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Chapter Four

People in love get scared and stupid
People in love get everything wrong
At least they're not lonely

The Feeling, Never Be Lonely


They walked back to the beach slowly, saying nothing, thinking everything. The silence wasn't as oppressive any more, the tension had almost completely dissipated, and it felt as though they had turned a corner, finally. Their talk in the jungle would stay with them forever, but at the same time it was done, it was finished, they had gotten the heartbreak and fear and declarations out of the way and the air felt fresher to both. The wind softly rustled the leaves and the chirping of the cicadas leant the atmosphere a relaxing feel to it.

They were walking together so close they were almost touching, but not quite. Every so often their hands would brush against each other and send a tingle of electric heat up their arms. They were quite happy for once to not push this, to let it happen naturally, to just revel in the unexpected touches. The foliage was getting denser and a fallen tree obstructed their way just enough that they would have to break their current pattern. Sawyer could see that Kate had already found the best way to get over it but he beat her to it, using both of his hands to propel himself onto the trunk and lift his feet onto the rough bark. He pushed the long grass surrounding them back like a curtain, and offered his hand to Kate. He couldn't help grinning at her when she took his proffered hand, using her other one to gain some leverage on the trunk until she was standing with him. Sawyer let the curtain of grass fall, and they found themselves surrounded by the dark green of the other trees from above, and the lighter long grass from below. The sun streaked through the foliage in stripes, highlighting Kate's curls, her flat stomach, Sawyer's stubble, his muscular upper arms. They were in a world where only they existed, a world where battles had been won and lost by both sides, a world only they knew.

Kate slipped her delicate hand into his, intertwining fingers as scattered light danced over them. He stroked her thumb gently, and after the heartache and heartbreak and pain and anger the unconscious softness of their actions was sublime. She looked up at him, unsurprised to see him looking intensely back at her, and as he leaned in to kiss her she smiled, her curved mouth pressing against his. They were broken, they were fixed, it didn't matter, because all that mattered was the moment, the here and now. The wind swept through their hair, sending it flying out until Sawyer cupped Kate's hair, preventing movement, and drawing her ever closer to him. Her fingertips grazed the toned muscles the wind exposed under his shirt and Sawyer shivered deliciously.

"You're killing me, you know that Freckles?"

Kate just kissed him again, laughing into his mouth. This carefree side to her was kept hidden all too much and Sawyer revelled in the unexpectedness of it, especially after the heavy, draining conversation of earlier. But to point that out to Kate would be to make her withdraw and the way her fingers were lightly grazing up and down his chest made it impossible for Sawyer to ever want to stop.

Until the voices of Jack and Sayid were upon them, too quickly to register, not until Jack pushed back the other side of the tree bough, engrossed in his strategy sharing with the former soldier, not until he looked at the both of them, stopping dead in his tracks, his words faltering and dying on the ever-present wind. He looked at Kate and Sawyer together, together as a couple, together intertwined in an embrace, together happy and serene, and then changed the atmosphere by dropping a boulder into the hearts of them all.

Sayid's voice floated in behind them, outside of the hideaway, but none of them spoke, moved, rooted to the tree trunk they stood on. Jack's face glared at Kate in betrayal, and Sawyer held her waist, gripped it tighter. He looked at her looking back at Jack, terrified she'd run straight back to him, terrified that his insecurities were still so strong when it came to her, terrified that the look on her face was apologetic, as if this were a mistake. Kate and Jack were looking at each other, and Sawyer was looking at the both of them, but no one was looking at Sawyer.

No one except Sayid. He'd seen that look before, seen it on himself, seen it when Boone had burst in on him and Shannon, all burning rage and deathly jealousy. Knew the irrational fear, the kind that tightened your heart and you compensated by tightening you grip on the one you love. He knew he had no place in this lover's tiff, that this triangle needed to be flattened once and for all, but still, he could not move for fear of breaking the silence that had invaded the jungle.

Jack and Kate were looking at each other, and he wondered who would be the first to speak, it was inevitably one of them, Sawyer knew it wasn't his battle to fight.

"I love him."

It was Kate who broke the silence, staring challengingly at Jack, holding onto the hands that cupped her waist tighter, her knuckles turning white. She wanted to run, she could feel the claustrophobia bubbling up inside, burning her lungs, and the adrenaline pumped its way through her, and Sawyer could feel her shaking slightly. It was fight or flight, but she wasn't giving herself that last option, he could feel it, his Kate, so strong, and if a comforting hand would help her in this inevitable confrontation, then he would cut it off and give it to her if that's what she needed.

"How can you love someone like that?"

Sawyer reminded himself that Jack was hurt and angry and lashing out, but by God if Kate hadn't been clutching his hands so tightly around her his fists would have been flying. How dare he thrust confusion and doubt into her mind, when he'd worked so hard to take it off her shoulders? How dare he act as if he was better than he was, than she was?

Kate laughed bitterly.

"I'd have given anything to be in love with you at one point. You knew that, didn't you? You were everything I wanted to be, so kind and caring and strong. But you're not, are you? Not all the time. You put up that front, but underneath you're jealous of Sawyer, you're angry at John, you have this insane need to be in control all of the time, and because you're a doctor and everybody looks up to you you think you're entitled to everything: save the day and get the girl. Well, I'm not for you to have. I can't choose who I fall in love with, but at the end of the day, I love him Jack. He's a good man. All you can do is point out my flaws-"

Jack protested angrily at that.

"I have never said anything-"

"Maybe not in words, but in looks you've said a thousand. All I feel from you is your disapproval, and I can't be with someone like that. Sawyer has his flaws, and so do I, but we can see past that, and you can't."

Sawyer was pressed up behind her, arms circling her waist by this point, and he could feel her trembling with the fear and hurt. This was the end of the line with Jack; whether he would jump a track and one day restore the rift was yet to be seen, and the possible finality of this friendship with Jack scared Kate, yet she was thrusting her security blanket away, in mind and deeds. Sawyer loved her all over again in that moment.

"You can look past the fact that not a week ago he was fucking Ana-Lucia on the sly?"

He had hit a nerve, and he knew it. She couldn't forgive, not now, not when it was all so raw and fresh, and how could she defend her lover if she couldn't defend him to herself?

It was surprisingly easy.

"That's between me and Sawyer. And if I can get over it, you sure as hell can. Stop looking for excuses. I know you don't want this to happen, but you can't stop it happening. We're not perfect, but you're the only one who cares."

Jack's face twisted up into a sneer.

"Cares? If you don't care about whoring yourself out to this scum bag I sure as hell don't. We're done. Look after yourself. I'm done trying to help you."

Kate's voice was getting higher with indignation and her eyes flashed with anger and hurt.

"Trying to help me? Or trying to change me? Because you can't, Jack, you can't."

"Well that's for damn sure," he muttered, squinting his eyes and biting his lips.

"Goodbye Kate."

He brushed past the couple, perhaps purposefully knocking against them as he stalked off, rendering them off balance. Sawyer gripped Kate's waist tighter still as the momentum twisted her around. Her head was facing his chest, and she pressed her cheek against the cotton fabric of his t-shirt. He stroked her hair, kissing the top of her head, only acknowledging Sayid with a nod as he passed.

Kate's breathing hitched more than once, but she wasn't crying, and soon enough she looked up at him, all wonder and aftershock.

"I did it."

"Damn right you did."

"He just- he looked so hurt, Sawyer. I never wanted to hurt him."

She was upset, but so was he, how could he call her a whore and still have her sympathy? She looked longingly at the trail Jack had followed, and Sawyer tore away from her in disgust. The sudden chill startled Kate.

"What?"

"He called you a liar and a whore and you still want to run after him. You will never be good enough for him, Kate, never. He always sees you in his mind as this perfect creature who never does any wrong and you will never be able to live up to that. So why do you keep trying? Is the thought of me so bad-"

He broke off, swallowing deeply.

"-so bad –"

"Stop it. Stop it, ok? You think I can turn my feelings off like a switch? I want that approbation Sawyer, I want it, I won't deny it. I wish I didn't, but I do. It doesn't change my feelings towards you at all, and if you don't believe that, then you don't know me at all."

Sawyer's eyes glittered dangerously as he moved closer to her, invading her personal space, pushing to see how close he could get before she ran. But Kate stood her ground, chin pointed towards him defiantly. He captured her lips roughly, pouring all of himself, all of his fear, his hurt, his anger, pouring all of it into the kiss. He pushed one hand into her curly locks, pulling her head closer to him. She cried out slightly at the sudden pain, but he ignored it, too needy himself. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling his head down to her level. They kissed as they fought, passionately and desperately.

Kate pulled away from him quickly, and turned and walked away from him. She was still panting slightly by the time Sawyer had recollected from the sudden movement and had caught up to her. He grabbed her hand roughly, pulling her around.

"What the hell is going on, Freckles?"

She struggled, trying to free herself from his grip. He only held on tighter, which made Kate struggle all the more, she was pleading with him to let go, her voice was catching, tears were forming, but still he held on, not letting her go. Kate was getting more and more worked up, the panic that had been bubbling inside her all day finally breaking free and turning into hysteria. Sawyer tried to move in and grab her flailing body, still it, but she wasn't thinking anymore, she was just feeling, and all she could feel were restrictions and smothering bonds. She lashed out, and her fist connected with his jaw, the force of it knocking him backwards, away from her.

"Son of a bitch!"

Kate became more lucid at Sawyer's exclamation, and her eyes widened at the realisation of her actions. She murmured a tearful apology, before turning away from him and walking rapidly, blindly, away from him. Sawyer was nursing his jaw, a little stung by her sudden violence, but ran after her, not caring about her reaction, a deep need to not let her get away from him overriding his other emotions. He grabbed her by the hand, forcing her around. A grip hard enough that she'll have visible bruises there tomorrow in the form of fingers, a matching tattoo to his.

"No. You do not get to run anymore."

"Sawyer." It's a plead, a need to just be able to breathe again, to let her escape. But he can't, can't give in to her, not when it could mean the end of this, the constant avoidance she will no doubt dance to perfection.

"How can I trust that you won't run off to Jack, Kate? You told me it meant nothing, but it so obviously does."

"I kissed him once, Sawyer. That was it. Now let me go."

She pulls away roughly, but he's two steps ahead of her and she runs smack into his chest.

"It's not fair, Kate. It's not fair that you can keep secrets like that from me when you read me like a book. I'm supposed to be the conman. But you're the one who can look right into me and steal my secrets whilst giving no indication about any of yours."

"Maybe I'm a better secret keeper."

"Maybe you're a better liar."

That hurt, but she didn't deny it.

"How can we think this can ever work?" she whispered desolately to his chest, not daring to make eye contact.

"Because it can. If you let it. I thought you wanted this, Freckles. A few minutes ago everything was top o' the world good. It's not easy, you know that, but you said it was worth it, you said, remember?"

He looked at her, pointing her chin up so she would look back.

He whispered words only for her ears. Words of reassurance, of defiance, of love. She wasn't easy to convince, but then easy was never usually worth the end result.

"Let's go back," Kate suggested, and Sawyer smiled.