These Past Unpleasantries

author: Elizabeth5

summary: An unexpected visitor shows up on the island who may have ties to Sawyer's past. Kate/Sawyer.

disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. Sadly.

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"Sing me a song."

Kate looked over from her position on the beach to where Sawyer was reclined a few feet away. He was shirtless, tanning, his dark sunglasses shielding his eyes from the sun.

"What?" Kate inquired, squinting so she could see him better.

Seeing that he had caught her attention, Sawyer grinned. "Sing me a song, Freckles. I'm bored as sin out here."

Kate shook her head. "Sorry, Sawyer. I don't sing."

"Come on, Freckles, everyone knows to to sing," Sawyer cajoled. "Need help picking a song? What's your flavor? I see you as being a little less country and a little more rock and roll, but nobody's perfect– "

"I don't sing," Kate repeated, trying very hard not to be amused. "Trust me, it's for the best– for both our sakes."

Sawyer laughed to himself, placing his hands underneath his head. "Fine, be that way. I guess we'll just have to come up with something else to pass the time." He wiggled his eyebrows at her suggestively.

"You're a pig, Sawyer," Kate replied, but without the usual malice behind it.

Truth be told, Kate was finding it much harder to generate any real animosity toward Sawyer. He could be annoying at times, but he could also be amusing and unnervingly understanding. Plus, he made island life much more bearable than anyone else.

Except for Jack, she corrected herself automatically. Of course she still preferred Jack.

"Speaking of pigs," Sawyer continued, the tone of amusement in his voice suggesting that he was about to say something particularly vulgar, "here's a little tidbit about their anatomy. Did you know pigs are the only animals besides humans that can– "

"Hey!" They looked up to see Boone running toward them from downshore. "We found a body!"

Kate rose to her feet. "What?"

"A body washed up on shore!" Boone called. "He's still alive!"

In an instant, Kate and Sawyer were both running toward Boone. He led them to the body, where a group was already beginning to form. Kate and Sawyer pushed their way through to the front. It was a man in his late thirties to early forties, with dark hair and a thick frame. Kate glanced around uncertainly. "Is he one of ours?"

"No one's ever seen him before," Boone said, squatting down beside her. "Where could he have come from?"

"I don't know," Kate admitted, "but he needs help. Sawyer, can you go to the caves and get Jack?" No response. "Sawyer?"

She turned, surprised to see that his face was ashen, full of shock. He scarcely seemed to have heard her. Gently, she reached out and touched his arm. "Sawyer." Finally, he looked down at her, still seeming vaguely dazed. "I need you to go get Jack," she said softly.

He hesitated, then nodded. "Yeah. Jack. I'll go get him."

Kate watched him leave, a strange sense of foreboding overcoming her. She pushed the thought from her mind, returning to the task at hand. "Boone, can you take his feet? We need to get him out of the sun..."

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Kate watched as Jack finished examining the man. Finally, he stood, letting out a long sigh. "Well," said Jack, "he swallowed a lot of water and it looks like he might have a mild concussion, but other than that he seems fine. He should be coming around any minute."

Behind her, Sawyer tensed. Kate wanted to ask him about it but knew she'd have to wait until they were alone. Instead, she looked up at Jack. "Any idea where he could have come from?"

"A boat wreck, another plane crash." Jack shrugged. "I have no idea. But I'm sure he'll have plenty to tell us when he comes to."

As if on cue, the mystery man coughed, his eyes fluttering open. His gaze passed from Jack to Kate, full of confusion. "Who are you? Where am I?"

"Relax," Jack instructed, "you're okay. I'm Jack and this is Kate, and that's– "

But the stranger's eyes had already landed on Sawyer, and they widened with recognition. "Thatcher," he whispered, "Thatcher, I found you!"

"Thatcher?" Jack repeated. "Who's Thatcher?"

The stranger tried to sit up but fell back again, exhausted. In an instant, he was asleep. Jack turned to Sawyer questioningly. "What was he talking about, Sawyer? Who's Thatcher?"

Sawyer's face was completely impassive. "You got me," he said, shrugging, "my name is Sawyer. Dave Sawyer. Go ahead and check the passenger list if you don't believe me."

Kate looked up at Sawyer but remained silent.

Jack wasn't about to let it go that easily. "Then why did he call you that? The man seemed to know you, Sawyer."

"How am I supposed to know? Seawater's been getting to his brain, I bet." Sawyer grabbed an empty water bottle. "Speaking of which, I'm thirsty. Excuse me."

Jack watched him leave, his face clearly troubled. "You know anything about this?" he asked, turning to Kate.

She shrugged. "Nope. Nothing at all."

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Sawyer was halfway to the waterfall by the time Kate caught up with him. She was out of breath from running, flushed and glistening with sweat, and under normal circumstnaces he'd make a suggestive comment or two. But he wasn't in the mood for it today.

"What's up, Freckles?" he inquired. "Spilling all my secrets to the doc?"

Kate took a moment to compose herself. "I didn't say anything to Jack," she informed him. "Those things were told to me in confidence and I'll keep it quiet unless you say otherwise."

Sawyer was touched by this, despite himself. Just when he'd determined to be standoffish and mean, she went and said something like that. Ignoring his instincts, he let himself relax. "Glad to hear it, Freckles. Now, is there something you'd like to ask me?"

"I want to hear the rest of the story," Kate informed him. "That man knew you, Sawyer. Want to tell me why?"

He thought about lying but decided it would be futile with her. She had a way of seeing through him. Instead, he shook his head and smiled. "Not really, no."

Turning, he headed back toward the waterfall. He could hear Kate behind him, unrelenting. "Sawyer, you can trust me. If this man's a danger to you, I can help."

"I can take care of myself, Freckles," Sawyer returned, "Did for a long time before you ever came along."

"Sawyer," he could hear the desperation in her voice, "don't shut me out. Let me help you!"

Ignoring her, he continued on through the jungle, unable to confide that he needed to shut her out, for both their sakes.

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To Be Continued...

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