Summary: Jack's favorite subject to photograph is Sawyer
Word count: 1428
Note: For inthekeyofd's day as Queen at lostsquee. This is a sequel to the fic I wrote you two years ago, The Sea, with Jack and Sawyer in Mexico. I'm so honored you love that fic so much and I hope this one comes close. :) *mwah!* Also using for fanfic100 prompt "Home." Many thanks to zelda_zee for her beta.
Jack never does anything by half-measures, so when he comes across an old camera, he quickly becomes obsessed with it. The camera -- an old Hasselblad that somehow turned up at the village market -- never leaves Jack's hand. He turns the shack into a darkroom and spends nearly all his time in there, his hands smelling of chemicals when he finally emerges.
He photographs everything: the children of the village, the stray dogs, the extravagantly blooming bougainvillea, all of it set against the stunning backdrop of the Sea of Cortez. His favorite subject, though, is Sawyer.
At first, Sawyer is happy to smile for the camera and pose with his shirt off, leaning artistically against their house, pretending to read his book. Jack prints up the photos and proudly shows them to him, but soon Sawyer's enthusiasm wanes. He has limited patience for talk of chemical baths and finding just the right mix to capture the dazzling reds and oranges of the bougainvillea, the deep blues of the ocean, the crisp white of their house against the sky.
Soon, Sawyer also tires of being a model and refuses to cooperate. He mutters every time Jack pulls the camera out and asks doesn't he have enough damn photos of him yet?
Jack isn't deterred, however. He learns to sneak up on Sawyer, like a cat in the wild, when Sawyer is immersed deep in a book, his concentration so intense that he doesn't notice Jack snapping away.
Sawyer's penchant for late-afternoon siestas in the hammock out back is another chance for Jack to catch him on film. Sawyer is beautiful and unguarded in sleep, his lips parted, his brow slightly furrowed, perhaps reliving a bad memory from the island, or before. The first few buttons of his shirt are undone, showing a tantalizing bronzed triangle of skin. Jack loves everything about Sawyer, every little delicious detail, and the camera eats it all up.
Jack pins up the newest photos -- trying to decide which ones work, which ones he might redo. Photos of Sawyer litter the darkroom, as they do the house. It's not just that Jack loves to see Sawyer around him, everywhere, it's that none of the photographs ever really do him justice. Jack can't ever get the mix right, can't quite capture the stunning blue-green of Sawyer's eyes or the way they glint with wicked humor, those dimples lighting up his face in a way that Jack has yet to really commit to film.
They're watching an old Humphrey Bogart movie at the local bar one night -- Sawyer always likes the old movies and sometimes gripes, only sometimes, about how they've never gotten a TV -- when Jack realizes what he's been doing wrong. Black-and-white. It's timeless. The pictures he's been taking of Sawyer are nothing more than snapshots.
Jack has to place a special order for black-and-white film and impatiently waits two weeks for it to show up. The first photograph he takes is from far away, of Sawyer, down at the beach, his white shirt gleaming against the dark of the sea. He takes a series of shots, catching Sawyer walking up the hill to their house, stopping to throw a stick for one of the local dogs. Sawyer looks relaxed and happy, hair dripping wet, an open, laughing smile on his face as he rubs the dog behind the ears.
Jack knows the photos are good, but he has to wait until he develops them to see how good they are. Finally, he thinks as he watches the images slowly come to life in the tray. Sawyer in black-and-white takes his breath away. He looks like he stepped out of another era, like some raffish movie star from years past. It's not just that the black-and-white captures his amazing bone structure, or the light in his eyes, it's that there's something bigger than life about him that Jack feels is finally there, on film. He selects one photo, a close-up of Sawyer as he bends over the dog. The shaggy fringe of hair obscures his eyes, but the dimples show through so clearly. Maybe it was never about capturing the color of Sawyer's eyes. Maybe, Jack thinks, those dimples are really the key to the Sawyer he knows.
He spends almost all afternoon in the dark room and holds his breath when he brings the photos into the house. Sawyer rolls his eyes at yet another batch of photos of himself, but goes back to look at them one more time.
"They're good," he admits. "Doesn't really look like me, though."
Jack just smiles at that. It's funny that where he sees the elusive, quintessential Sawyer that he loves -- relaxed, laughing, achingly handsome -- Sawyer doesn't see himself at all.
"Why do you take so many photos of me anyway?" Sawyer asks. It's not his usual teasing, grumpy tone; he sounds genuinely perplexed.
"Because you're impossibly gorgeous," Jack answers, kissing Sawyer's furrowed forehead. Sawyer shrugs him, and the compliment, away.
"Yeah, but, it's kinda like..." Sawyer pauses, as if he's not sure he should say what's on his mind, but then he plunges ahead. "It's like you're thinkin' there's gonna be a time when I'm not here. Or you're not here. When those photos are all you're gonna have to remember me by."
There's a look in Sawyer's eyes that Jack hasn't seen in years, one of doubt and distrust.
"No, no," Jack swears, alarmed that Sawyer would attach so ominous a meaning to some simple snapshots. "I just want to immortalize you on film, that's all. I mean ....we're so happy here and I just want to capture that."
Sawyer raises one eyebrow in a way that means he's unconvinced. "So you aren't thinkin’ that one day the other shoe's gonna drop? That this is all too perfect to last?"
"No!" Jack says, firmly, squeezing Sawyer's arm. "Never. This is forever. I meant that. You, me, the beach, the moonlight, all of that."
"Okay," Sawyer sighs. "How can I argue when you're wearin' those sad puppy-dog eyes?" He gives Jack a long, deep kiss to let him know he's forgiven. But he looks stern --still holding Jack's face in his hands --- when he asks, "But can you stop with the damn photos already?"
"Here." Jack disentangles himself and reaches for the camera. "Do with it whatever you want."
Sawyer smiles, his first real smile around Jack in days, and turns the camera on Jack. "What do you say we skip ‘Smile’ and go straight to ‘Take your shirt off’?”
Even though he didn't really know him, Aaron ends up with his uncle's things. Among them is a box of old photos. They're the really old-fashioned kind, not digital or anything, but printed by hand. The photos all seem to be from a certain time period, around the turn of the millennium, right after Uncle Jack was rescued from that island.
There are several guidebook-worthy shots of the sea and the village where his uncle lived until he died, but most of the pictures are of a blond man, sometimes smiling, sometimes scowling at the camera. The photos are professional and beautifully composed, but Aaron wishes there were some of Uncle Jack in there. He doesn't know this other man at all.
He keeps flipping through and finds some more intimate photos -- the blond man coming out of the shower with just a towel on, one of him fast asleep in bed. And there are some nudes of the man’s bare backside that lovingly dwell on the dimples on his lower back. Aaron lets out a low whistle. No one told him about this side of his uncle. The photos span several years, decades probably, and always there's the same blond man, now a bit older, in the same bed, the same hammock.
At the bottom of the pile, Aaron finds some photos that don't have the professional framing and focus of the others. But here he finds what he's been looking for: photos of his uncle, smiling and laughing, looking happier than Aaron's ever seen him. The only photos he's ever seen were the grim post-rescue ones in the newspaper or the ones taken before the crash, where Jack always looked serious and unsmiling.
Aaron stares a long time at the last photo.
It's blurry and off-center, but it's definitely the best photo of the bunch. Jack clearly took the picture himself; you can see his tattooed arm holding the camera, and he's kissing the blond man with his eyes closed. In the background is the sea at high tide, and even though it's in black-and-white, Aaron thinks he's never seen anything more vivid.