A/N: So I've been informed that it's been 6 months since I've last updated. I apologize for that. But remember how I was complaining about how crazy my last year of high school was? Turns out my first year of University buried that year about six feet under and I've still got finals to write in two weeks. But, since I'm taking a break to let my brain solidify again, I'm going to post this chapter. This one starts at the very end of episode 2x03 "He Said, She Said, He Said". The first paragraph will be a very brief description of the episode so far so that no one is confused, but then it will get into the meat of the problem. I hope you guys keep sticking with me despite my prolonged absence. School has a habit of getting in the way of our passions, and I pray that I have understanding readers.
Day 13 for the survivors of Flight 29 DWN was a strange one, to say the least. Lex was working on a complicated design for the new shelter that they had voted to build, with the support of his sister and friends. As Jackson had predicted, Taylor and Eric were making life extremely difficult for all. They began spreading rumors about Nathan, who had been acting weird ever since the monsoon. At first it looked like Nathan was trying to get close to Daley in order to rig the voting process. If Nathan got close to Daley, then they would have four of the seven votes, as Melissa would vote with Nathan and Lex would vote with Daley. But then Nathan was so out of it that Taylor and Eric proclaimed him sick, which was later 'confirmed' by Melissa. The final rumor was that Nathan and Melissa were hooking up, as Taylor had seen them walking the beach together looking 'lovey-dovey'.
Needless to say, Jackson, who liked things simple, had had enough. The tension between the members of the group was so thick it could be cut with one of their camp knives. The growing tension was also getting to Sierra, who was growing more and more distant from him as the day went on. She had disappeared within the first waking hours of the day after a fight with her brother about helping things run smoothly with the new democracy. Jackson had been so busy that he hadn't had time to go search for her, and Eric was obviously still angry at her for whatever she had said to him so he wasn't going to go look for her.
At the present moment Jackson was collecting bits and pieces of the debris that had collected on the shoreline from the plane. He looked up when he heard a female voice call his name, but was disappointed when it was only Taylor.
She took a couple of deep breaths before saying, "This hurts me as much as it hurts you. I mean, after all, Nathan and I used to go out."
"Okay, now what?" He turned to face her and a small smile graced his features when he spotted Sierra not far behind her and within hearing distance.
"Well, I hate to be the one to break this to you but…Melissa doesn't have a crush on you anymore." Taylor delivered the news as if it was a death sentence and Jackson had to laugh. He had known for a long time that Melissa's crush on him had faded, if not completely gone away. Out of the corner of his eye, however, he saw that Sierra had frozen on the sand.
"Any you know this because..?"
"Because she and Nathan are…you know…"
"In cahoots!" Jackson replied, using the new word of the day.
Jackson sighed. "What is it Taylor? First there's some evil plot, then Nathan's sick, and now there's a romance? You're having trouble keeping your stories straight."
"Look, I'm just reporting what I see."
"Fine. Then let's stop guessing, and put all of our cards on the table then." He placed the debris in his hands on the ground and started walking towards camp with Taylor trailing behind.
He passed by Sierra, who grabbed his arm to halt him. "Can we talk?" she whispered.
"Can it wait until later? I've got to figure this out before it drives me crazy."
She nodded quietly before joining the procession.
"Will someone please explain to me what's going on with Nathan?" Jackson asked the group that he found at camp, struggling to keep his voice calm.
"Something's going on with Nathan?" Lex questioned. The poor kid had been under so much pressure with the new design of the shelter that he had been oblivious to what everyone else was going through.
"Well Eric here tells me that Nathan and Daley are plotting island domination."
"What's up with that?" Daley asked Eric, who had just joined them.
"That's what Taylor told me."
"Well, I saw them getting all cozy and then Melissa confirmed it." Taylor gestured to the girl who had just joined them.
"I didn't confirm anything." Melissa panicked.
"You said that Nathan and Daley were getting closer to help things go smoothly. What was I supposed to think?"
"That makes no sense!" Daley interjected.
Melissa tried to explain herself before Jackson cut her off, saying "And what's this I hear about Nathan getting hurt in the lightening?"
"Nathan got hurt?" Lex shouted. Nathan was one of his closest friends; how did he not realize that he was hurt? He was supposed to be the smart one!
"Melissa says he's been acting weird ever since he almost died." Eric explained.
"Everybody can see that," Taylor backed the blond boy up.
Lex rose from his perch on the log. "Nathan almost died!" Jackson rolled his eyes as Sierra bent down to hold Lex close. He was like her safety blanket, Jackson thought. Whenever things got strained, she would hold either one of them close until it passed. "That's probably how Melissa found out about us," Jackson thought bitterly.
"I was only guessing!" Melissa attempted to explain herself a second time.
"And now," Jackson interrupted again. "It's about Melissa and Nathan hooking up."
"Mhmm. Don't act all innocent. We see you two together…cahooting." Taylor said.
"And confiding. Admit it! You said there's a whole lot of confiding going around." Eric and Taylor nodded. "And cahooting."
"How did I miss all this?" Lex questioned.
"Don't worry; I missed all of it too." Sierra whispered in his ear.
"But we're friends!" Melissa exclaimed.
"Apparently." Taylor stated with a wicked grin on her face.
"It's coming right back to Melissa." Jackson said suspiciously.
"What's the deal Mel?"
"There's no deal."
"What's the truth?"
"Yeah, what's going on?"
"Just be honest."
"How come nobody tells me anything?"
"Is there something we should know?"
"Why does the story keep on changing?"
"Maybe it's you and Nathan that are trying to take over?"
"Stop!" Melissa finally yelled. "I was only trying to keep from saying that Nathan is in love with Daley!"
As luck would have it, Nathan had just appeared behind a tree. Everyone stood stock-still in shock.
"Nobody ever tells me anything!" Lex proclaimed.
Melissa looked up at everyone, embarrassed for being the one to blow Nathan's secret. She spotted Jackson in the crowd and noted the tiny smirk on his face. She felt her rage build up inside of her, but she knew if she blew his secret too, Jackson would kill her. Melissa had seen his protective streak when Taylor had pranked her and when Abby had been hurt, and Sierra seemed to bring it out even more. If she did anything to upset Eric's sister, Melissa had no doubt in her mind that Jackson would kill her. Or Eric would kill her. Either way, she would be dead.
Nathan stalked off, leaving the small group to dissipate as they pleased. Jackson followed Sierra away to have the talk she had mentioned to him. Daley walked off to be on her own. Melissa scrambled to follow Nathan to explain what had happened.
"Nathan! Please wait!"
"Why should I Mel? You told them! I can't believe you told them!"
"I'm sorry! But they kept asking and I got so confused! It just came out!"
"Why couldn't you have just said nothing?"
"Because they were all worried about how strange you've been acting and all the theories got mixed together and they were all gathering around me and Jackson had that stupid smirk on his face and…"
"Jackson! What does he have to do with any of this? This was between you and me!" Nathan was silent for a moment before a thought struck him. "You didn't tell Jackson to get closer to him, did you?"
"No! Nathan, I wouldn't do that to you! You know that, don't you?"
"I don't know what I know anymore."
"Jackson is…not important. He's not interested in me."
"How do you know? You know what? It doesn't even matter! I can't believe you would betray me like that! I know, I know. It shouldn't matter because no relationship here would be a good one but…"
"Jackson and Sierra seem to be having a pretty good relationship here." Melissa muttered, crossing her fingers that Nathan wouldn't be able to hear her.
"Oops! Nathan, promise me you won't tell anyone!"
"You're seriously asking me that after what just happened? If we've learned anything on this island, it's that secrets pull families apart."
"No Melissa! People deserve to know! Eric deserves to know!"
Nathan started pulling a very hesitant Melissa back towards camp.
"Nathan, promise me one thing?"
"This isn't some revenge thing is it? And it's not something to get the heat off of you, right?"
"Revenge, no. And I'm not outing them so that people will forget about what you said. But I know that keeping my secret was driving me crazy, and maybe Jackson feels the same way."
"Nathan, please don't do this!"
"Look Melissa, I get that you want to protect Jackson as much as you wanted to protect me. But people deserve to know that there is a secret relationship going on here when we all agreed not to have relationships on the island."
Jackson silently followed Sierra to her cave, which seems to have become their spot. She quickly scaled the wet wall and disappeared over the top.
When he poked his head into the cave, she was curled up in the furthest, darkest corner.
He settled himself in the furthest corner from her and watched her as he would a wild animal.
Finally, he heard a quiet voice that said, "Why didn't you tell me about Melissa's crush on you?"
"I didn't think it mattered."
"Well it does."
Jackson moved closer so that he was sitting in front of her. "Why does it matter?"
"It explains why she hates me."
"She doesn't hate you."
"Yes she does! You don't see the way she looks at me when we're together! It's like she wants to drown me or something!"
Jackson sighed. He really wasn't good with the whole 'drama' thing. "I'm sure you're just imagining things. Yes, she liked me at one point, but we've moved past that. I see her like a little sister."
"Well you may see her as a sibling, but she sure as hell doesn't see you as an older brother."
"I don't like Melissa, okay? So you don't have anything to worry about!"
"I do worry though!"
"Why, huh? Why do you worry?" Jackson felt his temper rising with his voice.
"Because I don't deserve you!" Sierra shouted, tears streaming down her face, keeping time with the waterfall outside. She started sobbing like she hadn't since she realized that her own mother didn't care for her. "And you don't…deserve…me!" She chocked out. "I don't know how to deal with any of this…and you're so good to me and everyone…I'm too much baggage and you don't deserve that."
Jackson pulled her into his lap and rocked her back and forth. He rarely, if ever, showed this type of emotion, but something about Sierra's innate innocence and childlike fear brought it out in him. He wished he could just bundle her up and never let anything hurt her.
"Do you realize how long we've been together?" Sierra sobbed. "Less than a week! And most of that I've spent running away in tears because I can't deal with it!"
"Shhh…" Jackson continued soothing her until he felt that she would listen to what he had to say. "Do you realize how long it took for me to fall for you?" Sierra looked up at him with glassy eyes and he thought he had never seen anything so beautiful. "It took me less than a day to realize that you understand me better than anyone else I've ever met. It took me less than an hour to see how much you cared about everyone you met, even in you feel disconnected from them because you've been here so long. It took me less than a minute to realize that you're it for me. And, after that, it took me less than 30 seconds to notice that there was no going back for me. You're all I need, here or at home."
Sierra nuzzled into Jackson's neck, tears still streaming down her reddened cheeks; only this time they were happy tears. "You can't know what will happen once we get off this island. We're different people here; I'm a different person here. We're only 16—"
"But we've experienced more than people twice or three times our age." He gently interrupted. "We may change, but nothing is going to change what we go through here. People and jobs and school will come and go, but the people on this island will always be the most important people in the world to me. We're connected whether you like it or not, Sierra. And I will do or be whatever you need me to do or be for as long as you'll let me. With me around, you'll never have to be alone again. I promise."
Sierra looked up at him with her watery green eyes and her tangled hair and her bright smile, and Jackson knew he had said the right thing. He knew it even better when she leaned up and gave him a sweet, lingering kiss on the lips, which he returned with equal feeling. They both wanted to say those three little words, but knew they would send them on a quick downward spiral with the condition they were both in. Those eight letters were still too soon and too damaging to say, but they would be said in the near future.
A/N: I really need to stop with the cheesiness since I'm lactose intolerant, but still. I hope my next update won't take as long as this one did, and I hope you all enjoyed. Please review!