Summary: Kate had left a lot of people behind that day, and sometimes Jack had to remind himself of that. It was very personal in some ways, but he wasn’t that only one that suffered and he wasn’t the only one that missed her.
Disclaimer: I do not own Lost. At all. I wish but alas...
Author's Note: Dedicated to everyone who told me to write this faster. Many apologies, for I did no such thing.
Previous Parts: Part One | Part Two
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jack replies, his voice tight and angry. He glares at Sawyer and Sawyer glares back, almost as if in disgust, while everyone else stares at them both in shock and confusion.
“Like hell I don’t,” Sawyer retorts. He strides forward until he's almost chest to chest with Jack, until he's right in his face. “That camera’s about as close to their camp as you can get, and we were nowhere near it when you got lost. In fact, the only reason you would have to be anywhere near it is if you were tryin’ to get over there.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jack repeats. Sawyer stares at him, levelly, meeting his angry gaze without blinking.
“Notice how you ain’t denyin’ it?” he says. “That’s how I know I’m right.”
Jack grinds his jaw, but says nothing.
“Is he right, Jack?” Sayid asks. Jack turns to him sharply, watches as he takes a few steps toward them, arms crossed. He looks as though his diplomacy is warring with his anger, his frustration. Jack senses a lot of that in the room at the moment. “Because I believe that we decided it was better for everyone if Juliet remained with her people.”
“You decided,” Jack spits out, angrily. “And they’re not her people.”
Sawyer throws up his hands and walks away. “See?” he says, leaning back against the wall behind Kate, who has yet to say a word, or, really, to move.
“I realize that you became close to her, Jack,” Sayid replies, trying to keep the anger and disappointment out of his voice and not altogether succeeding. Jack only glares at him in reply. “However, we all decided, together, that her allegiance could never be assured, one way or another. It was not, as you have implied, my personal decision. You had every right to disagree, but in acting rashly out of that disagreement, you could have very easily put us all in serious danger. Kate and Sawyer risked their own lives to find you when you consciously chose to go off on your own. If I am wrong, if Sawyer’s insinuations are incorrect, please say so now.”
Jack’s mouth forms a thin line, and his eyelids lower, but he says nothing. Kate’s forehead falls into the palm of her hand and Sawyer just shakes his head in a disappointed fashion.
“Jack, what were you thinking?” Sun asks, and he turns to face her. Her eyes reflect a much different kind of disappointment than Sawyer’s do, a kind that is harder to ignore or brush off. Her displeasure seems, somehow, personal. He feels like he has let her down, and shame accompanies that quickly.
Sun’s question feels nothing like Sawyer’s accusation. He can ignore Sawyer, put his opinions of him from his mind, but he can’t do that with Sun. Her opinion means too much to him, she means too much to him.
So, he sits down in one of the chairs and shakes his head, lowering it into his hands. He can feel all of their eyes on him, but especially Sun’s, the weight of her gaze constant and unwavering. He takes a breath, tries to find the words to explain, but comes up empty. Maybe no one but him would ever understand what had compelled him to take that path when he had seen it, to try for Juliet in a way that he had been held back from doing since his rescue.
“Jack?” Sun lays a hand on Jack's shoulder and he looks up, finding her eyes. She smiles at him, soft and completely nonjudgmental. He feels like she’s the only one in the room that’s on his side anymore, that's giving him the benefit of explaining himself before turning to anger. He puts his hand over hers, keeping his eyes on her eyes, and not seeing the way Kate turns her gaze quickly from them to the floor, finding a spot and focusing.
“They left her,” Jack explains, quietly. At first only Sun can hear him, but the room grows deadly silent quickly. “They left her like they left me. And I couldn’t…I left her behind, and when I saw the path…it was stupid, but I felt like, if we were wrong…whatever they might be doing to her…was my fault.”
Sun nods, kindly, even though he's sure that she doesn't understand the way he'd liked her too. She smiles through it, though, holding his hand. Above her, Jin looks on stoically. He may not understand every word they're saying, but Jack knows that Jin knows more English than anyone things he does. Sayid stares, reproachfully, at his back, like a disappointed father gazing upon his insolent child. Sawyer just glares, and Kate…Kate won’t look at him.
Sighing, his eyes find their way back to Sun, who squeezes his hand. In moments like these, he's glad that he can count on her friendship, on her constant reassurance and unconditional understanding. Because he certainly wasn't going to get the same from anyone else in the room.
Not even from Kate.
Sun and Jin lived in the suburbs, in an honest-to-God house with a white picket fence. Their lawn was littered with toys and there was a minivan parked in the driveway. They had the kind of life that people dreamed of. It was amazing to him, because even though he had an spacious apartment, in a safe building with a doorman, in a nice neighborhood, the time when they had all lived in tents in the middle of the jungle still seemed so near. It was disorienting to think that they had all sunk back into life in the real world, back into society.
Or, they had in theory anyway.
Jack knocked on the door tentatively. He wondered where his determination had gone. Maybe it was that he was overcome by the desire not to barge in on Sun and Jin's life, disrupt it by opening up old wounds. But even stronger was the knowledge that he had to do this. Sun having any knowledge that he could use was very unlikely, he knew, but she was his first stop, not his only stop. He would talk to them all, if that was what it would take. Sun, however, was the one most likely to want to talk to him. So, he began with her.
The door opened and Jin stood on the other side, with a warm smile and a nod. “Jack,” he said. They shook hands and Jin stepped aside, letting Jack into the house. There were toys everywhere there too. Jin closed the door behind them. Jack assumed that he was on his way out the door, because he was in a suit and his wallet and keys sat on a table nearby.
“Sun is getting the girls dressed,” Jin explained. It took him a little while, but he seemed satisfied when Jack nodded in understanding.
The wait was awkward. They regarded each other like men who didn't know what to say – language barrier or no. Jack tried to make small talk, but for all of Jin's progress, there were still many things he didn't understand. Jin’s attention was somewhere else anyway, so they sank into an uncomfortable silence until Sun came down the stairs, her two girls running in front of her all the way.
Janet was faster, and bigger than her sister, and she flung herself at Jack's knees. Jin leaned against the wall with a smile as Lena caught up, tried to climb Jack like a tree. Sun followed closely behind her children, smiling as Jack picked up Lena and patted the top of Janet's head softly.
“Uncle Jack!” Lena said, over and over again, pulling at the collar of Jack’s shirt while her sister did likewise, trying to drag Jack off into the living room by his hand. It always amazed him that two quiet, reserved people like Jin and Sun could have such hyper-active, noisy children.
They watched from across the room as the girls side-lined Jack, showed him pictures they had drawn and told him the stories he had heard many times before. He just smiled and nodded, like it was the first time, like he had all the time in the world.
“Girls, say goodbye to Jack, it’s time to go to school,” Sun entered the living room, encouraging the girls along even as the groaned and protested. Jack hugged them both, tightly, before picking Lena up off of his lap at setting her on the floor.
“Bye bye, Uncle Jack,” Janet said, and Lena repeated her, as she had a habit of doing.
“Bye girls,” Jack replied, quietly, almost forlornly.
Sun took her girls' hands and lead them to their father. Sun and Jin said their goodbyes, and Jin waved to Jack before grabbing his keys and exiting with his children barreling on in front of him.
Jack stood, facing Sun, putting his hands in his back pockets. She smiled and walked toward him, and he pulled her into his arms. It felt so comfortable, being back here, having Sun’s arms around him. Her presence was more than enough to make him feel warm, at peace – even though he was neither. Being around her was easy, it always had been. It still was. It had been too long.
“No one got hurt,” Sun says, after a long silence. She looks to Sayid, who nods through his disappointment. Sawyer scowls.
“Yeah, this time,” he scoffs. Sun glares at him sharply, as does Sayid. He shakes them both off and leans back against the wall, arms crossed defiantly over his chest. Sayid sighs and shakes his head.
“I do not believe Jack will attempt to retrieve Juliet again, not now that he is well aware of the risks,” Sayid answers Sun.
“So that’s it? No harm, no foul?” Sawyer spits out, irritation in his voice and written plainly across his face. Sayid takes a few steps toward Sawyer, his stance all but announcing that he’s had enough.
“And what would you suggest we do, Sawyer?” he asks His words are diplomatic, but his voice is angry. Sawyer confronts his stare with one of his own. “If you wish to spend the night here, lecturing Jack, by all means, do so. But our time could be better served in other ways than making Jack feel guilty for things which he already feels guilty for. Your time is, however, yours to waste.”
Sawyer opens his mouth as if to retort, but seems to think better of it and shakes his head. “Just forget it,” he replies. Sayid nods sharply, and turns back to Jack.
“You’ll forgive my mistrust Jack, but is there anything else that you have to tell us?” Sayid asks. Jack lowers his gaze and shakes his head.
“No,” he says. He lifts his gaze to look at Sun, who is still looking at him with compassion, to Sawyer, who is still looking at him with annoyed disgust, to Kate, who’s eyes are blank and who’s face is resigned, and back to Sayid, who looks on him with distrust and suspicion. He shakes his head once more, and says, “No,” to Sayid’s face.
“Very well,” Sayid replies, with a nod. “Then I suppose that the matter is closed.” He strides across the room to pick up his weapon, slings it over his shoulder. “It should be dark now. We should return to the camp.”
Sawyer swipes up his rifle and strides for the exit. He throws a “ ‘bout damn time” back over his shoulder and doesn’t even wait to be followed. Kate looks after him for a few moments before stiffly picking up her rifle and following. Sayid turns to Sun.
“Thank you, Sun, for bringing the Others’ presence to my attention,” he tells her, and she nods, patting his arm softly.
“That is my job, right?” she replies. Sayid nods back, with a small smile, before heading to the hatch’s exit himself. Jack takes a few awkward steps forward before pulling Sun into his arms again, into a long hug.
“Thank you,” he whispers into her ear. She pats his back a few times and holds him tightly.
“You’re welcome,” she whispers back, and Jack releases her, says goodbye and nods to Jin. He nods back, reaching out to hold his wife close. They sit in the two chairs in the center of the room, and she begins to explain everything that had just taken place for her husband to understand.
Jack pulls his gun from his waistband and is surprised to find Sayid waiting for him at the ladder up onto the surface. Jack nods awkwardly, and Sayid nods back. “I trust this occurrence will not repeat itself, Jack?” he asks. There is no trace of an order in his voice, only a question and a hope.
Jack nods as earnestly as he can. “Don’t worry,” he says. “It won’t.”
Sayid nods again, sizes Jack up like he isn’t quite sure what to think of him at the moment, but he eventually nods again and heads up in front of Jack, covering him all the way back to camp.
“Another group is going out tomorrow,” Sayid informs him as they put their weapons away, safe inside of their camp now. “I trust you’ll understand if I don’t request your presence.”
Jack sighs and sets his hands on his hips. “How long is this going to last, Sayid?” he asks.
“Very few people know of what happened Jack,” Sayid says, lowering his voice. “And very few people need to know. However, trust has been broken. It takes time to rebuild. If it is a timeline you are looking for, I cannot give you that.”
Jack shakes his head and runs his hand over the back of his neck. “Alright,” he says. “I understand.”
Sayid nods with his head cast down, and pats Jack’s shoulder before heading across camp to his own tent. Jack lets out a long, tired sigh before turning around to face his own tent. There’s a light illuminating it, and it makes him sigh again.
He wants to make excuses to stay away, wants to head to the kitchen for an early dinner, or find someone, anyone to talk to until his mind is clear. But he can’t, and he doesn’t. As much as he doesn’t want to, he needs to get this over with. He takes a deep breath and strides over to his tent, gently pulls the flap open, and steps inside.
Jack finally let Sun go with a content sigh, feeling the terrible mood that he'd been mired in for the past few days lifting, if only slightly. Sun squeezed his hand tightly, before letting it fall and taking a few steps back.
“Would you like something to drink?” she asked.
Jack shook his head. “No. Thank you.” He sat back down on the couch, and Sun followed, pulling her legs up underneath her small body and leaning back with her elbow on the arm rest.
“How have you been, Jack?” she asked. Jack shrugged and looked away. It had done little to hide the truth from Sun in the past, but by now, it’s an ingrained reflex. He shook his head a few times and tried to smile.
“Some days are better than others,” he replied, because it was as close to honesty as he could get.
“If you're trying not to worry me, Jack,” she told him, with a kind of polite tolerance in her voice. “You should know that lying to me only serves to worry my further.”
“I’m not…” Jack started to protest, but then sighed and thought better of it. “I haven’t been doing very well, for a while now.”
“And you hope that finding Kate will alleviate this somehow?” Sun replied. Jack leaned back against he couch and shrugged.
“I think that…we left things a mess,” he confessed. “And now my whole life feels like a mess. If I find her, if I fix what happened between us, maybe I can fix the rest of my life too. I just…I need to find her, I need to talk to her, I need to ask her…”
He let the rest of his sentence, and his train of thought, die with that. He knew that Sun wanted to ask him to go on, but she had always had a sixth sense for the times when she ought not to, so she kept her curiosity to herself.
“What do you need to ask me, Jack?”
Jack took a deep breath. “Did you and she ever talk about places she’d been, places where she might feel safe?” he asked anything he could think of, any question that he thought might give him an idea or a place to start, because, right now, he had nothing.
“Kate never stayed in one place for very long,” Sun replied. “It is possible that her location is constantly changing, that she feels the need to keep moving on in order to stay safe.”
“Have you seen her since the island?” Jack questioned. Sun shook her head, sadly.
“I haven’t expected to,” she answered. “She said that it was better for me, for Jin and I, if we didn’t see each other. She believed that there would be people looking for her, that even if we persuaded them that we did not know her, or that she had died in the crash, there would always be the possibility that she would be discovered.”
Sun let out a small sigh, filled with sadness and longing, emotions that Jack was all too familiar with. Kate had left a lot of people behind that day, and sometimes Jack had to remind himself of that. It was very personal in some ways, but he wasn’t that only one that suffered and he wasn’t the only one that missed her.
“She wanted us to have this life, with each other and our children,” Sun went on. “I believe that she thinks coming here, seeing me, would put that life in danger. She would not do that.”
“Who do you think she would go to, then?” Jack asked, leaning forward. He thought he knew the answer. He dreaded it.
“Sawyer,” Sun replied, as if she felt badly about doing so, as if she didn’t want to. But Jack knew that she was right. Kate wouldn’t go to many people for help, she wouldn’t want to disrupt their lives. But Sawyer lived now very much like he had on the island – in solitude and with indifference toward most. Kate would go to him because he had little to lose from helping her, because he would help her if she needed it, so matter what she needed.
“I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet,” Jack said, with a sigh. Sawyer and he had managed to patch up a few of the holes in their stormy relationship, but they were far from the best of friends. He was about as eager to see Sawyer as he was sure Sawyer would be to see him.
“Then, I suppose you can try to speak to Sayid,” Sun suggested. “I am not sure what help he will be able to offer, if any, but it seems as though it could not hurt.”
Jack nodded, slowly, and leaned with his elbows on his knees, folding his hands in front of him and staring at Sun’s coffee table. He felt so far out of the loop, so much like stranger to people that he had come to know and to respect and to love. He had been inside Sun’s home only a few times, and he knew where very few of the rest of the survivors lived. They had long since drifted apart and moved on with their lives. He often felt like he was living in the past, expecting things to be the same, relationships to remain relevant despite the many changes in their lives over the past six months. He felt irrelevant and discarded, and that hurt from some people more than others.
“Have you stayed in touch with them?” Jack asked, out of curiosity, having a feeling that he was asking for salt to be rubbed in a rather vicious wound.
Sun shrugged though, and smiled. “We received a few cards at Christmas,” she replied. “Phone calls every now and then. Pictures in the mail from time to time. But we no longer live in tents separated by mere feet. We’ve become scattered, picked up our lives once more, and…things have changed.”
Jack nods. “Yeah,” he replies. “They have.”
Sun rose then, holding out her hand for Jack like a mother does for her small child. He should have known all along that Sun would fit that mold well. “Come,” she told him. “I’m going to make you some tea.”
“Sun-” Jack began to object, but Sun gave him a hard stare, and he took her hand, followed her into the kitchen and sat at the table she had directed him toward as she put a pot on the stove. She was done in a few minutes, setting one cup in front of Jack and one in front of herself.
They talked for a few more hours, but not about Kate and not about the island. They talked about Sun’s children and the weather and the common programs that they had managed to catch on the television. They talked about things that were safe, things that weren’t loaded with subtext and pain and memory. Things that were meaningless, but very important for just that reason.