Two months down. Really, Sawyer thought, they should have reached the end of their rope long ago. Or at least, he knew he should have. Instead, he found himself settling into life in Dharmaville quite easily. He didn't know about the rest of his "crew," but he didn't mind coming "home" every night to their crowded bunkroom. Construction of new houses was under way, and they all knew (or hoped) their current accommodations were temporary.
But, fact was, he just plain liked it. There was a rhythm to the nights and days they spent together. He'd lie in his bunk reading. Miles and Jin would play a few games of checkers. And he knew that when Miles reached Jin's end of the board, he'd shout "King Me! King Me! King Me!" in a series of ridiculous voices. And he knew that when the game was over, win or lose, Jin would step out the door and stand staring at the stars for while before coming in to bed.
He knew that Daniel may or may not come in, and he might or might not mumble something to all or one of them.
He knew that when Juliet got to a good part in her book, she'd read with her right hand covering up the bottom part of each page ("It keeps me from looking ahead," she'd explained). And he knew that when she took her hair out of her ponytail (and he found that this was a part of the night he hated to miss for some reason), it was only seconds before she'd say "Night James, see you in the morning."
Some nights, if they were all in bed, they'd start a "Goodnight Miles," "Goodnight Juliet," "Goodnight LaFleur," "Goodnight John-Boy," routine. It was funny when they first did it, and then it got a little old and stale, but now it was just "what they did."
He looked forward to Saturday morning, when he and Jin were going fishing again. Jin still wasn't the world's greatest conversationalist, but that didn't mean he wasn't a good companion. Sometimes when you sat on the dock with a fishing pole, you preferred not to talk.
His favorite time of the week was Thursday nights. Then he'd split a six-pack of Dharma Beer with Juliet and play Battleship all evening. Sometimes they'd have plenty to say about past lives, hopes for the future, gossip about their co-workers. Other evenings, last night for instance, they could play for an hour and not say anything more than "D4;" "Miss;" "G5;" "Hit." "You just sunk my battleship!" she always exclaimed, just like in the commercial. It never ceased to make him laugh.
He was even beginning to know some of the "real" members of the Dharma Initiative, and liked them as well. Sure enough, there were some hotties among them, and he had to remind himself of the "Mrs. LaFleur" prophecy in Dan's journal. He patted himself on the back for his restraint. Nope, he was steering far clear of women.
Unfortunately, Horace had only just recently disrupted Sawyer's newfound equilibrium. Horace had been the security team's nominal supervisor, but he was ready to give up the responsibility. So earlier this week, he'd called Sawyer aside.
"Head of Security's been a vacant position since our last security boss ran into some mainland problems and was sent back to Ann Arbor. Jim, I've been watching you. You do good work, and I've spoken with Ann Arbor. We'd like you to take on the position."
Sawyer remembered quite clearly the words in Dan's journal. "LaFleur;" "wife;" "head of security." Damn, could that twitchy geek be right about this? No way. Not if Sawyer had anything to say about it. So he told Horace, "I appreciate that, boss, but I don't know if I'm ready to take that on. Thanks anyway, man."
Horace paused a beat before saying, "Well, I'm afraid it's not a choice. We need a new head of security and you're the man, like it or not."
"And if I refuse?" Sawyer asked.
"I can put you on Stu Radzinksy's crew. Think you'd like working for him?"
Sawyer chuckled. Not in a million fucking years would he want to work for Stu Radzinsky. Head of the security team? That actually wasn't such a bad deal. So maybe Dan's journal was right about that. It was just a reminder to be more on his guard around women.
So, a week into his life as head man on security, he found himself at lunch in the cafeteria. Miles sat next to him complaining about the new schedule Sawyer released that morning. He knew Miles would complain a blue streak, but would ultimately do what he was told. Across from Miles, Juliet had her head stuck in an auto repair manual. It had only taken her about a month to get a handle on the VW buses, and she was moving on to the Jeeps. If her Jeep studying was anything like the VW studying had been, he knew he had a few nights ahead where she'd toss the manual over to him in his bunk and say "Go ahead, quiz me on anything." He also knew that if he stumped her, she'd get pissed as hell. And that was pretty fun.
The seat directly across from him was empty, waiting on Jin's return from a grid search patrol. Unfortunately, the empty seat must have seemed like an invitation to Sheila, one of the D.I's teachers.
"Hey, Jim" she said, approaching the table, completely ignoring Miles and his endless complaining and Juliet and her auto-repair note taking. "Is this seat taken?" she gestured at the empty seat. She fluttered her eyelids in an unmistakable gesture of flirtation. Miles finally shut up.
"Yeah," Sawyer replied. "I'm afraid we're saving it for Jin."
"Well I wouldn't mind keeping it warm for him." Sheila was not to be deterred.
"I think he'll be here any minute." Sawyer gave no ground.
"Well, all right then. But I do have to ask if you wouldn't mind coming over to my cabin this afternoon. I've been having a problem with my stove, and was thinking you might be a good man to get the heat going again."
Wow. That was such an awful line it caused Miles to fake a cough-laugh and even roused Juliet from her "Front Axle Specifications" page. When Sawyer replied, "I'll send Phil over to see what he can do," Miles had to fake a harder cough-laugh and Juliet quickly ducked her head back to the fascinating drawing of axle attachments. It also, thankfully, sent Sheila off for good.
"You are a moron," Miles said as soon as she was out of earshot. "She was totally coming on to you, and you blew it."
"I realize she was coming on to me. I just ain't interested," replied Sawyer.
"Seriously, man? You could be getting it on with her right now, instead of sitting here at lunch with us," said Miles. Juliet looked up from her book and nodded in agreement.
Sawyer looked at both of them before responding. "I happen to enjoy your company." It was a sarcastic remark, but not entirely false.
"Bullshit!" Miles coughed.
"If this is about that 'Mrs. LaFleur' thing . . ." started Juliet before being interrupted by Miles.
"Dude, from what I heard, Shelia is NOT the marrying kind, if you know what I mean. You could be having a little afternoon delight RIGHT NOW."
"Ain't taking any chances, hot stuff," said Sawyer, hoping to end this right now.
"You think you'll accidentally ask her to marry you?" Miles asked incredulously.
"Well," Juliet piped in, "you never know. What if in a moment of passion he lets it slip? 'Oooh, baby. Right there, yeah. It feels so good . . . will you marry me?'"
Heh. OK, that was pretty funny. Also . . . weirdly . . . really kind of hot. Sawyer shook his head to clear the cobwebs. This whole thing was getting under his skin, but no sense in letting the two of them know about it.
"OK, Abbott and Costello," he addressed his still laughing lunch companions. "Laugh all you want. But when I finally meet this mysterious Mrs. LaFleur? And start getting laid regular? I'll have the last laugh, and the two of you will have to find someone else to pick on."
Juliet looked kind of serious. "James, you have to let me know before you start getting, as you put it, 'laid regular.' You need to be careful, I can tell you about this Island . . ."
He cut her off. "Nuh uh. Nice try. But #1, I don't kiss and tell and #2, I ain't lettin' either one of you get your jollies off of me and the Missus' sex life."
"I'm not joking around. It could really be dangerous. Pregnant women . . ."
Ooops. Shit. He wasn't really listening any more, but he knew he'd crossed a boundary. They'd talked about this more than once, and he realized how sensitive she was about it. The last thing he wanted to do was give her something else to worry about.
"OK, OK, I'll tell you when I start getting laid. I promise. You'll be the first to know."
"Thank you," she replied.
Miles now had his say. "LaFleur, you idiot, you could be getting laid right now if you'd played it right with Sheila. And the least you could have done was let her sit with us. Maybe you aren't interested, but I wouldn't mind fixing her heat, if you know what I mean."
"Nah, man. I ain't taking any chances with women. I ain't 'fixing their heat,' I ain't spending alone time with them, hell, I ain't even sitting with them at lunch."
"No offense taken," said Juliet.
Huh? What had he just said that was offensive? He looked at her in question.
"I am a woman. I am sitting with you at lunch. Ergo, I am not offended that you would say you aren't sitting with women at lunch."
"Ah, you know what I mean," he said. "I ain't sitting with women I'd want to sleep with."
"Again, no offense taken," she responded.
Miles chipped in some helpful advice. "Dude, just stop talking."
"No," said Sawyer. "I can explain this one. I may not have particularly high standards when it comes to women, but I do have one simple rule: Do not sleep with anyone who tasers you the first time you meet."
"Fair enough," said Juliet.
"Bad rule, man," was Miles' response. "Half the women I've slept with Tasered me when we met."
Thank God, here came Jin. He waved him to his seat. "So, how did the search go?"
"No one," said Jin and began talking about his morning.
Out his other ear, Sawyer could hear Miles' and Juliet's ongoing conversation:
"So tell me, Miles. What's half of zero?"
"You said half the women you'd slept with had Tasered you. I want to know what half of zero is."
"I'll have you know, I've slept with eleven women, thank you very much. If you aren't busy this afternoon, it can be an even dozen."
"Wow. That's a really romantic offer. Let me think – NO."
They were giggling over that absurd possibility, Jin was still patiently explaining all he had seen on his morning patrol. Sawyer had a position of prestige and responsibility. Seriously, why would he want to do anything to upset this balance?