Chapter: Part 2
Summary: Jack knew he'd see him again.
Note: Thanks to everyone who asked me to keep going on this one. ;-D
Jack looked around his office, suddenly, inexplicably nervous. The room felt warm and he wanted to loosen his tie. He settled for opening the window instead, gazing out over the downtown skyline while he waited for his next appointment.
He knew he’d see him again. Somehow, he knew if he wasn’t called in again professionally, he’d find a way to see James Ford, find out how he knew so much about him. And why.
But then they’d called him and he hadn’t had to invent some pretext after all.
He ran it through his mind again. James saying “I know everything about you, Jack,” and then describing both his tattoos with scary accuracy. Details he couldn’t possibly know. No one in his office knew about them. Or anyone on the force. Or in the D.A.’s office. He always wore long-sleeved shirts. He didn’t see any of them outside work, never played any pickup games with them or went jogging or surfing or to the gym. Wasn’t having sex with any of them.
The last person who’d seen him with his shirt off, other than his doctor, was ... he stopped to think about it. It had to have been Sarah. The realization hit him hard. It had been almost a year now.
He turned away from the window and forced his mind back to Ford. Last time the interview had slipped out of his control. He was ready now, having read what else they’d pieced together in the meantime.
Ford might never have been arrested if he hadn’t caused a major disturbance on his flight back from Australia. Started yelling that the plane was about to crash. Again. Then, when his fingerprints hit the system, they had him for dozens of scams. And murder.
He had his own theories about why Ford had snapped. He’d killed a man and hadn’t had the stomach for it. Retreating to a tropical deserted island, far from civilization, had to have a definite appeal. It was a tidy mental metaphor. He didn’t deserve to live in society anymore, so he just wasn’t going to.
Jack had read the file, took it home and read it again that night when he couldn’t sleep.
Now he just had to determine if Ford was competent to stand trial, if this island delusion was still in force. Or if maybe it was an elaborately worked-out scheme to pretend to be insane.
But none of that explained how Ford knew about him. With just a few words and that look he had completely rattled Jack. He wasn’t ready to admit to himself yet whether Ford scared him. Right now, he was just a puzzle to be solved, like any other patient.
And now he was here. Two burly guards led him in, in cuffs. He was wearing the same thing he’d been wearing last time - a battered T-shirt that must have been blue at one point, and jeans that looked like he’d worn them for a year straight.
This same shaggy blonde hair and incongruously dark beard. The same blue eyes, now fixed firmly on the floor.
The guards brought him to the chair opposite Jack and then uncuffed him, as had been previously agreed to. Ford rubbed his wrists, head down.
“Hello, James,” Jack said. “It’s nice to see you again.”
Ford snorted but didn’t look up.
Jack glanced at his list of questions, then back at Ford.
“How are you feeling?”
No response. So much for pleasantries.
“Do you know what year it is?”
“Figured it’s gotta be 2006,” Ford muttered.
“No, it’s 2005,” Jack said evenly. Ford’s head jerked up in surprise, but he set his lips in a hard line.
“Do you know who the President is?”
“Same idiot as before."
“Do you remember killing Frank Duckett?”
Ford gave him a withering glance, one that said, I won’t be baited.
“You signed a confession that said you shot him. And that you thought he was someone else. Who did you think he was?”
Silence, although he thought James’s head dipped lower.
“Look, James, it’s in your best interest if you talk to me. I know you’ve refused to talk to anyone else so far.” He got up and walked over to James, leaning back against his desk. “I had a feeling you might talk to me, though.”
A minute or two ticked by. Ford continued to stare down at his hands as he fiddled with his thumbnail.
“Last time, you said I,” Jack hazed over the truth here, whether Ford still thought of him as this other Jack, “never knew when you were lying.” He paused, hoping Ford’s own words would stir something. “What were you lying about?”
Ford shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Finally, sighing, heavily, he looked at Jack. He looked thinner even then a few weeks ago, and pale. Some kind of inner torment was written in every line of his face, in the slump of his shoulders. “There’s no point in talkin’ about it,” he said firmly.
“James,” Jack said kindly. “Do you know what’s in store for you? There’s going to be a trial and the outcome of that will determine where you’ll spend the next several years. Maybe the rest of your life. What you tell me now will help decide that.”
Ford grunted, and Jack took that as a sign for him to continue.
“Tell me about the island,” he began, going off his list of prepared questions. “How long were you there?”
Ford’s head was up now, gazing out the window.
“Do you miss it? How is it that you were able to come back?”
Ford’s head swung around, fixing him with a stony glare. “I told you. I don’t know how I came back. One minute I was there, the next minute I was back here. Woke up in some damn alley.”
“An alley? You don’t remember the plane back?”
“I didn’t take a plane back. Last time I was on a plane, it crashed, OK?”
“Yes, that’s what you were saying. The plane crashed. But James, there’s no record of you being on a plane that crashed.”
“So you’re sayin’ it didn’t happen.”
“What do you think?”
Ford was talking at last. He’d challenged his delusion and now he was going to defend it.
“I think you all think I’m batshit crazy. You think I’m makin’ this all up, that ‘cause I can’t explain it, it didn’t even happen. But tell me this,” he stood up now, drawing up to his full height in a move designed to intimidate Jack. “How come I know so much about you? If I never met you before? How is that possible?”
Jack felt the blood pounding in his ears. That’s what I’d like to know. “I don’t know,” he said simply. “What’s your theory on that?”
Ford looked away, swallowing hard. “I don’t know. I’ve been dealin’ with a lot of shit that don’t make sense, ever since that plane went down. And oh, yeah, it went down alright.” He tilted his head back, challenging Jack to contradict him. “All I know is I’m the only one who knows about it. You look exactly like Jack. Except you’re not. Or you say you’re not. But if I ask you some more questions, maybe it’ll turn out I do know you. For instance, your Daddy, is he a surgeon? Chief of surgery?”
Jack had nodded encouragingly as Ford warmed to his topic. But now his blood chilled. Another lucky guess?
“And is he maybe a little too fond of his drink?”
Guesses, these are guesses, Jack told himself, but he knew he had reacted strongly enough that Ford took his silence as affirmation. He was losing control of the conversation again.
“So you didn’t follow in Daddy’s footsteps, something’s different there. But did you marry a woman named Sarah?”
Jack willed himself not to react to the name. “This isn’t about me,” he said, unable to keep the edge out of his voice. “You don’t know me. You think you do, but James, I just remind you of someone. Someone you lost, maybe?”
“Yeah, guess he is lost,” James said quietly, voice dropping to a whisper. He wandered over to the window, pressing his forehead against the glass. “If you’d told me I’d ever be homesick for that damn island, I’d have called you crazy and a fuckin’ liar and a bunch of other terrible things.” He let out a strangled laugh. “Maybe I did imagine it all. I don’t know. Except ...” he turned to look at Jack, a desperate light in his eyes. “Except I didn’t. Doc, how is it possible for you to be here and not be you? Fuck! I never...” He swung at the window and it broke loudly into a dozen jagged pieces.
He stumbled back, clutching his arm. Jack ran to his side, grabbing him around the waist as he knees buckled. Blood was spurting out of his forearm. “Huh," he said, looking at his arm in detached wonder.
He slumped to the floor, pulling Jack with him as Jack scrambled for a way to bind the gushing wound in his arm. He began ripping up pieces of his threadbare T-shirt, which was, at least, clean, and tore easily enough. He bound it as tight as he dared, marveling at how quickly they were both soaked with blood and how pale James was already. He glanced at his desk. The phone seemed so far away and he didn’t dare let go of James’s arm.
“Connie!” he yelled for his secretary as loud as he could.
“Doc,” James said between gritted teeth. “Don’t bother. Just ... just let go this time. OK?”
”What? No,” Jack shook his head, confused and scared now.
“Shoulda just let me bleed to death before,” James sighed, his head falling back against the wall. “Would have been ... easier.”
Jack’s hands were slippery with blood now and he turned his head and yelled again for Connie. “Fuck,” he muttered, pulling James up to his feet and starting to drag him towards the desk, stumbling under the weight. James’s head was lying on his shoulder and as he reached the desk, he tried to transfer him to the desk. He reached for the phone but James, who he thought had already passed out, stopped him, a surprisingly strong grip holding him back.
“James,” Jack gasped, “Let go!”
“You first, doc,” James said, and he was smiling. He tilted his head slightly and then he was pulling Jack’s head toward his, kissing him so hard he cut his lips against his teeth. Jack froze at first, almost forgetting the severity of the situation. But then he found himself responding automatically to James’s warm, insistent mouth, and only a small moan from him shocked him back into reality.
He shoved James aside and grabbed the phone finally, punching the buttons hard as if that would make the call go through faster. James slumped heavily against him now, finally losing consciousness. He eased him onto the floor and he flopped against the desk like an overgrown doll.
He waited with him, cursing the paramedics to fucking show up already and kept pressure on his arm. Jack stared at the existing scar on his upper arm. The cut had been deep. It didn’t look self-inflicted. Before? Did he almost bleed to death from that? Whoever had stitched him before had done an amateurish job of it.
Everything James had said ran through his mind. It didn’t make sense. James was delusional. Except why did Jack feel like he was the one cracking up?
And then suddenly the paramedics were here and prying him off James. They hovered over him industriously while Jack paced in the background.
They made sure all the blood on Jack wasn’t his and then they wheeled Ford out, with vague assurances he’d be fine and he was left alone.
Jack collapsed into his chair, shaking badly. He’d have to answer to the board for this. It might mean his license. He desperately wanted a drink and he’d be damned if he felt like explaining this whole thing to his sponsor.
He took off his shirt. The blood had soaked through. He stared at his bloodied arms, and the inked skin underneath. He ran his finger over the design on his inner arm. That was real. This blood was real. And so was the feeling that that wasn't the first time he’d ever been kissed by James Ford.