Summary: Handful of vignettes set after the season finale.
Pairing: Implied J/S
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Spoilers: Season finale
Jack’s blood turns to ice when he sees him, a burden being dragged by Jin and Michael, who stumble under the awkward weight.
His brain processes hurt and as he runs to their side, it screams still alive. Because you don’t carry a dead man with his arm draped around your neck.
His hand darts out to Sawyer’s neck, relief rushing in as he finds the pulse there. Slow and sluggish, but definitely there. His heart is somewhere around his feet as he notes the complete lack of color in Sawyer’s face and the too-cold flesh. He doesn’t bother to ask any other questions, just takes Sawyer’s arm and pulls it over his own shoulders, relieving Jin, who looks like he could use some support himself, and drags Sawyer to the caves.
The surge of adrenaline rushing through Jack is so strong that if Michael collapsed right then, Jack would carry him alone and do it sprinting.
Jack has done everything he can for Sawyer. Removed the bullets. Cleaned and stitched the wounds. But the infection has come anyway and now he is shivering under the grip of a fever. He hasn’t come around once, not even when Jack dug in deep to get the bullets out. And that scares him almost more than anything. At least Boone screamed.
Now he lays almost like death and Jack keeps a vigil over him, refusing to sleep in case Sawyer wakes up, in case the fever turns. He can’t be caught napping when he’s needed.
Kate hovers until he has to order her out. She doesn’t have the calm presence of Sun -- who’s busy tending to Jin -- and he can’t afford to be distracted by her nervous energy.
“It’s my fault,” she says, gnawing on a whitened knuckle. “If I’d gone on the raft instead of him...”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Jack snaps, worry and lack of sleep making his tone harsher than he’d intended. “Then I’d be digging bullets out of you. Or we’d be putting a new cross up over a plot of dirt because we had no body to bury.”
Her head goes up then, at the sting of his words. She finally leaves and lets him do his job. He doesn’t have time for her guilt. This isn’t her fault, no matter how you look at it.
The scene Michael described plays in Jack’s head on an endless loop while he sits beside the all-too-still Sawyer. He sees Sawyer going for the gun, sees him get hit, spun around by the first bullet, and then the terrifying plunge into the ocean.
If Sawyer hadn’t had had the gun, hadn’t tried to play the hero like an idiot, there would have been no reason to shoot him.
He should be thinking about what they should do next, how to get Walt back.
But his mind keeps going back to that last conversation with Sawyer. “Just in case.” If only he hadn’t given him that fucking gun. But if he hadn’t shown him how much he trusted him now, then Sawyer might never have told him about his father.
Sawyer had given him his father back ... or as much of him as he cared to take back. It’s a rotten trade, though, a dead father who had haunted his dreams even in life, for Sawyer.
He rubs his eyes with his knuckles until they’re raw. This is the second time Sawyer’s paid for Jack’s mistakes.
“He’s not dead.” Kate’s eyes flare at Charlie and he steps back.
“No, of course not.” He rushes to appease her. “I just meant he used to be such an ass...” and here he rethinks his choice of words as her jaw tightens and she shoots him a look of cold fury.
“I never thought I’d get to like, the guy, d’ you know what I mean?” He rubs the back of his neck absentmindedly, his forehead puckered with worry, and all of Kate’s animosity vanishes.
Charlie isn’t the problem. He’s just making a complete hash of trying to cheer her up.
“You know, when they left ... I almost thought he was going to hug me goodbye,” he says with a little laugh, gazing over at the spot where they’d launched the raft, as if it were still there, and they hadn’t ever left.
“Everyone was hugging everyone and I handed him the bottle of messages and ... well, he just kind of nodded at me. And I thought, ‘Sawyer’s not so bad.”
Kate nods, her eyes swimming. “I didn’t get to say goodbye,” she says, hating the way her voice chokes in her throat. Don’t cry, don’t cry, she tells herself fiercely, looking up and away, her mouth open because suddenly she needs more air.
Charlie hovers, seemingly about to go in for a hug, until she senses him moving closer and freezes him with another look. “I remember. You asked where he was ... before you left. I’m sorry,” he offers, putting a hand on her shoulder, which she does her best to ignore.
“You know,” he continues, “he was looking around right before they set sail. Like he was looking for someone. Kind of got me a little. He just looked so sad.”
Rather than let Charlie see her cry, she mumbles something and runs up the beach, tears stinging her eyes.
“I’m not leaving.” Shannon is tired of Jack trying to shoo her away. He doesn’t know her, has no idea how stubborn she can be. She sets her jaw and stares at him and he’s the first to look away.
“OK,” he sighs heavily, nodding his approval at last. He looks nearly as gray as Sawyer, as if he’s the one who’d been shot and left bobbing in the ocean for days. He’s nearly dead on his feet and now that he’s stopped moving, he wavers dangerously, inches from collapse.
She impulsively puts her hand over his. “He’s going to be OK.” He looks into her eyes and recognition flares. She hadn’t been there to help before, but she can help now. “I’ll stay with him,” she says slowly and firmly. “Just show me what I need to do.”
She watches him as he moistens a cloth and wipes the sweat off Sawyer’s face and chest. His motions are smooth and certain, despite his fatigue. He’s done this hundreds of times already, she can see. There’s something almost peaceful about the way he tends to Sawyer, as if having a purpose, some physical action to perform, focuses him.
It makes her throat ache to see it, imagining this is the way he’d taken care of Boone too.
Finally, after making her swear to call him at the slightest change, he leaves her alone and stumbles off to get some sleep -- or at least that’s what he says.
She sits down next to Sawyer. Vincent takes his cue from her and lays down at her feet, his head between his paws.
Sawyer looks like hell: His skin is pasty white and his wet hair is plastered to his skull, so dark you wouldn’t even know he was a blonde. The wounds in his side and shoulder are ugly and red, like someone’s bad idea for a Halloween costume. She hates blood.
Has she even spoken two words to him since trying to get that bug spray from him? It’s strange to see his face at rest, blank of either of his two usual expressions: that irritating smirk that sets off those dimples that are the only charming thing about him or that scowl that scares her more than she wants to admit.
He looks so helpless now, like a drowned cat and she feels a wave of pity for him. She brushes Sawyer’s cheek with her fingertips. He can’t have felt the butterfly touch, but his eyelids flutter and she jumps.
His eyes are open and he stares right at her without really seeming to see her. “Shannon?” his voice is raspy but so soft she can barely be sure he called her by name. He tries to get up and goes even paler at the shock of finding himself in so much pain. He whimpers, a broken sound she would never associate with Sawyer.
“It’s OK,” she says lamely trying to find a place to pat him reassuringly, settling for his arm. Panic rises in her. She’s choking on it. She doesn’t know how to deal with a Sawyer who’s awake and looking at her like she has all the answers.
“JACK!” She prays he’s still within shouting distance. She runs to the cave door, keeping an eye on Sawyer and yells for him again.
He must not have gone far because he’s there in under 60 seconds. He runs straight to Sawyer’s side and falls to his knees. Sawyer tries to get up again but Jack puts a hand on his forehead, forcing him back down. He's soothing him and restraining him at the same time.
Sawyer is muttering something and Jack is speaking in low tones as he takes his hand and checks his pulse.
Shannon suddenly feels like she’s intruding. Sawyer’s awake and Jack won’t leave his side now. He’ll save Sawyer and she’s glad, so very glad, but why is she crying now?
She stumbles out of the cave, Vincent on her heels. She stops, her vision too blurry to keep going. Her limbs are so heavy, she can’t help but sink to the ground and let the tears come. She thought she was fine now, so why does it still feel so fresh? Her chest hurts and she doesn’t care if she has another attack because nothing matters. She doesn’t matter at all. Vincent’s wet nose is rubbing against her cheek and she grabs him around the neck and sobs into his fur.
There’s a hand on her shoulder now and she’s shocked to see Michael when she looks up. He’s grief walking, his face raw with hurt. He kneels beside her and then his arms are around her and Vincent both and she finds she can’t cry anymore. She awkwardly pats Michael’s back as his shoulders heave with silent sobs. There’s nothing to say, so she doesn’t say anything. She has no idea how long they sit huddled together like that.