"My back. Something's wrong with my back."

Jack raised his eyes from above the bottles of medicine he's been sorting out and fixed them on her face. She was staring at him with the air of uncertainty surrounding her, a little crease between her brows. He was momentarily distracted by it, what in fact shouldn't surprise him anymore. It was all in the details; the way her curls fell around her shoulders, the shadow of eye-lashes across her cheeks, the twitch of a smile in the corner of her mouth, the curve of her breast. All the little things about her that would catch his attention, drawing him away from everything else that was happening at the moment.

It shouldn't surprise him, but it did. Every single time, he would fall for it. And was absolutely helpless to defy.

"Jack?"

"Yeah. Um, let me take a look," he slipped into his doctor mode. She nodded, starting towards him. He watched her approach, trying hard not to focus on how the freckles stood out on her pale skin--

... Her back. Right. "Turn around," he said, doing his best to remain professional. She bit on her lower lip and complied, facing away from him. "Where does it hurt?"

"At the base of my spine."

He brought his hands up to this spot, putting some pressure, lightly at first. She hissed in pain. "Uh-huh," he muttered under his breath.

"Uh-huh what?" she looked at him over her shoulder, frowning lightly.

He sighed. "You want my opinion, Kate?"

"Of course, doc," she teased.

He decided to ignore it. "I think you should stop climbing trees for a while. You overexercised yourself."

"Are you serious?" she murmured, bemused.

"Yeah. I suggest you lay off a bit. Let others have some fun, too," he cast her a teasing look, before turning back to the bottles.

"Right. Only no one else knows how to climb trees," she grimaced. "Tried to teach Sawyer, but it turned out he's too heavy," she grinned cruely.

Jack's face seemed to cloud at the mention of the southerner.

"Really," he commented grumpily. He tried hard to focus on the task at hand and not on the image of Sawyer and Kate together in the treetops.

She looked at him carefully, instantly catching what was going on. "Really," she answered. Was she pleased? It sounded like she was. He gritted his teeth. "He actually fell several times. Nearly pulled me down with him," she added after some consideration.

He turned to her sharply. "Look, I'm kind of busy at the moment, so if you want to chat about Sawyer--"

"Want some help?" she moved closer, peeking over his shoulder.

He regained composure. "Yeah, I guess I could use some," he glanced at her, then returned his eyes to the bottles. "Just sort these out in alphabetical order. Think you can handle this?" he smirked at her challengingly.

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah. Guess alphabet is one thing I actually do remember from school."

"Good," he started to turn away.

"Well, where are you going?" she frowned at him. Did he think she would really do this if he decided to leave? Please.

"Well what do you mean where I am going? Now that I have minions I suppose I can go and use some sun-bathing," he grinned at her.

She rolled her eyes. "You and sun-bathing," she teased.

"What?" he mocked indignation. "You think I never relax?"

"Yeah?" she suggested, giving him a wide grin.

His eyes narrowed and he was already opening his mouth to retort, when she added.

"Although, you do have a few surprises up your sleeve, now that I think about it. For one, your tattoo," she smirked, her eyes sliding downwards to fix on his exposed bicep intensively.

The air between them changed instantly, and he felt his body tense up in delicious anticipation. When was the last time he flirted with a woman like that? He couldn't remember. He was always so... wrapped up in things, he had no time for this. But he by no means could deny what just passed between him and Kate. He didn't want to deny.

He tilted his head, his eyes sliding over her features, drinking her in. "What about it?" he muttered.

She felt the heat of his gaze on her face and slowly raised her eyes to meet his. She swallowed, her breath instantly shallowing out. He rarely looked at her like that, like... like any minute now he would push her up against the wall and... she shook her head to get rid of confusion.

"I told you," she said casually, maintaining the eye-contact. "You and your tattoo," his eyes unconsciously focused on her tipped lips, "just don't add up," they slowly slid back up to hers and Kate felt her throat tighten. What the hell was wrong with her? Why all of a sudden she wanted to fist her hand in his t-shirt and--

"Yeah? And how's that?" he looked at her challengingly. He leaned his shoulder against the wall, arms folded over his chest. "You think I was drunk or something when I decided to do it?" the corners of his mouth lifted slightly, distracting Kate for a moment. "Well, quite the contrary, lemme tell you," she gazed back into his eyes, reacting to the smooth way he was talking now. "I knew exactly what I wanted," he said with emphasis, never taking his eyes away from hers. Suddenly she wasn't sure anymore what they were talking about. She parted her lips, her skin warming up.

She wanted to answer when they got interrupted by the third person, strolling in casually, oblivious to the heavy current flowing through the room.

"Well howdy, doc. Freckles," Sawyer nodded at either of them, flashing his dimples shamelessly. Jack glared at him, but Kate seemed to instantly slip into comfortable pose. And though she rolled her eyes, her mouth twitched in a smile.

"Hey. What's up?" she asked him, tucking her hair behind her ear. Somehow, it pissed Jack off. She never seemed to be so casual around him.

"Nada," Sawyer shrugged one shoulder, before bowing above the bottles, mildly interested. "What the hell's that? You set the dispensary 'ere?" he reached out to check out the first one, but Jack stepped forward, blocking his way.

"Don't touch it," he growled at the southerner. Sawyer cast him a bored look, before turning to Kate.

"You up for swimmin', Sassafras?" he gave her his most charming, patented smile.

Kate impulsively opened her mouth to say yes, but then she hesitated. She glanced at Jack and instantly noticed how annoyed he was and what's more important, how hard he was trying to hide it. It sent a warm shiver down her spine, seeing him so unnerved about this. She didn't need much time to make up her mind.

"Actually," she turned to Sawyer. "I was helping Jack to sort out this stuff," Sawyer's face fell, his smirk fading.

"What?" he snorted. "What are you now, a friggin' nurse?"

Her eyes narrowed, the line of her lips hardening. "Oh come on, cupcake," Sawyer stepped forward, intending to cause her to give in to him using his usual methods, invading her personal space. He was positive she would comply. Every woman did, without much effort on his side. Besides, this was his personal business with doc there. Show him that the girl was his to play with as he pleased. "Do you seriously prefer mopin' around 'ere to havin' a few laughs at the beach?"

Kate rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I suppose I do," she said firmly.

Sawyer's brows lowered. He moved closer, till their faces were inches apart. "C'mon, Freckles," he murmured, looking deeply into her eyes, trying to find a connection he believed they shared. "You're not fun--"

"She said she didn't wanna go," came Jack's voice from behind them.

Sawyer paused. "No one asked you, Jackass," he said in a low voice, eyes still locked on Kate's. His fingers grasped her arm. "C'mon," he started to pull her along with him, but Jack intervened again, stepping between the two of them.

Sawyer straightened, glaring at the other man. "Back off, doc," he said in a low, warning voice.

Jack's chin lifted, his face cold. "You back off, hick," he answered in the same manner Sawyer just did. The southerner's jaw clenched, his fists balling. Kate tensed, growing alarmed.

"Boys," she started, trying to move in between them.

"Stay out of this, Kate," Jack said without looking at her. She paused, her face a picture of shock. She couldn't recall him ever being this firm or this protective of her. She found herself complying, stepping back to give the two more room. Still, she was incredibly anxious as to how this particular encounter was gonna play out. This wasn't the first time they crossed each other, but it somehow seemed more serious than ever before.

"She's here only 'cause she's got this sick sense of duty, don't really know why," Sawyer growled, proceeding to stare Jack down.

"I'm not--" Kate started, but Jack gave her a warning look, before turning back to Sawyer.

"She's here because she wants to," he said firmly. "You heard her say so, didn't you?"

Sawyer smirked ironically. "That 'cause she don't want you to think ill of her," he commented.

"Or maybe 'cause she's tired of bein' 'round rednecks who care only about havin' a few laughs?" he mocked his accent coldly.

Sawyer's punch caught him off guard. He swayed backwards, against the wall, his eye-brow split and beginning to bleed. Kate moved forwards, helping him maintain balance.

"Jack, are you okay?" she muttered, leaning in to examine the cut. Jack nodded, grimacing, unconsciously raising his hand to his face. Kate turned to glare at Sawyer. "What the hell has gotten into you?" she hissed, angry.

Sawyer's brows lowered, his eyes fixing on Jack shortly, before sliding back to Kate's. "He was askin' for this," he said slowly.

"Just go," she answered coldly, before turning back to Jack.

Sawyer stared at the both of them for a little longer, breathing heavily, before turning on his heels and heading off. Kate took Jack's arm. "Come on, we have to get you patched up," she said softly, beginning to lead him in the direction of the bathroom. He let her, blood blurring his vision a little, his eye-brow pulsing with pain. Finally inside, he located the first aid and got out anti-septic and gauze, before gazing in the mirror, squinting as he leaned forward to examine the demage.

"Just great," he muttered under his breath. "At least there's no need to saw," he added cynically, raising the anti-septic to his face."

"Let me do this," Kate moved in, turning him to her. She placed her hand on his chest and gently pushed him backwards, till he was leaning against the edge of the sink. She poured some anti-septic onto his brow. He gritted his teeth a bit, but either way didn't utter a sound. She sighed, touching the gauze to the cut carefully. He watched her closely as she did so, her lower lip bitten in concentration, her eyes focused intensively.

"I'd've kicked his ass, you know," he said, waiting for her gaze to meet his. It did, but very shortly, before drifting away back to his eye-brow.

"Yeah, I know," she said with a small smile. She gently applied the dressing, trying to cause him as little pain as possible.

Jack waited for a little longer, before adding. "He pisses me off."

Kate sighed. "He pisses off everyone," she ran her fingers over the dressing carefully, testing the set of it.

"But you hang out with him," Jack commented quietly. She glanced into his eyes, suddenly a little nervous. "Yeah," she agreed, quickly looking away. She turned to put the rest of the gauze back into the box.

A pause, and then, "Why?"

"I don't know," she answered, seemingly sheepish. Avoiding his eyes, she bowed to wash her hands.

"You don't know," Jack echoed, eyes fixed on her face in the mirror. She looked tired, pale even, but as beautiful as always.

"Yeah, I don't know," she repeated, a bit harshly. She turned back to face him. "What's your point, Jack?"

He sighed. "I just don't get it, that's all," he shrugged.

"What is it that you don't get?" she muttered.

"What you see in him."

Kate exhaled, suddenly busy fiddling with her fingers. "Nothing," she denied. "We're just friends."

"I'm not an idiot, Kate," the harsh tone of his voice made her wince. She looked up into his eyes, surprised. "I see the way he looks at you."

She swallowed, her mouth going dry. "How does he look at me, Jack?" she muttered, her eyes locking on his intensively. "'Cause if it's even a bit of how you are right now--" she paused, biting on her lower lip. "I'll slap him in the face the next time."

Jack froze. He stared up into her eyes, feeling his body go rigid with tension. Suddenly, it wasn't enough air to breathe in the room. Desperation nearly choked him - he had to touch her. He had to--

His hand grasped the back of her neck and he pulled her lips towards his, pleasure flooding him as soon as they met. She gave in to him instantly, exhaling into his mouth, her lashes fluttering against her cheeks. He tasted of magoes, his lips soft and smooth underneath hers. She flicked her tongue over his, experimentally at first, then more insistently as she felt him respond.

Jack was in heaven. Her sweet, feminine scent surrounded him, her hair slipping through his fingers as he took her face in his strong hands. He tilted it to the side, deepening the kiss urgently. Needing to feel her fully against him, he pulled her closer till she was standing between his legs, her fingers gripping his forearms for support.

And then, abruptly, he broke away from her. "I'm sorry," he slurred, running a shaking hand through his hair, beginning to turn away.

She stared at him in a haze, her lips wet and swollen from his kisses, her eyes darkened with desire. "Are you?" she muttered, her hand resting on his arm, stopping him.

His head jerked back and he took in her face, in her flushed cheeks, her wild curls, tousled by his fingers. In this moment he knew, knew with perfect clarity, what he wanted. Still, some part of him, the gentleman, rebelled against these urges. Is this a good moment? Are you ready to take this step? Does she really want it? But then she licked her lips and his mind momentarily went blank.

"No," he said hoarsely, before pulling her back towards him. This time he shut the doubts out, his body taking charge, desperate for the taste of her, the feel of her. He pushed her up against the wall, kissing fiercely, oblivious to the fact someone could walk in on them any moment now. This, what she was letting him do right now - he was dreaming about this. About being allowed to touch her, kiss her, feel her body against his - he was shocked at how much he wanted her. He had always treated sex as merely another biological process. Sure, it was nice, was supposed to be nice, but he never felt something like this - like he was going to explode if he didn't have her.

Her fingers fumbled with his fly and he was already half-conscious with desire - what the hell was happening to him? - he helped her eagerly, freeing himself, nearly choking as her warm hand closed around him.

"Jesus," he groaned, dropping his forehead against the wall next to her head, squeezing his eyes shut. He needed to focus, or this was going to be over in just seconds. He grabbed her hand and forced himself to shove it away.

"Jack," Kate breathed, confused. "What--"

He only shook his head, words dying on his lips. Craving burnt through him with white hot urgency, his hands shaking badly as he tugged her pants down her hips, desperate to feel her heat against his skin. She kicked them all the rest of the way off, her breath hot and ragged in his ear. The scent of her arousal hit his nostrils and he felt dizziness wash over him weakeningly. Steadying himself against the wall with one hand, he took a hold of himself and pressed his throbbing tip against her opening. Kate bit on her lower lip, stiffling a moan. In a rough, impatient manner she grasped his ass in her palms and pulled him forward and up, impaling herself onto him.

Jack slipped inside with a wet slap, her tight, smooth muscles contracting around him instantly. He hit the halt and then froze, his eyes hooding, a moan of pleasure escaping his lips. Sweet Jesus--

They remained still for a few seconds, Kate panting against his shoulder, trying to adjust to his size. He was much bigger than she expected, his head pulsing inside of her deliciously, and she could feel every inch of him, every vein, every curve. She closed her eyes, exhaling, gradually relaxing around him. Her hands caressed the warm skin under his t-shirt, the muscles in his back flexing beneath her touch, and suddenly she felt more feminine than ever before in her life. She pulled him closer to her, till there wasn't an inch of space left between them. Nuzzling into his neck, she pressed her slightly parted lips against his salty skin, breathing in his scent. Nothing had ever felt this good.

Jack was lost in sensation, his mind shut out, her liquid heat trapping him in, burning him to ashes. He inhaled shakily, shifting a little, turning his face to hers. He found her lips and nudged them open with his tongue, making this one slow and thorough, till they were both gasping for air. She arched against him and involuntarily he slipped in an inch deeper, increasing the pressure on her tender clitories. She cried out, raking her nails down his broad back impulsively, urging him on. He nearly came then and there, pain and pleasure coming in one thrilling combination, blurring his vision. Not being able to hold out any longer, he stroked his hand down her side and roughly brought her knee up and around his hips. Then he began to move.

He wanted to go slow, but her ever increasing wetness was practically sucking him in, the intimate sound of their bodies coming together a music to his ears. She was gasping every time he pushed back inside, her walls contracting around him, her sweet mumbling in his ear chasing all of his rational thought away. His hand found hers and he firmly laced his fingers through hers, bringing their hands up and against the wall above her head. He went a bit faster and she responded with a stiffled moan of pleasure, her free arm closing around his neck, fingers lacing through the soft hair she found there. She buried her face in the side of his neck, closing her eyes against the sensation exploding in her body as he slowly drove her towards the edge.

Neither of them even thought about moving in to the bed. Passion consumed them, their bodies covering in a thin sheen of perspiration, skin sliding over skin smoothly, their heavy breathing echoing through the room. He rolled his hips and she threw her head against the wall, their lips inches apart as they moved together, more frenzied with every second, more desperate with every thrust.

Jack never felt so out of control in his entire life. Usually he would right away take steps to regain his composure, but this... this was sweeter than he had ever imagined, this passion she has awoken in him. Passion he didn't even think himself capable of. It took over his body, over his mind, but for the first time in his existence Jack didn't want the control back. He wanted to lose himself, wanted to devote himself completely to sensation, he didn't want to think of anything except for how good she felt. How much he wanted to--

"Fuck me," she slurred against his lips, her swollen ones forming words with visible effort.

He drew in a shocked breath, his eyes focusing on hers. At the same time though his length inside of her jerked involuntarily and hardened even further, which he'd thought impossible. He swallowed, excitement washing over him weakeningly as he felt himself respond to the rough edge in her voice. No woman ever talked to him like this and he certainly never did either. This was new. This was thrilling. Still, some part of him fought against it. He didn't want to fuck her - he wanted to make love to her. He wanted her to know he did.

"Kate," he started against her lips. "I--"

"Jack, let it go," she muttered hoarsely, stroking her hand under his shirt, caressing his nipple. He let out a strangled gasp, her grip on her knee tightening. "I want you to forget everything except for here and now," she went on excitedly. Both of them felt her grow wetter and Jack pressed closer, dropping his forehead against hers, panting uncontrollably. "I want you to fuck me," she repeated insistently, feeling herself near the edge quickly. "Hard and fast and rough. I know you want to. You've always wanted to--"

"I want to give you pleasure," Jack cut in in a low voice, his hard abdomen rubbing against her as he thrust, eliciting a moan of ecstasy as she arched into his touch. "That's all I want."

"Then fuck me. Do it," she panted.

He did.

He let go completely, driving into her with all of his strength, all of his desire, all of his desperation for release, his and hers. It couldn't last, not like this. Few more deep, hard thrusts and she was trembling around him, her muscles milking him, her face a picture of oblivion, sweeter than anything he had ever seen. It triggered his own orgasm and he came powerfully inside of her, his world exploding in thousands of colours, perfection filling him, choking him, freeing him.

Spent and lazy they leaned against each other, breathing heavily, their sweat-covered bodies clinging to one another. Consciousness slowly found them and he looked down at her through the hooded eyes, drinking in her flushed face and wild hair. He was the cause of this. That she was such a mess.

Tenderness surged through him and he reached up to take her face in his hands, but then he saw the change flicker across her features, sudden and abrupt. Worry, fear, panic. And then she was pulling away, in apparent haste, straightening her clothes with slightly shaking fingers, avoiding his eyes. He paused, surprised, then quickly tensed up as worry took over.

"What's the matter?" he asked tentatively, seeking the eye-contact. In vain. He slowly zipped himself up and ran the back of his palm over his forehead, distressed.

"Nothing," she sent him a small smile. "I need to, um--" she hesitated, her eyes darting in the direction of the entrance. Panic washed over him as it dawned on him. He knew what she was trying to do - she wanted to distance herself. From him, from what they just did. But whatever she wanted to believe, it was more than fucking. He knew it. She knew it.

He took a step forward. "Jack, no," she was already taking off. "Let me--" he blocked her way, taking away her chance to escape. Feeling trapped she backed off, but he was faster. His fingers closed around her wrist and he pulled her towards him, his hands grasping her shoulders as soon as she was close. "Jack," she hissed, her voice taking on a warning note.

His heart broke. "It's okay," he said softly, trying to catch her eyes. She seemed to be focusing on anything but him. "Kate. Kate, hey. Look at me," he caught her chin and their eyes interlocked, hers wide open and glistening. Was it fear there again? The sick feeling coiled in the pit of his stomach. He couldn't lose her now. Not after what just happened. Not after they connected on so many levels there. No after he just realised-- "Don't leave me," he said slowly, pleadingly. His palm cupped her face, keeping it tilted towards his as they looked into each other's eyes deeply.

"No, I have to--" she mumbled, but he cut in desperately.

"Stay," he leaned in, pressing his forehead against hers, squeezing his eyes shut. "With you, everything makes sense," he muttered.

There was a pause. He slowly opened his eyes and as they met hers, he knew her defences were collapsing. One after another, as they stared into each other's faces, various emotions passing over her face; surprise, amazement, gratitude. Trust.

Her soul was bared, her face raw in its need.

He loved her.

"You have no idea what you're just about to get yourself into," she muttered. Her lips remained untouched, but there was a smile in her eyes.

He loved her.

"I'm willing to take that risk," his thumb stroked over her cheek, his eyes telling her he wasn't going to back off. Ever.

And in that moment she knew that she wouldn't, either.