Chapter 1: Solitude
Summary: AU - Jack and Sawyer are P.I.s in 1952 Los Angeles. Both are in love with Kate.
Author: halfdutch. Story by foxxcub & halfdutch
Rating: R for language, violence
Warning: Mild slash in this chapter
Note: Two great things that go great together: film noir and Lost! All the angst and all the flashbacks, but with lots more drinking and smoking!
Jack poured himself another shot of bourbon. The office was so empty tonight, but the gloom suited his mood. He couldn’t be bothered to go to a bar. Or go home. With Sawyer gone, the office felt even emptier. "Shepard and Sawyer, Private Investigators," the lettering on the glass door read, but why did Jack have a feeling it was already a lie? That Sawyer wasn't ever coming back?
He'd spent all day looking for him at his usual haunts. And even some of the more unusual ones. But no one had seen Sawyer. Not that they were admitting. Jack was exhausted and, worse, fresh out of hope. It was like Sawyer had just crawled in a hole and pulled it in after him.
He glanced over at the leather sofa where he’d sacked out more nights than he could remember and where he was probably going to sleep tonight too. He told himself you could barely see the blood stain, although today Claire had pointedly arranged the cushions to make sure it was covered.
Nothing was going to be the same now, not since he'd come back to the office this time last night, weary from a pointless all-day stakeout. He saw the light under the door and knew Sawyer was here after hours, too. "Hey, Sawyer, you got a woman in there?" he'd called out jokingly.
There'd been no answer. He walked in and hung up his jacket and hat on the coat rack, only then noticing the discarded coat on the floor. And the trail of blood that led to the washroom. "Sawyer?" Jack called again, drawing his gun.
He slowly pushed open the door of the washroom and pointed his gun inside. There was blood everywhere - on the sink, on the floor, even on the walls. And all over Sawyer's bare chest and arms. His partner was leaning over the sink, and when he saw the open door, his head jerked up. His eyes had the panic of a trapped animal.
"Jesus, Sawyer! What the hell happened?" Jack holstered his gun and walked over to get a better look at him. "Is that your blood?"
"Wrong place, wrong time," Sawyer said with a grimace. "Caught a bullet. It's not so bad."
"Not so bad? You're bleeding like a stuck pig!" Jack exclaimed, catching the source of the blood: A bullet wound in Sawyer's right shoulder. Sawyer had clearly been digging at it, trying to get it out, but had only succeeded in drawing more blood. A half-empty bottle of Scotch sat on the edge of the sink.
Jack rolled up his shirtsleeves. "There a reason you're not at the hospital?" he asked, examining the wound while Sawyer sagged against the wall. Whatever force of will that had propelled him back here despite his injury was fading before Jack's eyes. Sawyer didn't say anything, just grunted as Jack's fingers probed the ragged edges of the bullethole. "Who did this?" Jack asked.
“So, Doc, you gonna be able to fix me up this time?” Sawyer said, dodging the question. Doc. He liked to call him that in that teasing way of his, his Southern accent making the word sound more like an endearment than a nickname. He called him that because Jack was always tending to Sawyer’s scrapes, ever since they were boys. And Sawyer was always getting in scrapes. But this was more than a scrape.
"Give me some of that," Jack said, taking a swig of the Scotch. "And you better have some more."
He handed the bottle to Sawyer, who took a large swallow.
"Come with me," he said, taking his injured partner by the arm. "Let's get you on the couch."
Jack rummaged through his desk drawer and came up with a metal letter opener. " Last chance to see a real doctor," he offered, with a wry smile as he sterilized it with some alcohol.
Sawyer shook his head, his haunted expression telling Jack all he needed to know. Whoever plugged Sawyer was still after him. There couldn't be a hospital record. Or any cops.
Sawyer’s hands dug into the couch, into Jack’s shoulder as he began prying the bullet out. The building was empty or someone would have come running at the sound of Sawyer’s stomach-wrenching cries. He cursed out Jack with every word he could think of before finally passing out.
With Sawyer unconscious, Jack was able to get the slug out easily, unhindered by Sawyer's agonized cries. He shakily stood up, only now letting the nausea and fear catch up to him. He took another belt of Scotch. He had a million questions for Sawyer, but he knew better than to push him on it now.
Jack studied Sawyer's face. The lines of pain were still etched there, even though he was out cold. He was his partner and his best friend. They'd backed each other up in more situations than he could remember. But if he hadn't caught Sawyer here tonight, would he have come to him for help?
He bent over Sawyer, brushing his forehead with his lips. Whoever had shot Sawyer had to answer to him. Sawyer's eyes fluttered open. "Thanks, Jack," he said weakly.
It had just been a brief kiss. Just an acknowledgement that Sawyer would be OK, that everything was OK now. But with all the booze and the pain, somehow it became something else. Once he started kissing him, Jack knew this was something he'd been wanting to do ever since his dad had introduced him to the scrawny kid with the hard stare, all those years ago.
Sawyer melted into him, his wound forgotten. His hands dug into Jack’s shoulder again and he gave himself up to his partner with a groan that made Jack feel like he’d brought a sledgehammer crashing down and rung the gong at the fair. His prize was Sawyer, and he drank him in with his mouth, taking in his pain, his sorrows, every fuckin’ complicated thing about the man.
After Sawyer succumbed to the Scotch and fallen asleep, Jack crouched behind the door to the office, guarding it, his gun in his hand. But no one had come. He must have nodded off, because sometime in the night, Sawyer had disappeared. He hadn’t left a note. Hadn't called. Nothing. He was just gone. If it weren't for the blood, Jack thought he might have dreamt the whole thing.
The blood. He'd forgotten to clean it up before Claire arrived to open the office in the morning. It was her screams that had woken him up. She fell on Jack, sobbing incoherently when she saw him, as if she'd thought it was his blood.
He told her what little he knew about Sawyer. She'd nodded, still pale, but just brewed up some coffee and didn't ask any more questions. And then she shooed him out of the office to start his search. She was gone, too, by the time he stumbled back in hours later, but she'd scrubbed all the blood clean in his absence.
So now Jack sat at his desk, morosely drinking and wondering if he’d seen the last of Sawyer. Even if Sawyer was out of harm’s way and able to come back, Jack figured that drunken kiss had fucked things up between him and his partner but good.
And then she walked in, a petite brunette with a smile like the sun breaking through clouds after a thunderstorm and eyes so big and innocent they were like some endangered species of deer you weren’t allowed to hunt. And her body, well, a body like hers could only be done justice by the red dress she wore that clung to her in all the right places.
"Oh, Jack," she said, with a troubled gaze to which he could deny nothing. "You've got to help me find Sawyer."
(to be continued by foxxcub)