Spoilers: through 5x16 & 17 - "The Incident"
Word Count: 1,673
Summary: An encounter.
Author's Note: Post-finale, one of the first desperate, fangirl-misery-induced scenarios I dreamt up was, upon entering a crazy different universe in which the island went boom and 815 never crashed, Sawyer and Juliet somehow crossing paths and recognizing each other on some weird unconscious level, and therefore thwarting poor sweet wronged-too-many-times Juliet's suspicion that she and Sawyer were never meant to be together. Sappy as it may be -- and it is ever so much! -- I just love the idea that time itself might get erased, but they loved each other so deeply that something in both their souls just remembered each other. Yeah, I just invoked the power of SOULMATEHOOD. I don't know. I NEED THEIR LOVE TO TRIUMPH, sad-sighhh!
Also, I totally picked out this title without even realizing that I quoted Gorecki in the title of my other Sawyer/Juliet fic, too! Oh, Lamb, gettin' it done. But that song has such a perfect sense of having endured much hardship and then finally finding someone you can love and trust and find solace in unconditionally, so gosh darnit, I hereby dub it James/Jules-tastic.
And now, let us return to a world where Sawyer is still the tragic miserable bastard he was in the Pilot and poor Jules is still stuck being all meek and mild with much Rachel anguish and an unbussed meanie jerk of an ex-husband. Oh, show.
“What we had was just for a little while, and just because we love each other doesn't mean that we're meant to be together. Maybe we were never supposed to be together.”
He doesn’t stick around LA for long. Ain’t got no reason to. He drifts, drinks, cons when he can but nothing too fancy or too drawn out; hasn’t got the energy for that. Can’t sleep at night, more often than not. Keeps dreamin’. Rain pissing down and a goddamn dumpster, a gunshot sound, and that feeling, that sudden sick knowing that still hasn’t worn off yet. It’s like a cold you can’t kick. A song you don’t like that stays in your head. Sawyer thinks sometimes about writing a new letter – Dear Hibbs, you sorry ass son of a bitch, I’ll get you back for what you done. When he’s drunk, it sounds like a damn fine idea. When he’s not, he laughs, low and mean. He ain’t eight years old no more. That kid’s dead. That kid’s slumped against a dumpster, ragdoll loose and bleeding, eyes still open and askin’ why.
He’s still hunting, he guesses. Still looking for Mr. Sawyer, still carries that letter in his back pocket like it’s a damn rabbit’s foot. He don’t know anymore what he’ll do if he finds him. He can’t shake the sense that he did what he had to do already. If the stupid bastard was innocent, if he wasn’t his mighty namesake after all, well, what does it matter?
He thinks about Clementine. Sometimes he gets real curious, thinks he’d like to see her. But he ain’t stupid, he knows Cassidy would rip his goddamn throat out if she caught him snooping around. Now, there’d be a sweet sight for his baby girl, watchin’ Mommy kill Daddy. Maybe he will go. Keep up a nice ol’ family tradition.
Clementine, he ain’t ever gonna see her. He don’t want his life to touch hers. He figures that’s the best he can give her.
He winds up in Florida. For awhile, he doesn’t do much. Steals a little, sleeps around. Then one of the women he meets in one of the bars takes a liking to him, and wouldn’t you know, she’s got a rich hubby who don’t treat her nice. Sawyer, he ain’t pulled this one in awhile, but it seems rude to turn it down when the universe done gone and dropped it in his lap like this.
Her name’s Cheryl. She’s got long, straight hair that’s almost black and a voice she keeps high and girlish. Her perfume gives him headaches. He can’t stand her. For some reason, he likes that. The hating her feels as good as being crazy about her would’ve. Better, maybe. She curls up against him in bed and her arms feel like chains. He tries to fall asleep to thoughts about breaking her heart and taking everything she’s got besides.
Her husband’s some poor sorry bastard named William, and he’s away on business a lot. Cheryl likes to bring Sawyer on back to her place so he can fuck her in their bed. She’s just wild about that; probably thinks it’s poetic or some shit. Maybe before he woulda convinced her to stick to his hotel room instead. Last thing he’d want was for ol’ William and his briefcase and his business suits to come back early, catch an eyeful of something he shouldn’t. But now he just goes along with it, figures that if they get caught, they get caught. C’est la fucking vie.
“You think this was meant to happen, you and me?” she takes to asking him, like clockwork. Puts a damper on the afterglow. She’s real fun in the sack but afterwards she gets sad, thoughtful. He pretends he can’t tell when she’s trying not to cry. “You think we were always meant to be together?”
“Sure, baby,” he says. “Sure I do.”
He disentangles himself from her in the morning, takes off while she’s still sleepin’. Maybe it ain’t the smartest move, since the whole point is to get her to trust him, to make her sure he loves her. He don’t care. When he wakes up, it’s always the worst feeling. You wouldn’t expect it, considerin’ the dreams he has aren’t exactly sugar and spice, but there you go. There’s always this blind couple of seconds, where he feels like there should be something good waiting for him once he’s awake. He opens his eyes and turns over and there’s nothin’ – or nothin’ he wants; it depends – on the other side of the bed. That always hits him hard, and it pisses him off because he sure don’t get why. It’s not like he’s ever had anyone to lose.
The seedy-as-shit hotel he’s stayin’ in is all the way across town. He thinks about getting a cab but doesn’t really like the idea. He’s not sure why. He just walks for awhile, and finds himself coming near a bus stop soon.
The bus stop ain’t empty. There’s just one person waiting around on the bench, a blonde with her nose in a book. He stops maybe twenty feet away and takes in the sight of her. He feels better, sharper than he has in a long time. Must be the sun and the air. He’s not usually out this early. Must be the morning.
He looks at this girl. Ain’t nothin’ else around to look at. She’s the type he doesn’t consider twice, doesn’t usually even notice. Her yellow hair’s real long and wavy, pulled away from her face. She’s wearing a white dress with little blue flowers on it; it makes her look delicate, almost like she’s from another time, some fabled yesteryear with white gloves and lawn parties and love letters. Her skin’s pale, like porcelain. He looks at her and wants to keep looking at her. It don’t make no sense. He thinks he must need somethin’ to eat. A cup of coffee, at least.
She turns a page, absently reaches up with her free hand and massages her neck a little. He takes a couple steps closer. She sighs, not knowing there’s anyone else here. It’s a bone-tired sound. He wonders what’s happened to her, to make her sigh like that.
He walks the rest of the way to the bus stop and almost doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want to get rid of the quietness of her sitting on that bench and reading, of watchin’ her do it. She hears his footsteps and looks up. She’s got a beautiful face. Sort of serene and regal and interesting. He gets a weird feeling like déjà vu in the couple of seconds their eyes meet, before she looks back down.
“How you doin’, Blondie?” he sneers, trying to shake off the feeling.
She doesn’t answer. The corner of her mouth twitches a little, to show she heard him, but her eyes stay right on her page. He looks at the sun in her hair. He breathes in the morning. He thinks about sitting next to her on the other side of the bench, but he doesn’t. He drinks in the sight of her instead. The way her ankles cross, the watch on her wrist. He feels like a desert wanderer chugging down water.
The bus pulls up, loud and clanking and mechanical, reminds him that he’s in the world. He waits for her to go first, considers the way she walks. Then he gets on too.
She takes a seat near the front of the bus. He sits a couple seats behind that one and just watches her, the tilt of her head and the shine of her hair. Her shoulders curve in, like she’s tired. For some reason, he wants to hear her talk.
Clock up front’s busted. Thank you, Jesus.
“Hey Blondie,” he calls. “You got the time?”
At first, he thinks she’s not gonna answer.
“Almost eight,” she replies then. She sounds just like he knew she would. Her voice is low and sweet.
“You got anything more specific than that?” he asks, mostly because he wants to keep her talking.
“Oh,” he says lamely. “Thanks.”
“It’s no trouble.”
And that’s the end of that.
Like a damn fool, he keeps on going. He can’t help it. “Hey, Blondie, what’s your name?”
She doesn’t say anything.
“I ain’t trying to harass you or anything,” he persists. He sounds different than he’s used to hearing himself. Less hard. “I’m just curious.”
She turns around in her seat.
“Juliet,” she tells him.
“Huh.” He discovers he’s not really sure what else to say.
“What’s yours?” she replies. It startles him.
“James,” he says, for some reason.
“Well, it was very nice to meet you, James,” she says. She’s humoring him. Brushing him off. She looks right back down at her book.
He forces himself to stare out the window.
He gets off before she does. He can’t help looking down at her as he passes. What surprises him is that she looks right back up. Her forehead creases a little; she looks at him like she’s lookin’ for something, or like she’s trying to place his face. Finally, she gives him this little smile. There are circles under her eyes. He feels something come loose in him.
“You have a nice day, Juliet,” he says gruffly.
The corners of her mouth are still curved up, but he can tell she’s sad, in a way that runs deep and lasts long. Takes one to know one. “You too.”
He doesn’t go back to his hotel right away after all. Instead he walks around. He ain’t got a destination in mind. It’s just that the last thing he wants around him right now is walls. Out here there’s air and sky and the pavement is hard under his feet. It’s easier to pretend he can find whatever the hell it is he lost.