different circumstances
By gale

SUMMARY: Maybe, if things were different.


Sometimes – most of the time, actually – Jack thinks he’s fairly sure if they weren’t stuck here, if they were back in the real world, he wouldn’t have given Boone a second glance.

Not because he’s not attractive, because that’s obviously not the case, but because he’s a man, and until these last few months Jack had never thought about a man that way. Not ever, not even when he was drunk or in college. He’d always figured he was a Kinsey 1, because they happened sometimes, and he was one of those.

Jack tries to think about how they would have met, if the last few months hadn’t happened, and he can’t really imagine bumping into Boone in the pharmacy or something, or at a friend’s wedding. The one he keeps coming back to, if he lets himself think about it, is his office.

It would have been a regular office visit, a consultation. Probably done through Boone’s office, probably for his insurance. There would have been tests to run, and his mother – Sabrina Carlisle, *the* Sabrina Carlisle – owing his father a favor, and Jack would have had a two PM appointment with a patient twelve years younger than himself for the standard work-up.

There wouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary; boring paperwork, questions about family medical history, like that. Jack wouldn’t have been all that impressed with Boone’s four-hundred-dollar shirt and six-hundred-dollar pants, because people wore things like that in all the time. He probably wouldn’t have been that impressed at all, because he didn’t get impressed by patients. Set the wrong tone.

About halfway through the workup, Boone would have waited for Jack to finish writing something down, and then, as casually as he could have, asked Jack if he wanted to get coffee sometime.

There would have been an extremely awkward pause. Awkward for Jack, anyway, because Boone would have looked expectant and maybe slightly nervous, but not awkward, because he did things like that every day. Well, not every day. Sometimes. If he was attracted to the guy.

Jack would have cleared his throat and tried not to sound too apologetic when he said no thanks. It wouldn’t be professional, and anyway, he wasn’t – he – “I’m straight,” he’d say, hating how the words sounded out loud, like a condemnation or something. But they wouldn’t be wrong, because he *was* straight.

And Boone would shrug and maybe smile a little ruefully, and then clear his throat and ask if Jack had any more questions, and they’d get on with it. And neither of them would mention it again.

That was probably what would’ve happened.

But maybe not. Maybe he would have had dinner with Felicia from radiology, but spent the entire night thinking about Mr. Two PM, with the intense eyes and deceptively nervous smile. Maybe Jack thought about him all through drinks and dinner, and gently turned Felicia away from his door that night. Maybe he thought about the easy way Mr. Two PM’s hands had curled around the armrests when he talked, how light and limber they were.

Jack wouldn’t be at all surprised if that had been true.

And he’d be almost-but-not-quite nervous all week, waiting for next Thursday to roll around. He’d irritate Joan, the Best Receptionist Ever, by double- and triple-checking appointments times until she was ready to punch him, which was even more impressive when you realized Joan was 62 years old.

And then it’d be Thursday next, and he’d go down the hall for a cup of coffee (which would be redundant, because he’d have had six cups since he got in at nine that morning) to come back and find Mr. Carlisle waiting for him, picking at his nails and looking something very close to nervous. Jack wouldn’t be entirely sure just why his mouth would be so dry, but he’d have a few pretty good ideas.

He’d tell Mr. Carlisle that his tests were all fine, no damage, no blockage, not even a murmur; probably just stress. He’d watch relief flood Mr. Carlisle’s face, then take a breath before counting to five in his head and asking him if he’d like to get a cup of coffee. You know. To celebrate the good news.

Carlisle would be on the verge of saying something like “didn’t you tell me you were straight last week?” but instead he’d stare at Jack for just longer than was absolutely necessary before saying, “All right. If you’re buying.”

And that’s how it would start.

Coffee first, then coffee again, then lunch. Lunch two more times, then drinks cancelled for an emergency appendectomy, then a surprisingly nervous phone call to Carlisle’s office – except by then Jack would be calling him Boone, because he would’ve insisted – to ask him to dinner. There’d be more of that thoughtful silence, but Boone would agree, and Jack would make the reservations with his heart in his throat.

The entire drive to the restaurant, Jack would be rehearsing his speech in his head: I don’t usually do things like this. I don’t date patients, and I don’t date men, and I’m pretty sure this is mild heterosexual panic I’m feeling, but the important thing is I’m not freaked out about being here. I like you. I like you a lot, and I get the feeling you might like me, and if it’s all right with you I’d like to see where this goes.

He wouldn’t say any of that, though. It’d be mostly small talk through dinner, just like any other date, until about halfway through the entrée. Jack would look up in the middle of a long and boring story about playing pranks on first-year medical students and look at Boone, trying very hard not to laugh into his wine, and realize that this was the best date he’d been on in months, and it was with a guy. A guy twelve years younger than him, no less, and why wasn’t that more of a sticking point?

In the middle of after-dinner drinks, he’d lean over and kiss Boone, and Boone would kiss him back. And when Boone asked to come back to his apartment, Jack would say yes and be signaling the waiter almost before the word was out of his mouth.

The ride back to his apartment would seem like it took a hundred years. They wouldn’t be talking a lot, but that was all right; it’d be hard enough for Jack to focus on late evening traffic with Boone’s hand sliding from his knee to his thigh and back again.

He’s a little fuzzy on how the sex would go.

Jack can’t be sure, but deep down he thinks it would be about the same. A little easier, because there’s actual lube in the real world, and condoms, but other than that there wouldn’t be a lot of difference. There’d be a bed, which would be nice, not to mention more comfortable, and he’d get to see Boone’s surprise when he got Jack’s shirt off and saw his tattoos – because people never thought surgeons had a wild side – but there’d still be the same lazy progression from shirts to skins to nothing at all. He’d still start laughing halfway through when Boone’s hands skimmed that ticklish spot on the inside of his thigh, and Boone would still make him stop laughing by deep throating him like he’d been doing it for years instead of never before that night.

There’d still be that slightly weird moment when Jack would think, Oh God, he’s inside me, and that slightly less weird moment when he’d realized he was inside another man, and that this wasn’t weird so much as it was – you know – did Boone mind if he started to move now? Because he’d really, really appreciate it. He’d still be knocked flat when Boone brushed his prostate, because even though he was a doctor and he knew damn well what prostate stimulation felt like – even more, in his case, because of his girlfriend during his third year as a resident, thank you, Emily, thank you – but it was different when there was someone inside you, rocking against the happy button and grinning when you moaned out loud.

He’d still be quiet when he came, because he’s never been a moaner, but Boone would be noisier – not noisy, but less likely to stifle himself because there were people a couple hundred yards away. But other than that, there wouldn’t be a hell of a lot of difference: still good sex, still messy, still ended with both of them asleep five minutes after they were finished.

The next morning would be awkward for about 25 minutes, during which Jack would have a mild-to-moderate attack of heterosexual panic. He’s had sex with a guy. He’s had – really a lot of sex with a guy, and said guy is still asleep with one leg thrown over Jack’s, and what if—

And then Boone would wake up, yawning and blinking sleep out of his eyes, and he’d have bedhead, because some things don’t change even when you’re stuck on a desert island; and Boone would have this slow sleepy smile, like he wasn’t sure Jack would still be there, but he’s glad he is. And poof! No more heterosexual panic, because maybe it’s taken Jack 34 years to figure out a universal truth – just-woken-up smiles from beautiful boys are gifts, and you shouldn’t be so eager to toss them away – but it’s the sort of thing that sticks with you; and when Jack asks Boone if he’d like company in the shower, Boone will smile and drag him into the bathroom, and that will be that.

After that, it gets a little fuzzy. Everything after that involves relationship-building, and Jack’s never been great at that. Easier just to make this The Good Parts Version: few fights, earnest making up, and plenty of sex. And best of all, no disasters, natural or otherwise. No earthquakes, no hurricanes, no – and this is key – no plane crashes.

And in the end, all of that is just something to think about late at night, or when laundry seems to take a hundred years instead of a couple of hours. It’s not the truth.

The truth is, Jack and Boone met when their plane crashed. It was not love at first sight; Jack was irritated because Boone was doing CPR incorrectly, and Boone was pissed off because Jack was treating him like a stupid kid. Boone tried to save a woman’s life a few days later, but instead got caught in a riptide and had to be rescued by Jack. This didn’t serve to make either of them like each other any more. Besides, Jack was straight.

Time passed. They weren’t rescued. People started to pair off. Kate wound up with Sawyer, which twisted a knife in Jack’s gut but, oddly, didn’t really surprise him. Boone spent most of his days in the jungle with Locke, trying (and, often, failing) to be useful.

Then things went from bad (plane crash) to very, very bad (kidnapping and murder) to VERY VERY BAD and back to just plain bad. And somewhere in there, almost without his noticing, Jack started – looking at Boone. Who was looking back.

Everything after that was a slow escalation, a slide from strangers to acquaintances to friends and – finally – lovers. It was the most natural thing in the world, except for the circumstances.

And on the days when Boone smiles at him, or squeezes his hand in passing, or kisses him slow and deep – which is almost every day, unless one of them is camped out for the night – Jack doesn’t find it as important to imagine what might have been; what is is complicated enough.

He still checks in on them from time to time, though. Just to see how they’re doing.
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