Title: Sandcastles
Pairings: Jack/Kate centric with a splash of Charlie/Claire for good measure
Spoilers: none of note up to the end of season one
Summary: When Kate goes missing in the jungle, Jack is the only one who heads out to find her.
Original post date: 2nd October 2005
Disclaimer: I do not own Lost or the ships within it. I just kind of…borrow them from time to time…

Dedicated to Blair - my favourite Jater in the wholeworld


She's been gone nearly the whole day before he begins to worry.

'Kate's a big girl,' Locke shrugs it off. 'She can take care of herself.'

But sometimes she can't take care of herself and Jack knows it. He knows things about her nobody else does and he knows exactly why she's disappeared this time.

He knows that it'll be his fault if anything happens to her, because nobody else cares as much as him.

When the tension gets too much for him, he begins to ask everyone he can find if they've seen her. Their answers are as varied as they are vague and meaningless.

'I'm sure she's fine Jack…'

'Are you talking about the dark haired girl? The one who poisoned Michael?'

'I thought I saw her go into the jungle this morning…'

'Who?'

'I haven't seen her since like yesterday…'

'Are you talking about the fugitive chick? Nah I haven't seen her around lately...'

With the vaguest of directions, he sets off into the jungle, calling her name plaintively at intervals, hoping to God that she'll hear him.

It takes him hours until he finds her, halfway down a ditch. Her left ankle is swollen and discoloured, her arms scratched and torn to hell and she must have hit her head on something hard because there's an angry mulberry bruise around her eye and a trickle of blackened blood running down the side of her face. It's nearly sunset and he shouldn't move her until he can figure out what's wrong with her but he doesn't care.

The caves are too far so he staggers back to beach instead with her across his back. The first people he encounters are Charlie and Aaron playing in the sand whilst Claire wades through the surf.

'Jack!' Charlie instantly leaps to his feet when he sees Jack emerge from the jungle, Kate slung over his shoulders like a rag doll. 'What happened?'

'I don't know,'

'Is she okay?' Claire has run up from the water and her immediate reaction is to reach for her son. Charlie touches her on the shoulder, light and reassuring as she holds Aaron close to her.

Jack doesn't have time to talk. Instead, he walks straight past them and lays her down underneath the nearest tarp. His tarp.

He sits there all night with her, washing the congealed blood off her face with warm compresses and waiting for her to wake up but it isn't until late the next afternoon that she opens her eyes.

She immediately tries to sit up.

'Lay back down,' his voice is a little harsher than he means it to be as he urges her back down. 'You took one hell of a bump out there.'

Sprained ankle.

Mild concussion.

Possible heartbreak.

The usual.

'What happened?' she murmurs vaguely, one hand going to her bruised eye. 'One minute I was just walking and the next…'

'You fell down a ditch,' he informs her. 'Obviously you weren't looking where you were going.'

'How long was I…?'

He cuts her off. 'I found you about this time yesterday.'

Her voice is becoming quieter and quieter. 'I'm sorry…'

'You're lucky I came after you,' his voice is still hard. 'You'd be dead otherwise.'

She begins to cry at that, everything hurts so much right now and he's not making it any easier for her.

'God! I said I was sorry!' she turns her face away so he can't see her tears.

He almost leaves but her voice stills him, whispering his name.

Jack…Jack…Jack…

Despite himself, he sits down again and tentatively takes her hand, waiting for the tears to subside.

She tries to pull her hand away from his, she hates the intimacy of him as a doctor right now, least of all as… as…

'Are you mad at me?' the faint apparition of a smile touches her eyes.

'No.'

She thinks about this for a moment before whispering, 'I'm still sorry,'

Jack looks her in the eye for the first time since she's woken up. 'For what?'

'For falling in love with you when I know you can't ever love me back.'

He pauses before answering and strokes her hand gently with his thumb. 'I'm sorry for that too,' he doesn't protest when she gives a final dry sob and pulls his face down to hers to kiss him. It's far from what she imagined, bittersweet and sad, but she takes it all the same and after a long, long while, he begins to kiss her back.