TITLE: Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
AUTHOR: Mnemosyne

Disclaimer: Not mine!
SUMMARY: "Confidence Man" follow-up. Shannon apologizes to Sawyer for the pain that was inflicted on him on her behalf. He doesn't accept.
CHARACTERS/PAIRING: Shannon, Sawyer (No C&C! Can you believe it? LOL!)
NOTES: See, this is why I don't take naps. I took one yesterday, and it turned into a 5-hour sleepfest that left me wide awake and bored out of my skull. So what do I do? I write fic. This one has been kicking around in my head since Wednesday, after I saw "Confidence Man" for the first (and second…and third…and fourth…) time. Shannon/Sawyer is such a dynamic pairing, and I love the idea of their snarky chemistry. Hence this fic was born. Please enjoy!

It's sad, so sad --
It's a sad, sad situation,
And it's getting more and more absurd.
It's sad, so sad --
Why can't we talk it over?
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word…
Elton John, "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"

The shadow that fell over his book was not Sawyer's first indication of his approaching company, but it was the hardest to ignore. He could act like he didn't see the flash of a baby blue t-shirt out of the corner of his eye, or hear the soft advance of pedicured feet in the tropical sand. But it was impossible to read about Hazel and Bigwig and all their bunny friends when a pretty blonde with waxed legs was blocking the sun.

With practiced sarcasm -- and without looking up -- Sawyer said, "We've gotta quit meeting like this, Sticks. People'll talk."

"They're already doing that," Shannon replied, with all the demureness of a Mac truck. "Everyone talks about you."

"But not about you, huh? Bet that eats you up inside."

"I'm fine, thanks."

"Glad to hear that. Heard you'd been having a bit of trouble there for a while. Good to see that's cleared up. Now you want to get out of my light before your brother comes along and tries to beat me up for being in your presence? The boy's like porcelain, and I'd hate to have to break his face again." He calmly turned the page.

Shannon, apparently, wasn't going to take the hint. He still hadn't looked up, but he saw her cross her arms. He half expected her to start tapping her foot any second.

After about thirty seconds of that, Sawyer asked, "You got something you want to say, Blondie, or are you just gonna stand there glaring like a PMSing guardian angel? Cause I'm busy."

"Why didn't you tell them you didn't have my inhalers?" she demanded, in a tone that would brook no argument.

Which didn't mean Sawyer wasn't going to argue anyway. Folding over the corner of his page and closing the book, he looked up. "Good question. Here's one for you. Why don't you pack your own damn medication?"

Shannon's eyes narrowed. "I asked you first."

"I know."

"They beat the crap out of you. You look like hell. I think my question makes a lot more sense, don't you?"

"You think? News to me. And here I thought Vapid Blonde was the new pink."

"They could have killed you!"

"And you almost died. So we're both screwed up losers, right? Let's agree that we've both got skeletons in our closet, but yours wear Gucci. We done here? Good. Now beat it." He opened his book again.

A soft thump and the loss of her shadow was Sawyer's indication that Shannon wasn't going anywhere yet. Glancing up again he saw that she was kneeling on the sand in front of him now, her eyes focused on the bandage wrapped around his right bicep. "Is that because of me?" she asked, voice a little distant, like her eyes.

Sawyer glanced at the bandage himself. He thought about the animal rage in Sayid's eyes, and the tearing pain of sharpened bamboo under his fingernails. "Nah, Sticks," he said distractedly. "That's got nothing to do with you."

"When Sayid came back to camp, he was covered in blood. It was yours, right?"

"Unless he slaughtered himself a bull on the way."

"How can you joke about this stuff?"

Sawyer shrugged with his good arm. "Talent."

For a moment, Shannon was silent. Then, in a small voice, she murmured, "I'm sorry."

Sawyer tilted his head to the side. "What's that?"

"I said I'm sorry." Louder this time. "For what the others did to you. Because of me."

Sawyer watched her quietly for a minute. He watched her fidget, watched her eyes drift down his body to the sand. Finally, he shook his head. "No you're not."

Her head snapped up, eyes accusatory. "Yes I am," she argued angrily.

"Baby, you're as sorry for this as I am for keeping your brother's book here. Sure, you might feel a little guilty, but you're a hell of a lot more pleased that you've got the boys on this island wrapped so tight around your finger, they'd kill for you." He narrowed his eyes, watching her face closely. "That's how it is, isn't it? I've known plenty of women like you in my day. I know how it works."

Sawyer had to give her credit -- she didn't so much as flinch. But her voice was less sure when she responded, "You don't know me."

Sawyer snorted. "Sure I do. Women like you come out of a factory somewhere. You're as artificial as your hair color."

That made her eyes flash with fresh rage. "Don't talk about me like you know me!" she snapped. "You're not the only one on this island with secrets!"

Sawyer had never appreciated being shouted at. In all his long history, he had been cursed with a short fuse and a hot temper. Having this skinny stripling of a girl screeching at him was one straw too many on his already straining back. With an almost audible crack, it snapped.

"You want to know the secret, honey?" he barked, sitting forward in his beach chair so he was nose to nose with her. It was satisfying to see her pull back a little, real fear in her eyes. "The secret is how you can be so DAMN BLIND. You think any of this has SHIT to do with you?" He gestured vaguely to his arm, his hands, his bruised face. "This wasn't about YOU. You were just a catalyst, you got me? You were just a useful little convenience. What you don't understand is the universe DON'T REVOLVE AROUND YOU. You think you've got Saint Jack and the master of the mudhut wrapped around your little finger, but the truth of the matter is, they were using you just like you've probably used every man and boy who's ever come into your sad, surface-level life. They'd been itching for a chance to kick my ass since we crashed here. You gave them an easy out. That's all it was. Don't start playing this up into something it ain't."

He stopped then, because tears had begun to form in her eyes. Shit. She was supposed to be tougher than that. She was supposed to fight back and claw at him with her perfect manicure, and really give him a run for his money. He NEEDED someone to shout at; someone who could give it right back. Not this. He hated crying women even more than shouting women, but for an entirely different reason. He didn't like feeling guilty -- it was like an itchy wool sweater you couldn't take off.

"Say whatever you want," Shannon said through her teeth, voice thick with tears she obviously didn't want to shed. "I don't care. You're right -- I'm not sorry. I don't care if they beat you bloody and senseless. Whatever. I don't have a heart, right? No need to FUCKING grow one now." She pushed up into a standing position, body unfolding like a flag in the breeze, and glared down at him. "Fuck you, Sawyer. I hope your balls rot off." With a calculated turn of her head that made her blonde hair spin like a witch's cape in a B-grade horror movie, she spun around and stormed off, arms crossed tight in front of her body.

Sawyer watched her go: the fluid roll of her hips, the unsure but steady progression of her feet in the mutable sand. A small smile touched his lips.

"Touche, Sticks," he murmured. "Tag. You're it."