Fandom/ Pairing: Lost, Jack/Kate, past Sawyer/Kate
Word Count: 1121
Summary: The miracle of Jack is that he'll always answer, even in the middle of the night.
Author's Note: Picks up in LA after Eggtown.
The new house has a security system, a keypad attached to the wall. "State-of-the-art," the realtor promises brightly, heels echoing hollow across the empty space. "Police response in four minutes flat."
Kate almost laughs.
There's no reason for the damn thing to spook her, she supposes; she's a free woman now, done with cages and cells. Still, she's never lived in a place protected by anything but her own trigger finger or a massive cloud of smoke and the alarm makes her nervous, what it keeps out or in. Some nights, she misses the monster.
She uses it anyway, sets the code to Aaron's birthday. She needs to keep the baby safe.
Jack calls her to see how she's doing.
Her hands are slick with dishwater. The receiver slips. "I'm good," she tells him, looking out the window above her kitchen sink. There's a fence at the edge of the lawn, high. "I'm fine."
"I'm glad," he says, and pauses. They don't talk often but she likes knowing he's in LA, his proximity comforting. Like if Kate screamed he'd hear her and come. Jack is a person who makes sense in the real world, who wouldn't spend twenty minutes in the grocery store trying to decide on a brand of oatmeal, who's more comfortable holding a baby than a gun. She asks him things she's embarrassed to ask the pediatrician, stuff she'd know if she was a mom.
Jack makes choices and lives with them. Kate guesses she does too.
For the first time in her life, she's rich. She doesn't need to work or steal or run or do anything, really--she lives in the house and she goes to the Target and she takes the baby to the playground, his chubby hands clutching at the earth. She washes his Oshkosh. She slathers sunscreen on his round pink face. She watches him dig in the sandbox, and she wonders if he misses the sea.
Aaron plays on the swingset. Kate paces the yard.
When she dreams she's back on the island: the gritty, shifting give and take of sand beneath her feet. Sawyer stands in the ocean, sunlight everywhere. Kate is still.
She gasps awake sweating--gets out of bed to run, to go, like she could track him all the way from Sunset Hills. Her heart brays like something wounded in her chest. She's halfway down the stairs before she remembers the baby, sleeping in his room beneath a mobile made of stars. Kate stops, chest heaving. She braces her hands against the wall on the landing. God in heaven, she's no one's mother. She can't be trusted with something as valuable as this.
She takes a deep breath, steadying. The air-conditioner hums. She thinks she'll stand a minute on her neat green plot of lawn, but she opens the front door without thinking and the burglar alarm trills out into the night. Kate swears under her breath. She lifts her fingers to the keypad to enter to code: 4 8 15--
That's not the code.
Kate panics. She tries to think. She imagines Claire wandering back into camp, desperate, whole swaths of her memory gone. After a moment she hears sirens in the distance. Upstairs, Aaron begins to wail.
After the cops leave she quiets the baby, his body hot and heavy in her hands. She watches him sleep, his small back rising and falling. She cries for awhile. Finally she picks up the phone. The miracle of Jack is that he'll always answer, even in the middle of the night.
"I set my alarm off by mistake," she tells him, pushing her tangled hair out of her face. She's sitting on the bottom step cradling the extension, fingernails scrabbling at the expensive carpet on the stairs. "I couldn't remember the code. All I could think of were the numbers, you know, four eight--"
"Sorry." Sometimes Kate thinks she will be apologizing to Jack until the day she dies. "What are you, superstitious now?"
"Maybe." He laughs a little, quiet. His voice is so familiar in the dark. She remembers the first day she met him, calm and so handsome and bleeding from his side. Please. If you wouldn't mind. "I don't know."
Her house is cool and huge and empty. Kate leans her head against the bars. "You could come over," she tells him finally. The words echo off the walls.
"Kate." Jack sighs. It's not the first time she's asked him. There's a timbre in his voice like he thinks she's out to break his heart. "I'll be there in twenty minutes."
She hangs up the phone, gets in the shower. The skin around her wrists is slightly darker than the rest of her: scar tissue, she guesses.
Kate scrubs herself clean.
"Hey," he says awhile later, standing by the counter in her immaculate kitchen. He's a surgeon, and prompt: it took him twenty minutes exactly. She has coffee, but he turns it down. "You okay?"
"Yeah." Kate rubs her arms to warm them. Her hair hangs in wet waves down her back. Now that he's here she feels ridiculous, a woman who couldn't save herself. They breathe. "I'm sorry," she says eventually. "I didn't mean to drag you all the way out here."
Jack shakes his dark head. "I'll always come if you need me," he says quietly. "You know that."
"Yeah," she repeats. She swallows. In another minute she's going to cry again, so she kisses him instead. He smells like industrial soap and vodka, antiseptic. He kisses her back. She thinks of that day in the Hydra, his hand on the other side of the glass, and she nudges his guarded mouth open with hers. Kate counts to five.
"Come upstairs," she barely whispers. Jack closes his eyes.
She wants to ask him if he's in it like she is, if he can't forgive or he can't forget, but that question seems too big and so she asks him about Juliet instead. "You'd have made a nice couple," she tells him, propping herself up on the pillow and tracing the ink on his arms. His whole body is solid. There's no looseness in his limbs. "Doctors and all."
Jack breathes out a little laugh. "There was nothing going on between Juliet and me." He doesn't sound entirely convinced. "And anyway, it's not...." He trails off for a moment, his face half-hidden in the moonlight. A secret thing. "It's not like any of that matters now."
Kate thinks, suddenly, of Monica Callis. It occurs to her to wonder exactly how many lives she's going to live.
"No," she says softly. "I guess not."
Already Kate knows she will lie to this child.
She'll tell him, your father saved us all.