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Sawyer's Book Club by eponine119

"Dude. Can I ask you something?" Sawyer raises his head, a mild frown crossing his face at being interrupted by Hurley, who is now blocking the sunlight from the entrance to his tent. But the act of looking up is taken as an affirmative answer by the other man, who comes into the tent and sits down. "Watership Down, you read it, right?" Hurley asks, looking anxious. "What's this all about?" Sawyer leans forward, his curiosity raised. "What happened at the beginning. I mean, was Fiver like freaking out for no reason or was there really some kind of danger?" "I think there was danger," Sawyer replies, trying to decide if this is the weirdest conversation he's had on this island yet. "People destroyed the warren." "But did it say that or is that just what you think?" Hurley asked. "Did you read the book?" Sawyer asks, annoyed. "Yeah," Hurley responds.

"Then why are you asking me?" Sawyer demands. Suddenly he needs a cigarette and fumbles around for one. By the time he's got it lit, he expects the other man to have vacated his tent, but he's still there. Sawyer frowns again. "What?" "Do you think it was right for them to raid that other camp and take the girls away from them?" Hurley asks. "They're bunnies," Sawyer states the obvious. "What's that got to do with anything?" Hurley asks. "What're a bunch of boy bunnies gonna do by themselves? They need girl bunnies. Because they're rabbits," Sawyer says. Hurley looks thoughtful. "You know there's some species of, like, fish or something where if there's no girls around half of the boys just spontaneously turn into girls?" "Are you coming onto me?" Sawyer demands, not quite joking, wondering what this inanity is all about. "No, dude," Hurley says. "Though, whoa, you might want to watch some of that hostility. Might give people the wrong idea, if you know what I mean." "Might give 'em the idea I'm hostile," Sawyer points out, which was the general idea. "Riiiight," Hurley says warily. "Anyway, about the book. It just didn't seem right. They're supposed to be the heroes and yet they go off and kidnap a bunch of innocent women." "But the other warren was cramped and under a dictator. The girls wanted to go," Sawyer argues.

"Maybe," Hurley squints, considering. "But it just made me think of what's going on here, you know? Like with that Ethan dude kidnapping Claire. We never found out what he wanted with her." What Hurley's suggesting makes Sawyer's skin crawl, but to admit it would be showing his hand. "It's a book," he says. "It's got nothing to do with the island." He snatches the paperback from the other man's hand. "How'd you get this, anyway?" "Found it in the caves," Hurley says. Then, out of nowhere, he asks, "Do you play backgammon at all?" "I don't like games," Sawyer replies. "We play for money," Hurley offers as incentive. "No thanks, Mr. Belvedere." It's not one of his best ones, but it's all he's got at the moment. "Thanks for stopping by for the quid pro quo." Hurley doesn't take the hint. "Yeah, I was wondering if maybe you had anything else like that." "Like what?" Sawyer asks. "Like that." He points his chin at the book now resting in Sawyer's hand. "Another book, dude."

Sawyer wants to ask what's in it for him, but he already knows the answer. If he gives in, Marlon Brando will leave his tent. Seems like payment enough. He nudges a suitcase open with his toe. "Take your pick." Hurley leans over the case. "Whoa," he says, regarding the collection. "You read all these?" "Not a hell of a lot else to do around here," Sawyer says. "Got any suggestions?" Hurley asks, looking over his shoulder at him. Sawyer refrains from pointing out the copy of the South Beach Diet and says instead, "They're all pretty good." "Cool," Hurley says, and picks one. "The Maltese Falcon. That's like famous, isn't it?" "Yeah," Sawyer replies, letting his irritation bleed through. Although he thinks it's a good choice. "Enjoy. Library's closed." He nudges the suitcase so it'll fall closed again. Still Hurley doesn't go. "You like to read, huh?" he inquires. "It passes the time," Sawyer snarls. "You just don't seem the type, you know?" Hurley says. "Seems like you could find lots of other ways to pass the time." "Hey. It's a deserted island. We've got all the time in the world," Sawyer says. "Right," Hurley agrees. "So why're you so annoyed that I'm wasting your time playing with you?" Earnest brown eyes regard him, and Sawyer can only blink with surprise that Hurley has in fact picked up on what game he was trying to convey. "You don't get lonely sitting around here by yourself all the time?" "No," Sawyer lies.

"I mean, you're obviously not a people person, that's pretty clear," Hurley continues, and Sawyer feels mildly offended. Sawyer knows how to get people to do what he wants them to do, which is usually to give him their money. "I do okay," Sawyer protests. "Dude," Hurley says, and Sawyer is amazed by the number of things the other man can make that one small irritating word convey. "You're not exactly Mr. Congeniality here on the island. If your ass was on fire, only like one person would tell you. Are you sure that's how you want to play it? We kinda need each other out here." "You been talking to the doc?" Sawyer challenges, experiencing a flashback to Jack's cheesy 'stand together or die alone' speech. "No," Hurley says. "But it seems like he'd be a good poker player to get on your side, you know." "Whatever," Sawyer says, and then puts his head back with annoyance. Damn it, it's catching. In another minute one of them is going to suggest going to the mall and the other is going to reply gag me with a spoon and hopefully sudden death will then ensue. "Hey, do I hear somebody ringing the dinner bell? Don't want to miss that, do ya?" Hurt flashes across the other man's face and Sawyer considers for their briefest second what it must be like to be Hurley. Probably not a day at the beach. So to speak. "That's what I'm talking about, dude," Hurley says. "It's like you want people to hate you. Why is that?" First Kate, now Hurley. Is he really so transparent? He's gonna have to work on that. "Love to chat, Puff Daddy, but I'm fresh out of luck," Sawyer says. "You got what you came here for, enjoy the book, don't forget to bring it back when you're done." He turns his head away and pretends he's alone in his tent. After a moment, he hears the other man get to his feet and walk away. And damned if he doesn't feel lonely. It takes a week and a half, but Hurley comes back. "Hey, you read this one?" he asks, his face bright and animated as he thrusts the book under Sawyer's nose. "Yeah," Sawyer says, pushing the book away. "You like it?" Hurley presses. "Sure," Sawyer says, pointedly distracted.

"It's about you, dude," Hurley says. That gets Sawyer's attention. "No, for real, man, you didn't notice? "That's crazy," Sawyer says. "Everybody knows Sam Spade is Humphrey Bogart." "Who?" Hurley asks, and Sawyer feels the need to physically eject the other man from his tent. "What're you reading now?" Sawyer obligingly picks up the paperback lying next to his hip and holds it up. "Oprah pick, good choice, man," Hurley says approvingly. "Can I read it when you're done?" "Sure," Sawyer says, short-tempered. "Why not." He doesn't understand this, not a bit. What the hell is Hurley doing here, talking to him? "Hey, you ever read magazines?" Hurley asks. Sawyer's eyes bulge a bit at the pointlessness of this entire conversation. "Cause, you know, Shannon's got a whole bunch of casino magazines. She's read them all like 20 times. I bet you could work out a trade." Sawyer doesn't say anything. No one's getting anything from him for free, especially not that blonde princess. "You think?" Hurley prompts when Sawyer doesn't say anything. "Are you sure she's up to it?" Sawyer snaps. "I don't think any of those books have pictures in them."

"Harsh, dude," Hurley says, going over to the suitcase and flipping it open, digging through it. He holds up a book. "What'd you think of this one?" "It was okay," Sawyer says begrudgingly. Hurley puts it back. "What?" "Just okay? Not exactly a rave review," Hurley replies. "How bout this?" "Why are you here?" Sawyer demands. "Why not?" Hurley asks. "You seriously don't have any recommendations?" He glances at the books nervously, as though there's too many to choose from. "What are you in the mood for?" Sawyer asks. "A double-double from In-n-Out Burger," Hurley mutters, and Sawyer genuinely laughs. "I could go for that chance," Sawyer replies, and he can't believe he's making an effort to ease the other man's embarrassment. It doesn't work, and Hurley quickly plucks a book from the stack. Sawyer feels disappointment that the game's come to an end so quickly, so he asks, "What'd you pick?" "The Tempest," Hurley reads awkwardly from the cover. "It any good?" Sawyer breaks into a grin. "I think you'll like it. It's about people who get shipwrecked on a deserted island." Hurley must think he's teasing, because he doesn't reply. "Bring it back when you're done!" Sawyer yells after him.

Several weeks go by this time, and Sawyer practically forgets he's opened the island's first lending library, until once again Hurley bursts into his tent, book in hand. "Hey there, Pavarotti," Sawyer says, but the reference goes unappreciated. "Long time, no see." "Did you know this was a play?" Hurley asks, holding up the book. "Yeah," Sawyer says. "That a problem?" "No, dude, it was awesome," Hurley says. "We read it around the campfire." "We," Sawyer repeats, filled with disbelief. "At the caves," Hurley elaborates. "You totally missed out." "The island has a community theater now?" Sawyer inquires. There's just no limit to the lame things these people will do. "Hey, we ran out of ghost stories," Hurley says, like it's no big deal. "Got anything else like this?" He goes to the suitcase and begins rummaging through it. "I thought you wanted to read the Oprah book," Sawyer reminds him. "Oh yeah," Hurley remembers. "How was it?" "Pretty fucking good," Sawyer replies. Hurley raises his eyebrows. "Ringing endorsement. Rare for you. Where is it?" "By your thumb," Sawyer says. "The yellow one." Hurley plucks it out and glances at the cover. "I like Oprah better when she's fat," Hurley declares. "She's really mean when she's skinny, you know what I mean?" "I hadn't noticed," Sawyer says. "Maybe you don't like Oprah, that's cool," Hurley says. "You're more of a Regis and Kelly type, right? Kelly's cute." Sawyer has no idea what Hurley's babbling about. "Late night," he replies. It's never something he chooses to watch. He always just seems to find himself awake at all hours of the night, staring at blurry cable reception in cheap hotels. If he's not alone he puts it on mute and watches the familiar images without sound. There's something comforting in the way every episode looks like every other episode. "Leno, right? Right on. Classic," Hurley declares. "Or maybe a little Conan? Edgier, but still good." "Jon Stewart," Sawyer says, and debates mentioning Nightline and Charlie Rose. "Whoa. Deep," Hurley says. Best he didn't mention Nightline, then. There's a moment of silence, and Sawyer can sense Hurley's trying to think of something else to talk about. "Hey, did you ever talk to Shannon about the magazines?" he asks. Sawyer shakes his head. "You really should," says Hurley. "She's bored with them, and frankly you look like you're getting bored with these poker books. You could pace yourself. We might be here awhile." No shit, Sawyer thinks, but the other man has a point. "If she's so bored, why doesn't she come to me directly?" he asks.

Hurley's face contorts with disbelief. "She's scared of you." "Me?" Sawyer is beyond surprised. "She's come to me before." "That was before," Hurley says, and doesn't elaborate, leaving Sawyer to wonder what it is he's supposedly guilty of doing to the poor girl. "You should approach her. She'd go for it if you were the one who suggested it." Why does he get the impression Hurley's matchmaking? Sawyer wonders. But that's impossible. "Maybe I will," he says noncommittally. "Cool," Hurley replies, and glances down at the book in his hands. "I'll bring it back when I'm done." "Take your time," Sawyer invites, and the other man leaves. Sawyer picks up the book he was reading but then puts it back down, walking over to the suitcase. He studies the spines for several minutes, trying to decide which among them Shannon would like. He finally chooses a chick-lit book with a candy-colored cover. His palms sweat as he carries it across the beach to where she's sunning herself, as usual. "Hey," he says. "Hey," she replies, not looking at him. "Did Hurley talk to you?" Sawyer asks. "About what?" Shannon scoffs. Her legs are so long, Sawyer marvels. "He mentioned we might be able to work out a trade." "What kind of trade?" Shannon's interested, he can tell by the boredom in her tone. These rich bitches are all the same. "Magazines for books," Sawyer says, feeling mildly embarrassed. "You're kidding," Shannon says, suddenly animated with excitement. Her eyes open and she sits up, twisting around to face him. A smile blossoms on her face when she sees the book in his hand. "You're not kidding!" "Nope, dead serious," Sawyer says.

"I could freaking kiss you," Shannon says, scrambling to her feet. "Hold on a minute." She walks up the beach. After watching her, Sawyer decides to follow her. She's got a shelter not too different from his, hidden partly in the trees, he notices for the first time. She bends over unselfconsciously to dig through a messenger bag before sighing and flipping the flap closed. "Just take it," she says, holding it out to him. "Really." He's pretty sure that bag cost more than his car. "I never want to see any of those magazines again. I swear, I've got them memorized," Shannon says. She flashes him that movie star smile again and asks, "What'd you bring me?" He passes over the book, holding the strap of the bag awkwardly. "Good choice," Shannon says, a bit sarcastically. For a second, he's worried she's going to take back the poker magazines. "I can get you something else," he offers, but then he sees what she's talking about. She's opened the cover of the book to show him the name scrawled in pencil on the first page. It's Shannon's name. He didn't notice that before. He brought her her own book back. "I suppose this one washed up on the beach, too?" she asks accusatorily. "I found it," he replies. "I'm sure," she says, and flips through trying to find her place, those long legs folded and her head bowed. After a second she glances up, as though surprised he's still there. "You can go," she tells him. "What a relief," Sawyer mutters and walks away, feeling very strange about this. He glances back at Shannon, thinking this is some kind of a joke, but she appears to be absorbed in the book. She's smiling. So Stix is some kind of secret nerd, Sawyer thinks, feeling oddly contented himself, with the weight of the magazines in his hand. He's only read two of them by the next afternoon, when Shannon arrives at his tent. He's trying to pace himself, like Hurley suggested. When he's read them all, there won't be anything on the island he hasn't already read, as far as he knows. Shannon's empty-handed. "I hear you have more books," she says. "Maybe," Sawyer says. He can't really imagine she's been talking to Hurley.

"Figures. You've got everything else that was on the plane in here." She glances around like she's in some kind of upscale boutique. "I want my bag back." "Take it," Sawyer allows. The magazines are carefully stacked beside him. She glances at it, but doesn't reach for it, obviously feeling secure in dealing with him. "So where are they?" she asks. "What?" "The books, stupid," she says. "That's not how it works," Sawyer tells her. "You have to bring back the one you borrowed before you can take out another one." "Yeah, right," Shannon says. "I gave you like 27 magazines yesterday." The number's too precise to be a guess. "Nobody gets something for nothing," he says. "You paid for your borrowing privileges. No deposit, no return." "Whatever that means," Shannon says. "That book was mine. You don't get it back." "I beg to differ, darlin'," Sawyer counters. "Finders keepers." "You can't just take other peoples' stuff just because you found it before they did," Shannon protests. "I'm supposed to believe these Newsweeks and GQs are yours?" Sawyer inquires, and she almost has the grace to look embarrassed. "Whatever you take, you have to bring back. That's the deal." "Fine," she says exasperatedly, and he opens the suitcase for her. "Wow," she says. "Quite a collection." He watches her browse. So different from Hurley. She doesn't ask for recommendations, and the book she picks isn't one he would have expected her to be interested in. Shannon notices him watching her, so he says, "Nice choice." "Nice sunglasses," she shoots back. He lifts them from his nose, having forgotten he was wearing them. "I get headaches," he says, like it's a joke.

"God, me too," Shannon replies. "I'd do anything for some Imitrex." He's never heard of it. "It's medicine." "Doc won't let you have any?" Sawyer asks. "Mine was in the bag with my inhalers," Shannon says. "Which you really don't have, right?" "Haven't seen it," Sawyer replies easily. Shannon nods. "Just checking." She toys with the strap of her bag. "Well. It's been fun." "Sure has, Princess." Shannon looks at him. "My dad used to call me Princess," she says, and Sawyer feels the urge to apologize. She shifts her weight and cocks her head. "What'd your dad call you?" "Asshole," Sawyer replies without thinking about it. Their eyes lock. "Come back anytime," he invites sarcastically, to get rid of her, but she says "I will" and he believes her. As he watches her walk away, he thinks he might just have found a kindred spirit.

It's not long before Hurley's back. "Did you read this one?" he asks, and stops. "Hey, magazines." "Indeed," Sawyer doesn't glance up from the issue of Bride he's perusing. It's almost like porn. "You like it?" "Yeah, there's just something I don't get," Hurley says. "Did you read this study guide in the back?" "Yeah," Sawyer says. "Okay, so, what's first person?" Hurley asks. "It's 'I'," Sawyer tells him, and Hurley looks confused. "Instead of 'he did' or 'she did' it's 'I did.' It's a way of telling the story." "Why's it called first person?" Sawyer shrugs. "Who the hell knows?" "Anyway," Hurley says, flipping through to the back of the book. "This question talks about how she wrote a first person novel, but this book's not first person, is it? Cause it's all 'he did' right? What's that called?" "Third person," Sawyer says. "Let me see." Hurley hands over the book and Sawyer flips through it. It's definitely third person. He glances in the back at the reading group discussion guide in the back to see what Hurley's talking about it. "Hmm." "You think they screwed up?" Hurley asks. "Do people do that?" Sawyer shrugs and lets the book fall closed. "They're only human." He looks at the cover. "Did you like it?" "Yeah, it was cool," Hurley says. "It was like being there, you know? Somewhere else." Sawyer nods. That's what he liked about it, too. He passes the book back to Hurley to put away, which Hurley does. "You got anything a kid might like?" Hurley asks, looking at the collection. "What kid?" Sawyer asks. "You know. Walt." "Is he in the book club now, too?" Sawyer asks sarcastically. "Maybe," Hurley replies.

"Try the blue one," Sawyer suggests, and Hurley pulls it out obediently, then stands there and looks at him. "What?" Sawyer snarls. Hurley's smirking at him. "Dude, I gotta ask." He means the bridal magazine in Sawyer's grasp. "Closest thing to Playboy around here after Bluff Magazine." "Really?" asks Hurley, intrigued. "Can I see?" Sawyer rolls his eyes but passes the heavy magazine to the other man, who flips through appreciatively. "Can I borrow it when you're done?" "Don't see why not," Sawyer replies. Hurley smiles. "We bachelors gotta stick together," he says. This isn't really an alliance Sawyer's sure he wants to make, but at the same time he has to admit Hurley's not wrong. Neither of them has any prospects on the island. Hurley for obvious reasons, and Sawyer because everyone thinks he's a first class jerk. He's fine with it, more or less. He wouldn't mind some company, but he's proud of his reputation.

"How'd you get into this, anyway?" Shannon asks, abruptly as she does everything. She walks into his tent whenever she feels like it. One day she's going to get an eyeful. Sawyer, in all his verbosity, shrugs and doesn't look up from trying decipher "A Brief History of Time" for the third time. He'll get it sooner or later. "I mean, you seem more like a tv guy to me," Shannon says. "No TV on the gaming island, sugar. Makes it easy." He glances up. "Still. You don't seem the type to sit around on your ass all day instead of helping out," Shannon says. "The same could be said of you, but we'd both be wrong, wouldn't we." Sawyer sets his book aside. Even the most vapid conversation would be a relief after Stephen Hawking. He feels like his brain is broken. Shannon shifts, doing that thing where she puts one foot in front on an angle like a swimsuit model. He wonders if she's trying to impress him. "Why is that?" she asks, her hair swinging in her face as she looks down at him. "What's in it for me," he replies, a concept he's pretty sure she's familiar with. "Yeah, I guess you're right," Shannon hedges and turns back to the books. Sawyer watches her, feeling the fire of intrigue rising within him. He reminds himself that Sayid got there first. "Pick a good one this time, Marcia," he says and smiles faintly when she cringes at the name. "I used to love that show," Shannon admits. "I would pretend my family was really like that. I guess everybody did, right? That's why it was so popular." She glances at him. "I mean, didn't you?" He thinks about his grandmother and the way she used to beat him with her cane. The Brady Bunch didn't really resemble any kind of family he'd ever seen. "No," he replies to her question. "You've got that look again," Shannon says.

"Which one is that?" He instantly clears the expression from his face. He hadn't meant to give anything away. He'll have to watch that. "The sad past one," Shannon says and brushes her hair back. "You ever feel like talking about it?" "Nope," says Sawyer, although he realizes she's asking mostly because she wants someone to tell her problems to. He's not sure he wants to be her confidante. Let her tell Sayid about the mean girls who stole her nailpolish or whatever. "Right," she says, raising her chin. "Couldn't have been that bad anyway." "You have no idea," he says, feeling the soft corners of the letter in his pocket. "I mean, as much as life sucked back then, we weren't stuck on an island," Shannon says. "An optimist," Sawyer teases, and she flashes him a smile. "And my dad was cool," she says. "While it lasted." Sawyer's eyes slide away. He doesn't want to think about his daddy. "You must have had somebody like that, too." Sawyer nods, thinking of his aunt. His mother's baby sister. He remembers his mother mostly in terms of physical sensations, the way it felt being held by her. His aunt he remembers better. She had long brown hair and a plain face that convinced her she couldn't even try to compete, so she worked in the library and liked to sit in her room and read books. She used to read to him, and when she did, he'd drift off to sleep to the sound of her low voice in the darkness with no fear of nightmares. But then she ran off with a man she met on the fourth of July. He drank and beat her, but she still left him alone with his grandmother. "While it lasted," he echoes Shannon's words, and their eyes meet in some sort of understanding. Embarrassed, she turns away to look at the books again. She selects an oversized paperback, which she tries to hide behind her back so he won't see. "Whatcha got there?" Sawyer asks, though he's already seen the title. It was an okay read, not really his thing. Shannon rolls her eyes, caught, and flashes him the cover of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." "Something you wanna share with the class there, sweetheart?" Sawyer teases. She makes a sour face and shakes her head. "Figure it can't hurt to know this stuff." "Sure, why not," Sawyer replies. He feels oddly sad when she ducks out of his tent, sighing as he picks up the Hawking book again. Seconds go by and then he throws it, hard enough to propel it into another universe. Or, at least, knock his tarp to the ground again. So much for physics.

A long time goes by before Hurley brings back the issue of Bride. "See anything you like?" Sawyer asks as the other man deposits the magazine near his feet. "Page 32, maybe?" "Try 378," Hurley responds. Sawyer picks up the magazine and thumbs through its slick pages, suddenly curious to see what Hurley's type might be. Hurley notices this and watches him with distrust in his eyes. Sawyer wonders what Hurley thinks he's going to say, as he tilts his head to more fully appreciate the babe on page 378. "Sweet," Sawyer declares. The girl's a bit younger than he usually goes for, with a certain rounded innocence to her features. But there's something about that smile...he dogears the page to return to it later. "You might wanna check out page 521, though you probably already saw it," Hurley says. "I never got through the whole damn thing," Sawyer admits, turning more pages. It reminds him of the Sears Wish Book that used to arrive every Christmas when he was a kid, page upon page of things he wasn't never gonna have. "Huh." The faces of two castaways peer back at him from page 521. Boone's grinning, his cheeks more flushed than usual. Then Sawyer blinks and realizes the blonde Barbie seated next to him at the fundraiser isn't actually Shannon. The photo caption confirms this. "Weird, huh?" Hurley says. "That his girlfriend looks exactly like his sister? I'll say." Sawyer flags that page, too. He's gonna have to question Stix about that next time she stops by. Ought to be an interesting conversation. He stares at the photo for a long time before turning the page. "I'm gonna take this one, okay?" Hurley says, picking a book. "Again," Sawyer notes and Hurley kind of shrugs before he leaves the tent. Sawyer flips back to page 378, tracing the outline of the girl's face.

Sawyer's filling his water bottle at the caves when he overhears him name spoken in conversation. He glances around but sees no one. Sound carries, he thinks, holding his breath and standing perfectly still, waiting to hear his name again. "I don't think it's working." He hears Hurley's voice. "I mean, we talk about books and stuff but that's it. He sees me around and doesn't even say hey." Sawyer frowns and wonders who Hurley's talking to. "Can't you try harder?" He'd recognize that soft, sweet voice anywhere. "Dude. How?" Hurley responds. "I did my best. The guy just isn't interested." "But --" Kate protests, but then lets it go. "Okay. Thanks, Hurley. I appreciate it." It was all a plot. Another of her beautiful scams. This one to -- what? -- try to humanize him? Force him to make friends with the useless people on this island? Anger burns in his stomach and he clenches the bottle in his hand so hard the plastic cracks and it spills. He can't believe he fell for it. He can't believe how hurt he feels. He thought Hurley read all those books. He thought Hurley talked to him as a friend, not as one of Kate's minions on some kind of fact-finding mission, checking up on him, trying to get him to participate in their little society. Sawyer gets up from his perch on the edge of the stream, storming through the caves, passing directly between Kate and Hurley, who glance at each other guiltily as he goes by. That night, under cover of darkness, he flings the entire suitcase into the ocean, and stands there in the moonlight, watching the books float out to sea. He tells himself the stinging in his eyes comes from the saltwater breeze. It can't be anything else, because this is what he's good at: destroying the things he loves most.

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