TITLE: Death Valley Queen

AUTHOR: Kristen Kilar (chickadee(underscore)from(underscore)3(at)yahoo(dot)com)

RATING: PG. Angst. Blink-and-you'll-miss-it language.

DISCLAIMER: Much love and respect to JJ Abrams, Damon Lisselof, ABC, Bad Robot, Touchstone, and everyone else who owns Lost and all assorted characters, as none of them are me. This makes me sad, because if they belonged to me, I would know WHY CHARLIE TOOK THAT STATUE. "Death Valley Queen" belongs to Flogging Molly, who are also not me.

ARCHIVE: Just ask, I would love to give permission, but I like to know where my babies are spending the night.

SUMMARY: Sawyer watches her sleep.

SPOILERS: All S1 is fair game. This takes place after "Born to Run" and immediately before "Exodus, Part 1".

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story is Not My Fault. My muse offered it as a bribe so that I wouldn't tell Shea where he's hiding, as he got her muse knocked up. Anyway, this is one of those stories where I personally have no idea what to think about it…please let me know what you think so I can figure out what I think.

Much love to the beta goddesses, Myna/niki blue/Allie/rah rah replica/etc., and to Shea, who graciously offered to beta even after the aforementioned muse pregnancy.

And now on to the story, which is probably not what you're thinking.

I remember you well from that town
You did dwell with the face of an angel
In a dump hot as hell
When I asked for a kiss
You kindly dismissed
So I lead my poor heart to the slaughter
Tell me dear what did you fear
I'd do you no wrong though no stranger to sin
So Death Valley Queen go marry your King
Or an old maid you'll end up for certain

"Death Valley Queen", Flogging Molly

Sawyer watches her sleep.

No one knows, and he won't let anyone find out. He has an image, for God's sake. So he's careful.

He could, of course, just stop. There's no real reason for him to keep up these nightly vigils; she's perfectly safe, after all, or at least plenty safe…as safe as anyone can be on the Island of Mystery, populated by polar bears and crazy French chicks…

Anyway, even if his protection could help her, she'd disdain the offer utterly, wouldn't want his help.

But he wants so badly to help. And he could.

He could hold her tight and protect her from the dangers of this big dangerous island. He could bring a genuine, real smile to her face. He could provide for her. He could make her feel safe.

Except he can't.

He makes her upset. He makes her nervous. He makes her angry. He makes her feel unsafe.

And so Sawyer hates him.

Oh, sure, he has plenty of reasons—torture tops the list, but there are others. But Sawyer doesn't hate him because of the torture or the mocking jokes or the scornful looks.

He hates him because he'severything he isn't.

He makes her feel safe. He makes her laugh. He holds her. He comforts her. He knows her secrets.

He sees the same things in her that Sawyer does, and so Sawyer hates him.

But he can't do anything about it, because Sawyer isn't the guy she needs or wants.

James might be. James could probably make her laugh, make her safe, make her happy. James is sensitive and funny and protective…probably.

But he's afraid to let go of Sawyer, afraid to let go of the rough and angry persona he's carried for so long. He's not even sure he knows who James is anymore, really.

Besides, when she rejects Sawyer it doesn't hurt, not really, because Sawyer doesn't let himself hurt. James would be heartbroken, James would cry, James wouldn't recover.

So he keeps James safely dead and buried.

Except the ghost is still here, lurking about while he watches her sleep peacefully. Because James loves her as much as Sawyer does, James wants to protect her as much as Sawyer does, and James is as determined as Sawyer is to make him pay if he ever hurts her.

This is the last night Sawyer and James will get to watch her sleep, and that tears both of them to shreds.

The raft sets sail tomorrow, and he'll be on it.

He's determined to be on it.

Not for the reasons he gave. Not because he desperately wants off this hellhole—really, what's waiting for him in the real world? And not because there's nothing worth staying for—far from it.

It's because she's worth leaving for.

He wants her to be safe, and that means getting her away from this place.

He wants her to be happy, and that means getting her rescued.

He wants to redeem himself in her eyes, and he hopes that, maybe, if he's one of those responsible for getting her rescued, she'll see something more in him, she'll see that he's not such a bad guy, and maybe, maybe she won't hate him anymore.


It's a long shot, but one he's willing to gamble on.

Anyway, if the raft fails and he dies out there, at least he won't have to see her looking at him with hate and disgust and disdain anymore…

He wants to see her smile, and know that he's responsible for it. Is that so much? Just one smile.

He's never been in love before, not like this, and he still isn't real sure how it happened. Just that one day he noticed he was looking at her a little different, watching her a little closer, wishing he hadn't kicked up such a fuss about giving her the stuff she wanted, feeling terror grip his heart every time he realized she was in the jungle or heard her breath coming oddly because what if this time he lost her?

He doesn't like this feeling, he doesn't like constantly worrying about her, he hates that his whole world has wrapped itself around one person and he has someone besides himself to worry about now, and at the same time he wouldn't let it go for anything in the world.

Except that he wishes he could tell someone.

He wishes he could tell her that he sees the scared kid she tries so hard to hide, and that he's more than willing to be the one to take care of her.

He wishes he could tell St. Mike about how thrilled he is that she hasn't slept with him yet.

He wishes he could tell Betty how much joy he feels when, after spreading hours worrying about her, she strolls out of the jungle, perfectly fine.

He wishes he could tell Stay-Puft how beautiful she is and how strong she is and how wonderful she is.

He wishes he could tell the VH-1 reject that he empathizes completely, that he knows now what it's like to be so wholly devoted to someone.

But instead he sits here night after night and watches her sleep, because she doesn't want him.

Because he's too much of a coward to tell her.

Because he loves her too much to walk away.

He hears someone stirring and realizes that the night is almost over, the day's work is about to begin, and in a few hours he'll be out on the open sea.

So he regretfully starts unfolding himself from his seat before he gets caught.

But before he goes back to his shelter, he blows her a soft, silent kiss.

"Stay safe, Sticks," Sawyer whispers voicelessly, and leaves.

Then the ball dropped why everything fell by the way
As your teardrops were fallin' I forgot to say
That I have always loved you
Yeah I have always loved you
Yeah, I, Yeah, I, I have always loved you

"Death Valley Queen", Flogging Molly


...--runs away from the Skate and Shayid fans--...