"Please tell me you found a coffee bar…"
He held the small paper cup with both hands, like it was fragile or valuable. He could feel the comforting heat seep past the cardboard and press at his fingertips. He carefully pried the top off, so as to not spill a drop, and lifted the cup just below his nostrils. He inhaled deeply and the dark roasted steam filled his nostrils. A small groan escaped from the back of his throat and he licked his lips in anticipation. The coffee was strong and dark, untainted by cream or sugar, and it smelled so bitter and rich. And savoring the moment, he slowly placed the cap back on the cup and closing his eyes, brought the small opening to his lips.
And then Hurley snored.
Jacks eyes fluttered open reluctantly. Fuck, why did he always wake up at the best part?
He shot a dark look at Hurley sleeping a few paces away, then he rolled over and tried to get comfortable on the rock floor he now called a bed. But light was filtering in through the cave opening and Hurley's snoring hadn't gone away, there was no way he was getting back to sleep now. He lay there for a few minutes, hoping he was wrong. When he wasn't, he got up quietly and threw on a cleanish t-shirt. He glanced quickly at the jeans he had been sleeping in, one more day in them wouldn't make that big of a difference. He filled some empty bottles and threw them in his backpack then he headed out.
He remembered his dream as he walked, he would absolutely kill for a coffee right now. After the discovery of food in the hatch, everyone had gotten about two or three cups of incredibly weak cheap coffee, Yuban or the Dharma equivalent of what you could pick up at the grocery store in a metal canister. It had been terrible and had only made him miss the real thing more.
Kate lay on her side staring at her zipped shut back pack. All she had to do was reach over, unzip the small front pouch, and take out the little toy plane. She could almost feel it in her hands anyway. Twirling the wings between her fingertips. She could stare at it and instantly go to that dark place that she almost craved. When she went there, it was like nothing existed but her and her guilt, no island, no ocean, nothing but her memories. She deserved to be in that place and she almost morbidly enjoyed it.
But she told herself if she could wait just five minutes, the consuming desire to hold it might fade away. She made it about two minutes before she pushed herself off her sandy blanket and reached for the bag. As she unzipped it though, her eye caught a figure through a gap in the two tarps that formed the wall of her small shelter. She saw Jack emerge from the trees and walk purposely toward something. Then he stopped. Her hand was frozen in mid air and she leaned to the right for a better view of him.
When he got to the beach, Jack headed for the beat up cooler just down the beach that held the camp's limited water supply. But when he looked up at the water, he paused. The ocean was almost still, he had never seen it like that, especially on the island. Tiny waves lapped at the shore line and the pacific looked like a massive lake. In the early morning light, with the sun barely up at all, the water was the lightest milky blue. He had to do it.
Jack glanced furtively up and down the beach. No one was awake, it couldn't yet be 6 o'clock. He dropped the two water bottles he had been carrying and shrugged out of his heavy backpack. He lifted his shirt over his head and dropped it on top of the backpack. When he took off his shoes, he had trouble with the left one. As he hopped a little trying to remove it, he laughed at himself, thankful no one was up to see him. He looked down at his jeans, then cautiously he looked around the camp again, his expression was almost guilty. Then he unbuttoned them and pushed them off, revealing his old flannel boxers. He walked to the shore and felt the incredibly warm water envelop his feet. When the water was just past his knees he dove in.
As he approached the water, he moved out of Kate's view. She crawled on her blanket to the front of her shelter, pushing her salvaged suitcase out of the way. She knelt at the entrance and tried to peak through the tarp, but the tiny sliver of an opening was so limiting. She reached out and pushed the opening wider and held it there. The toy plane was long forgotten at this point.
She watched him dive in and emerge a few yards further. He brought one arm languidly out of the water and began to swim out. She had seen him swim one time before, just after they had crashed, when he had rescued Boone. This time his stroke was different, it was almost lazy. Before it had been strong and quick, but this was mesmerizing. The grace that he had was distinctly male. And he looked so at home in the water, where had he learned to swim like that? She was almost jealous, she had never been very good in the water. As a kid she could climb trees, do more pull ups than all of the other girls and most of the boys, and she could run faster than anyone, but she was always awkward in the water. Tom had always wanted to swim in the lake behind his farm or in town at the Y, but mostly she had made up excuses to avoid it or thought of something different they could do instead.
When he got far enough out, he swam in a wide circle and headed back. She could see him turn his head to breathe every fourth stroke and was glad he was tilting his head in the opposite direction. There wasn't a chance he could catch her staring.
She let go of the tarp and leaned back into the shelter as he emerged from the water. Then on impulse, she rummaged through her suitcase until she found the brown towel she had liberated from the hatch after her shower. When she came out from under the tarp he was bent over his bag rummaging through his clothes. He looked up and saw her, he smiled and looked down again, shaking his head almost imperceptibly.
"Caught you." She said. When she reached him he stood up and she tossed him the towel. She noticed the way his wet boxers were clinging to his upper thighs and she tried desperately to keep her eyes on his face. He began drying off his arms, but didn't say anything.
"What are you doing down here so early Jack?" she asked. Her arms were crossed and she brought a hand to her mouth in an attempt to hide her widening grin.
"I woke up missing coffee, decided I needed a swim to wake me up." He tried to wrap the towel around his waist, but it was much too small, instead he slung it over his shoulder and shook the sand from his jeans. "Oh, and I brought some water."
She watched him pull on his jeans. "You know, there's a washing machine at the Hatch, looks like you could use it. I'm surprised those jeans just didn't walk away on their own."
He smiled, "I know, I've been meaning too. I have big plans for laundry during my next shift."
He pulled on his shirt and picked up his heavy backpack. She grabbed the two loose bottles and they headed over to the cooler.
"You're a good swimmer." She mentioned as they walked. "You've got a really nice…form? Is that the right word?"
"Yeah," He smiled at her, "Thanks. I swam a bit in high school and college, decided it wasn't for me."
When they got to the cooler, he unloaded his backpack, noticing he still had the towel, he handed it to her. "Thanks."
"Sure." She said as she took it from him. After a second, she thought better of it "On second thought, why don't you wash it when you wash those jeans of yours." She put the towel over his head and held it there for just a moment longer than necessary. He brought his hands up and put them over hers. She was so close, he thought about doing what he'd wanted to do every time he'd seen her since he'd met her. He even leaned in a little bit before chickening out. But then she surprised him, she pulled on the towel a bit, bringing his face closer to hers.
When she kissed him, she tasted like the island, unfamiliar and mysterious. Like nothing he was homesick for and nothing he was used to. It was exotic and intoxicating and even a little scary, but he wouldn't change it for anything.
When she broke away, she looked at him for a second, then her eyes shifted away from his. She turned away and left him standing there astonished. As she walked away from him she glanced over her shoulder, "See you later Jack."
Fuck coffee, who needs it anyway?