Pairings: Jack/various women, Jack/Sawyer
Summary: When troubling allegations surface, Jack has to decide whether to send one woman home early
Note: Thanks again to zelda_zee for the beta! There's a little less crack in this chapter, FWIW.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Jack stared at Kate’s mug shot, trying to decide if this was some kind of joke.
He couldn’t possibly sit on this all night and just board a plane to Italy in the morning without getting to the bottom of this. Kate would be gone too, back to Iowa, and he needed to talk to her. Now.
Jack remembered Sawyer’s offer to help if he ever needed to talk to one of the women alone. He thought of how Sawyer had shared the videotape of Sun with him. He didn’t want to believe that Sawyer was behind this, but either way, Sawyer was going to give him some answers.
He dressed quickly and went to Sawyer’s room. A light rap on the door got no response, so he tried the handle. Unlocked, as luck would have it. He crept inside, carefully shutting the door behind him. Soft snores guided him to Sawyer’s bed in the darkness. He shook him gently but Sawyer just rolled over with an annoyed huff.
“Sawyer,” Jack said sharply, shaking him harder.
“Wha?” Sawyer sat up, finally. “Jack? What time is it?”
”Two, I think. Turn on the light. I need to show you something.”
Sawyer grunted and reached for the bedside lamp. He squinted at the sudden brightness.
“So what couldn’t wait ‘till the morning, hot shot?”
”This.” Jack thrust the piece of paper into Sawyer’s face.
Sawyer took a moment to focus on it. When he did, his shock seemed genuine.
“What the hell is this?” Sawyer asked. “Where’d you get it?”
”Someone slid it under my door a few minutes ago.” He waited a beat. “Thought it might have been you.”
“Me?” Sawyer’s voice rose an octave in indignation. “This is the first I’m layin’ eyes on it, same as you.”
”Is it real?”
Sawyer’s forehead was knitted in concentration. “Dunno. They do background checks on all the women...”
“They didn’t catch Ana.”
“Oh, they knew about her. Thought she’d liven things up.”
Jack snorted. “Yeah, so this is more of the same?”
”Shit if I know. Obviously someone doesn’t want Kate to make it to the finish line.”
“I’ve got to talk to her. Now.”
”Sure thing.” Sawyer nodded. He rubbed his head, which only made his bed-ruffled hair worse, and got up. Jack looked away when he realized Sawyer slept in the nude, but not before catching sight of a pair of dimples on the small of his back, just above his tan line, that neatly matched those on his face. They were endearing somehow, just like the way Sawyer was shuffling towards his closet, still sleepily trying to smooth his tangled hair.
Sawyer threw on some clothes and they headed down to where Jack’s car was parked. Jack walked towards it and Sawyer stopped him. “Not the sports car. Got a camera inside.”
“Oh.” Jack was going to have to make a list of all the ways he was realizing just what a chump he was.
“We’ll take my car.” He led the way to a sleek black Mustang. Jimi Hendrix blared from the stereo when Sawyer started the ignition. "Sorry," he said, hastily turning it down.
On the 20 minute drive, they came up with a plan. Sawyer would call the house and whoever answered would tell Kate that there was a family emergency. When Kate came to the phone, he’d tell her to play along and meet him outside.
Kate was waiting for them on the steps when they drove up. She had thrown a robe on over her pajamas.
“Okay, so what’s really going on?” she said when Jack rolled down the window. “Because if this is some kind of booty call...”
“Get in,” Jack said, his tone short and clipped. She glanced in confusion at Sawyer, who nodded. She climbed into the backseat and the second she closed the door, Sawyer drove back down the driveway, until the house had disappeared in the rearview mirror. “Will one of you please tell me what’s going on? You’re starting to scare me.”
Sawyer turned on the dome light and Jack reached back over the seat to hand Kate the incriminating paper. “Is this real?”
She looked like she might be sick. Her eyes swam as she stared at the photo. She looked from one to the other and then nodded. “Yes,” she said in a dull voice. “That’s me.”
“And what it says? Is that true?”
“Yes.” They could barely hear her. “How did... I don’t understand ... those records were sealed. They were supposed to be sealed.”
Sawyer and Jack exchanged glances.
“I’ll leave. I’m so sorry. I just ... I never thought...” She covered her face with her hands, letting the paper drop to the floor of the car.
“So that’s it? You’re not even going to explain?” Jack’s anger spiked. If this was true, what on earth was she doing here? How could he possibly have developed any feelings for her? Was he such a bad judge of character as that? He would call the producers in the morning, tell them he was done, that this whole thing was a sham and he was pulling out. It was a joke to think he’d find love on a reality TV show, even if the deck hadn’t been deliberately stacked against him.
”Does it matter?”
“Yes, it does.”
Kate stared past him, her eyes glassy. “I was 16. He was my stepfather. He wouldn’t stop hurting my mother, so one day I..... I decided it was enough.” Her voice strengthened with resolve, like she was making the decision to act all over again. “So I shot him. I shot him in the head. And I’d do it again.”
”I ... didn’t know,” Jack finally said. Sawyer cleared his throat and announced he needed a smoke. He exited the car, leaving them alone.
Jack got out and joined Kate in the backseat. She looked so small, suddenly, so vulnerable and frail, as if she’d reverted back to that scared teenager.
“I’m sorry, Kate. That must have been...”
“Yeah,” she said with a little laugh. “I thought it was all behind me. I should have known.”
“Did he hurt you?” Jack asked softly, not sure he had the right to ask the question.
“No. No, he never touched me.” Her denial came so quickly and emphatically that it only piqued Jack’s suspicions, but he didn’t press the point.
“How could anyone know?” she went to reach for the paper again. He slipped his arm around her, stopping her from reaching down. He drew her body against him instead, until her head rested on his chest.
“Shhhh, it’s okay,” he said softly, stroking her hair. “Someone’s just out to make sure I don’t pick you. Well, they figured wrong.”
“You don’t want me to go?”
”No. We won’t say anything about it. We’ll act like it never happened. And I’ll go to Iowa and meet your...” He hesitated, searching for another words besides “parents.” “Meet your family, stick to the plan.”
”Jack, are you sure?”
He was. He knew it was just the kind of thing his father always gave him grief for, that urge to reach out to the helpless, but he felt bound to her now. Someone was out to get her and it was his job to protect her. She’d already been through more than he could imagine.
Eventually, Sawyer tapped at the window, pointing at his watch. He got in the driver’s seat and started the engine. “Gotta get Prince Charming here home,” he said as he drove back to the women’s house. “And I think it’s high time you were in bed yourself, Princess.”
He pulled up in front of the door. Kate wiped her eyes and nodded. “Thank you, Jack,” she said and kissed him on the cheek. “And you, Sawyer.”
She got out, shivering a bit from the cold. Jack put his arm around her and walked her to the door. He let out a deep breath once it clicked shut.
He didn’t speak as he got back into the front seat, just nodded at Sawyer to go.
“So, you still goin’ to Iowa?” Sawyer’s tone was casual.
“Yes. As far as I’m concerned, this never happened.”
“Okay, Doc.” Sawyer’s eyes held his briefly. “Best response to dirty tricks.”
They didn’t talk again until they arrived back at Bachelor HQ. They trod quietly up the stairs to their respective rooms. Jack hesitated outside his bedroom door. He was half afraid he’d find something else had been left for him.
“You need a nightcap,” Sawyer said knowingly and steered him back downstairs to the bar. It was almost eerie in the still of the night, with only the light of the moon stealing in from the wall of windows overlooking the pool. The rest of the room quietly stretched out into corners too dark to see, a far cry from the noise and energy of the cocktail parties that preceded each rose ceremony. Right now, Jack wanted to bask in the quiet, wanted to drink it down like whatever Sawyer was going to pour him.
“What’s your poison?” Sawyer stepped behind the bar and started pulling bottles by the light of the mini-fridge.
“You got it.”
Sawyer handed him a double and Jack drained it in a few swallows. He glanced at his watch; it read 4:23. “The limo’s coming at 7. No point in going to bed,” he sighed and settled down on the floor next to the bar, stretching out his weary legs, captivated by the way the moonlight reflected off the pool and onto the ceiling above. He couldn’t be drunk, already could he?
Sawyer stumbled once in the darkness, swearing softly, and then joined him on the floor. He’d brought the bottle with him and topped off Jack’s glass. “You’re not drivin’ and you’re not flyin’....”
“And I’m not sleepin’...” Jack mimicked Sawyer’s accent, which had only grown thicker with a touch of alcohol. They drank silently for another few minutes. “Look,” Jack said, pointing up at the light dancing on the ceiling.
Sawyer’s laugh sounded warm and close. “You are one starry-eyed motherfucker, aren’t you? You always see the good in everything?”
“I don’t know,” Jack answered stiffly, feeling around for the insult he was sure was there.
“Hell, it’s sweet,” Sawyer drawled, inching closer, until Jack could feel the heat of his breath on his neck. In the space of the last drink, their arms and legs had ended up pressed together as they slouched against the bar. Sawyer’s head tipped back, his lips brushing Jack’s ear. ”You’re one of the good ones, Jack. Don’t you let them change that.” He sounded almost angry and Jack shivered. It was just the puff of Sawyer’s exhalation raising the hairs on the back of his neck, he told himself, not the heat of this body pressing against him, or the strange intensity in Sawyer’s voice.
That, there, the quick press of lips just under his ear, was that a kiss, a sloppy gesture between friends at four in the morning after a wrecked night? Or just proof that Sawyer was as drunk and uncoordinated as Jack felt?
Sawyer slowly pulled away with a sigh. “You should go to bed.”
“I’m not tired.” He felt a little dizzy, like he’d been holding his breath.
“You want the camera crew to find you here in the morning, passed out on the floor?”
Jack made an incoherent noise of dismissal.
”Okay, well, I’m going to bed.” Sawyer staggered to his feet. “And my advice is you do the same.”
He tried to decide if that was some kind of invitation as he watched Sawyer walk away Soon, all he could see of him was that mop of unruly blonde hair, and then he couldn’t see that anymore. A thud, followed by a muffled curse, came from the stairs but apparently Sawyer righted himself soon enough because all he heard was the hum of the refrigerator.
He reluctantly got to his feet. Sawyer was right, they shouldn’t find him down here. With any luck, tonight’s drama would stay where it was, between the three of them. He trudged slowly up the stairs, taking extravagant care not to trip. He reached his room without incident and put everything else from his mind as he shrugged off his clothes and climbed into bed.
Bachelor production office
Tom rubbed at his face sleepily. “How are we going to handle this?”
Ben pointed at the paused image of Kate with the remote. “I think we see how the Iowa visit plays out. In the meantime, we get everything on camera that we can.”
“So we’re going to treat it as...”
“As a family crisis,” Isabel said, in a tone that brooked no discussion.
Ben hit “PLAY.”
KATE: Jack is ... such a great guy. He’s so unbelievably sweet and generous. But I’m not even thinking about the competition right now. She starts to tear up. I’m sorry, can I have a minute?
GABRIELA: I feel very badly for Kate. My father is not in good health and I wasn’t sure that coming here was such a good idea. But he wants to see me married and of course I want to make him happy. I hope Kate’s mother will be okay. Your family is more important than anything at a time like this.
JULIET: It’s terribly upsetting, of course. I just ... I don’t want to sound petty, but I get the feeling there’s something else going on here. All these women have a sob story and they’re all trying to tug on Jack’s heartstrings. He’s such a sweet guy and he feels sorry for them all. I just don’t want to see him make a choice based on feeling sorry for someone.
SHANNON: I was the one who answered the phone and went to wake Kate up. She looked pretty shook up when she came back in. I hope her mom’s going to be okay; she said they thought it might be a heart attack. I just can’t believe all the bad things that have happened so far... She trails off and leans forward, her head cocked to one side. Okay, I just have to wonder why Jack was the one to tell her and why he had to come all the way over here to do it. Maybe they had to figure out if he’s still going to visit her family now but, still. She raises an eyebrow. If you ask me, he just wanted to get her alone. Except Sawyer was there too, right? C’mon, a booty call with those two? I wouldn’t say no. Laughter is clearly heard off-camera. Right? Can I not say that? She starts to laugh too. Steve? Scott? You guys up for a threesome? She dissolves into giggles and the footage ends.
“Uh... we’re going to cut that, right?” Tom looked around to gauge reaction.
“Well, we can hardly have someone talking about threeways on ABC in primetime,” Ben said drily.
“We always seem to end up cutting every time she says something funny,” Tom noted. “Like her nickname for the island."
"Craphole Island?" Isabel said icily. "I don't think our advertisers would be amused."
"But she’s going to come off as completely melancholy.”
“You mean sympathetic,” Isabel corrected. “Definitely final rose material.”
“Ahh, right,” Tom nodded. “Very sympathetic.”
END PART 4
Coming up on The Bachelor: Paradise Island: (Voiceover) Jack travels to romantic Venice. Gabriela and Jack share a gondola ride. Gabriela, “They say you will find eternal love, if you share a kiss under this bridge at sunset.” They kiss. And Juliet reveals an astonishing secret!
cap courtesy of crystalkirk ;D