Pairing: Jack/Sawyer [hints at Jack/Kate and Sawyer/Kate]
Challenge/Prompt: 7snogs, #1. Uniform
Copyright: Title taken from the Tori Amos song “Here In My Head”.
Summary: Futurefic post-island. He doesn’t need Sawyer at all any more. He’s got his old life back. And that’s a good thing (it has to be).
Author’s Notes: I haven’t done some Lost boyslash for what feels like a while, and I got this idea while washing my hair and finished it in exactly 40 minutes by keeping On Task, which is quite a big deal for me, cuz I usually take forever to write things. I don’t know why, but I really like this. Possibly because it’s set in a hospital, and that is yay.
I need your badness just to get through the day.
They all said that they’d keep in touch but none of them really have because being friends for nothing but pure necessity turns out to mean really nothing once the real world crashes back in. The real world, where nothing mysterious roars in the forests, where the sand stays where it’s supposed to, where medical supplies are plentiful and bounteous and you can take a hot shower any hour of the day you want to. Where the people you clung to because you had to now seem superfluous, the levels of intimacy you had to come to downright awkward.
Charlie and Claire don’t last; she takes Aaron back to Australia, while he starts recording an album, melodies tired and sweet and acoustic, and while everyone rushes out to buy it because he survived a plane crash and the resulting months on a desert island, in truth, it has staying power because it’s actually good. Jack finds himself whistling along to the songs on the radio, but doesn’t buy the CD. That’s a curious level of intimacy that he doesn’t feel inclined to indulge in.
They take Kate to prison. She is dragged out of the hospital they’re all in when first rescued, grazed wrists cuffed behind her, dark hair still too long, too bedraggled and dirty, but there is a light of something that is almost relief in her eyes and she has a special smile for Jack. She leaves him the plastic airplane. He still has it, in a drawer at home, next to his wedding ring. Bits and pieces. He loved her for three months. Now she’s gone.
Sun and Jin return to Korea, Sun heavily pregnant. Jack asks for an email when the baby’s born and he gets one; a boy, born healthy and beautiful. They’ll name him after Jin’s father. Jack smiles before mailing back his congratulations; it’s good that it all ended happily. He’s genuinely pleased.
Sayid leaves without saying goodbye; places to be, people to look for. Jack doesn’t know what happened to him, although he won’t say he doesn’t sometimes wonder. And Hurley turns out to be rich, goes into a life where he’s no longer crazy, no longer resentful of his money. He takes Jack out for a drink every couple of months; they drink champagne that costs nearly as much as Jack’s monthly salary and talk about anything but the island.
Locke and Sawyer melted away before Jack could bid them good luck; lost themselves back into whatever lives they had before, or maybe they shaped new ones. Maybe it doesn’t really matter.
Jack wanted to be the one to take the news to Shannon and Boone’s parents; he somehow felt duty-bound, but he was still in the hospital when the news was given to Sabrina Carlyle that her only son, and her stepdaughter, had died on the island. He doesn’t want to imagine the expression on her face, and he wanted to take the news to Ana’s mother too; but that was taken care of, and he feels a little useless now. He doesn’t lead anyone any more. He’s not in charge. It’s a relief but it’s hard to return to only being responsible for himself.
Everything feels different, cold, colourless. It’s strange, because all Jack wanted to do was get home and now he is home he’s not sure what he was expecting but it wasn’t this. He doesn’t like this. He hates walking through life half-asleep, hates waking up in the nights gasping, smelling blood and convinced he’s got someone killed again.
But he remains an excellent surgeon and he saves lives over and over, hands steady, eyes dry, calm and efficient. It’s probably just as well. Without his job, he’d have nothing. He doesn’t even feel alive any more. Bland apartment, blander job, even people’s thanks grate on his nerves and it’s tougher every morning to summon up a sympathetic smile.
Jack takes every death on the table as a personal insult and cries in the shower until it begins to feel like he’s drowning.
On a Thursday night, he’s down in the ER, the late shift, helping out because they’re short-staffed and he doesn’t want to go home, even if exhaustion makes him dangerous. He’s waiting for the one thing that will make the world snap together and make sense again.
“So that’s what you look like in uniform.” Jack thinks he’s hallucinating the lazy Southern drawl and shakes his head, deciding he’s obviously too tired to be here. “Could be worse, I guess.”
Jack turns his head.
There’s blood on Sawyer’s face and his shirt is torn. But he’s there, damn real, hair still a little too long and grin still a little too wide.
“What are you doing here?” he asks. It’s not the most intelligent or original of opening lines to a man he never thought he’d see again, but it’s early in the morning and shock and exhaustion are wrapped around his tongue.
“I was in the neighbourhood,” Sawyer shrugs, winces a little at the movement. Jack is about to dispute this, when he remembers that Sawyer travels too much, that he could be ‘in the neighbourhood’ any time he likes. Some people never change.
“And what brings you here?” Jack asks dryly, taking a step or two closer to the bed.
“Bar fight,” Sawyer says, shrugging. Jack smirks, and doesn’t reply, instead moving to draw the curtain around the bed and lay out sutures for the cut on Sawyer’s forehead. The silence is long, drawn out, almost awkward. Jack has nothing to say and he doubts Sawyer has anything to say to him.
Sawyer once told Jack that he was the closest thing he had to a friend; but they’ve never been friends, whatever the hell else they have bubbling and screaming between them.
“You’re unbelievably predictable,” Jack says, when he finds his voice again, wiping the blood from Sawyer’s face so he can get a decent look at the damage. “I see you went back to being a con man.”
“Gotta do something while I wait for Katie to get outta jail.”
Jack wasn’t expecting that; his hand trembles, and maybe Sawyer notices.
“You’re waiting for her?”
“She asked me to.”
Jack remembers, suddenly, the hour before Kate was arrested, when she knew that she was going away and there was no escaping and she wanted to say goodbye to them all. She kissed Jack, quick, hard, lips cold against his, and whispered thank you. She’d spoken to Sawyer a little longer, clinging onto both his hands as though begging him to make a promise.
Jack hasn’t ever been jealous. He knew that Kate was never going to be his.
“What did you tell her?” he asks, numbing Sawyer’s forehead and beginning the stitches. It’s not a big cut and it won’t scar too badly.
“Told her I wouldn’t.”
A smile twists Jack’s lips. But they stay silent while he finishes patching Sawyer up. It’s strange, now, the boundaries the white coat and the medical chart put up. He doesn’t think he’s ever been lost for words around Sawyer before. Always been too much antipathy, and the constant need to argue.
But he doesn’t need to do that to survive any more. He doesn’t need to get angry with Sawyer to keep himself going. He doesn’t need Sawyer at all any more. He’s got his old life back. And that’s a good thing (it has to be). So he snaps off the gloves that still sing with Sawyer’s body heat, tidies away the sutures.
“You shouldn’t get those wet for a couple of days,” he says, “And I can prescribe you some painkillers if you want them.”
“That all I get?” Sawyer asks, tone unreadable, that irritating little grin still playing around his mouth.
“You don’t need to own all the medication in the surrounding area,” Jack finds himself snapping, “You’re not the drug lord of the island any more.”
He scribbles off a prescription, tears it from the pad, shoves it at Sawyer. Sawyer looks down at it, sneers, crumples the paper up and lets it fall. Jack takes an involuntary step back, memories sharp and too real and clustering all into his head too hard and too fast.
“I’m not gonna hurt you, Doc,” Sawyer says tiredly, pushing strands of hair out of his eyes.
Jack considers this a moment, and realises that although the Real World is keeping them in roles neither of them want, right now, right now, they don’t matter. The curtain, although it shakes with every passing breeze, and the chatter from the rest of the ER breaks through, keeps the outside world separate from them, just long enough.
He should stop.
Or maybe Sawyer should.
One of them moves; or they both do; Sawyer’s lips meet his and they taste a little like booze but beyond that they taste like sand and salt and something Jack always said he was relieved to escape from (but who was he kidding?). For the first time in months, he feels faintly alive. He’s back where he belongs.
The curtain is thin and trembles as he pushes Sawyer back against the bed, the metal rattling and the other man hissing in sudden pain from his bruises, and Jack knows, knows that he should stop because this isn’t the island and here he’s straight and doesn’t lust after the man who antagonises him and he’s a good, responsible doctor and he wants to hold onto this, doesn’t he? This is his world and he’s not going to wreck it just because Sawyer’s got a smile that makes his chest hurt and because he retains part of the place Jack doesn’t miss but oh he does, he does, with him at all times.
But the curtain keeps the rest of the world just far enough at bay for it not to matter at all.