Fandom: Lost/Oz crossover (Lost: pre-island AU, Oz: post-prison AU)
Pairings: Jack/Sawyer, eventual Beecher/Keller
Summary: Sawyer’s less than thrilled when an old buddy from Oz turns up unexpectedly in L.A.
Author: halfdutch, story by foxxcub and halfdutch. This is all her idea, to get me writing Oz!
Notes: For foxxcub, the best collaborator a girl could ever ask for. :-) This is a sequel to her fabulous Lost/Oz xover, The Absolute True Story of Sawyer's Adventures in Oz. I guess all you really need to know by way of backstory is that Sawyer was briefly in prison and now he's out. And, of course, Jack loves Sawyer and Keller loves Beecher. Claming for fanfic100 prompt "Storm."
Sawyer doesn’t believe in omens. Weather is weather and in Los Angeles, it's pretty much the same, day in and day out.
But he’s never heard wind like this. Not in L.A. Helluva thing. He lies there, wide awake, listening to the wind howl in fierce protest against the windows and watching the trees toss in wild, spooky silhouette while Jack -- a lifelong insomniac, to hear him tell it -- somehow manages to sleep through the gale.
It's Jack’s house, not his, so Jack should be the one lying awake and worrying that a tree is going to come crashing into the bedroom any second. Or that the wind's going to sweep the whole house up into the air, like something out of The Wizard of Oz.
It’s not like he's been sleeping all that well these last few nights anyway. Something in his bones tells him it's time to go. He’s already stayed too long, and for nothing. He's not going to clean Jack out, not now.
He’d been off his game when he’d met him, when Jack had just floated into view, warm and solid and smiling at him so reassuringly as he struggled to come to in the E.R. He’d been jumped in an unlit parking lot, beaten so badly he was bleeding inside, Jack told him, polite concern in those dark brown eyes. The police had come and asked questions, but Jack never did, just squeezed his arm and told him he was going to be okay.
The good doc’s bedside visits quickly became more than a professional courtesy. He didn’t have to work at all to reel Jack in. And Jack was just his type: rich and trusting. The fact that all that came in such a handsome package certainly didn’t hurt. Sawyer didn’t really need the money, after the last job, but he was never one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
But somehow, he’d just never set the wheels in motion with Jack. Never spun any tales about investments or dying relatives. Never even told him the truth, that he owed dangerous sums of money to men who’d kill him if they could find him.
No, he’d gone on pretending that things with Jack were exactly what they seemed to be. He was Jack’s grateful patient and then his favorite drinking partner. And then one night he became the man who Jack invited into his bed. He’d never really left after that. He kept his apartment, but Jack had given him a set of keys and he’d stayed.
Until tonight. The storm seems to be telling him what he already knows. There’s nothing safe, nothing that will last.
He's not going to get any sleep, so he might as well get a good view of the storm from the plate glass window in the living room. But when he sits up, Jack nuzzles closer, waking up just enough to mumble something incoherent and pull him back down. His arm is draped loosely over Sawyer's chest, his body pressed up against him, warm and inviting. He could move Jack aside, if he wanted, and get up anyway, but he doesn't. He just lies there until it gets light, planning his escape.
He feigns sleep when Jack wakes. Doesn't even stir when Jack grazes his cheek with a goodbye kiss when he leaves for the hospital.
Too edgy to make breakfast, he takes out a duffel bag -- his own, the one he’d moved over most of his clothes with -- and starts to pack. He rolls the clothes up carefully, so they won’t wrinkle. When he finishes, he slings the bag over his shoulder. It's heavier than he remembered.
He's not going to leave Jack a note. Just the keys on the dining room table. But when he walks into the living room, the sight of the poplars that ring the backyard, now bent and broken, make him pause. Jack loves those. He puts down the bag and steps outside to survey the damage from the storm. Leaves and tree branches are scattered everywhere. He decides that if he ties up the torn poplar branches, they can heal, like a hedge.
He spends most of the morning and afternoon cleaning up the yard. The huge, heavy palm fronds are the worst. Without thinking, he answers the phone when it rings, walking back out into the yard with the cordless phone. Jack will be working late, he’s called to say, so Sawyer shouldn’t wait for him for dinner. Jack is making it so easy for him. Instead, he answers, “Sure. I mean, yeah. I can wait.”
He hangs up and kicks the pile of branches he’d just piled so neatly. Bad weather doesn’t mean anything but a mess to clean up.
By evening, the yard is cleared of debris, the trees mended as best he can manage, and Sawyer’s bag unpacked. He ran to the store, bought a ridiculously expensive bottle of wine and picked up some steaks, all the makings of a good meal. Jack doesn’t know it, but Sawyer has something to celebrate.
By 9:30, he’s already made a dent in the bottle of wine, but Sawyer waits to put the steak under the broiler until he hears the car in the drive.
He pours a fresh glass of wine and heads out to meet Jack. He takes the curved steps toward the driveway entirely too fast, squinting into the dark. “It’s about damn ...” he starts to say. And then he realizes that the car in the driveway isn’t Jack’s.
A man about Jack’s height is getting out of the car, but when he starts up the steps toward him, the light from the garage glints off the man’s forehead. Definitely not Jack. Hairline’s all wrong. He freezes. The man has no place here, casually climbing up the slate steps of Jack’s Beverly Hills home.
“The one and only,” Keller smiles, like it’s no big deal he’s here. Like he’d been invited to dinner.
Sawyer’s grip on the the wineglass tightens as Keller reaches the step below him, and pauses, not even out of breath, the fucker. It’s odd to see him in a suit and tie. Odd to see him in anything but standard-issue prison grays. Sawyer sizes up the way Keller’s jacket hangs. It doesn’t look like he’s carrying a gun, but Sawyer’s suddenly glad for the glass in his hand.
“How’d you find me? This ain’t even my house.” His voice is low, threatening.
“No, but you spend all your time here.” Keller looks around, surveying the property with an approving nod. “Very considerate of the good doctor.”
Sawyer’s chin goes up. How long has Keller been watching him, watching this house? “He’s gonna be home any minute.”
“Well, then you can introduce me.”
“As what, exactly?”
Keller’s right eyebrow shoots up as his mouth pulls to the side in what might be a charming smile on anyone else. “I’m guessing you haven’t told him about your stint in Oz.”
Fucking timing. Sawyer almost has to laugh. He’d have been long gone by now if he hadn’t had that change of heart over those damn trees. Except then Keller would be sniffing around Jack, who wouldn’t have a fucking clue how to deal with a snake like him. No, it’s a good thing he stayed. Maybe he can send Keller on his way, before Jack gets home. Sawyer forces a smile. “What do you want, money?”
Keller shoves his hands in his pockets and has the good grace to look insulted. “No. No. I was just in town, thought I’d look up an old buddy.”
“Awful lot of trouble just for a social visit.”
“Is it?“ Keller squints, like he’s seriously considering the question. “So you gonna invite me in or what?”
Sawyer glares at him with enough naked hostility to make a man with good sense suddenly remember a previous engagement and get the fuck out.
Keller just smiles blandly back in a vaguely amused way, not yielding an inch.
Between the two of them, something has to give: it ends up being the wineglass. The stem snaps in Sawyer’s grip, the broken edge digging into the palm of his left hand. He drops it without thinking and the rest of the glass shatters on the steps. He flinches, cradling his hand, more mad at himself than hurt.
“Ow!” Keller makes a face and reaches for Sawyer’s hand. “That looks bad.“
“Wait here,” Sawyer orders with a scowl, stabbing a finger at Keller like he’s a dog who needs to heel. He goes back into the house for a bandage; a doctor’s medicine cabinet is always well stocked. On a closer inspection, the cut on his hand isn’t so bad. He wraps it up awkwardly with his right hand and goes out to deal with Keller.
He could have sworn that he locked the front door behind him, but when he comes back out of the bathroom, Keller is in the kitchen, rescuing the steaks from the broiler.
Fuck. Sawyer had completely forgotten about dinner.
“I’d say dinner’s ready.” Keller’s already got his coat off. Made himself right at home, the bastard.
Sawyer reaches for a new glass and pours himself whiskey, not wine. Dinner isn’t ruined, but everything else is. It no longer matters if Jack comes home to find one ex-con or two in his kitchen. It was all going to catch up with him sooner or later. He’s stayed just one day too late.
“Yeah, you go ahead,” Sawyer says with a heavy sigh, gesturing towards the table he set over an hour ago as he slumps against the counter. “I’m not hungry.”
He watches Keller eat. They trade names: Who’s still in Oz. Who’s dead. Who should be dead. Keller doesn’t elaborate on why he’s here and Sawyer doesn’t ask. Ten to one it all comes down to money. Why else would a man travel all the way across the country? And if it’s not money... even though Keller is sitting in his -- Jack’s -- house, calmly catching up like the old friend he’s pretending to be, Sawyer keeps a watchful eye on that steak knife. He wants something and it’s not going to be something Sawyer wants to give.
“Cozy setup,” Keller says between mouthfuls. “That rich boyfriend got any idea about you?”
Sawyer shrugs, affecting a complete lack of concern. “Enough.” As far as Jack knows, Sawyer’s darkest deed was hustling pool. If Keller is here to demand a payoff to keep Sawyer’s secrets safe, then he’s going to be sorely disappointed. Doesn’t matter now if Keller spills what he knows. He just can’t let that smooth-talking bastard think Jack’s some kind of prize turkey to be split, fifty-fifty. The thought of Keller coming near Jack at all is not one he’s happy to entertain, but he’s got a good idea that letting on that Jack is more than his current mark is about the stupidest thing he could do right now.
Because he can’t shake Keller. No reason to call the cops. Pointless to try to toss him out. And Keller has to know that showing up here, instead of waiting to catch Sawyer alone at his apartment, means Sawyer isn’t about to try anything stupid. All he can do is sip his whiskey and wait for Keller to tell him why he’s really here.
By the time Jack arrives, Sawyer’s comfortably numb. He barely looks up in greeting as Jack stands in the doorway to the dining room, keys still clutched in his hand.
“I didn’t know we had company,” Jack says after an awkward beat, glancing from Keller, who’s busy polishing off the steak meant for him, to Sawyer.
“Name’s Keller,” Chris says, standing up and offering a hand that Jack doesn’t cross the room to take. Keller shrugs and reaches for the glass of wine instead.
“Old friend,” Sawyer gestures broadly towards Keller. “Dropped in, out of the blue.” Another night, he might be warmed by the hint of jealousy in Jack’s eyes, might enjoy letting Jack think he’d cooked dinner just for Chris. But right now, he doesn’t really care what Jack thinks. Let him get all the wrong ideas. It’s another way out and before the night is through, he might be taking it.
The hostile glint fades from Jack’s eyes. If Sawyer is giving up, then so is he. He rubs the back of his neck. He looks beat. “Well, a friend of Sawyer’s...”
Sawyer waves him to the table and pours him a drink, which Jack gladly accepts.
“Sawyer! What happened to your hand?” His brow knits with concern and he comes closer to see for himself.
Sawyer waves him away. “Broke a wineglass.” The truth is always simplest. “Just a scratch.”
Jack shoots a quick look at Keller, like he suspects he had a hand in Sawyer’s injury, but he lets the question go, unasked. He turns, instead, to the usual small talk. “So how do you two...”
Both Keller and Sawyer speak at the same time. Sawyer glares at Keller. School? Keller shrugs and mops up a spot of marinade with the last bit of steak. He’s enjoying putting Sawyer on the spot, making him sweat.
Jack guards his confusion well. He sips his wine, peppering Keller with polite questions, receiving polite, noncommittal answers in return.
“There’s another steak...” Sawyer offers, fighting the urge to pull Jack aside and swear to him he’d tell Keller to fuck off if he could, that tonight was supposed to be about starting fresh, not bringing the past crashing down around his ears.
He heads into the kitchen and checks the steak, which had been cooked to perfection 30 minutes ago. He has a choice between reheating it and serving it as is. He sighs and shoves it back under the broiler for a few more minutes. It’s considerably less appetizing by the time he slides it onto a plate, so he heaps extra marinade on top, like that’ll help.
He stands over the plate for another minute listening tensely to the low murmur of conversation in the next room. He can’t tell if Keller’s ratted him out yet. He pastes on a smile and walks back in. The tension between the two of them is palpable and Jack’s visibly relieved when Sawyer reappears, making excuses for ruining Jack’s dinner. He assures Sawyer that the steak looks delicious, but after a few bites, he picks at it distractedly.
Keller leans back, nodding when Sawyer offers to refill his glass. "So, Jack, you ever been to New York?"
If Keller has a file on Jack, like he seems to, he'd know full well he went to Columbia. Jack can't possibly know that, though, and dutifully fills him in on his med school days.
Keller appears to be listening. He appears to be giving Jack his full attention, but Sawyer knows he's honed in on him, waiting for the moment to make his move, just as Sawyer is waiting for him to make it.
Sawyer opens a fresh bottle of wine and changes to a safe topic. “Helluva storm last night.”