Hair and Horses

These characters don't belong to me. But oh, how I wish they did. Takes place the day after episode 209, "What Kate Did". One-shot.

"You heard me, Freckles. You want it done, you have to do it."

Kate pursed her lips in mock anger, but Sawyer's smile was contagious. "All right, I'll cut your hair. But you could at least wash it first in the shower."

"Yeah, right – like I can wash it with only my right hand? Besides, I don't know if I could keep these bandages dry in the shower, unless you want to help."

Kate snorted.

Sawyer grinned at her. "Nope, well then, best bet all around is for you to do it out here."

She glanced around the clearing just outside the airlock and smirked at him. "Looks like you managed to do plenty with just one hand."

"What, this?" Sawyer slowly moved over to the chair he'd brought out from the hatch. "Just a little kitchen chair. The bottle of shampoo was the hard part." He slowly eased himself down into the chair and leaned his head back, closing his eyes. "I thought I'd let you get the water."

Kate sighed and turned back toward the airlock. She made her way into the kitchen, pulling the large cooking pot from a counter and placing it in the sink. She turned on the tap and tested the water temperature on her hand. With a sly grin, she moved the tap all the way to the cold side and let the water run. As the pot filled, she dug around in the kitchen drawers until she found a roll of plastic wrap.

When she returned to the clearing, Sawyer was still relaxing in his chair, his eyes closed. Kate put the heavy pot down behind the chair and placed one hand softly on Sawyer's head. He let out a soft hum that was almost a purr.

"Sit up for a second," she said. He kept his eyes closed but sat up straighter in the chair. Kate pulled some plastic wrap from the roll, tugging it over the metal teeth built into the side of the outer box. She carefully draped the plastic over the bandages covering Sawyer's shoulder, tucking the plastic down and unsuccessfully trying to get it to cling to his skin. She looked up at his face, only to find that his eyes were now open and he was looking at her. They held each other's gaze for a moment.

"Guess I'm not sticky enough for ya, huh?"

Kate sighed again and rolled her eyes. "Sawyer, do you absolutely have to make every comment out of your mouth sound dirty?"

"It's one of my special gifts, Freckles. Want to find out about the others?"

"No, I want you to shut up and lean your head back."

Sawyer smirked, but closed his eyes and slouched down in the chair, tilting his head back to keep it as far from his shoulder as possible. Kate gingerly lifted the heavy pot of water and took aim at Sawyer's hair. She tilted the pot, pouring the cold water on his head.

Sawyer's eyes flew open as he jumped, but he kept his seat. "Sweet Jesus, Freckles! Trying to freeze me to death?"

"Sorry, I guess the water heater's broken."

Sawyer squinted at her for a moment. "Guess so," he muttered, then closed his eyes again. "Don't go gettin' any suds in my eyes, now. I'm a sensitive guy."

Kate pulled the bottle of shampoo out from under the chair and poured some into her hand. She dropped the bottle and began to work the lather through Sawyer's hair, using her fingernails to gently scratch his scalp.

Sawyer hummed again. "Mmmm, so."

"So what?"

"So, what's the deal with your horse friend?"

Kate continued running her hands through Sawyer's hair as she thought about the question. Sawyer, wisely, kept his eyes and mouth closed to wait for an answer.

"The last time I saw that horse, or at least another one like it," she said, "it was at a moment when . . . well . . ."

She trailed off. Sawyer opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it again.

"It helped me to be free," she finished.

They were quiet for a moment. Kate finally pulled her hands from Sawyer's hair, and reached down for the empty pot. She turned to return to the hatch for more water. Sawyer, eyes closed and relaxed, asked, "Did it help this time too?"

Kate paused, then continued back through the airlock. She placed the pot back in the sink and filled it with water, deep in thought. What did the horse mean? Was it just some freak cosmic coincidence? Or was it a sign? If so, what was the sign supposed to mean?

She carried the pot of water back out to the clearing and stepped up behind Sawyer. He was still relaxed in the chair, with his head tilted back and eyes closed. She wondered if he was asleep, until he spoke.

"I'm sorry, Freckles."

She paused. "For what?"

He took a deep breath, then let it out. "For whatever that Wayne guy did to you."

Kate shifted the pot of water to one arm, then put her hand on Sawyer's head, smoothing his soapy hair back. She looked at his face, as serene as that of a sleeping man.

"No reason for you to be sorry. It wasn't you."

He smiled as she poured the warm water over his hair.