The characters within this story do not belong to me, but are the property of others. They are used without permission, intent of infringement or expectation of profit. Thanks are due to my betas, Rheanna and RJ Anderson. Feedback is very welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.**
Even the stars aren't the same.
Jack hasn't spent all that much time stargazing in his life - never took the time, and city lights dim the night skies to washed-out slate. But he could find a constellation or two if the occasion arose, one of the easy ones, anyway: The Big Dipper, Orion, Cassiopeia.
Tonight, he's lying beneath a dome of perfect black velvet, glittering with hundreds upon thousands of stars. Their one small campfire can't compete with this display, so Jack has the luxury to look up and see that he doesn't know this sky at all.
Logically he knows that this is because they're in the Southern Hemisphere. But it feels like an even greater shift than that. They've all lost so much. Did they have to lose the skies, too?
Jack pushes the self-pity away. He's not good at it; he's spent most of his life looking out for other people, and looking as little as he can at himself. So he tries to think of the others, who are huddled nearby on the beach, everyone fast asleep on their clumsy pallets. He's slightly apart from them - he prefers it that way - but he can still make out the campfire-silhouetted shapes of Hurley, and Claire, and - and Kate.
The memory of her face rushes into his mind, eclipsing the night sky.
She is so beautiful. Jack has never lacked for the company of beautiful women - the phrase "I'm a doctor" goes a long way - but Kate's beauty is something else entirely, something more pure. He'd never have found her in a nightclub, making flirtatious small talk over Cosmos; he can only imagine Kate here, a creature of fresh air and sunlight and the sea.
All the rules he's lived his life by tell him to stay away from her. The past few years, in particular, he's been trying to avoid emotional complications; anyone and anything that threatened to get to him, Jack has cut off and let wither, as though he were cauterizing a wound. But when Kate found him he was sliced open, and she seems to have stitched herself inside.
Jack doesn't understand why this - situation - wasn't resolved the first moment he saw her mug shot. At worst, that picture of Kate with a numbered sign across her chest means she's not at all the woman he wants her to be; at best, she's got problems he wouldn't even know how to start dealing with. But, Jack thinks, those rules don't seem to apply to this island. They crashed and burned along with the plane, flaming into cinders, dissolving into the air. The only rules now are the ones they create.
As if she senses his eyes on her, Kate stirs, then looks straight into his face. Jack forces himself not to turn away. Nothing wrong with glancing at someone during the night, after all. They can hardly help it.
She smiles. He can just glimpse the soft curve of her mouth, outlined in the warm glow of the firelight, and can't resist the smile he gives her in return.
If he expects anything at this point, he expects Kate to turn on her side, breaking eye contact, the better to go back to sleep. He certainly doesn't expect her to do what she does - turn back the airline blanket, stand up and start walking toward him.
Jack doesn't move. He can't stop his eyes from raking down the length of her; though most of them sleep fully clothed, Kate is wearing her orange T-shirt and black panties, nothing else. Her legs are so impossibly long, so perfect. By force of will, Jack looks back up into her face. Kate is expressionless, even as she kneels by his side.
Neither of them speaks. The others are so close, and the only other sound is the rushing of the waves. That sound has become as familiar to Jack in the past three days as his own heartbeat.
Maybe it's this connection between them. Maybe it's just that she's glad to be alive and wants to celebrate. Jack can come up with a thousand reasons why she's doing what she's doing - but he understands exactly what she's doing.
Slowly she leans over him, her hands sliding across his chest as her mouth dips closer to his. Jack doesn't even have to time to ask himself if he wants this, if this isn't too fast, if Kate isn't dangerous after all. Besides, he knows the answer to the only question that matters:
He wants this.
A loose curl of her hair brushes against his cheek as Kate lowers herself over him. Her breath is warm on his skin. Jack lifts his chin, closing the last distance between them as their lips finally meet.
The kiss is gentle, even tentative. Kate's tongue slips into his mouth for only an instant before she draws back, brushing her lips against his in the faintest possible touch. Is it his reaction she's worried about, or her own? Jack can feel her all along his skin, in his gut, in his bones; it's like electricity arcing through him, only it's pleasure instead of pain.
If she's worried about his reaction, Jack decides, it's time for him to remove all doubt.
He takes her shoulders in his hands, pulling her firmly down to him - mouth to mouth, breasts to chest, belly to belly. As his tongue entwines with hers, Kate moans into his open mouth. The vibrations shudder through him, and Jack slides his hands across her back. He can't hold her tightly enough.
Suddenly Kate jerks away from him; Jack opens his mouth to ask her what's wrong, but she has only pulled back for an instant, just long enough to lift up the blanket he's resting under and slide beneath it so that she's curled along his side. Now those long, perfect legs are tangling with his, and Jack captures her chin in his hand so that he can kiss her over and over again.
Jack couldn't begin to guess how long they go on like this - tasting each other's mouths, holding each other close, no more and no less. For the first time since he was in junior high, his mind isn't racing ahead. He wants to make love to Kate, wants her so bad his body is starting to shake, but this -
--her lips on his, her heartbeat pounding against his chest, the soft rise and fall of her breath synchronized with his own -
--if this is all there is, it's enough.
But then she turns her head so that she can kiss his cheeks, his chin, his throat. Jack wonders, dazedly, if she can feel the leap of his pulse as her tongue dips into the hollow beneath his Adam's apple, then traces a line across one collarbone. Her fingers fumble at the buttons of his shirt; for the first time, Jack realizes Kate is shaking as much as he is.
He helps her unbutton it, then pulls away for the damnable three seconds he needs to toss the shirt aside. As her fingertips brush against his nipple, Jack slides one hand beneath that fire-orange shirt of hers. Her breast is small and firm in his cupped palm, so perfectly molded to his fingers she might have been made for him.
Kate breathes out, a sigh of longing that makes Jack flush with renewed heat. Her hand closes around his upper arm - fingers bisecting his tattoo - as if she is bracing herself. He caresses her gently, then more firmly, capturing her nipple between two fingers to tease her. As he tugs softly, making her shiver, she eases one of her knees up between his legs, until his rock-hard erection is pressed against her thigh. He thrusts once, hoping like hell he's not going to come just thinking about being inside her. If this goes on much longer, he might.
So he slides his hand away from her breast, ignoring Kate's whimper of disappointment. He pulls her fingers away from his arm and guides her downward, feeling one fingernail scrape lightly along his abdomen. Her palm closes over his cock - just for an instant, just enough to make him groan.
At the sound, they both instinctively turn their heads to see if the others are still sleeping. They are. He and Kate share a conspiratorial grin, before she purses her lips as if to say Shhhhh. Jack nearly laughs out loud, but then her hand tightens around him, moving up and down in slow strokes, and he forgets all about laughter, about anything but her.
It's way past time to ditch the pants. Jack half-rolls away from her to kick them off, boxers too, wishing like hell he'd slept in the nude. Next to him, the undulation of Kate's body tells him the panties are gone.
Before Jack can even touch her, Kate straddles him, her hand surprisingly strong as it closes around the base of his cock. He looks into her eyes, dazzled all at once by her nearness, her beauty, and the star-filled sky that frames her.
Then she begins lowering herself onto him, quick, shallow dips of heat. Jack grips her waist in his hands, thrusting upward as he gets in deeper and deeper. Her tightness closes around him slowly, like fingertips closing into a fist.
A dead man's voice whispers in his memory: She got to you. But then Kate arches her back and moves just right, enclosing him in fire, and Jack can hear nothing but the sound of the waves and the beating of his heart.
Jack moves his right hand around her belly and down, so that the heel of his hand hits her in just the right spot. The pressure makes Kate gasp so loudly that, for a moment, he remembers the others sleeping nearby. Jesus Christ, he and Kate are making love just a dozen feet away; anyone might wake up and see them. But the fever in his mind doesn't allow for modesty or convention or those old rules that burned up in the stratosphere. If the others wake up, let them watch. He can't stop.
He presses in a little harder, starts moving in slow circles synchronized with the way Kate's spiraling above him. And that's what she wants - he can tell by the way her head falls back, by the leap in her pulse he can feel all along her skin. For a moment she seems to forget all about him, but Jack doesn't care. He loves this moment, the second when a woman stops wanting to give pleasure because she's so desperate to have it for herself. And he's never wanted to give a woman that more than he wants it for Kate, right here, right now.
Kate moves faster, so he does too. She thrusts harder - heat on heat, making him crazy - and so he presses in more firmly, giving her what she gives, what she wants. For a moment Jack wishes he'd made her wait, so he could have gone down on her; he wants to know how she tastes. But there's no going back anymore. There's just Kate, her orange shirt now stuck to her body with sweat so that he can see the outline of her muscles, the firm points of her breasts.
Then Jack slips his thumb down into her heat, touches her just there - and in an instant Kate is shuddering atop him, gasping for breath, the kick of her orgasm closing around his cock so tight it almost hurts. Her skin glows in the firelight as she half-falls back, body loose, as if she's caught in the ocean breeze. He grabs her waist in his hands again to hold her fast.
As the first flush of release ebbs away, Kate leans toward him once more. A few curls of her hair are stuck to her cheeks and forehead, and Jack gently brushes them aside. Her eyes are bright, almost wild with excitement, and in an instant her hands are on his shoulders and she plunges down onto him again.
But that forces his back against the sand, hard, and the cut along his shoulder blade knifes into him in a blaze of pain.
Jack manages not to yell, but he grimaces. Kate freezes in place, contrite, and whispers, "Your wound."
"It's okay." It occurs to him that these are the first words they've spoken tonight. "Move with me."
Kate, understanding him, lowers her chest to his and slowly, so slowly, they roll over, their bodies still joined together. The lash of pain across his back vanishes as Kate settles beneath him, his body cradled between her thighs. Jack raises himself on his elbows so that he can look down at her and cover her face with soft kisses.
She arches her back, trying to pull him in deeper; as badly as Jack wants to come, he forces himself to hold back. It's like trying to levitate in midair - but to stay inside her, to have every single second of this that he can, it's worth the effort. This gives him time to kiss her slender throat and feel her pulse leap, time to capture her hands beneath his as if he were holding her down against the sand. Their lips meet once more, and Jack kisses her as deeply as he can. Kate shivers beneath him, and he can't stay in midair any longer. He needs her now.
Jack starts thrusting inside her again, slow at first as he savors her heat. Kate matches his tempo, surrendering to his lead. Her palms are slick against his, and the campfire hisses and snaps, sending orange sparks swirling into the dark.
But he can only wait so long. He gives into temptation only a little, only so he can move slightly faster, thrust slightly deeper - but that awakens the need to go faster, to get deeper, and then more, and more. Before Jack can halt his descent, he is taking her as hard as he can, plunging into her with the thumping of his pulse. She moves with him, cheeks flushed, obviously exhilarated by his desire for her and the feel of him inside. And then she brings her knees up higher, changing the angle of their joining, and suddenly Jack is nothing but bone and blood and need.
So close, so close, there and there and now -
Jack pulls out at the last instant, coming in a rush of heat across her belly.
Even in his fever, he couldn't forget Claire or the danger she's in - a danger he wouldn't put Kate in for the world. As their eyes meet, he realizes that Kate understands; instead of rejection, he sees gratitude. She tilts her head up to kiss him, though they are both still shaking, their breath coming in gasps. Their kisses are fragile, and they each break apart too soon.
He cleans her off carefully, then lays his head against her the orange cotton covering her chest. Gently Jack kisses one breast, then is content to rest his cheek against her heartbeat. She holds him close, careful not to press against the wound on his back. For a long time, they neither move nor speak. Jack wonders in a haze if coming so close to death heightens the experience of sex - or whether the exhilaration flowing through him is just because it's Kate.
Jack still doesn't understand what it is that binds him to her. It's not just lust, or else he wouldn't care what she's thinking. It's not just curiosity, or he wouldn't be afraid to ask her what's going on in her unknowable mind.
But just as Jack begins to relax fully, Kate wriggles beneath him so that he rolls off. By the time he realizes she's reaching for her underwear, she's got them back on - and she slides out from beneath the blanket, kneeling once more in the sand.
Wait, he wants to say. But something about the way her face is silhouetted against the stars makes him remember the mug shot. It isn't distrust that holds him back - he meant what he said, about starting over - but the reminder of how little he still knows Kate, who she is and what she needs.
He also remembers how little he knows what he needs - if he's ever going to figure that out at all, which he's starting to doubt. Already he realizes that every time he and Kate come together, they're going to respond by pushing apart.
Jack sits up and kisses Kate one last time, long and slow and deep. She brushes his unshaven cheek with one hand as their lips part, a caress that seems to promise that this isn't the last time.
"Good night," she whispers.
"Good night," Jack says, but she's already gone, walking back to her pallet as though she'd just gone for a midnight stroll. Everyone else - thank God - seems to be sound asleep.
He rolls over so that he can't see Kate or the others or the campfire. For a few moments, all he wants is the sea and the sky and the dark. Once again, Jack studies the stars overhead. They're still unfamiliar, but that doesn't make him melancholy any longer.
Some of the other survivors are Australian - Claire is, for sure - and Walt lived Down Under for a few years. Maybe, if he asks, they'll introduce him to his new night sky. He envisions their fingers pointing out the constellations above, the ones he has yet to know.
Then Jack imagines Kate lying next to him, looking up at the stars too. And he wonders if they should just draw new constellations, all their own.
Return to Yahtzee's New Fic Index Page
Return to Yahtzee's Main Page