Author's Note: This is a fourteen-part story, each chapter dealing with one day in that two week period when Juliet went from wanting to leave the island to staying. The first chapter picks up the morning after the wonderful dock scene from LaFleur. I hope you enjoy it!
Juliet woke up to a sore back, having spent the night on a lumpy couch in the rec room. It could be worse, she thought, eyeing Miles, Jin and Daniel still asleep on the floor. It was a peaceful morning, with warm sunlight streaming through the windows. But Juliet was restless.
She closed her eyes again and sighed. Despite it all, she was back here again. Stuck in the same claustrophobic village she'd been trying to escape for three years. It was almost ironic – after defecting from her people, almost getting rescued, and then bouncing through time, she still ended up back where she started. Agreeing to stay for even two more weeks suddenly seemed like an unbearable lapse in judgment. But then she remembered the night before on the dock and James' wide smile when she'd agreed to stay. She could tough it out for two more weeks. Just two more weeks and she'd finally leave.
Strengthened by this resolve, Juliet opened her eyes… and found a man staring down at her. Startled, she sprang up with a hand on her chest, trying to slow her racing heart. "Damnit, James, what was that for?"
Grinning broadly, obviously pleased with himself, Sawyer said, "Morning, Sunshine! Didn't mean to scare you. Just wanted to see if you were up."
"Now you know," she grumbled, rubbing her sore back.
He laughed. "I don't know why you're so cranky. At least you got to sleep on a couch last night."
"Well, waking up to a strange man in your face isn't the best way to start the day."
"Aww, I'm hurt," he fake-pouted. "After all we've been through, after all these years," he grinned as she rolled her eyes, "I'm still a stranger?"
She sighed, deciding not to play into his teasing so early in the day. "I do appreciate you letting me have the couch last night. It was very considerate of you."
"It was, wasn't it?" Sawyer said. "And people seem to think I'm just some redneck. I can be quite the gentleman." And to accentuate his point, he held out his hand to her. She shook her head, but nonetheless gave him her hand and let him gently pull her up.
"You're one of those obnoxious morning people, aren't you?" she asked, once she was standing.
"Absolutely," he said. "And I look forward to driving you crazy every morning for the next two weeks."
After they had roused Miles, Jin and Daniel, the group headed to the cafeteria. They got plates of food and sat at a small table off to one side, where they wouldn't be overheard. Sawyer started in a low voice, "We only got two weeks, remember. I'm meeting with Horace after breakfast so we can get started looking for our people as soon as possible. Remember it's 1974, so we can't talk about anything that happens after that. As much as possible, lay low and stick to ourselves."
It was a nice try, Juliet thought, but the group didn't seem inclined to listen. Jin for one, only understood about half of what Sawyer had said. Daniel, who had been sullen all morning, had perked up when he saw a young Charlotte outside the window. Miles was distracted by a busty brunette at a nearby table. Sawyer, realizing all this, sighed and looked at Juliet. She stifled a laugh at his exasperation, before clapping her hands once to get their attention, "Guys," she said sharply, waiting until the three other men were looking at her before continuing, "It's 1974. Don't do anything stupid, okay?" She stared at each man until he nodded.
Sawyer shook his head, "Thanks, Juliet."
"You'll learn. Dealing with a group of guys is like dealing with children," she smirked.
Sawyer was about to protest, when Horace strolled up to their table.
"Good morning," He greeted them. "I hope you all slept well. I know the rec room isn't the most comfortable of lodgings. "
"That's certainly true," Miles huffed.
Sawyer glared at Miles before addressing Horace, "Ignore him. The rest of us do. The rec room was fine. We're just glad you're letting us stay and look for our people."
"Of course," Horace replied. "Whenever you're ready, Jim, we can discuss how that's going to work. And I've got Deb looking into some other accommodations for you. We can't have you sleeping on the floor for two weeks."
"Thanks, boss," Sawyer said. "Let us finish up our breakfast and then I'll meet you, okay?"
"Sounds good. I'll see you all around. Let us know if you need anything." Horace nodded at them and went back to his table.
"He is very nice," Jin said.
"Yeah," Miles agreed, "What a lovable old hippy."
Sawyer shook his head and turned to Juliet and Jin. "Am I that annoying?" he asked, gesturing towards Miles.
"No, you are worse!" Jin said, earning a big laugh from Juliet and a slap on the back from Miles. Even Sawyer laughed, though he said, "I think I liked you better when you didn't know any English, Chewie."
"Hey!" Miles piped up. "That's 1977. You're three years too early for that reference."
"Weren't you just saying we needed to watch what we say?" Juliet added.
"Son of a bitch," Sawyer muttered. "No Star Wars nicknames." He turned to Juliet, "And I thought you were supposed to have my back, Blondie? Don't encourage these two yahoos."
"I do, but I thought you deserved it after that stunt you pulled this morning."
"Fair enough," he admitted. "But we're even now."
The group finished their breakfast and headed out. Horace met up with them, accompanied by a woman. "Hello again, friends. This is Deb," he said gesturing towards his companion. "She handles the logistics of our little operation here."
"Hi, nice to meet you all," Deb said cheerfully. "Considering recent events, Amy is moving out of her house and in with a friend. We'll be housing you temporarily in Amy and Paul's old house then. I'd be happy to go show you to your new living quarters right now if that's convenient." Deb smiled warmly at all of them, though Juliet noticed her attention lingered on Sawyer for an extra second or two. She seemed like a sweet girl and Juliet hoped, with a pang of guilt, that she was off the island before Ben and the rest of her former people purged Dharma.
"Alright," Sawyer replied. "Jin, Miles and Daniel will go with you," Juliet laughed inwardly at Deb's disappointed face, "while Juliet and I meet with Horace. That okay with you, Juliet?"
Juliet was surprised but pleased by his request. "Absolutely."
"Wonderful. We'll catch up with you later then," Horace said. Deb led Jin, Miles and Daniel off, shooting a jealous look at Juliet and missing the leer Miles was shooting at her.
"Jim, Juliet, please have a seat," Horace began, gesturing towards a nearby bench and pulling up a chair beside them. "Juliet, I don't think I've really had the pleasure of talking to you yet, so welcome. I know the situation that brought you all here was not ideal, but we'll do whatever we can in the next two weeks to make you feel welcome and help your find your crew."
"Thank you," Juliet said, impressed by his sincerity.
"What was your role on your ship? Or were you just being a good wife and supporting Jim?"
It took a second for Juliet to understand what Horace was implying. But then, "Wait, what?" Juliet asked, looking over at an equally dumbfounded Sawyer.
"Aren't you two married?" Horace asked.
"What?" Sawyer exclaimed.
"No, no, not at all," Juliet said quickly.
"My apologies," Horace said, looking embarrassed. "I just thought… you seem very close and the way Jim asked you to join us at this meeting…"
"Don't worry about it, H" Sawyer replied, laughing it off. "She's been my right-hand man since the crash is all. Juliet was our-"
"Mechanic," Juliet cut him off, before he could get out the word doctor. Sawyer frowned at her, making a face that said Mechanic? She nodded at him slightly. "I was the mechanic."
"Again, I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. As for finding your crew," Horace said, changing the subject and earning a silent thank you from Juliet, "we do have limited supplies, being on an island. We can spare one of our Jeeps for your use. But it won't hold your whole team, and we cannot allow you to take it outside our fence. Any searching you do beyond the fence you will have to do on-foot, completely independent of the Dharma Initiative, and you will be on your own in regards to the Hostiles. I'm sorry for the limitations, but it's really the best we can do."
"You're the captain here, you gotta take care of your men first and foremost, I understand that. " Sawyer said. It amused Juliet how easily he slipped into the role of ship's captain, how being a leader seemed to fit him.
"Beyond that," Horace said, lightening the mood, "Please feel free to make yourselves at home and let us know if there's anything we can do."
"Appreciate it," Sawyer said. "Juliet and I will go back and brief our team and then we'll probably head straight out to search, since we only got two weeks."
"I'll give this to Juliet then," Horace handed Juliet the Jeep key. "The motorpool is right over there. The mechanics will be happy to show you which Jeep to use. The island terrain is rough on our vehicles, but I'm sure Juliet will be able to fix any problems you might encounter. Now if you'll excuse me, I do have a lot of work to get to today." Horace stood and shook Sawyer and Juliet's hands. "Best of luck with your search."
Sawyer waited until Horace was out of hearing range before turning to Juliet. "Mechanic?" he hissed. "Hell, Juliet, I'm the con artist. Lying's my thing. And an important rule of conning someone is making your lies believable and consistent. What happens when the Jeep breaks down and we have to tell them you can't fix it? Our story is shaky as it is."
"How do you know I'm not a mechanic?" Juliet asked him, maintaining a perfectly serious and neutral face.
Sawyer stared at her, searching her face to see if she was lying. She broke into a grin. "You can't tell if I'm telling the truth, can you?" She laughed. Three years of hiding her emotions from the Others was paying off.
"Damnit, Blondie. Come on, you're not a mechanic."
"Maybe. Maybe I am," she said. "Let's go find the boys and our new house." She stood and started walking towards the barracks.
"But why couldn't you just say you were our doctor?" Sawyer fell into step beside her. "Why a mechanic?"
"I have my reasons, " she said, mysterious on purpose, enjoying the fact that this was clearly bothering him.
"Fine," he said, mock-annoyed at her. "If you're not going to tell me the truth, don't be surprised when you wake up to my smiling face nice and early again tomorrow."
She groaned, but then looked up at him, catching his eye. They both broke into a smile. Maybe two weeks wouldn't be so bad after all, she mused.