July 8, 1974

For the first time in about as long as he can remember, Sawyer's had to spend July 8 in the company of other people. Interacting, doing shit, putting on a smiley face and "happy to be here" attitude. And, dammit, he didn't even have time to fully prepare! They'd bounced through time so many times, landing in year after year after year that none of them considered they'd been bouncing from month to month while they were at it. They started out in January 2005, they figured they'd landed in January 1974. Until a few days in their stay in Dharmaville, and it became clear that the big party everyone was so jazzed about was a 4th of July party. Things were weird enough that it wasn't till a few days later Sawyer put two and two together and realized July 8 was right around the corner.

And he couldn't "take the day off." He couldn't go out into the jungle and drink. He couldn't avoid people all day. He considered faking sick, but then he knew it'd mean a whole host of Dharma chicks flocking to the door offering to bring him soup and such - and that would be worse than hanging out at security all day. Instead he headed off for day 5 of Security Orientation. Not that bad, usually. Hank, Head of Security, was an interesting enough dude, and it was kinda cool to be getting the inside dope on the Dharma Initiative, of all fucking things. Of course today, of all days, was the pits. No Hank with crazy stories of Hostiles and perimeter patrols and the like. Instead, today was Phil, Security Team lackey extraordinaire, and his endless yammering about rules, regulations, manuals, reports and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Sawyer counted the hours till it was over.

He skipped dinner, grabbed as many six packs as he could carry and headed off to the secluded outskirts of the barracks. Even then he couldn't catch some alone time. Fucking Miles sitting here yammering away. Sawyer figured he was after the free booze, and handed him two cans in the hope he'd go away. Instead he sat and drank and went on and on and on about his mom and dad and "they were right there. I shook his hand!" and Sawyer recognized the absolute fucking bizarreness of it all, but today of all days he didn't want to hear about parent drama. This was HIS day for parent drama, dammit. Miles eventually finished up his second beer, belched, hinted around that he might take more. Sawyer didn't get the hint. Or pretended not to, and finally - FINALLY - Miles was gone.

Left to drink in peace, alone, Sawyer stretched his legs out and leaned his head back on the bench. Not too comfortable, but he wouldn't trade solitude for comfort. He downed another beer, saw the first star appear, then another and another until the sky was filled with them. He heard footsteps approach from behind. If this was Miles back for more . . .

But it was Juliet. Fine. Outta everybody here in Dharma she was probably the most likely to just sit and keep quiet. She sat down uninvited, and sure enough, didn't say a word. In fact, she broke him. Dammit. He was the one to speak. "Miles send you out here to check on me?"

"Yep."

He chuckled. OK, this wasn't so bad. Sitting and drinking. Long as he didn't have to talk. He held out an unopened beer can. He half expected her to turn it down, but she didn't. She drank the whole thing, still silent. He offered a second, and he definitely expected her to turn down this one, but she accepted it, too. He supposed it was the booze loosening her tongue, because about halfway through this beer, she spoke again.

"Got my job assignment today."

He and Miles both had finally convinced her to stay. After discovering she wanted to go back to her sister, Miles had the winning argument. "So, what? You just gonna hang out and creepy-stalk a 10-year-old girl? Nice." And, yeah, what was the point of that? So she stayed. And her job assignment? He raised his eyebrows.

"Motor pool. Mechanic."

He laughed heartily. A real laugh. (Had he ever laughed on July 8?) Now, he was a bit disappointed she wasn't gonna teach. Mostly because the D.I. put its teachers into tight-waisted short-skirted little khaki numbers. And one half of him would get a huge kick out of making fun of her get-up, and the other half of him would just plain get a huge kick out of looking at her in said get-up. But mechanic? Now that was pretty damn funny.

"You got an aptitude with cars or somethin'?"

"Not the first clue," she responded. "But, you know, it's the '70s, and I guess the Dharma Initiative has some pretty funky ideas about women's rights, feminism, that sort of thing. They're trying to be more 'egalitarian' with their assignments."

Sawyer could hear the air quotes around 'egalitarian,' even if Juliet didn't actually use them. He bet that was one of Horace's words: egalitarian. Sawyer wasn't quite sure what it meant, but he figured it meant that the D.I. wasn't assigning people solely based on gender. Juliet's next remark confirmed it.

"In fact, you're lucky they didn't make you a kindergarten teacher. 'Now children, repeat after me,'" she sing-songed. "'Son. Of. A. Bitch.'"

That got him to guffaw. Seriously, the hell? Laughing on this day? He couldn't believe he was actually enjoying having company on this night of all nights.

"So, is security work so bad you've got to come all the way out here to drink by yourself?" she asked.

"It ain't the job, it's . . ."

Just like that, the spell was broken. THIS was why he didn't want to be around people on July 8 – he wanted to drink in peace and quiet away from prying questions and pity and people who would attempt to offer comforting words.

"It's?" she prodded, and he realized she was waiting on him to finish.

It's none of your Goddamn business is what it is. Why can't anyone just leave me the fuck alone? Instead I'm stuck here in this crappy hippie commune with you four people and just butt the hell out already, wouldja?

"It's the anniversary of the day my parents . . ." he started, and what the fuck was that? Some kind of Others mind control? Did they teach her that in Others 101? Because he was pretty damn sure his brain was telling him to tell her to mind her business. He hadn't even finished his sentence when she said, "Oh. Oh, James, I'm sorry."

"Sorry for what? I didn't even finish tellin' ya. How do you know I wasn't gonna say it's the anniversary of the day they got cable TV, huh?"

"It was in your file," she mumbled.

He felt like he'd been punched. Yeah, he was vaguely aware of the Others keeping tabs on them. She'd made that abundantly clear when she threatened to out him over Frank Duckett's death, way back when she'd first shown up in the survivor's camp. But the thought that it was ALL there? His whole life story? It kind of made sense now. How else would Locke know to get him to kill Anthony Cooper? So they knew it all, did they? She knew it all?

"It say anything in there 'bout Clementine and Cassidy?"

She looked blank.

"That's my daughter and her momma that I conned."

"Yes, they're in there. We Others are very thorough." She tried the last remark with a smirk, trying to inject some levity into the conversation.

"God, I'm a shitheel," he sighed. He could only imagine how awful his life must read to anyone seeing it play out on paper in a file.

"Yep," she agreed.

Well. That wasn't the "No you're not, buck up little camper" response he'd expected. Huh. "Well, thanks a lot," he huffed.

"I call 'em like I see 'em, James."

"OK, then, if I'm such a shitheel, what're you doin' hangin' out with me?"

"My options are kind of limited. Beggars can't be choosers, you know."

She was being honest, but he ducked his head anyway, looked up at her with a half-cocked smile. A kind of "Come on, now, you know I'm not that bad," gesture.

She bit. "And you're good company, she added. Now he looked at her straight-on, flashed a full smile. "And you're kind of cute when you want to be," she continued, blushing. He upped the wattage on his smile, seeing how far this could go.

She looked away. "Besides, it's not like I'm exactly a saint myself," she said to the stars. "Did you know that I participated in the kidnapping and torture of some poor airplane crash survivors?"

"You don't say."

"One of them even tried to escape, and BLAM! I Tasered that loser's ass right to the ground."

He chuckled, "Poor son of a bitch."

"Yeah, well that didn't get me what I wanted, so I killed one of my co-workers, and when THAT didn't get me what I wanted, I infiltrated and spied on the crash survivors."

"Shit. That's cold," he said. "So, I guess the question is, then, why is an upstanding citizen such as myself hanging out with the likes of you?"

"Why indeed?" she asked.

"Well, you just wandered out here and sat your ass down. It would've been rude to tell ya to go away."

"Never knew you cared about being rude."

"Good point," he conceded. "So, why AM I letting you hang out with me? Truth is, you ain't so bad to look at yourself."

Something like fear, uncertainty, bashfulness, passed across her eyes. "You're drunk," she said.

"Yes, ma'am, I am," he stated, holding up and admiring his latest beer can.

She stood up. "So, you're OK? You're not going to go slinking off into the jungle? Not going to jump off a cliff? Miles will want a full report. He cares about you, you know."

"Does he now? Well, you be sure and tell Miles I ain't plannin' on doin' anymore tonight than gettin' good and soused."

She took a breath, and for an instant, it looked like she was going to say something. She must have thought better of it, because she nodded decisively. "All right then, James. Take care. See you tomorrow."

"Adios, Amiga, " he shouted at her retreating back.

NEXT: July 8, 1975 (but this may be a long wait. Real life calls, you know?)