Christmas Countdown: December 11
Boone knew he worried Jack when he did it, but he just couldn’t seem to stop himself. There weren’t many people on the island, but sometimes they just seemed to crowd in on him and he had to get away. As a former city boy who’d thrived in an urban setting, the irony wasn’t lost on him.
He went as far up on the island’s big bluff as his bad leg could manage. There was a favorite spot of his, where a rock formation jutted out, making a natural window seat over the beach. Boone hobbled his way to it and painfully lowered himself so that he could sit and look out over the ocean.
Jack found him just as the sun was beginning to set.
Boone recognized the older man’s footsteps and didn’t turn as Jack made his way up the makeshift path to where Boone was sitting. He heard Jack’s sigh and didn’t bother to try and categorize it as exasperated or relieved. He waited until Jack had settled in beside him before he risked looking at him.
“I’m sorry,” Boone said quietly. “I just needed to get away.”
“I know,” Jack answered.
Jack’s simple acceptance was more difficult to accept than the lecture Boone had anticipated. “I didn’t think anybody would miss me.”
“I got a little concerned when I didn’t see you at the Christmas Eve gathering.” Jack stated evenly. “You snuck out when I wasn’t looking.”
Boone sighed. “I know, it was just a little. . . much.”
Jack rubbed his shoulder. “They don’t mean to be that way. Everyone just worries is all.”
“I know, I know,” Boone admitted. “And most of the time I appreciate it. It’s just that the hovering gets to be a little stifling sometimes.”
Jack smiled. “Well, they all have a lot invested in your recovery. In a way, you helped us pull together as a community.”
Boone sighed again. He remembered climbing into the plane wreck clearly, still had nightmares about desperately trying to use the radio and the subsequent plunge to the forest floor. Thankfully, the events immediately afterwards were vague. He’d been told that John had carried him back to the cave settlement, but he didn’t remember the journey. Boone could recall snatches of Jack’s worried face and being in so much pain that he begged to die. That latter bit proved he hadn’t been in his right mind at the time; under no circumstances would Jack let someone under his care just up and die.
The weeks after the accident were a blur. Boone remembered agony and a variety of voices and touches that soothed him. To his profound embarrassment, he found out later that the other survivors had taken turns nursing him and holding him through the worst of the pain. As a result, they all seemed to feel they had a right to mother hen him. Mostly, Boone took the nagging about eating enough good-naturedly, as well as admonishments to do his exercises and to take it easy on his leg. Sometimes, though, it got to be too much and he just needed to be alone.
One thing from the accident that Boone did remember clearly was Jack. Privately, Boone was convinced that it was Jack’s frantic need to heal him that had helped him survive. He did know that he rested most pain-free in Jack’s arms and Jack’s hovering never irritated him. The nursing meant they spent a lot of time together and, slowly, Jack’s healing touch had turned to something more. The loving that followed sped Boone’s recovery even more, even if his relationship with the doctor did disgust Shannon.
Well, actually, that was a bonus.
Shannon had hovered most of all at first, driving Boone to distraction. She’d manipulated him for so long and his eyes had been so newly opened to it, that he was afraid he’d fall under her spell again. Like with so much else, Jack took care of that. Shannon finally found someone who could be more bullheaded than she was. Jack simply placed himself at Boone’s side and wouldn’t be budged, no matter how much Shannon pouted, whined or bitched. Sayid had eventually taken her in hand and Boone had been gratified to see how much her relationship with the man settled her. There was a time when Boone would have been jealous; now, though, he was just relieved.
“You know, the Christmas season is really busy in the wedding planning business,” Boone deliberately changed the subject. He didn’t want a lecture from Jack about taking care of himself.
“Really?” Jack seemed willing to play along. “People actually want to get married at that time of year?”
“Yeah,” Boone responded. “Damned if I know why. It’s already a frantic time of year, who’d want to add a wedding into the mix? But they do.”
The two men were quiet for a minute and then Boone laughed softly.
“What’s so funny?” Jack asked, a small smile playing around his lips.
“I was just thinking,” Boone stated. “With my mom and her business, Christmas wasn’t very pleasant. There were always parties to plan and all the pressure to have them perfect, with exquisite decorations and the best food and the most interesting guests. Gifts were judged too, on how expensive and original they were.”
“Sounds a little stuffy,” Jack commented.
“It was pretentious as hell,” Boone snorted. “Even as a kid, I always wanted to make all that crap go away and just concentrate on the holiday. You know, to get away from it all to someplace where you’re not so caught up in the Christmas rat race that you forget Christmas.”
Jack grinned. “I’d say you got your wish.”
Boone chuckled. “Yeah, I know. Ironic, huh?”
“Just a little,” Jack replied. “I wouldn’t tell anybody else, if I were you.”
“Hadn’t planned on it,” Boone said with feeling. “I think they’d lynch me.” He nudged Jack with his shoulder. “How about you? What were your Christmases like?”
Jack was quiet a moment before answering. “My mom tried to make them as normal as possible, but my dad usually had a full surgery schedule, right up until the last minute. A lot of times, it was just her and me.”
“That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun,” Boone commented. He sometimes figured that Jack must get his intelligence from his mother. No matter how brilliant a surgeon Jack’s father had been, he must have also been an idiot not to appreciate his son.
Jack shrugged. “It was what it was.” His smile was bittersweet. “I’d give almost anything to have one of those Christmases again, although I have to admit that the company here is better.”
Boone blushed. “Yeah, I know what you mean. I can’t help but wonder if my mom is still doing the rat race thing or if knowing I’m dead made any difference.”
“She misses you,” the other man told him confidently.
“How do you know?” Boone questioned. “You never even met her.”
“Trust me on this, Boone,” Jack claimed. “A son like you? Of course she misses you. How could she not?”
Boone looked at him for a long minute, trying to figure out if Jack was kidding him. When he realized the older man was serious, he grinned. “Oh, you are so getting lucky tonight.”
Jack kissed him. Boone leaned into it, wishing his bum leg was up to frolicking right there on the rock. Since it wasn’t, he moaned, but didn’t complain too much when Jack broke it off.
“Come on,” Jack stood and offered Boone a hand up. “Let’s get back to the group before a search party is organized.”
“I’d rather just go back to our cave,” Boone grumbled, stifling a wince as he was helped to his feet. “Snuggle in and pretend to wait for Santa Claus. I’m sure we could find something more constructive to do than just counting sugar plums.”
“Kate helped Sun come up with something that tastes a lot like eggnog,” Jack coaxed. “Well, if you look past the fact that it’s coconut flavored. But Charlie’s going to lead everyone in singing Christmas carols a little later.”
Boone cocked his head as he considered. “You know, that actually sounds nice.”
“Yes, it does,” Jack commented. He put a hand under Boone’s elbow and gave the younger man some much-needed support as Boone started hobbling down the path. Sitting had given his leg time to stiffen up.
He bent down and nuzzled behind Boone’s ear. “But I promise we’ll do that snuggling and pretending to wait for Santa Claus thing later.”
Boone laughed. He had his rat race-free Christmas after all.
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