kate austen. sawyer/kate. some jack/kate in the background.
2,953 words. pg-13 for character death.
‘it was one hell of a run’ sawyer says. This is how happily-ever-after always ends. For the luau at lostsquee mollivanders asked for rebellion. I just hope me rebelling against the series finale counts.
And yes I totally stole the title from "Melt with You" by Modern English. Probably because this fic was written while I was listening to this song on repeat, which means if it turned out incredibly cheesy - you now know why. We can blame the 80s music.
And also...I am still totally on hiatus. This fic just sort of happened.
Let the record show that Kate Austen called this from the very beginning, from the moment she walked out of that jungle with chaffed wrists and blood stained fingertips. She knew disappointment was always in the cards and this is the thought that clouds her mind as they move further and further from the Island.
These men – they will always leave first.
She thinks about Jack, about Tom, about Sam. She thinks about all the good ones who never stay for last call.
She thinks about Sawyer. Jury’s still out on that one.
Sawyer’s staring at the back of her head. She can’t see it, but she can feel it. Her extra senses have kicked in. She’s been blind to him, but now she’s very much aware of his presence.
She clutches Claire’s hand tighter.
When they get off the plane, he disappears and she feels something tugging at the pit of her stomach.
Maybe she wishes she could disappear. Maybe she wishes she could disappear with him
The truth remains - even when he goes, she’s never sure if he’s gone for good.
It only takes a few months before Kate abandons Claire.
Of course by then, Claire is settled in and only a little bit nutty. She still a thousand times healthier for Aaron than Kate is. Of course, this is the lie Kate must tell herself to lessen the guilt for deserting her son.
Albuquerque is hot this time of year. It’s still the first place she stops, and it’s easy to forget the way her tank top clings to her back when she sees Clementine at the front door with the world’s biggest grin.
She takes a look around Cassidy’s home and can tell something’s changed before she says a word.
There’s a picture in the foyer of Sawyer and Clementine. Once Kate sees it her lips quirk, somewhat like a smile. Neither of them mentions it, and Cassidy and Kate pretend they are just old friends with no one between them, until Kate leaves.
She stops by the door, gestures to the photo. “Tell him I stopped by.”
Cassidy folds her arms. “Something tells me I won’t have to.”
Hurley finds her in Texas. She’s just rented a pick-up truck and a top level apartment, and he is sitting on her couch when she comes home with groceries.
He’s still Hurley, still hugs like a human, smiles like one too. She thanks whatever’s out there for small favors.
She’s never been good at small talk, but she makes him tea and mostly waits for him to say something, occupying herself with unpacking paper bags, until she grows restless and sits down across from him with her coffee.
“We buried him by Juliet.”
Kate freezes. She knew he was dead. She knew the minute she kissed him goodbye that she was watching him march towards his death. Still, hearing it spoken like a truth makes her skin crawl.
Hurley hands her a photograph. “He had it on him when he died. I thought it might bring you some peace.”
The photo is of Jack and Kate during one of the many award ceremonies Jack dragged her too. He's looking down at her, bright smile, eyes full of light. It's all directed at her. She cannot remember it - ever feeling that loved. She thinks it should be somewhere in her memories. Maybe if it were, it would be important. It would be a comfort.
It shouldn't be this easy to hate a dead man. (And maybe this is what they meant about thin lines)
Kate looks up and Hugo looks through her. She's seen it far too many times now. The bigger picture will hang over every conversation she has with him, the way it did with Jack, the way it did with the Others. Jacob's minions with their grand understanding of life and purpose.
She thinks they should all choke on their kool-aid.
She hides her anger behind her coffee mug, puts on her most convincing sad eyes and tells him, 'thank you.'
When he leaves, she throws the photo in the fireplace, watches the flames climb high and curl around whatever's left of Jack & Kate.
The first time they cross paths it’s part coincidence and part premeditation. Sawyer knows Kate’s in Philadelphia. Kate knows that Sawyer knows she’s there as well, but Sawyer’s not planning to make his move for a few days. They just happen to literally run into each other outside a bookshop. Sawyer’s got his head buried in a Dickens novel and Kate just pinched a coffee from a stand one block back, so neither one of them is really paying attention when they slam into each other. Sawyer holds her by the shoulders as a way to steady her and they both kind of laugh when they realize what’s happened.
“Sawyer,” Kate says.
“Katherine,” Sawyer responds, tone reflecting hers though he hides the briefest glimpse of amusement. Kate realizes she never mentioned her full first name to him.
Kate crosses her arms over her chest. “You read up on me?”
Sawyer grins. “Just doing my homework.”
Cassidy asked her once. “Why’d you leave Aaron?”
Kate paused, thinking of that little boy with a pulled smile and brimming confidence. “He looked a lot like Jack.”
And these are half-truths.
Soon enough, she leaves Texas. She never stays in one city more than a few months. She makes friends and charms her way into people’s lives and the minute they start to grow on her she cuts her ties.
On her way out of town she drops a postcard in the mailbox for Sawyer. They’re all signed the same - wish you were here. And she wonders idly if he’s the type of guy who’d keep a shoebox of her things. Wonders if that’s Sawyer or James. Wonders why there’s still a difference.
Every once and a while he catches up with her. She’ll be on a street corner grabbing a coffee or in a hotel lobby and she’ll see him across the street or down the hall. He’ll nod and she’ll smile, and they’ll spend the afternoon together – catching up.
Sometimes he stays the night - lays beside her so that their shoulders touch and their hands intertwine. They watch the moon rise and cast an eerie glow over the room. They don’t talk but they listen to each other’s breathing until they fall asleep. A few times he covers his mouth with hers and they remember what it was like. Before
But morning always comes and reality catches up. Kate runs to the next town, and Sawyer goes home to his daughter.
This is how it goes. For awhile.
Once Kate meets a guy in Toledo. He’s charming and funny. He wears polos and khakis and golfs on the weekends. He tells her he loves her after two months, and Kate laughs (He doesn’t realize its direction.) It doesn’t last long – ends with her dropping a box of things on his doorstep after she traces a path to Peoria, Illinois in her hotel room. His name was short and sweet.
Funny, she can’t recall it now.
She gets the invitation in the mail two days before she moves again. She knows Sawyer is to blame, knows that he would be the one who forced her hand on this.
She buys a dress and a gift and hops a plane for the first time since the Island. Clementine and Aaron marry on a beach and Kate starts to hyperventilate before anyone starts down the aisle. Something about the feeling of sand sinking into her sandals and beneath the arch of her foot makes her want to run back to the airport. She counts to five six different times. It doesn’t work. The entire experience is a constant reminder of better and worse lives.
She gets through the ceremony by focusing on the only part of Sawyer that is visible – the small section of skin beneath his ear that peaks out behind the giant floppy garden hat of the woman behind him. She tries to remember all the times her lips have brushed it, what it feels like against her fingers or under the press of her tongue.
At the reception, they both call her a fairy godmother. Clementine’s smile is closer to Sawyer’s than it was before, but she’s inherited Cassidy’s kind eyes and gentle laugh. Aaron looks like Claire now, but he laughs like Jack did. Kate thinks it’s a miracle that Aaron didn’t grow up to hate her, but it just proves she was never really his mother because all she could possibly teach him was to hold a grudge.
Claire hugs her and Cassidy throws an arm around her shoulders and they watch Clementine and Aaron twirl around the dance floor like Cinderella and Prince Charming.
Sawyer sneaks up behind him, grabs a champagne flute from the tray in front of them. “Ladies.”
Claire giggles and Cassidy looks like there’s something obvious hanging among them. Kate feels like she’s thirteen again – a gangly tomboy with long arms and legs.
“Sawyer,” Kate says.
“How about a dance, Freckles?”
Kate wants to roll her eyes. She knows Sawyer would too if he could see this unfolding from the sidelines. Despite that fact, she lets him lead her by the hand onto the dance floor.
He pulls her close, and she tucks her head in the crook of his neck. They sway to an erratic beat, off-tempo, but somehow still in sync with each other. They twirl and they dip. He smiles and she laughs or it’s serious - he looks at her and only her and she can only think of him. For a few minutes, the cynicism melts away. For a few minutes, they are normal.
Moments like this remind her that no matter how they play this, no matter how different and strange their relationship can be – they are still in love.
They just do it their way.
Once Sawyer takes her to Jack’s grave in Los Angeles. He tells her they’re going there and yet, she still manages to look surprised when he leads her by hand to the giant white headstone.
Sawyer does a lot of talking and Kate just stands there, fists clench. She can only hang on to hate. It’s her lifeline – the only thing that keeps her sane. She wants to fly away. She would do it too if Sawyer wasn’t anchoring her down with his steady voice and her piqued curiosity over his sudden interest in Jack Shepherd. She stares at the tree behind his name because she cannot look at his name, at the lies this piece of granite holds. They leave her sick to her stomach.
Kate realizes Sawyer’s no longer talking to an imaginary Jack and somewhere along the way she started to shake.
“Let it go,” Sawyer whispers. She cannot tell if he is looking at her when he says it. She’s too busy staring at her unsteady hands.
But when the words are out there, the floodgate breaks. She crumbles into a tiny ball on the wet sod. He watches her for a moment, unsure of what to do, and then he’s behind her, pulling her into his lap and letting her cry away everything.
They never mention this again.
For a few years, she doesn’t see him.
She tries not to think about it, but it hurts vaguely. His presence colors all parts of her life. Taints the edges of everything. She knows this was always a possibility – he’d move on again, get bored. He’d leave. That was the necessary conclusion. Sometimes, she hoped he’d prove her wrong.
She decides he’s given up and the next day she runs into Clementine in downtown Chicago. She is six months pregnant and hauling an already filled stroller. Kate smiles, marvels at their eldest daughter, the best of Sawyer and Jack rolled into one. She asks after Aaron.
Clementine shrugs as an answer, rustles through her purse as a distraction. “Have you been to see my dad?”
Kate smiles, nostalgic, misses the darkness in Clementine’s eyes. “Usually he finds me.”
Clementine freezes. “He didn’t tell you.”
And this is how Kate finds out that Sawyer has been a few miles up the road. Stuck in a hospital day in and out. Close enough to dying but expected to survive. Just a scare, they call it. Clementine barely has the room number out of her mouth before Kate is catching a cab.
When she gets there, he’s asleep. A few patches of gray have settles just above his ear and she smiles at how well he ages. She settles down in the chair beside him, hand covering his and waits for him to wake up.
“Sawyer,” she sighs when his eyes finally flutter open.
He smiles at the sound of her voice and then when the haze of sleep clears it turns into a frown. “I didn’t want you to see me like this.”
“Sawyer.” All she can seem to manage is his name and a few tears that escape her eyelids unplanned.
“It’s okay,” Sawyer says, clutching tight at her hand. “I’m not going anywhere.”
She curls up at his side, appeased for now.
Eventually, they let him go home. Kate stays with him in his apartment. Moves her dog in too (a Golden Retriever named Jericho who kept her company from town to town after Sawyer stopped showing up). Sawyer gets attached right away. She’s sure she’ll have to leave Jericho with him when she goes and at the beginning her leaving is a fact they both accept.
Sawyer gets better. She wakes up every morning after he heals and thinks about running. Once she gets as far as the lobby before she thinks of bumping into Clementine again some years later to find out he died alone. After that, she never acts on the impulses again.
She does not get used to the way he hums Bob Dylan in the shower or how he insists on doing laundry at midnight on Saturday. He never stops expecting to wake up and find her gone.
But they exist together. They’re not just playing house and they’re not playing games and it does become a permanent thing. It stops being terrifying. Never quite becomes routine. It makes her happy, and despite her training on how to deal with happiness, she never blows it apart.
This is how happily-ever-after always ends.
They grow old together. He has an insulting nickname for every person in their building and she still keeps tennis shoes beside the bed though her hands tremble when she goes to untie the laces. Old habits, and all.
Sawyer gets sick again and this time Kate knows there’s no coming back from this one. The doctor he gets looks a lot like Jack, but Kate barely notices. His face has become a distant memory that only Claire can pull out of her.
They take Sawyer home to die. He is surrounding by loved ones. His daughter and grandchildren . Claire and Miles, who still send them Christmas cards every year. Hurley who rarely leaves the island. They all come in and out while Kate is a constant, never leaving his side though her whole body itches to move.
As the end draws near, Kate and Sawyer are left alone.
"It was one hell of a run," Sawyer whispers, the creases around his eyes pulling together. She laughs, pulls herself into the space around him, rests her head on his chest and listens as he slowly draws his last breaths. Refuses to shed a single tear until he's gone.
Kate turns sixty the day Sawyer dies.
She is sixty years and one day when she disappears again.
She starts flying again. Moves across countries and continents. Keeps praying that her plane will crash and she will be buried under the weight of water. This is a different kind of suicide.
Each city she stops in she waits to see his face around the corner.
No matter where she goes she finds herself waiting for something she’s not sure exists.
Eventually, she gets her wish. The details of course were never important, but it takes longer than she would have liked.
She wakes up beneath a tall willow tree – similar to the one Sam planted in her backyard when she was a little girl. There’s the same cobblestone bridge where she and Tom would watch the stars come out. And the stream that runs beneath it looks the same blue-green as the Island’s waterfall.
His voice still makes her heart skip a beat and her breath catch. He looks so young, sitting beside her. She reaches out to trace the lines of her face, smiles softly when his eyes drift shut when her finger brushes over his cheekbones.
“Sawyer,” she sighs. Sawyer’s eyes open and he leans his forehead against hers. She remembers it all already, but suddenly there’s a refresher course. An entire lifetime of memories flying through her mind and she realizes how much happiness he gave her – how lonely it could have been.
Sawyer pulls away. “We should go.”
There’s a light down the road, a winding path that leads to some sort of church. Kate feels it tugging her forward, but the park is so beautiful and Sawyer is so warm beside her. Sawyer goes to stand and her hand darts out to grab his wrist.
"Stay." And Kate is sure she’s never said this word before.
"Okay," Sawyer whispers against her brow. "We'll stay."