Summary: Jack offers massage therapy to headache-prone Sawyer. A different version of events for “Deus Ex Machina”
Rating: PG (sadly)
Note: I've had this plot bunny since we first heard Sawyer was suffering from chronic headaches, prior to DEM. I'm only now writing it and ... I'm not super happy with the fic. It's just getting long and unruly. Hence my only having a Part 1 now. And can this really be the first J/S massage fic? The mind boggles! Title's from a Smiths song.
“Does she have to be here?” Sawyer grumped, staring at Kate.
Not only did his head feel like someone had stuffed a lit firecracker in it, she had to go and drag him to the damn doc and then listen in while he asked those nosy questions that were nobody’s business but his own.
They were both so fuckin' smug about it too. Nothin’ like kickin’ a man when he was already down. He just knew they’d get together later and gloat. If he wasn’t already sick to his stomach from these damn migraines, these two would have made him want to vomit.
Sawyer just wanted to be on the other side of creation right about now, or buried deep in some underground cavern, where there was no noise and no light and he could be alone, for once. He closed his eyes and started to think of somewhere peaceful and quiet, where the incessant banging and yammering would just stop.
To Sawyer’s surprise, Jack was now taking his side. “Thanks for bringing him, Kate, but your presence is kind of counterproductive right now.”
A different man might have thanked Jack. Sawyer just glared at the two of them.
Kate sighed and got up slowly. “All right. I’ll see you two later.”
“This won’t take long,” Jack said, seeing Sawyer’s eyes following Kate out. “I promise.” He smiled reassuringly and was rewarded with a glower. “So you have a headache right now?”
“Yes.” Sawyer bit the word off.
Sawyer with a headache was an even more crabby creature than usual. Since the headaches had set in, he’d been yelling at everyone in earshot to shut the fuck up if they made the slightest sound. But now he was past the yelling stage. Even his own voice was torture.
“What does it feel like?”
“What the fuck do you think it feels like?” Sawyer snapped.
“I mean, where is it concentrated? Temple? Forehead? Everywhere?”
“It’s kind of everywhere,” Sawyer finally replied. “But mostly about my left eye. It’s just this godawful pressure, it’s like someone’s jammin’ a needle in there.”
“Uh huh,” Jack said. He put down his notepad and placed his hand on Sawyer’s forehead, right at the spot he was describing.
Sawyer flinched, but didn’t say anything. Jack’s hand was warm and if the fingertips were rough, his touch was gentle. Strangely enough, the hand seemed to make his head throb just a little less.
“Yeah. What does that mean?” Sawyer asked nervously.
“That you have a headache,” Jack said, moving his hand to Sawyer’s temple, as if he were taking his temperature or trying to read his mind maybe.
“That’s it?” Sawyer batted Jack’s hand away. “Thanks a lot, Doc. You’ve been a big help.” He laid the sarcasm on as thick as possible. He wished he didn’t feel like he’d run over by a steamroller so he could wipe that annoying smirk off Jack’s face.
“I can help you get rid of it.”
Sawyer snorted. “Yeah? How? I tried just about every pill we got here on this damn rock. And every fuckin’ herbal remedy too. Nothin’ worked.”
“This is probably part muscle tension,” Jack still so calm and amused, far more annoying than if he were his usual uptight, brooding self. “I can help relieve that.”
“How?” Sawyer was still skeptical.
Jack stepped behind Sawyer and started to rub his shoulders. “Like this.”
“Hey, that’s not ...” Sawyer’s protest stopped as the doctor’s hands found a knot he’d had ever since landing on this island. Countless nights of sleeping on the ground had taken their toll. He hadn’t even realized how stiff he was until those strong hands dug into his back.
“I can do this better if you take your shirt off,” Jack said and Sawyer tensed.
“I don’t think so,” he sneered. But then Jack stopped and stood there with his hands on his hips and that expectant look until Sawyer finally obliged and unbuttoned his shirt and tossed it aside, all with an air of complete annoyance.
Jack nodded and set back to work. But first he rubbed some lotion on his hands. The slick touch on Sawyer's skin was an entirely different sensation, and not one geared toward making him more at ease with the situation.
“Would you relax?” Jack’s voice was teasing.
“Not fuckin’ likely,” Sawyer muttered under his breath. “I ain’t never had a man give me a massage before.”
“It’s just a massage, Sawyer,” Jack said as he leaned in to work a particularly tight spot in his shoulders.
It hurt, but it was a good kind of hurting, the kind when you know it’ll be better once you get through it. Sawyer held his breath and gritted his teeth as Jack dug in.
“Relax.” The voice at his ear was soft, almost husky. “Take a deep breath. It’ll help if it hurts.”
Sawyer gave it a try. He breathed in deeply as Jack’s thumb pressed in harder. He could feel a searing band of pressure running down his arm and up into his neck. Shit - the doc was making it worse -- and then suddenly the pressure lifted and then it was gone. Where there had been pain was now warmth, and a slight tingling, like moving a limb that had gone to sleep.
“It’s better,” Sawyer said in surprise, moving his arm to feel the blood rushing back in.
“Good. Not too hard?”
“No, I can take it,” Sawyer grunted as Jack pressed in with his elbow this time, right under the shoulder blade. It was like someone massaging his funny bone. It didn’t feel right and he was on the verge of telling him to stop, but he knew he’d be glad after.
“Breathe,” Jack whispered and damned if Sawyer hadn’t been holding his breath again.
“Yeah. You’re pretty damn tense, Sawyer.”
“Yeah, like you’re so fuckin’ relaxed. I thought you would have dropped dead from a coronary by now.”
Jack laughed, his breath blowing out onto Sawyer’s neck. It sent a shiver down his spine. Something about the fact that a guy -- and this guy in particular -- was rubbing him down made him tense up again.
“Relax, will you?” Jack concentrated his attention on an area just above Sawyer’s left shoulder blade and he could feel his headache lifting slightly. He finally let himself go limp under Jack’s hands, just giving himself over to his expert touch. He didn’t want to admit how good it felt to have those kinks worked out of his muscles. Or how good it felt just to be touched.
Sawyer was not a huggy kind of guy. The only physical contact he’d had with anyone on the island was in fistfights, clubs to the head, or someone trying to gouge out his fingernails or his eye.. and then there was the kiss.
He let himself think about her again as Jack’s hands roamed over his skin, exploring and exorcising all the pain he’d been carrying.
He hadn’t even touched her. His hands had still been tied behind his back. She’d sent a wave of heat through him -- one that had taken an agonizingly long time to cool off. Her kiss had almost stopped the pain in his mauled fingers. Almost.
Nothing good came without pain. He already knew that. Or maybe it was that even in pain, you tried to find something good to hang onto. Because it was always so close to wrapping him up and taking him down with it forever.
Jack’s hands were stirring up memories, like they’d been buried just underneath his skin. He felt like he was drowning in the past, awash with every time someone had caressed him or hit him.
He flinched as Jack touched on the scar on his right side. It didn’t hurt -- it hadn’t hurt in years -- but he hated for anyone to see it. He had a story ready for anyone who saw it. A football injury. And usually the women would run their hands over it lightly. Maybe sometimes they’d kiss it. And he’d just grit his teeth and smile.
He felt Jack’s fingers hesitating, as if taking stock or trying to determine what had made it. He’d never guess it was a cowboy boot delivering a swift kick.
“You OK, Sawyer? You want me to stop?”
Sawyer realized his pulse was racing and he’d broken out into a sweat. He just wanted to get the hell out of there.
“Yeah, headache’s gone, doc,” he lied, grabbing his shirt.
He was nearly out of the cave when Jack stepped in front of him. “I don’t think it is gone,” he said simply. He put his hand on Sawyer’s arm, lightly, as if a firmer touch would drive Sawyer away for good.
“Yeah, well, what do you care?”
He didn’t want to look at Jack, so he looked past him, out into the punishing sunshine beyond the caves. And he couldn’t help squinting at the brightness and he knew Jack saw it. Any good Jack’s massage had done vanished with that blast of bright light and Sawyer once again felt like he was going to be sick.
“Come back here, where it’s nice and dark,” Jack said, taking Sawyer by the elbow and gently pulling him away from the exit.
Sawyer didn’t want to go out there. It was nice and dark in the cave, almost the shelter he’d been wishing for earlier. Only he still would rather have been alone. Jack’s presence made it hard to relax. The guy just made him tense. He couldn’t figure what he was up to -- smirking at him one minute, helping him out the next.
He nodded wearily and let Jack lead him inside.
“I haven’t even started working on your neck yet,” Jack was saying, as if Sawyer hadn’t just freaked out and tried to bolt. “That should help quite a bit.”
Sawyer sighed and sat down with his back to Jack, feeling goosebumps rising as he anticipated Jack’s hands on him again. This was some weird kind of territory. It felt like he’d let Jack into his thoughts, like he’d told him all about his fears and his hurts, just by letting him touch him. He didn’t like it. But he couldn’t deny that the doc knew what he was doing and that all that merciless kneading was helping.
But he had to resist the urge to run away again. Letting anyone this close was ... strange.
He could sense the warmth from Jack’s hands before he laid them on his neck. He shivered once at his touch. It was so light, as if Jack were apologizing for scaring up old memories.
And now he was imagining what Jack was thinking and that was just nuts. Sure, Jack was all sensitive and shit, but he wasn’t a mindreader. Sawyer was just spooked. But Jack’s hands were calming him down again as his thumbs dug in firmly, pushing hard into the tendons of his neck. They were as stiff as steel cables.
Sawyer grunted as Jack pressed harder, telling himself to breathe into it, but it went against his instincts. Relax, relax, Jack kept saying and Sawyer thought it was the most meaningless word he’d ever heard.
Those impossibly warm hands were pushing and probing against the kinked vertebrae in his neck. Sawyer didn’t realize it, but he kept drawing away from Jack, until he was forced to keep shuffling after him.
“Hold still,” Jack said finally.
“Guess I’m a tough nut to crack, eh?” Sawyer joked. At this point, he honestly didn’t know if he’d be more relieved if the massage was over or if Jack kept going.
“I’m going to try something else,” Jack said. “Lie down.”
“Why, doc, I’m flattered, but ...” Sawyer smiled.
“I can tell you’re feeling better if you’re being a smartass,” Jack grinned and shook his head. “But it’s not gone yet, is it?”
There was no point in lying. “No. But you get an A for effort.”
“Well then, lie down already, will you?”
Sawyer shrugged and laid on his stomach.
“No, on your back,” Jack said, with an instructive pat on the shoulder.
“You’re the doc,” Sawyer said, turning over.
He was surprised when Jack positioned his hands under his head, those firm fingers making smooth, hard strokes up and into his neck. “I can get deeper this way,” Jack explained. “And you won’t be fidgeting away from me, I hope.”
The pressure was different -- more intense, with Sawyer’s own body weight pushing against Jack’s hands. He heard a crack and felt a vertebra snap into place. As Jack worked up into the base of his skull, where everything was knotted in the tightest clump of muscles possible, Sawyer’s mouth fell open involuntarily. Damn, it felt so fucking good.... he could never do this for himself. He felt like someone was lifting a heavy metal helmet off his head -- one he didn’t know he’d been wearing.
A soft moan escaped him and he didn’t even care what Jack thought. Those fingers, that pressure was too delicious for him to care. Now Jack’s hands were roaming over his scalp, sending tingles through down his neck and arms and bringing those goosebumps back.
And then Jack’s hands moved to his face, rubbing circles on his forehead, around his eyes, on his cheeks, lightly once over his lips, and then into his jawline, easing out the tension and leaving his skin feeling warm and somehow energized and calmer at the same time.
He was getting sleepy now, a languor creeping into his limbs. Jack had moved his hands back to the base of his skull and had stopped rubbing. Now he just held his head, cradling it in his hands, for several minutes.
Sawyer felt the last drop of tension easing out of him. Jack’s hands were pouring warmth and an all-encompassing feeling of well-being and peace into him.
And at that moment Sawyer could have kissed Jack for making him feel so damn good and ... loved. It was the only word for it.
Jack was holding him as tenderly as if he were Sawyer’s own mama. The wave of acceptance and caring coming from Jack was so powerful Sawyer would have been scared of it, if only he weren’t already so ... relaxed. He felt like he was floating on a warm ocean, just completely blissed out. It was a condition he couldn’t recall being in before, that is if his brain were working enough to be able to confirm that.
All he could think was that he never wanted this contact to stop.
“OK,” Jack’s soft voice brought him back to reality. “Is that better?”
Sawyer opened his eyes to see Jack staring down at him, those kind, brown eyes waiting for a sign that he had helped him.
“Yeah, yeah,” Sawyer said, his drawl coming on strong now that he was so sleepy. He sat up slowly, turning his head this way and that, testing his restored range of motion.
He turned back to face Jack and smiled. “It’s gone. You’re a miracle worker, doc.”
Jack beamed back at him. “That’s great. It’s been a while since I’ve given someone a massage.”
“Trust me, you haven’t lost your touch.” They were sitting about a foot apart and the warmth from the massage seemed to linger in the air, as if Jack’s touch had woven some kind of spell around them both.
They just sat there, grinning stupidly and maybe even a little shyly at each other for another minute. Then Sawyer ducked his head, recalling his momentary urge to kiss Jack. Like that was going to happen.
Even if the doc was a touchy-feely type, he wouldn’t go for that. And why the hell was Sawyer thinking of that anyway? He was just giddy from finally getting rid of that damn headache.
“You should drink plenty of water,” Jack was saying, reverting to doctor mode. “A lot of toxins get released during a massage.”
“So you’re saying you just released a lot of toxins into my bloodstream? I always knew you had it in for me.”
Jack laughed, a big goofy laugh that Sawyer suddenly found completely charming. “Yeah, Sawyer, I’m trying to kill you with kindness.”
“You just might,” Sawyer said, a wistful smile tugging his mouth in two different directions.
A look passed between them, a feeling that something had changed, an awareness of how close they were and that if one of the moved just the tiniest bit closer ...
And then Jack spoke, breaking the tension. “I’m glad I could help.”
“It’s in your DNA, right?” Sawyer shrugged. Jesus, why was he being such an ass all of a sudden? He really was grateful but, aw hell, he had to stop analyzing the situation and just get the hell out of there.
“Thanks, doc,” he said, standing up and stretching mightily. He thought he caught Jack’s eyes linger a little long on his bare chest as he stretched like a cat.
“Any time,” Jack said, with a small nod.
Sawyer found himself reluctant to leave. Don’t be silly, he told himself as he threw on his shirt and strode out into the sun without a backward glance.
(TBC ... smut to follow)