paradigm shift
by gale

SUMMARY: ”We’re stuck on an island in the South Pacific after a crash that, by all rights, no one should have walked away from. An island, no less, with polar bears and crashed planes from Nigeria, not to mention a half-crazy French woman armed like someone in a militia. I don’t think two guys kissing is gonna cross anyone’s eyes at this point.”

NOTE: Goes AU pretty quickly; set – such as it is – after “Hearts and Minds”. La la la no Black Rock no Others no dead pretty wedding planners messed with the timeline la la la. Fuck off, Abrams.


The courtship period, as Jack calls it in his head, is mercifully brief.

Mercifully, because at the tender age of 34, Jack’s finally found something he’s bad at. He’s never had to work at relationships before; it’s always just sort of…happened. He meets a nice girl, they go out a few times, they have sex, they’re in a relationship, relationship ends. It’s comfortable, but there’s no excitement, no chase. Even with Sarah, things just sort of happened around him. Some days, when he’s feeling honest with himself, he can admit that he went through with the wedding as much because he wanted to *do* something about the relationship as because he loved Sarah.

So when Jack realizes that the first person he’s actually been attracted to – other than Kate, who’s with Sawyer now, and that doesn’t disturb him as much as he thinks it’s supposed to – is A) interested back and B) a man, it’s something of a shock. Because it’s not Nicole, the cute lab tech from Neuro, and it’s not Sarah; it’s Boone, the 12-years-younger guy currently spending most of his days hunting wild boar. This is a whole new playing field, and no one’s ever bothered to teach him the rules. So he gives it a shot.

Calling it a disaster would be being polite.

No one’s ever told him what to do, so he’s horribly obvious, like when he asks if Locke needs any company when he goes out hunting. It earns him a look. “If you want,” Locke says, but the note in his voice clearly says, “Not that this makes any sense, and you’re going to hold us up, but whatever.”

Locke, as it turns out, is right. The part he didn’t say out loud, anyway.

It’s not the walking that does him in, or climbing over things, or ducking under vines and avoiding being smacked in the head by low-hanging branches. It’s all of that combined with total silence, like Boone and Locke are having a conversation that Jack can’t hear. They navigate as if they’ve been doing this for a hundred years instead of not quite two weeks, and while he appreciates when they slow down enough for him to catch up, he’s very aware that they’re taking something like pity on him. It’s like he’s looking for wild pig in the company of mountain goats, and he’s got wheels. Training wheels.

They don’t bring any boar back home that day, needless to say. But Locke and Boone go out the next morning, before Jack wakes up, and come home with a decent-sized sow.

Jack smiles and decides he’ll wait to bang his head against a rock until they’ve gone back out.

*

Okay, so, Plan B: laundry.

It takes a little finagling. Kate’s in charge of laundry this week – she traded off with Sun, for some reason Jack’s not aware of – and he has to talk her into switching him with Charlie. Kate looks at him like he’s a mutant, but she agrees, so at least he’s got that going for him.

Jack’s out there bright and early with an armload and a half of clothes, almost before the sun comes up. He doesn’t mind laundry, really; it’s not so bad, once you get past the strain on your arms and back, and it frees his mind up for other things.

He’s got six pairs of pants and four shirts done when he hears “Jack?” from behind him. He makes himself look mildly surprised and turns around.

”Hey,” he tells Boone, blinking at him. “You’re stuck out here too?”

“For the morning, yeah,” Boone says, dropping down next to him in the surf. They’re dressed basically the same – rattiest shirt possible, cut-off pants, no shoes. Makes no sense to dress up when you’re going to get soaking wet before you’re twenty minutes in. “I never figured you’d be out here. Doctors have to have better things to do with their time than laundry.”

“That’s not the point,” Jack says, scooting over. He finishes another shirt and puts it with the others he’s already got done, then digs out what looks like a pair of shorts. “Everyone does what they can. That’s the only way we can do this and not self-destruct.”

”It sounds right,” Boone says carefully, taking a pair of pants from the pile. “I’m just not sure how effective the experiment’s going to be.” He looks like he wants to say something else, but he shakes his head once and focuses on what he’s doing.

“So what do you do?” Jack asks, after a minute. Boone looks up at him. “Back in the real world, I mean. When you’re not off hunting and gathering.”

Boone shrugs. ”Nothing important.” He scrubs at something on a T-shirt. “Not like practicing medicine, anyway.” He smiles a little, which takes the sting out of it. “I was. um. CEO of Santoro-Carlisle Enterprises, Limited.” Off Jack’s blank look, he adds, “It’s a company my mother owns. Basically a figurehead position, but *you* think of something better to do with a degree in English Literature.”

“You – really?” Jack doesn’t know why that’s so surprising, but it is. “I just – I wasn’t expecting that.”

”Yeah, I know, God doesn’t give with both hands, but.” Boone shrugs again.

Oh, *hell*. “Boone, no, that’s not what I meant. I—” Jack shakes his head. “I need to shut up, is what I need to do,” he mutters.

“Why?” Boone finally looks up at him; after a second, Jack meets his eyes. He doesn’t look upset – or angry, or hurt. More resigned. For some reason, that makes Jack flush. “It’s nothing I haven’t heard before. You’re the boss’s son, she puts you in charge of a company as soon as you graduate…you get used to hearing bullshit about it.”

“Well, it’s still stupid,” Jack mutters. He feels guilty, but he’s not sure why. “It doesn’t mean you’re any more or less qualified to do the job.”

There’s a very long pause. Jack busies himself with a pair of pants. Charlie’s, he thinks; there’s writing on the pants, scrawls of what looks like song lyrics. It seems a shame to wash them away.

”Thank you,” Boone says after a minute, and smiles at him. He doesn’t smile a lot, all things considered. It’s a shame. Of course, Jack also thinks it’s a shame that Boone doesn’t walk around shirtless during daylight hours. It’s possible he’s a little biased.

“So, um.” Jack clears his throat. “I don’t – this is—“ He takes a deep breath. “I was wondering if – if you didn’t have any—“

“JACK!” Michael yells from down the beach, and it’s all Jack can do not to shout “NOT NOW!” back at him. “There’s something wrong with Art, man!” He skids to a stop in the shallow sand and leans over, resting his hands on his haunches. “He’s on the beach. He hurt his ankle, man. It’s already swelling and it’s changing color. It doesn’t look good.”

”Shit,” Jack mutters, reaching for one of the clean shirts. Then he remembers and looks over at Boone.

”It’s fine,” Boone says. There’s been some shift there, something Jack missed – he’s less thoughtful now, more focused. “Go check on Art. I’ve got this.”

”I’ll be back,” Jack promises, and takes off running.

*

Except he’s *not* back, because Art’s ankle is a really, really bad sprain, and Jack’s forte in med school was not taping up ankles. He stays to make sure the swelling goes down, and gives Art – who’s freaked out and in pain, but not panicking or bitching *too* much, and Jack cannot even say how much he appreciates that, especially now – a couple of ibuprofen, and stays with him ‘til nightfall. Hurley gets him water and fruit, and Jack tries not to look too upset that he and Boone were interrupted.

That leaves him with Plan C.

Unfortunately, Jack doesn’t *have* a Plan C. He’d just…sort of expected that either A or B would work. At this point, he’s down to trying to remember what animals did in the wild to attract mates. It’s making him cranky he didn’t pay more attention in that damn sociology class his freshman year.

Hunting didn’t work. Laundry was a bust. Fine. When in doubt, preen.

Except there isn’t a hell of a lot of preening you can do when you’re stuck on a deserted island. They’re almost out of soap; they’ve been out of deodorant for a couple days now. Everyone’s sweaty less than an hour after they wake up, even on cold and rainy days, and even the “good” clothes have stains. It’s not like he has a lot of hair to work with; growing it out will take too long, and he *likes* his hair this short. And it’s not like he can just forego everything he’s supposed to be doing so he can focus on attracting somebody’s eye, so he’ll just have to make do.

Which means he does a lot of things shirtless for the next week.

He does laundry shirtless. He works in the garden shirtless. He sleeps shirtless when he can, though a couple nights it’s cold enough that he gets up and puts one on. He chops wood shirtless.

It’s maybe not the best plan he’s had, but it works, because everyone’s staring at him. Kate keeps blinking at him and having to refocus on his face when they talk. Charlie’s frowning a lot, and he and Hurley keep staring at Jack like he’s suffered a head injury. Claire’s blushing and not meeting his eyes – hell, he even caught Sawyer staring the other day, and that’s not exactly the avenue he was looking at, but a compliment’s a compliment.

It’s great, except the person he *wants* to be staring at him – isn’t. Boone’s been out in the jungle with Locke every day this week, gone before sunrise and back after nightfall, and they’ve been sticking to themselves when they get back.

“Real subtle, Jack,” Kate says on the fifth – no, the sixth night, sitting next to him. She grins and offers him a piece of fruit.

Jack takes it and stares at it. “What do you mean?”

Kate rolls her eyes. “Please. You’ve been showing off for someone for a week now, maybe longer.” She pokes him in the arm. “Don’t think I don’t appreciate it, but I’m pretty sure it’s not for me.”

Flirting is a reflex, like jerking away if someone tickles you. Jack grins back at her. “What makes you so sure—“ he starts, and glances over.

Boone over by Locke, looking at him. Jack can’t read his face from that far away, not by the fading sunlight, but he’s pretty sure it’s nothing he wants to see.

Boone saw Jack and Kate sitting together, eating together, laughing at something. Which means even if he’s seen Jack making an ass out of himself this week, he thinks it’s for—

The grin falls off Jack’s face.

Oh, *crap*.

*

Jack gives Plan C up the next day. The entire thing, he decides, was a mistake from the start, an obvious panicked response to being stuck on a deserted island. It didn’t really explain why said response made him attracted to a guy, but the human brain was complicated on a good day, and in recent weeks his definition of “good day” has dramatically changed.

He stops daydreaming about kissing Boone and goes back to getting on with things. Give it a week, maybe a couple – another month at the most – and it’ll be fine. Like it never happened. He’ll just have to pretend it’s okay ‘til it works around to actually *being* okay. He’s done it before.

The next night, after dinner, as he’s out for a walk, Boone settles in step with him like he’s done it every other time Jack’s gone out. Jack tries not to look surprised.

“Decided to give up hunting?” Boone teases, smiling at him a little. Jack tells himself to ignore how good he looks.

”Not my forte,” Jack says, shrugging. He glances out at the water. “Kind of like you and being a lifeguard.” He knows the words are a mistake as soon as they leave his mouth. “I’m sorry. That was—“

”—rude,” Boone says, “but not untrue.” He looks rueful, not angry. Jack can’t understand that; *he* wants to punch himself, and he’s the one who said it. “No, it’s – believe me, I know the feeling. There was once a time when I went whole *days* without screwing something up.”

Jack glances at him. Still rueful, kind of amused. Still not angry. “Really? Whole days?”

Boone nods. “Weeks, even,” he says gravely. “No tripping, no fights – I once went fourteen years without messing up CPR. I mean, I didn’t *know* CPR, so that might have had something to do with it, but still.” He stops, looks around. “You want to sit down? Once you climb off those rocks over there—“ he points “—it’s a straight shot back to the caves.”

”Sure,” Jack says. Stop it, he tells himself, following Boone a few yards down the beach. He asked if you wanted to sit down, not meet somewhere for drinks.

It’s an easy climb up. Jack settles in next to Boone and looks out at the water. No sentries tonight, not since Charlie shot Ethan. Still, it might be a good idea if—

”Why’d you stop coming around?” Boone suddenly asks.

Jack blinks at him. “What?”

“You’ve been trying to get my attention for, like, two weeks now,” Boone says, not looking at him, staring out at the water like it’s the most interesting thing he’s ever seen. “Going out hunting, doing laundry when I am. And then all of a sudden, you’re done. I’d just like to know why.” He tries to look wounded. “I mean, if it’s the smell—“

”It’s not—“ Jack says, and stops. “Okay, yeah, a little, but none of us are Ivory-fresh out here.” He winces and rubs his eyebrow. “Was I that obvious?”

”Sort of,” Boone says, pressing his lips together. It looks a lot like he’s trying not to smile. “The laundry thing, not so much, but going out hunting? Dead giveaway. And the part where you did everything shirtless for, like, a week, but you’ll notice I’m not complaining about that.”

Well, he’d wanted to get noticed. “Yeah, well,” Jack mutters, and doesn’t know why. What is he, fifteen again? The least he can do is admit to the damn crush and get it over with.

“I mean, granted, I still know fuck-all about hunting,” Boone says, finally looking at him, “but even *I* know that you don’t stop chasing the rabbit until you catch it.”

That makes Jack stop in his tracks and look at him. “Oh, so now you’re a rabbit?”

”I have *facets*,” Boone says, sounding wounded. It makes Jack smile. “And it’s been a long day and I’ve never been that good with metaphors anyway, so that’s the best you’re going to get for right now.”

The conversation goes dead for a couple of seconds.

“This is nice,” Jack finally says, looking out at the water. He’s at the edge of the jungle, a fire a couple hundred feet away and the water stretched out half a mile in front of him, and everyone in his makeshift family is warm and eating well. Things could be a hell of a lot worse.

And the best part is, he doesn’t have to tell Boone any of this. Boone already knows.

“I’m going to kiss you in a minute,” Jack says suddenly. “So if you have any problems with that, you should let me know now.”

Boone’s quiet for so long, Jack’s sure he’s trying to come up with a polite way to tell him no thanks, or maybe fuck off. “Except for the fact that you’re straight,” he finally says, “and straight guys don’t kiss other guys, no, no problems.”

”Uh, yeah. About that.” Jack clears his throat.

Boone looks at him for a second, then bursts out laughing. Jack has no idea what’s so funny. It sounds good, though. They’ve all been so somber since the crash. Has he ever really heard *anyone* laugh?

Well, no. Maybe Hurley. Possibly Charlie. Not many others, though.

”Jack,” Boone finally says. “This is – I understand the impulse, but I don’t think I’m so hard up I need a pity—“

Kissing Boone is – different than kissing a woman, and not just because of the stubble. His mouth is a fraction wider than Jack’s used to, and though it takes him a few seconds Boone kisses back with the same force, the same pressure. This isn’t like kissing Nicole, the cute lab tech from Neuro, or even like kissing Sarah. This is kissing Boone, who still has blood in his hair and five-o’clock shadow.

Kissing Boone, Jack is pleasantly surprised to discover, is *better*.

It goes on for a while – maybe a minute, Jack’s not sure – until Boone pulls back, touching his mouth and blinking a lot. He looks dazed, but not in a bad way. He looks a lot like the way Jack feels right now.

”Okay,” he finally says, “so *mostly* straight.”

Jack smiles and leans in to kiss him again. Boone meets him halfway.

*

After that, it’s less scary.

Most of the day is pretty much the same as it had been – Locke and Boone go into the jungle, and Jack‘s back at the caves, doing…whatever needs doing. They don’t actually see each other until after dark, unless Jack makes the effort to wake up early.

Jack makes the effort to wake up early, most days. And it’s worth one less hour of sleep to lock eyes with Boone and get a tiny, private smile in exchange for his own.

Night is a different story, though. At night, around the fire, the island seems less frightening and more – homey. It’s harder to be afraid of invisible monsters and kidnappers when you’re warm and dry and have a belly full of meat or fish.

The last few nights, Jack’s found some excuse to go outside and sit with Boone, who has watch while Locke eats – not that he needs one, because no one asks what he’s doing. Everyone’s still awkward enough around each other that unless the behavior is suspicious, no one really cares what you do or who you do it with. That sort of thing’s going to be a problem eventually, but for now Jack just appreciates it.

But this is still awkward, too, a little, so after a couple of minutes of meaningless small talk – even more meaningless here than back in the real world, which is saying something – Boone says, glancing over at him, “You know, you never talk about yourself.”

”Yes I do,” Jack says, feeling a little stung.

”No you don’t,” Boone says. “Not really. You talk about – about *things*. You tell stories from med school, or you talk about things you did in high school, but you never talk about yourself. You talk *around* yourself, like you’re the elephant in the room or something.” He looks back out at the water. “If you don’t want to talk, I get it, but we could just sit here. This isn’t an uncomfortable silence, Jack. I’ve had those.”

It’s a nice thought. More importantly, it’s a tempting thought. He won’t have to make small talk, which he’s always been good at but hates, and he’ll get to look at Boone, which is no hardship. But for the first time in a long time, he *wants* to talk.

So Jack takes a deep breath and tells Boone everything.

It takes a while, a couple of nights, because he’s never been good at confessing himself and he doesn’t want to talk about it when people are around, so he has to wait, usually for nightfall. He tells Boone about med school, and being an only child – Boone can relate, up to a point – and the people he’s dated before. He’s expecting that to make Boone narrow-eyed and jealous, but he just looks interested.

He tells Boone about that first afternoon on the beach, when all he wanted to do was have someone tell him what to do and instead he got a guy who could have been him in another life, panicking and messing up CPR, which Jack took over automatically but it sure as hell pissed him off; and how no matter what happened he couldn’t get away from that guy, and the mistakes said guy kept making when all he wanted to do was help.

“I hated you a little for that,” Jack admits.

Boone doesn’t look upset, just says “yeah, I figured that out already,” and keeps listening.

He tells Boone about his father, and the expectations he will never be able to live up to. About his mother, who only occasionally needs him and never wants him, and how he’s never been quite sure she actually loves him. He tells Boone about Kitty McCoy and the durnal sac, and counting to five.

He tells him about Sarah, and how much he loved her; and how much it hurt when it ended, but not as much for him and Sarah as it did for everyone around them.

He talks about how scared he is, and how much he can’t show it when everyone’s looking at him like he’s supposed to be the leader. How much he hates it, because it’s a lot like being back at the hospital.

”But I bury it,” Jack says, lowering his voice. He’s running his fingers through the dirt, though he’s not sure why. Something to do, maybe. “I keep it inside, because that’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m in charge. People in charge don’t freak out.”

”Of course they do,” Boone says, rolling his eyes a little. He reaches out and threads his fingers through Jack’s, squeezing them tight. “Maybe not where everyone can see, but you’re not a robot, Jack. You get to have feelings.”

He knows that, of course. But it’s nice to hear.

*

“So,” Shannon says one afternoon, while Jack’s working in the garden, “I hear you’ve got the hots for my brother.”

Startled, Jack looks up at that. Shannon grins at him. “I don’t care,” she says, dropping down to crouch next to him in the dirt. She’s very careful not to get any on her skirt, he notices, followed quickly by the realization that she has fantastic legs. The thought does absolutely nothing for him. Or to him.

“--I’d have been irritated since ninth grade,” Shannon says breezily, and Jack notices she’s still talking. She waves a hand. “Whatever. It’s Bonehead’s business, not mine, and it’ll make Kate’s eyes cross, which is always good for a laugh.” Suddenly she stops talking and looks at him. “Jack?”

She sounds so – so uncharacteristically *serious* that Jack stops what he’s doing and looks at her.

”He’s my brother,” Shannon says flatly. “He can take care of himself. But if you do anything to hurt him, I will make you regret it.”

There’s no joking around in that tone of voice, no teasing smirk. Shannon, Jack knows, is absolutely serious.

”Shannon,” Jack says quietly, “I’m not playing around. And I’m not going to hurt him.”

Shannon gets to her feet and brushes away an imaginary spot of something on her skirt. “Whatever,” she says again, bored all over again, and the world makes sense once more. “Michael was looking for you earlier. You want me to tell him you’re over here?”

Jack shakes his head to snap himself out of it. “If you see him, yeah,” he says, and goes back to his gardening.

*

And then everything almost goes all to shit.

*

”Breathe,” Jack says, and he thinks he should take his own advice, because his heart feels like there’s a band around it. He’s not sure how he’s still talking. “Boone, you – Boone, you have to *breathe*, okay?”

He is, though Jack’s not sure how. Everything’s so fucking *bloody*. Things aren’t in the places they’re supposed to be, and people keep coming up to ask him if Boone’s going to be all right, and if they don’t stop it he’s going to start punching them.

Jack’s not letting himself think about the possibility of infection settling in. He’s just not.

“Jack,” Boone says, and God, he sounds a hundred years old. He’s not worried about the head wound – those always bleed a lot; too many blood vessels in the head – as much as he is the gashes in Boone’s stomach. There are too many things that can be perforated in that area, too many things that can go wrong. And his leg—

”Jack,” Boone says again. “Let me go. We can’t—“ He coughs again. Jack makes himself not notice how red it is. “We shouldn’t waste the drugs.”

There’s this note in his voice, this sense of finality, that Jack’s never heard before, not even from the marshal. And just for a minute, the doctor in Jack wants to listen to it. Let the patient manage his own care, it says, he knows better than you do, people always know when they’re about to die.

Then he remembers a couple of nights before, Boone looking at him like he was some kind of gift, and tells the doctor to fuck off.

Part of Jack wonders if this is how Charlie felt, when Ethan was standing right there and the gun was in his hand. He didn’t understand it, then. He thinks he’s starting to.

Jack closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, counts to five. Doesn’t pray.

Then he opens his eyes and goes back to it.

*

Jack practically has to sit on Boone to keep him from getting up and trying to do something. Shannon tries, once.

“You almost died three days ago,” she snaps. She sounds like she’s crying a little, but she also sounds furious, so things can’t be that bad. If things were really bad again, she’d be crying too hard to talk. “And now you want to go out fucking *hunting*. Christ. You’re Sabrina all over again.”

”Fuck off,” Boone mutters – more like wheezes, actually. He’s not going anywhere, Jack decides, and starts hurrying the last few feet to the cave. “That was totally different—“

”She had a *board meeting*!” Shannon yells, looming perilously close to Boone’s leg. “She checked herself out of the hospital with *pneumonia* for a *board meeting*, and she was gray and looked like shit, and you know what, Boone? You look a hundred times worse than she did when she was on the *ventilator*, so you can shut up and hold still, or I swear to God I’ll get somebody to break your ankles.”

”Nobody’s breaking any ankles,” Jack says mildly, coming in with the water. “But no one’s trying to get up, either.” He looks at Boone. “Are they.”

“I’m *fine*,” Boone says again. Jack and Shannon roll their eyes at the same time. “The stitches—“

”—could pop if you breathe too hard,” Jack says, “so if you think I’m going to let you go out and track down wild pig, I need to up your dosage of antibiotics, because the fever is cooking your brain.” Absently, he knuckles his forehead. Knock on wood.

“He’s been like this since we were kids,” Shannon says, sounding long-suffering. “He didn’t even like to miss *school*.”

Jack smiles at her briefly, but drops next to the makeshift bed and smacks Boone on the hip of his good leg. “How’s it feel?” he asks.

Boone looks irritated. “Not amputated,” he mutters, but relents when he sees the way Jack’s looking at him. “The skin’s still really tight, but I don’t think it’s as dark as it was. I don’t know if the swelling is down or not, but it feels less – I don’t know, terrible.”

The swelling looks a little less, and when Jack tests his reflexes Boone moves, so that’s one less thing for him to worry about. He’s still being careful with the antibiotics, because Boone *is* running a fever, but there’s no sign of gangrene or any red lines signaling infection, so maybe – just maybe – this will not be a total crapshoot.

“It looks a little better,” Jack says – carefully, because that’s usually followed by horrible things, especially around here. “But you’re not going out. You’re not even going to take a piss without someone in here helping you.”

“We have to find him,” Boone says. His eyes are the most awake part of him, burning and as angry as Jack feels. “No one knows this island as well as he does, Jack. He could go to ground, and we wouldn’t see him again. Between me and Sayid, I think we have a shot—“

”Oh, no way,” Shannon says. “You’re not going, and neither is Sayid. I’m not losing—“

She cuts off suddenly and stares at the both of them, crossing her arms over her chest and looking distinctly uncomfortable. But she doesn’t say anything else.

“No one’s going anywhere,” Jack says, unslinging a canteen from around his neck and handing it to Boone. “Shannon, tell Sayid I want to see him, please. I’m going to get any ideas about tracking Locke down out of his head.” Shannon nods and takes off.

”He doesn’t know what happened,” Jack says, checking the stitches. They all seem to be holding, but he’s always been a little paranoid about checking his work. The last time he was this worried about – no, actually, this is *worse* than it was with Sarah. The black humor isn’t lost on him. “He’ll be back, sooner or later, and we’ll talk to him then.”

”Talking isn’t going to work,” Boone says, and hisses when Jack touches one of the wounds on his chest. Jack murmurs an apology, but Boone waves him off. “Jack, he’s…it’s not going to work. If he doesn’t want to tell you, he won’t.”

”Okay.” And this is one of the things Jack hates about being the leader, however nominally, because it feels like an interrogation. “Can you?”

Boone looks at him for a very long minute, then nods.

*

Recovery takes longer than Jack remembers from the hospital; but then, it’s not like they have physio here, and really, every day is outpatient care.

There are a bunch of scars on Boone’s chest, a couple more on his stomach. Most of those will fade with time, but the two biggest are going to scar. The rest will be faint pink lines for a year or two while they heal, then get more and more faint until they vanish.

The leg’s the bad one - *that* scar’s going to be the nasty one, half as long as Jack’s forearm and as thick as his middle and index fingers put together. It takes almost two months to heal, and another month for Boone to get back to normal on it. He doesn’t limp, but he winces when rain’s coming, the way Jack’s grandfather used to after he got his hip replaced, and as much as he tries not to use it, sometimes he needs a walking stick.

The pain takes the edge off Boone’s libido, and between not thinking about how close Boone almost came to dying and checking the baby every day and thinking increasingly murderous thoughts about John Locke, Jack’s not really in any kind of mood, either.

So they talk instead.

“No,” Boone says, laughing, “there’s not – look, you know everything already, okay? There was Melissa in ninth grade, and Jesse and Sara Dominguez my senior year—“

”What, you had a three-year dry spell?” Jack teases.

”We’re talking sex, not dating,” Boone says. It’s hard to imagine that someone could sound prim while talking about sex, but Boone’s doing a pretty good job of it. Though Jack’s understandably distracted by Boone’s hands resting on his thighs, the play of muscles in both. And yeah, he’s *really* not entirely straight.

”Then in college—“ Boone takes a deep breath and looks up and over, starts ticking them off on his fingers. “Angie, Cooper, the blue-haired guy who fronted a bad Bad Religion cover band and lived two floors up from me, Angie again, the bassist for the bad Bad Religion cover band, Jill, Henry, and Nicole.”

Jack gapes a little at the recitation.

”Then, my *sophomore* year—“

Jack gapes more, if that’s possible.

Boone bursts out laughing. “I’m sorry,” he manages to get out, doubling over on himself. “God, the *look* on your face.“

”Oh, yeah, real funny,” Jack says, trying to glare at him. When Boone looks up at him and keeps snickering, he figures he’s not being entirely successful. “Scare the old guy.”

”No, that was it,” Boone says, waving a hand as the giggles taper off. “Actually, Jill, Henry and Nicole were since I graduated.” He sits up. “And since then, it’s been my ex-girlfriend Katie, and that’s it.”

”That’s it?” Jack says. “That’s everyone? No paternity suits you’re forgetting to mention?”

”Carlisles don’t have paternity suits,” Boone says, raising his chin. “We have payoffs.” He stops smiling and glances down at his hands. “There was someone in Sydney,” he admits, lowering his voice. “It was one night, and in the pantheon of stupid sex things I’ve done, this one’s right up there.” He raises his head and shrugs at Jack. “But that’s it, yeah.”

”See?” Jack says. “Not so hard.” Part of him’s arguing about the necessity of having the Other People I’ve Slept With talk out here on a deserted island; it’s not like they have access to antibiotics if one or both of them has something, and condoms are scarce enough that they’re saving them (the ones Sawyer doesn’t have stashed, anyway) for emergencies. There’s no way to be certain, but if a Kinsey researcher stumbled across the island, he or she would probably find the percentages for masturbation and oral sex skyrocketing. But it’s something left over from BC – Before the Crash – and like most people, Jack’s holding onto anything BC as tight as he can. Even this. Especially this.

“Could’ve been worse,” Boone agrees, and looks over at Jack. “Your turn, Doctor Shephard. Start talking.”

*

But as much as they talk about it, even after the pain’s mostly gone and the scars have healed, there’s no sex for a while.

Jack’s too busy kissing Boone for a couple weeks, and the next month is like his junior year of high school all over again, with Jack flat on his back by the end of it, grinning like an idiot and trying to hide it. He doesn’t bother trying to hide his erection, because it nudges Boone’s belly and upper thigh half the damn night. Not that Boone minds; he just grins back, slow and more than a little hot, and arches into Jack’s touch.

Jack doesn’t even try not to think about the noises Boone makes when he slides back to his own pallet and jerks off as quietly as he can. He bites his hand when he comes and lets out a long breath through his nose, and tries not to look too sex-stupid in the morning. From the looks he’s getting over morning fruit, he suspects he’s not good at hiding it.

You’d never tell by looking at Boone, though. He’s the same mostly-silent, dark-eyed guy he’s been the last few months, going out in the morning and coming back in the evening – or earlier, if he’s not hunting that day. He smiles a little more often, and Jack’s caught glimpses of him deep in conversation with Charlie more than once, but it’s mostly the same.

Besides, there’s better things they can do. Jack figures that out when Boone comes over to him in the middle of the night and presses close to him, his mouth to Jack’s ear. “Don’t say anything,” he warns, not murmuring so much as breathing into his ear. “Don’t make a noise.”

”Boone—“ Jack starts, but that earns him a punch to the hip. Jack yelps and shuts up, closes his eyes.

And then Boone’s talking to him – just talking, but it’s enough to make Jack’s fingers tingle. Telling him all sorts of things: how beautiful Jack is, how much Boone wants him, how much *everyone* wants him, but they’re going to have to get in line. “And I’m never moving, so they can shut the fuck up,” Boone adds, raising his voice a little, and when Jack snickers at that he can feel Boone smile against his skin.

Boone never touches him, not once; just keeps his mouth right up against Jack’s ear, talking in that low voice about how sexy Jack is, how hot, how much waiting is driving him crazy. “You’re going to be so good at this, Jack,” he breathes, and Jack can’t help it, he has to slide his hand down his jeans and start stroking his dick, already hard and ready. He should try to breathe a little quieter, he knows, because he must sound like a goddamn bellows or a steam engine or something, but he can’t, because that would mean he’d have to stop listening to Boone for a second and there’s no way he’s doing that.

Jack’s had phone sex before, once or twice; he knows it’s better than a lot of people give it credit for being, because cliché or not, there’s nothing as sexy as someone else’s mind. This is like phone sex, only better, because Boone’s breath is warm on his skin and Jack can smell him if he takes a deep enough breath and phone sex has never gotten him this worked up this fast. Boone’s a lot of that, he thinks, listening to the rhythm and the cadence of the words against his skin. But just his words, because Boone’s being very careful to keep the rest of his body away from Jack’s.

The whole thing’s like a dream, Boone telling him how sexy he is, how hot, how much control it’s taking Boone not to just tackle him and tear his clothes off every day and fuck everyone else who might be staring at them at the time. “It’s going to be so good, Jack,” he breathes, and Jack strokes a little harder, trying not to hyperventilate. “So good, want you so much, I can’t wait to feel your skin pressed against me, your cock, your big hard cock, want it, need it so *bad*--“

It’s all talk, Jack knows, the sort of thing you say to get someone off. But from the way he’s planting his feet against the ground and moving his hips a little, it’s working.

Jack can tell it’s working, because his balls are already drawn up tight, and he can feel from the way the sensation is building in his stomach that it’s going to be soon and he’s going to come hard, the way he hasn’t in a while, and usually not by himself. Boone’s voice in his ear is soft and loud all at once, and he’s breathing a little faster too, so Jack knows he’s not alone in this even if he can’t feel Boone, and oh God he wants to, wants to feel Boone pressed against him, wants to feel Boone’s legs wrapped around his hips while he pants and tries not to make noises because maybe everyone’s not having sex yet but everyone knows that you need to be quiet when you do, because the island’s only so big and noises carry on the water, and the couple of times he’s been brave enough to touch Boone’s dick through his jeans he’s felt slightly above average, and oh God he wants that, too, wants it so bad his vision’s going blurry.

“Fuck me, Jack,” Boone says, and Jack knows he’s not really breathing that loudly but it *feels* like he is, and Jack really does want to say something but he can’t, won’t, because Boone might shut up altogether, and that means he won’t be pressed against Jack, mouth to ear, whispering “God I want to fuck you” in about the dirtiest voice Jack’s ever heard, and suddenly Jack can *see* it, in his head, Boone sliding inside him, sandy and a little dirty and Jack’s legs around his hips, arching into the touch, and it’s enough and it’s too much, and when Jack slides his other hand around to grab Boone’s instead of yelling when he comes, Boone’s voice breaks a little but that’s okay.

It takes Jack a couple minutes to come down from that. Understandably.

“You’ve done that before,” he murmurs, rolling over to look Boone in the eye. Also, it’s easier to talk quietly when you’re looking at someone.

”Once or twice,” Boone says, smiling a little. He looks as wrung out as Jack feels. Jack doesn’t get that until he looks down at Boone’s jeans, and oh, hell, turns out he wasn’t the only one who had a good time.

Boone notices him looking. If anything, he smiles a little wider.

“Did you mean that?” Jack asks, blurting it out. He meant to say something reassuring and sexy, but no, instead he sounds like someone’s insecure older boyfriend. Jesus.

But when Boone leans in to kiss him and says “every word” against Jack’s mouth, Jack decides that maybe Boone won’t mind that so much.

*

Then there’s this week-long gap starting with Dave-from-the-beach throwing up because it turns out he’s allergic to plums, and Zoe runs a fever for three days that clears up just as sudden as it came, and since Locke took off for the jungle Boone’s had to pick up his slack at hunting for food, not to mention keeping an eye out for the guy.

That doesn’t leave a lot of time for any kind of relationship, let alone sex. It’s hard enough for Jack to work up the energy to shave and bathe every day, and Boone’s at least as tired as he is when he and Claire come back in the evenings, which means the only time they get a chance to do more than occasionally make eye contact is at night, when they’re both too tired to do anything more than sleep.

But when Jack wakes up just before sunrise and finds Boone’s head buried in the crook of neck and shoulder, breathing softly against his skin, he figures that’s pretty good, too.

*

“Okay, so, mmmph—“ Boone pulls himself away from Jack long enough to ask, “The back of a *station wagon*?”

”It was her mom’s,” Jack says, breathing hard. Forget track; nothing works the lungs like kissing someone for 45 minutes straight. “It lasted all of ten minutes, and then we went to the dance. We broke up a week later. Why, where did you—“

”The Dakota,” Boone says.

Jack stares at him.

”Melissa’s mom had an apartment there, and she was in Aspen for two weeks with her latest husband, so we figured what the hell.”

Jack stares at him.

”You know, if you’re going to get weird every time I mention coming from money—“

”No, no, it’s just.” Jack shakes his head. “Odd.”

“Two months ago, you were freaked out about the idea of kissing me,” Boone says, and wriggles away just long enough to take his shirt off. The scars are still there, bright pink against pale skin, but they’re healed enough for him to take his clothes off without Jack being afraid of infection setting in. They still make his stomach clench uncomfortably, but he can live with that. “Now you’re freaking out because I’m worth more money than you are. I’d call that an improvement.”

“I’m telling you,” Jack says, and starts working at the buttons on his own shirt. “Baby steps.”

*

Everyone else finds out a couple of weeks later.

It’s their fault as much as it is Claire’s; they’ve been getting sloppy lately, forgetting basic steps like making excuses and taking things with them to at least set the stage for believable cover stories. But hell, things are just getting good, because Jack wants to try everything *right now*, and Boone’s twenty-two, and those two things mixed together is enough to make anyone temporarily stupid.

Still, one of them usually tries to keep an ear out and listen for anyone who could be approaching so they can spring apart and try to look casual. But it’s been raining the last couple of days, meaning everyone’s stuck in the caves. Space is at a premium, and this is the first time in three days that it’s been dry enough to go outside for *anything*.

They don’t even realize Claire’s there until she yells “ohmyGod!” and falls on her butt.

”I didn’t see anything,” Claire says slowly, blushing bright red. She holds her knapsack in front of her like a shield. “I just – I didn’t see anything, okay?”

“Claire,” Boone says, eyes almost as wide as hers, “it’s not what it looks like, okay?”

Jack’s not sure he’d believe it, if he were in Claire’s shoes, especially since neither of them have shirts on and there’s something that looks suspiciously like a hickey on Boone’s collarbone. But she’s mostly blinking at the two of them and not saying anything.

”Yes it is,” Jack hears himself say, and thinks, Well, hell.

That earns him looks from both of them. Jack looks back at Boone.

“Fuck,” Boone mutters, rubbing his forehead, and raises his voice. “Then – yeah, I guess it is.”

”It’s cool,” Claire says, still very pink in the face. “It’s not like I’m—“ Her eyes go wide again and she looks at Boone. “Is *this* what you were talking to Charlie about the other day? The thing, with the – the thing? And that person you never mentioned by name?”

”Um.” Boone coughs and tries not to look embarrassed. “Yeah, pretty much. I mean, yes.”

”Ohhh. Because he swore up and down you meant, like, someone down on the beach, because we know everyone at the caves, and there was no way—“

”*Claire*,” Jack says, a little sharply, and she stops and looks at him. “Is something wrong?”

”What?” She shakes her head. “Oh, no, I was just going out to try and find some fruit. Sun wants more seeds for the garden, and Hurley mentioned he’d seen those little not-plums out this way, so I thought I’d go looking while Charlie watches the baby.” Then she cocks her head and looks back and forth at the two of them.

“It’s cool,” she says again, waving a hand. “I mean, I’m not gonna run out and start telling whoever I see, but if it comes up—“

”You shouldn’t have to lie,” Jack says seriously. Nothing good comes of people lying, not out here. “You want some help?”

”Sure,” Claire says, smiling at him. It’s the shy one she used to wear more their first few weeks there, but it reaches her eyes, so he knows it’s going to be okay. “Boone?”

Boone shakes his head. “I’ve got laundry this afternoon,” he says, getting to his feet. His shirt’s in his hand, and his pants are just riding low enough to make Jack seriously re-think his offer to go out gathering with Claire. But that’s not fair, especially since he’s the first one to get cross-eyed when someone skips out on work.

So when Michael and Charlie wolf-whistle when the two of them walk into camp together that night, and Sawyer says something about Boone’s taste being in his mouth, Jack knows it’s good-natured, because it’s followed by scattered applause. Claire waves, Hurley shoots them a thumbs-up. Not a big deal at all.

“I thought they’d be more freaked out,” Jack admits, taking the baby from Claire and bouncing him a little. He’s gaining weight and his color’s good; he’ll do a more thorough examination after dinner.

”We’re stuck on an island in the South Pacific after a crash that, by all rights, no one should have walked away from,” Boone says, reaching out and beeping the baby on the nose. “An island, no less, with polar bears and crashed planes from Nigeria, not to mention a half-crazy French woman armed like someone in a militia. I don’t think two guys kissing is gonna cross anyone’s eyes, at this point.” He looks up. “Want me to take him while you get something to eat?”

”Sure,” he says, handing the baby off – after a quick look at Claire, who nods. “Want anything?”

”I’ll wait ‘til you get back,” Boone says, settling Aaron on his lap. Aaron makes a pleased noise and starts trying to gnaw on Boone’s watch.

“’kay,” Jack says, and leans over to kiss Boone without even thinking. Then he remembers where they are and starts to pull back.

”Oh, come on!” Shannon yells, prompting laughter from most of them. Boone covers the baby’s eyes with one hand and pulls Jack close with the other.

*

They fight, of course. Everyone fights; tempers are shorter out here, what with the low-level underlying panic and the heat, and the occasional death. But it’s different.

Jack never really fought much with Sarah. One of them made a decision, and told the other one, who agreed or disagreed, and they went from there. Even disagreements were mild and fairly sanguine – I’m allergic to shellfish, it’s been a long day, if you really want to go to New York it’s fine with me. He can’t actually remember either of them screaming and yelling, not even when Sarah said she wanted a divorce.

Boone yells. Boone doesn’t scream – he says that’s Shannon’s job, and from the few stories he’s managed to dig out about what they were like growing up, Jack figures he’s not really wrong about that – but he shouts. He digs his heels in and gets obstinate and stomps off, carrying a spear and not saying a word, creeping through the underbrush and muttering about know-it-all fuckwit doctors with God complexes and no sense of interpersonal skills (or so Sawyer said, the last time he went out with Boone right after a fight).

But at the end of the day, one of them finds the other and they start talking. There’s usually more yelling at this point, but it gradually tapers off until it vanishes altogether, leaving exhaustion and good-natured teasing in its wake.

Jack’s always figured he knew he was an adult the day he stopped paying student loans and started signing things with “doctor” in front of his name. He didn’t know until now that it meant fighting, too.

*

There’s no real discussion about Boone moving in or not. Everyone’s had their own caves for a while now – even the people still on the beach, who hardly ever use theirs. Jack’s is one of the closest near the waterfall, in case of an emergency.

One day, Jack looks around for a pair of pants and notices that Boone’s backpack is against the wall next to his duffel bag, and he stops for a second. There’s a brief, momentary flash of panic at the sight.

And then he mentally shrugs and goes back to looking for a clean pair of pants, because it’s not like the firewood’s going to chop itself.

*

“Okay,” Boone says, “come at me.”

From where Jack’s standing – on the sidelines, waiting for his turn – it looks like a horribly lopsided fight. Boone’s better than he used to be, but Kate’s dad was a Ranger. Also, she picked up a little judo from somewhere, and she’s as tall as he is, and – this is key – Kate didn’t have a plane fall on her and almost kill her a few months ago.

This is Sayid’s idea, and it’s actually pretty good. “There’s no reason for us to just be sitting here, doing nothing,” he’d said to Jack, “when we could, at the least, be learning to defend ourselves. Most of the people here would see someone with a knife and run screaming. It’s not inherently a bad idea, but it’s not always the best thing to do.” He’d shrugged. “And, honestly, it would break up the monotony.”

Very simple rules: don’t try to kill, just incapacitate. No weapons – not at first, anyway – just hand-to-hand. Keep it doing it until everyone has the basics down, no matter how long it takes. Do it in all kinds of weather, because if someone’s trying to kill you in a rainstorm, they’re not going to stop because you’re not used to the weather conditions.

It’s not a bad fight, if not that long; Boone blocks Kate’s punches, but she drives her knee into his stomach and gets him down, sits on his legs while she headbutts him in the forehead.

Jack shoves himself off the tree, automatically moving, but Boone manages to wave him off. “No, that’s good,” he finally says, clutching his head. “You want to try the kidney shot now?”

”No kidney shot,” Jack says. “That’s why we have practice dummies.” Bad ones, sure – rough figures of people carved out of wood that Jack’s labeled with the natural chalk from the beach – but it’s easier than risking someone’s life for self-defense class.

”Oh, come on,” Kate says. She sits back, glances at Boone when she realizes she’s still on his legs. He just waves her off, too. “I think I can do it, Jack.”

”You’re not the one I’m worried about,” Jack says, ignoring the way Boone’s rolling his eyes behind her. The guy had a plane fall on him a few months ago and survived, and now he thinks he’s indestructible. Jack doesn’t know whether to punch him or kiss him, sometimes. “It’s not like we can get replacement kidneys out here, Kate. I’d rather not take the risk.”

Kate makes a face and looks at Boone. “Your boyfriend’s a drag,” she says, helping him sit up.

”That’s what I keep telling him,” Boone says, his voice muffled by his hands. He moves them away and glances at her. “How’s it look?”

”Not bad,” Kate says, running her fingers over his forehead. “You’re gonna have a knot by tonight, though.”

”Ow.” He winces when she touches the spot, but he doesn’t jerk away. “Really?”

Kate’s nod is solemn. “Bowman’s,” she says, very seriously, and the two of them start snickering.

They’re not – friends, exactly, the same way Jack and Sawyer will never entirely be friends; there’s too many differences there, too much enmity. But they’re polite to each other in the same way you are to strangers, and somehow they’ve bonded just enough to be able to do things together without Jack worrying in the back of his head about either of them coming back bloody.

The two of them get to their feet after a minute. “Okay,” Kate says, dusting her hands off on her pants. “You want to give it a try, Doc?”

Jack rolls his shoulders. “Might as well,” he says, and waits for Boone to get out of the circle before he goes in.

*

“So are you gay now?”

Jack looks up from the wood he’s cutting and stares at Walt. He hasn’t talked to Walt that often without Michael being around, but he’s always struck Jack as being a bright kid – and a little lonely, since Michael’s been working on the raft most of his waking hours, and Locke’s still vanished into the wilds of wherever-the-hell.

“I don’t think it works that way,” Jack says, not unkindly. It’s not like he hasn’t asked himself that a couple dozen times a day over the last few months, but it’s strange hearing somebody else say it, especially Walt.

“Huh.” Walt thinks about it for a second. “So – you still like girls.”

”Sure I like girls.” Jack splits a piece of wood. “And I like Boone. So I guess I like girls *and* guys.” He pauses. “Well, guy.”

”Oh.” Walt watches him split another couple of pieces of wood before he speaks again. “Are you guys having sex?”

Jack fixes him with a look. “That’s none of your business,” he says as levelly as he can. It really, really isn’t.

Not that that deters Walt. “Are you in love with him?”

That makes Jack stop for a minute.

He’s never been great at saying it; it just wasn’t done, in his family, and while Sarah said it whenever she felt like it, she understood that Jack wasn’t one for verbal demonstrations the same way she was. But he’s seen the look on Boone’s face, in his eyes, and he knows how he feels, even if he’s never said it out loud.

Jack looks at Walt. “Yeah,” he finally says, “I am.”

”Oh.” Walt cocks his head. “Cool,” he says, and wanders off, Vincent trailing behind him.

Jack stares after him, grinning. He barely notices when Boone comes up next to him. “Hey. You all right?”

”Yeah,” Jack says, and looks at him, still smiling. “Yeah, I’m good.”

*

It happens, if Jack’s math isn’t off, on a Wednesday.

They’ve been here almost eight months, coming up on nine; the baby’s starting to crawl on his own, and when Claire says she thinks he’s trying to stand, Jack isn’t surprised. Another couple of months, and they’ll have been here a year.

A year. It doesn’t seem possible. But then, some mornings it doesn’t seem possible that they’ve ever been *off* the island, so Jack just goes with it most of the time. It’s easier that way.

It hasn’t been all bad. Charlie and Claire have practically moved in together, and she calls him Daddy, and he beams like Aaron’s actually his. Hurley’s lost something like 40 pounds, and Sawyer – Sawyer’s actually *doing* things. The only person who seems more surprised about that than Jack is Sawyer himself; but as it turns out, he’s not a bad gardener, and Aaron lights up around him. Sawyer tries to look disgruntled on the nights Claire has him watch Aaron, but Jack’s heard him playing counting games and solemnly promising to teach the kid to hotwire a car and cheat at three-card monte when he gets a little older.

Sun and Jin are talking again, though not often, and Jin’s still down at the beach. Walt’s calling Michael “Dad” of his own free will, and Sayid’s – courting Shannon, and that’s exactly what he’s doing, old-fashioned as it might sound. They’re taking it even more slowly than Charlie and Claire, which is saying something. A couple of weeks ago, Jack even saw Sayid and Boone deep in conversation, which never happens.

It’s not so bad, here. It’s not great, and Jack would cheerfully go back and shoot Ethan himself if it meant they’d get some soap, but things could be a lot worse than they are, so Jack doesn’t let himself worry about it. It’s worrying enough that before too long, Aaron’s going to be crawling – on an island with *polar bears*, no less, and those are not thoughts to have this late at night. It never ends well.

Besides, there are more pleasant things he could be doing. And oh, look, here comes one now, dropping his T-shirt on the ground and rummaging through his duffel bag for a fresh one.

“Hey,” Jack says, putting the notebook down. It was the flight log, once, but Jack tore those pages out months ago and started keeping a journal. A technical one, not a personal one. Births, deaths, injuries, that kind of thing. He still holds out hope they’re going to be rescued at some point, however distant, and on that day people are going to be asking questions. He’d like to have something to hand them in lieu of sitting down to answer those questions for two weeks straight. “How was fishing?”

Boone waits until he has a clean shirt on to fall forward, pretending to bang his head against a rock.

”So about normal, then.”

”I think I found something else I’m bad at,” Boone mutters faintly, not lifting his head. “I’m kind of glad my Korean’s not that great. Otherwise, I’d know what Jin was shouting at me all afternoon. But Charlie and Art kept giving me sympathetic looks, so I think I got the gist of it.” He raises his head. “Jack—“

”Don’t,” Jack says. “We’ve had this talk already. It’s important that everyone know how to do as many things as possible, and that includes hunting.”

”Sure, fine, but right now—“

”No.” Jack hates using the Leader Voice at – well, at home, but for someone who can track down a wild pig, kill it, skin and gut and clean it, Boone is still surprisingly good at wheedling. Secretly, Jack thinks he might even be better than Shannon, but he’s never said so out loud. That would just lead to the First Annual Carlisle-Rutherford Big Sad Puppy Eyes-Off, and no good would come of that.

Boone rolls his eyes but doesn’t argue the point, just gets to his feet and kicks his shoes off. The motion’s a little rusty, though, drawing Jack’s eye. “Let me see,” he says.

That earns him an extremely huffy sigh. “Jack—“

”Boone,” Jack says, patient as anything. Boone sighs again and unzips and –buttons his jeans, sliding them down his hips enough to let Jack look at the scar. It’s roughed over, mostly scar tissue, but it still throbs some days, and Jack’s just paranoid enough to double-check whenever he sees it.

“Doesn’t look too bad,” Jack mutters, kneeling down to get a closer look.

”Well, no, because it’s healed over,” Boone says. “Jack, really, it’s fine. I just – I think it might rain tomorrow, is all. No big deal. I didn’t pull anything, I didn’t trip over anything, no planes fell on me—“

That one earns him a look. “Sorry,” Boone says, and means it. Jack lets out a long breath and nods, goes back to checking it over.

“Okay,” Jack says after a minute, idly rubbing his thumb over the tissue. If he squints, he thinks he can see the pinpricks the needle left when he was stitching Boone up, though he knows that’s just a trick his brain’s playing on him. “Everything looks all right.”

”Like I said.” Boone leans back on his hands and tries to keep his voice casual. “Of course, if you wanted, you could kiss it and see if that made it better.”

It’s an old joke. He never says it, but Jack knows Boone’s still more than a little freaked out by the scars. Jack thinks they’re hot, in a rugged, manly, cheating-death kind of way; and like he’s said all along, he’d rather have Boone with a few scuffs and scrapes than Boone pristine and dead.

Jack just smiles and leans down to brush his lips over the tissue, careful to keep it dry.

And just like that, something’s – different.

They’ve been together not quite eight months, and they’ve never had sex. The timing’s always been for shit, between kidnappings and near-deaths and the general panic of Oh My God, We’re Stuck on a Deserted Island. Jack knows it’s been a dry spell for Boone the entire time, not counting Mysterious Bad Idea Person in Sydney. His own dry spell’s even longer, negative four months BC, but it’s okay. He has investments and malpractice insurance, and he owns his own tuxedo. He’s a mature, responsible adult.

He flicks his eyes up to meet Boone’s, but they’re unreadable.

“Or not,” Boone says after a second, trying to cover with a shrug. He pulls his jeans up and buttons them, but doesn’t zip. “I’m gonna go get cleaned up.”

Oh, now, *that’s* a dodge if Jack’s ever heard one. It might’ve worked, if Boone had met his eyes when he’d said it. Also, it would have helped if his hair weren’t still wet.

It hasn’t escaped Jack’s notice that he’s still on his knees. Or that he doesn’t particularly want to move, either.

”See,” Jack says, trying and failing to keep his voice light, “there you go again, assuming I don’t like you when you’re all dirty.” He reaches up and hooks his thumbs in the loops of Boone’s jeans, tugging hard enough to send Boone sprawling on his butt.

Well, not really. Boone’s leg is strong enough again that he could have stayed standing if he’d wanted to. Which means – which means he didn’t want to. Jack likes the sound of that, even if it’s only in his own head.

“I didn’t know you had a thing for dirty, Doctor Shepherd.” Boone’s voice sounds breathy, probably breathier than he means it to sound. Not that Jack minds. It sounds a lot like Boone when he’s panting.

”I have a lot of things you don’t know about, Mister Carlisle,” Jack says, and crawls between Boone’s legs to kiss him.

Jack’s always liked kissing, almost as much as he likes sex. It’s almost *more* intimate, sometimes – being close to someone, kissing her, tasting her breath in your mouth, taking her into you. Change the pronouns around, and there’s no real difference, except that Boone’s just as strong as he is and isn’t one to sit back and *be* kissed. He does it, yeah, but half the time he’s the one kissing Jack, hand firm on Jack’s face, palm pressed against his jaw like he’s steadying him.

A couple more minutes of kissing, just long enough for Jack’s knees to go a little weak, and he pulls back, ignoring the little noise Boone makes in the back of his throat. “You didn’t even look around,” he says, rubbing his thumb against the back of Boone’s ear.

“Well, no,” Boone says, staring at him. He looks a little cranky, but Jack’s seen that look on his face before; he’s upset about being interrupted, not about having to talk. “Because it’s a *cave*. Sturdy, sure, but not—“

Boone glances around, which is good, because that was the general idea. Jack can almost *hear* him get it: the fresh blankets, the sprig of wildflowers Claire brought back with her this afternoon. He’d almost rejected the last one, but blankets only did so much, especially when said blankets aren’t thick enough to keep the chill from the rocky ground away. Besides, they smell nice. Jack figures anything that can hide the lingering smell of people even a little is something he should take proper advantage of.

“Uh, Jack?” Boone raises an eyebrow and tugs on his shoulder. “This is – this is all-out. For here, I mean.”

“I had this great idea in my head,” Jack explains, smiling ruefully. “I just – I think I wanted tonight to be special, you know?”

“Jack,” Boone says slowly. He looks like he’s thinking something and doesn’t want to say it, for fear of jinxing it. “Did you – this is all for-“ He stops short and looks at Jack, startled.

And there’s that look again, like Jack’s something out of a dream. Or a gift.

“Take your clothes off,” Jack says, letting out a long breath. He doesn’t know if he sounds as rough to Boone as he does to his own ears, and right now, he doesn’t care. His dick’s stone weight against his belly, and Jack winces. In his head, there’d been more small talk.

Boone’s okay with that, though – more than okay, if the heat in his eyes when he shoves Jack down more firmly and starts working his belt are any indication. Jack has just enough time to think about saying something before his pants are around his ankles and his dick is in Boone’s mouth, warm and wet and way too skilled. Not that Jack’s complaining.

It’s over way too fast – not Jack’s fault, no, not with Boone’s mouth and tongue and oh God his *teeth* working him so thoroughly Jack’s knees go weak. He comes like a teenager, fast and hard and making humiliating noises. He finally gets one eye open long enough to look, expecting to see Boone rolling his eyes at the old guy. But no, Boone’s smiling and wiping his mouth, and Jack’s pretty sure it’s not the fire from the emergency candle a few feet away that making Boone’s face that red.

“It’s been a while,” Jack says lamely.

That would have earned him a derisive snort from Sarah, but Boone just smiles and says, “I guessed.”

He sounds sympathetic, Jack realizes, then glances down and sees why.

Well, that’s just rude, leaving someone out to dry like that. Jack shoves himself up on one elbow and grabs hold of Boone’s shirt, tugs him down to sprawl beside him.

“Jack,” Boone says, sounding breathier than Jack’s ever heard, “you don’t have to – this isn’t a dealbreaker, okay?”

Oh, okay. Yet another round of Let’s Not Freak Out the Straight Man. It’s very considerate – and sort of stupid, because Jack just got the first blowjob he’d had in, God, *months*, and it’s only polite to reciprocate, and best of all he *wants* to. Even if he’s not sure what the hell he’s supposed to do, exactly.

“You’re going to have to tell me what you like,” Jack says, fumbling with Boone’s fly. This is so much easier with women, who don’t have solid erections bumping his fingers as he undoes the button. Easier, but – less satisfying, somehow. “And I apologize in advance if I get something wrong.”

That earns him a little laugh. “It’s the same basic design, Jack.”

Boone stops him with a hand over his fly, making Jack look up. “I’m serious,” he says, eyes wide and dark. “Nothing you don’t want to do, Jack. Nothing you’re not comfortable with.”

Jack just smiles and tugs Boone’s jeans down, taking his boxers with them.

And…okay. Not so scary. Nothing weird, nothing he doesn’t have himself. It’s hard, and already glistening at the tip. No big deal.

Except it *is* a big deal, the kind that leads people to therapy and support groups. You do this, Jack, and from now on if someone asks you if you’re straight, you’re going to have to answer “mostly”. This isn’t a Christmas gift; you can’t take this back. So why are you doing it?

Jack looks up at Boone, who has his eyes squeezed shut and his expression carefully neutral. Like he’s trying not to expect anything at all.

Because I want to, Jack thinks, and carefully licks around the head.

And…okay, again. This isn’t all that different, and more importantly, not that weird. He’s had blowjobs before; he knows what *he* likes, so it only makes sense to try those out here. He’s reasonably sure Boone won’t laugh if he actually gets something wrong.

Okay, so deep-throating is right out, but he wraps his mouth around the head and sucks a little, and that makes Boone groan, so Jack guesses he’s doing okay. Little kisses, licks, the occasional suck – nothing too fancy. Still, there has to be something he can do.

“Boone,” he murmurs, easing his mouth off. “Boone, is there—“

”Don’t stop,” Boone pants, not opening his eyes. “I mean, if you want to, that’s – fuck, Jack, please don’t want to.”

”What? No.” Jack shakes his head. “I just – is there something you really like?”

”Yeah, what you were just doing.”

”No, I mean, is there something – special?”

That gets Boone to open his eyes and push himself up on his elbows, staring down at Jack. Positioned like that, still wearing a t-shirt but with his dick exposed for anyone to see if they come looking – and oh, *that* doesn’t make Jack jealous, oh *no* - he looks like something out of Greek statuary. Or badly-dubbed Greek porn. Something Greek.

“Jack,” Boone says, sounding three times as patient as he looks, “I like you. I am *attracted* to you. Short of stabbing me, I cannot think of a single particular thing I would like you to do. Everything’s good. No complaints.” He stretches out his hand and cups his dick, rubbing his thumb against the head. Jack’s mouth goes dry.

I want that, Jack realizes, and he’s surprised by how not-surprising the thought is. All of it, I want all of it--

So it’s nothing at all for Jack to lean down, sucking Boone’s dick and his thumb in one motion. Boone shouts and bucks his hips, and it’s all Jack can do not to fall back and start choking.

But once he gets the rhythm down, it’s smooth sailing. Giving someone a blowjob isn’t all that hard, actually, especially since he already knows what he likes and really, all he has to do is take what he likes and adapt it to someone else. He likes the way Boone sounds, and tastes, and the little noises he makes. He likes everything, absolutely everything, and why the hell wasn’t he doing this years ago?

Jack’s so into it, it almost doesn’t register when Boone reaches down and taps him on the head; all he does is look up, momentarily irritated because he’s just gotten to the good part, dammit—

-and then he remembers what the translation for “tap on the head during oral sex” is, and pulls off just as Boone lets out a long, low groan and comes.

Most of it misses him, but a few drops hit his cheek. Almost absently, Jack brushes his knuckles over it and licks it off. It’s salty, a little bitter. Not great, but not something to freak out, either. He rubs his thumb across another splash and sucks it clean.

“Don’t *do* that,” Boone says, sounding dazed.

“Why?” Jack looks up at him, startled. “Is it – do you not like that?” Maybe some guys don’t.

“No, but jeez. Refractory period, here,” Boone says, laughing a little. He looks good like that, stretched out and mostly naked, not at all embarrassed. Jack grins at him; he can’t help it.

“So there’s no, what, moral objection?” Jack brushes another couple of drops off, licks it off his thumb. Not bad. Not great, but not bad. And he hasn’t heard any complaints so far, so he’s guessing he wasn’t that bad at it.

It earns him another eyeroll. “Moral objection,” Boone mutters, reaching up a hand to cup the back of Jack’s neck and pull him down close, kiss him hard. Jack thinks briefly about protesting, what with the taste of Boone’s come still in his mouth, but Boone’s kissing him harder, sliding his tongue into Jack’s mouth, so Jack figures he’s okay with it.

Boone pulls back after a minute and looks at Jack. Jack blinks at him silently for maybe half a minute before asking “*What*?” He’s trying very hard not to sound exasperated, but Boone’s mouth is red and very, very pretty, and Jack’s always liked kissing. So if this isn’t leading up to anything—

”You want to fuck me,” Boone says, and Jack starts coughing.

Well, that’s. Huh. That’s right out there, isn’t it?

“We don’t,” Jack says, sounding dazed and a little out of breath, “we don’t. I don’t have anything, and I’m not running to Sawyer at this time of night.” Or at all, if he can help it.

Boone just grins. “Backpack next to your feet,” he says, looking in that direction. Jack follows his gaze. “Inside zipper.”

Jack looks – and sure enough, there’s a small bottle of something that smells suspiciously girly. “Is this going to work?” he asks.

”Unless I’m remembering it wrong, yeah,” Boone says dryly.

Jack looks at the bottle, then at Boone. “You’re sure about this, right? Because if you’re not—“

”No, I’m good.” Boone focuses on him suddenly. “You do know what you’re doing, right? The basic mechanics, I mean. Because I can talk you through it, if you want.”

”No, I’ve got it,” Jack says, waving him off. That earns him a very long look. “I’ve – one time-“ Jack rubs his forehead and tries not to look embarrassed. “In college,” he explains. “I told you about Janine, remember? The ex-girlfriend? The psych major minoring in human sexuality?”

”Yeah,” Boone says, “but what does – ohhhhh.” He nods. “Yeah. Everyone has a Janine, I think. Cooper was mine. You wouldn’t think a guy with a trust fund would be that into being humiliated.” His eyes go a little unfocused. Jack resists the urge to get jealous of someone who isn’t there.

Then he thinks, screw that, because if there’s anyone he doesn’t have to be jealous of it’s a trust fund baby his boyfriend hooked up with in college, and goes back to Boone, dipping low to kiss the hollow of his throat. “So to answer your question, I understand the mechanics.”

”Mmmn. Okay.” Boone tilts his head and leaves shallow bites on Jack’s jawline. “Just checking.”

The bites distract Jack a little – who knew teeth against skin could be so *hot*? – but not so much that he can’t get his hands free of Boone’s waist (smooth skin, narrow hips, dammit, he could use three hands right about now) and use one to flip the bottle open, tilting it to spill a little onto his hand. It’s cool against his skin, not cold, and it warms up after a couple of seconds.

Yeah. Okay. This is good. He can do this.

“Could you—“ Jack says, looking up.

”What – oh, right,” Boone says, and shifts around until he’s flat on his back, legs drawn up. He’s still wearing the shirt, Jack notices, and he’s careful not to let Jack see the scarred leg more than is necessary. Jack resists the urge to lean down and kiss it again. “How’s that? You can see, right?”

The light’s not great, but it’ll do. How the hell did people do this before electricity? And at night, no less. “Yeah,” Jack says, not missing how rough his voice is. “I can see.”

From this angle, it’s hard to be even a little detached. This way everything is all shadows and soft sloping lines, and Jack fumbles a little before he finds it: the soft, small indentation. His brain’s throwing clinical terms at him, trying a last-ditch effort to freak him out, but that’s a losing battle. His brain versus the little indrawn breath Boone makes when he presses down with his thumb? No contest.

It’s all baby steps, for a while. He makes little circles with his thumb until Boone’s breath evens out again, becoming softer and slower, almost relaxed. Anyone looking at Boone’s face would think he was falling asleep, maybe, until they saw that he was hard again and shifting his hips every couple of seconds, restless.

Then Jack eases his thumb away and spills some more of the stuff in the bottle on his hand, drags two fingers through it. Easy, easy, slow and easy, but he has the feeling he’ll be needing two before too long, so he’ll just start there and reapply if necessary. That’s what it always says on the boxes, anyway.

“Uh, Jack,” Boone says, lifting himself up to look at the other man, “anytime you’re—“ And anything else he was going to say is wiped away when he lets out a long, shaky breath and closes his eyes. He doesn’t go back down, though. Jack takes a second to admire the muscles in Boone’s back and legs. God, what, did he run track at some point?

One finger in is – different than he’d always figured it would be from this end. Tighter, all tight heat, the only friction provided by what’s covering Jack’s finger, but that’s okay. Jack figures he’s doing something right, from the way Boone’s making little greedy noises and writhing against him, twisting around in ways that make Jack wince just to see them. Wince and make his mouth go dry, because. Wow.

“Any time you want to proceed,” Boone says, half-laughing, “you know, feel free.”

Jack grins and leans forward to kiss Boone’s mouth, then adds some more almost-lube to his fingers and slides two in. He’s careful to move enough, to press and stretch slowly and thoroughly. He makes himself ignore Boone when he asks for – no, begs – no, demands Jack go faster, goddammit, he’s not made of glass, he’s done this before—

“That’s not how you ask nicely,” Jack points out, deliberately stopping. His dick doesn’t like that at *all*, but Boone’s glaring at him and spreading his legs a little wider, so he figures, hey, trade-off. “The last thing I want to hear about is the other guys you’ve had sex with.”

“I like the tattoos,” Boone says, switching tactics. Distraction. Nice. Jack would be more appreciative, but it’s working, especially when Boone half-folds in on himself to trace his fingers over Jack’s inner arm. “One day, you’re gonna tell me where you got them.”

Jack doesn’t say anything, just lazily moves his fingers back and forth inside him. Boone goes to say something else, but closes his eyes instead and lets out a long breath, slowly relaxing against the ground.

”Okay,” he says after a few seconds, opening his eyes. He’s all pupil; Jack can see that even in dim lighting. His dick hums low and eager against his belly – let’s get going, son, day’s not getting any younger. “Whenever you’re ready.”

Jack’s mouth goes dry.

”Okay,” he says, trying not to let on that his brain has just gone totally, completely blank. “I need to—“ He slides his hand out and reaches for the bottle again, almost dropping it. Stupid nerveless fingers, still all slippery. He takes a breath. “You’re sure, right?”

Boone just looks at him.

“Right, no, of course you are.” Jack smiles at him and shifts around until they’re positioned where they should be. Condoms, he thinks inanely, we need condoms. Except they don’t *have* any, because the women are rationing them, and he can’t go wake someone up this time of night, and it wouldn’t be fair anyway, because it’s not like either of them can get pregnant –

-- and he’s overthinking this. Jack shakes his head and slicks himself up again, counts to ten in his head so he doesn’t come all over himself. Should’ve done that earlier, he thinks, and lets out another breath.

“Hold on,” Jack says. He can feel his hands shaking a little, and it’s stupid, because this is sex, not surgery. His hands didn’t shake when he was putting Boone’s leg back together, when he was fixing Sarah’s back, but now? He gets stage fright. This is ridiculous.

”Just – one more second—“ One more second. He can do this. What the hell is *wrong* with him?

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Boone mutters faintly, and does this – this *move* with his hips and his legs, and the next thing Jack knows Boone has his good leg wrapped around Jack’s hip, pulling him in tight.

”Jack,” Boone says seriously, meeting his eyes. All business, just for now. “This is not rocket science, okay? You’re ready to go; I’m stretched out enough. Just – just go slow, and if I tell you to stop, you stop, and we’ll get along just fine.” He falls back against the ground and takes a long, deep breath. “Go slow,” he says again, on the exhale, and Jack nods.

Okay. So. Here we go.

Jack takes a couple of seconds to double-check that everything’s lined up properly, then slides inside.

Again, it’s – different, to say the least. It’s been a while since he last had sex with anyone, but he remembers that women are warm and wet, more than a little welcoming. Men… aren’t. But that’s why there’s lube, or whatever they’re using as lube, and it makes everything much, much easier. That and concentrating on not just *going* for it, because oh Jesus that’s tight. That’s – really, really tight. Impressively so.

“Are you okay?” Jack says, his teeth gritted, because he’s not sure he can speak normally just now.

Deep, long breath. “’m fine,” Boone says, exhaling. He doesn’t look like he’s in pain, but he doesn’t look ecstatic, either. And some of that has to show on Jack’s face, because Boone says, “Baby steps, remember? Just. Keep going slow, yeah, like that.”

Slow. He can do slow. He can totally do slow, because he *has* to, because there’s no way he’s hurting Boone if he can help it. So Jack keeps taking deep breaths and inching forward, closing his eyes every couple of seconds to help keep himself focused.

It feels like it takes forever before he’s finally all the way inside, and when he is, he drops his head onto Boone’s chest, breathing like he’s run a marathon. It’s still so tight, and it feels *good*. Every time he takes another deep breath or shifts a little, the friction is doing pleasant things to his dick.

“See?” Boone says, breathing a little faster. “Not rocket science.” He tilts his head and nips Jack’s ear. “You still freaking out?”

Jack thinks for a second. “No.” He lifts his head to meet Boone’s eyes. “I mean, I don’t want to hurt you--“

”You won’t,” Boone says, and Jack just stares at him. He’s completely serious; this close, Jack can’t help but read his face, his eyes, and there’s no doubt in him at all.

Jack kisses him again, though the angle is a little awkward, then draws himself up and starts thrusting.

Tentatively at first, because part of him is still going no no no in the back of his head, but it feels good. Really good, the kind that makes your vision start going fuzzy, like a couple of glasses of good red wine or long, sloppy blowjobs, the kind he’s always liked.

Boone’s expression is fairly neutral – not pained, but still not ecstatic. Jack has about five seconds to start worrying about that before another thrust bumps his dick against *something* inside. He starts to apologize, but before he can say anything, Boone lets out a long breath that sounds suspiciously like a moan and cants his hips at a slightly different angle.

What the fu—Oh, right. Prostate.

“Do that again,” Boone says.

It’s really, really mean to tease someone. Especially when you’re in the middle of sex. “Do what?” Jack asks, trying to sound like he’s not laughing. Because he’s not. Really. That would be rude.

That earns him a glare. Any other time, Jack might actually be a little cowed, but right now it just looks like Boone wants to knock him down and start fucking *his* brains out. Jack’s starting to realize he’d really, really be okay with that.

”Sorry,” Jack says, and he grins, he can’t help it. “You mean this?” and he slides back and thrusts in again, brushing against that little bump more firmly this time, and Boone forgets all about the sigh and actually moans, throwing his head back so the tendons and veins in his neck stand out.

He’s so fucking pretty like this. Jack can’t believe other people don’t see it, or at least don’t try to act on it. Hell, *he* didn’t act on it for weeks, and he’s kicking himself for that now, because they could have been doing this something like a month ago, and they *weren’t*, and if Jack thinks about it any longer he’ll get a little depressed, so he stops thinking and starts fucking.

*Fucking*, not just sliding in and out in these careful little thrusts - fucking, with his hips pistoning and his knees dug into the sand for as much purchase as he can get, and he really should ask Boone if he’s all right, but then he hears Boone hiss “yes you fucking little yes”, so Jack figures he’s doing okay.

It hasn’t been this good in a really long time. Not since that last time with Sarah, actually – or, no, before that, the trip to Aspen, in front of the fireplace with her wearing one of his shirts and drunk on too much wine. This isn’t that, exactly, because the light is from an emergency candle and Boone’s wearing one of his own shirts, but it’s good. Just as good, actually, and who would have thought?

And it’s been entirely too long since Jack had company for this little dance, because the feeling of Boone’s dick sliding between their bodies is making him unravel. It feels so *good*, hard weight between them, hard and eager, and if anyone comes in right now Jack will cheerfully strangle them.

“Jack,” Boone says, panting now, “if – if you could –“ He gets one hand around Jack’s wrist – one of them, anyway, leaving the other to support his weight by itself – and presses on the wrist bones until he lets go, leaving it open for Boone to slide Jack’s hand down to his dick. “Jesus, a little fucking *help* here?”

“Fuck,” Jack says, and “sorry”, and his hand curls around Boone’s cock like an autonomic response, which, shit, by now it might be. This is multitasking right here, fucking and keeping himself balanced and jerking Boone off, and kissing random bits of skin when he remembers to, but this is the kind of multitasking Jack likes. He hasn’t gotten to do a lot of it lately.

No one told him it’d be this good. No one told him, not even Janine with her “experimental” theories of human sexuality, how good it would feel to be buried inside another man, hand lazily stroking his dick, so horny his eyes didn’t want to stay open. He can already tell he’s not going to last much longer.

Slow thrusts, then faster and faster, because the muscles are waking up now and remembering what they’re supposed to be doing, how to roll, how to rock. Most simple thing in the world to remember; puts surgery to shame, and Jack can do that in low light and half-drowsy from blood loss. Hell, he already has.

Boone’s breath is coming faster now, too. He reaches a hand down to grab hold of Jack’s thigh, steadying himself. Jack’s so into it he hardly notices until it hits his brain that hey, someone’s got hold of your thigh. But goddamn, it feels so good, all of it, it’s all a ride—

Jack almost doesn’t notice when it starts, he’s so lost in it. But then his thrusts become less rhythmic, more involuntary; he can’t stop it, wouldn’t if he could, because for the first time in way too long he feels *alive*, and oh God there’s no one he’d rather be with now, no one in the world.

Boone comes when Jack mouths “I love you”, and Jack can’t do anything but hold him. Well, hold him and thrust back a little. He’s coming down from it, not dead.

And after the comedown, when the endorphins are almost back to normal and muscles start aching, Jack realizes all his weight is on Boone, who’s been shoving him in the arm for a couple seconds and making progressively crankier noises. He slides out slowly, careful to watch Boone’s face for any signs of pain. There’s a deep breath and a grimace, but he doesn’t look pained, just – uncomfortable. Maybe a little sleepy. “God*damn*,” Boone half-slurs, and gives Jack just enough of a shove to roll him over and off.

Jack sprawls on his back, grinning. He feels like running out into the jungle and bringing down a polar bear with his bare hands, but the part of his brain that isn’t all “mmmn, orgasm good” knows that’s a horrible idea for many, many reasons, so he settles for staring up at the ceiling of the cave and taking deep breaths.

But eventually the endorphins dial back enough for reality to settle in. He’s messy and sticky, and his muscles are twinging. He’s pretty sure Boone elbowed him at some point if the sore spot on his side is any indication, and he should go over and get a canteen to clean them up with. It’s easier, though, to just stay on his back, staring up at nothing.

That lasts right up until Boone rolls over onto his side and pokes Jack in the arm. He does it until Jack looks at him. “Hmn?”

”Are you freaking out?” Boone asks calmly, like he’s been expecting it. He doesn’t look ruffled. Freshly fucked, maybe, all swollen mouth and flushed skin, but not upset.

Jack thinks about it for a couple of seconds. “Not really,” he says, truthfully. “But I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do now.” Do they talk? Do guys talk, after they have sex? He can figure out nerve endings ‘til he’s blue in the face, but the emotional part’s still a little unclear.

Boone stares at him for a second, then says, “Normally I get cleaned up and go to sleep, but that’s just me.” He smiles, yawning halfway through it.

“I can work with that,” Jack says.

”Thank you,” Boone says, sounding more than a little self-satisfied. Jack makes a mental note to do something about that later. Like, tomorrow. When he’s less sticky.

It’s nothing at all for Jack to reach over and grab his shirt, wipe them both down. Boone makes a little pleased noise, but he doesn’t make a move to try anything else. Jack appreciates that. Not that he’s not in the mood, but right now it’d be an effort. He hasn’t felt this wrung-out – this *pleasantly* wrung-out, anyway – in a long time.

When Jack moves again, it’s absently – absently curling around Boone’s back, absently tossing his shirt behind them. He should get up and put things away, he knows; just because they’re on an island doesn’t mean they’re living in a barn. He should probably pull the blankets up over them, as much so people don’t get an eyeful when they go to wake him up in the morning as because it can get drafty at night.

But that would mean he’d have to get up, and he’s already so warm, and he’s slept next to Boone enough nights to know that if he gets up Boone makes irritated noises, like he’s being disturbed. It’s easier to just stay here. Oh, yes. Such a hardship.

Jack rouses himself enough to grab a blanket and tuck it under their heads as a makeshift pillow, then slides back into position. “Still think it’s pity?” he says, the words muffled against Boone’s skin.

”Not right now,” Boone murmurs, glancing over his shoulder. His smile’s slow and a little rich, and God, if Jack didn’t have to be up early to fish tomorrow, round two would be starting earlier than planned. “Though you might have to do it a few more times. You know, to convince me.”

Jack kisses the back of Boone’s neck and smiles. “I can do that.”

***

This thing was 35 pages in 11.5 TNR. I was very proud of that, because I don’t write long stories. Until I started ficangel’s story for the Boone ficathon, and wrote something like 20 pages in two days. Because my brain likes to mock me. (The ficathon story ended up being a page shorter than this one, and written in something like a third of the time. My brain hates me.)
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