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Too Little, Too Late (Sarah, Jack) PG

Title: Too Little, Too Late
Characters: Sarah, Jack
Rating: PG
Note: Written for the "Least Favorite Character" prompt at lostsquee. Because Sarah definitely tops that list!



Jack never really loved her. He loved that he had saved her, that she was his miracle. He didn't love her, Sarah. If the surgery hadn't been a success, she had no doubt that she would have remained just another patient to him, a failure never to be mentioned, rather than his greatest triumph.

They honeymooned in Hawaii and their days together were giddy, brand-new. That phase didn't last long. All too soon he was pouring himself back into his work. She hadn't understood that he gave everything he had to his job; there was nothing left for her.

She spent the first year trying to smile and pretend everything was okay, that she wasn't terribly lonely, that she could wait indefinitely to have children.

She slept with the first man who flirted with her, who made her remember what it was like to be wanted.

Funny how Jack never had time for her, not until she left him. Then he couldn't stop following her, spying on her. Now that he'd lost her, he had all the time in the world to spend trying to get her back.

She was glad to see how much she'd hurt him, because it meant he did care, on some level. Probably he only cared about his reputation, or for having failed at something someone in his position was not supposed to fail at. He wasn't good at admitting failure. She'd honestly thought he'd just disappear into his work, instead of stalking her every move.

And then he did disappear. Suddenly, into the blue. It was a relief, actually, not to have to worry about looking up from an embrace to find those haunted eyes drilling into hers, not to have to worry about any more late-night phone calls. Jack was truly out of her life for good.

His disappearance hadn't shocked her; it was his reappearance that did.

It wasn't the same Jack who came back. The man she saw on the news and in the papers was just a shell of the man she'd known. No longer confident and arrogant and handsome, he was broken, shattered in some way she could only guess at.

There'd been an awkward phone call and then, thankfully, he'd left her and Mike alone.

When the call came from the hospital in the middle of the night, she could have refused to go but she found herself driving the familiar route to St. Sebastian's anyway.

Jack looked terrible, like he'd been drinking. He probably hadn't bathed or changed his clothes in days. Even when she'd supposedly broken his heart, she'd never felt sorry for him because he'd left her long before she'd ever left him. But now she did pity him.

The haggard-looking man who sat there, slumped over on the exam table, his eyes red from crying, was not Jack.

Sarah wavered in the doorway. He'd never needed her. He'd given her back her legs and then he'd reluctantly given her her freedom. This man had nothing left to give her. And she had nothing to give him. She couldn't save him. He was beyond saving.

She had come to give him a message. This was the last time he should bother her. She had a new life now. He barely seemed to take her words in, too busy staring at her swollen stomach, the visible proof of how much she'd changed and how long it had been since he'd known anything about her.

She walked back to her car, slowly, trying to tell herself not to feel sorry for that man back there. He was dead to her, even before that plane went down. It was better to think of him as having died in that plane crash, better for all of them.

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Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
demonqueen666
Jan. 29th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
It was better to think of him as having died in that plane crash, better for all of them.

...Yow. No pulling punches from you, eh?
halfdutch
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:04 am (UTC)
I guess I didn't mean this to be quite so harsh .. just that it's hard for her to see Jack so broken? But yes, she also is a selfish, selfish woman. That's my take on her, anyway!

(And Kate walks away from Jack too, in that state. Poor Jack!)

Edited at 2008-01-30 05:05 am (UTC)
isis2015
Jan. 30th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
Oh Sarah, you enormous bitch. This is great work, hun. It really is her, feels like her, hun. I think this was always her reasoning, the way she sees her relationship with Jack and what happened in their marriage. This is very Sarah. And I very much still hate the woman.
halfdutch
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:07 am (UTC)
Thank you, hon! You know, I didn't mean this to be such a terrible indictment of her, I was truly trying to see things from her POV, all the ways she thinks Jack has let her down; ignored her, stalked her, etc.

But yeah, what kind of person wouldn't even give her very shaky ex a ride home from the hospital? (Then again, Kate also washed her hands of him. :-/)
elliotsmelliot
Jan. 30th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
I love how Sarah still only sees Jack's faults - his obsessive nature, his single mindedness, his problems, his brokenness. There is no self-awareness about her neediness or her manipulation of him. Even at the end, all she can think of is "me, me, me". Thanks, I think I hate her even more now. Well done!

She was glad to see how much she'd hurt him, because it meant he did care, on some level.

This is the only section that had me feeling for her, because despite everything, I think she and you are right.
halfdutch
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:10 am (UTC)
Your fic was much kinder to her! (And, consequently, I think, much richer!) I think she would have felt some guilt and sorrow over his supposed death, at least when talking of him to others, but that in her heart of hearts, she would have mostly been relieved. :-/

They really never should have gotten married. I think he did believe he loved her and it always struck me how we never heard her say that she loved him, not even on their wedding day! I definitely think he got the worst end of the deal here but it was an interesting exercise to try to see it from her point of view, that here's this unwelcome ex who's complicated her life so much. Thanks for reading!

jenthegypsy
Jan. 30th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
You've done such a good job of identifying Sarah as a Queen Bitch extraordinair without ever coming out and saying it - I mean, really, if this paragraph doesn't say it, what does?

And then he did disappear. Suddenly, into the blue. It was a relief, actually, not to have to worry about looking up from an embrace to find those haunted eyes drilling into hers, not to have to worry about any more late-night phone calls. Jack was truly out of her life for good.

It was a relief when Flight 815 went down? Please, someone hand me a brick with which to smash her lovely head in! You followed the rules perfectly, it's just the Power of Sarah that still shines through!
halfdutch
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
Aww, thanks, hon. I guess I got so deep into her head, I didn't realize quite how awful all that came across as I was writing it! It's hard to imagine not helping Jack when he needs help so badly but she just seemed to regard him as the most enormous nuisance at that point, like he'd used up every last ounce of credit with her long ago. And so it's not much of a leap to imagine she was secretly relieved to hear he was out of her life for good when Flight 815 disappeared.
cynthia_arrow
Jan. 30th, 2008 01:04 am (UTC)
You're braver than me, taking on the Sarah monster. The strength of this prompt is that it lets us write character as brilliantly as we want without us feeling the urge to round people over. Not even Jack's rounded over here. This all stings because it's all too true. Bravo.
halfdutch
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:19 am (UTC)
First of all, your icon is amazing. Wow. *stares* That has to be one of my favorite Jack icons ever.

And I guess I really didn't go easy on either of them, did I? If I'd sat with this one a little longer, I might have. But I wrote it in one go, taking her basically "fuck off and leave me alone" attitude towards him in TTLG and running with it. I wanted to maybe put a touch more sorrow or regret there but you're right, it does also seem true that she'd be this hard-hearted.

(You should also read elliotsmelliot's Sarah fic.)

ETA: Changing the icon!

Edited at 2008-01-30 05:19 am (UTC)
aboutbunnies
Jan. 30th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
I'm no Jack fan, but yikes. Sarah has to take the cake this time. Being relieved when the plane crashed, thinking it would have been better if he'd died? I've always kind of been on her side in canon (I know, I'm so in the minority with this) but now you've got me feeling for Jack - which is definitely the mark of a good writer ;)
halfdutch
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
Wow, I'm flattered!

You'd think she'd have some residual sympathy for him (after all, she did supposedly love him once and she did bail him out of jail after they were no longer together) but it seems she wants to completely wash her hands of him. He did act badly towards her (I'm not a fan of the ep where he basically stalks her!) so I can definitely see things from her point of view. But, to me, there is something so hard-hearted about not even giving him a ride home from the hospital! I guess I took that as my cue for this one. Thanks for reading and for your feedback.
elise_509
Jan. 30th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
Oh, god, Sarah is such a bitch. You really captured her selfish, cruel nature here, from the way she only finds Jack's faults and judges him harshly after he fails to live up to her my hero standards 24/7, to how even when he dies in a plane crash, for chrissakes, it's still all about her and her relief that he's gone. And then when he returns, she still has no compassion or understanding for him. This is her through and through, thinking only of herself. She blames him for never really loving her, yet doesn't have the guts to admit she never really loved him either, not the real him.

You had me clenching my fists and swearing at her in my mind, so you got her quite well. Good work!
halfdutch
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:34 am (UTC)
Thank you, hon! I always thought it was so significant that she never said she loved him (not in the dialogue they gave her anyway). That's a pretty huge omission. He may not have been the best husband ever and the stalking phase wasn't pretty, so it was easy enough to put myself in her shoes and think, "God, not him again!" And yet she's so, so cold to him that her being relieved when she'd heard he was dead doesn't seem like that much of a leap.

Thanks for reading, hon. Sorry to get your blood pressure up! And oh, you must read elliotsmelliot's Sarah fic, same prompt, but quite a different take and very beautifully written.)
slybrunette
Jan. 30th, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)
Go for the gusto, girlie!

This is amazing. I normally won't read fic if the bitch is in it, and this is the second one TODAY.

This man had nothing left to give her. And she had nothing to give him. She couldn't save him. He was beyond saving.

That is so her. Because she left him when she figured out he had issues and wasn't perfect, and I'll always despise her for that.

You did a wonderful job capturing a hard to like character. Great fic!
halfdutch
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:38 am (UTC)
Go for the gusto, girlie!

Hee, thanks! And oh, I loved the other Sarah fic! *nods* I was definitely less kind to Sarah than elliot was, but to me, it all boils down to that scene where she leaves him alone at the hospital and pretty much tells him to never bother her again. It really did convince me she'd have preferred him to stay dead than resurface. I did also think she felt a little sorry for him, there, and maybe there was a moment where she wished he'd been more open or vulnerable when they were married, and simply needed her the way he needed someone right now. But by then it was too late. Hence the title!

Thanks this fb! And for reading a fic (even two!) about "the bitch" in the first place!
janie_tangerine
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:16 am (UTC)
That's her. Hi Sarah, how are you, just disappear from the world, please thanks? The woman is a bitch, nothing to say, and you just captured her exactly as I think she is. As someone said before me it's very effective how she can only see Jack's faults and not anything else and it made sense that she felt glad of hurting him if it showed that he cared.

Sarah wavered in the doorway. He'd never needed her. He'd given her back her legs and then he'd reluctantly given her her freedom. This man had nothing left to give her. And she had nothing to give him. She couldn't save him. He was beyond saving.

That was a punch. Great job on this! And now I hate her even more.
halfdutch
Feb. 1st, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
Thank you, hon. She really cut him no slack whatsoever, poor guy. :-/ She just wants to wash her hands of him for good and that just ain't right. I was trying to be fair to her, actually, since she did have some legitimate grievances against him but man, turning her back on him in his hour of need is pretty damn hardhearted.
uhzoomzip
Jan. 30th, 2008 11:04 am (UTC)
wow, this is pretty brutal to read. but also pretty accurate to what we've seen in the show.

poor broken jack. *pets him*
halfdutch
Feb. 1st, 2008 03:57 am (UTC)
Thank you, hon. It didn't seem like a huge leap to me, that she'd almost preferred he was dead, she seemed so anxious to get him out of her life for good. :-( Poor, broken, Jack, left all alone.
alemyrddin
Jan. 30th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
gah, each of the fics written for that prompt make me remember how many character I can't stand. Sarah is definitely one of them, though maybe Cooper is the one I hate the most (weirdly -or not- nobody tried to wrote him. Maybe it's really impossible to be sympathetic to him).

anyway... back on track. I like this. I particularly love the beginning, because I think it's true: Jack never loved her. And that's the root of all their problems. Of course, she has always been selfish, and frankly quite blind to Jack's feelings and needs (but then, he was blind too...), but, the realization that he didn't love her must have hit her hard.

I think I can never forgive her for leaving him alone in the ER though. And Kate, too. *sighs*
halfdutch
Feb. 1st, 2008 03:56 am (UTC)
I guess no one did write Cooper, not that I saw anyway! He would be a very hard man to justify.

I wish one of them had realized that what was between them wasn't love but neither did. And now she's moved on and washed her hands of Jack and he's still mourning her and blaming himself for that and whatever happened on the island that we don't know about yet.

I think I can never forgive her for leaving him alone in the ER though. And Kate, too. *sighs*

Me too. :-( It's so horrible to see him abandoned by everyone he turns to when he's that low. The fact that he's even reaching out at all seems significant, isn't it?
gottalovev
Jan. 30th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
she has such a clinical way to see the world and Jack in particular.. is it to distance herself from feelings and hurt, maybe? this was a great take. and OMG poor Jack. the last line really is like an uppercut. yikes.
halfdutch
Feb. 1st, 2008 03:54 am (UTC)
She really did become so embittered towards him, and of course that hurts to see. I think she was able to move on once she fell out of love with him (or, more accurately, realized she never was in love with him in the first place) and he hasn't been able to do the same. That she doesn't have an ounce of sympathy left for him is just ... ouch. I guess her bailing him out of jail and going to the hospital at all in TTLG is above and beyond, as far as she's concerned and now she's done with him.
bachlava
Jan. 30th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. Blown away here.

Jack/Sarah is one of those truly rare canon pairings - he's such a rotten husband in so many ways, and yet she's such so horrible that you still (mostly) blame her. A match made in hell. Here, though, you've done a great job of imagining what they ever saw in each other. Jack, obviously, saw Sarah as someone who needed him to fix her (despite what he said at the wedding), and didn't ever seem to consider that a wife might want his attention apart from that. And Sarah... well, here, she's human. A self-pitying and unpleasant human, but not the conniving, domineering, consciously passive-aggressive and evil Cruella de Ville who gets written all too often. Here, I can see where she's coming from, and while I don't like that place, or like her, it makes sense, as does Jack's less than commendable behaviour throughout all this. Brilliant work.
halfdutch
Feb. 1st, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you! I did understand and even sympathize where she's coming from, a bit, as he really did neglect her terribly. But she is clearly no saint herself, to completely turn her back on him when he needs help the most. I'm glad you didn't think this was a total condemnation of her, it's funny but some people's reactions were like yours, as in, "Yep, that seems fair," and others were more along the lines of "OUCH! You really pulled no punches." In rereading it, I did try to be fair to her. She was just done with him and wanted nothing more to do with him, poor guy.
inthekeyofd
Jan. 31st, 2008 05:39 am (UTC)
She sees that he's broken and tells him never to contact her again.

Yet another reason why Sarah is on my list of characters that I really really can't stand.

It's excellent and believe me, you hit Sarah perfectly..and it totally showed just how cold she can be. I understand why she does it..but I don't have to like it..*smile*

As always, just wonderfully written and the characterizations..SPOT ON!
halfdutch
Feb. 1st, 2008 03:48 am (UTC)
Thank you, sweetie! She does have some legitimate beefs with Jack, of course, the being left alone and neglected and all that. But yeesh, I'm still on his side, of course and her behavior towards him as they were breaking up and post-island is just so hardhearted.

Edited at 2008-02-01 03:49 am (UTC)
eponine119
Feb. 1st, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
This makes me really sad for Jack. That last two paragraphs...that's a horrible thought, and yet I can hear it so clearly in Sarah's voice.
halfdutch
Feb. 1st, 2008 03:47 am (UTC)
It makes me sad too that he ends up all alone. It's just so harsh of her to not even give him that fucking ride home, you know? So that was my cue for the whole thing, because it seems like she really wishes he didn't even exist anymore.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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