Jack sat with Boone's head cradled in his lap, and Boone's hand gripped tightly in his. It was the only comfort he could offer him, and it was pitifully inadequate. He wanted to keep Boone's mind off his pain somehow, but all his attempts at small talk met with no response. His own mind was full of nightmare visions of what had happened to Charlie and Claire. He swallowed back the lump that was forming in his throat. "It's going to be OK," he kept saying out loud, as much to himself as to Boone.
Boone had never known such pain. He'd broken his thumb once, accidentally slamming it in his old boyfriend's car door during a fight, but this was pain indescribable, overwhelming. It swallowed him up until he felt he didn't even exist anymore. The pain was taking him over, erasing him, wiping out his every thought.
He could hear Jack talking steadily, but the words didn't seem to mean anything. The only thing that seemed real apart from the pain was Jack's hand and he clung to it like a drowning man to a rope.
At last Kate reached the caves. Stopping to catch her breath, she asked herself for the twentieth time how she should break the news to Shannon, if she was the first one she ran into. "No time to waste," she decided, plunging in. The only people sitting there were Hurley, Walt, and the Korean couple. "Where's your dad?" she asked Walt.
"He went looking for Charlie and Claire, too," he said, surprised to see her.
"Did you find them?" Hurley asked tentatively, noting the disappointed look on Kate's face.
She shook her head. "No, we didn't. Boone broke his leg. Jack's with him. I need people to help carry him but first we need to make a stretcher. I was hoping Michael could help with that."
Hurley took in the information without asking Kate more questions. "Maybe Sawyer has some stuff you can use," he said.
"I think he was going to visit Sayid," Walt offered.
"Sawyer went to visit Sayid?" Kate repeated, alarmed. "How long ago was that?"
"About 20 minutes," Walt said, scared at Kate's reaction.
"Oh shit," Hurley said, half standing up.
"Am I in trouble?" Walt was asking as Kate ran out, headed toward the cave where Sayid had been staying since his return.
"Sawyer!" she swore to herself. That's all they needed now, to have Sawyer taking his revenge on Sayid. "He wouldn't kill him!" she thought as she ran, but she wasn't sure if she believed herself.
She reached the entrance, took a deep breath, and went in. Sawyer and Sayid looked up at her in surprise. She looked from one to the other. There were no signs they'd been fighting. Sawyer was sitting several feet away from Sayid, and the two appeared to have been merely talking.
"What is it?" Sayid asked, noting Kate's flushed appearance.
She swayed a little where she stood, so relieved was she to see them both alive and well. Sawyer regarded her seriously, his usual smile absent for once.
She briefed them on what had happened to Boone. "We need to rig up some sort of stretcher," she said, throwing out her hands to help illustrate what she meant. "And we need people to carry him. At least four, probably."
Sayid nodded, considering the problem. "Unfortunately, I am in no shape to help carry anyone," he said, indicating his own bad leg. "But there must be something we can use as a stretcher. Or we can make one, but it may take some time."
"We have to hurry," Kate said frantically. "Boone's in a lot of pain."
"Hey, what about the wheelchair?" Sawyer offered.
"That would be difficult to carry so far," Sayid said, shaking his head.
"Well then, how about an airplane seat?" Sawyer said.
"That's awfully heavy," Kate sighed.
"Well, you two come up with something," Sawyer said, getting angry. He stood up and stalked out of the cave.
Kate walked after him, and stopped him by putting her hand on his arm. "Sawyer," she said softly. "Those are good ideas, but we have so far to go. We have to think of something else." She gave him a small smile and his anger evaporated. His mouth twitched, but he merely nodded.
His sarcastic retort died on his lips. No one had come to tell him about Charlie and Claire. No one ever came to him unless they needed some thing he had. Did anyone ever come and just say hello, or ask for his help? Of course not, he said to himself, surprised and angry at his own hurt feelings. What did he expect, after all?
He sighed. "Whatever I can do to help," he said quietly.
A look flashed across his face, one Kate couldn't identify. He looked ... grateful, she finally decided. "Thanks," she said and Sawyer nodded, that fleeting expression crossing his face again.
"Maybe we can tie a blanket or a tarp to some poles," she continued. "But maybe that's not enough support. Jack was worried about keeping Boone's leg stable. If we could get some kind of board or something really solid, but not too heavy..."
"That's it!" Sawyer said, his face lighting up. "It's perfect!" He grabbed Kate by the waist and swung her around, much to her surprise. He planted a quick kiss on her lips and she was too stunned to react. "I'll be right back," he said, letting go of her and turning to leave in the same action. "Hot damn," he said to himself as he ran off.
Kate smiled, puzzled but reassured by his enthusiasm. She turned to see Sayid regarding her curiously. "Oh, he's come up with an idea," she began, blushing madly.
"What is it?" Sayid asked, and she wasn't sure if he was mad or amused.
"He didn't say," she replied, tucking some stray hair behind her ear. "But he seems to think it's perfect."
"You trust him?" Sayid said.
"We don't have time not to," she said matter-of-factly. "In the meantime, I'm going to get Jack's medical bag. And do you know where Shannon is?"