Pairing: Jack/Kevin, hints of Jack/Kate/Sawyer
Summary: They have Kate in common.
Rating: PG (This chapter)
Note: This is the long-delayed fic I started for elise_509 for the luau! She asked for Jack! And it's also for toestastegood, who I know loves Kevin, and who asked for unusual pairings. One of many fics about Saving Jack, the Official Theme of the S3 Hiatus, yes? :) Thank you to eponine119 for betaing. More to come soon, I hope!
Kevin found out her real name, her whole history, only to spend the next years trying to forget everything he’d learned about his wife. He tried to blot out her memory, pretend he’d never known anyone named Monica. Certainly, he’d never known anyone named Kate Austen.
He'd left the force, gone into private security. Now he was busy keeping people’s dirty little secrets instead of exposing them.
He could hide behind his new dark glasses, behind the suits, but he couldn’t hide from the barrage of news when her name was listed among the missing on Flight 815.
The story of the sexy fugitive who had married and conned a cop was overshadowed only by that of the now-lost rock star. Kevin was used to escorting someone else through crowds, to protecting them, but now he was the one being stalked, the one who needed protection. He turned a cold face to the cameras. He never stopped, never commented when the throngs of reporters descended on him, but they made his life hell for those first few days. He only lost it when they went after his mother and then he hauled off and socked one of them and wrecked his camera, perversely satisfied at the way it shattered when it hit the ground.
Once again Kate -- he still thought of her as Monica -- had ruined his life, just by the simple act of disappearing.
Gradually, it all subsided. The media turned to new disasters, new scandals, and his life went back, more or less, to what it had been.
It could never go back to the way it was before he met her. Now he assumed everyone was out to con him. He’d barely been with any women in the two years since she’d vanished, and the few there were didn’t last long. It was the one thing Kate had left him, the ability to just walk away.
He didn’t know what he felt when news came that the survivors had been found. It was no more than a fantastic rumor, at first, vague whisperings that couldn’t possibly be true. And then came the reports confirming it, too many to dismiss. He waited, as surely as all the other relatives and spouses and friends were waiting, to hear if she was one of the ones who was still alive.
When the first footage of the survivors hit the airwaves he scanned their faces for her. He told himself that it didn’t matter one way or the other, that she was dead to him a long time ago, but he couldn’t help the way his heart clenched when a woman with dark curly hair turned to the camera, and the wave of despair he felt when that woman wasn’t her.
Slowly, the names of the survivors were released, along with those who had died. The newspaper blurred in front of his eyes -- she was listed as dead. He had a moment where everything seemed to slip sidewise and the paper fell from his hand, and then, he told himself, he was fine.
He should have turned off the TV, should have stopped reading the paper. Instead, he found himself desperate to know these people she’d known in her last years -- people who’d no doubt known her better than he ever had. He watched the same footage over and over of the shellshocked survivors filing off the plane that landed in Los Angeles.
Kevin read all the articles, watched all the reports, until those blurred faces on TV had names and histories. He zeroed in on one man, the one who all the rest of the survivors described in glowing terms as a hero. His name was Jack and he’d been a doctor, but he’d clearly become much more to the ragtag group on the island. Jack was the one with a limp, the one who stumbled a little coming down the jet way, leaning heavily on the blond, bearded man next to him in that now-familiar arrival footage.
Kevin studied him closely, the close-cropped hair, the often-bowed head, the air of sorrow not masking his evident authority and strength. There were others on the island Kate might have gravitated towards, but he knew somehow that Jack had been important to her.
He felt guilty, watching the video crews hound them, because he’d been through the exact same thing. The look of pain in Jack’s eyes as he simply tried to retreat into his mother’s house was what made Kevin finally snap off the TV in disgust.
He booked a flight to Los Angeles. Jack needed a bodyguard and he needed answers. Before he ever met Jack, he knew they needed each other.
He made some calls before he left, got in touch with the few contacts he had in the LAPD, hoping that someone could put in a good word with him. Just marching up to Jack Shepherd’s house and introducing himself, he was likely to just get the door slammed in his face.
Assured that his name had been favorably mentioned to Jack, he called him from the airport, but just got his answering machine.
He rented a car at LAX and drove to the address he’d been given. He saw with distaste that the news crews were still camped out in front of Jack’s house, which meant that he was either inside or expected home soon.
Kevin decided to wait, leaning against his car, hoping for his chance to get to Jack like the rest of them. He spent the time assessing the layout of the place. The house sat at the top of a small rise. There was a fence, but not a very high one, and the long driveway beyond it looked entirely too inviting. He mentally raised the fence, added an automatic opener to the gate and security cameras. It was about half an hour later when a car pulled up. As he’d expected, the camera crews and photographers swarmed around the vehicle, until it had to slow to a crawl.
He didn’t think twice, just sprang into action, pushing the throngs of shouting men aside, ordering them to stand back. Some moved immediately, others had to be shoved back, but slowly, he was getting the car through. He was just glancing in the window to see if Jack was really inside when something hard hit his head, slamming him against the side of the car. He turned and swung wildly, his fist connecting with the first jaw in reach, which probably belonged to the overeager cameraman who’d jammed his battery pack into his face.
So much for keeping order. He was being shoved in two different directions at once, another camera was pressing against his arm and someone was trampling his foot and everyone was yelling when the car door opened.
“No,” Kevin shouted when he saw Jack attempt to get out. “Sir, STAY IN THE CAR.” It was pure instinct to shove Jack back in and to follow him inside slamming the door behind them both.
He was now in the driver’s seat and Jack was braced against the passenger side door, like he was considering jumping back out into the mob of rabid newshounds. “Who are you?” Jack demanded, but Kevin didn’t have time to answer.
He gunned the motor -- the engine was still running, fortunately -- and the men pressed up against the car jumped out of the way.
“Please tell me there’s an automatic gate,” he barked at Jack, who mutely nodded and fumbled for the remote.
“I just had it installed...” Jack answered, still looking at him as if he weren’t sure he was safer outside than in the car. Kevin pulled up in front of the house, looking back to see if anyone had followed. No one had. They were all still thronged on the other side of the gate, thank God.
“Now you have 30 seconds to tell me who you are and what you want before I call the police,” Jack said, holding up his cell phone as proof of his intentions. He was calm but breathing fast, as if preparing himself for any kind of assault.
“My name’s Kevin Callis. I called ... left messages. Or maybe someone mentioned my name?”
Jack shook his head, lips pressed together in a frown. “No.”
“Well, I’m ... I’m here to help you,” Kevin’s heart sank as he realized that Jack didn’t know him from Adam. “I’m a security expert and I figured you could use some security.”
“So you figured you’d carjack me as an audition?” Jack scoffed. “I don’t need security....”
“Yes, you do,” Kevin insisted, waving his hand at the crowd outside the gate. “But whether you want to hire me or not, I needed to talk to you. I’ve been through this same thing ... because of my ex-wife.”
“So...?” Jack looked more impatient than puzzled.
“She told me her name was Monica. It was only after she left that I found out her real name was Kate Austen.”
That got Jack’s attention. His eyes narrowed. “Kate? You were married to Kate? His glance raked over Kevin’s face dismissively. “She never happened to mention being married.”
”Oh, she was, just not for very long,” Kevin said with a little laugh. He reached inside his suit pocket and Jack flinched. “Wanted to show you our wedding photo.” He handed Jack a glossy photo of him and Monica, smiling at the altar. He pressed a locket into Jack’s hand as he stared at the glowing bride in the picture. “That’s the locket she wore on our wedding day,” Kevin continued. “My mother gave it to her ... she gave it back to me before she left.”
Jack’s eyes flicked over Kevin’s face, comparing it to the groom with his arm around Kate. He stared at the photo for a long time before speaking. “I ... didn’t know,” Jack said quietly, handing back both the photo and the locket into Kevin’s outstretched hand.
He was still guarded, but his whole manner thawed from wary hostility to honest curiosity. He looked at Kevin, taking him in from head to toe as if seeing him for the first time, catching sight of Kevin’s bruised knuckles as his hand wrapped around the locket. “That looks bad. Why don’t you come inside and I can see to it?”
Kevin nodded, glad to have convinced Jack at last. He slipped the mementos back into his jacket. He killed the motor and handed Jack the keys and then he followed him inside the house.
Jack got them both scotch and waters from the wet bar in the den -- if you could call a cavernous, high-ceilinged room like this a den -- and Kevin sipped his while Jack dabbed disinfectant on his hand. Kevin winced. “Stings a little,” he sighed and Jack merely grunted. Jack expertly wound some gauze over the knuckles and had Kevin make a fist to see if it was too tight. Kevin nodded his approval and Jack taped off the bandage. His hand seemed to linger a shade too long in Jack’s or maybe it was the other way around.
Jack still didn’t seem quite real to him, still just a distant figure he’d seen on the news. In person, he was thinner, his face a little more lined, his hair a little grayer.
Now that Kevin’s hand had been bandaged, they didn’t seem to know what to say each other; both just kept sneaking sidelong glances at the other. “Can you tell me ... how she died?” Kevin said finally. The newspapers hadn’t specified and he’d gone crazy trying to imagine Kate’s final moments.
Jack took a deep breath, holding his eye for a moment before looking away. “She got pregnant. And on that island, it was a death sentence. She hemorrhaged to death in her sixth month. I couldn’t save her.” His voice was flat, dead. Kevin tried to picture what Jack must have gone through in trying to save her life, tried to imagine Kate’s agony, her fear and helplessness, and the terrible anguish Jack must have felt when she died.
“We buried her next to the others, on a little hill overlooking the ocean. She was the seventh one of our group to die. It was the 611th day since we’d crashed.”
It was an odd recitation, carefully designed to mask Jack’s obvious grief, Kevin thought, the doctor retreating into the safety of numbers: statistics and time of death.
“She never wanted to have children,” Kevin said softly. “That’s what made her decide to leave. Even though the test was negative, she got scared, and she ran.” His smile was crooked, his throat tight as he spoke. “She just couldn’t do it ... not have a family and do Taco Night and everything. She drugged me when she told me who she really was, so I couldn’t do anything, so I couldn’t stop her.”
“She drugged you?” Jack’s laugh seemed entirely inappropriate. “Ha. She did that to me too.” He shook his head. “I’d been up all night, trying to save... well, it doesn’t matter. I was running on empty and I wouldn’t stop to sleep, so she slipped some sleeping pills into my orange juice.”
“Mine was iced tea,” Kevin said, echoing Jack’s laugh. “Guess you folks didn’t have much ice there.”
”No.” He swirled the ice in his glass before downing the rest of his drink. “You know, you remind me of someone, a little.”
“You met Sawyer yet?” Jack’s grin seemed a shade warmer at the mention of the name.
”No.” Kevin’s mind went to the handsome blonde man with blue eyes from the news footage and he was unaccountably flattered. “Haven’t had the pleasure.”
“You might want to... he knew Kate better than I did.”
”Oh.” And here Kevin had been assuming that Jack had lost his own child. “I didn’t realize... I guess I thought, you and she...”
Jack looked wistful for a moment. “There was a time... but it was Sawyer she really loved. They were good together, I think.”
It was strange to be sitting here with Jack, discussing the man whom Kate had loved best. He didn’t feel jealous, exactly. She was too far away from him to feel much of anything but sadness, the very same emotion he was reading in Jack. The man seemed pressed down by sorrows too great to mention.
He could see how Kate would be drawn to his quiet strength. He liked Jack already. There was something about Jack Shepherd that inspired confidence, and yet there was also the hint of a deep fragility that needed protecting. Kevin was glad he’d come.
Jack seemed lost in his own thoughts, so Kevin quietly sipped at his drink and let his eyes wander around the room. Something about its dark paneling and case after case of books was vaguely oppressive; he’d felt the need to lower his voice during their whole conversation. But then, there was a kind of hush over the whole house, over Jack. Or maybe it was just the relative quiet in here, compared to the melee outside.
“I guess I could use a bodyguard,” Jack finally said. “Until all this dies down. You’re hired.” His grip was warm and steady as he shook Kevin’s hand, his eyes burning with the same questions Kevin must have of him.