Title: Don't You Think We Oughta Know By Now
Rating:
PG-13
Disclaimer:
Don't own them; just borrowing.
Summary:
Kate/Jack, set an undetermined number of years after Eggtown. They are two people who knew each other, once.
Spoilers:
Up to the season 4 finale.


They are two people who knew each other, once.

No need for introductions, then, and she doesn't even feel much surprise to find him sitting here, hunched on a barstool, swirling melting ice in a long-emptied glass and an impressive lineup of other empties in front of him. There's sadness, yes, and maybe even halfway suppressed anger, but not surprise.

He looks up with bloodshot eyes as she slides onto the stool next to him, and she sees it cross his face – almost a laugh. But just almost. He lifts his glass, indicating another to the bartender, then --

"And one for my friend, too."

Now it's she who almost laughs. But just almost. As her drink is slid across the bar to her, she raises her eyebrows at him. "Well."

"Well."

He lowers his head again and downs his new drink disturbingly fast. She nurses hers, sucking the alcohol-saturated ice cubes into her mouth to drain their taste. "I'd ask how you've been, but..."

"Yeah. But." Again the almost-laugh, his words tumbling against each other, but this time he doesn't look at her. "You don't answer my calls anymore."

"Don't know what you want me to say." Her eyes meet his, defiantly, flashing with something halfway dangerous, daring him to say it. Or pleading with him not to, and isn't it almost the same thing?

And maybe he's learned something in their months of silence, because he doesn't exactly say it aloud, but she sees it on his face, still. We have to go back. It's enough to let her anger resurface, and she slams her glass down onto the surface of the bar, hard.

Then she's outside, sucking deep breaths of the cool autumn air, because this is harder than she would have thought it'd be, and sometimes she still has to explain why he's not there at bedtime, and no, she can't go back. She can't. She's outside and the door is opening and suddenly she feels him swaying beside her, leaning on the wall of the building for support.

She's disgusted.

She's disgusted, but for some reason she lets him lean on her, instead, as she waves down a taxi, and doesn't protest as she listens to him fumble about, slurring his address to the cabbie. She remembers all the reasons why he's not there at bedtime as she helps him out of the car and up the stairs, and as she takes his keys from his trembling hands and unlocks his own front door, she has a sudden burst of memory, disturbing in its clarity: holding Wayne just like this, the same smell on his breath, on his clothes, his last night on earth.

She pushes the thought away, her mind violently rebelling against the comparison, and instead she focuses on navigating them through the darkened apartment. A streetlamp illuminates the space enough for her to make out empty bottles and glasses, and then large maps and piles of plane tickets and scribbled notes she has to bend over the table to decipher.

The short walk from the street seems to have sobered him just slightly and he reaches around her, swiping the maps and tickets and notes into a haphazard pile. "Don't."

She straightens, then, turning to face him with anger on her face but sorrow in her voice. "Don't what, Jack?" She swallows, reaching blindly for something on the table and coming up with an Oceanic flight schedule, crumpled in her fist. "Don't watch you throw your life away? Don't find out what you're doing to yourself? Don't think about who you used to be? God, Jack, you were --"

His gaze darkens and he snatches the piece of paper from her grip, holding her wrist as he does, his face inches from hers. "And who were you, Kate?"

The paper flutters to the floor when she opens her fingers weakly. More memories, now: a fire, handcuffs, a gun. A plane, a jungle, a kiss. A helicopter, a house, a boy. He sees the recognition on her face and he leans even closer, his breath in her breath as he repeats it. "Who were you?"

And then suddenly they're on the floor and his body is pressed heavily over hers, and she remembers all the reasons he was there at bedtime. He grips her tightly and she pushes back and they're drinking each other in, the intoxicating fever making both forget who they were, who they are, who they're becoming. He pushes inside of her and she cries out loudly until his mouth buries hers and she's left to scream her pain into his throat.

She doesn't know how much time has passed when they finally pull away from each other, naked, sweaty bodies making a sticking sound as they part. Standing up from the floor, she winces – she'll find bruises tomorrow – and pulls her clothing back on, the cotton sticking to her damp skin. She crosses the room to the refrigerator, holds the freezer door open and lets the cold air cling to her for a moment before filling a glass with ice and vodka.

He stirs behind her and she holds the glass to her cheek, watching her breath cloud the container's walls. She feels the heat of his body behind her then, and she lets the alcohol slide down her throat this time.

When she's drained the glass, she sucks an ice cube into her mouth, letting the cold burn her from the inside out.

She looks at him once before walking out the way they'd come.

They are two people who knew each other, once.