Title: Safe
Rating: PG
Summary: In another life, Kate would have let herself love Jack.
Disclaimer: I don't own Lost, or the characters thereof. I'm just borrowing.
AN: Kate/Jack, Kate/Sawyer drabbleish thing, written for LJ's lostfichallenge #58: good vs. evil and for LJ's unloveyou #17: Wish I didn't love you.

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In another life, Kate would have let herself love Jack.

She'd have loved Jack the way she'd loved Tom – with the familiarity of innocence, with the gratitude you have towards someone who knows the evil isn't all there is to you. She'd have loved Jack the way she'd loved Kevin – with the hope of redemption, with the promise of second chances and fresh starts and with the peace that comes with having someone who has no idea just how not-good you can be.

She sometimes even thinks if she could love Jack like that, there might be some chance of some good in her yet. Maybe the love of a good man would be her own redemption. Even now, there's that small bit of hope when she looks at him.

But this isn't some other life; this isn't the fantasy she concocts for herself when she's missing Tom, while she's regretting Kevin. This is her life, and she ruins those she loves, and no matter how many good men she tries to love, who love her, she can't ever be good.

Love, apparently, does not work that way. (She tells herself she never believed in fairy tales, anyway.)

So she loves Sawyer instead.

When she chooses him, when she follows him into the jungle and asks him for carte blanche (he's right about her motivation for that, she's disturbed to discover), she knows he's the safe choice. Oh, she's aware of the irony. She's fairly certain no one else on the island would consider Sawyer, of all people, a safe choice.

But she knows better. The danger in him is exactly what makes him safe. He's just as damaged as she is; there's just as much evil in him as there is in her. She can't taint him any more than he's already tainted himself. She thinks, she knows that he'll never love her. He will never be her redemption.

So she loves him, but she never says so (only once, to save his life), because she remembers that he's never been in love and she's just trying to survive this island with as little damage as possible. She loves him with the knowledge that this will never last, that there will be good sex and awkward mornings after, warm nights that it hurts too much to stay (she never stays). She loves him with the certainty that this will end as it started – hot and fevered and anguished and with just as much hate as there is passion.

And she finds out that he wasn't the safe choice after all, because there is nothing about this that doesn't hurt. She loves him.

She just never expects him to love her back.

So goodbye Alice in Wonderland
Goodbye yellow brick road
There is a difference between dreaming and pretending
I did not find paradise

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AN: Lyrics from Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, written and performed by Jewel.