|A Shoulder to Lean On
Author: menz815 PM
A story about Jack and Kate's first date when they return from the island. Kate's POV. Written as a request from Nat on FanForum.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Jack & Kate - Words: 3,185 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 14 - Published: 04-29-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5027218
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I just want to say thank you to Nat for requesting that I do this because I don't think I would have ever tried and I REALLY enjoyed writing this!
Also, this is dedicated to my dear friend Lette for giving me the encouragement to start writing again and for her support and advice on this fic. Love you to pieces.
A special thanks also goes to Joy for reading some of the passages in this fic and telling me that they didn't stink hard-core. Love you Wifey!
Okay, now for the story :D
Disclaimer: Don't own the show or the characters, but I might try to slip this to Carlton when I see him next week ;)
"Dr. Shephard! Miss Austen!" Reporters screamed from left and right of her. She struggled through the crowd trying her best to shield Aaron from the glaring lights of the camera flashes and the groping hands that brushed her hands and face. She felt like a celebrity and she laughed bitterly inside realizing that's what she was now. How ironic, after trying to hide herself for so many years. Yet, while those people on television and in the movies looked so beautiful and put together, she knew she was anything but. She was exhausted from the past couple of weeks of paperwork and reporters and the meetings with lawyers who were organizing her upcoming trial. And then of course Aaron, who was usually a quiet baby, but still cried and fussed in the middle of the night when she had finally drifted to sleep.
So wrapped up in her thoughts and her own exhaustion, she didn't notice the out-stretched leg of a sharply-dressed man just up ahead. She stumbled and would have fallen, but Jack, who was following close behind managed to steady her and after checking to see if she was alright, swiftly turned towards the man and shouted, "Watch it! Can't you see she's holding a baby?"
Maybe it was his Herculean height or the threat in his eyes, but the man quickly backed away, leaving a clear path into the building up ahead. Jack wrapped his arm around her and asked again if she was alright. She nodded quickly, and gave him a small smile, realizing how thankful she was that he was here. Ever since they had stepped off that plane, he had provided the support that she had so sorely needed.
She had had nowhere to go, no family to speak off, and so he had offered his mother's home where he'd be staying for a couple of days until she found a reasonable apartment. From there, it was long days of press conferences and all the paperwork it takes to bring a dead person back to life, and he had been there through it all, taking the baby when she was just too exhausted to even hold him, and watching over her as she took quick naps on a couch.
Despite being told that her legal issue was off the table, it had been one unfortunate interview when a reporter mentioned Wayne, and she gave a quick side-long glance to her left, trying to gauge his reaction. But his countenance never betrayed any disturbance, and she cursed his near-perfect poker face.
It was only later when she approached him, her distress palpable on her face, that he was able to reassure her.
"I told you. We should all get a chance to start over."
Today they were at the courthouse to sign off on their written statements and to sort out the settlement that they were to receive from Oceanic, a short errand that had turned into a nightmare as soon as the press had caught wind that all of the Oceanic 6 would be gathered there for what perhaps would be their final meeting. Sun would be returning to Korea by the end of the week.
They were all to go into the room separately, and Jack offered to hold the baby while she was gone. She sat quietly as the lawyers mumbled under their breaths across the table, and when they finally pushed the paperwork towards her, she hardly looked at it before she penned her name. She had already signed what had seemed like hundreds of paper like it.
Hurley was next, so when she stepped outside, she made a beeline straight for Jack, taking Aaron from his arms. She remained silent for what she thought was only moments, but might have been minutes. It seemed she had no concept of time any longer. Thankfully, Jack seemed to understand. He was lost in his own thoughts, every once in a while chewing on his bottom lip and tugging at the collar of his shirt, a nervous tic he had developed since their return. Finally, he turned to her, opening his mouth to speak, and she noted the sheen of sweat on his forehead, and the quiver of his Adam's apple, and she was struck with an odd sense of fear to see him off-balance when he was her rock.
"Listen, uh…." He paused nervously. "Would you like to go somewhere tomorrow night away from all these reporters?"
"Like a date?" She questioned, slightly relieved to know that this was the cause of his nervousness, and not something more serious.
"Yeah, like a date." He nodded softly with a small trace of a smile.
"I'd love to." She said as her face flushed with pleasure.
"Dr. Shephard." A representative called from the door to the office. "It's your turn."
Jack held a single finger up to signal the man to wait a moment and then turned back to her and gave her a full grin. "I'll pick you up at 7. And don't wear anything too nice." He added, as he began to walk towards the door.
"Where are you taking me?" She asked curiously.
She had the hardest time deciding what to wear. It might get chilly depending on where they were going, but he told her to go casual, so she settled for a nice pair of jeans, some flats, and a green top that made her eyes pop. At seven on the dot, she heard a knock at the door, and opened it to find him dressed similarly.
"Oh, good." She sighed. "I was worried that I might be wearing the wrong thing."
His eyes sparkled slightly and then grew hazy as he looked at her. "You look beautiful." He finally said.
He looked around her shoulder and then asked, "Where's Aaron?"
"Oh, Sun wanted to spend some time with him before she had to leave anyway, so I left him with her for the night." She flushed with happiness when she saw a hint of disappointment mark his face. She hadn't realized how close Jack had also become to Aaron over this short time off the island, but he was so good with him, and she hoped that his expression was a good indication of things to come.
"So are you gonna tell me where we're going?" She said as she locked up the door to her apartment.
"Nope." He shook his head, and she caught the slightest gleam in his eye - that little mischievous look that he got when they were golfing.
"You're enjoying this aren't you?" She laughed.
"Now, why would you say that?" He said sarcastically as he opened the door of the car for her.
Right before she slid in, she looked him dead in the eye, offering a challenge. "Two can play at that game."
The twinkle in his eye let her know she had said the right thing.
They settled in for quite a drive, about an hour in length, but with her guessing and his gentle teasing, the time seemed to get away from them, and before she knew it, they were on a sandy parking lot overlooking a beach.
"You bring all your girls here Jack?" She teased, bumping shoulders with him lightly.
"I've never brought anyone here." He said seriously, with a note of solemnity, looking her straight in the eye.
She could tell from the way he was looking at her, a trace of love, a trace of sadness, but sparkling with raw honesty, that this place was special, perhaps a place he allowed himself to be vulnerable, and it took her breath away knowing that he was willing to share this with her. After all the walls they had kept up over the last couple of months, she couldn't help but stare in wonder when he showed apart of himself to her.
"Come on." He said, leading the way to a sharp path just up ahead that winded up the sheer face of a cliff.
"Aren't we going down to the beach?" She said following him.
"Nope, actually you might find it funny." He said with a soft chuckle.
Up and up they walked until they came to the foot of a small ledge. Jack stopped there, and she looked around searching for what they had come up the path for.
"So, this is it." She said, trying her best not to sound disappointed. "Now what?"
"We aren't there just yet." He smiled, grabbing her hand and leading her into a small hole on the face of the rock wall. She had to bend to walk through it and she burst out laughing when she saw Jack half hunched over to avoid scraping his back.
"What?" He said, stopping to look at her.
"You are gonna hurt your back if you bend over like that." She said matter-of-factly.
"I guess it's a good thing I have my nurse." He countered. She smiled softly back, her eyes betraying a hint of shyness. They lingered there for a moment before he broke the connection. "Don't worry, we're almost there." He said as he continued down the path.
Gradually the tunnel grew taller and soon even he was able to walk upright. Darkness soon turned to faint light as they walked to its end, opening up to a small cave that overlooked the ocean below. A blanket lay on the floor, with a picnic basket and a small fire already glowing, its flickers creating dancing images on the walls.
She stood there for a few moments taking it all in, admiring the view below, only turning back to look at Jack when he spoke.
"Looks like I got you to come to the caves." He grinned, sticking his hands in his pockets.
She laughed lightly, looking down at the floor and then back to his eyes before remarking. "Yeah, you did." Even though she knew that a part of her had always been there with him, a part of her had always been Eve. And maybe there was a part of him that knew that too because as she looked at him, and he looked back, she got the feeling that he could read everything that was running through her mind, and for some reason that didn't scare her like it once would have.
"So…" He sighed. "You must be hungry." He moved to the picnic basket and began setting out supplies. "I've got some crackers and cheese….um, a fruit salad, and then some sushi. I got some with and without fish since I know you're a vegetarian. And then, for dessert, s'mores." He finished, pulling out a bag of marshmallows.
"Thanks Jack. It's perfect." She said, placing a soft kiss on his cheek before taking a seat on the blanket, facing out to view the ocean. As they ate and he uncorked a bottle of wine, they chit-chatted about Aaron and Hurley's upcoming surprise party, and lamented Sun's leaving. Jack talked about the apartment he was going to move in to starting next week, laughing at how it was a relief to get out of his mother's hair again.
"She always wants to know where I'm going, as if I'm just going to disappear. I feel like I'm fifteen again." He laughed softly. Things grew quiet after that, and when she looked at him, she realized that he had triggered some memory, some past hurt. He had that haunted look in his eyes that she knew so well.
"How did you find this place, Jack?" She asked softly, hoping that this might bring him out of his reflection. She frowned when his shoulder slumped further and his eyes grew darker, and she worried that he might shut her out.
And yet, he sighed, and turned to face her. "When I was fifteen, I was out with some friends, and when they decided to go home, I….I decided to stay because I just didn't want to go home to another night of my father drinking." He began, his voice trembling slightly with the weight of his words, and she reached out her hand, taking his within her own, squeezing it gently. He looked down at their joined hands, composing himself before looking up again to continue. "I walked up that path we were on earlier to get to the top of the cliff, and passed by that hole. That's when it started. I just started coming out here when I couldn't be at home anymore. It was the only place it seemed like I could escape him. I just felt at peace here."
She smiled sympathetically with tears in her eyes as he finished. After all the months of secrets, he had finally shared something with her, something that meant something, something that was real and raw and honest. He opened up to her about his father and shown her a place he had never shown anyone else, a place that had so much meaning to him. She felt like she needed to share something too.
"My stepdad drank too." She murmured, looking down at the ground. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see his face lift to look at her. "There was this big tree in the middle of my neighbor's field that I used to go to with my friend Tom when things got too bad." Suddenly, tears began streaming down her face as she flashed to the hospital in Iowa and the dead look in his eyes as she clung to his blood-stained lab coat. "We always said we would run away together."
Before she knew it, she could feel his fingers on her chin, lifting her eyes to meet his, and what she saw caused the tears to stream faster. A flash of anger at what had been done to her, a hint of remorse as he carried the weight of her words, but most of all comfort and love, and when he wiped her tears away with his thumb, she knew he would spend forever trying to take her pain away.
The crashing of waves marked the passage of time, and she thought about the beach that one day when she had wanted to tell him what she had did. Here they were once again, but instead of trying to cover the wounds, this time they were exposing them to the crisp salty air. And she found that while it hurt, the pain is what brought them here, allowing them to one day sew the other back together.
As they walked to her door later that night, he grabbed her hand gently and she stopped in her tracks, unable to fight the feeling that maybe things were going to finally change between them. She turned to face him and his hand snaked up and down her arm, finally resting upon her waist. They stood there for awhile, fully enraptured in one another, his eyes never once leaving hers, never once deviating from their unconstrained passion and adoration.
She didn't look away as she once might have. Because she wasn't ashamed to let him see all of her, every little scar, every little fault. He knew what who she was and what she had done, and he loved her despite it all.
And as he looked at her with those eyes and trailed his fingers lazily along her back, she thought about all the other men that had done the same and marveled at how different it was. He wasn't touching her with lust or expectation, he was delicate and soft, treating her as if she was fragile almost, as if she could disappear at any moment. And even though he had touched her before, and caused the slightest spark to light under her skin, it had never been this intimate.
She felt as if her whole body was on fire.
His faint touch was like soft whispers spoken on her bare skin and she shivered at the intimacy of this new-found feeling.
Immediately, he raised his hand to her face, skimming his thumb along her cheek. His eyes clouded with concern, but never once lost their intensity.
"We should go inside." He whispered. The warm tendrils of air coming from his lips caressed her face and she leaned closer to catch the breeze.
"I'm not cold." She said boldly, for once not letting the moment drift away from with his words.
His eyes widened with understanding, and while she wanted to make the first move, to press her mouth firmly against his, she waited patiently as he slowly tipped his head, making a slow descent to her full lips.
He took it slow at first, capturing her bottom lip with his and sucking lightly. He tasted like the wine they had shared earlier and cinnamon, and he smelled so good, she grew weak in the knees. His one arm, now pressed firmly against her back, brought her closer and stabilized her, keeping her from falling. She moved her hands to his chest as he probed his tongue between her lips, and when she deepened the exchange, he massaged his thumb on her cheek, leaving her so breathless that she was forced to pull away. He leaned his forehead against hers, and she wrapped her arms around him, stroking the hair at the nape of his neck. Their trembling breathing mixed in the space between.
He leaned forward and placed a small peck on her lips, lingering over her mouth for a just a moment before speaking.
"I love you Kate."
This time she was ready, this time she knew where her heart lied.
"I love you too." She whispered back.
A smile tugged at his lips as he looked at her, and he pulled one of her hands from his neck and kissed her palm, resting it on his cheek, closing his eyes to her touch.
She realized then that they both weren't perfect, but maybe together they could try.
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