posted: MRU 16Dec2007

Dedicated to: Hoelli aka wifey, Aloha aka pacifica and the lovely LL, for inspiring and conspiring to finally post this story. I thank heaven for sisters like you three.

Rated: 17years, if you're a prude like me.
A little innuendo, a little scratch and tickle. Nothing rude whatsoever.
Hot smoke - and steamy mirrors.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, but share custody with Sanateers for Muchacha and the Cowboy. ABC owns.

History: TftR alt version. Henry took Mike with him, back to Walter. Ana was shot, but not mortally wounded. Libby was, and sadly died. Though Jack has done all he can to bring Ana awake, her mind won't let her. He thinks its shock. Frustrated and guilt ridden, fighting his own feelings where this lass is concerned, he finally snaps knowing the longer she won't wake up, the more danger she's in - he tries to shake her out of it, threatening enough, that Sayid and Locke had to drag him out. For days he's not been allowed back in, and he's made a deal with Sayid that he'll give them everything they need, if he can talk with Jack about seeing Ana Lucia again.

Praying he hasn't wrecked his only chance to make it right with either of them.


"Get out."

"Can't do that, Doc."

Jack placed the medical equipment back into the rucksack, and closed it irritably. He took a moment to compose himself, still not looking at the irritating Southern conman, who had managed to get past the new hatch security, to pay him a visit.
Or more unquestionably, to pay their last infirmary patient a visit.

"Why the hell not, Sawyer?"

Sawyer flailed, at Jacks question. Sawyer didn't want to reveal how important this was to him. More so than he wanted to admit. And truth was; after they'd dragged his sorry a outta the hatch for trying to wake her, by screaming and shaking her from the bed, scared outta his damned mind she was gonna follow poor Libby into the grave right next to hers - he desperately needed to get back to that room. To her. He didn't know why, but coming on bended knee to even Jack, guns in hand, was worth it.

"You need me."

"Not in this state," Jack vehemently disagreed. "Drinking, starting fights.. more than usual. What good are you to me, to the war that's comin', to.. to..."

Every bit of defeat was in the fall of Jacks shoulders, the knowledge he couldn't make it right for Ana, or Libby or for the countless others that depended on him to save them, without needing someone to share that responsibility with. Sawyer realized then, that he'd rightfully chosen Ana to be that person. The respect both Jack and Sayid had for Lucy, somehow grated on his nerves as it did, make him wanna kiss the man.

Jack shook his head, refusing whatever Sawyer had in mind. "The rest of us, will handle this fine.."

Sawyer scoffed, feeling his indignation rise. "You got Henry-notHenry with Mike as a prisoner, Libby is dead, the others are frightened outta their wits, Sayids trying to run the army and..." Sawyer swallows the lump forming in his throat, can't seem to manage it and ends it in silence. Ana was a fire of determination, prowess and expertise that; though most were loathed to admit too, desperately needed now, more than ever.

Both men are stony quiet, for a moment, listening to their hearts. Jack is the first to give a little, knowing she'd approve.

"With this battle coming up, you can't have your head in two places." Jacks hesitates, eyebrow raising. "You've been that way ever since we told you about Ana on the beach, and again when she was shot." Jack breathes deeply, slowly, as if trying to erase the horrifying images that come with it.

"Gd knows, I know that feeling. But your head in two places, distracted like this?--" It's enough of a concession for Sawyer to take, hope for. "Or three places, if it's where I think it's always been."

"Funny..." The southerner snarked, before wanting to take it back. Blood spilt on the linoleum, and Ana fighting for her life, meant nothing here would be funny, or safe, or home again. His heart plummeted to his gut. "I mean..."

The Doctor turned around, suddenly. He crossed his arms over his chest and looking right at Sawyer, spoke.

"Why are you here, Sawyer? The guns? Her gun?"

"Me and Muchacha." Sawyer began, then hesitated, judging the moment to say more. He watched Jacks eyes, carefully, knowing that this man loved Lucy too. Knowing if the Doc wanted too, he'd make damn sure the conman would never get ten feet of Rambina, while they were on the same island. No conning for this.. he had to be straight with Jack. Or loose more than he was willing too.

"We. " His voice and resolve broke. Wasn't the time to let this secret go, not while there was too much death in the air, still. "I feel responsible, Jack. I wanna put it right. Help Muchacha get back.."

Jack remained quiet in that way he seemed to have about him. Seeing things, hearing things that Sawyer would rather anyone else know, but him. James could damn near see him fitting together the puzzle, before he could even lie his way out of it, Jack was speaking again.

"Make up your mind, James. You can't love Kate and Lucia - it's not fair on either."

"Fair got nothin' to do with it, Doc. " Denial was futile. Already given too much away, with the grief of possibly loosing Ana Lucia, the best hope he had left to bring her back - was being honest. "I won't hurt her.. couldn't. I just gotta try, Jack. I gotta make this right."

"It's not your fault," Kate interrupted, walking in on the conversation at the worst possible moment. "It's hardly Sawyers fault, Jack, considering Ana.."

"Who shook your tree, Peaches," Sawyer growled, disgusted at the insinuation she was getting at. "That's not what the man is sayin'."

Kate's voice, pitched higher in demand, made both men wince. "When are you such an expert on what Jack is saying, Sawyer?"

He tilted his head at her, disappointed that it took so long to fall on the sudden discovery. In his heart, he burned Kate's image from his mind, whatever was left of his heart - and fed the ashes to the waves pounding on the shore outside.

"Some things you grow out of." Jacks voice interrupted his thoughts, the two men sharing a look that Kate was left to decipher, and was coming up with translations she didn't much like.

Sawyer and Jack nodded in some mutual agreement, between both men. Before Kate could interfere or drag Sawyer back, Jack had grabbed her arm gently, but determinedly, steering her away from the path she had no place taking.

"He's gonna be taking care of Ana Lucia."

Her eyes narrow, confused. "Since when? He attacked..."

Jack bent his head low, meeting her eyes with sparkling clarity. "He was desperate to get her back, Kate. Shaking her from unconsciousness, wasn't the best idea, but a man will do almost anything when the woman he.."

"... feels guilty for, is dying?" Kate finished off, not really understanding or wanting to understand the nature of what Jack was truly saying.

For a moment, he looked very pained, both for her - and for himself - that the possibilities of finding love with someone who'd in the space of 3 days had chosen another - swept away his objection. Jack chose not to correct that statement, but rather let it slide. Truth was, he had done everything he could think of to heal Ana Lucia physically - there was no reason she shouldn't be awake, by now.

Only her mind, refused - and unless she wanted to come back.. had a good enough reason to want to come back.. her life was still in danger. The looks Jack had witnessed Sawyer giving Ana, the concern and depth of feeling (he'd not shown even when Kate stumbled into danger), threw him a curve.

Still aware of how Kate could read him, he felt himself closing off, distracting her with bitter reality than what was about to happen in the infirmary, while all the rest of the survivors were burying Libby.

"Hurleys going to need you, Kate. We'll be back in a few hours to take over the shift.. till then.. we'll let Sawyer say what he's gotta say - before it's too late."