Pairing: Jack/Juliet (yes, my first ever!)
Summary: S4 AU: Juliet stops Jack from getting on the helicopter
Word count: 1124
Notes: For lostsquee Queen elise_509, who asked for Juliet and/or Jack. This is the same idea I was going to write for your birthday, only boiled down to its bare essentials. You had asked for "something domestic," and so this idea was born. :) Title inspired by the song All the Right Reasons by The Jayhawks.
At first, Jack can't help but resent Juliet.
She's the one who made him stay behind, the one who insisted he was too weak after the surgery to go traipsing all over the island. None of them knew that whoever got on the helicopter that day would never return.
Jack doesn't ever tell her that he hopes that Kate stayed on the 'copter, that somehow it managed to fly to safety, that she wasn't at the bottom of the ocean with everyone else. He can't bear to think of her dead. They've lost too many people and surely he can hold out this one hope, for her to have lived.
The first few days, Jack really is too weak to argue with Juliet when she orders him to bedrest in one of the cottages. She moves in with him and watches him like a hawk, and even though he thinks he'd rather be dead --- bled out from the stitches or blown sky-high aboard the freighter, he does get stronger.
They settle into a kind of routine. She brings him breakfast in bed, which he grudgingly eats while she watches, sternly ordering him to finish his toast. She's worse than his mother ever was. She's his nurse and his personal chef but mostly she's his jailer all over again.
The day he's strong enough to get his own damn breakfast, he finds her in the kitchen, sobbing quietly at the kitchen sink. He backtracks to his bedroom, remembering, for the first time, that she hates being here as much as he does. Possibly more.
He sits on the bed, rubbing his forehead. He didn't mean to be this selfish, this petty. It's not Juliet's fault, she was trying to save his life, something Jack knows too well is a thankless task. Everyone wants to hurtle headlong into death and there he was, at the front of the pack. Maybe it's just that he hates being left on the sidelines, weak and helpless. And guiltridden that he's alive when so many are not.
When she comes in with his breakfast tray, she's all smiles, as usual. There's no sign she's been crying and that make Jack feel even worse. She leans over the bed to place the tray on the night stand and that's when he kisses her. She nearly drops the tray in surprise, but only the coffee ends up being spilled. He pulls back from the kiss, awaiting her reaction, looking for his moment to say he's sorry, but -- despite the fact that she was very definitely kissing him back -- she concentrates on putting the tray down. She grabs a napkin to mop up the coffee from the white sheets and he stays her hand with his.
"Juliet," he says, demanding she look at him. She raises her eyes and what he sees there isn't hope or tenderness, but dread. Her guarded expression cuts him to the quick. He's worn that look himself, he knows, not wanting to hope, not wanting to expect anything, afraid that's what given will be snatched back too soon.
"I've been an idiot," he says slowly, seriously, and he runs his fingers across her cheek, tracing the track of the tears he only heard earlier. She responds with a nervous half-smile and stiffens, as if she's about to jump up and run away from the bed, from him, from all of it.
Instead, he holds her by the arm and presses his mouth against hers. With a little sigh, she slowly yields, opening her mouth to him, her body warming under his hands There's so much he wants to tell her, but he tries to stay it all without words.
He undresses her slowly and she's got this odd little choking laugh as she helps him with her bra. He kisses her shoulders, almost reverently and she hangs her head, her hair covering her face. But when he's inside her, her eyes are open, staring deep into his. They close only when he kisses her. Her head falls back and her body arches up into him and she breathes his name in a way that kind of breaks his heart.
Afterward, she lies nestled up against his chest, her face flushed with what looks like happiness. It's a look he's never seen on her before. He cradles her against him and wonders why he waited so long to do this, to see her.
There are days when he still feels trapped, feels that he's just making the best of a bad situation. That every day when he wakes to her face beside him on the pillow, he's lying to himself. It's one more way for him to beat himself up: He shouldn't lead her on, he shouldn't use her like this. But then she makes him laugh or she whispers his name in that broken way, he is more glad than guilty. He is better for being with her.
He walks into the kitchen one afternoon and finds her washing dishes at the sink. She's humming to herself, completely oblivious to his presence. He's reminded of the day he discovered her crying, the day when he realized she hurt as much as he did. And then a deeper memory surfaces, of Sarah at the sink, the very last thing she was doing before she told him she was seeing someone else, that it was over, that it had been over, only he hadn't even known it. The pain of that scene floods through him, as if t were happening all over again. The shock of it was more than he could take; he didn't know his heart could break like that, in an instant.
But it's not Sarah standing there at the sink, it's Juliet, her hair wreathed in the sunlight that's streaming through the kitchen window. He stays there for a minute, just staring at her, shocked to realize that he is happier than he's ever been, here, with Juliet. Tears sting his eyes as he walks up behind her and puts his arms around her waist. He lays his head on her shoulder and she turns to look at him, puzzled. "I love you," he whispers in her ear.
She doesn't answer him for a beat or two and then she simply says, "That's nice. You want to dry?"
"Sure," he says, relinquishing his hold on her to grab the dish towel. She hasn't said the words back, but there's a light in her eyes when she hands him the first dish.
"We make a good team," she says as she hands off the second dish.
"Yeah, we do," he says with a grin and a duck of his head. "We really do."