Summary: Going back to the island had become Jack's obsession
Spoilers: Inspired by "Through the Looking Glass"
Warning: Character death
Note: Thoroughly and completely dark and depressing. I apologize for inflicting my emo on all of you. Definitely the saddest story I've ever written.
“I know how to get back to the island,” Jack whispered, lying his head next to Sawyer's on the pillow.
Sawyer shifted in his sleep, unconsciously seeking the sound of Jack’s voice.
“I love you,” Jack said, tucking a strand of hair behind Sawyer’s ear. “I would do anything for you.”
Sawyer couldn’t get warm after the island. At first, Jack thought it was just Sawyer being Sawyer, needing something concrete to gripe about in the midst of the fucking unreality of being back.
“I know it’s not the tropics, but L.A.’s not exactly Alaska,” Jack would tease Sawyer and Sawyer would just glare and turn up the thermostat.
Jack used to be the one who wanted to snuggle closer in bed, but now it was Sawyer who was always wrapped around him. That, too, Jack thought had been about something else. He thought Sawyer was finally showing how much he needed him in the only way he could, with his body instead of words.
Sawyer had never exactly been a bundle of energy but he was positively lethargic now. He’d taken to wearing a big, bulky sweater over his shirts and -- the man who always went barefoot whenever possible -- never took off his shoes and socks anymore, except when in bed or in the shower.
Oceanic had checked them all out when they got back and given each of them a clean bill of health, as Sawyer kept pointing out to Jack whenever he suggested he see a doctor. “I am seein’ a doctor,” Sawyer said with a wink, a hint of his old, randy self. “Pretty near all of him, if I’m lucky.”
“Of course, you’re lucky, Sawyer,” Jack said, his grin slowly fading as he took Sawyer’s hands in his and tried to warm them. “I also want you to be healthy.”
After more than a week of this, he finally convinced Sawyer to get a physical. They went to a highly recommended specialist, Dr. Singh, a middle-aged Indian fellow, who, if you squinted, might have been Sayid’s father.
Sawyer rattled off his list of symptoms to the doctor, avoiding Jack’s eye since this was the first Jack was hearing about the shortness of breath and the ringing in his ears.
They got a call a week later that the blood work was back, but they’d have to come in for the results. “Usual procedure,” Jack assured Sawyer but he didn’t want to let on how worried he was.
The studied blankness of Dr. Singh’s face told him everything. “This white blood cell count is ... higher than I’d like to see,” he said, tapping at the chart instead of looking at Sawyer himself.
“What does that mean?” Sawyer asked as Jack squeezed his hand.
“It means it’s not good,” Jack said grimly, daring Singh to contradict him.
“He is right,” the doctor nodded seriously. “We need to figure out just what is causing this.”
And so followed weeks of tests, none of which turned up a damn thing. And all the while Sawyer got worse.
“Fuckin’ Oceanic. Fuckin’ Others,” Sawyer wheezed. He barely left the bed anymore but he was damned, as he said, if he was going to take this lying down. “It’s all their fuckin’ fault. They did somethin’ to me on that island.”
Jack remembered the quarantine sign on the hatch, which they’d long since dismissed as a ruse to keep the right people in and the wrong people out. “Then why don’t I have it?” he asked and Sawyer shrugged.
“Damn good question.”
In a quiet voice, Sawyer told him everything they’d done to him then. He didn’t look at Jack as he told him about the rabbit and the way they’d tricked him with the pacemaker. “They fuckin’ did somethin’ to my heart.” Sawyer’s eyes were closing already. He got tired so easily now. “Or they shot me full of somethin...” his voice trailed off. He was out and he’d stay out for hours. Jack crawled into bed next to him, wanting to warm Sawyer with his body, even if wasn’t conscious of Jack’s being there.
It was that night that Jack got the idea of going back to the island. If they’d done something to Sawyer there, the ones who’d stayed behind could fix it. Once the idea took hold, it became an obsession.
He couldn’t leave Sawyer, so he spent every moment that Sawyer was sleeping on the phone. His life became pacing with a phone to his ear, half-listening to see if Sawyer needed him.
First he called all the other survivors. Even Michael. Even Locke. But none of them were sick.
He harassed Oceanic, the government, Charles Widmore. Jack hired private detectives, explorers, Navy SEALS, whoever could get him back on the island.
Finally, the money was nearly gone and he was no closer than he had been.
“This is madness,” Kate told him over the phone. She’d mostly stopped picking up, but tonight she’d answered, not even asking who it was. Maybe that said something about her life now, that Jack called her more than anyone else. Or that she knew “Private Name, Private Number” would always be him. “Jack,” she sounded tired, as tired as he felt. “You know we can’t go back. Why would you even want to?”
“For Sawyer. To save his life,” Jack answered, shocked at the question. His voice broke over the next words. He was cracking up right here, on the phone with Kate, who hadn’t even come to see him or Sawyer. “He’s dying,” he choked. “And there isn’t a fucking thing I can do about it. There isn’t a fucking thing modern medicine can do. It’s a mystery.”
There was a long pause in which he only heard her breathing. ”Jack, I’m so sorry,” she said at last. “If there’s anything...”
“No,” he said, suddenly disgusted with her. “There’s nothing.”
He felt hollow, unreal, as he hung up and unplugged the phone. He was done making calls. He was done. There was nothing he could do, nothing anyone could do.
He went into the bedroom and leaned against the door frame. Even from the hallway, he could hear Sawyer’s labored breathing. A home hospice, that’s what their bedroom had become. He hadn’t even had a month with Sawyer in his own house, not even a whole month in which Sawyer had been able to sun himself on the deck and they could fuck in the pool and chase each other around the yard like teenagers. Not even a month of just being normal.
Sawyer was in pain, he knew. He could see it in his clouded eyes, in the way he hissed in a breath every time he moved. The doctor had started talking to Jack about “options,” but Sawyer wouldn’t hear of them and neither would Jack. But what did you do when you were all out of options?
Almost against his will, Jack wandered into the den. He kept the liquor in here, just like his father always had in his study. He poured himself a double Scotch and didn’t bother with ice.
He sat on the floor, downing the Scotch, and stared at the middle drawer. He stared at it for a good 20 minutes or so before he unlocked it. He couldn’t even remember why he’d bought the gun in the first place. He’d never meant to actually use it, but he’d bought bullets anyway, because why would you buy a gun and no bullets?
It didn’t take very long to load. Not nearly long enough.
The gun trailed from his fingers, like it was pulling him down, in the short walk back to the bedroom as he debated whether to wake Sawyer first.
If Sawyer woke on his own, that was one thing, but Jack wouldn’t wake him. He laid down next to him, as he always did, and he put his hand on Sawyer’s cheek. His own cheeks were wet with tears. “I’m sending you back there,” he said, barely able to get the words out between sobs. He put the muzzle up to Sawyer’s temple. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, kissing the spot of skin right below the gun. “I know you’d rather it was in the heart, and not the head. But I have to get it right the first time. Because I’m going with you.”
He kissed Sawyer’s cheek, from which the warmth had already fled, and then he kissed Sawyer’s lips. “I love you,” he whispered and pulled the trigger. The sound was deafening.
He couldn’t stop the sobs choking him, couldn’t stop the scream that tore his throat. He covered his mouth with his wrist and bit at the skin until it bled, punishment for Sawyer or a deterrent for himself, he had no idea. All he tasted was blood.
And then, in an instant, he was calm. Everything was so quiet. He'd gotten so used to the pained rasp of Sawyer trying to breathe that now, without it, the house was unnaturally still. Sawyer was at peace.
Jack laid across Sawyer’s body. His head fell on Sawyer’s chest; his body was still warm but there was no reassuring beat of his heart. Jack had stopped it.
His hand shook when he put the gun to his head. He closed his eyes, but that didn't stop the tears. “Forgive me,” he said, even though he knew no one was listening.
It would be over in an instant, but it felt like an eternity before he crooked his finger and squeezed.
There was a roar, like an enormous engine revving up for takeoff, and then nothing.