|HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JACK -- RATED PG
||[Nov. 18th, 2005|07:17 pm]
|||||Erasure ~ Star||]|
TITLE: Happy Birthday To Jack
CHARACTERS: Jack, Sawyer
WORD COUNT: 860
WARNINGS: Nudity, but not graphic. Comments and criticisms warmly welcomed.
It took Jack several minutes to make his goodbyes, but eventually he was able to break away from the group and head back to his shelter at the caves. He managed to keep the smile on his face until he was well away from the other survivors, but once he was certain that he wouldn't be seen by anybody, he let the smile crumple and allowed the tears to come.
He didn't know if this night would have been any easier back home. Which would have been worse? he wondered. Celebrating my 35th birthday with a bunch of people who didn't know anything about my life, or celebrating it with a bunch of people who knew everything about it?
Back home, he would have had to deal with the pitying glances, the whispered rumors, the plastered-on smiles of family, friends, and co-workers. The names "Sara" and "that Silverman boy" would have been floating around the room like ghosts, the scandal and divorce the hot topic at the top of everybody's minds. It would have been the first birthday in twenty-five years that he would have celebrated without his childhood friend at his side. His first birthday as a divorcee. His father would have been just a few months dead, his mother nearly catatonic in her haze of booze and anti-depressants.
Or he wouldn't have had a celebration. He'd have ended up at a bar somewhere, taking another drink that could lead him down the same treacherous path his father had taken.
But was it any better here? There was nobody here whom he had known more than a couple of months. Friendly faces, yes, but not one with whom he had a history; not one with whom he had developed a shorthand which would allow for silent commiseration.
He found himself not at the caves, but at the quiet, moonlit lake that Kate and Sawyer had discovered not long ago, the one with the waterfall. Somehow, his feet had led him here. And, since he was in no mood to argue with his feet, he just accepted it.
Stripping out of his clothes, Jack waded naked into the lake. When he had gotten far enough out, he began to swim. He swam to the middle of the lake, and there he turned onto his back and just let himself float, staring up at the canopy of stars that seemed much closer than he knew they really were.
He felt the stinging in his eyes and throat that told him he was starting to cry again. God, what's wrong with me? he thought. He'd never cried in his entire life as much as he had since landing on the island.
It's because I'm lonely, he told himself. It's not just the island, it's not just the situation. It's because, even if I were back home and not here, I would still not have anybody.
The tears flowed freely now, and even as his vision blurred, he saw, right overhead, a shooting star whiz past. He swallowed hard, closed his eyes, and did something he hadn't done since he was a child. He wished.
I want somebody who understands me, he said silently. I don't care if they're a friend. I just want someone who can just look at me and get me.
Finally, when he was all cried out, Jack turned and began swimming back to shore. Halfway there, he saw a figure seated on the rock right next to the spot where he had laid his clothes. Even from that distance, he recognized Sawyer. Great. What the hell does he want?
When Jack finally emerged from the lake, Sawyer greeted him with a lopsided smile. "You're the last person I thought I'd see down here, Doc."
"Yeah," Jack replied curtly, picking up his clothes and laying down on the rock to let himself dry. "Figured it was a good place to be alone a while."
Sawyer laughed at the dig, then let the smile slowly fade from his face. "Yep," he said. "It's good for that."
The two men remained silent for a long time. Jack had almost drifted off to sleep when Sawyer spoke again. His voice was quiet, soft, and most surprisingly, devoid of all cynicism and sarcasm. "Birthdays suck, don't they?"
Jack opened his eyes and glanced sideways at the con man. "Yeah," he said guardedly. "They do."
"Especially for us guys who don't have any reason to celebrate being alive," Sawyer said.
Jack didn't answer. He swallowed hard, and let his eyes go back to the stars.
After another long moment of silence, Sawyer stood up. When he spoke, his voice was back to normal. "Well, I guess I'm gonna get myself back to the beach before someone misses me." He smiled again. "Happy birthday, Doc."
Jack lay there long after Sawyer had left, staring at the sky, lost in his thoughts, silently wondering if, in some perverse and completely unexpected way, his first wish in over twenty-five years had been granted.