Title: The Bachelor: Paradise Island (Part 1)
Summary: Jack Shephard is The Bachelor!
Pairing: Jack/nearly every woman who was ever on Lost, eventual Jack/Sawyer
Rating: PG (this chapter)
Spoilers: General S3
Note: I may have lost my mind a little. It's Lost meets The Bachelor, with a touch of RPF and, of course, plenty of crack. Dedicating this to all the Jack fangirls on my flist, especially elise_509, who has a birthday coming up. Many thanks to zelda_zee and foxxcub for betaing and to themoononastick for her input, especially since she's working on her own Lost-meets-reality-TV fic. :)
Jack boarded the plane, butterflies in his stomach. No turning back now. The network wasn’t flying him out in a private jet but they were flying him first class. He identified his seat, and smiled at the tanned, blonde man already seated in the row.
The guy with the artfully ruffled blonde hair smiled back, showcasing two deep-set dimples. He watched as Jack stowed his duffel bag in the overhead compartment. No need to bring much in the way of clothing. They told him they’d take care of all that, like they’d take care of housing and food. Just like they were going to care of finding him a wife.
“Hey, I’m Jack,” he said, introducing himself to his seatmate as he sat down and fastened his seatbelt.
“I know.” The stranger grinned like Jack was an idiot. “I’m hosting your damn show.”
”Oh. Well, hi then.”
“Name’s Sawyer.” Jack took the proffered hand and shook it. “You ready to have 25 women fighting over you?” There was something vaguely mocking in those blue eyes. Maybe it was just friendliness or curiosity but Jack went on the defensive.
“Well, they told me I’ll be narrowing it down to 15 the first night...”
“Yeah, I know the rules, Doc. You don’t mind if I call you that, do you?”
Jack shrugged, thinking that he was stuck with the nickname whether he agreed to it or not. “No, I’m not sure I am ready. But I’m committed now.”
“Just a word of advice, Doc. Some of these women are in it for you, some of them are in it just to be on TV. Most of them applied before they even knew you existed. So make sure that they’re not just playin’ the game.”
Jack regarded Sawyer shrewdly. “I hadn’t thought about it like that.” The idea dawned, and not for the first time, that he’d made a terrible mistake.
“Shit, don’t panic.” Sawyer laughed. “None of these guys ever stuck with the woman they picked at the end. So you got an out, Doc. Don’t worry about it. You don’t find the girl of your dreams there, no skin off your nose. All they care about is if you make for good TV.”
“That’s a cynical way of looking at it.”
Sawyer chuckled. “No wonder they wanted you. You really are a boy scout. Hey, no offense. Those women are gonna go nuts for you. You really are the whole package, ain’t ya?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Jack shifted uncomfortably and reached for the inflight magazine, flipping through pages without even reading them. He wasn’t only stuck with this guy for the seven-hour flight, he was stuck with him for the next several weeks.
It was a few hours -- and a few complimentary cocktails later -- when he decided to talk to Sawyer again. “So what are you doing hosting this if you think it’s all so...”
“A man’s gotta eat,” Sawyer answered smoothly. “I did some modeling, tried acting. Never got that big break. So it’s either this or real estate. I was even thinking of bein’ a park ranger...”
”Really? I can’t picture that at all.”
Sawyer leaned in closer, voice dropping to almost a whisper as if he was conveying state secrets, “You take away the Armani suit and the $200 haircut, I’m just a simple country boy at heart. Don’t take much to keep me happy.”
For a split second, Jack thought Sawyer was hitting on him. And then the conversation shifted to women and Jack relaxed. Sawyer proved an entertaining companion for the rest of the flight, regaling him with stories of his misadventures in Hollywood and gossip of his run-ins with various B- and C-list stars.
Before he knew it, they were landing.
The heat and humidity of the tropics hit him in the face as he stepped onto the tarmac. Sawyer was behind him, pointing towards a limo. The driver was holding a sign that read “Shephard.”
”There’s our taxi,” Sawyer grinned
Jack stared out the window as they passed palm trees and clear blue sky. It was nothing new to a guy from Los Angeles, but he couldn’t stop from taking it all in anyway, like an overexcited child on his way to Disneyland.
“The production team will be joining us at the house. On camera, it’s gonna look like the place is all yours, but the production office will be there and some of the crew will be staying there too.”
“Like me,” Sawyer smiled. “I promise I won’t use all the hot water.”
Jack laughed. His initial reaction on the plane was all wrong. Sawyer was going to help keep him sane through all this.
“This is it,” Sawyer nodded as a gate swung open for the limo. The winding driveway went up and up, all the way to a huge, almost palatial home at the top of a hill. The limo stopped at the front door and Jack sprang out. He turned to survey the estate he’d be calling home for the next seven weeks.
Sawyer gave him a quick tour and pointed out the master bedroom, which would be Jack’s for the duration.
“Technically, you’re not supposed to see any of the women except for your dates, but you need more face time, you let me know and I’ll set it up.”
Jack considered this and nodded, even though he fully intended to play by the rules.
“Enjoy your last camera-free day, Doc.” Sawyer smiled and walked off, whistling.
Bachelor production office
“Okay, let’s review what we have so far. Tom?”
“Sure thing.” Tom pressed “PLAY” and the screen filled with palm trees and tropical sunsets as a voice with a hint of a Southern accent announced, The Bachelor: Paradise Island.... Los Angeles spinal surgeon Jack Shephard has come to this remote tropical island looking for love.
Jack smiles into the camera. “I’m just excited for this opportunity,” he says, somewhat shyly. “I’m hoping to finally find the one woman who’s right for me.”
Over a photo of Jack and a blonde woman beaming in wedding attire, the voice continues: Jack found love once before, but lost it when his wife was tragically killed in a car accident. Can he be lucky a second time?
A montage follows of Jack at the hospital in his scrubs; examining spinal charts with only his serious, dark eyes visible above his surgical mask; jogging along a beach in Los Angeles; and riding his bike up a steep slope past the Hollywood sign and stopping to squirt water in his mouth.
“Women love that shot,” Tom said with a grin, leaning forward and pointing.
“Maybe we should have left it out.” Isabel, the executive producer, frowned. “A little too Lance Armstrong/Jake Gyllenhaal? He’s tracking a little gay.”
Ben rolled his eyes. “Every time we announce a new bachelor, the press decides he must be gay. Please.”
Isabel shrugged. "Tom? You would know."
Tom shook his head.
The voiceover picks up again: On the first night, Jack met 25 beautiful Bachelorettes from all over the world.
The sun is setting dramatically as Jack stands in front of a luxurious house surrounded by palm trees and flickering torches. He’s wearing an open-necked white shirt and dark slacks. He rocks on his heels grinning nervously. Next to him is a tray with a single red rose on it. The first limousine pulls up and a woman with short, dark hair walks towards him. “Hi, I’m Cindy and I came all the way from Australia just to meet you.” She gives him a quick hug and a peck on the cheek and then walks inside.
A parade of other women follow: blonde, brunette, flirtatious, shy, buxom, willowy as the title card identifies them as coming from Italy, like the elegant Gabriela or Thailand, like the dramatically made-up Achara or the serious-looking Nadia, from Iraq.
Most of the women hug him or kiss him on the cheek and tell him their names and where they’re from. One, a reserved Korean woman named Sun, simply shakes his hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she says. She sweeps her hair out of her eyes as she walks in and frowns, like she wishes she’d said something else.
SUN: He has very nice eyes, very warm. I felt so shy saying hello!
NAOMI: Can you fall for a guy that fast? Watch out girls, he’s mine!
JULIET: I read everything I could about him already, but he’s even more handsome in person. I’m really looking forward to getting to know Jack and finding out what makes him tick!
But only one lovely lady is lucky enough to get the First Impression Rose...
Kate, a petite brunette from Iowa with a mass of freckles and long, wavy hair that sits loosely on her shoulders, gives Jack a warm hug and tells him she loves his smile. He grins on cue. “I've been waiting to give this to someone. Will you accept this rose?” he asks, handing it to her and she beams. “Yes!” She kisses him and waltzes in with an enormous smile.
Inside, the other girls are chatting and drinking cocktails. Every head turns when Kate walks in with the rose. “How’d you get that?” Ana, a tough-looking Latina from Los Angeles, scowls at her.
“I don’t know, just luck, I guess,” Kate says, trying to be gracious.
“Yeah. Luck. That must be it,” Ana scoffs and the other women look mildly shocked.
Cassidy, with short, blonde hair and a hint of tomboy, confides to the camera: “That was really uncalled for. Ana’s just a timebomb waiting to go off. I’m not going near that woman if I can help it.”
Shannon, a somewhat petulant 22-year-old, sniffs. “No way is Jack choosing Ana. I think all the women are going to be keeping an eye on her now. She didn’t make herself any friends tonight.”
Only Sun and Libby, a quiet woman with mousy hair, end up talking to Ana. “Sushi?” Sun says as she passes the plate to her.
Jack comes in and lifts a champagne glass. “To true love,” he announces and they all raise their glasses, beaming up at him. He mingles with the women in groups and one by one. Juliet, a cool blonde, tells him she’s also a doctor and Libby reveals she’s a psychiatrist. Shannon seems like a frivolous party girl but in her alone time with Jack, reveals she recently lost her beloved brother. She starts to cry and Jack gives her a long hug.
Watching them closely is a dark-haired, athletic-looking girl named Joanna, who complains to Nadia. “Did you see that? She’s getting a rose for sure now.” Nadia sighs unhappily in agreement.
Ana sidles up to Jack and he asks what she’s drinking. “Tequila and tonic,” she says with a sly grin. “You should try it.” He takes a sip and smiles. Ana shoots a triumphant look at Kate, who is sitting on the couch, chatting with Cassidy and pointedly ignoring how much attention Jack is paying to Ana.
Starla, a record store clerk from Santa Monica, snags him next, chatting him up about what kind of music he likes. They realize they were both at the same Interpol concert at the Greek and he tells her they should definitely catch some live music one of these days. “A rock ‘n’ roll surgeon,” she enthuses to the camera. “Could he be any hotter?”
Achara’s lowcut dress arouses cold stares from the other women. “I’ve seen trashy before, but ...” Nikki says to Gabriela, who laughs.
Moments later, Cindy is saying much the same thing to Gabriela about Nikki’s down-to-there-dress. “That dress would be too tacky at a strip club,” she says, shaking her head in Nikki’s direction.
Finally, host Sawyer arrives and taps a champagne glass. “Ladies. Jack. It’s time for the first rose ceremony.”
Bachelor production office
“I still don’t see what was wrong with the last host, Chris,” Ben groused. ”This one’s better-looking than our bachelor!”
“We talked about that,” Isabel said firmly. “The demo is 95 percent female, why not give them something else nice to look at? He’s barely even there. It’s not like any of the women are going to fall for him instead.”
“And if they do?”
“Well, that’s a great new twist we can definitely use.”
Ben stared at her in disbelief. “Do you really think the show needs a twist like that?”
”You can’t ever have too many twists,” Isabel declared and Ben shrugged and sipped his French-pressed coffee.
Jack follows Sawyer out of the room. The women assemble nervously as Jack contemplates the pile of 14 roses next to him. He hands them out one by one, as the camera catches the Bachelorettes’ frozen, desperate smiles as they wait to hear their name called out.
The 15 women with roses clutch them and smile while the 10 who aren’t chosen say their goodbyes and go outside to wait for the limo to take them back to the airport. “I just don’t get it,” a distraught Libby says to the camera. “I had no idea I’d be going home so soon. I thought I’d at least have the chance to make an impression. I wonder why I even came.” She wipes away a tear and motions for the camera to stop recording.
A serene-looking black woman named Rose is philosophical about leaving. “It wasn’t in God’s plan. I believe that He has someone out there waiting for me. If I’m sure of anything in life, I’m sure of that.”
Bachelor production office
“This is good. He’s already bonded with Shannon.”
“Perfect. Who else do we have who might remind him of his late wife?”
“Let’s see, blondes ... there’s Kirsten, but he already eliminated her.”
“Juliet!” Ben waved her photo triumphantly.
“You think?” Tom looked less convinced.
“Yes, and since she’s also a doctor, this is really a match made in heaven.”
“Great. She’ll remind him of his wife. Love it. And if he ends up leaning towards a brunette, then it’s finding a new love, starting over.”
“We have a game plan.” They all nod and smile.
“And, on the path to true love, we have plenty of entertainment...”
Onscreen, Nikki grabs Starla by the arm. “Have you seen the pool? Get your bikini!” They change and run down the stairs, out to the lit swimming pool. Soon they’re joined by Ana and Jessica, who jump in and start splashing each other.
The women are obviously tipsy after the cocktail party, some flat out drunk. “Woo!” shouts Ana, who whips her top off and throws it at Nikki. “I dare you!” She gets out of the pool and runs across the lawn, naked and Nikki laughs and follows suit.
Tom pointed at the freeze-frame of Nikki’s rear. “They’re going to blur that out, right?”
“Should we share this with Jack...?”
Sawyer addresses the women, who pile onto the three couches in the enormous living room, yawning sleepily and grousing about how they didn’t have time to do their hair because it’s too early. Some look visibly hungover.
“Ladies, this week there are two group dates with Jack and one solo date, which goes to Kate, because she got the First Impression Rose.” He smiles at Kate, who looks shyly pleased. Ana makes a face and Cassidy rolls her eyes.
“The first date box is on the table,” Sawyer says, pointing at a picnic basket with an envelope on top. “Surf’s up. Come hang 10 with me. Love, Jack.”
“We’re going surfing!” Joanna says excitedly and the other women whose names are on the invitation jump and down and hug each other, except for Shannon who looks askance at the can of “Sex Wax” in the basket.
SHANNON: “I can’t believe I have to go surfing. I really don’t like to get my hair wet.”
JOANNA: “I couldn’t be more excited! This is my chance to really shine for Jack. This is going to be amazing. He’s really athletic, running marathons all the time. We have so much in common!”
KATE: “I’m actually a little bit bummed I won’t be going on the surfing date. I’m a great surfer and I’d love for Jack to see that! And I’m sure all the girls will need a lot of hands-on assistance from Jack, even if they do know how to surf. But hey, I’m not worried. I’m the only one who gets a whole evening with Jack to myself!”
Bachelor production office
“Well, we all know how that went,” Tom said. “Very sad for Joanna, but great TV.”
“Absolutely,” Isabel nodded, the most animated she’d been all day. “Heroic doctor Jack, springing into action to save her from drowning? You can’t write stuff like that. The footage of him carrying her to the beach will be all over the news. Just wait. The ratings are going to be phenomenal.”
Sawyer is somber as he speaks to the women, who are clustered anxiously on the couches back at the house. “I’ve just gotten an update on Joanna. She’s suffered a ruptured eardrum so she won’t be coming back.” The women murmur in dismay.
“Because of what happened, that leaves just two more women going home this week, so enjoy your time in the house and with Jack, ladies.”
ACHARA: I was really impressed how Jack saved her life. I think he is a great man. I could see that when I first him. I have a gift that lets me see how people really are and I knew right away.
ANA: Whatever. That girl had no business getting in the water if she didn’t know how to swim. But hey, at least it’s one more down. And oh my GOD, if I have to hear about Achara’s gift one more time, I’m gonna belt her. Yeah, Jack’s great. We all think so. Just shut up about it already.
NIKKI: It’s so sad, what’s happened. But can I just say how amazing Jack looks with his shirt off? I just wanted to run my hands all over him! And those tattoos! He’s definitely a keeper! I’m not just looking for a rose, I’m holding out for that diamond ring!
Bachelor production office
“This is good, Jack trying to hula with Nikki. We have to put that in the promos for that week.” Ben instructed his assistant, Alex, who made a note.
“Definitely. And we have got to play up the footage of Jack and Kate getting caught in the rain in the park on their solo date. Jack in that dripping wet white shirt. Yes. Absolutely. And the way he holds her close to warm her up? Love that. The boy is doing great.” Tom smiled proudly.
Isabel pursed her lips in thought. “They almost kissed there. Should we be worried he hasn’t kissed anyone yet?”
“It’ll happen. But it wouldn’t hurt to say a little something to him.”
“Let’s just make sure he’s not like the last bachelor. Andy was kissing all the girls. It made everyone extra catty.” Tom reminded them.
“C’mon, Tom. Catty women, all fighting for Jack? It’s why millions of people tune in every week.”
“But you run the risk of making him look ... sleazy. Or, at the very least, indiscriminate.”
“Please. Jack Shephard? Wait till he kisses one woman then we’ll talk.”
Jack sank wearily down onto the couch, glad to be rid of the cameras at last. These meetings with Sawyer had become a welcome oasis in his busy days. He’d never realized how exhausting it would be to literally be filmed from the minute he got up to when he went to bed. His head was swimming from trying to make a connection with the 12 remaining Bachelorettes. Juggling women was never his thing. For the thousandth time, he told himself he’d made a mistake, but on the other hand, there had been those moments where he thought, Maybe this one, and that had made it all seemed worth it.
Sawyer mixed them drinks and joined Jack on his couch. Twelve glossy 8x10s were spread out before them on the coffee table. Jack picked one up at random and smiled. “Sun. Yes, I like her. She seemed so shy at first, but then she was great during the golf game. She finally opened up. And she plays a mean game of golf. She was great!”
“Duly noted,” Sawyer grinned, jotting her name down. “Who else?”
“Well, Kate, of course.” Jack’s smile grew wider. “I love how confident she is, enough to tease me. I like that. And she nearly beat me!”
“Gotcha.” Sawyer drew a little star next to Kate’s name. She was still the frontrunner, after all.
”Definitely Shannon,” Jack turned her photo to face Sawyer. “She didn’t want to surf but she was a great sport during the golf game. And I really feel a connection to her.”
”Okay, what about Ana?”
Jack frowned slightly. “She’s a little ... confrontational. I know it’s a competition, but...”
Sawyer rubbed his chin. “She adds spice.”
“Are you saying I can’t get rid of her yet?”
”The producers want you to keep her for at least two more episodes. C’mon, it’s a TV show. We need the drama. And every show needs a villain.”
“Okay,” Jack sighed and put her photo down. “Two more weeks?”
”It can be group dates only. You won’t have to be alone with her and that way the sparks can really fly between her and the other girls.”
Sawyer nudged Juliet’s photo. “What about her? You need another blonde.”
Jack laughed. “Do they seriously want me to have an even number of blondes and brunettes each time?”
”Nah, not really. But you like her, right?”
“Yeah, I do,” Jack said, turning his attention from Sawyer to the photo. “I was really impressed with all the research she’s done. She seems like one of the few people who’s trying to accomplish something with her life, give back, you know?”
“Yeah, I like her. She’s ... kooky. And sexy. But I can’t understand half of what she says!”
“Just nod and smile, Doc,” Sawyer winked as he added her name to the list.
They consulted over the rest of the women, until Jack had narrowed it down to the three he would be saying goodbye to. Sawyer didn’t argue for Nadia, but he halfheartedly stuck up for Jessica and Nikki, “C’mon, they’re sexy, right?” But Jack shook his head. He didn’t know either one well enough to keep them.
This part never got easier, seeing their hopeful faces give way to tears as they realized he’s passed them over. He dreaded how much harder it was going to get in the coming weeks. But right now, there were no roses to hand out, no women to flirt with, no red flags to note. He could just kick back and relax with Sawyer. These sessions were always over far too quickly.
Coming up on The Bachelor: Paradise Island: Ana glares at Shannon: “She’s totally milking the dead brother angle.” Gabriela shouting, “Aren’t you going to do something?” Police sirens wail.
END PART 1