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Rematch

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It's morning and Jack wakes on the cold, lumped sand with grit under his nails. His head hurts and he feels sick and achey as if he has had a fall. It's fully light; he doesn't usually sleep this long. Finding a water bottle he unscrews the lid and takes a long drink. His head begins to clear and he remembers last night, and Sawyer. The memory makes his skin clammy and does nothing for the cramping in his guts. He hasn't proved anything to Sawyer, only handed him some heavyweight ammunition. Sawyer never misses an opportunity and unlike Jack has nothing to lose. Sawyer offered sex for stakes at poker and lost, but Jack played for those stakes, and took his winnings. His position on the safe moral high ground looks more and more unstable and he emerges from his tent trying not to wonder if Sawyer has told anyone. All his life he has striven to see himself regarded with respect rather than disappointment, and he's sensitive to the signs of either, but exhausted and over-stressed as he is, he can't trust his own judgment.

He worries for days before he realizes that Sawyer has said nothing to anyone, and another few before he notices that avoiding Sawyer is taking so little effort that Sawyer must be avoiding him. He's relieved, till it occurs to him that Sawyer might not have talked because he's intending to hold it over his head. A little blackmail would be exactly Sawyer's thing. The idea of Sawyer having that kind of power over him makes his blood run cold.

As he's walking down to the water's edge that night, hoping to calm his thoughts enough that he can rest, Hurley passes him, stops and says "Jack?"

He turns to see Hurley watching him with childlike eagerness.

"A bunch of us are going to play poker. Wanna play?"

He manages a professional smile, and shakes his head, too distracted for that.

"Thanks, but I'm going for a walk."

"We ... we kinda need somebody who knows the rules."

That means Sawyer's not playing. Unless ... he scrutinizes Hurley's guileless face, but there's nothing to see, which, if Sawyer had put him up to this, there surely would be.

"You're playing poker and none of you know how?"

Hurley screws up his face.

"Yeah."

"Okay."

He quashes the paranoid thought that Sawyer's going to be there anyway, and when he arrives, the little group consists of Hurley, Kate, Sun and Rose. None of them are competitive, they only want to amuse themselves with the game, and are happy to play for seashells. What they lack in cunning they make up for in enthusiasm, and it's a pleasure to play with people who don't cheat or care who wins. There's a cool breeze, and after today's roast boar, everyone is mellow and good humored. He regrets having let the fear of Sawyer's twisted motivation keep him from pleasant times like these. They have few enough opportunities for relaxing.

"This a private party or can anybody join in?"

His heart thumps in his chest, and his skin heats. Unnerved, and feeling ridiculous, he scrambles to acquire the poker face he hasn't used once during the evening. The other players make welcoming noises, and Rose says she's going to sleep anyway, so Sawyer can have her cards and her shells. Jack catches the strong smell of bourbon on Sawyer's breath, and it ratchets up his anxiety.

"How about it, Doc?" Sawyer licks his bottom lip, catches it with his teeth, a reckless bravado in his eyes.

Everyone is watching him, waiting for his response.

"Sure, take a seat." He says, pleased to hear himself sound unruffled.

Sawyer stumbles into Rose's place, with unusual clumsiness and kicks Hurley on the shin. He drops his cards face up before he can fish them out of the sand and get them in order.

Sawyer is far more astute a player than anyone else except Jack, and yet he loses time and again, betting, picking up and discarding cards so arbitrarily that it's obvious his mind is on anything but the game. He can feel Sawyer's eyes on him, but every time he has the nerve to challenge him with a stare, Sawyer looks away. He tries to breathe slowly and evenly, reminding himself that nobody would ever guess the truth, and really it's unlikely they would believe it even if Sawyer told them. It's enough to get him through a couple of hands, but Sawyer's acting so edgy and unpredictable, he can't relax for fear of what he might say or do.

"I'm going to turn in." Jack lays his cards down.

"Are you okay, Jack?" Kate looks at him, concern in her eyes.

"Doc's just worried I'm gonna beat the pants off him, like I did last time we played."

He feels his face burn, and looks straight at Sawyer, trying to find something appropriately scathing to say. Sawyer is smirking, challenging him, and that robs him of all sense.

"You didn't fucking beat me, Sawyer. I beat you."

The other players stare in silence, as shocked by the strength of his anger as by what he said. Sawyer doesn't need to tell people what happened, just being near him is enough to lower him to Sawyer's own level.

Sawyer shakes his head and stretches his legs lazily.

"Now, Doc, you know that ain't true. You won a few rounds, but in the end, I had you."

Jack looks away, afraid that the impulse to slam his fist into Sawyer's face will become too strong to resist.

"I'm makin' ya nervous, huh?"

He takes in Sawyer's narrowed eyes and taunting smile, and would give a lot to see him the way he remembers, naked, prone, fucked.

"No, you're getting on my nerves."

"Well, I wouldn't wanna spoil the mood none. I'ma go, folks."

Sawyer is on his feet and stumbling headlong into the jungle, the quickest way back to camp, before anyone can say anything more.

He catches up and grabs Sawyer's arm, pulling him round, so furious he can hardly find the breath to speak.

"What the fuck are you playing at?"

"What?" The look of innocence is calculated to infuriate, and it's effective.

"I won. Everything. You lost."

"It ain't about the cards, Jack."

"Then what's it about?"

Sawyer gives a teasing half-smile and takes a step closer. His fingers trail down Jack's stomach to his jeans, and play with the button, eyes searching Jack's face for a reaction.

Jack takes a deep breath, honing his words till they're sharp enough.

"I don't want you. I won you."

The punch to his guts is a complete shock. The second one arrives while he's still trying to comprehend what happened. He's doubled up, gasping for breath, trying not to vomit right there. Once the worst of it is past, and he's aware of things outside his own agony he remembers, from painful experience, to stay hunched over, hands resting on his knees, giving no sign that he's recovering. Sawyer's hands are clenched fists, thigh muscles tense under his jeans, so he waits longer, emphasizing his labored breathing.

When Sawyer's fists uncurl, and he takes a step back, Jack seizes the advantage and stands up. Taken by surprise, Sawyer tries another punch, but Jack catches his arm and twists, putting all his strength into it; if this fails Sawyer wont be fooled twice. Before Sawyer can deliver a counter-move, he spins him round, forces his arm up behind his back, and shoves him face first into a tree. Pinned there, with Jack's weight crushing him into the bark he is effectively subdued. It's a tiny triumph, but he'll take what he can get, so he revels in the feel of Sawyer's rigid muscles and short, shallow breaths. His guts ache, and he's relieved when Sawyer stops resisting. He relaxes his grip on Sawyer's arm, and Sawyer turns his head to look at him.

"I ain't averse to lettin' ya, Doc. But you gotta start askin' nice."

"I don't want you."

Before he can take a step back he is groped, thoroughly, through his jeans.

"Yeah, you do."

It's so necessary to believe that he wasn't hard and aching till Sawyer touched him that it becomes something he knows is true. Just as he knows he has to fuck Sawyer, now, because it's the only way he can exorcise the desire to kill him. If he's capable of wanting this, even through anger, then he's a more despicable person than he realized, and it's Sawyer's fault that he knows it.

He yanks Sawyer's jeans down his thighs, and stands back to undo his own. Seeing Sawyer fumble with his jeans he thinks he's trying to pull them up but Sawyer's warm palm closes around his length and strokes, slicked with something oily.

Sawyer anticipated all of this, probably orchestrated the whole thing. He shoves him against the tree and Sawyer arches his back, legs apart, bound around his ankles by his jeans, in wanton expectation. Hauling him by the hips, he lets Sawyer take all his weight, using his body as a weapon, but Sawyer just growls in his throat, throwing back his head. He slams into him, with no finesse, and Sawyer's growl becomes a groan but there's an earthy voluptuousness to it. He moves as hard and fast as he can, remembering Sawyer's complaint that he should have lasted longer, wanting to leave no room for error. This is an act of hate, not love. He grips Sawyer's flanks tight enough to bruise, mouth against his skin, tasting salt-sweat. Sinking his teeth into the strong muscle between neck and shoulder, the mane of fair hair, he thinks of lions fighting for supremacy.

Sawyer mutters something that disintegrates into a series of guttural sounds, and his hand clasps the back of Jack's thigh. It's an intense, dark delight to feel that futile attempt to prize him off, but then Sawyer moans and shudders and his fingers slacken, body losing its tension as he slumps against the tree. Incensed, Jack thrusts harshly, the need to punish, to annihilate, more real than the striving for release, but Sawyer doesn't protest, just gives up his body to be used, until Jack comes, biting sharply into his neck. Distantly he hears Sawyer whimper, in pain or pleasure.

Jack blinks, and tries to summon the energy to stand up and take his weight off of Sawyer. He feels calm and empty, cleansed of something terrible. When he finally makes the effort he has difficulty making his fingers work. Although it's dark he takes the time to comb his hair with his fingers and wipe his face with leaves still damp from the rain. He hopes Sawyer has done the decent thing and slunk away quietly, while he's been pulling himself together. When he turns round, he sees that, instead, Sawyer has slid down to the ground and is resting his head against the tree, uncaring that his pants are round his ankles. He's sitting there, disheveled, sticky and smeared, utterly debauched, gazing up at Jack with a sated, complacent look. It's a look that says they've just shared a deeply and mutually pleasurable experience.

That is not how it's supposed to be. He should feel degraded and filthy. He should know that he was used, and that he is loathed, not desired. Sawyer meets his eyes, and, whatever he sees, at least it wipes the smugness off of his face. Sawyer stares back for a moment and then reaches out his arm.

"Wanna give me a hand?"

He doesn't want to. In fact, there are few things that seem more repugnant right now than touching Sawyer, but the sooner this is over, the sooner he can walk away. He leans down and takes the offered hand. Sawyer lets him pull, without helping, as if he's trying to bring Jack down to the ground too, so Jack stops. Sawyer gives an apologetic little smile and this time when Jack tugs he gets to his feet with effortless grace. He looks Jack up and down appreciatively, till his eyes reach his face, and his mouth twists.

"Guess I don't need to ask if you'll respect me in the morning."

"I have no respect for you at all."

"Huh," He nods his head slowly, taking it in. "Well you have a helluva way of showin' it."

The sight and smell of Sawyer are making him feel nauseated. He can't believe what he has just done. There is no possible excuse.

"I don't want anything to do with you."

Sawyer gives a snort, and raises his eyebrows. He wishes in that moment that he could have fucked him hard enough that this conversation would be superfluous.

"Well, Doc, maybe I'd take you serious if you didn't keep screwin' me every time we're alone."

"You cannot be that naive." He doesn't hide his contempt, and he sees it hit home.

Sawyer looks away before he speaks.

"Fine, that's how you feel I'll keep away from ya, long as you do the same."

"Don't worry, that won't be a problem."

Jack turns and walks out of the jungle.