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11 December 2009 @ 12:44 am
devil's arcade - part III  
August 15th, 1943, Biancavilla

The tent where Sawyer is currently sitting is just outside of some hole in Sicily whose name he can’t even pronounce right. He’s currently smoking a cigarette and he’s probably the only person not cheering as a blonde girl dances on a makeshift stage about fifteen rows ahead. Right, she shouldn’t be, she’s actually here with the Red Cross’ comfort division or how the hell it’s called. During the day, she runs canteens and helps providing books and generally follows her rules, and during the night she puts this on because she thinks that it works better and she doesn’t mind.

Pretty much 99,9% of the soldiers agrees. Sawyer would agree, too, if he was in the mood. Right now he isn’t because he’s thinking about how he has come to exactly this point. It happens a lot, lately; whenever it does, he can sum things up in two nice, absolutely appropriate words.

Fuck her.

Even though there are at least two hers in this story, and he doesn’t know which one of them he thinks he should curse at more. What surprises him is that no one has found out yet, but then again, why should they even bother, unless he dies? Since he’s still alive, for now, at least, he figures no one is going to come asking questions anytime soon. Whatever. He doesn’t know if he’s been lucky, until now, or the absolute opposite. Though sure as hell he managed to do his job pretty fucking fine, all things considered.

Not that conning for a job was his main choice when people used to ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up (this, until he was eight, anyway), but life is life and things had gone that way and really, if he hadn’t only tried to con that Cassidy girl in Washington two years and something ago things would have gone just fine. Pity that he hadn’t realized that not only she was rich but that her husband was a senator, and he could have done without his face all over the pages of the Washington Post.

Back then, he had thought that catching a boat to Cairo fron New York was a good idea. No one was going to look for him there, and even if he was heading straight into a war zone, Cairo was still far enough from the bulk of the action. From there he could just try to flee somewhere safer if things got hot, and he had figured that changing continents would have been safer than just fleeing to Canada.

Unfortunately, just before leaving, while he was still laying low, he had realized that he was going to need some papers and he had what had seemed like another good idea back then.

Well, he had been dead wrong about that.

He had called in a couple of favors in order to get a double set of papers and a British army uniform. The general idea was getting on the boat pretending to be someone going there on business and then, when in Cairo, just posing as one of those Americans who had passed the border, and enrolled with Canadians back when the war started. That was going to win him points once he got there, not to mention that he had done his service back in the day and he knows his military, thank you very much.

Well, he couldn’t have imagined that America would go to war too, two weeks after he got in Cairo, but that wasn’t really Sawyer’s problem. He laid low, mostly used his LaFleur alias which, joined with the right accent (and Sawyer could to a decent Louisiana one, which became good when he talked to non-Americans), proved to be a good choice and gained him a warm bed whenever he wished. He stuck to small cons though, mostly hustling billiards; he wasn’t ever going to blow the cover.

Until he met Monica. Well, he’s pretty sure that it wasn’t her real name. He just sticks to Freckles these days, since it was what he had started calling her. He doesn’t even think he wants to know her real name anyway.

She was American too and they had met in this Arab cafe where he was,playing a pretty decent game of dice during which he wasn’t even cheating. He remembers that the air was thick with smoke, but it wasn’t at all unpleasant, and that the alcohol wasn’t too bad, even if he and another British guy were the only one actually drinking anything stronger than coffee. It even had someone playing a piano, even if Sawyer hadn’t really been paying attention to the music back then.

He should have started to realize what he was getting into the second he found himself in front of an American girl, pretty young and going around alone in Cairo. That was enough of a red warning, but she had been nice and had money for a round; not to mention that her compact, slender body dressed in Arabian clothes, with the addition of the prettiest green eyes he had ever seen and an ocean of freckles covering her cheeks, was enough of a distraction. She had said she was an adventurer; Sawyer had introduced himself as LaFleur and fed her the story he fed everyone he met (this time he was on leave; other times he was recovering from some wound and he was careful never to go into the same place twice). It had started when he brought her to his hotel room and had the best night of the last six months, her body warm and pliant against his, her pink lips looking so pretty and swollen. The next day, he found her gone with all the money he kept hidden in between his papers, which had been in the fucking safe. (Well, it was a good hotel.)

He had become careless then, of course; but then again he was without a cent.

It ended that same day when he almost crashed into jeeps full of fresh soldiers going to Alamein after the first battle and it was either feeding them that lie or, well, something unpleasant.

Thankfully he knows his military.

Sawyer shakes his head as he realizes that his packet of cigarettes is empty; the tent they’re in suddenly feeling too small. The girl is still dancing, he thinks it’s round three; her clothes are mostly gone, and well, he has to admit it: it’s some entertainment. She’s a good dancer; she has long legs, she’s thin and even if there wasn’t a second since she showed up when the expression on her face hasn’t read annoyed in capital letters, she’s being pretty successful Mostly everyone is cheering up and shouting at her so that she takes the military jacket she’s wearing off, but Sawyer doesn’t think she’s going to do it. Whatever. Any other day he’d have enjoyed the show, but not this one. He feels melancholy for some reason, he wants to smoke but can’t (and he thinks that if he asked for a cigarette they’d tell him to fuck off and let them enjoy the show) and the only fun is watching people’s faces. He’s pretty impressed with Sayid, at the moment; since the second the girl set foot on the stage, his expression hasn’t changed at all. He looks just neutral, and like he’s here just because he thinks it would be rude to stand up and leave.

Sawyer doesn’t care about rude, though; he stands up and gets out of the tent from the back, wincing when he moves his arm too quickly.

Yeah, well, kudos to him for managing to get hit by another bullet in exactly the same point while they were trying to get Augusta, and clearly someone else got hit at the same time and Saint Jack Shephard couldn’t work on them both. Except that the other guy had his leg blown up so yeah, priorities, and by the time Jack had arrived to take a look at his shoulder Sawyer had already dug the bullet out. He doesn’t even remember how the hell did he even think about doing it, but still. His hand shook for five days afterwards.

Then he had fainted just after Jack told him that he was gonna explain him how the hell did he even do it.

Now moving that shoulder or his arm too quickly hurts. Which is mainly the reason he’s been in the rear and not doing much field action lately, but then again he doesn’t complain. He hadn’t planned on ever getting involved in this anyway, so anything that keeps him alive is good for all he cares.

Also, anything that keeps him from needing to call Sayid or to search out some private with Italian parents in order to talk to civilians? Totally welcome. Even if it’s ridiculous that Sayid is better at speaking Italian than most people whose parents are from the fucking same village they’re freeing, but whatever. He’s from damn Tennessee, immigration issues never were his problem.

He almost misses Africa. The heat is the same and the communication sucks, not to mention that here they don’t have bases or anything. Also, Africa had the perk of not having to deal with civilians.

Whatever, at least the food they get offered is way better, when there’s food. Hell, he has ended up offering half-starved children most of his chocolate rations and that’s so not his usual way of dealing, but then again he eats every day and they don’t. He even knows the basic Italian now (or at least, it didn’t take him too much to figure that grazie was thank you. Then once some girl told him something that he hadn’t understood, he was about to ask Sayid and seeing that the man was honest to fucking God smirking he avoided that. He didn’t want to know), and isn’t that just fantastic?

Whatever.

He sits outside the tent, the girl (Shannon, he thinks) starts another round of dancing, and takes his paperback out of his pocket. It’s not like it’s his favorite or anything; it happened to be the one he had in his (not exactly) fake pack while searching for Freckles and it’s not even the worst of all the ones he had brought with him, so it’s alright. He knows he might have found something else if he just tried, but he just can’t be bothered and now that he’s here, he doubts that he’ll find any English bookshops open.

Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.

They were coming toward where the flag was and I went along the fence. Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree. They took the flag out, and they were hitting, he thinks as he closes his eyes before shaking his head and opening them again. He reads the following two lines. Exactly as he remembered. He knows that stuff by heart at this point. No wonder that it’s falling apart between his hands.

“Out of everyone I wouldn’t have figured you to be the one missing the fun.”

Sawyer slams Faulkner shut and raises his head. There’s Jack, alright; his uniform is pristine clean and buttoned (his own? He should wash it and sure as hell he didn’t think about buttoning it right), that band with the red cross still on his arm, his hair slightly longer than it was in May and that same face that reminds Sawyer so much of a wannabe knight in shining armor that he almost wants to throw up.

Then again, the guy saved his ass at least five times since this shit campaign started. He can’t afford to be a jerk to him more than it’s necessary, also because he’s the one currently in charge, at least of their squad.

“Wasn’t in the mood.”

“Don’t you know that one inside out anyway?”

“Well, it’s the kind of book that you wanna read more than once. Details, y’know.”

“I never got past the second section. The first was hard enough.”

“Then your taste obviously sucks, Doc. But whatever you want. I ain’t gonna lend it to you anyway.”

“I wasn’t going to ask you that. I just wanted to know how the shoulder is.”

“Fine enough. ‘M not gonna die ‘cause of it, at least. Do you have a cigarette?”

“I don’t smoke, but still.”

Sawyer smirks as Jack hands him a packet. He gets cigarettes like anyone else, but since he doesn’t smoke, he’s pretty much a sure bet when you don’t have any.

“Yeah, you must be the only doctor I know who doesn’t. And one of the three people ‘round here who doesn’t.”

Jack just shrugs and instead of going into the tent he sits down not exactly next to Sawyer but at least on the same side. Sawyer raises an eyebrow. It’s not like they hate each other or anything, but apart from Sawyer calling him Saint Jack and Jack rolling his eyes and fixing his injuries while they’re in action, that’s more or less everything there is to them. Whatever. Sawyer isn’t going to complain now.

“What, you don’t wanna join the fun inside?” he asks as someone whistles so loudly that they hear it loud and clear.

“Not my kind of fun. Even though she’s very pretty, but it’s just not my thing. And not yours either, or so it seems.”

“I never said it wasn’t my kinda thing. I said I wasn’t in the mood.”

“That’s a point. So, why are you really here?”

“What?” Sawyer asks, not finding this even remotely fun.

“I’ve been wondering that since day one. Sure, you do your job, but I just can’t believe that you went to Canada and enrolled voluntarily. I mean, I went because I was drafted and I’m doing this because it’s my duty, even if... whatever, it’s not important. But you don’t strike me like the type who would actually go and fight here even before we did join the war. Also, you kind of looked familiar.”

Sawyer swallows and tries not to panic or anything. He can’t blow the cover; after all, Jack didn’t say anything yet and it’s not like he’ll confirm anything.

“You’re right, I ain’t that kind. Doesn’t mean a man has to share his secrets if he doesn’t want to, right?”

“Right. You know what, you already said you weren’t going to, but still. Can you lend me that book?”

“Why, you’re bored?”

”If you can read it one hundred times then I might as well finish it.”

Sawyer just shrugs and hands it over. “Suit yourself,” he mouths before standing up and reaching the tent where the bunks are. He’s so busy thinking about why the hell he actually loan Jack the book, that he doesn’t realize when a folded, thin piece of paper falls from the open pocket of the jacket he had brought with him, but that he wasn’t wearing, too hot to wear something over your shirt really. He doesn’t see Jack picking it up.

Maybe it’s just because he doesn’t get what was the Doc was aiming at. He might suspect something, sure thing, but he just let it drop and it just doesn’t add.

Whatever. For now he’ll play along, as he always does.

--

Three days later, Locke shows his face around for a change (he usually never does) and says that the whole island is in their hands and that the enemy has retreated for good; everyone around him cheers up, but Sawyer just nods and fights the urge to smoke. He’s finishing the only packet he managed to scrape up and he needs to ration them. For a second he notices that Jack is looking at him strangely, an almost soft look in his eyes; Sawyer shakes his head, the good news not doing anything for his mood. He lost the letter, dammit. But whatever. Maybe it was just time to let that go and it’s not like he’s ever going to recover it. Not to mention that while two years ago he was set on doing what he had written on that piece of paper the night after his parents’ funeral, now he really doubts that he could do it.

Out of the corner of his eyes he sees the Brit midget hugging His Prettiness, who isn’t doing anything to shrug him off as he used to. Good for them. Whatever. He’s pretty sure that it means that they won’t be such friends anymore in a short while if things go that way, but frankly, who cares. He doesn’t really envy them or care about the noises he hears in tents at night; seeing what happened the last time he got laid, for now he’ll pass. He’s on a leave and he’s fucking fine this way. He hasn’t told at least ten people between civilians and army men asking for a quickie to fuck off since they landed in Sicily for nothing.

He tries to find a relatively not crowded place (not really easy) possibly in the shadows (fuck it’s even worse than it was in the freaking desert) when a hand reaches his shoulder.

“Doc. Not joinin’ the fun again?” he asks, his voice harsh, not really in the mood for this.

“Oh, I will in a short while. Just, I wanted to tell you that maybe you should pay more attention to your things.”

“What d’you mean? The book fell apart at last?”

“Not that. But yesterday you lost this.”

He pushes a piece of paper in Sawyer’s hand and for a second he feels like fainting. Considering the way the sun is beating upon his head, he’d almost be justified.

“You read that?”

“Well, I didn’t know what it was and you were already gone. I just figured it was some ID paper or something.”

“Are you...”

“Relax. I’m not going to do anything,” Jack answers then before leaving and going straight into the midst of the crowd. Sawyer barely catches Desmond and Sayid talking at its edge. He pockets the letter he has kept in his pocket for the last twenty-and-something years or so, making sure it doesn’t fall.

He should really run by this point, it’s getting too dangerous, except that if they catch him, it won’t be nice. Not at all.

Dammit. It’s not like Jack found him out, there’s nothing on that darned letter that might imply or suggest anything; still. Jack had made clear that he knows more than he lets on. For some idiot reason, right now Sawyer feels naked. Randomly, as he turns and takes a look at the landscape, all green-ish/yellow hills and a clear blue sky and nothing else, strangely untouched, he thinks it’s beautiful.

What the fuck, something is wrong with him.

--

On September 3rd, Sawyer sits again in that tent, Shannon still on the makeshift stage; he’s so not in the mood, again. The midget and His Prettiness are in the corner, the latter half-smirking and saying that Shannon’s lucky that tomorrow she’s going back to America; when they arrive at the in-jokes (seems like they have in-jokes, what the hell) he’s about to leave when someone sits next to him. Thankfully they’re in the back and Sawyer can hear Jack just fine even with the yelling and the music.

Jack hands him the book. It doesn’t look more ruined than it was in the first place.

“Finished it?”

“Yeah, but I still don’t think I get the second part.”

“What’s there to get? He wants to fuck his sister, he goes batshit crazy and kills himself. And he’s so batshit crazy that he forgets proper grammar.”

“... that’s one way to put it.”

“You ask me anything about that letter, I ain’t answerin’.”

“I’m not. I just think that I might have realized why you look familiar.”

What?”

“Two years ago. Your picture was all over the Washington Post. And I’m from there, if you were wondering. It was kind of hard to miss.”

“Shit,” is the only thing that Sawyer can come up with. “Now you’ll tell me that she was your friend.”

“No, but her husband was a friend of my dad’s.”

“Don’t tell me he was a senator too. You wouldn’t be a lieutenant and you’d probably be in the fucking Air Force if he was.”

“No, he wasn’t. But he’s quite rich. And he actually wanted me to go in the Air Force.”

“And you fucking didn’t?”

Jack shakes his head. “Let’s say I like to make my my own decisions. So you did you really end up in Canada and enrolled?”

Sawyer sighs and figures that at this point lying is useless. “Nah. That’s a story. I just pretended to. Didn’t last though. So what, you gonna turn me in to the first Brit army guy with a higher rank than yours?”

“I’m not going to do anything. You’re in this, you aren’t bailing out, why should I?”

“Does this attitude have anythin’ to do with what you read in that?”

“You’ll have to find that out. Also, LaFleur doesn’t suit you at all, if you ask me.”

Jack stands up again and Sawyer watches him leaving the tent. Whatever. In three days or so, most of the Americans will be leaving, not that he has seen many around anyway, and they were already told that their division is to be stationed there for another while. He hopes they get sent to Messina at least. He’s longing for some half-sort of civilization, dammit. Also, well, he never exactly liked LaFleur either, not anymore, but as long as he’s here he’ll stick with it.

He’s also longing for a leave, a week or so would be just great, but that’s a whole other problem. The letter feels heavy in his pocket. His uniform suddenly feels wrong.

Stands to reason that he ended here with the fucking Brits. At least until Jack decides it’s time to turn him in, dammit.

--

Civilization means a city that’s half standing and half destroyed by bombs; well, right. Their bombs, but they’re in a fucking war, aren’t they? At least this part of it is over. He doesn’t understand shit about the newspaper he’s holding in his hands and as he leans against a house which is half-standing up, Sawyer takes a look at his surroundings and catches the Doc crouching down and trying to sort-of-communicate with a kid who looks barely seven. He shrugs, thankful that it’s late afternoon and that for once the climate doesn’t suck; well, September’s ending and it’s quite warm still, which is just fine by his standards.

He sees Jack offering the kid some chocolate and there comes again, grazie repeated at least fifteen times before he flees. Sawyer takes a couple of steps in Jack’s direction.

“I didn’t know you knew Italian.”

“I don’t. I picked some up.”

“Enough to get what the hell is this rag is sayin’?”

“Apart from the fact that it’s a week old? Sorry, search for Sayid.”

“Right. Whatever. If I meet him I’ll ask him.”

“Are you so desperate to read something that isn’t Faulkner?”

“Who knows.”

Jack cracks half a smile at him and Sawyer lets him go.

Weird. Weird rich spoiled guy, but at least he’s being nice about it, not to mention that for some reason he isn’t mentioning the huge, huge elephant that suddenly appears in the metaphorical room whenever they talk to each other.

--

“So?”

Sayid takes the newspaper as they sit in one of the few cafes still in business; well, it’s all full of soldiers, no surprise that it’s in business. Sawyer sits in front of Sayid in a pretty large booth; Desmond is on the opposite side, next to Sayid, plus there are Michael and Jin on the sides. The other two that came in Tunisia died at Gerbini and Sawyer can’t exactly say that he misses them. Pickett was an idiot anyway and it totally was his fault when Sawyer got shot the second time (he didn’t cover him when he should have) and Radzinsky was a plain stupid son of a bitch. Whatever. He doesn’t even know the replacements’ names anyway.

Michael and Jin are opening mail; the former starts blathering about how beautiful, smart and a-lot-of-other-praising-adjectives his kid Walt is (his mother sent him news along with pictures), while Jin has read at least four times a letter from his wife back in New York, Sun he thinks is the name. It’d be pretty sweet if only both kids and wives reminded Sawyer of stuff he really shouldn’t be thinking about, and from the look on Desmond’s face he thinks he might have company.

“What do you wish to know?”

“What it fucking says.”

“It is one week old, you know.”

“Yeah, I fucking noticed that. Still, you wanna tell me or not?”

“Surely. It’s your business, after all.”

Desmond chuckles. Sawyer wants to know what’s so funny about this. Then Desmond asks Michael something about the kid and Sawyer tries to drown out all the Walts that are being said in a single sentence. Too many for his tastes.

“Well. It doesn’t really say anything you didn’t know already. Naples is ours and they are quite pleased with it...”

“What, we have newspapers on our side already?”

“Yes, when we support them economically.”

What?”

“You didn’t know? See, it’s in its first year. And from the number I gather that it cannot have been published for more than two months. Of course it is on our side,” Sayid says, reading the whole thing with an ease that Sawyer thinks some supposedly half-Italian people around would envy him.

“Apart from that?”

“Not much.” Sayid shrugs, then keeps on reading. “The country is in chaos, apparently their king has fled Rome and retreated in our territory just after the armistice, but that...”

“What the fuck?” Sawyer asks as Desmond turns and shouts a what the bloody hell whose tone is definitely similar to Sawyer’s.

“Why, you missed the news?”

“All the news I heard were ‘bout the armistice bein’ a mess,” Sawyer says. It’s not like he has searched for much information lately.

“I had totally bloody missed that,” Desmond adds, taking a drink from his coffee.

“Anyway, our journalist is praising our effort and he reiterates that they are waiting for freedom of press and thought. Then it is mostly news about Naples and our advance, and he wishes for us to get to Rome soon. There is really not much else going on.”

“At least I didn’t waste money on that,” Sawyer mutters as he asks for some more coffee. Say what you want, the coffee is fucking good.

“What, you found it?” Michael asks after carefully folding his letter and picture; then he puts them into his pocket.

“Nope, someone gave it to me for free ‘cause of my shiny uniform. Apart from that, anyone knows how long we’re gonna be stationed here? Not that I don’t like it, actually I’d rather stay here than get back at fucking Alamein, but...”

“We’re getting relocated,” a voice says from his left, and Sawyer blinks at Jack before moving a bit in order to let him sit. Charlie gets into the bar three seconds later and Jack waits for him to grab a chair.

“We’re gettin’ what?” Sawyer asks.

“Us and people from the 152nd. Maybe another unit too. Most of the division are going back to Britain at Christmas, they need to get ready for some top secret mission they didn’t tell me about. But they need some of us up in... Salerno because they need fresh people in order to get to Rome as soon as possible and that’s what they said. I guess that if Locke was around I’d have been told more, but...”

Jack trails and everyone nods; Locke was wounded at the ending of August when he walked on some German mine that was still working and no one had known was there. From what it seems he’s not going to walk anytime soon.

“Anyway, I guess that for us it doesn’t change much, but for you...” he keeps on, looking at Desmond, Sayid and Charlie. “I mean, if you want to go home and then follow the rest of your division I might try asking.”

“Brother, I’m comin’ with everyone else,” Desmond cuts him then, his voice flat. Sayid shrugs and looks at Jack. “I really have no preference, but Britain for me doesn’t mean anything and I really think I would be of more use here.”

Charlie shrugs and orders some coffee before turning in their direction. “Whatever. I don’t particularly miss home. And y’know, for practical reasons...”

“Like Braveheart here saving your ass twice each time we have to shoot?”

Charlie glares at Sawyer. Sayid obviously bites his tongue. The newspaper lies on the table and Jin is still staring with a certain longing at his wife’s picture.

Suddenly Michael raises an eyebrow when a kid passes outside the window.

“Son of a bitch,” he whispers before shaking his head.

“What’s up?”

“I’m pretty sure that kid stole my shoes the other day.”

“What?” Charlie asks, clearly surprised.

“I dunno, I was talkin’ to him for some reason, I think he wanted to know if I had somethin’ to spare, he talked pretty decent for being ten or whatever. Then I sorta fell asleep on him and when I woke up...”

“So that’s why you were asking for the spare shoes the other day,” Sawyer mutters.

“Yeah, but what the hell. I mean, ‘s long as I ask they’ll give me a pair, right?”

“Right,” Jack concedes, and Sawyer notices that he’s the only one who ordered bourbon.

Interlude II
 
 
feeling: okayokay
 
 
 
Shonatoestastegood on December 17th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
I really liked reading this chapter! Usually Jack/Sawyer does nothing for me, but getting to see the situation from Sawyer's POV was really cool. I love the backstories you've given both of them, and the cameo from Shannon was lovely. I was supposed to come off my lunch break ten minutes ago but I stayed here reading this instead. Oops!
the female ghost of tom joad: lost sawyer *g*janie_tangerine on December 17th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you so much! It's awesome to hear that, especially if Jack/Sawyer isn't your thing. Tbh it's awesome to hear that also because this was where the fic completely deviated from my original idea so knowing it works is great. ;) Thanks so much! :D And ha, I know there aren't many women in here so I figured I'd give her an appearance. And oops! I hope no one noticed. ;)