Quiet Desperation

AN: This story in mainly being completed – finally – because of Andaere who gave me a kick in the butt to get it finished. Thanks! Hope you like the conclusion.

Part Three

It's the day Sawyer has been dreading. He can't find a pulse.

For a moment, his mind goes blank. He's drunker than he has been in a while and Charlie doesn't have a pulse. How long was he out anyway? How long has Charlie been slumped on the couch, amongst the decay of their half-hearted attempt at normal life, going cold and blue, his head lolled forwards on his chest, too-long hair hiding his face in shadows?

Charlie doesn't have a pulse.

Sawyer doesn't remember calling an ambulance. He remembers yelling, shaking Charlie helplessly and probably too roughly. Shouldn't shake corpses, he thinks to himself as Charlie flops, boneless.

He knows that, by the time the paramedics arrive, Charlie's on the ground, amidst the rubbish, and he's trying to pound life back into him. He can't bring colour back to Charlie's face though, and he can't get Charlie to breath for himself. Kid must've used up his nine lives.

Charlie doesn't have a pulse.

When did he decide he liked the stupid little junkie anyway? He doesn't know, but he knows that he needs Charlie to breathe, because they're meant to be in this together, and, even if they're not exactly friends, there's no damn way that Charlie's allowed to bow out early.

It's a relief when Sawyer finds himself shoved aside, even if he curses and fights to get back to Charlie. He doesn't listen to the paramedics. They're not talking to him anyway. No one ever talks to him, apart from Charlie and Charlie doesn't have a pulse anymore. Maybe no one will ever talk to him again. Maybe that's just fucking fine.

Then he hears Charlie murmur Claire's name, breaking his own rule. Sawyer wonders if Claire's dead and now she's come to take Charlie away with her. He even looks around the room for her. He wants to tell her to go away.

The ambulance must be driving at twice the speed limit, sirens screeching, running red lights and dodging traffic. It makes Sawyer feel dizzy and nauseated, or maybe that's just the booze. He can't be sure. All he's sure of is that Charlie does have a pulse now, so the world's not ending. And he wants to kick himself for caring so much about the stupid kid. Sawyer doesn't care about anything. He doesn't care about getting trashed every day, all day, or bar fights, or passing out on the pavement. He doesn't care if he lives, maybe even hopes that he'll die, but apparently, he cares about Charlie.

Then they're at the hospital and, in a sickening blur of movement and yelling, Charlie's gone, rushed away through some doors, leaving Sawyer standing in his wake trying not to throw up. He doesn't remember making his way to the waiting area, just the relief in the knowledge that now he can at least sit down and try to get his head to stop spinning, try to stop thinking about anything except how much he needs a drink. Hospitals should have open bars.

But Sawyer doesn't sit or give himself time to think. He's at the pay phones and is listening to the ring before he's even realized what he's doing, and before he has time to consider hanging up, Jack answers.

"Sawyer, if this is another one of your drunken late night phone calls…"

Jack sounds weary, as if they've done this many times before. Funny, Sawyer can't remember ever ringing Jack.

"It's Charlie," Sawyer manages, and doesn't need to go any further. Apparently Jack knew that this day was coming too.

Sawyer knows that Jack doesn't think very highly of him, regardless of their common ground, having both left the same woman… but he calls him anyway, without thinking, because, on the Island, when there was an emergency, you called Jack. Well, everyone else did. Sawyer didn't, but he does now.

Sawyer knows that Jack holds him responsible for Charlie's downward spiral. A bad influence, and Sawyer has never bothered to clear up the confusion by explaining that Charlie was intent on destroying himself anyway. He'd been doing it long before Sawyer met him, long before the Island and Flight 815. Sawyer was simply going along for the ride. Misery loves company, right?


"Sawyer."

Sawyer snaps his head up, blinking. It takes him a moment to remember where he is, taking in the cold, sterile smell and harsh florescent lights.

Charlie. Charlie, who doesn't have a pulse because he shot himself full to bursting with a synthetic high, but he does have a pulse now and everything will be… okay isn't the right word, but why the hell did he call Jack again?

Jack is standing over him, his face set in a grim mask. Something about his look makes Sawyer want to panic.

"How long have I been asleep?" Christ, he feels sick. "Have you seen Charlie? Is he…?"

Sawyer trails off, not sure what he wants to ask or whether he wants to know the answer.

Jack sits down next to him, but with two seats between them, Sawyer notices. Jackass. Sawyer looks at the time. Nearly five am. He's been asleep almost two hours.

"Charlie's doing okay," Jack says, running a tired hand over his face. "He's sleeping."

Sawyer feels relief wash through him. Of course Charlie's okay. He's got more than nine lives. Charlie will live forever, or at least until Sawyer dies. They're in this together. "He allowed visitors?"

Jack frowns, "I don't think that's a good idea."

"Why not?" Sawyer demands, anger puffing out his chest. Jack and his stupid idea's. Isn't that what got them off the Island anyway? Ripped them away from…

Isn't this all just Jack's fault? May as well be 'cause it's gotta be someone's.

Jack raises his eyebrows. "Sawyer…"

Sawyer hates the way Jack manages to make his name sound like a swear word.

"You think this is my fault now?" He's on his feet, hands balled into fists, but Jack raises a hand to stop him.

"This isn't about you," he says, "This is about Charlie."

"Charlie will be fine," Sawyer says defensively, "I can handle it. When he gets home-"

"Charlie's not coming home."

Sawyer blinks, a fraction of panic resurfacing. "What do you mean?"

"I called his brother. He said he'll be on the first plane out. He's going to take Charlie back to Australia, get him into a rehab center."

Sawyer sinks back into his seat, speechless, repeatedly curling his hands into fists as if clutching for something that is no longer there. He feels suddenly cold and alone. There's no alcohol left to coat reality in a comforting haze.

"Charlie wont go."

Jack just shakes his head. "You should go home."

He's been dismissed. He walks the empty hospital halls until he finds an exit, then catches a taxi back to his and Charlie's… to his apartment.

He stands in the doorway, surveying the jumbled chaos of his life. The floor is littered with empty bottles and cans, used needles. A baggie of heroin sits next to the overflowing ashtray. Charlie's hooded sweatshirt is strewn over the back of the couch.

Sawyer is used to being the one who leaves. He's never the one who is left.

Sawyer lingers in the doorway a moment longer, noticing for the first time how empty and lonely the apartment seems, how the walls seem to be painted with hopelessness, then he sighs and goes to the kitchen to get himself a drink, knowing that it will never fill the hole he feels inside of himself – nothing will – but at least it will help him forget about it for a few hours.

End.

A/N: Well, hope that was satisfactory. My original draft of this story actually had Charlie dying at the end, but I changed it at the last minute. Just in case I ever want to continue, I didn't want to make that impossible. Thanks for reading and sorry for the incredibly long wait.

Um… *scuffs shoe in the dirt* You're gonna review, right? Pretty please? They really do brighten up my day. (And I've had some stressful days lately, even if you don't count the home invasion, during which a gun was pointed at me.)