Jack returns, as always, but now he crawls inside Sawyer’s tent as if he's been expected, and he has been.
He lies easily against Sawyer and he speaks. Voice and touch.
It's obvious why he's here, and at first Sawyer tries to shake his head, refuse, make him leave but he can’t form the words.
He won’t form the words, he no longer wants to – he’s missed the scent and the feel. It’s all that he can use to see Jack now.
And he knows now that this is not pity, or comfort – it’s need, from both sides.
From the start, Jack had said, and Sawyer knew, and this is why he’d been waiting for Jack. For this.
He waits, for Jack to touch him, not to speak but to touch, and Sawyer finally grabs his hand, impatient, hungry, and rubs his cheek lightly over Jack’s knuckles and then grips his hand tightly.
Jack freezes, then sighs, relaxes, speaks again. But this time the touch is much different.
His fingers slide lightly over Sawyer’s face, and still he talks, and Sawyer feels a shiver of pleasure at both.
Jack moves again, mouth ghosting over and over again against his ear, whisper soft and breath hot, and his tongue tastes him, in touches that are too short and not nearly enough, then he sinks his teeth slowly into Sawyer’s neck, sucks gently.
Too much, too intense, he shudders, feels it, it flares high and waves of it thrum through him forcefully at the simple heat of Jack’s mouth as it whispers wetly through his skin and surges through his body – it makes him ache, makes him hurt.
Then Jack’s hand again, careful circles of his fingers, so familiar now, that touch of his fingers, coarse and dry but easing in steady circles over Sawyer’s collarbone and then beneath his shirt, a sandpaper rasp against his shoulders and down his chest, teasing, staying within the boundaries of his half-buttoned shirt until his palm flattens against the area just below his ribcage.
Sawyer forgets to breathe.
Then Jack’s fingers again and Sawyer finally understands as Jack speaks faintly against flesh, moves ever downward and then one finger slides across Sawyer’s stomach as he talks, just one word but said again and again.
He’d already said ‘yes,’ by his own touch, but Jack needs more, needs to be sure.
Sawyer grabs the sides of Jack’s head, by feel he frames his face with his palms, Jack’s beard rough on his hands and he pulls him across his body, weight and warmth and Sawyer sighs, he feels it, it’s deep and ragged and he kisses Jack, or tries to, but Jack is already there, mouth eager but his tongue teases, dips inside to brush against Sawyer’s own, but then he pulls away, murmurs against Sawyer’s mouth before his tongue slides wetly inside again.
He moves, rolls, sits astride Jack while he struggles with his shirt and Jack rips off his own, then his hands find Jack’s face, thumb sliding across his mouth before his hands move lower, across shoulders and down arms and then back to his chest, and his fingertips slide over the coarse hair there. He feels Jack breathe, as he waits.
Sawyer braces himself, both hands on the ground and lowers himself until they’re face to face and chest to chest and he groans, almost too intense to take, all this sensation, all this touch, different touch, he shatters underneath after having gone without for so long and he slides up and down the length of Jack’s body, breath quickening at the friction and the hardness of him, of all of him.
Then he wants taste and so he does, tongue sliding along Jack’s ear and then to his neck and Jack’s hands are in his hair, urging him on, and he tastes sweat, clean, the salty taste of hard work and under his tongue Jack’s skin is rough, his beard, and then he moves lower, his mouth following the touch of his hands on Jack’s body.
Sawyer feels it on his lips and then Jack is pulling on his hair, tells him what he wants by the way he moves, the way he breathes.
Sawyer shifts, lifts his head up to taste Jack’s mouth again, his own still wet and hard and Jack keeps him close and Sawyer refuses to let go of the taste of him, his tongue seeks and he tastes, over and over, and he feels it as Jack flings one knee out wide and pulls Sawyer up between his thighs.
Sawyer he presses down with his hips as Jack thrusts up with his own, and Sawyer throws his head back.
“God. God . . .”
Jack’s mouth is at the base of his throat and he sighs in agreement, it feels like a soft noise against Sawyer’s skin but it’s low, seems to come from deep inside him and he moves again with his hips and now the noise is louder, comes from both of them, and Sawyer drifts in the dark but he sees, sees Jack with soft eyes but his face sharp-featured with need.
Not the same but good enough.
Sawyer shoves against him again and this time doesn’t stop, it’s fast and hard and Jack’s hands run roughly and hurriedly down his back, he pulls him close and he pushes upward and then bites down, just below his collar bone and another noise of need is vibrating through Sawyer’s flesh.
Jack forces him up, unfastens both pairs of jeans and then his hand is around them both and Sawyer arches into it, fuck, so good, fuck, then he moves faster and turns his head so that Jack’s mouth is again pressed against his ear, breath hot and wet and he’s speaking, his words sliding into him
Sawyer groans, he moves, he smells and he feels and he tastes but most importantly he hears, through his skin, he hears Jack groan, hears him sigh, hears him come and for now he’s lost in the hot and tangled language of Jack’s body.
It hits hard and with a clarity that stuns him, that hurts, slams down upon him like a sledgehammer, suddenly but not necessarily unexpectedly – he’s known this was coming, some part of him already knew, but it doesn’t make it any less painful.
But he needs to hear it, even though he already knows.
He needs to hear it and he needs to hear it from Jack.
So he asks.
“It’s not coming back, is it? The truth.”
Jack hesitates, briefly, and then speaks with both words and touch.
no. i don’t think so.
A long silence, and deep within Sawyer envies, hates, rages.
He grieves, a grief more deep than he’d ever experienced – death, however brutal, is expected.
This type of loss never is.
you all right?
Sawyer laughs, feels the tinge of bitterness in it, but still he laughs.
“Hell no, I’m not all right. Stupid fuckin’ question.”
Jack is silent.
I know. i’m sorry.
Sorry. Sorry is all well and good but it doesn’t help one damn bit, doesn’t change a fucking thing.
“Just . . . get the fuck out of here, leave me alone for a while.”
Jack again hesitates, he wants to touch or comfort, Sawyer thinks, but that’s the last thing he wants from Jack right now and he stiffens, draws up his knees and wraps his arms around them tightly, hopes Jack will take the hint.
He finally does, Sawyer feels him leave.
Alone now, Sawyer has no idea what to do. This is it, he thinks, the end of the line, black upon black and no escape now, none.
Just this, for the rest of his life.
It’s almost impossible to comprehend – a life void of sight and of sound.
He could rage at the unfairness of it all, he could hate those who have what he doesn’t, those who take it for granted, he could curse a God who would do this, he could hunt down Jack and make him pay for not figuring it out, for not fixing it.
He could give up.
Sawyer sighs, knows he doesn’t have the energy for any of it and so he falls on to his side and waits, for what, he doesn’t know.
He wipes at unseeing eyes but refuses to weep again. That’s done, over – no more grieving.
He feels as if he’s been hollowed out, empty, not only did he lose his sight, his hearing, but everything he had left, everything that had made him who he was, good and bad.
He wonders how he could drown in nothing at all.
His dreams begin to change.
They become brighter, colors more vibrant and sounds more beautiful than anything he’s actually ever heard.
But now, even as he falls into a world of voices and words written and music and the roar of the ocean, it lurks, in the back of his mind and he knows. Even as he dreams, he knows.
He will wake up to darkness and silence and the harder he tries to stay in his personal nightscape, the more of it he loses – it slips away, ghosts of memory.
He’d told himself he would not grieve, not anymore.
But it’s there, in the place he’d once sought refuge, it is there that he still mourns.
It happens again and again with Jack, and when he’s in the middle of it he feels fiercely alive and his determination returns, but only during those times when they’re wrapped tightly around each other.
Otherwise, nothing changes.
The heavy black in his eyes refuses to lighten, the heavier silence refuses to lift.
He still doesn’t know what happened and neither does Jack.
Sometimes he still hopes, but hope itself starts to quiet, starts to hide itself in the dark of his mind.
The idea of death no longer seems quite as frightening.
Sawyer thinks Jack knows this even though Sawyer hasn’t said it, but Jack tries harder, becomes harder, convinced but also desperate that he can somehow bring him back.
He tries harder with words and touch, more work with the cane, wants to give Sawyer a sense of independence, something to keep him there, because he knows he himself isn’t quite reason enough.
Sawyer plays along, goes through the motions and feels Jack’s worry, his hurt, regrets it.
But still nothing changes.
He now dreams constantly of the sea.
He lies to Rose.
Of course he's good at lying and she believes him and she leaves, sure that he’s fine.
He tells himself he’s saving her needless worry.
Too long since this has happened. It’s been much too long.
His brief reprieves when he’s with Jack are just that, reprieves, and then he sinks back down, into himself, nothing much left there anymore and again he wonders at this feeling of drowning, drowning in nothing.
He should fight, he thinks, he’s always fought.
His fingers sift in sand and he smells the sea.
He’s alone now, he’d followed the edge of the water until he couldn’t walk anymore and no one had stopped him, apparently more confident in his abilities than he is. He sits in the surf, feels the sun setting, sees it the way he remembers it.
This is as close as he’s gotten to the water, he’d been too embarrassed or too angry or too busy and he’d never asked Jack to dive into the surf with him or watch from the beach as he swam alone.
He shouldn’t have to ask, shouldn’t need a babysitter.
He’s so fucking tired, the anger and frustration and fear and grief combine but then disappear and he’s exhausted, numb.
The ocean foams around his feet, tempts him. God, he’s missed this, even more than he’d realized. The dreams hadn’t even come close.
And it wouldn’t be that hard, he thinks, he just has to dive in, swim hard and fast, leave the cane and the soft echo of words whispered through his skin behind and let the water take the rest of him, pull him down into its dark depths which mirror his own and set him free.
He stands slowly, feels the water call to him and he steps forward, once, twice, and the sea urges him on and then he’s up to his chest, ready.
Standing unsteadily in the water, he feels the rhythm of it and his body sways with it and he’s ready, he thinks, he wants to.
But he doesn’t.
As he wades back to shore he wonders if this makes him a coward.
He refuses to think further than that and reminds himself the water will always be there, warm and welcoming, waiting for him when he’s ready.
He’s decided, he knows and then his mind takes him further, out and down and deep, then gone. Free.
He follows the water’s edge, which he can neither see nor hear, and ignores the inviting pull of the ocean and instead lets the memory of something warmer and solid and strong draw him back into the world of the living, at least for now.
Long enough for goodbye.
He stops abruptly at that thought, blood pounding, and then decides suddenly there will be no goodbyes, he’s never said goodbye before and that part of him he assumed dead comes roaring back to life.
Life. It’s his fucking life and he refuses to live it like this, and this is his decision.
He wants the hell out of the never ending silence, the black that is so black he’s sometimes too frightened even to move.
So he’s leaving; fuck life and everything it’s ever handed to him.
Even Jack isn’t strong enough to pull him back now.
He turns back toward the ocean, runs into it, dives and swims.
He knows Jack will never forgive him.
But Jack will at least remember him, the good and the bad.
The sea welcomes him – it becomes his again and in turn reclaims him as its own.
He swims hard, out and then down and then deep.
And then he’s gone.