Pairing: Sawyer/Kate, Jack/Sawyer
Summary: When Kate leaves in the middle of the night, Sawyer follows her
Note: Post "Through the Looking Glass." A bit angsty, a bit hopeful. Thank you to zelda_zee for the beta.
Sawyer knew the signs well enough. Too many “wrong numbers” on her cell, too many hangups when he answered. He’d often wondered what his marks’ reaction had been when they realized their wives were cheating on them. Now he knew it was like getting punched in the stomach, when you’re not sure if you’re hurt so bad you’re going to cough up blood or if you’ve got the strength to stay and fight some more.
She’d never noticed what a light sleeper he was, how he’d wake whenever she got up. He bitterly congratulated himself on concealing that from her when she rose in the middle of the night and dressed quietly in the bathroom before heading to her rendezvous.
He followed her. Not too difficult as there was never much traffic on the roads at 4 a.m., even in L.A. The night air was cool through the open window. It would have helped wake him, but he was already wide awake. Tonight was the night she was going to leave him, he realized. It had been a long time coming. Too many times she'd given him the silent treatment, too many nights where he’d stay up watching TV when she went to bed. He tried to remember the last time they’d fucked. Probably before the phone calls had started.
When she took the exit for the airport, he felt a flash of panic. She really was leaving him, hopping a plane with her mystery man. He’d never been the one left behind but now, with a newfound morbid curiosity, he was going to see this through to the end, see just what it felt like when he saw her in the arms of another man.
But she didn’t head for the terminal. Instead, she turned onto a side access road. It meandered up a small hill, overlooking the runway below. He killed his headlights and followed behind slowly, but even that seemed too big a risk. She’d surely spot him on this tiny, deserted road, so he hung back, waiting.
He didn’t recognize the truck that she parked next to, but he did recognize the man who got out of it. Even with that ridiculous, scraggly beard, it was clearly Jack. Sawyer was surprised at how little it surprised him that that’s who she was meeting.
Somehow, it felt like less of a betrayal that it was Jack. She’d just been biding her time with Sawyer. It was Jack she’d really wanted and it was no secret that Jack had always been in love with her. This was inevitable.
Sawyer pulled off to the side and got out of his car, closing the door quietly. He crept closer on foot, wanting to hear the words, needing to hear her tell Jack what she’d never told him.
He stopped a few yards away, when he was close enough to see her face. He crouched low, confident of not being seen.
The two hadn’t embraced yet. Kate barely even looked at Jack. When she glanced up, her face was sorrowful, resigned. Jack stepped closer. “We have to go back,” he said, his voice so broken that for a second Sawyer doubted that it really was Jack. He couldn’t follow the script because now Kate was turning her back on him, just leaving Jack there.
Sawyer watched in confusion as Kate got back into her car and drove away, kicking up a cloud of dust. Jack stood there, swaying slightly, and then, like a puppet whose strings have been cut, he fell to his knees. His shoulders shook and he seemed to be sobbing, but there was no sound, and somehow that made it all the more wrenching.
He considered leaving Jack alone with his grief, leaving the man the last shred of dignity he’d lose if he realized Sawyer had seen him break down like this.
So he waited until Jack got to his feet, waited as Jack wiped his eyes with the dirty sleeve of his shirt and, with an unsteady, shuffling gait, lumbered slowly towards his truck.
Sawyer was just going to stand there and let him wander off on his sad, solitary way. That is, until Jack started the engine and gunned it angrily, heading straight for the chain link fence.
Sawyer ran, but it felt like he was moving in slow motion. He’d never catch up with the truck before it crashed. The fence and the steep embankment might not kill him, but those fucking planes down there sure as hell would and Sawyer couldn’t do a goddamn thing to stop Jack from destroying himself right in front of him.
He shouted Jack’s name, loud, desperate, his voice surely not audible over the whine of the truck’s engine, over the roar of the plane revving up for takeoff.
But Jack swerved at the last moment and cut the motor. He sat still in his truck, watching with dark, dead eyes as Sawyer approached him. There was a flicker of recognition but he showed no surprise at seeing Sawyer.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Sawyer slammed his hand down on the hood and Jack winced but he didn’t speak.
“You wanna kill yourself? Over her?”
Jack looked past him to the plane that was roaring into the sky overhead. He slumped against the seat, not fighting as Sawyer dragged him out of the truck. The bandage on Jack’s forehead and another one visible under his rolled-up shirt sleeve just confirmed that the little maneuver Sawyer had just witnessed wasn’t a momentary impulse. “You’re done drivin’ for the night, Big Guy.”
Sawyer slung Jack’s arm over his shoulder, struggling under the dead weight as they walked back towards his car. Jack smelled like vodka and cigarettes and stale sweat. God knew when he had showered last. Sawyer met no resistance as he deposited him none too gently into the passenger seat.
He planned to take Jack back to his home but Jack wouldn’t answer when he asked him where that was.
“Okay, empty your pockets.” Jack held up his hands with an odd, bitter laugh as he turned out his pockets. There was no wallet and Sawyer had his keys. All Sawyer found was a pill bottle, a prescription for oxycodone.The only address on it was the pharmacy’s, the 24-hour Rite Aid on Sunset.
“What am I gonna do with you?” Sawyer sighed, but he already knew what he was going to do. It’d serve Kate right when he showed up with the doc. He couldn’t wait to see her face when she saw Jack.
The drive back was surreal, like the kinds of dreams he used to have back on the island, where everything about the world they’d left behind was just a little off. He’d wake thinking he couldn’t even remember what it was like to drive a car, to see city lights zoom past, to breathe in smog and concrete and auto exhaust.
“Blinded by the Light,” came on the radio and when he glanced over, Jack seemed to be nodding to the music, although maybe he was just nodding off.
“You take some of these?” He demanded, holding up the bottle of pills. Another nod, maybe in answer, maybe not. “How many?”
He debated driving Jack to an emergency room instead, getting his stomach pumped. The pill bottle was maybe half full.
”I’m okay,” Jack mumbled. “Don’t worry about me.”
Sawyer snorted. “Right. I’m just bustin’ my ass here because you’re perfectly fine.”
Jack shrugged, waving his hand in Sawyer’s general direction. “I only took two.” His speech was slurred enough to give Sawyer pause, but he was almost home. He made the turn towards the apartment on Franklin, praying he was making the right decision. He could always call the paramedics.
Kate was waiting at the door as he pulled up. She watched, her face expressionless, as he guided Jack into the apartment.
She grabbed Sawyer’s arm, pulling him aside. “What’s he doing here?” she demanded angrily, not bothering to drop her voice. “Sawyer, you don’t know...”
He jerked his arm away. “That’s right, I don’t know a damn thing, do I?”
She huffed impatiently. “Look, I wasn’t sneaking out to fuck him. He’s a mess, Sawyer. We can’t help him. He’s beyond help.”
He looked over at Jack, who leaned unsteadily against the wall in the hallway, right where Sawyer had left him. He blinked slowly at the both of them, as if what they were discussing had nothing to do with him.
“You see?” Kate closed her eyes for a moment, as if it was taking a huge effort to choose the next words. She stepped in close to Sawyer, talking low, just for his ears. “Sawyer, he’s lost it. There’s nothing we can do for him. He’s got this crazy idea...” She caught herself and shook her head. “Look, there’s no point going into it. We just need to leave him be. Believe me, James. It’s for his own good.”
Sawyer stared at her like he was seeing her for the first time. “It’s Jack. How many times did he save your life and mine? He nearly fuckin’ killed himself tonight and you just wanna wash your hands?”
Her mouth was drawn in a firm line. “He can’t stay.”
“You’re a coldhearted bitch, you know that?”
She crossed her arms. “I don’t care. Either he leaves or I do.”
Sawyer gave her a long, hard stare before turning towards Jack. “Fine.”
Kate blinked. It was not the answer she expected, but her only protest was a small noise, a little dismayed hiccup as he took Jack by the arm. He heard her soft tread on the stairs. It wouldn’t take her long to pack, he figured, if she wasn’t packed already.
Sawyer guided Jack to the kitchen table, indicating he should sit. Jack just stared at the pile of mail on the table in front of him, not even seeing it. The Jack he knew would have gone to Kate, tried to make it better. This Jack just blinked, numbly, like some kind of sleepwalker who was waiting for the signal to awaken.
Kate came back down the stairs, her suitcase banging loudly on every step.
She waited expectantly in the doorway. There were any number of things Sawyer could say, but he found he didn’t want to say any of them. She waited for a moment and when she realized he wasn’t going to beg her to stay, she turned and with a small sigh, walked out the door.
He watched her go with something like relief and then he sat down at the table with Jack. “Day’s been a long time comin’,” he told Jack, even if he wasn’t listening. “Surprised it didn’t come sooner.”
It was like talking to himself, but it was better to hear the sound of his own voice than nothing. “Don’t you go blamin’ yourself.”
Jack nodded vaguely. His hands had been on his lap but now he raised his right hand to scratch at the bandage on his forehead. He moved to his beard next, rubbing it idly, probably an unconscious habit he’d picked up since growing the damn thing.
“Hey, Grizzly Adams. First order of business, let’s shave off that monstrosity. Make you look like a human again.”
He pushed Jack towards the bathroom, seating him on the toilet. In the brighter light here, Jack looked positively haggard. Sawyer just smiled at him, ignoring that growing sense of unease in his stomach. “Have you clean shaven in a jiffy. You just sit tight.”
He got out the shaving cream and a razor from the medicine cabinet and braced Jack’s knees between his legs, keeping him in place as best he could. Jack stared at the floor as Sawyer lathered his face, not helping, not hindering. “Look up for me, Doc,” Sawyer instructed, tilting Jack’s chin back for him.
Jack, for maybe the first time tonight, seemed to really look at him. His eyes were bright as Sawyer started in with the razor. “Now, it don’t hurt, does it?” Sawyer joked, but somehow the act of shaving Jack had become strangely intimate, because now that Jack was staring straight at him, eyes brimming with unshed tears and a quiet, unspoken desperation, it was Sawyer who had to look away.
“Hey, lookin’ better already,” he said loudly, surveying his own work. “More like yourself.”
Jack’s mouth twitched in what might be a smile.
“She’s not a bad person,” Sawyer said quietly, looking only at the razor as it scraped over the last bits of Jack’s beard. “Guess she just got scared. It’s rough when someone needs you. It’s not really... in her, I think.”
He hadn’t even thought of it in those terms until he said it out loud. He and Kate had steered clear of all the “love you, need you,” bullshit. It just was what it was, easy and uncomplicated and just there. And now it was gone but that didn’t matter because Jack needed him and that was more important.
“All done,” he announced, turning to rinse the razor in the sink. “You look a damn sight better. Now, I think you could use a shower.”
Jack rubbed his hand over his now-smooth face, nodding slightly.
“Yes? Okay. Here’s a towel. Shampoo’s in the shower. Take as long as you want.”
But Jack still sat there like a bump on a goddamned log, so Sawyer helped him get his shirt off, and then his shoes and jeans, and Jack was still slumped over, like an uncooperative child. He looked younger without that beard. He’d lost a lot of muscle tone. Sawyer remembered him having a nicely muscled chest with strong arms tanned by the sun. Now he looked frail and thin, his skin almost gray in the bathroom light.
“C’mon,” he said, helping Jack to his feet. He led him to the shower and then he had no choice but to help him step out of his dingy underwear. Jack didn’t start when the water hit him, he didn’t do anything, just let it wash over him, so Sawyer, with an aggrieved sigh, stripped down to his boxers and got in with him. It was like washing a large doll, one who stared at him blankly as he ran the soapy washcloth over his body. He hesitated to wash Jack’s genitals but then he muttered, “In for a penny, in for a pound.” He gave him a quick once-over in the front and was turning him to do the back -- damned if he was going to scrub every inch of him -- when Jack’s mouth brushed his.
Sawyer froze, wholly unprepared as Jack kissed him. I shoulda brushed his teeth, Sawyer thought, inwardly recoiling at Jack’s sour breath, but he didn’t draw back. For the first time tonight, Jack was acting instead of reacting. He took a step towards Sawyer, sighing as Sawyer’s hands moved back to his cock, this time without the washcloth. Sawyer didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed that Jack wasn’t hard. Probably the fault of the drugs that had him in such a fog.
Sawyer, whose dick wasn’t dulled by drugs, thought maybe he should push the issue, but then Jack dropped his head to Sawyer’s shoulder and just stayed there, hands resting lightly on Sawyer’s hips. The moment had passed. Sawyer’s arms went around Jack and they stood like that for a few minutes, the water washing over them both.
Finally, he reached past Jack to turn the water off. Jack followed him out of the shower, still as docile as a lamb, and Sawyer sat him down on the toilet, vigorously drying him off with a large bath towel. Jack's eyes were on Sawyer as he dried himself with a fresh towel, stepping out of his wet boxers and turning so that Jack wouldn’t see the state of his arousal, which would have been apparent to anyone who wasn’t a damn zombie.
He tied the towel around his waist and took Jack by the hand and led him upstairs to the bed. Jack readily laid down, rolling onto his stomach and clutching the pillow to his chest rather than resting his head on it. He looked so vulnerable that Sawyer felt ashamed of the flash of desire that spiked in him. Jack would probably offer no resistance if he climbed on top of him, if he spread his legs, if he fucked away both their sorrow and sadness the way he suddenly wanted to. But even if some small part of Jack wanted him, he was in no condition to give his consent.
It was okay, Sawyer figured, if he got into bed with Jack, if he wrapped his arms around him and if he told Jack that everything was going to be all right, that he was going to look out for him. He breathed in the fresh scent of soap on Jack’s skin and buried his chin in the pleasantly damp hair at the nape of Jack’s neck. Jack let out a deep sigh and his body relaxed and soon he was fast asleep.
It was a new feeling, being needed. He should be scared by it. He should have run, like Kate did. But right now, settled in warm with Jack in bed, he couldn’t think of anywhere else he wanted to be.