Chapter 6: Teach Me Tonight
Author:halfdutch. Story by foxxcub and halfdutch
Summary: Jack remembers that one night he had with Kate
Rating: R for sex, language
Setting: 1952 Los Angeles
Note: I'm just a writing fool. This one's loong! And, fyi, the next chapter's on foxxcub again. ;-)
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5
Jack held Kate as she sobbed, not sure what else to say to ease her mind about Sawyer. And whether she'd actually killed that cop -- he didn't know what to say about that either, but it couldn't be true? Could it?
She was soft and warm in his arms and he couldn’t help being aware of everything about her -- the way her hair felt under his hands, the way she smelled. But, mostly the way her body seemed to fit so well against his.
Her sobs finally subsided into hiccups and she sat up, wiping her eyes. Jack rubbed her back, as if to say, “Everything’s going to be all right.” She looked up at him with a watery smile.
“I’m sorry, I don’t usually fall apart like this." She sounded embarrassed. Her eyes were red, and so were her tearstained cheeks. He brushed away a lingering tear and then he caught himself. She was looking at him oddly. His breath caught in his throat and then he leaned down, his eyes on her lips.
She closed her eyes, leaning in towards him, but then she dropped her head at the last moment so that his lips brushed her hair. He held her like that for a minute, so that they didn’t have to acknowledge the fact that he’d just tried to kiss her.
It has been so many years since that one night. He hadn’t allowed himself to think of her that way since then. He’d just affected a friendly distance when he saw her, like nothing had happened. It was an effort for him -- was it hard for her? Did she ever think of him as more than a shoulder to cry on?
seven years earlier
She’d caught his eye immediately when she slid onto the barstool next to him, first because she was so damn pretty, and then because he was wondering how much that beaded silk dress must have cost. She was probably lost -- what else would she be doing in a place like this? She was far too lovely and well-heeled for this kind of bar. She belonged somewhere with a maitre d’ and a piano player in a tuxedo and everyone talking in a soft, dignified hush.
This bar was for hard drinkers - hell, even booze hound Robert Mitchum was a regular - who wanted to get drunk fast and who didn’t need a bunch of atmosphere lousin’ up the joint.
And then he thought maybe she wasn’t here by accident after all by the way she ordered her drink -- whiskey, straight up. And the way she drank it. Like she needed it, but didn’t want to drink it too fast and broadcast that fact.
Jack knew that kind of drinking. He didn’t think she had a reason to drink like that, but what the hell did he know?
She sat there, perched on her barstool as if daring anyone to tell her to leave. No barman in his right mind would kick her out, even if she looked underage. Every guy in the place wanted to try his luck with her, but so far all but one had been too intimidated to try.
She’d quickly dismissed the one mug cocky enough to try to pick her up. Didn’t he know her from somewhere? he began. She gave him a look of pure contempt and he’d begged her pardon and walked away, looking several inches shorter.
Jack had grinned at her curt dismissal, and she smiled back at him and he saw those dazzling green eyes for the first time and those freckles that even her makeup didn’t cover.
Her whole expression changed when she smiled and she wasn’t pretty anymore, she was fucking beautiful. Before he knew it, he was buying the next few rounds and her whole body was turned towards him, and they were both bent over, cracking up at his terrible jokes, her hand slapping his lightly as she laughed.
And then, several drinks later, they reached that part of the evening where the booze had set in and the mood turned dark. They both fell silent, giving into private melancholy. She sighed, and he figured she was going to say she was leaving and how nice it had been to talk to him. But instead she announced she was buying the next round.
He’d nodded, surprised, and when their drinks arrived, she downed hers and given him a seductive smile he could feel in his toes.
“I snuck out tonight,” she admitted, sounding like a truant teenager. “I ditched my bodyguard.” She put a finger up to her lips. “Shhh,” she said. “He can’t know I’m here.”
“I won’t tell him,” Jack said, finding it easy to promise her anything.
“Good. You’re a good guy,” she said, her words starting to slur. Her hand was on his knee and he suddenly felt very warm. “You’re a good man. Aren’t you?”
“I don’t know,” he squirmed, hating to be put on the spot.
“Betcha you just got back from the war,” she continued, her hand now rubbing his knee in a way that made him slow to respond.
“Yeah, Italy,” he said, brusquely. He hated talking about it.
“You get any medals?” she asked. “You look like you did. You look like an all-American hero.”
His mouth twitched. “They handed those out to everyone,” he said in a tone that even a slumming rich girl on her eighth drink could read.
“Touchy,” she said, leaning back and eyeing him carefully. “But you’re OK, Jack.”
She leaned closer to him, whispering in his ear. “I’m not OK. I think I’ve had a little too much to drink.” She fell back with a giggle, as if she were proud of drinking too much.
“I’ll take you home,” he offered. “If you like.”
She nodded and then he saw something in her eyes -- a flash of such sadness he suddenly wanted to hold her and tell her everything was going to be OK. He didn’t have the vaguest idea what her problems were, but he wanted to fix them anyway.
Sawyer was always warning him about being too much of a pushover, of letting weepy clients slide on payment because he felt sorry for them. “It’s a damn good thing I’m your partner,” Sawyer would sigh and go collect the money himself.
But driving her home, that wasn’t getting involved. He’d just drop her off, make sure she was safe and go home. Except now he could hear Sawyer’s voice in his ear, this time scolding him for passing up a shot with a beautiful woman like her.
“Ready?” he asked her, helping her off the barstool. She took his hand like a little girl, so trusting, and he changed his mind for about the tenth time about what kind of dame she was and how this evening was going to end up.
He walked out with her on his arm and the eyes of every man in the bar on him. She was humming as they walked, a tune he thought might be Nat King Cole.
He opened the door of the car for her and she got in daintily, smoothing her skirt as she sat down. Then she leaned over and unlocked his door for him.
“Thanks,” he said, surprised when she didn’t move back over to the passenger side. He got in and she pressed against him, offering up her lips to be kissed, swaying every so slightly.
He put his arm around her and kissed her hard, the way he’d been wanting to all night. She moaned and opened her mouth wider and he had to stop himself from taking her right there in the front seat.
He pulled back, finally, and she settled against him as he put the car in drive. “Where are we going?” he asked her.
“Top of Laurel Canyon,” she said, and he nodded, turning onto Hollywood Blvd.
She was humming again, that song he couldn’t quite place. Then she switched on his radio and fiddled with the dial until she found a jazz station. He smiled at how young she seemed, trying to reconcile it with that overwhelming sense of sadness he got from her.
The car inched slowly up the canyon. As he turned a corner, the headlights caught a coyote in the middle of the road, its eyes gleaming back at them.
Jack was mesmerized, but Kate seemed nonplussed. “There’s hundreds of them up here,” she said with distaste. “One of them killed my dog when I was little. I haven’t had a dog since.” She didn’t sound sad, just matter-of-fact.
“Turn here!” she announced suddenly, steering them towards a driveway flanked by tall stone pillars. Jack’s jaw nearly dropped. The driveway led to an enormous mansion -- sleek and modern and incredibly imposing.
He pulled up to the garage -- right behind a Rolls Royce and right next to a Cadillac.
“Kate, is this it?” he asked her, but she was nodding off. “Kate?” he shook her and she waved him away.
“I’m OK,” she mumbled. He opened the car door for her and caught her just as she tumbled out. “Oops,” she giggled.
“I better make sure you get in all right,” he said. They walked up to the door - a huge steel thing - and Kate fumbled with her key.
“Sshhh,” she whispered loudly. “We don’t want to wake anyone up.”
“Who’s here?” he asked, suddenly worried who he might have to answer to for bringing her home in this state.
“No one,” she said, gesturing exaggeratedly. “Just the servants. But they spy on me,” she added with a frown.
Finally she had the door unlocked, but it was too heavy for her to open on her own, so Jack did the honors. She was still reeling, so he walked her into the house.
“Should we turn on a light?” he asked, squinting into the darkness.
“No! Sshh,” she hushed him. “I know where I’m going.”
“I don’t,” he hissed back as he stumbled over an ottoman.
“Upstairs,” she said, seriously, as if their lives depended on his getting her up the stairs. He managed it somehow, despite having to carry her now.
“Third door,” she mumbled, and he carried her into an enormous bedroom, tastefully decorated in black and white. He laid her on the bed and wondered for a minute if he should help her off with her dress since she was just going to pass out in it and possibly ruin it.
And then he decided his best course of action was to just let himself out and get out of there as quietly as possible.
“Kate,” he whispered, leaning over her, “I’m going to go.” And then he wondered if he should tell her he’d call her or that it was nice to meet her or what was appropriate to say to a nearly comatose stranger he’d just carried into her bedroom.
But she wasn’t comatose. She reached up and pulled him down by his tie. “Don’ wan’ you to go,” she murmured, running her hands through his hair.
All his good intentions melted away when she started kissing him. He was lying next to her without having decided to make that move and she was tugging his shirt out of his pants and starting to unbutton it.
“Kate, wait, you ...” he started to protest, but she shushed him with a finger held to his lips.
“I know you’re a good man,” she said softly, taking his hand and putting it on her breast. “Be good to me.”
He still wavered, not wanting to take advantage of her just because she was drunk. “I should go,” he said, half sitting up.
“Don’ go,” she said, her voice full of need and hurt. “’s OK,” she assured him, unzipping his fly. He inhaled sharply as her hand reached inside his pants.
“Kate,” he moaned, all his indecision gone as he kissed her, feeling her heat and drowning in her scent.
He helped her off with her dress, both of them so impatient that it ripped along the seam as he tried to deal with the complicated zipper.
“Duzzinmatter,” she mumbled, as she unhooked her bra and brought his head to her breasts. She sighed as his wet mouth closed on first one breast and then the other.
Then finally, they were both free of their clothes and still he hesitated, afraid to hurt her. “Come on,” she said urgently, and he sank into her, losing himself completely in her. She wasn’t sleepy now -- she was like a tigress, matching his rhythm with her own, urging him on with little nips to his shoulder, her fingers digging into his back.
He breathed her name when he came and she sighed and kissed his neck as they both lay there, trying to get their breath. She ran her finger up his arm, sleepily tracing the outlines of his tattoos in the semi-darkness.
She fell asleep in his arms, and he just watched her, stroking her hair and marveling at how he had come to be here, already a little in love with her.
He had just drifted off -- or so it seemed -- when she was shaking him awake. “Jack, you have to go.”
“Huh?” He was stupid with sleep and drink. “Thought you wanted me to stay.” He looked out the window. It was still dark.
“I did, but now you need to go.” He tried ignoring her, but she kept shaking him until he was finally awake. She looked scared. She had put on a robe and was holding up his clothes for him. “I’m sorry, Jack,” she said, looking around as if expecting someone to come in at any minute. “You can’t stay here.”
He nodded, still foggy, and started to get dressed. She was wide awake now, fueled by panic, and he struggled to get there himself.
“Are you married?” he asked, alarmed as the thought of facing an angry husband with a shotgun occurred to him -- and the thought was as bracing as having a bucket of cold water tossed in his face.
“No, silly,” she said, with a laugh, kissing him on the cheek. “But my father can’t know you were here.”
He had his clothes on by now, except for his shoes, and as they looked for them, he asked her, “Will I see you again?”
She smiled, pleased that he was asking. But then a cloud crossed her face. “If I can,” she said. “It’s hard for me to get away.”
He nodded and she pushed him toward the door. “Can you find your way out?” she asked and he nodded again.
He kissed her again before he left, pulling her close and he committed her to memory as he turned away -- her tousled hair, the way she clutched the robe around her, that half-smile she gave him, and those sad green eyes.
Jack had left without her phone number or even her last name. Maybe her first name wasn’t even really Kate.
All he knew was where she lived and that he couldn’t stop thinking about her. He contemplated driving up there and just ringing the doorbell on that imposing steel door, but by the way she’d made him leave in the middle of the night, he figured he wouldn’t be too welcome.
Her father - whoever he was - seemed insanely protective of her. Why would she need a bodyguard anyway, he wondered. Who the hell was her father?
He’d gone back to the bar where he’d met her, but she hadn’t been in. After a few nights, Jack finally broke down and asked the bartender if he’d seen her around before, and the man just shrugged, shaking his head with that weary, knowing look that made Jack feel like the world’s biggest chump.
Damn it, he was a P.I.! There were other ways to find her than by camping outside her house. He thought about getting Sawyer to help him, but then dismissed the idea. He’d barely seen him lately, with that John Locke keeping him busy day and night.
It wasn’t a great way to start a partnership, with Sawyer working so hard on the side. But Jack couldn’t begrudge the extra work to him. If he ever needed him for an actual case, Sawyer always came through.
So Jack bided his time, fighting the urge to drive up Laurel Canyon and park himself in the hills like a hungry coyote, waiting for her. He had work to do anyway. Sawyer was meeting him at Schwab’s to bring him his surveillance report. Assuming he’d had time to do it -- and Jack caught himself before he got mad.
He was just testy. He didn’t need to take it out on Sawyer.
While he waited, he grabbed a newspaper and scanned it without really reading it. And then over the top of the paper, he saw her. His heart slowed and everyone else in the crowded drugstore disappeared. She was wearing an elegant black hat and dress and her hair was up, but it was definitely her.
He just watched her for a minute, as she walked to the counter and sat down with the same nonchalance with which she’d walked into his life the other night. He started to walk towards her, and then he noticed she wasn’t alone. A man in a hat that had seen better days hovered behind her and as Jack started to frown at the intrusion, he realized he knew him. It was Sawyer.
Jack’s insides were doing funny things. Surely he was mistaken -- Sawyer was just here to meet him. But no -- now he had his hand on her shoulder and was leaning in to tell her something. She looked up at him, frowning, those green eyes flashing, as if she didn’t like what he was saying. Sawyer was her bodyguard. Of course. She was John Locke’s daughter. It all made sense now, except that Jack’s head was still swimming.
Well, that made things a bit awkward, maybe, but not impossible. Just as he was coming up with the best way to talk to Sawyer about it, he noticed the way Sawyer was looking at her when she turned her back to him. His haunted look of desire was so plain, so open and raw, that Jack felt like he was looking into a mirror. It was just for a split second, but in that instant he knew: Sawyer was in love with her.
Jack’s chest suddenly felt tight and the room felt stuffy. Of all the women in the world -- why her? The unfairness of it burned like bile in his throat. And then he had to smile and pretend nothing had happened because Sawyer had seen him and was waving him over.
“Doin’ double duty, hope you don’t mind,” Sawyer said, nodding toward Kate. Jack gave her a perfunctory glance, feeling as if if his thoughts were emblazoned on his forehead. “Miss Locke, meet my partner, Jack,” Sawyer was saying.
Jack held his breath as she turned on the counter stool to face him. Her eyes met his and for a second, neither spoke. “Jack, was it?” she said finally, recovering beautifully. She held out a gloved hand and he shook it, still in a daze. He wanted to kiss that perfectly lipsticked mouth and knock that hat off and run his fingers through her hair. But he just let go of her hand and nodded, like an idiot.
“Pleasure,” he said at last, tearing his gaze from her face to discuss business with Sawyer. His partner looked at him oddly, glancing back at Kate, who had turned back around and was ordering a Coke.
“You two met before?” Sawyer said, his voice light, but with an unmistakable edge to it.
“No,” Jack shook his head and looked up and away, as if trying to recall. “No, I don’t think so.” He paused, thinking how he should be reacting. He walked Sawyer out of earshot of Kate. “I think I’d remember someone like her. You didn’t tell me she was so ...” He forced his lips into a grin. “Sawyer, no wonder you’ve been so secretive about moonlighting! You dog! You mean the whole time I was running bombing missions, you were showing her around town?"
Sawyer’s jaw tightened and a hard light came into his eyes. “It’s not like that,” he said and for a moment there was a palpable tension between them and Jack thought Sawyer might be about to haul off and punch him. But then the moment passed and they fell back to talking about the case. The case that neither one of them could keep his mind on.
Her drink finished and their business done, Sawyer went to get the car, giving them both a careful once-over as he left.
She smiled brightly at Jack, as if to ward off any questions, but that wasn’t putting him off.
“Kate,” he began, and she shook her head sadly, her eyes shining.
“Jack, I’m sorry,” she said. “I told you it was difficult.” She forced a little laugh. “I didn’t know how difficult.”
“I didn’t know,” Jack unconsciously echoed her words, painfully aware that this might be the last conversation he would ever have with her and that it would end the second Sawyer came back with the car. “I wish to God things were different.”
She kept smiling and it was breaking his heart. It was the saddest smile he’d ever seen.
“I know,” she said. “I ... I think you might have been good for me, Jack.”
He just wanted to take her in his arms. Instead he said, "Maybe we still could..."
She shook her head again. "My father would never approve of me dating a private detective. You don't know him. He's ... impossible to disobey."
Jack could only nod, a tight little smile on his lips. Even if she wanted him, he couldn't do that to Sawyer, he told himself.
She was looking at him like she wanted to say something else, but then the car pulled up and Sawyer got out and opened the door for her. And Jack had to watch her walk away and act like he didn’t care.
He watched the car drive off, feeling like his heart was being crushed under those heavy wheels, and then he headed for the nearest bar.
(to be continued)