Summary: The poor Dharma van seemed to hate the heat and Radzinsky as much as Sawyer did. Another glimpse of Sawyer and Juliet during the missing 3 Dharma years.
A/N: Firstly I have got to thank each and every one of you for the awesome feedback you gave for my first fic. I was so blown away by the response that my first real thought was "how the heck do I do follow that?" The answer is - I honestly don't know. I think I'll just continue to explore these moments and do the best I can. The title is, again, inspired by a 1974 chart hit, this time by Billy Preston.
Part One - Nothing from Nothing
Sawyer wasn't even sure why he'd said it. He'd slept badly the night before and his temper was hovering just shy of boiling point. He'd spent the entire morning chasing after Radzinsky - that son of a bitch thought he owned the whole damned security division. Check that. The whole damned Island.
It was hotter than Hell, the air so still and sticky he'd have sacrificed his limbs for a breeze. He'd been back and forth four times already, completely bypassed lunch, and swore that if that four-eyed Stalin gave him one more order, he was gonna have a hard time explaining to Horace how his fist wound up in Radzinsky's jaw.
On his fifth trip out, the engine blew. The poor Dharma van seemed to hate the heat and Radzinsky as much as Sawyer did. He got out and collapsed under the pathetic shade of a wilting sapling, the sweat clinging mercilessly to the cotton t-shirt beneath his beige jumpsuit. He unzipped to the waist and radioed Security.
Miles answered sounding chipper. "What's up La Fleur?"
Sawyer scowled. No doubt the bastard was sitting quite comfortably with his feet on the desk and a fan facing full frontal.
"Call the motor-pool. I need a pickup out by grid twenty-seven." He growled.
"Pick up. Twenty-seven. Got it. Miles out."
Sawyer fell back on to the grass. He could've sworn he'd heard the pages of a magazine turning – probably the kind that produces poster pinups, everyone hopes their girlfriend doesn't see. And why was Miles so goddamn content? Maybe he'd drop by Jin's later. His English wasn't all that much better, but he figured the Korean could at least count.
What felt like a year later, he finally heard the rumblings of a Jeep. He propped himself up by the elbows and caught a glimpse of golden hair as the vehicle bounced a bit on the uneven terrain. By the time it came to a stop just shy of the blue and white van, he'd sauntered on over and was leaning on its door for support.
Juliet used the Jeep's frame to propel herself over the door. It always made her feel a little gung-ho when she did it. She smiled and raised her arm in a wave.
"Hey." She said, reaching into the back of the Jeep to grab her toolbox. It looked ridiculously large hanging from her slender arm.
"Hey yourself." He managed a half smile, but by the look of her delicately raised eyebrow he was sure it came off as more of a sneer.
"So what happened?" Even as she said it, she was popping the hood for a look-see.
"The Hippy vans have started a revolt. Workin' conditions not up to union standards."
She brushed back a strand of hair that had matted to her face, early traces of a frown evident in her brow.
"Well I can see why." She said, examining the damage. "You're over-heated. You've probably blown your transmission, and the motor looks dead."
"Ya don't say." He muttered.
She stared pointedly, ignoring the sarcasm, but wiping her grease-stained hands and placing them on her hips to show she'd heard him. Sawyer grabbed the plastic water barrel out the back of the Jeep by way of an apology. Juliet watched him tip some of the water over the crying engine, noting -almost clinically - how his taut muscles were straining in the heat. She ducked out of the steam, blinking as sweat stung her eyes. She'd only been out here a few minutes, and she knew he'd been up and at it all day, probably for a good hour before she'd even blinked back the sleep in her eyes.
"You know I could've done that." She told him.
"Didn't want you to break a nail." He smiled as he said it, but it didn't quite reach all the way to his eyes.
Juliet showed off the back of her hand revealing a very neat, but short set of nails. She wiggled her fingers lightly as she did so, and it occurred to her that she would like nothing more than to drop four of them right now in response. Perhaps sensing that he was treading on dangerous ground, he wandered over to the edge of the grass and sat himself down, knees protesting as he did so. Juliet buried herself in the engine. Thirty seconds in, she was ready to join Sawyer in unzipping her jumpsuit. The dark blue was unmerciful, and if hadn't been for the fact she knew the grease stains would mark her for a week she'd have stripped right down to her shorts.
That same thirty seconds in, Sawyer waved his arm in her general direction.
"You done yet?"
"Do I look done?" she said, not bothering to look up.
He allowed a minute to go by before repeating himself.
She huffed heavily and swivelled her head in his direction. "You could help y'know."
"Ain't my place." He replied.
Juliet turned back to the engine. She decided she liked it a lot better than she liked him right now.
Sawyer felt another decade go by before Juliet uttered a small sigh.
"I'm sorry. I'm going to have to tow it."
"What? No! Just stick a band-aid on it and send us on our way."
"I can't, James. The van's had it. I can't fix it here. I'm going to have to take it back to the motor-pool." Even as she said it she was already backing the Jeep in front of the dead van.
"What am I s'posed to tell Radzinsky? I was meant to be back forty minutes ago."
"I'm sure he'll understand." She said, jumping out again and tossing him the cable so they could connect the van to the tow-hitch.
"Yeah he's real understandin'. I'll just radio on down and tell him he's gotta stop playing God for the rest of the day, because Tool-Box Barbie over here can't fix a simple engine."
Her expression turned to ice, and he knew he'd crossed a line. Those clear blue eyes that had settled and softened so easily in Dharmaville, were hardened and cold once more. He had half a mind to watch out for a Taser, but he didn't want to risk dropping her gaze, because he knew that if he did, she'd strike. Her lips were pressed into a thin line, her cheeks flushed both by her labor and from her anger. Whatever was bothering him, she no longer cared. She turned on her heels and went back to securing the van. Sawyer stood there, his breathing increasingly erratic. He was pissed, and he was looking for someone to be mad at. Sawyer wasn't even sure why he'd said it. He just had. He kicked a tire by way of frustration. Juliet didn't even look at him.
"That'll help." Was all she said. She was infuriatingly calm, and right now he hated her for it. He wanted her to get angry, so that he could somehow justify his own warped frustrations. But she didn't budge.
"Don't you care?" he finally spat out.
She shrugged her shoulders. "About what? The van? It'll live." She stood facing him once more, so close he could count her eyelashes. "Or did you mean getting on Radzinsky's bad side?"
"He don't have a good side. Man's a prize ass."
"Well James, right now, so are you."
He recoiled as if she'd just slapped him in the face.
"I don't know what Grinch stole your Christmas, but please stop taking it out on me." She brushed past him, their shoulders knocking as she did so. She'd already started the Jeep's engine when he called out -
"Six months Juliet!"
She turned off the engine.
"Six months since Locke vanished down that damn well. Six months searchin' for nothin'. Six months stuck here survivin' in Dharmaville with their hippy hair and their experimental mumbo jumbo! Six months Juliet. And for what? Don't you care it's been this long? That we've got nothin'? Got nowhere?"
She was looking at him, less angry but still guarded. He was leaning on the open driver's door, hands on hips, eyes slightly wild.
"I didn't even realize." She confessed softly.
His jaw gaped. "What, you don't got a calendar? Never learned how to count?"
She got out of the seat once more, and folded her arms before she replied. "I don't know when I stopped counting the days, James. I just know that I did."
He shook his head, disbelief etched in the lines of his face. "Why?"
"You were the one who wanted to leave."
"Well you were the one who asked me to stay. So maybe I should be asking why?"
"Maybe I got nothin' from nothin' here." He growled quietly.
Her face was sad and she wanted nothing more than to continue to stare at the ground, but she forced herself to look at him.
"I have a house. I have a job. I have a boiler that breaks down every other week, but that's okay because there's always someone around who'll fix it." She tried to stay the tears threatening the corners of her eyes. "And maybe… maybe you should stop surviving James, and start living. They're good people, and they've welcomed us into their lives, and they've given us all a home. I'm not searching for anything anymore, because for the first time in a very very long time, I'm actually okay. I've actually found something. I have a life. I have friends that feel like family. I have you." A tear escaped, trailing down her cheek and pausing on her chin before falling into the dust. "At least I thought I did."
He tried to reach for her arm, but she'd climbed back into the Jeep and slammed the door before he'd moved half an inch. Starting the engine and staring straight ahead she said, "Thank you for correcting me."
Before he could so much as open his mouth she'd pressed down on the gas and taken off, the two vehicles stirring up dust in their wake. He closed his eyes, dropping his head on his chest.
He'd said, and done, a lot of hurtful things in his time. Occasionally he'd felt ashamed by his actions, by his ability to give someone a verbal whiplashing. But he'd spent most of his life running from trouble that by the time he got somewhere new he had to reinvent himself, and to do that he had to forget all of those things he'd said, and done.
Standing alone underneath the blazing afternoon sun, his anger replaced by regret, he realized two things. One, he'd chucked the walkie back into the van when he'd gone to fetch the water. And two, he'd just managed to hurt his best friend in the world.
And out here he couldn't forget, because there was nothing out here but the heat and his shame.