since the second World War
By gale

SUMMARY: Some nights, Jack couldn’t sleep.


Some nights, Jack couldn’t sleep.

He’d had insomnia before, mostly during residency – too many things to do, not enough time to do them in, and his professors had had a remarkable ability to make him feel like sleeping was wasting time. The last time he’d had this much trouble sleeping for an extended period of time, it had been in Sydney, looking for his father.

Oddly enough, he’d slept fine on the island. The days were too long and he worked too hard to do anything but sleep deeply. But since they’d come back from the island, his sleep had been weirdly off-kilter. Even when they were in custody, he’d spent most of the time tossing and turning when he should have been sleeping.

Jack figured, in the back of his head, things would even out when he finally went back to work, but that wasn’t for another week yet. Until then, he’d be spending most of his nights on the sofa so he didn’t wake Boone up. Boone, now, *he* slept like the dea—

Jack tore his mind away from that almost violently, rubbing his forehead. Fuck. He needed to get some damn sleep, was what he needed.

He didn’t notice Boone coming out of the bedroom until he dropped down to sit on the sofa next to Jack. “Let me guess,” Boone said, yawning and rubbing his eyes. “Nightmare about the funeral.”

Jack almost smiled at that. “No.” His mother had insisted on having a ceremony for his father, though he’d never found the body. Everyone assumed it had been lost in the sea, and Jack hadn’t bothered to correct them.

”Mmn.” Boone thought for a second. “Monkey dream?”

”I haven’t had the monkey dream since I was eleven,” Jack pointed out. “And it wasn’t a nightmare, so no. Wrong on both counts.”

”I’ve been awake for two minutes,” Boone said, “sue me.” He bumped Jack’s shoulder with his until Jack gave in and scooted a little closer, leaning back against Boone a fraction of an inch. “Shannon called this afternoon.”

”Oh?”

”They’re inducing labor day after tomorrow,” Boone said, resting his hand on the back of Jack’s neck. Jack made a little noise and arched into the touch. “Said she wanted you to be there.” He let out a long, theatrical sigh. “Why she wants you there, I don’t know, and not her own *brother*--“

”Stepbrother,” Jack pointed out, but he was smiling. “And she wants me there to yell at the nurses, you know that.”

”Well, you do speak the language.” Boone paused for a couple of seconds, then added, “If it makes you feel any better, I had the death dream again the other night.”

Jack tensed. “Not really, no,” he said, trying to keep his voice light and utterly failing.

They’d all had them at one point or another – dreams of everyone being dead, a reaction to the stress and the unfamiliarity of the situation. The psychologists that had come out to talk to them had said it was perfectly normal, that it would continue for a while but eventually fade.

But then, for everyone else, they were just dreams. Not memories.

Jack doesn’t even like to think about that day, watching Locke stumble back into camp looking terrified in a way he never had before, not even that first day on the beach. It was mid-afternoon, and Jack had been standing there, talking to Kate, when the shouts had started.

And there was Boone, already so pale. Except for his wounds.

It was so sudden – the professional part of Jack, the part with the medical training, had started barking orders for thread and clean needles, something to sterilize them with, ordering Kate and Charlie around with no hesitation. The rest of him was sitting back, unable to speak or think, almost numb.

It wasn’t surgery, he’d realize later, washing the blood off his hands with that same sense of weirdly detached calm. Surgery was done in a hospital, with proper medical equipment and surgical drapes and anesthesia. He’d patched Boone’s chest and stomach together as best he could, and told himself it wasn’t like repairing a quilt, and cleaned it as well he could before stitching everything up. He thought he might have told everyone in earshot to pray, if they were so inclined. Couldn’t hurt, might help.

And it wasn’t like Boone had been any help whatsoever, oh no. He had accepted the water, but none of the food, saying that it was stupid to waste resources on someone who’d probably be dead in a week. “The baby,” he’d said, over and over, almost glaring at Claire, “you can’t – I’m not important, okay? Just leave me here. Keep me hydrated. I’ll be okay.”

Jack had put up with that for all of two days before going over after dinner – for most of them, anyway; Boone hadn’t eaten – and shaking Boone awake. “If you don’t start eating,” he’d said, calm as anything, “I’m going to stop.”

”As what, a show of solidarity?” Boone had said, sounding pissy and irritated and very young. “That’s stupid, Jack. Just – I’m telling you, I’ll be fine.”

”Oh, just stop it,” Jack had said, peeling the apple he’d brought with him. “You’re not talking to your shareholders or your mommy. You’re talking to your doctor, you asshole, so shut up and eat something before I make you.”

”Most doctors don’t threaten people,” Boone had said. It was probably meant to sound a little scary or something, but being almost the color of milk took most of the sting out of his words.

”Yeah, well, most doctors aren’t dating their patients,” Jack had said, “so shut up and eat something, okay? If I’m going to put up with Sawyer’s little comments about being a chickenhawk, the least you can do is not die.”

Boone had glared at him, and argued, but he’d finally agreed to start eating again. It took him a while to get back on his feet, let alone be well enough to go back out with Locke every day, but he did it, and now all he had to show for it were a couple of scars on his chest and a longer one on his stomach. And Jack’s nightmares, though Jack had to admit that those weren’t exactly Boone’s fault.

Sometimes, when Jack wasn’t all the way awake yet, he thought that *this* was the dream – being back, being safe, everyone he loved alive and well. Maybe they were all still on the island, wounded and tired and cold more often than not, with never enough to eat. Sayid was dead somewhere, a victim of one of the traps Danielle had forgotten to set off before joining them. Claire was off by herself, the way she’d been every day since the baby had died. Boone—

But Jack really, really didn’t like to think about that. So he didn’t.

“It was the crash again,” Jack said, as if from a great distance. “I was sitting next to Rose, and she was a little freaked out because her husband hadn’t come back from the bathroom yet. We hit the turbulence, and I grabbed her hand and told her it wasn’t going to be a big deal.” He let out a long breath. “And then we were – we were falling, and people were slamming into each other, and luggage was flying around, and—“ He trailed off, looked around, realized he was actually leaning back against Boone now, breathing hard.

”It was a crash dream,” he said, trying to sit up. Except Boone wasn’t letting him go, and fighting him would be more trouble than it was worth, so what the hell. He could stay there for a minute. ”No big deal.”

”Little bit of one,” Boone said. “If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be in the living room at—“ he checked the clock “—three in the morning.”

Jack didn’t say anything.

“Right, okay,” Boone said, clearing his throat. “You’re going to listen to me, okay?”

Oh, hell. “Boone—“

”No, shut up,” Boone said. “You’re so tense you’re practically vibrating, you can’t sleep, and you had a crash dream. So you’re going to stay here and listen to me until you fall asleep, because I have a goddamn soothing voice, so shut the fuck up.” He sounded like he was trying not to laugh, which was a good sign. He wasn’t mad. Not that he had reason to be, but on nights like this Jack couldn’t be sure. Couldn’t be sure of anything, really.

Boone tugged on Jack’s shoulder until Jack made a noise and leaned back against him with all his weight, pressing Boone against the arm of the sofa. Their legs tangled together companionably, and Jack felt himself relax the slightest little bit. He relaxed even more when Boone wrapped an arm around his waist and shifted so Jack was between his legs, bracketed on either side by Boone’s knees.

This was nice, Jack realized. It was almost like being back on the island, except without the sound of the ocean half a mile away. Or the constant, gnawing sense of dread. And they both smelled a hell of a lot better.

Okay, so it was *nothing* like being back on the island. But it was still nice.

“Hey, did I ever tell you what I thought when we crashed?” Boone asked.

Jack thought for a minute. “No.” And come to think of it, that was a little odd. He’d heard almost everyone else’s stories, over the years. He still liked Eric’s; the 37-year-old stock analyst had slept through the entire thing and hadn’t woken up until he came to with someone pulling on his arm, thinking he was a body. There were worse ways to come out of a nap, Jack supposed, but he couldn’t think of many.

“Shannon and I were in first class,” Boone said, his voice relaxed in Jack’s ear. “I was sitting by the window, and I was getting up to go to the bathroom when we hit the turbulence the first time. I slammed down into her lap kind of hard, and she made this little screeching noise—“ which Jack had heard before, and which Boone did an uncanny impression of “—and tried to shove me off her. I was trying to keep her from hitting me and got to my feet when we hit the second pocket – you know, the bad one.”

Of course Jack knew. “The bad one” had made oxygen masks drop from the ceiling and had him unconsciously clutching Rose’s hand like a life preserver. But he didn’t say anything, just closed his eyes and leaned his head back against Boone’s shoulder.

“Turbulence isn’t a big deal, but something about that one – so I got back in my seat and put my seatbelt on, and told Shannon to shut up and put hers on. She was freaked enough to do it without complaining, which was when I got scared, because Shannon *never* did stuff without at least complaining about it.”

Boone stopped for a second. Jack resisted the urge to turn around and look at him; he was too comfortable where he was.

“I remember thinking that there was no way the plane was going to go down, because I had a meeting first thing Thursday morning, and if I wasn’t there Sabrina was going to raise holy hell when I *did* get back.” Boone sounded a little more awake. “And then there was this – this *dropping* sensation, like when you’re on an elevator and it starts heading down?”

Jack nodded.

”And Shannon was yelling – not screaming, not yet, but yelling like everyone else – and then the masks came down and she was grabbing my hand, and…” Boone trailed off for a second, then said, “And then we were on the beach.”

Something in Boone’s voice sounded odd. Jack raised his head and looked at him. “Something wrong?”

”Mmn?” Boone stared off for a second, then shook his head. “No, it’s – it’s just. The crash thing again. You know.”

One of the weirdest things that had come out of being questioned for the better part of a week by FAA officials and Oceanic representatives: no one actually remembered the crash. The two waves of turbulence, sure, and waking up on the beach, and about half the people remembered the back end of the plane shearing off, but not the actual *crash*. Everyone from the airline and the FAA thought it was weird, but the psychiatrists Oceanic had brought in seemed to think it was perfectly normal. Something about the brain not wanting to remember traumatic details. It would come back to them or it wouldn’t, but it wasn’t something to get all worried about.

Jack had talked to Locke about it once, a couple of months before they were rescued – his version of events, anyway, because he hadn’t known about everyone else yet. Locke hadn’t seemed that worried about it. “Our brains react differently to trauma, Jack,” Locke had said, wiping sweat from his forehead. “I don’t remember the crash either, but I hit my head on the way down when someone’s carry-on whacked into me. Ask Claire sometime if she remembers how much it hurt when Adam was born; she doesn’t. We forget pain; why shouldn’t we forget the details of what happened when the plane went down? The plane went down, that’s the important part. And we’re not dead, which is the other important part.”

He missed Locke. He especially missed Locke now, the sense of calm all around him. Locke would be sleeping like a baby right now, the way he always did.

“Hey,” Boone said quietly, making Jack blink. “You still awake, or can I start prying myself out from under you and go back to bed?”

Jack yawned and stretched his legs, curling his feet until the stretch and burn got to be enough to make him stop. He really needed to get a bigger sofa. “I’m kind of comfortable right here,” he said. “But if you want to go, that’s fine.”

”Jack, you’re not sleeping out here. You’re gonna get a crick in your neck.”

“Not if I can use you as a pillow.” A couple of years before, Jack wouldn’t have been able to say that; he was so used to putting everyone else’s needs before his own. Follow your dad into practice, Jack – go to Australia and get your father, Jack – Jack, what do we do?

Now Jack could ask Boone to stay where he was, to do him one little favor and not move because Jack was already so comfortable there. That was part of being an adult, too, knowing when to ask for help. He still needed work, but he was getting there.

“You’re lucky you’re cute,” Boone muttered, sounding irritated. But, Jack noticed, he didn’t get up or make any motion to get up, so he couldn’t have been *too* irritated by the idea.

It’s all a dream, Jack thought, because Jack always thought that when he had crash dreams. They were all dead somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, all hands lost on Oceanic Flight 815 from Sydney to Los Angeles. Bodies already made soggy and bloated under the water, with people who didn’t know enough to know they were actually dead, living out entire lives in the two seconds before their neural functions shut down completely.

Or Boone was dead, killed under circumstances Locke had never been too forthcoming about, because Jack was a lot of things but stupid wasn’t one of them, and there was no way Boone had run off a cliff like Wile E. Coyote. There’d been too much trauma, all shock and blood loss and internal injuries Jack couldn’t fix without a sterile drape and proper tools, and Boone had asked Jack to let him go, and Jack had.

Or maybe he was dead. Maybe he hadn’t even lasted a day, dead before the sun could set on their first half-day on the island. Maybe Claire had said his name over the fire that night, reading it from his driver’s license and fumbling awkwardly for something nice to say about someone she’d never met.

Or maybe – and this was the really scary possibility – he was a doctor a couple of years away from forty, living with his much-younger CEO boyfriend who he’d met when they were both stranded on a deserted island. Maybe this was all really happening, and that was what was freaking him out and waking him up in the middle of the night. Some form of survivor’s guilt.

Jack has never been good at thinking about metaphysical things – why are we here, what’s our purpose, things like that. He could feel Boone’s breath evening out against his neck, and the sofa holding them both up. He could see the play of shadows from the light in the hallway. The sweatpants he was wearing were a little too loose, slipping down on one side to expose an inch of skin; Boone’s hand was resting there, fingers tucked just under the waistband, and Jack could feel that, too.

Jack closed his eyes.
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