Grace Period

Author's Note: Herewith follow a series of oneshots from Sawyer's perspective, mostly to fill in gaps or novelize scenes I think are interesting from his point of view. Mostly because I love Sawyer. I'm also using these to grease the creative wheels for the sequel to my recently published novel The Blacksmith's Daughter (shameless plug) which is available at www dot musapublishing dot com and at Amazon and Smashwords and lots of other places. I write better when I'm writing, so now I'm writing! Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope you will review. I love reviews!

Chapter One: Crashtest

(In which we discover just how Sawyer managed to get hold of Mars' badge and gun.)


A few hours into the flight, his eyes began to drift closed in complete exhaustion.

But the moment the grey and blue interior of the plane went to black, he could see the man slumped against the side of the green dumpster, his blood beginning to seep through his shirt. He could feel the sting in his palm from the kick of the pistol. The smell of gunpowder hung in the air and his ears rang from the report of the bullet.

And just as fast as they had closed, his eyes snapped open again.

Son of a bitch, he thought to himself and held up his hand for another cup of coffee.

He'd stopped drinking a couple of hours ago. The alcohol only made him sleepier and did nothing to quell the flashback. He'd learned that the hard way in a Sydney bar. Not even starting a fight-apparently with a member of the Australian top brass-had been enough to distract him.

He tried to read again, something, anything to stop the replay of watching a man die-an innocent man. Anything to stop the repeating soundtrack of gunfire and the man's last words, "Tell Hibbs I would have paid. It'll come back around."

His stomach churned as he sipped his bad airline coffee. He hated Hibbs in that moment almost more than he hated the man he'd been gunning for. In all his years of grifting, he'd always kept his hands clean. He wasn't anybody's heavy.

But Hibbs had taken him. He'd thrown him a hook he hadn't been able to resist. Pulling that trigger was supposed to make him feel better, but instead it only made him feel sick.

The conman had been taken in a con.

Instead of justice, he'd dealt out murder.

He took another sip of coffee and his stomach rolled again, but this time it was with the sudden turbulence that rocked the plane.

Passengers began to shout around him as the turbulence grew worse, causing overhead bins to pop open and luggage to fall around him. Oxygen masks spilled from their compartments, but he didn't bother to put his on. Around him, his seatmates followed the captain's instructions to take crash positions, but he didn't bother doing that either.

He sat up, eyes open, unfazed and unsurprised.

It had come back around.

When the tail section of the plane broke off, the sudden rush of wind blew his hair into his eyes. When the nose broke off, he could see the bright blue of the sky only feet in front of him.

"Hell, yeah!" he called bitterly into the chaos and prepared to ride that pony into oblivion.

He could taste blood. That was the first thing he realized.

The second was that he was hanging very uncomfortably from a narrow airline seatbelt. He took a moment to orient himself. The plane wasn't in the air. It was on the ground and somehow he was still belted into place even though all the angles were wrong and he could smell smoke and hear the deafening whine of the engines.

He had to get out of there. Without thinking, he jerked at the latch of the belt and dropped with a heavy thud onto the bank of overhead compartments, which were now underfoot. The compartment broke beneath him with a crack and a sharp corner gouged into his temple, barely missing his eye.

He lay there a long second, the edge of the plastic hovering blurry and menacing in his vision, then he pulled away carefully. There was a noise above him and he looked up. Passengers dangled there like sides of beef in a slaughterhouse. Death literally hung over him.

But directly above, a man hung from his seatbelt, groaning.

"Hey, it's okay," he called out. "I'll get you down."

He stood on the compartment and reached overhead as high as he could, his fingers barely reaching the man's buckle. Then with a snap it came free and he did his best to catch the guy as he plummeted.

Somehow, the man managed to land almost gently on top of him, the fall cushioned by a pile of luggage that had also tumbled free of the overhead storage.

"You okay there, fella?" he asked as he tried to check the man over for injuries. He passed his fingers across the man's chest and felt a hard metal object protruding from him.

"This ain't good," he sighed.

Outside, the whine from the engines grew louder and he looked around anxiously. They had to get out. As carefully as he could, he began to pull the man free of the wreckage. They got maybe fifteen feet when suddenly the guy started to cry out in pain.

"Oh, my God," the guy moaned. "Stop! Stop! Put me down!"

He eased the man down onto the sand. "We're still too close to the engines," he tried to explain. "We gotta get you farther away."

But the man slapped at him, "Just leave me alone, you bastard!"

He knew the guy was hurting and out of his mind and moved to unbutton the man's jacket to see just how bad the wound was. When he did, a law enforcement badge came free off the man's belt into his hand. Absently he stuck it into his hip pocket. "I'm just going to take a look and see how bad it is," he tried to explain.

"No! Don't touch me! I'll kill you, you bastard, if you touch me again," the man swore, his eyes wide with fear and anger. His face was white with pain and shock. "I swear to God I'll kill anybody who touches me!" The man tried to sit up, his hand reaching. Then he sank back onto the sand, groaning pitifully.

He checked to see what the man was reaching for and found the holster he was wearing.

"Son of a bitch," he swore absently beneath his breath. Then he took the badge out of his pocket and read it. U. S. Marshal. "Damn." He stuck it back into his jeans and pulled the pistol free as well, sticking into his waistband for safe keeping.

The man continued to groan on the sand. He had to get help. Maybe two people could carry him without hurting him any worse than he already was.

Behind him, other sounds began to coalesce. He could hear a woman screaming and people calling out names, looking for their loved ones. A wheelchair lay on its side not too far away from him.

He scanned the area, looking for someone to help him, when he spotted a young blonde woman bent double near the water. She cried out in pain, but just as he rose to go help her, a dark haired man in a suit reached her side. He looked around again and spotted another guy standing at the edge of the trees. He'd do.

As he ran that way, a sudden explosion rocked the ground, throwing him down hard enough to knock the wind out of him. When he looked up, smoke filled the air and the guy at the treeline was gone.

He searched again for somebody, spotting a young man wandering aimlessly through the wreckage past the blonde chick that was still screaming her fool head off.

Across the beach the dark haired guy in the suit handed the blonde girl, who was pregnant he realized, off to a big dude with a scary mop of curly hair. Maybe that guy can help, he thought to himself.

But the dark haired guy had already run to help another guy on the beach who was doing CPR on a woman in a pink shirt.

"Great," he thought to himself. He ran into the smoke, trying to find somebody who could help him get that marshal to safety. "Brownie points with the law boys," he muttered under his breath.

Then as he searched he wondered if that marshal was possibly looking for someone. He wondered if that marshal was possibly looking for a fugitive. Maybe he'd been tipped off to keep an eye out for someone on the run for murder.

He paused just a moment to think. It'll come back around. Duckett whispered and it was so clear. So real.

He looked down at his hands. They were shaking.

"Damn," he cursed, then ran into the smoke anyway, still hunting somebody who could help him.

There was a terrible sound beside him, a screeching sound of metal twisting against itself, as the huge wing on the other side of the plane begin to tear free of the fuselage, bending slowly, almost gracefully down onto the people running for cover.

A woman in a green dress ran past him, heading straight for the plane. He grabbed her arm, but she shook him free. "Damn it, stop!" he yelled at her, grabbing her wrist again.

"Let me go!" she screamed. "I have to find my fiancé! Steve!" Then she pulled free of him with a jerk and got two steps away when all hell broke loose.

As the wing hit the engine beneath it, there was an instant of silence, followed by a boom that he could feel in the air as well as hear. He was knocked off his feet again, this time into unconsciousness.

He woke to the gritty feeling of sand in his mouth and the burning of the cut on his head. His chest hurt from breathing in the acrid smoke of the explosion. Beside him lay the body of the young woman in the green dress. He could tell she was dead by the vacant look in her eyes. There was something familiar about her long blonde hair and empty blue eyes and the way blood soaked into the sand from the gaping hole in her chest. Too familiar. It bore too much resemblance to the childhood memory that burned a hole in his pocket.

He scrambled away from her.

Behind him, the dark haired man in the suit had come to the rescue of the federale with the chunk of metal in his chest. He heard someone tell the dark haired man, "Thank God, you're here to help him."

He spat out sand and rubbed at the blood in his eye.

All around him was death and destruction. Chaos and fear.

A fat, middle aged man walked up behind him then. "You going to sit there all day or are you going to try to help somebody?" the man asked in a superior tone.

Sawyer looked down at the dead body of the young woman and across at the fallen marshal, now surrounded by attendants including the hero of the day. He heard someone call the dark haired man doctor.

Anger ran through him then, an unnamable anger that encompassed everything that had happened to him, everything he'd done, everything he was.

He rose and patted his pockets. He felt the hard metal circle of the marshal's badge. Never knew when that might come in handy. He felt the cool, familiar grip of the gun and pulled his shirt over it to hide it from prying eyes. Never knew when that might come in handy as well. Then he felt the crinkle of paper, of the folded envelope he hadn't taken out again.

Everything he touched died. Everybody who came near him paid for it dearly-with their money or their self-respect-and now with their lives. The woman in the green dress lay there beside him, her eyes full of condemnation.




Help somebody?

He was only good at helping himself.

Finally his fingers found what he was looking for and he pulled out a pack of cigarettes, the lighter still safely tucked inside.

The fat man still stood before him, his lips pursed in disapproval. "So," the man continued in the same condescending tone his eighth grade math teacher used to use, "are you going to lend a hand over here?"

"Nope, Mr. Rooney," Sawyer replied, forcing his hand to remain steady as he lit one up. "I reckon I'm just going to have a smoke instead."

Then he turned his back on the wreckage behind him and walked away.