Pairings: UST Kate/Sawyer, Sawyer/Sayid
Warning: It’s slowly morphing into a darkfic, thanks to Ethan and whatever the hell he did to Kate.
Note: Thanks to guineverekay for the excellent beta!
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“Kate! Kate!” Sawyer shouted at her, trying to get her to calm down. She was making incoherent sounds like a wild animal as she fought to get free from underneath him. He saw that her hands were bloody, and she was clutching something in her hand.
“Is she OK?” Michael asked, hesitantly coming over.
Sawyer didn’t bother to answer him. “It’s me, Sawyer,” he said soothingly.
She paused in her struggles, looking at him strangely.
“Don’t you know me, Kate?” he asked worriedly.
She closed her eyes and shuddered. “Sawyer,” she said mechanically. She looked at him again, studying his face. She was calm now, and Sawyer tentatively released his hold on her, sitting back on his heels. Finally, recognition dawned and she sat up suddenly and threw her arms around him. “Oh my God, Sawyer!” she sobbed.
Relief washed over him and he hugged her close. “It’s OK, Freckles,” he said, rocking her gently and patting her on the back.
Kate pulled away from, looking around fearfully, as if she had heard something. “We can’t stay here,” she whispered. “It’s not safe.” He could see her heart racing in the pulse point at her throat. Her hair was a mess and she was frightened half to death, but other than that, she looked unharmed.
“Whatever you say, sweetheart,” Sawyer said, trying to be lighthearted. He caught Michael’s eye. They both wanted to ask her more questions, but clearing out didn’t sound like a bad idea to either of them.
Sawyer helped Kate up, keeping a protective arm around her waist. She didn’t object, and leaned on him for support.
They walked back to where they had left Sayid. He awkwardly scrambled to his feet when he saw her. “Kate!” he exclaimed, his face lighting up.
She smiled at him uncertainly. Sayid observed Sawyer and Michael’s guarded expressions and he looked more carefully at her. “Are you all right?” he asked, his voice grave.
She nodded quickly, tucking a stray hair behind one ear. “Can we get going?” she said, glancing up at Sawyer.
“Sure thing,” he replied, rubbing her arm.
“What about Jack?” Sayid asked. Sawyer and Michael both turned to see Kate’s reaction. Her face fell. She looked as if she were going to be ill. She shook her head, her eyes down on the ground. “I don’t know where he is. They ...” but her voice broke and she couldn’t go on. She was shaking like a leaf and tears ran freely down her face.
“They?” Sayid asked, raising one eyebrow.
Sawyer gave him a warning look, shaking his head slightly. “Plenty of time to get the particulars later, right, Freckles?”
She nodded, trying to compose herself. “How’s the leg?” Sawyer asked Sayid. “You OK to make it down?”
“I think so," Sayid said, his eyes lingering on Sawyer’s arm around Kate’s waist.
“Here,” Michael offered. “You can lean on me.” Sayid nodded and put his arm around Michael’s neck and carefully navigated their way back down, going as fast as they could.
The sun was setting and a chill came over the jungle. A flock of birds flew over, suddenly, startling Kate, who hid her face against Sawyer’s chest.
Despite leaning heavily on his walking stick and on Michael, Sayid was limping painfully, slowing them all down. “I shouldn’t have come,” he panted. “I have to rest,” he said, collapsing onto the ground.
“We’re too far from camp anyway,” Michael said. “We’ll have to stay out here tonight. Might as well make it here.”
Sayid nodded wearily. Sawyer looked around. They had come to a grassy clearing on the edge of the jungle. It would make as good a camp as they could find tonight. They decided not to risk a fire, making a night sleeping on the ground even more uncomfortable.
“I never thought I’d miss sleeping in that airline chair,” Sawyer grumbled as he tried to make a pillow out of his arm.
“Or miss boar for dinner,” Sayid said wryly.
Kate hadn’t said anything since they’d asked her about Jack. From being hyper-alert, she had become withdrawn, no longer looking at the men or responding to them. They all exchanged uneasy glances, noting her dispirited behavior. Without discussing it, they’d carefully placed themselves in a protective circle around Kate.
She stayed closest to Sawyer, and as the night got colder, she didn’t protest when he draped his arm over her.
Eventually, they all dropped off to sleep, except for Sayid, whose leg was throbbing painfully. He had calculated the time as being about three hours before sunrise when he began to hear the voices. At first he thought it was the wind, or at least that’s what he tried to tell himself. It was the same indistinct murmuring he had heard after his encounter with the French woman. The voices were soft, but menacing, seeming to come from all around him.
Sayid’s heart raced. They were alone here, exposed, with no weapons. Except the knife Locke had given him. The one he had stabbed Sawyer with, which he still carried with him. He took the knife out of his pack, keeping it at the ready. He caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He tensed; ready to strike, until he realized it was just Kate. She crept over to him. “Do you hear them?” she whispered.
There was no use pretending he didn’t. “Yes,” he said softly, pulling her lower to the ground. “Can you understand them?” he asked her.
She shivered and he instinctively put his arms around her to warm her. “No,” she said, but her voice was so strange, he was sure she was lying. Sayid had countless questions he wanted to ask her, but had been so upset earlier, he felt it best to keep quiet for now. The voices gradually died out, and after a while, Kate’s breathing grew deep and regular as she lay against his chest.
He kept watch, fighting off sleep that seemed so inviting now with her lying warmly next to him. Finally, the sun came up. He hated to wake the others, but it was probably best they keep moving.
Sawyer woke with a start, realizing Kate was no longer at his side. When he saw her sleeping curled up next to Sayid, he first looked relieved, then angry, then hurt. Finally a knowing smile crept across his face, turning into an exaggeratedly loud yawn. He stood up and stretched. He looked like friendliness itself, until he caught sight of Sayid’s knife. His face grew cold and his eyes narrowed.
“What are you planning on doing with that, Ali?” Sawyer sneered. “Skinning us some breakfast?”
“No,” Sayid said, watching Sawyer carefully. “We ... I heard some noises last night. I thought it best to be ready.”
“So you sat up all night, guarding us?” Sawyer said, that cold light still in his eyes. “Now, ain’t that downright noble?”
“My leg kept me awake,” Sayid added, a touch of impatience creeping into his voice.
“Did it now? That reminds me,” Sawyer said slowly. “My arm was troubling me something awful last night.” He flexed his arm and looked meaningfully at Sayid. “Maybe it’s that guilty conscience keeping you up nights, Abdul.”
By now Michael had woken up and immediately picked up on the tension between the two other men. “Morning!” he said brightly, getting up and yawning. “Guess we should get going,” he added, looking from one to the other.
Sayid looked down at Kate, who was still sleeping. He lightly put his hand on her shoulder and she reacted immediately. She sat upright, recoiling from his touch. She looked around her, panicked. “It’s all right, Kate,” Sayid said. “You’re among friends.”
She nodded and stood up, wrapping her arms around herself. Sayid also got to his feet, although much more slowly. He leaned on Kate for support and she put her arm around his waist to help him out. He smiled at her in thanks.
Sawyer looked away quickly. “Well, let’s get the show on the road,” he said impatiently, striding out, not looking to see whether they were following.
Sayid smiled, amused at Sawyer’s obvious pique. His going was still slow, so that Sawyer turned around and barked. “Pick up the pace, Mohammed. Are we going to have to carry you?”
Michael sprinted to catch up with Sawyer. “Hey man, I think he’s going as fast as he can.”
Sawyer grunted and kept walking, not slackening his pace in the slightest.
“To the left,” Sayid called after Sawyer. “You’re off the trail. You need to turn left.”
“Yeah, thanks, Ali,” Sawyer mumbled, but he turned left. They trekked on for another half an hour without a word between them.
“Kate!” Sayid called out. Sawyer and Michael turned to see Kate walking briskly away from Sayid, her head down and her arms crossed across her chest. She joined Sawyer and Michael without an explanation.
Sayid stood helplessly behind without her to lean on. Sawyer sighed. “Oh hell, man, this is getting old.” He walked over to Sayid, glowering. “Come on,” he sighed, letting Sayid lean on him.
“Thank you,” Sayid said simply, and they continued on their way.
“Lovers’ quarrel?” Sawyer asked, an eyebrow cocked at Sayid’s troubled face.
Sayid looked at him disdainfully. “Yes. We made wild, passionate love last night despite her traumatic kidnapping and my bad leg and the two of you lying just a few feet away.” He shook his head. “Not everything is about sex, Sawyer.”
Sawyer chuckled. “Maybe not in your world, Ali.” When Sayid said nothing more, he prompted him. “So what did you say to rile her?”
“I told her about Claire,” Sayid said, watching her as she and Michael led the group.
“Oh.” Sawyer said, his face intent and serious. “So, did she say anything about ... anything else?”
“Yes, a little. She told me she and Jack were attacked by Ethan and some strange men she had never seen before.”
“Yeah, go on,” Sawyer encouraged him.
“She last saw Jack lying unconscious on the ground. The men took her and held her in some sort of a cell. Perhaps a military bunker. She says she doesn’t know what they wanted with her, but she knew Claire had also been there.” He glanced at Sawyer. “She found her necklace.”
Sawyer grew quiet, picturing Claire as he’d seen her last, which he was glad to say, was not her dead at the bottom of a lagoon.
“She says she managed to kill Ethan and make her escape,” Sayid continued. Sawyer stopped, causing Sayid to lurch forward without support.
“She killed Ethan?” he said disbelievingly. He shot a glance at Kate to see whether she heard him, but she gave no sign that she had. She was still hunched over, seemingly lost in her own thoughts.
“That is what she told me,” Sayid said, also looking at Kate. “But I am not sure I believe her. Years of interrogations have helped me to recognize when someone is lying. And I am sure she is lying about Ethan. But I do not know why.”
“She had blood on her hands when we found her,” Sawyer said. They resumed walking, both mulling over the situation silently. What had happened to Kate? he wondered with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. If Ethan wasn’t dead, he sure wouldn’t mind addressing that oversight. “Maybe she’s just being ... delicate,” he said at last.
“Yes, I did think that also. I am concerned about her. Ordinarily, I would ask Jack about her, but since he is missing...”
“Yeah. Jack.” Sawyer gave a low whistle, shaking his head. “It doesn’t sound too good for the doc, does it?”
A sudden loud mechanical noise startled them all. Kate and Michael looked at each other in fear. They had both been close to that sound before. The ground shook and they saw with horror the treetops in the distance bending and swaying violently.
Kate broke into a full run, followed by Michael. Sayid looked at Sawyer in a panic. He pushed Sawyer away from him. “Go! Run!” he shouted. “Just leave me!”
Sawyer froze, seeing the invisible mayhem come closer. “Like hell!” he muttered, and grabbed Sayid. He pulled the Iraqi along ruthlessly, but they both knew they couldn’t outrun whatever was coming towards them. Spotting a clump of bushes, Sawyer shoved Sayid in and dove in after him.