Summary: As of right now, it had been over six months since he’d seen her. He wondered if he was really chasing her or just memories of her.
Disclaimer: I do not own Lost. At all. I wish but alas...
Author's Note: For mysticxf and elise_509. ♥
Previous Parts: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six
“I gotta admit, you’re takin’ all this better than I thought you would,” Sawyer commented, sitting back down on the couch. Jack leaned back in the chair and sighed.
Maybe a part of him had always known it would come to this. Maybe he’d always figured that his entire journey, all this time, was spent chasing something he would never catch: a ghost. Because that’s what Kate was. As of right now, it had been over six months since he’d seen her. He wondered if he was really chasing her or just memories of her.
“At least it makes sense now,” Jack answered. “At least I know why she kept me at arm’s length for three months.”
“She wanted to be with you, Jack,” Sawyer assured, as if that was what Jack was worried about. It wasn’t. “She just didn’t know how to be okay with some else getting’ there first.”
Jack shorted shortly before he just burst out laughing. The irony of it all was too much for him. Sawyer looked at him like he was a little nuts, but eventually, Jack managed to settle himself down and swallow about a third of his beer. “Well,” he said. “That vice certainly has plenty versa.”
“The hell are you talkin’ about?” Sawyer asked, and for the first time, he actually sounded interested. Jack leaned forward, put his elbows on his knees and looked at Sawyer. It was nice to have the shoe on the other foot, if only for a minute. It was nice to have information to give instead of constantly having to search for it.
“I always knew about the cameras, Sawyer,” Jack explained. “I saw you two on them, the night before I did Ben’s surgery.”
Sawyer stared at him long and hard for a minute, his face blank, until a small smile spread across his face and he started laughing too. Jack shook his head and swallowed more of his beer. “Well,” Sawyer says, through a hearty laugh. “Don’t that just beat all.” He sighed and leaned back against the couch. “Guess you and Freckles had more in common than I thought. Both bangin’ the one you could get instead of the one you wanted.”
“You really think that’s what she did?” Jack asked. There was nothing hopeful about his tone of voice. The question wasn’t asked in reassurance of anything. He only wanted to know if that was the way that Sawyer really thought of his relationship with Kate – if that was all that he could see. Even Jack knew that it was more complicated than that.
“Come on, doc,” Sawyer said, like he’d thought it over a thousand times and always come up with the same answer. “I ain’t so blind I can’t see the writing on the wall.”
Jack sighed, knowing Sawyer well enough to know that once he grabbed onto an idea and convinced himself it was fact, there was very little that could wrestle it away from him. Jack had no doubt that he was not one of those things. So all he was left to do was shake his head, and say, “Well, for the record, I think you’re full of crap.”
“Then I guess nothing’s changed, huh?” Sawyer asked, with a short laugh. Jack leaned back in the chair.
“Everything’s changed,” he replied, and he heard Sawyer sigh, dramatically.
“So I see we’re back in serious-mode now,” he said, and Jack rolled his eyes. And then, all sorts of memories came flooding back to him, left, right, and center, and he couldn’t help but laugh again. Sawyer looked over at him, given how ironic his previous statement seemed to be know, and looked at Jack questioningly.
“Do you remember the last time we spent any length of time together?” he asked. Sawyer screwed up his face.
“The day we got rescued,” he said, with a shrug, and that was true. Jack remembered standing next to Sawyer on the beach while the cuffs of their jeans got soaked by the ocean, and watching the largest ship any of them had ever seen heading toward them, ready to take them home.
But that wasn’t what Jack was talking about. So he shook his head and said, “No. Before that.”
It took Sawyer a moment, but when his brain latched onto the memory, he chuckled and shook his head. “Yeah, I remember,” he said. “The French chick’s trap. I thought we were gonna die down there.”
“I do remember you being fairly morose,” Jack joked. Sawyer snorted back.
“Yeah, well, I don’t have a great history with people throwin’ me into holes in the ground.”
“The only person who threw you into the hole was you,” Jack argued.
“You’re the one that was so sure you knew where you were goin’. Far as I’m concerned, it’s still your damn fault we fell in that thing.”
Jack shook his head and smiled. As annoying as it could be, bickering with Sawyer was one of his most vivid memories of the island, of the way things had been a little over a half a year ago. Two months on the beach. One month with the Others. Three in the jungle. Six back home. And after all this time, Sawyer was still able to bring him right back just by being himself. It was oddly grounding.
“What are we arguing about?” Jack asked, because, true to form, he honestly doesn’t know. Sawyer just smirks.
“What we’re always arguin’ over,” he answered. “Nothing.”
“Then why do it?”
“ ‘Cause we’re us, doc,” Sawyer replied, like it was something to be proud of. He did seem awfully damn proud of himself. “That’s what we do.”
Jack nodded. As if he didn’t know that by now.
Sawyer blames Jack.
Jack blames Sawyer.
They argue and bicker back and forth and Jack honestly doesn’t know how he has the energy to keep his mouth moving, because he feels hungrier than he’s ever been, thirstier than he’d have thought it was possible to be. He feels like he could collapse in the middle of an argument, and Sawyer must notice because, out of nowhere, he shuts up.
“You’re not lookin’ so hot, doc,” Sawyer says, and Jack thinks that’s quite the understatement.
“I haven’t eaten in almost four days,” Jack answers, weakly. “How would you be?”
“Jesus Christ, are you serious?” Sawyer exclaims and Jack looks up. Frankly, he’s quite surprised by the look of concern on Sawyer’s face. But he just nods because he hasn’t the energy to think of another sarcastic reply. Sawyer begins rummaging in his pockets and Jack leans back against the wall of dirt behind him. There’s barely enough room in this hole for the both of them, and there neither of them are tall enough to reach the top. Jack as no strength, so he can’t lift Sawyer up, nor can he grab hold of much of anything if Sawyer lifts him.
So, what it boils down to, Jack figures, is that, unless someone comes across them – the right someone – they’re pretty much sitting in their tomb. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
“Eat this,” Sawyer says, shoving a granola bar in his face. Jack grabs it up in a second, taking even less time than that to rip it open and eat the hole thing in three bites. He tosses the wrapper aside and, for all he’s concerned, that granola bar was the equivalent of a steak dinner. Sawyer hands him a large, nearly full, bottle of water and Jack manages to restrain himself from drinking the whole thing. He takes a third for himself, the hands the bottle back to Sawyer.
“Better?” Sawyer asks, his voice so quiet it’s almost a whisper. Jack nods, though, closes his eyes and revels in the feeling of finally having food and water in him.
“Getting there,” Jack answers. Sawyer nods back and tries his best to make himself comfortable. Clumps of dirt get knocked loose and he curses when they fall in his hair. Jack can’t help but chuckle softly, and Sawyer glares at him.
“So…” he says. “We’re gonna die here, ain’t we?”
“Unless we’re very lucky,” Jack nods. “Do you have more food?”
“You gonna wolf that down too?” Sawyer asks. Jack shakes his head, tiredly, and closes his eyes again. Somehow he feels better that way. The sun is less harsh on his eyes. He’s able to keep his head clearer, his wits about him – or, as about him as they can be under the circumstance.
“Depending on how long we’re stuck here, we’re going to have to ration it,” Jack explains. Sawyer snorts at him in disbelief.
“You’re starvin’ to death and you’re talkin’ about ratioinin’ the food?” Sawyer asks. “Hell, doc, I ate this mornin’. Far as I’m concerned, you can have all the damn food.”
“I can’t do that,” Jack answers. Sawyer sighs, and Jack thinks that he hears him mutter something about Jack being a damn martyr before he turns around and pulls the backpack he’s carrying out from underneath his body. He dumps out the contents onto their legs. More granola bars, a spare bottle of water, some mangoes, and what appears to be a box of Dharma brand goldfish crackers.
“Eat it,” Sawyer orders. “ ‘Cause I ain’t gonna.”
“What’s the last nice thing I’ve done for you, Jack?” Sawyer asks, and Jack finds himself a bit frozen, taken aback and confused by the question. His mind runs back to what feels like a lifetime ago, when he had been standing the jungle with Sawyer, before their first attempt at getting rescued had failed so miserably. His mind stays there, hears Sawyer’s words to him, but he can’t manage to say anything now. The look in Sawyer’s eyes pretty much tells him that he doesn’t have to.
“Just eat, damn it,” Sawyer says, crossing his arms over his chest and making a big show of the fact that he, stubbornly, refuses to eat anything he just dumped between them. Jack reached, tentatively, for one of the mangoes and bit right through the skin.
After a few more, and some water, he actually manages to feel better. Tired. Weak. But better.
“How long were we down there?” Jack asked. Sawyer shook his head. His beer was long gone. So was Jack’s. But neither of them seemed to want, or need, another one anymore. They were lost in their memories now. One of the few of them that didn’t involve fear, or gunfights, or the Others.
“I still don’t remember,” Sawyer answered. “A day? Day and a half? I wasn’t really payin’ attention.”
“Me neither,” Jack replied. Sawyer laughed.
“Of course you weren’t,” he said. “You could barely keep your damn eyes open. I swear, for a minute or two there, I actually thought you might be shovin’ off for the great beyond.”
Jack chuckled and looked down at his hands. “Yeah,” he replies, nodding. “Me too.” He chuckled again, a serious one, an honest one this time, and shrugged. “But maybe that’s because you nearly talked me to death.”
“Hey, I was just trying to keep you awake,” Sawyer replied, but he was laughing too. “Hell of a way to show your gratitude, asshole.”
“I didn’t have a concussion, Sawyer,” Jack replied.
“Last time I checked, doc, passin’ out is never a good thing,” he answered, and Jack didn’t disagree. Sawyer had been right to try to keep him awake, if only to make sure that he kept eating. For a while, Jack had held on to his stubbornness, refusing to eat as much as he wanted to just in case Sawyer ended up needing something to eat. But Jack’s hunger coupled with a thousand denials from Sawyer had made it impossible to keep up.
“We didn’t end up needin’ all that food anyway,” Sawyer said. “We weren’t even there long enough for you to eat it all.”
Jack nodded, remembering very well – despite the fact that he was still malnourished at the time – the details of their inevitable rescue. It was hard to forget. And it made Jack remember that there had, at one point, been a time that Kate had come back for him.
“Did you really think she wouldn’t come back for you?” Sawyer asked, and Jack wasn’t the least bit surprised that Sawyer seemed to know exactly what he was thinking. Sawyer was good at reading people, always had been. Jack was used to it by now – certainly more comfortable with it than he had been, at one point.
“I don’t know,” Jack answered. Sawyer nodded and Jack thought that, now, Sawyer was the one that thought he was the one that was full of crap. And maybe he was right. Because, at the time, Jack had doubted it. And he had been wrong.
“Why did you make me leave Juliet behind?” Jack asks.
It’s dawn and neither of them slept through the night. Sawyer got maybe an hour. Jack, a few more than that. But, for the most part, Jack ate, and Sawyer talked and sometimes Jack talked back. They swapped stories – Jack told Sawyer about Thailand and Sawyer told Jack about his adventures in all the various bars he had gotten himself into fights in. They talked about poker. They argued about nothing.
They had been sitting in silence for the longest time until Jack had brought her up. Sawyer had been wondering, up until that point, when he would finally get around to it.
“I didn’t make you do anythin’, doc,” Sawyer answers. Jack shakes his head.
“You wouldn’t take her with us,” Jack replies.
“She wasn’t itchin’ to come,” Sawyer throws back. It was true. Juliet had beckoned Jack to go, while he still had the chance. She was calmly putting on her clothes before she vanished from Jack’s sight as Sawyer pulled him away. “Plus, I didn’t exactly think it’d be a good idea to drag one of them back into our camp just because you and she got naked together.”
“She’s not one of them,” Jack argues. “They left her behind too.”
“Yeah, you jackass, and if you didn’t notice, I left the damn door open so she could go do whatever she wanted. I didn’t lock her back in, did I?” Sawyer asks. Jack has no choice but to shut his mouth and try to glare. Because Sawyer is right. “She’s a cold-hearted bitch, but she’s smart. And she certainly don’t need no white knight to take care of her.”
Jack sighs, but he doesn’t say anything. Sawyer sighs back and guesses that, for now, the conversation is over. He opens his mouth, about to say something, but a shot rings out over their heads so loud that they both jump despite the limited amount of space to do it in. Their mouths instantly clamp shut and they don’t even dare to move.
The gunfire grows more rapid for about a minute, but eventually, one shot rings out and no more follow. They glance over at each other, and realize that neither of them are even breathing.
After a minute, Jack feels that enough time has passed and he asks, “What the hell was that?”
Sawyer sighs. “That was them,” he answers. Jack screws up his face, confused. “We moved camp,” Sawyer explains. “Now those crazy freaks don’t know where we are, so they keep tryin’ to find us. They send out people, we send out people. Means a whole hell of a lot of gunfights.”
Jack stares in abject horror that it’s come to this. He shakes his head and wonders what else has changed in his absence. What other measures have had to be taken in order to ensure their safety, their survival.
“Jesus,” Jack breathes out, and a second later, a long rope slaps down against the dirt wall in between them and the both start. When they look up, Kate is looking down at them.
“Thank god,” she says. Jack stares up at her like he’s seeing a ghost. Sawyer just smirks and says, “Atta girl.”
“We don’t have much time,” Kate says, and Jack snaps out of his trance. He climbs to his feet as best he can, but Sawyer still has to help him to his feet. Sawyer shovels the uneaten food back into his bag and throws it over his shoulder.
“That gunfight a minute ago, Freckles, that you?” Sawyer asks.
“Yeah,” Kate replies. “That was me. They’ll be sending another couple of guys out soon, so will you move your ass?”
“I don’t think I can…” Jack says, gesturing, embarrassed, up toward the rope. He’s got most of his strength back, but not all of it. And certainly not enough to pull himself up a rope. Sawyer rolls his eyes and crouches down, putting both hands underneath Jack’s boot and lifting him up as best he can. Jack’s a big son of a bitch, that’s for sure, but Sawyer still manages to get him high enough that he can grab onto the rope with one hand and the surface with the other. Kate takes care of the rest of the work, pulling on Jack while Sawyer pushes.
Jack hits the jungle floor with a grunt and sees the rest of the rope tied to the trunk of a thick tree. Sawyer manages to get himself up the rope with ease and pat Kate on the back when he’s up. Jack, however, can’t seem to move much at all. He feels as though all the breath his gone out of him all at once. All he can really manage to do is roll over on his back and stare up at the sky.
He sees Kate hand Sawyer a handgun out of the corner of his eye, which Sawyer accepts gratefully (seeing as his more than likely went missing when they took their little tumble down into the ground). She walks a few paces over to Jack and kneels down at his side.
“How are you?” she asks. Jack coughs when he means to answer, and Kate laughs. “That good, huh?”
“I’m getting better,” Jack answers, trying to sit up and failing. He comes crashing back down to earth and finds Kate’s knees underneath his back. Her arms holding onto his forearms, trying to keep him steady. She smiles and he nods a few times. “Yeah. Better.”
“Well, ain’t that sweet, can we get outta here?” Sawyer asks. “You’re gonna get me shot.”
They both ignore him, though, and for all his huffing and puffing, Sawyer does nothing about it. He just waits on them, lets him have their moment while he stands on the sidelines and rolls his eyes.
Kate leans over Jack with a look on her face like he’s come back from the dead. Jack looks at her like he thought he’d never see her again. Her brown hair creates a curtain behind her, and he can’t help but reach out and brush it back, run his hands up through it. Somewhere in the middle, they meet. Jack pulls her down, she pulls him up, and they kiss. It’s better than the first, less frantic. They have very little time to enjoy it, but they do none-the-less.
“Come on,” Kate says, pulling Jack up to his feet. He’s unsteady – going from laying on the floor of a cage to laying in a hole in the ground hasn’t helped his motor skills any – and wobbles a lot. “Sawyer, help me.” Sawyer rolls his eyes, but slings an arm around Jack’s waist while Kate puts one of Jack’s arms around her shoulder.
Jack finds himself unable to process much beyond the stride of his feet and the two people at his sides, but even through all of that – even though he’s still tired, even though he’s still hungry, and even though he feels like he’s been beaten down just about as far as he can go – he feels like things are finally starting to look up again.
For the first time in over a month, he feels like he’s getting his footing back.
“So, doc, not that I mind all that much, but, why the trip down memory lane?” Sawyer asked. Jack shook his head.
“I guess I’m just feeling nostalgic,” he answered.
“For bein’ trapped in a hole?”
“For feeling like I knew which way was up,” Jack replied, and Sawyer nodded. Jack wasn’t sure how he could explain what he was going through to anyone. They’d all had their secrets on the island. Every one of them. But, even though Jack had felt like he was in the dark from time to time, it was nothing compared to the way that he felt now.
He felt lost. He felt abandoned. And now, he felt hopeless. Sawyer was his last resort, his last stop. After he left Sawyer’s apartment, he would go home and put the search for Kate to rest. Because there was no one else he could go to, nowhere else he could look. And, as much as it pained him to do so, he was going to have to put all of his behind him. He was going to have to put Kate behind him.
“For what it’s worth, doc, you ain’t the only one feelin’ that way,” Sawyer replied and Jack nodded.
“I know,” he answered. “I know I’m not the only one she left. But I am the only one she didn’t tell she was going. I am the only one she didn’t include in her plan. I am the one that got left in the dark.”
Sawyer nodded along, because he knew as well as Jack did that it was true, that Kate had things she needed to answer for. “Well, I certainly hope you find her to ask her why the hell that was,” Sawyer replied, which was his own special way of saying good luck, Jack supposed.
“What’s the point?” Jack asked, sighing. “She’s always going to be two days ahead of me.”
Sawyer smirked ironically. “You just figurin’ that out, doc?” he asked. Jack chuckled.
“Yeah, well, what can I say? I’m a little slow.” Sawyer chuckled back and leaned back against the couch. “I’m gonna go,” Jack said and Sawyer nodded back.
“You know where I am,” Sawyer replied and Jack thought that was probably as good as he was going to get by way of getting an invitation back. And, as cryptic as it was, it was certainly a lot coming from Sawyer. Jack nodded and climbed up out of Sawyer’s leather chair.
“I’ll see you some time,” he said, and somehow, he managed to mean it. As defeated as Jack felt by this whole experience, he thought there was something to it after all. He had more answers than he’d had when he begun. He’d started re-building bridges he’d burned a long time ago.
Jack thought, as he drove him, that at the very least, he had a few of his old friends back, and there was something to that. No, he hadn’t found Kate, and yes, he had resigned himself to the fact that he probably never would. But he chose to find the little victories where he could in the shambles of his plan. Maybe he hadn’t got what he expected, but the things that he had now were certainly things that he needed.
He’d needed answers, and he had them now. He’d needed a fresh start, a chance to do things right, and he supposed that he had that too. It wouldn’t be easy, he knew that, but he had a place to start, a place to begin again.
He didn’t have everything he needed, but he had enough.
And then, everything Jack had so firmly believed in a second before came crashing back down on him in the next. He dropped his keys onto the floor of his living room and they landed with a loud clank.
“Hi Jack,” Kate said, from her position in the middle of his couch, looking, for all the world, like she’d never belonged anywhere else.