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And Not To Hold

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He hadn’t thought about it, not really.

He’d gotten used to her sweat-streaked skin, to her hair messily tied up, to the dirt and sand gathered in her inner elbows and on the hem of her jeans.

But here she was, showered and clean, and the scent of shampoo wafted to him on the evening breeze. The sun was setting, and her hair was a different shade of brown now that it was clean, and he couldn’t help but want to touch her. As she passed him on the jungle path, as she smiled at him across the beach, his fingers had ached like they had as he’d stood dumbfounded in the doorway when he’d found her in the shower.

Goddamn it, but he hadn’t counted on there being a shower.

The sun was down, and people were happy and settled, and with her leaning against his shoulder as she laughed, he could almost believe that she wanted it. That she wouldn’t be opposed if his fingers-

He brushed her arm.

Grazed it, really, in what could have been an accidental touch, but when she didn’t jump, when she only tilted her head to look fully at him -

Their fingers, intertwined, hidden by the shadows from the campfire.

People slipped off to bed, and still they sat, holding hands in the dying firelight. She still leaned against his shoulder, a rare portrait of perfect stillness, and he knew he’d have to thank Hurley for going against his direct command in orchestrating this beautiful night.

“Jack,” she whispered as the night grew quiet. It reached inside of him, straight into his heart where he’d let his guard down, and his fingers tangled in the curls that fell into her face.

“I’m here,” he replied, because he finally was, frightened heart and all, and he felt her dimple carve into her cheek beneath his fingertips.

“That’s what scares me,” she said at last, her confession nearly lost in the roar of the waves on the beach, but she drowned her words with her hand on his cheek, and he chose not to hear, or think.

Not tonight.

And finally, finally,

He kissed her.