Title: But I Have Promises To Keep
Disclaimer: Don't own them; just borrowing.
Summary: Kate/Jack, Kate/Sawyer. If they talk about it, the words will slip out, she just knows they will – playing house – and that's pressed much too far down into her heart for it not to hurt coming back up.
Spoilers: Up to 4.10 Something Nice Back Home
At first, it doesn't work. It feels wrong and she almost considers saying no when he shows up at her doorstep, smile gracing his lips, almost abashed.
"I'm sorry. Do you think I could come in?" A beat; he looks down to the marbled floor in front of her, to the brightly-colored toy there at her feet. She'd stubbed her toe on it as she'd come to the door; she'd cursed loudly and jumped a bit. She figures he'd heard. "I'd like to see him. I'd like to...try."
Well, she almost considers saying no.
She makes him coffee after Aaron is in bed, because she'd promised him that much. She watches him over the kitchen counter, watches him watch her.
He looks good. He looks really damned good, groomed and in a suit, his tie loosened, shirt creased and rumpled from spending much of the evening on the floor with the little boy. On him, it looks right. It looks true and honest, the expensive suit and the cuff links and the clean shaven face. Not like on her – she can't stand the power suits and the opulent blouses and the high heels that she's never really learned to walk confidently in.
This is who he's supposed to be. But she barely recognizes herself, now.
She plucks at the smooth fabric of her shirt – she wears pink now, and she hadn't even noticed – and her next accidental thought is that she can't wait for him to take it off of her.
She flushes and looks away and pours too much cream into her coffee.
She used to drink it black.
She's not sure when Jack stops coming over and starts staying over, and when staying over becomes just staying. They don't talk about it, and it's better that way. (If they talk about it, the words will slip out, she just knows they will – playing house – and that's pressed much too far down into her heart for it not to hurt coming back up.)
Aaron likes him. Aaron likes him and the sex is okay and the other moms at the park are impressed with her surgeon boyfriend. And she doesn't trust some of them, the way they look at him when he shows up unexpectedly at the park, takes his sunglasses off and waves with that slow smile on his face. She doesn't trust them but she trusts him.
She trusts him and Aaron likes him and runs to his car when he sees him idling at the curb.
This will be enough, she thinks.
Aaron has nightmares, frequently. It would alarm her, but then she'd have to be alarmed by her own nightmares, too.
(She dreams of endless oceans and whirring helicopter blades, sand and waves and his hands on her, and she wakes still feeling the burn of his stubble on her cheek, her chest, her thigh. She turns away from Jack those mornings, and he frowns at her and she wonders if he knows.)
But Aaron dreams of monsters. The moms at the playgroup tell her this is normal, that all children dream of monsters – under the bed, in the closet, outside the window. She can't tell them that her son's monster is real.
She can't tell him, either. So she lies to him – just one of many lies – and holds him close when he crawls into her bed. "There's no such thing as monsters, Aaron."
The first time Jack hears her lie like this, he looks at her, brow furrowed, his expression full of righteous disapproval. It makes her angry until she follows him into Aaron's room, watches as he stretches out on the floor to look under the little boy's bed. "Hey, monster! Go away and don't come back!"
Aaron smiles sleepily and ventures closer to Jack, a loud whisper that sounds like trust. "He's gone now?"
"He's gone now."
Kate decides then that she'll say yes. It's been inevitable, the question he's going to ask.
(She still thinks it: This will be enough. It must be.)
She makes tacos for dinner the night after he proposes. She pushes them around her plate and watches as Jack eats enthusiastically.
She half expects him to call her Monica.
Somewhere in between taco nights and Alice In Wonderland, playgroups and monsters, he stops trying to hide it when he comes home drunk. He starts leaving the empty bottles out on the coffee table, starts looking directly at her when he pours vodka into his glass before his orange juice in the morning.
This has been inevitable, too, just like his question and her yes.
She thinks Diane, wherever she is, would get a sense of perverse satisfaction over seeing her daughter clearing away empty bottles, untying his shoes when his hands fumble too much to do it himself. You made your bed, Katherine, she'd say, and Kate would deserve it.
Maybe this is what she's always deserved.
(Karma's a bitch, she hears him say in his slow Southern drawl, and she takes up smoking, just one cigarette a day, sitting on the front porch while the rest of the neighborhood is sleeping. She tastes him on the nicotine and tar, the first kiss he'd conned out of her, and she bites her lip so she can taste the blood, too.)
The morning she finds a half-empty bottle of sleeping pills in his discarded jacket pocket, Kate asks the nanny to stay a couple hours longer. She changes into a pair of faded jeans and an old tank top, fished from the back of her closet, and fills up her car on her way out of the city.
Four hours later, she sees the sign for the Nevada state line and she passes it without thinking.
When she realizes what she's done, two miles later, her blood rushes and the old familiar adrenaline surges through her body and she has to pull over to calm herself and the sudden, intoxicating urge to keep driving east.
Eventually, she turns around and drives back home.
The next two times she breaks parole, it's deliberate. It's dangerous, this rush, this feeling of running again, of freedom. She starts keeping a photo of Aaron taped to her dashboard. She tells herself she won't take this too far.
She takes a shower each time she returns home, hot water scalding her skin as she touches herself, each time rougher and faster than the last. She feels his long hair brushing her neck, his tongue on her collarbone, sand between their bodies, burning with sweat. His name is on her lips as she comes around her fingers and she cries.
She's clean and dressed and made up perfectly again before Jack ever comes home.
The fourth time she breaks parole, she gets out of her car just past the state line. She tips her face up to the endless sky and unties her hair, letting the wind whip it around her face. She breathes deeply and her fingers are steady as she pulls her cell phone from her pocket.
She dials the numbers she memorized long ago but never wrote down anywhere. He answers after several rings, his voice sounding far away.
"Sayid, I need your help. There's something I have to do."
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep