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Title: Things You Call Fate
Pairings: Mostly gen, but faint Jack/Shannon, Jack/Sarah
Summary: Jack's part of both stories, responsible for both outcomes.
Rating: PG
Note: Belated birthday fic for eponine119, without whom, LJ, and Lost fandom, would be a lot poorer.


Jack faces this kind of impossible decision every day: two shattered bodies lie side by side on gurneys and he can only save one. In this case, his decision's been made for him: The man stopped breathing at the site of the accident, but there’s still a chance he can save the other victim.

The team swings into action on the one that’s still breathing, a blonde woman, and Jack, to be honest, forgets the other patient even exists, the sound of the nurse announcing the time of Adam Rutherford’s death just part of the ever-present chaos he’s learned to tune out.

The woman is stabilized and right before she’s transferred to ICU, Jack somehow hears her whispered wish when no one else does. Even after he’s seen countless other patients that day, he’s still thinking of Sarah, the woman who wants to dance at her own wedding.

--

His shift is over and as he walks down the nearly deserted hallway towards the desk to sign out, a tall, thin woman approaches him unsteadily. She'd be pretty -- blonde, brown eyes, built like a dancer -- but for the mascara smeared blackly down her checks and eyes that are puffy and red from crying. “It was you,” she says, pointing an accusing finger at him.

“Excuse me?” He’s tired, too tired for some sort of scene, which this is clearly going to be, whether he’s really the person she’s looking for or not.

“You’re the one who decided not to treat my father. You’re the one who let him die.”

He frowns at her, mentally reviewing all the cases he’s had today. “I’m not sure who you mean...” he begins, looking around for security.

“You don’t even remember him!” Her voice rises in indignation. “Adam Rutherford. He was hit by an SUV....”

It all comes back to Jack now. He calmly recites the particulars, which she has surely already heard. “Yes, I examined him. I’m so sorry. He had stopped breathing at the scene of the accident. He’d been down for some time by the time they brought him here. He was already gone. There was nothing more we could do for him.”

Her chin wobbles. She’s trying hard not to cry again. “Someone told me you’re the one who decided he was gone, that you wanted to work on the woman who ran into him instead, just because she was young and blonde and pretty!”

Her voice has grown louder and more shrill and now other people in the hallway -- a nurse hurrying past, an older patient slowly shuffling in slippers -- are stopping to look.

“Who told you that?” Jack is stunned that anyone would impart such information to a patient’s family.

“So you don’t deny it?” She says with a touch of triumph, stepping closer to him. Jack quietly signals the nurse, who nods and mouths the word, “Security.”

Jack turns his full attention back to the woman ... and realizes she’s really still a girl, probably no more than twenty. She has a little girl’s quaver in her words, a little girl’s need to be comforted underneath her angry bravado.

“He was already gone,” Jack says again, more firmly this time, hands on hips. “I am very sorry that we couldn’t save him, but his injuries were too severe. He could not be saved and there was someone else who could be. And that’s my job, to save who can be saved.”

Something in her face wavers, she’s suddenly not so sure. “But they told me...”

“I don’t know what anyone else told you, but I am telling you the truth.”

She bites her lip and turns away, crumpling into herself. Without thinking it through, Jack reaches out to her and pulls her against his chest as she dissolves into angry, hiccuping sobs. A security officer has finally arrived and Jack shakes his head.

He’s never had to deal with anything like this, but he knows, instinctively, that the girl just needed an outlet, and in blindly seeking someone to blame, found him. She’s just about cried out now and as she pulls away from him, her head hangs down so that he can barely see her face.

“I’m sorry,” she mutters, clearly regretting her outburst, and, with a last, wild-eyed look back at Jack, runs down the hall.

----

Jack operates on Sarah. He saves her. She’s able, miraculously, to walk again. She’ll be able to dance at her own wedding, except that her fiancé is long gone. Jack feels the pull towards her. It’s inevitable. He’s never believed in fate, but this feels, somehow, meant to be. She makes him smile. She adores him. When he looks at her, he sees his greatest success, his incredible triumph against the odds. When she looks at him, her eyes shine. He’s her hero, uncomfortable as he is with that term.

He knows he’s going to ask her to marry him and nothing’s ever felt so right in his life. But he’s not sure, why then, he attends the funeral for Adam Rutherford. He watches, from a respectful distance, as the girl, now somber and reserved in head-to-toe black, throws a handful of dirt on the coffin. Her hair is brushed neatly and pulled back from her face, her minimal makeup perfect. Her face is blank, showing none of the fury and grief from that day at the hospital. She looks both more grown-up and younger at the same time; he can’t explain it.

She happens to glance his way once and her set expression crumbles. This was a mistake, he thinks, as she stares at him with alarm. She ducks her head and when she looks back up, she’s biting her lip, doubt overcoming her surprise. She nods, once, in his direction, not quite smiling, but, he thinks, just acknowledging his presence. A relative, probably a brother, is pulling her into an embrace and Jack takes it as his cue to leave.

Jack walks back to his car. When that girl looks at him, she doesn’t see a hero, but the man who failed her when she needed him most. Neither one is really the truth, he thinks as he sits behind the wheel, looking back at the grave site. He’s not a hero and he's not a complete failure. He just does the best he can. Fate decides the rest. Except he doesn’t really believe in fate.

Two cars collided: one patient was saved, the other died. It happens every day and yet now Jack feels like he’s part of both stories, responsible for both outcomes.

He’s going to ask Sarah to marry him tomorrow night, he decides as he turns the key in the ignition. He ignores the tightness in his chest as he drives off, tries to forget the girl by the grave.

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
stolen_kisses87
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:50 am (UTC)
This was really lovely, I've always thought that this connection between Jack and Shannon deserved a little more attention. Then again, I'm sure a lot of the connections on that show do. Great job.
halfdutch
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:07 am (UTC)
Thank you! If only someone had been there for Shannon at that moment -- and if only Jack hadn't married Sarah! But then, of course, we'd have a lot less dramatic storylines, wouldn't we? Anyway, that's why we fic! Glad you liked this. :)
eponine119
Dec. 10th, 2007 04:44 am (UTC)
Oh! Fic! Thank you! I love what you did with this, taking Jack's success with Sarah and turning it around in that way Jack has of turning on himself and making it out to be a failure he feels responsible for, and the way that carries over to his feeling responsible for Shannon on some level.

Jack feels like he’s part of both stories, responsible for both outcomes.

This is a much more subtle, elegant take on all the "coincidences" than we've ever gotten from the show.
halfdutch
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC)
This is a much more subtle, elegant take on all the "coincidences" than we've ever gotten from the show.

Oh, wow, thank you! :) I'm so glad you liked this, even if it's not really a Jack/Shannon fic. Jack always does blame himself, doesn't he? This doesn't seem like much of a leap, that he'd look for failure, even in the midst of his greatest success. And I like the idea of him taking her under his wing, in some capacity, and of her having someone to look after her. And of course, Jack would have been so much better off if he hadn't married Sarah!
emiliglia
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:08 am (UTC)
Do you think TPTB have realized yet that killing Shannon was one of the WORST things they've done on Lost? She was so much fun with the snark and the sass and so honest.

Jack wouldn't be Jack without bearing guilt. Although this brought up an interesting connection for me - Jack focusing on Sarah, on her being able to dance, meant losing Adam, so Shannon ended up not being able to dance. Hmmm...
halfdutch
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:20 am (UTC)
As much as I need Kate, Shannon was my favorite and best-written female character. She's really the only one who had the potential to (and actually did) grow and change on the island. And she wasn't just a baby carrier! I loved her sass and her snark was always welcome. She is missed and all the new characters will never make up for having lost her.

Jack focusing on Sarah, on her being able to dance, meant losing Adam, so Shannon ended up not being able to dance.

And ahh, I hadn't even thought that through: You're right, Sarah being able to dance again means that Shannon couldn't! Well, you know who'd get my vote there!
elise_509
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:12 am (UTC)
You are amazing and this is perfect. I know someone else probably already picked this out, but I loved it:

Two cars collided: one patient was saved, the other died. It happens every day and yet now Jack feels like he’s part of both stories, responsible for both outcomes.

I also liked how Jack stood his ground with Shannon when she was blaming him for Adam's death, because Jack did have to make a choice then and he chose the patient who he could help, and I liked how he just let Shannon yell at him and cry. Also makes me glad I will never be an ER doctor, because that situation would just kill me.

*loves you and your supreme talent*
halfdutch
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
*loves*

Awww, thanks so much, hon! I'm honored!

I think that as much as Jack always second-guesses and undermines himself, he does always do as much as he can for every patient and Adam was, unfortunately, past hope of saving. But they'd both be so much better off if Adam had lived and Sarah had died! I wonder if Julie Bowen has any idea how much people hate Sarah, LOL.
elise_509
Dec. 10th, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)
I just wanted to reply with this icon. It says it all. God d*mn I hate that b*tch. You're right, if Adam had lived, both Shannon and Jack would be SO much better off!
halfdutch
Dec. 10th, 2007 06:28 am (UTC)
Argh, she really is the devil! Although that icon does crack me up!

I have to say, she's hardly the only female character I've wanted to see killed off! Their track record with women -- both writing them and bumping them off -- is appalling! You'd think they could at least make us happy and kill her too! No, she gets to live and torment Jack some more. Grrr. But, hey, they need their tragedies and angst, don't they?
vixerunt
Dec. 10th, 2007 06:46 am (UTC)
Medicated review: might possibly make sense...
I love those parts of the show that have their purpose, move things along, and yet if you dig a little deeper (And this fandom is good at that), the whole thing just grows in ways that surprise you. Fantastic digging here, I really like this. I'm glad Jack had to face Shannon and his actions. He is so happy with Sarah, fascinated by her even and this little roadblock goes up. Love the emotional push and pull, that Shannon truly saw Jack while Sarah saw only what she needed him to be for her.

I wouldn't mind reading more Jack/Shannon, to be honest. I felt canon-wise, they always made the most sense, like they could have met in a bar and fallen for each other. I don't get that so much from some of the others.

Anyway, this was fantastic, really enjoyed it. Lovely writing as always!
halfdutch
Dec. 10th, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Medicated review: might possibly make sense...
Medication agrees with you, LOL! That made perfect sense. I love doing some digging and the show always leaves so much by the wayside for us to go back and excavate!

I wish Jack had wised up and realized that Sarah wasn't really in love with him (if you watch the ep where they get married, she *never* says she loves him at any point!) And I was intrigued with the idea of him having to deal with Shannon's grief.

And I like Jack/Shannon ... she's probably too young for him but really, Kate's not much older!

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing while drugged up! ;)
alemyrddin
Dec. 10th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC)
Loved this.
Sometimes I tend to forget all the coincidences that link the characters on Lost... This was a good one, and I wish that Shannon had recognized him on the island, as the doctor who did, or didn't, treat her father.
Of course Jack would feel responsible for both of them, "part of both stories", so, to regain some control over that fate, he would ask Sarah to marry him. And that was such a bad idea. *sighs*

Anyway, good take on this. :)
halfdutch
Dec. 10th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you! In the show, they passed so briefly and there's no way, probably, that she would remember she'd even met him (and vice versa). I do think that she'd remember Sayid, the man she reported for leaving his luggage behind at the airport, though!

I think Jack always takes on too much responsibility, so I could easily see him getting involved in both sides here. Of course, I think he only married Sarah because it seemed like he should, poor guy, and we all know how that ended up!

Glad you liked this!
siluria
Dec. 10th, 2007 07:30 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, the black and white symmetry is written really well into this - and I love the part where you describe the two ends of Jack's spectrum - hero and failure. Fantastic! :)
halfdutch
Dec. 11th, 2007 05:11 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! *beams* I love that you loved it! :)
tinkerbell99
Dec. 10th, 2007 11:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love this! Stories like this make me so very disappointed that things like this will never happen on the show. The Jack/Shannon connection is one that I wish had been explored to its full potential.

I could really see the section in which she confronts Jack. There's something about the way you wrote it - the details you included - that made it come alive for me. I could see it very well.

And I loved the ending - the collision and that now Jack feels responsible for both stories. This was lovely.
halfdutch
Dec. 11th, 2007 05:22 am (UTC)
I really miss Shannon. :-/ All the new characters are never going to come close to being as entertaining or complex as she was, alas.

I'm so glad that you liked the scene where she confronts him and that you could see it! I often feel like I don't include enough detailed descriptions, unlike some of my favorite writers, so I'm very flattered!

Thanks for reading and commenting. :)
iorwen107
Dec. 11th, 2007 12:05 am (UTC)
ahh this made me so sad, but I mean that in a good way if that makes any sense
halfdutch
Dec. 11th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
Yes, that does make sense! :) Glad you liked it and thanks for reading!
gottalovev
Dec. 11th, 2007 12:25 am (UTC)
Jack made the best decision at that time, to save who he could save. I am glad he could make Shannon understand that. but at the same time she does look for someone to blame (case in point Locke for Boone) so I found it very believable that she'd lash out at Jack like that.

of course Jack then went on to marry Sarah for the wrong reasons, but I love your take on it. :)
halfdutch
Dec. 11th, 2007 05:24 am (UTC)
Oh good, I'm glad this was believable. I do think I took a bit of a liberty, having Shannon lash out at him as at that point in her life she was a lot more docile than the Shannon she became later on. So I'm very glad this worked!

And damn, I wish Jack had realized why it was a mistake to marry Sarah (and to just get over her already when she started cheating on him!) but what are you gonna do? The guy's got a big heart, the poor chump. *loves him... and you!* :)
(Deleted comment)
halfdutch
Sep. 4th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
Oh wow, thanks so much, hon! What a wonderfully rich, meaty feedback you've left here! I'm so flattered there was enough here for you to mull over. And oh, Jack, yes? He is always so hard on himself and always doubting himself, no matter what he does. I'm very glad you liked this whole concept! :)
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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