Summary: Sayid wanted to talk strategy and that was fine by him.
Spoilers: One of Us
Note: Early birthday fic for themoononastick. *mwah!* Also written for this week's Lost Riffs prompt: "anticipation, cold, knife." Huge thanks to zelda_zee for the beta.
They followed Juliet back to the camp, not bothering to be discreet about it. It was hardly a secret that they regarded her as their enemy, as someone whose every move needed to be watched and questioned.
She had been telling the truth about what was in the case and as they saw her hand it over to Jack, watched him open it up and nod, it seemed she’d been telling the truth about that as well. Jack shot her a smile and led her towards Claire’s bedside. Sawyer’s stomach clenched at the sight. Jack. Trusting her. It was so many kinds of wrong, he didn't know where to begin.
Sawyer let out an audible huff of frustration and Sayid turned to look at him, shaking his head. His eyes held a dark warning of violence, one that Sawyer knew must be mirrored in his own.
“Come. There is nothing more we can do tonight.” Sayid leaned closer, his voice dropping to a mere rumble in his throat. “Not here.”
Sawyer nodded. Sayid wanted to talk strategy and that was fine by him. Better than sitting here, like Kate, watching Jack’s and Juliet’s heads bent together. She was standing a few feet off, casting resentful glances in Juliet’s direction.
“We should get Kate in on this,” Sawyer said, starting towards her.
Sayid, with a gentle hand on his arm, stopped him. “She’s better off staying here.”
When Sawyer scowled back, Sayid added, “It’s useful for Kate to keep an eye on her.” He gave Sawyer a meaningful glance and Sawyer looked away. He didn’t need to say it. Kate’s jealousy made her the ideal watchdog. It gave Sawyer small comfort.
Sayid was already walking away. Sawyer took one last look at Kate’s mournful face and followed. He wasn’t sure what was worse, seeing Jack acting like that woman was one of them or Kate’s pinched, hurt expression. He knew just how Kate felt but instead of bringing them closer together, it was only driving them farther apart.
He followed Sayid away from the camp. The two men walked in silence, the only sound the soft crunch of sand under their feet, which gave way to the snap of twigs as they left the beach and struck out into the jungle. The sun was setting and Sawyer didn’t make a habit of going into the jungle at night. But Sayid was leading the way. The man walked like a cat and maybe he could see in the dark like one too. He walked on, as sure of his destination if it were broad daylight.
Finally, he seemed to decide they had gone far enough, out of sight and earshot of the rest of the camp and then he threw his pack down and sat beside it. He rubbed his temples and when he dropped his hand, all Sawyer could see of his face was the glitter of his eyes and the brief flash of teeth when he spoke.
“We have a few choices. We can try to get her alone again, force her to talk. We could ask someone else to occupy Jack, fake a medical emergency.”
“Pretty hard to top Claire’s. That was awful damn convenient,” Sawyer said, settling down next to Sayid on the damp ground.
“The timing was suspicious. I couldn’t help but wonder...”
“If she staged it? So now Claire’s one of them?” Sawyer snorted. “Hardly.”
“She did spend a great deal of time with them. Longer than Jack.”
The idea of sweet, innocent Claire being capable of such a ruse nearly made Sawyer laugh. But then the thought of what might have happened to Jack since his and Kate’s escape brought that cold knot of dread back to his stomach.
“You think they did something to him.” It wasn’t a question.
“We must consider the possibility. He is so changed. Towards Kate. Towards me. It was almost as if he resented that we came to his aid.”
Sayid told Sawyer of what he’d seen of Jack among the Others, how he’d joked and laughed with them. Sawyer tried to picture Jack tossing a football around like he didn’t have a care in the world. That was one mental image that just wouldn’t gel.
Sawyer, in turn, recounted how he’d seen Juliet operate, how she’d tasered him without blinking an eye, how she'd shot Pickett. “She’s a cold one. Sure, she helped us escape, but she’s got some endgame of her own. I’d as soon trust her as ... well, never.”
“Does Jack have a reason to trust her so implicitly?”
”Search me,” Sawyer sighed, stretching out his legs. He glanced up. The moon suddenly shone through the canopy of leaves overhead, casting the jungle and the two of them in a silvery light. “He sure as hell never trusted me.”
A second ago, he might not have caught Sayid’s quick smile, but he could see it plainly now. “Ahh, but you went out of your way to antagonize him.”
“Someone had to. Uptight, self-righteous sonofabitch.” Sawyer’s throat was tight. It felt like the man he was talking about, the one he’d enjoyed baiting and kidding, the one he’d gotten surprisingly damned fond of, was gone for good. One week and the guy was just gone. Sure, he walked like Jack and talked like Jack, but something was off and it wasn’t just the way he ushered her around like fucking royalty. Something had turned Jack against Kate and that hurt Sawyer almost as much as it hurt her.
“You suppose they told Jack? The things she said...” Sawyer didn’t want to meet Sayid’s gaze.
“They are well informed,” Sayid said after moment’s pause. “It is a technique I have used myself. Know your enemy. Know them so well that you know which buttons to push to make them bend and which to make them break.” His voice hadn’t changed but it sent a chill through Sawyer. “When you know a person that well, you can convince them that they are someone else. You can keep at it until they no longer know who they are. Until they need you to tell them.”
He’d been unable to picture a carefree, happy Jack but a cold, heartless Sayid was a man he’d seen all too well. He couldn’t believe he was sitting here, strategizing with Sayid. It felt like a lifetime ago, but his fingers ached at the memory of those tiny little bamboo slivers, and he rubbed them on his rough denim of his jeans.
Somehow, somewhere along the way, Sayid had stopped being an enemy and become an ally. Things changed, sure. But for Jack to cozy up overnight to someone who had caused the three of them nothing but suffering, that he couldn’t understand. Not from what he knew so far.
“He looks ... there wasn’t a mark on him.”
Sayid shrugged. “Fear is a great motivator. Starvation. Humiliation. But I am just speculating. Jack, for all we know, is just choosing a very unfortunate time to believe in the essential goodness of strangers. I do wonder how they know these things. My past is not so secret, I imagine. But what she said about you...”
Sawyer froze, like he had when Juliet had coldly thrown it in his face. He’d just let her take the case out of his hand, shock flooding through him that anyone knew. How could she possibly know?
A wave of nausea hit him, hard, like it had that night. He bent over, suddenly certain he was going to be sick. “Don’t see how...” he said between gritted teeth. “Middle of fuckin’ nowhere...” No point in denying it. The whole thing came crashing down on him. He had somehow learned to live with it, but now Jack knew and They knew and Sayid knew and it was just like living it all over again, the blood, the death rattle sounding harsh and loud from Duckett’s chest as Sawyer stood there in the rain and watched him die, and, like a little boy, wished to God he could just take it back.
He was vaguely aware of a hand on the back of his neck. The fingers curled into his hair, petting him as you would a sick child. “Sawyer.” Sayid didn’t seem to know what to say, but his touch was soothing. The nausea seemed to be passing but Sawyer couldn’t move.
When Sayid spoke, his voice was soft. “I know what it is to live with guilt. You killed one man? I tortured dozens. I broke their spirits. Maimed their bodies. Destroyed their lives. I told myself it was all for a purpose, that it was my duty. But ...” His voice trailed off. Even years later, it seemed, he hadn’t been able to justify it to himself. Or had just stopped trying.
“It was somethin’ I had to do,” Sawyer insisted, glad now for the darkness. “My whole life, I looked for that man. And then when I found him, he was the wrong one. The wrong one.” He choked. He wasn’t going to spill his whole life story. He didn’t need to explain himself to Sayid.
“It doesn’t matter.” Sayid was saying. His hand brushed Sawyer’s face and Sawyer flinched. Sayid took his head in his hands and forced it up to to face him. “They don’t really know you. They are using their knowledge of our pasts as a weapon. Next time, we will be ready.”
Sayid gently tucked a stray lock of hair behind Sawyer’s ear. "They don't know you," he said softly and then he breathed Sawyer’s name again, like a question, as he leaned in.
The anticipation of Sayid’s lips on his was more of a shock to Sawyer than the kiss itself. The ache of sorrow and despair changed into a different kind of ache as the warmth of Sayid’s mouth spread through him with a jolt.
Sayid held him fast, his hands buried in Sawyer’s hair as if to stop him from bolting until Sayid decided he was done with his slow exploration of Sawyer’s mouth. At first, Sawyer just gave in, let his jaw slacken, too overwhelmed to do anything but follow where Sayid led, just lie back as Sayid straddled him, as he felt the hardness of Sayid’s cock against his own.
Without his realizing it, his hand was fisting in Sayid’s shirt and with that realization came the urgent need to be touching Sayid, skin on skin. His hand went to the hem of Sayid’s T-shirt -- hovering at the waistband of his pants -- before sliding up and under the ribbed cotton.
Sayid broke the kiss, his breath hitching in his throat as Sawyer’s fingertips traveled over his stomach, following the line of hair trailing down his abdomen, teasing his hand upward until his palm was centered over Sayid’s heart. He could feel it beating as hard as his own. He kept it there for a moment, a pause to make sure this connection was real. The heat from Sayid’s body, his breath, hot on Sawyer’s cheek, the fingers twined in his hair were surely real. Nothing else might have existed in this moment but the two of them, hushed as if the next word either spoke might send the other running.
Sayid drew back, the moonlight bright enough for Sawyer to see the unasked question in his eyes.
“Yes,” Sawyer sighed, arching up and Sayid bent again to kiss him. This time, there was nothing gentle about his kiss. He ravaged Sawyer’s mouth, teeth scraping and bruising his lips, his tongue swiping over the roof of his mouth with an impatient little hiss as he pushed deeper, thumbs digging into the pulse point just under the hard line of Sawyer’s jaw, seeking more control, more access, until Sawyer yielded.
He ground his hips against Sawyer, breath coming faster as Sawyer rose to meet his challenge. There was no more hesitation, just hands grappling with buttons and tugging impatiently at bothersome fabric. A brief, shared laugh as they got in each other’s way in the rush to undo Sawyer’s jeans and then Sayid was gripping his cock tight and Sawyer’s head fell back because it felt so goddamn right.
“Sawyer.” He’d never heard his name like that on Sayid’s lips, a low half-growl that had him panting as much as the motion of Sayid’s hand.
He clutched at the hair on Sayid’s chest, now bare and damp with sweat, tugging harder when Sayid grunted in encouragement. He sat up halfway, wanting that connection again, needing to bury his hands in Sayid’s hair, pull him down into a breathless kiss, a slow slide of tongues that rivaled the slickness of Sayid’s palm, the exquisite flick of a wrist mirroring the darting, ticklish tip of Sayid’s tongue. Sayid slowed suddenly, as if he only wanted to feel the pulse of Sawyer’s cock in his hand, feel it throb and know that Sawyer was groaning with the need for him to continue.
Sawyer nearly cried out when Sayid released him. With a lazy grin that Sawyer had never seen before, Sayid took Sawyer’s left hand in his, guiding it down his torso, until they were both clasped around the stiffness of Sayid’s cock. Sayid’s mouth fell open, his eyes squeezing shut as Sawyer picked up the rhythm from him, their gasps overlapping, each touch, each noise urging the other one on. Sayid hitched his hips closer and then his hand reclaimed Sawyer, encompassing both of them. Sawyer gasped, his fingers wrapping around Sayid’s and then they were both thrusting hard, foreheads pressed together as they brought each other, gasping, to completion.
Sayid uttered something low and incomprehensible when he came, the fingers of his other hand digging cruelly into Sawyer’s hip, biting down at the tender skin of Sawyer’s neck. Sawyer, following just a moment or two after Sayid, felt the orgasm rip through through him like a sharp knife of pleasure, gutting him from his groin to his throat, laying him open, flushed and hot and gasping. Breath bled out of him, a slow, sure inrush of well-being filling him instead.
Sayid lie on top of him, solid and heavy, heart pounding through his chest, murmuring softly in a way he probably wasn’t even aware of himself.
Sawyer found himself brushing damp strands of hair from Sayid’s face, slack and content where he'd collapsed onto Sawyer’s chest.
They didn’t move for several minutes, just getting their breath back, prolonging the moment, not wanting to break this unexpected connection. Sawyer’s skin started to cool, and he shivered. Sayid sat up finally, reaching for their scattered clothing. He handed Sawyer his shirt and jeans and they each dressed in silence.
Sawyer cleared his throat, not at all sure what to say, so he said nothing.
“It was the night before the flight?” Sayid said at last.
“Your ... the man you shot. Is that what she said?”
Sawyer stiffened. So they were back to that. “Yeah?” He packed as much Just fuckin’ drop it hostility as he could into his one-word response.
“I always wondered why ... why you let things go so far over the inhalers, why you seemed to want to be tortured.”
“Ah.” Sawyer snorted, shifting uncomfortably. “Well, there you go. Now you know everything about me.”
”I didn’t say that.” Sayid’s voice was crisp, contrite and a rebuke at the same time. “It’s just ... I am sorry I hurt you. I had sworn never to hurt anyone again. And now it seems it is all that I can do.”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s a rough world,” Sawyer sniffed. “And this place is maybe just a little rougher than most. You’re a handy guy to have around.”
Sawyer recognized the hopeful note in Sayid’s answer. He knew just what to say now.
“Yeah, you’re real handy in all kinds of ways,” Sawyer said, grin firmly in place. He was on familiar ground now. For a man who’d taken the upper hand, Sayid was displaying a surprising vulnerability after the fact. He just needed a little sweet talk, a little encouragement. “Good thing we’re on the same side.”
“Yes, it is a good thing.”
Sayid wore the faintest smile as he clapped his hand on Sawyer’s knee. Sawyer’s hand closed over his, and he let it linger there, warm with promise.
This wasn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.