Summary: Sawyer looks up when he hears the door open. It won't be Jack, but he hopes.
Disclaimer: I do not own Lost. At all. I wish but alas...
Author's Note: Established relationship, set during Season Two when the hatch still existed. I sure am timely, ain’t I? ;) Used for philosophy_20, prompt #19: caught in a form of limitation.
Sawyer looks up when he hears the door open. It won't be Jack, but he hopes.
No. Not Jack. But, if it wasn't Jack, Sawyer was glad it was Sun. She was the only other person that he'd want to see right now, that he would let see him. She crosses her arms over her chest and approaches his bed. No doubt Jack's told her what he did. She's apprehensive, and she has every reason to be.
He sighs when she comes to a stop by his bed side. She glances down at him with a 'What am I going to do with you' look on her face and sits down in Jack's vacated chair.
“Jack sent me,” she says, folding her hands in her lap. “He said you were being belligerent, that you threw him out.” Sawyer nods because he can't say yes, because he won't admit to her what an asshole he is. Their friendship has grown, yes, and she has seen pretty much the rock bottom of what he is capable of, but for some reason, he can't make the word come out of his mouth.
Sawyer isn't a relationship person. He never has been. He doesn't get attached to people. Or he tries. But, for better or worse, he's attached to Jack. He's in a relationship with Jack. And he has to work twice as hard for lack of ever having a real one before. He can't admit falling short, and he won't, not even to his best friend.
“What is wrong, Sawyer?” she asks. Sawyer shakes his head and rolls his eyes toward the top bunk of the hatch before returning them to her. He had done this with Jack just before he started yelling, before he threw him out. He hopes and prays he'll have the good sense to bite his tongue this time. He's already alienated one person he cares about. He doesn't want to do it to one of the few other people who cares about him.
“I'm sick,” he tells her, like that explains everything. She looks at him tolerantly, like a mother might look at her small child, and he can't look at her anymore. He turns his head away and faces the wall. Also like a small child.
“Yes, I know,” she replies, and it is clear from her voice that she doesn't understand. It isn't that he expected her to that annoys him, but the fact that he really doesn't want to spell it out, and he knows that Sun will somehow find a way to make him. She always does.
“I don't want Jack to see me like this,” he whispers. Sun leans forward, resting her arms on her legs, bringing herself down to his level so that they can look each other in the eyes.
“Jack has seen you sick before,” she tells him. Sawyer rolls his eyes.
“It's a guy thing, sunshine, I don't expect you to get it,” he says. She frowns at him, and narrows her eyes. It is only after the words leave his mouth that he knows he has crossed a line, put his foot in his mouth, and the look on Sun's face tells him that she is ready and willing to rip him a new one for it.
“'A guy thing',” she repeats, and her tone borders on mocking. “What does that even mean?” Sawyer looks away once more, but this time out of shame rather than annoyance. “This is not about you being a man Sawyer, this is about you being afraid of being weak.” He looks up sharply at the word, glares at her, and only realizes once he has done it that he had just proved her right.
“You think this is easy for me?” he demands. Her criticism has a way of making him feel two feet tall. Sun makes him vulnerable because he cares about what she thinks of him, badly. He thinks she knows that, at times, that she exploits it when they argue. He would have resented it if she were ever wrong. But she never is, and he knows that she isn't now.
“Obviously it isn't, or you wouldn't be raising your voice to me, which I do not appreciate by the way,” she replies, admonishingly. Yeah. Two feet tall.
“I don't need a lecture, alright?” he tells her, testily. He's pissed at himself more than anyone. It isn't about her, it's about Jack. It's about what the thought of Jack spending all night in that damn chair staring at him while he slept means. He always knew what they had was real, that he wouldn't be able to shake Jack loose, but he never really knew for sure until that moment. So of course he picked a fight and threw him out. In his brain it made perfect sense. But in the cold silence of an empty room, it felt like a betrayal.
“I am not lecturing you,” she snaps back. “Though I should be. And Jack should be. But, for some unknown reason, he's respecting your wishes and remaining outside, on the couch, rather than coming in here and yelling at you like you deserve.”
Sawyer faces her then, letting his head roll to the side and his eyes seek out the door that Jack is on the other side of, the door he'd forced him out of. “Jack's out there?” he asks, but doesn't look at her. He doesn't need see through to the other side to know what Jack is doing, to know that he's sitting on the couch, his head in his hands, beating himself up for things that aren't his fault. Because that's what Jack does. Sawyer had blamed him for his vulnerability and Jack had taken it to heart. If Sawyer were well enough, he would kick his own ass.
“Yes,” she replies. “He believes it is his fault that you're sick.”
Sawyer turns to face her sharply. “How could he possibly think that?”
“I have no idea,” she says, is if she's angry at both him for planting the seed and Jack for letting it grow. She probably is. And, as usual, she's right.
“I want him in here,” Sawyer tells her. She narrows her eyes at him skeptically. “Ask him to come back. Tell him he can say no if he wants, but I want him here.”
She searches his face, possibly trying to gauge if he's being earnest or if he's just going to bring Jack back in and throw him out again. She lets out a small sigh, and it seems she has found her answer. He thinks (because he is never truly sure one way or another with Sun) that she believes him. But she waits, looking at him expectantly.
“You ordered Jack to leave, Sawyer,” she tells him. “And he did it because he cares for you, because he wanted to give you what you wished, no matter how badly it hurt him.” Sun's gaze, her words, sting, but he holds them because he can't not, because she is demanding this from him silently. “You will not get such a courtesy from me. I will do what you ask only if you ask.”
In any other situation Sawyer would have smiled proudly at the set Sun had on her. That was the reason he was first drawn to her, to the possibility of her friendship, because underneath her mousy, buttoned-up exterior, she had a spine made of steel. She didn't take anyone's bullshit, especially his, and nothing got him to respect a person quite the way that that did.
“Please, Sun,” he asks. “Please ask Jack to come back.”
She nods, standing and pushing the chair back a little bit. He looks up at her, very tall now from his current position, and thinks she might be one of the most imposing things he's ever seen. He wonders how that is possible, and will more than likely deny that he ever thought of it when his strength is back and he has returned to towering above her.
She leans down, resting a hand on the side of the bed and her face is within inches of his. He looks into her eyes -- fierce, angry, and protective -- and she tells him, “If you hurt him, I will hurt you.” Sawyer can only nod, because, in the moment, he believes her and believes in what she is capable of. “Because you asked, I will ask if Jack wants to see you.”
Sawyer nods again. He's sure he looks incredibly pathetic. He feels weak and sick and now, scared shitless of a woman half his size. There was strength and determination in Sun, the kind of strength and determination he hadn't seen in a long time. She might not have been able to hurt him physically (barring possession of a weapon of some kind) but, he knew very well that there were other ways, and if anyone could, it would be her.
She sighs at him a little and leans forward, pressing a short kiss to his forehead before standing up and shaking her head. “You're impossible,” she tells him, then lets a small smile cross her face. He returns it and laughs as much as the tightness of his chest will allow.
“Tell me somethin' I don't know, Sunshine,” he replies. She shakes her head and him, finally heading for the door, for Jack. Sawyer leans back against his pillow and takes a deep breath.
Sun was just a warm up. This was going to be the hard part.
“Hey.” Jack enters the room like a man afraid of being thrown out of it again. He's apprehensive and afraid and hurt, and Sawyer can feel it from where he lays across the room. He smiles at Sawyer despite it, though. Well, at least that answered the question of whether he still cared or not.
“Hey,” Sawyer replies. Jack keeps his back to the door, stands across the room, and Sawyer tells himself not to be hurt, that he doesn't have the right.
“You can come over here, you know,” Sawyer tells him. “I ain't gonna throw you out again.”
Jack nods, but he doesn't move. “Are you sure?” he asks. Sawyer nods, and Jack shoves off the door, walking slowly to Sawyer's bedside and sitting down in the chair once more. He wrings his hands together, over and over, while staring at them. He's acting like a kid in principal's office. Sawyer sighs.
“I'm an asshole,” Sawyer tells him. “All that shit I said to you? That wasn't about you. That was about me.” He thinks of Sun's words, and being right as she tends to be, he repeats them to Jack, “That was about me bein' afraid of bein' weak.”
“Why couldn’t you have just told me that?” Jack asks, leaning forward. Sawyer shakes his head at him, wondering if Jack will ever be able to understand.
He gets the feeling that relationships are Jack's thing. He has these ideas in his head, about how they work, about all the rules. Sawyer doesn't know the rules, and probably would follow them if he did. This thing between him and Jack, it’s a first. It’s the first real relationship he’s had since he was a teenager, and he would be lying if he said that moments like this didn’t make him want to run like hell. Jack was looking at him, confused, vulnerable, hurt. He was letting Sawyer see all of it in a way that he doubted he would ever be able to do for Jack. In fact, he knew he wouldn't. After all, he had throw Jack out of the room not ten minutes ago.
But more than that, more than being on uneven ground, more than not understanding how real relationships work, he didn't know how to look into Jack's eyes and tell him he didn't know if he could give him what he wanted, that he didn’t know if he was capable of ever being open with Jack the way that Jack was open with him. How could he tell the guy that? How could he tell him anything?
“Sawyer,” Jack prompts. Sawyer looks up at him and sighs. Jack isn’t the most patient of men under normal circumstances, and Sawyer knows that it's unfair to leave him waiting in silence during a conversation like this. He also knows that he has a hell of a lot of getting over himself to do and he supposes that now is as good a time as any.
“I don’t know what the fuck I’m doin’,” Sawyer admits, reaching up and running a hand over his forehead. His arm is like lead, and it only moves with a great amount of effort. Jack scoots his chair closer, pushes Sawyer’s hand away, and takes over the job of massaging his temples for him. Sawyer wishes to god he would just stop.
“What do you mean?” Jack asks, fingers digging into Sawyer’s forehead at just the right depth, just the right angle, just the right everything. He feels his headache start to dull just a bit and he takes back his previous thought. He wishes Jack would do this all the time.
That’s the other thing, the way he see-saws back and forth between hating Jack’s kindness and craving it. Between an aunt and uncle who didn't want him and foster families who only wanted the check he came with, Sawyer had learned to go without attention and without affection and to distrust it when he got it. So, here he was, caught between a rock and a hard place, because he wanted Jack’s love and Jack’s attention, but he didn’t. He didn’t want to get used to it, to depend on it, because that was dangerous. Wanting it lead to needing it, and needing it lead to losing it, and he was beginning to wonder which would be worse: losing Jack or never having him to begin with.
“You know when my last relationship was?” Sawyer asks, and Jack shakes his head, because how could he know? Sawyer never talks about that kind of thing. “I was fifteen. I ain’t gonna tell you how old I am now, but let’s just say that was a hell of a long time ago.”
“My ex-wife cheated on me and left me for another man,” Jack replies, and the words spill out of his mouth so easily that Sawyer closes his eyes tightly. This is all so easy for Jack. Words that have to fight their way out of Sawyer’s mouth come out of Jack as effortlessly as his breath. “Do you think I know what I’m doing either?”
“The fact that this is all so easy for you makes it pretty damn clear that you do,” Sawyer replies, not realizing that he’s gritting his teeth until he hears himself speak. Jack’s hand is suddenly gone and Sawyer grunts a little, pissed at himself, and opens his eyes.
Jack is leaning back against the chair again, arms folded over his chest, looking at Sawyer like he’s the dumbest man alive. “Why what is easy?” he asks. “Being honest?”
“Yeah,” Sawyer replies, quickly, before he has a chance to even think about what he’s saying. “Don’t know if you’ve noticed, doc, but it ain’t exactly my thing. Hell, half the time all I wanna do is lie to you.”
“Because it’s easy,” Jack says.
“Well, it’s a hell of a lot easier than this.”
“Than you lookin’ at me like I’m somethin’ pitiful. Than always worryin’ about the dumb shit that comes outta my moth ‘cause I don’t want you to think I’m stupid. Than bein’ scared as hell of you seein’ me like this because I don’t ever want anyone to see me like this, and least of all you. If I lie, I can pretend I’m a whole lotta things I ain’t. But if I gotta be honest with you, than all you got is me. And…you ain’t gonna like me.”
Jack leans forward again, nods his head a few times, and smiles a small, apprehensive, ironic smile. “And you say you don’t know how to be in a relationship,” he says, with a small laugh and looks up. He smiles and Sawyer and shakes his head once more. Sawyer looks at him like he’s lost his mind.
“I look at you the way that I do, because I care about you, because I’m worried about you, not because I pity you,” Jack says. “I do not think you’re stupid and I never have. I have seen you in a hell of a lot worse shape than this, and if you’ll remember, you tossed me out of this room ten minutes ago, and I came back.”
“Shh,” Jack urges, holding up his hand and Sawyer shuts his mouth, sighs. “I’m afraid of not being perfect too. About you seeing things in me that you don’t like. But I think you already do, and that’s fine. Because I'm not perfect, and neither are you. Worrying about that is part of being in a relationship. So is a hell of a lot of trial and error.”
“How is it so easy for you to do all this?” Sawyer asks, genuinely confused, maybe even a little frustrated. “Tellin’ me your wife left you, that you don’t always know what you’re doin’, lettin’ me know everything that goin’ on in your head? I don’t get it.”
Jack shrugs. “We’re different people, Sawyer. It might never be easy for you. Especially if you keep judging yourself against me.”
“I guess I always thought that’s what you wanted,” Sawyer says, almost to himself, almost as an afterthought, like his mind is coming around to something and he’s trying to process it.
“What? Someone just like me?” Jack asks, then shakes his head. “I think you’ve spent so much time convincing yourself that you don’t know how to be in a relationship that you don’t even recognize how typical this all is. I think you know what you’re doing a lot more than you think you are.”
“That’s another thing,” Sawyer grumbles.
“You believin’ in me,” he says, distastefully. Jack just laughs.
“Only you could say that like it’s a bad thing,” he replies. Sawyer just scowls at him.
“I’m serious, Jack,” he says. “A lotta people’ve been disappointed thinkin’ like that.”
“Yeah, I’ll take my chances, thanks,” he answers, and Sawyer’s scowl deepens, which only makes Jack laugh at him a little bit more. He wants to shove him away, tell him to stop talking like that, thinking like that, but he can’t. Not again. Because one of these days, when experience hasn’t taught him anything, he will keep shoving and shoving until Jack goes away and says away, and then where will he be? Alone. That's where he'll be.
So, he just sighs and shakes his head, leans back against the pillow. “So this mess you’ve made of my head, doc? This is what bein’ in a relationship does to someone?”
Jack nods and smirks a little. “If it’s any consolation, my head's just as messy as yours,” he replies.
Sawyer snorts a laugh. “I doubt that,” he says. “But I guess that helps, thanks.”
“You should get some rest,” Jack tells him, standing and pushing the chair back against the wall. “You’re still pretty pale. A day or two, and you should be able to get up and about again.”
“So you’re just gonna leave me here then?” Sawyer asks, trying his hand at this vulnerable, needy thing that Jack does oh so well. Jack frowns a bit, puts his hands on his hips.
“Well, I can’t take you down to the beach. You’re still too weak,” he says.
Sawyer shrugs. “So stay here.”
Jack opens his mouth, but his reply catches before it gets all the way out of his mouth. He was work to do down at the beach and he knows he does. He wishes that he didn’t. “I…” But even then can’t get through the sentence. There’s something about the way Sawyer’s looking at him that holds his attention, that makes him want to stay.
“So they gotta do without you for a day, doc,” Sawyer replies. “World ain’t gonna fall apart.”
Jack nods, slowly, and sits down on the edge of Sawyer’s bed. He picks up Sawyer’s hand, holds it on top of his and runs his fingers across his wrist. “I’ll stay,” he says. “On one condition.”
Sawyer narrows his eyes, not sure he likes the sound of that. “And what’s that?” he asks, unable to resist the challenge, even through his trepidation.
“Ask,” Jack replies, like he needs to hear it.
“Stay?” Sawyer asks, small and weak, like he needs to say it, like he just plane fucking needs it. Jack nods, goes to work on his shoes and socks and sets them at the foot of Sawyer’s bed. Socks neatly tucked into shoes, shoes close by but tucked off to the side, just in case he needs to climb out of bed in case of an emergency. Jack wasn’t kidding. They were two different people.
Jack pulls the blanket up off of Sawyer and climbs underneath it, carefully maneuvering his body until it’s fit along Sawyer’s side. Sawyer turns into him then, laying himself along Jack, his body resting on half-mattress, half-Jack. His jeans offer a surprising, but pleasant contrast to Sawyer’s bare skin, and he settles into Jack’s body comfortably.
Maybe Jack’s right. Maybe he’s never going to be comfortable being open and honest, showing Jack sides of himself that he doesn’t want anybody to see. Maybe he'll only ever do it out of the lack of anything else to do, out of fear of losing Jack for good. And maybe, he thinks, that's okay for now. Maybe, one day, when he’s fought his way through all of the shit being in a real relationship can thrown at him, he’ll realize that a part of him knew what he was doing all along.