Author's Note: Inspired by the premiere and the need for Sawyer and Juliet to have a happy ending, this is my take on alt-Suliet. I am sure there will be a ton of one-shots on this very topic, but here is my humble offering. Takes place in the middle of the alt events of LA X.
Stepping out of the elevator, James watched as the brunette woman hurried away through the airport. There was something about her that was familiar, but he couldn't place it. Though considering the cuffs, maybe he had seen her face on the news at some point. Shrugging to himself, James put the woman out of his mind. It didn't matter. She was a cute girl on the elevator, nothing more.
But that didn't explain why he had felt the same familiarity towards the big guy sitting across from him on the plane.
James sighed. It had been a rough flight from Sydney – fifteen hours with heavy turbulence - and he still had to make his connection back to Atlanta. He checked his flight status on a nearby monitor, and headed towards one of the domestic terminals. His connecting flight was in an hour and he needed to go through security again and pick up a book for his next flight.
He passed through security easily. The Latina woman who waved him through the scanner piqued another sense of déjà vu. James growled to himself, frustrated. What was going on? He'd never seen these people before.
Jet lag, he decided. He just needed to go home and get some sleep.
Leaving security, James headed towards the airport bookstore. They never had a good selection, but he needed something to get him through the final five hours to Georgia. He searched for the fiction section, hoping to find another Stephen King book. King was always a solid bet and he sure didn't want one of those Oprah book club books, which seemed to be all the small store offered.
He turned a corner to the fiction section and found a woman standing right in front of the shelf he wanted, her blonde head buried in a book. He strode up next to her, hoping to be able to reach in front of her, grab a book, and be on his way. He spotted The Tommyknockers and pulled it off the shelf, but his arm bumped the woman.
"Sorry about that," he said.
The woman looked up from her book and Sawyer felt another flash of familiarity, this one the strongest yet. Those blue eyes. He could have sworn he'd spent some time gazing into them before.
She gave him an odd look, and he wondered if she felt something too. But she quickly set a smile on her face. "Don't worry about it," she replied and returned to her book.
Sawyer stared at her for a moment, racking his brain for where he could have seen her before. He couldn't remember anything, but she was gorgeous and he didn't have anywhere to be for an hour.
"Watcha reading?" he asked her.
She looked back up at him, seemingly surprised.
"Your book," he clarified, pointing to the book in her hands. "I just finished reading The Stand on my flight from Sydney and could use a recommendation."
She smiled again, this time more genuine. "Carrie," she said, showing him the book cover. "Have you read it?" she asked.
"No, never got around to that one. I was going to get The Tommyknockers," he said, holding up the book he had pulled off the shelf.
She frowned and tutted softly. "You don't want that one."
"I don't?" James laughed. "What's it about?"
"You don't do aliens?"
"No, I do. But Carrie's better," she stated.
"So you've already read Carrie. Why are you reading it again?"
She held the book closer to her, as if hugging it. "It's my favorite book. I was rereading parts of it." Her eyes shone when discussing the book, and James was inexplicably touched by her happiness.
"Alright, Blondie," James laughed, "You've convinced me. If it's your favorite book, I'll give it a shot." He reached over and took the book from her hands.
"Good choice," she nodded in approval. "I just hope you like it or you'll think I'm a liar," she smirked.
"Well, how about this, have you read The Stand?" he asked.
He fished around in his carry-on bag and pulled out his beat-up copy of The Stand. "I like it. I'll give it to you so you can have equal opportunity to dislike my pick," he flashed her a dimpled smile.
She eyed him for a moment. "Alright, deal," she said, taking the book from him.
Realizing this was a natural end to their conversation, James tried to think of a way to keep talking to her. "When's your flight?"
She glanced at her watch. "Forty-five minutes. Why?"
"How about you grab some coffee with me and you can tell me why Carrie's so good," he turned on the full charm, not wanting to let her go.
"Do you normally try to pick up women at airport bookstores?" she asked, crossing her arms.
He laughed, realizing she could see right through the act. "No, just thought the company of a fellow bookworm might be nice. What do you say?"
She cocked her head and considered him. "Fine," she said after a few seconds, shaking her head.
His heart soared at her answer. He quickly purchased his book and met her outside the store.
"If we're going to get coffee together, you have to at least tell me your name," she said.
"Fair enough," he replied. "Name's James Ford." He stuck out his hand to shake hers. The feel of her hand in his jogged something in the back of his mind.
"Juliet Carlson," she said. "Nice to meet you, James."
"Pleasure's all mine, Juliet." He said it with his usual flirtatious charm, but he meant it too. There was something about her that he had never felt before.
They walked down the terminal until they reached a Starbucks. Juliet ordered a tea before turning to him, "What would you like, James?"
"I've got it," he said, not wanting her to have to pay for him.
"No, this one's on me," she insisted.
"Whatever you say, sweetheart. Small hot chocolate," he told the barista.
"Hot chocolate?" Juliet teased, while paying for their drinks. "Are you five?"
"Wiseass," James said, while a grin split his face. They picked up their drinks and found a small table off to the side. "I didn't think this was a date," he said "but with you paying and all… do you normally try to pick up men at airport coffee shops?" he threw her words back at her.
She laughed. "Since you gave me your book, I thought it was only fair that I buy you a coffee. Or a hot chocolate."
"You misunderstood me, Blondie. I'm not giving you the book. I like that book and I'll want to read it again. I'll come get it when you're done."
"You'll come get it?" she asked, amused. "You don't even know where I live."
He leaned back in his chair. "Details. I travel a lot for work. I'm sure I'll eventually end up where you live," he said. He would make sure he would end up where she lived.
"And what do you do for work that you travel so much, James?" she asked, taking a sip of her tea.
"I'm an entrepreneur. I live in Atlanta, but I travel all over. Just spent a week in Sydney. In two weeks, I have to make a trip to Miami."
She sat up straighter and put down her tea. "Miami?" her voice sounded surprised.
"Yeah, Miami. You know, southern Florida. Beaches, retirees…"
"Yes, I know," she laughed. "I live in Miami."
"Really?" James smiled broadly. This was working out better than he could have hoped. "See, it's fate then," he winked at her.
"Coincidence," she said with a casual wave of her hand, but she was smiling.
"That gives you two weeks to finish The Stand."
"Alright, two weeks," she agreed. "But you have to be done with Carrie too."
"Fair's fair," he conceded. "So what are we going to do in Miami?"
"Well, this has worked out well," she said "We can get coffee sometime."
"No pressure though. I don't want you to have to pay for me again," he added.
"We can go dutch," she said with a smile.
He nodded in agreement. "You got it, Blondie." He met her eyes and they smiled at each other. While he didn't understand it, James couldn't deny the connection he already felt towards this amazing woman.
An airport announcement sounded, interrupting the moment. Juliet looked down at her watch. "I really should get going," she said with a sad shake of her head. "My plane's going to be boarding soon." She stood up.
"Sure thing," he said, hiding his disappointment. He stood up and threw out their cups, returning to the table while she got her bags in order.
She reached into her purse and handed him a business card. "Give me a call when you get to Miami."
He looked at the card. "Doctor, huh?" he said, impressed.
"I'm really more of a researcher," she said modestly. "It was great meeting you, James. I guess I'll see you in two weeks."
"Looking forward to it, Juliet," he said, shaking her hand again.
She picked up her carry-on and with a final smile at him, turned and walked away. James stood rooted to the spot, watching as she walked to her gate. It almost hurt to see her leave; part of him wanted to pull her into his arms and never let her go. This is crazy, he thought to himself. But then she turned back at her gate and gave him a wave and a smile that lit up her beautiful blue eyes, and James decided he didn't care if it was crazy; she was worth it.
After Juliet was gone, he walked to his gate and sat down. Reaching into his carry-on, he pulled out his new copy of Carrie. Only two more weeks, he thought, two more weeks until he could see her again. He smiled to himself and started to read.