voice, the one Sawyer kept putting there.
“Being so damn organized.” Sawyer said the word like you’d say “selfish.” Or “stupid.”
Jack hadn’t bothered to defend himself or his late mother’s neatness. There was no point, really. He’d just gone to get his coat, because if he didn’t get to the lot tonight, he’d have to wait until tomorrow and tonight was the night he’d set aside for the tree.
The lot was too brightly lit and the trees far too expensive, but he found a perfect one almost immediately, to his annoyance. He shoved $100 at the lot manager and muttered something about highway robbery and then he loaded up the tree by himself. If Sawyer didn’t like this tree, he could just go get his own.
He carried it into the house without any help from Sawyer. He already had the Christmas tree stand set up in the corner, but the bottom of the tree was too bushy to fit. He had to go to the garage -- with Sawyer looking on with a raised eyebrow at the proceedings -- and find a saw. It was only after he’d spent a good 10 minutes looking for it that he realized that since they’d never needed a saw, they’d never bought one.
He sagged against the workbench and blew out a breath. He wasn’t going to lose it. He was going to go in there and get the damn tree up somehow and they were going to have a merry Christmas, even if it killed him.
Jack walked back in to find Sawyer kneeling by the tree, a pile of branches sitting next to him. He smiled at Jack’s confusion and held up a serrated knife, the one Jack had used to cut his bagel that morning. “Gotta improvise,” he said with a flash of dimples, as if he were pleased to find that The Great Planner had fallen down in his flawless preparations.
“You’re ruining the knife,” Jack said, instantly regretting how Sawyer stiffened at not being thanked. He was finally helping, after all.
“Love you too,” Sawyer said with a shake of his head, turning back to the tree. “You’re the one who wanted the fuckin’ thing.”
Jack took over Sawyer’s place on the couch. The bottle of beer wasn’t empty, so he picked it up, playing with the label. He couldn’t explain why this was so important to him, just as he couldn’t understand why Sawyer was so opposed to the idea. Ever since the rescue, since Sawyer had moved in with him three months ago, he’d waited for the day Sawyer simply wasn’t there when he woke up, for the day he’d decide that domesticity and happy ever after and Jack weren’t for him. Jack had tried not to push. He’d resisted talking about anything farther off than next week because he didn’t want Sawyer to feel trapped. And maybe a tree with all the trimmings was a trap.
Sawyer had finished sawing and sat back on his heels to survey his handiwork. He wiped his bare hands on his jeans, ruining them, Jack could have told him, since the sap was never going to come out, but Sawyer was actually looking pleased so he didn’t say anything.
Jack felt like he’d been walking on eggshells this whole time. Like he might as well still be ten years old, trying to guess what poorly chosen word or tone of voice was going to set his father off. Or it might as well be just a few years ago, those last few months with Sarah when they’d passed the butter at the breakfast table and smiled brittle smiles at each other until he’d thought his face might crack from the effort.
”I just thought you...” Jack hesitated, picking at the edge of the beer label. He was always reluctant to make even the vaguest reference to the spectacular tragedy of Sawyer’s childhood. He cleared his throat, started over. “Just thought maybe you didn’t have one, all those years on the move.”
Sawyer laughed at that, a snort of amusement or annoyance or both. “Right. I’m Christmas tree-deprived. Worst tragedy ever.”
Jack’s chest hurt, the way it always did when he thought of what Sawyer went through growing up: being bounced from home to home, and then a life spent on the run, always looking over his shoulder, never trusting anyone, never having a home to call his own.
Sawyer had managed to get the tree into the stand, tightening the screws on each side until it was standing up straight and proud. He snatched his beer back from Jack’s halfhearted grip and drained it in one go, wiping his mouth like he’d done a hard day’s work and he’d really needed that beer. In his untucked plaid shirt and his worn jeans, he looked like some impossibly handsome construction worker, one who could stop traffic dead when he shook loose that mess of shaggy blonde hair.
Jack had never gotten used to having these intense, conflicted feelings for Sawyer: a lust so strong he sometimes couldn’t breathe, coupled with that bone-deep protectiveness that he did his best to keep hidden for fear of spooking him. Mostly, he thought, he ended up watching Sawyer, wanting him and not being quite sure whether he really had him. And not at all sure what to do to keep him.
He’d wanted so badly to create a home with Sawyer, for Sawyer. And now his insistence on having a stupid Christmas tree was going to be the last straw, the thing that finally drove Sawyer away. He took a deep breath and let it out. He was just going to do what he’d always done: pretend everything was okay.
“Hey, let’s put some music on,” he said with an enthusiasm he didn’t feel, rising from the couch toward the pile of Christmas CDs he’d put aside. “Bing? Frank?”
“Either one,” Sawyer shrugged, so Jack picked the Sinatra album.
Sawyer stood back, watching as Jack strung the lights on the tree, winding the string carefully, and only then remembering that he’d forgotten to test it first. He held his breath as he plugged it in and breathed a sigh of relief when it actually lit up.
He turned to smile at Sawyer, but he wasn’t there. He heard the water running in the kitchen -- probably Sawyer washing his hands -- and then heard the refrigerator door shut. Sawyer strolled back in, a fresh beer in his hand. He gave Jack a perfunctory nod, like a disinterested supervisor who’ll let anything short of a complete fuckup go.
Jack smiled, that false bright smile he used to be so good at, and tore into the neatly labeled Christmas boxes. Inside each box were stacks of ornaments, each neatly tucked away in their original packaging, four or six or two to a box. He held a small box in each hand, trying to decide between the colors he could see through the cellophane.
“What do you think? Red balls? White?”
“Hell, don’t matter to me. Just not blue.”
“Right, no blue balls,” Jack nodded, and then he caught Sawyer’s wicked smile and laughed, relieved to be able to defuse the tension that had been building all evening. “Of course not.” He handed Sawyer a delicate glass red ball. “Here. Why don’t you put the first one on?”
Sawyer grimaced, but he hung it up by its tiny little hook, choosing the very end of the closest branch.
“Looks good,” Jack said. “How about some white and gold?”
They worked in silence, the sounds of Frank and his J.I.N.G.L.E. bells and the scent of pine filling up the empty spaces in the room.
“What about these?” Sawyer was pitching in at last, but he’d grabbed the wrong box. He’d already opened it and had pulled out a string with a dangling misshapen clay figure that only Jack knew was supposed to be an elf.
“No! Those never go on the tree.”
“Look at it! It’s crap I made as a kid. Don’t know why mom even saved them.” Jack succeeded in wresting the box from Sawyer and placing it back on the table.
Sawyer was gazing at him oddly. “Your ma never put those up?”
“No. They’re awful. Would have ruined the tree.”
Sawyer kept looking at him in that strange way until Jack could feel his face growing red. “It’s no big deal. She wanted a pretty tree.”
“Didn’t say anythin,’” Sawyer said softly. He took a swig of beer and looked away. “So you always decorate the tree with your ma?”
Jack snorted. “No, she didn’t...” He stopped, hating this strange suspicion that Sawyer was feeling sorry for him. He didn’t want to say that she hadn’t trusted him with the delicate glass ornaments. That she took her tree decorating so seriously that deciding where each ornament should go could take up to five minutes, and then sometimes she’d take them all down and start over, so how could he, as a boy, help with that?
“Didn’t help Sarah either,” he found himself saying. Sawyer had pressed the beer into his hand, so he took a swig. “I wasn’t ever home, so she just went ahead without me.”
“So this year...”
“This year I wanted to get it right.”
Sawyer was still regarding him with that look that always made him catch his breath, the one that said he was here, not a million miles away. That for once those blue eyes weren’t veiled with distant thoughts, with plans to be somewhere else.
But it never lasted. Sawyer had already turned away. His gaze was on the half-finished tree. “I always helped my mama with the tree,” he said quietly. “Never seemed any point in havin’ one, on my own.”
You’re not on your own anymore, Jack wanted to say, but that fear of pushing too hard, saying too much, stopped him. Sawyer stood stock still, transfixed by the tree, reliving memories that Jack dared not disturb.
He took a step towards him, wanting just to touch him because he didn’t know what the hell to say, but Sawyer had already turned back to him, his reverie broken.
“So hey, you finish the beer, I’ll finish the tree,” Sawyer said with a decisive nod, like they hadn’t both been tiptoeing around each other’s rawest memories.
Jack dutifully sipped the beer as he watched Sawyer methodically place one ornament after the other on the tree until the big box was nearly empty.
Sinatra’s voice suddenly broke in again, as if on cue. From now on, our troubles will be miles away. It was a melancholy song and those lyrics had always seemed wistful, as if the singer knew that they weren’t ever going to come true.
Sawyer rummaged in the box, pulling out a glittery gold star and an anemic-looking porcelain angel. “Star or angel?”
“Star,” Jack said firmly, pointing to Sawyer’s left hand. “I always hated that angel.”
Sawyer mimicked the pinched face the angel was making. “Okay, bitch, back in the box.” Star in hand, he stretched up to his full height, but he couldn't quite reach the top of the tree. The whole tree trembled as he tipped it towards him and Jack wanted to tell him to stop and get a fucking ladder, but then the star was up and the lights on the tree hadn’t even faltered. Sawyer stepped back to get a good look at the full effect.
Through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow.
“Hang a star upon the highest bough. Just doin’ what Frank tells me,” Sawyer grinned, that wide, warm, welcoming smile that made Jack’s heart skip a beat.
It only took seconds to cross the living room to be at Sawyer’s side. He could feel the heat coming off Sawyer, and his own skin was flushed and not just from the beer.
“So what if Frank told you to kiss me?” He stepped closer, pressing his forehead against Sawyer’s. His hands went to Sawyer’s waist, fingers twining in his belt.
“Then I’d have to,” Sawyer said, voice growing husky with desire, eyes closing tightly as he leaned in to kiss him, strong and sure, just like the hands gripping Jack’s shirt. They felt like he wasn’t ever going to let go.
Sawyer’s hands still smelled strongly of pine from the tree, but Jack didn’t mind, didn’t protest when Sawyer tugged at his shirt buttons or when he pulled him down onto the living room rug.
This is what Jack lived for, when Sawyer was breathing this fast and ragged, when his hands were rough and impatient and he couldn’t get Jack naked fast enough. Jack’s slacks were around his ankles and shirt balled-up under his right arm but who could think about that with Sawyer, miraculously naked now too, lowering himself to Jack with a low, anticipatory growl?
He usually teased Jack, made him wait while he let his hands play over Jack’s body, everywhere but his cock, until Jack had to beg him. Tonight, there was no teasing, no begging, just Sawyer looking up at Jack, eyes dark and wide, as he enveloped Jack’s cock with his warm, wet mouth.
Jack tried to keep his eyes open, tried to watch Sawyer watch him, watch every little tremor he was causing with each swirl of his tongue, each spit-slicked stroke of his hand, but it was too much. He wasn’t going to be able to hold out as it was, not tonight, not with all the worry and the frustration taking him so near the edge already. He gave up, his head falling back, off the rug, hitting the slate floor beneath, but he didn’t care.
He didn’t care because he’d never felt this fucking good in his life, arching up into the intense pressure and delicious wet heat of Sawyer’s mouth. Sawyer’s right hand stretched up Jack’s chest, outspread fingers kneading him like a possessive cat.
Jack dug his hands deep into the dense nap of the rug as the room spun in a short, sharp burst and he could only gasp out Sawyer, before he was caught up in the rush.
His senses came trickling back in that strange order they always did. First the scent of sex and sweat and then the sound of his own ragged breathing, and then the comforting solid weight of another body on top of his. And then he’d opened his eyes to meet Sawyer’s, always a little afraid to let himself be this vulnerable, this exposed, and to see that reflected in Sawyer’s gaze.
Sawyer’s hand rested easily on Jack’s abdomen, charting its rapid rise and fall, looking as satisfied with his work as he did when he’d got that tree standing up right. He sat back, a wicked grin in place as he slowly wiped his mouth, tongue leisurely flicking over his fingers to taste the last trace of Jack there. Jack nearly moaned, cock already twitching back to life. Sawyer knew just what he was doing to Jack, knew that he could get Jack hard again with just a look, without even touching him.
Frank was singing that old standard, “The Christmas Song.” “Think we might have to keep doin’ what Frank says,” Sawyer murmured, tracing a finger around Jack’s right nipple, up to the fullness of his lower lip.
Jack paused, puzzled, until Sawyer repeated the line. "Many times, many ways."
“Yes,” he leaned forward. “Absolutely, we do.”