Title: Whisper Through Skin 3/3
Pairing: Jack/SawyerWarning: Adults only, language and sexual situations. Spoilers for S2, speculation for S3.
Previous parts are here.
Words are slipping past him, more slip past than he likes, and he’s frustrated.
Sawyer wonders what he’s missing, what it is Jack is saying when he speaks, he wants to know exactly what words he’s losing between the few words he manages to catch.
Jack, when he has the time, is either behind him or next to him, voice flowing into his ear and sometimes his body rests heavily against him, usually when he’s tired, and he falls asleep in the middle of speaking and either sinks to the ground or slumps against Sawyer.
Sawyer lets him, holds him with his own body and lets him sleep, tells himself he owes him, even though he hates owing anybody.
But it never lasts long and when Jack awakens he’s embarrassed, apologizes, but Sawyer says nothing, just shakes his head, and he’s not sure at first if it’s that’s good or bad.
But Jack always returns and it brings a relief Sawyer resents feeling, much less admitting to, even if only to himself.
But the feel of Jack this close to him has become a welcome thing, another thing he resents. Another thing that scares him.
It happens almost without Sawyer noticing, now easy and natural but that doesn’t mean he likes it, not completely.
When he lets himself think about it, Sawyer also wonders, in addition to his words, what exactly it is Jack is saying with his body. Sometimes he wants to know exactly what it is, what lies below what he already knows is there. He wants to hear it, wants to hear Jack say it.
But instead Sawyer lets it go, pretends its not there. Not ready.
Jack always has to leave but he always returns. But then duty draws him away again.
When he’s alone Sawyer still feels that helplessness, thinks at times that he hates everyone, that he still hates even Jack. But it changes, just slightly, now he hates that when Jack is gone he loses the connection with everything else, tossed back into his prison, that he’s let Jack has become his only lifeline aside from Rose, whose visits are too rare but Sawyer knows she has duties of her own.
At those times he crawls outside his tent and buries himself in the rest of it, in everything outside vision and hearing, digs his hand into the sand and sniffs the breeze, reminds himself that the rest of the world is still there, no matter how dark and silent it’s become.
Then he sleeps and more and more he dreams of the sea, he aches for it and he waits for it, but in the meantime, he dreams.
wake up, baby.
He jumps, startled, and then fights to pull himself up out of the haze of sleep, sits up, tries to look in Rose’s direction, a habit he hasn’t tried to break in the hope he’ll still need it, someday.
close enough, aren’t you? and you act like one, anyway. brought you something.
She grabs his hand and wraps it around something while she keeps his other hand on her thigh, palm up so she can speak. It’s smooth, wooden, warm and cool at once and he hefts it in his hand. He can tell by the length and the weight of it, it’s a cane.
He starts to say something, to refuse, but she stops him.
mr. eko made it. he’ll be off his feet for a while and he wanted to help. it’s beautiful, kind of a honey color. feel it.
She takes his hand again and forces him to run his fingers over the length of it and it’s intricately carved, much more ornate than a blind man would ever need, but it must be beautiful if the feel of it was any indication.
He’s angry. More help, more pity.
“I don’t want – ”
what you want is to be up and out of here on your own. this will help. use it or i’ll use it to beat the hell out of you.
“You’d beat a poor, blind man with a stick? You’re a mean, bossy old woman.”
But he smiles and ducks, expects to be cuffed again but instead he’s tight in her embrace and she rocks him, side to side in the type of hug he’s not experienced in he doesn’t know how long, then she lets him go.
use it. because i am a mean, bossy old woman who would beat a poor, blind man with a stick.
He doesn’t doubt it.
Jack takes over, decides Sawyer’s first lesson should be to the pool.
Jack wears him out, first uses Sawyer’s makeshift table as a marker, forces Sawyer’s hand on to the left corner closest to his tent.
start here, then turn to your right three steps.
Sawyer swears and scowls but does as he’s told.
Jack repeatedly makes him count the steps from his tent to the path that leads to the pool and the falls, then count the steps to the water’s edge, points out landmarks so Sawyer won’t lose his sense of direction, then makes him walk it back again, and soon Sawyer wonders if he’s worn a ditch in the dirt with the continuous pacing back and forth.
Jack doesn’t touch him, though, except to speak with his hand, easier for now, and orders that he do it again.
It’s not easy, even with the cane he stumbles, falls five times, and when he becomes dizzy he stops, leans on it, waits for his balance, then pushes himself upright and then trudges forward carefully.
On the twelfth return to the pool he falls to the ground and refuses to try again.
“Done, enough walkin’ stick lessons for today, shit.”
“No. No, now I cool off and then we talk.”
fine, i need to get cleaned up. but more of this, you have to.
Sawyer agrees, holds the cane, twirls it experimentally, but he dreads the idea of looking like a fool, knows that someone will follow the first few times he tries it on his own, hates especially that it most likely won’t be Jack or that it will be, he doesn’t know anymore.
He’ll fall, get lost, get hurt, have to yell for help.
At the thought of that his determination returns to keep company with his fear.
He stands, wades into the pool and he dives, swims for the falls, one hand out in front of him so he doesn’t run into the shelf of stone almost directly beneath them, and he stays there, face up to the heavy flow of water and hopes that somehow he’ll come away clean, that the solid fog blocking his eyes and ears will be washed away, and he’ll be born anew, baptized.
Sawyer moves out of the falls and into calmer waters and soon Jack swims in his direction, makes more of a splash than necessary, to warn Sawyer, he supposes, in order not to startle him. But he does, anyway, when both hands grasp Sawyer’s shoulders and turn him slightly, he’s facing Jack.
the sun. use it, the feel, if you get lost. here, touching your face now, that’s west. you get off the path you find a spot where the jungle is thin, find the sun, straight west to camp.
Sawyer sighs tiredly.
“Fine, Chief, now can we leave it the hell alone for now?”
Jack’s hands tighten on his shoulders. and Sawyer knows he’s staring and he suddenly wonders what he looks like now. He’s self-conscious and defensive, he wants to know if he looks the same or if somehow losing his sight has affected the way others see him, then Jack’s hands slide up his shoulders to rest on either side of his neck.
His intention is clear and although Sawyer wants it, he’s scared, scared that this is sympathy or pity.
He trembles but he fights it, fights Jack, holds himself stiff and away, but then Jack’s mouth is on his, lips cool but tongue hot and teasing and Sawyer gives in, but so briefly he’s not even sure it actually happened.
Except there is still the taste of Jack on his mouth to remind him.
He shoves Jack away, tries to, but Jack holds on, watches, waits.
“What in hell is this, some kind of mercy fuck for the blind and deaf guy? I don’t need – ”
Jack’s fingers tighten against his skin, then one hand moves to touch his own.
just the way it is, sawyer, the way it’s been from the start. you know.
The he’s gone, and Sawyer realizes this is the first time Jack used his name.
And yeah, he thinks wearily. He knows.
Even though he’s not sure he wants to know, he knows.
Jack stays away for too long.
The best thing, Sawyer thinks.
But still he waits.
Trip after trip to the pool and the falls and he knows it, now, knows it backwards and forwards.
It’s night and he’s bored, and a little lonely, not that he would admit it. He waits for Jack even though he hates it, so in frustration and rebellion he grabs the cane and stands, decides to swim in the pool until he can barely move and then he’ll sleep, dream again of the sea.
He thinks if Jack comes back, he’ll ask if they can swim in the sea.
The he’s angry again, resentment rises. He shouldn’t have to fucking ask anybody – what he needs are his eyes and his ears so that he can have the sea to himself, like it should be, the way it’s been.
He leaves, tells no one and no one asks.
He makes it to the pool, no problems at, he doesn’t fall, doesn’t even trip, and he swims and again enjoys the freedom the water offers and then wades to the shore and still thinks of the sea.
He rests, and then grabs the cane, walks, lost in the quiet of his mind, preoccupied by thoughts too numerous to count and he has no idea how far he’s gone when he realizes he’s off the path.
He stands stock still, tilts his head, waits, curses in frustration because he waits for sight which is not there and for sound that he will never hear.
It’s night, no sun to guide him.
He won’t call for help, absolutely refuses. He can’t be that far off the path and he moves carefully to his left until something wraps around his ankle and pulls him to the ground.
He fights furiously and then feels like a fool when he frees himself. Just a fucking vine.
But the fall has left him much more disoriented and he rises to all fours and tries to get his bearings.
He smells the fires on the beach but he can’t tell which direction the smoke comes from – the wind he had counted as his friend turns against him, rushes through trees and undergrowth and hits him from a thousand directions at once.
He realizes if the eerie whispers return, the sounds he’d heard in the jungle before, that had whispered name – if they came back he would never know.
Terror, then, none like he’s ever felt before and he scrambles on all fours, cane still in one hand but he feels safer close to the ground and he reaches out blindly to find something, anything that seems familiar, his heart races and a fierce, almost painful fear drives him forward, but all he feels is the tangled growth on the jungle floor.
Freedom, he had thought, go wherever he wants, but it was an illusion as were most things in his life.
He knows now, with backbreaking certainty.
He carries his prison with him wherever he goes, no matter where he goes.
He crawls, panicked, close to giving in and shouting for help when his knuckles ram painfully into stone and he stops, tries to catch his breath, gets his feet underneath him but stays low, on his haunches, cane across his thighs as his hands run over the rock.
One of the markers, just off the path, he’s almost certain, and then triumph, he stabs the tip of the cane into the jungle floor and shoves himself to his feet, too quickly, dizziness hits and he falls to his knees but again he rises up, moves, one or two steps, he knows, and he’s there.
But he’s stopped, a hand grips the upper arm of his free hand tightly, Jack, he knows his touch and scent well now, he tugs gently on Sawyer’s arm.
Trying to guide him, Sawyer thinks bitterly, and he was so close, this was victory, finding his own way, but Jack fucking rescues him, makes him feel helpless again.
He yanks his arm away, swears, shoves at Jack with everything he has, falls again and shakes with humiliation as he finds his feet again, yells at Jack, tells him he almost had it, was almost there, and Jack grabs his hand, taps hard, twice.
Then he grabs Sawyer by the shoulders, forces him to turn around, facing the opposite direction than the one Sawyer had been so certain of, had been almost running toward, then pushes him forward before he disappears.
Sawyer almost sinks to his knees in defeat as he realizes he’d been going the wrong way, tries desperately not to think of what might have happened if he’d kept going.
Humiliation and rage, and as he reaches the path and slowly makes his way to his tent, victory has long turned to loss and he crawls inside, hides.
I can’t do this, he thinks, I don’t want to do this.
The thoughts run repeatedly through his head as he seeks and then finally finds sleep, and he dreams of the sea.