"Well, well, well," said Sawyer, throwing down his bag as he entered the tent that served as his makeshift home. "Looks like Curlylocks found herself a new bed."
Kate stirred from her slumber on the padded sleeping bag he'd recently acquired in a bet, and looked up at him through eyes still clouded with sleep. She yawned groggily and sat up.
"It's 'just right,' ain't it, Freckles?" he asked playfully.
She granted him a small smile. "It'll do," she said.
"Now are you gonna tell me what exactly you're doin' in my bed?"
"I was sleeping," she said, half irritated, half amused.
"I can see that," he smirked. "But if I'm not mistaken, you've got a little pad of your own. So what brings you to mine?"
Kate stood and moved to exit the tent. "No reason," she said as casually as she could manage. "I'll go if you don't want me to be here."
"Now, now, Freckles, don't let's get ahead of ourselves here," he said, stopping her with a firm hand on her arm. "Papa Bear don't come home to find a pretty girl in his bed and let her off that easy."
"Let me go, Sawyer," she said.
"Not till I get some answers," he insisted.
Kate sighed and looked down at the sand. "Truth?" she said softly. There was a beat. "I didn't want to be alone tonight."
"Ahh," said Sawyer with a small nod. "Lookin' for a warm body, are you?"
"It's not like that, Sawyer, and you know it," she said angrily, and moved to exit the tent once more.
But he stopped her again. "Tell me what it is like," he said, and his voice had a seriousness and a gentleness in it that was lacking before.
She looked up at him and in the dim light he thought he saw a glimmer in her eyes that might be tears. "I can't," she said softly, the edge of a sob hiding just under the surface of her voice.
There was a long beat in which neither of them said anything and Sawyer only stood looking at her face. Finally, he exhaled and shaking his head said quietly, "Alright. You can stay."
She looked up at him, a bit surprised, and then asked, "Where are you going to sleep?"
Sawyer laughed, relieved to slide back into the easier territory of banter. "What d'ya mean, where am I gonna sleep? There's room enough for two." The naughty grin was back on his face.
Kate eyed the sleeping bag suspiciously. It was clearly only intended for one. "I don't think so," she said with a little chuckle.
"Well, maybe you're right," he said devilishly, "but lucky for you I don't mind gettin' cozy."
Pulling his shirt off over his head by the neck, he threw it into a corner of the tent and gestured towards the sleeping bag. "Ladies first," he said with a grin.
Feeling slightly self-conscious as he watched her, Kate snuggled into the bag and tried to appear nonchalant. This was not exactly what she'd had in mind when she'd set out for Sawyer's tent, although her game plan had never been very clear. She'd only known she didn't want to be alone tonight – not after what had happened.
Sawyer laughed as he moved in next to her. "Are those your PJ's, Freckles?" he asked, referring to the jeans and tank top she was still wearing. "I'd have guessed you to be the type that sleeps in the nude." His voice had the familiar teasing edge she'd grown so used to.
Kate scoffed. "You wish."
"You have no idea what I wish, Sweetheart," he said, and the teasing tone in his voice could not mask the very serious look in his eyes.
Feeling suddenly flushed and very, very much too close to him, Kate rolled her eyes and pretended to be offended, turning away from him so that her back faced him. "Aw, where you goin'?" he asked. "Don't like pillow talk?"
"Shut up, Sawyer," she said.
"Not a very nice thing to say to a man who's letting your share his bed," he said silkily, scooting in closer behind her until their bodies were flush together.
Kate said nothing but felt her breathing speed up a notch and prayed he didn't notice.
"Ain't you even gonna say goodnight?" he asked quietly, his breath warm on her bare shoulder. She could swear his lips were only millimeters away from her skin.
There was a long moment before she spoke. "I was really scared tonight," she said, so softly he could barely hear her. He did not have to ask what she was referring to – the incident only hours before of her being held hostage by the man who had shot him was still fresh in his mind.
"Yeah," he said after a moment, just as softly. "Me too."
Somewhere in the dark his hand found hers and covered it, warm and large and strong. And as the sound of the ocean lulled her into much needed rest, she thought she felt the feather-light brush of what might have been a kiss on her shoulder.