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Title: Falling Apart on the Inside
Characters: Jack, Sayid
Rating: PG
Note: A revision of a scene from “White Rabbit." Written for "Masks" prompt at lostfichallenge. I know it's not the fic anyone voted for me to write (or the one I originally planned to write) but it wanted to be written first!

This place was treacherous, even more so when wandering off alone. Sayid could take care of himself but Jack ... it was only with the greatest of luck that Sayid had found him dangling on the side of a cliff in time to save him from falling to his death.

They collapsed onto the dirt, both spent from the effort of pulling Jack back from the edge of oblivion. Jack started to laugh from the sheer relief but there was a hysterical note in his laughter that troubled Sayid.

Jack was exhausted. They all were. No one had gotten a decent night’s sleep since crash landing here, but he’d been watching Jack, watched him push himself to the brink and beyond. And now he’d nearly gotten himself killed, running wild through the jungle, for reasons he wouldn’t confide to Sayid.

They sat by the fire Sayid had made, the warmth of the firelight making the shadows of this strange place seem a little less threatening. Jack barely looked at him, his thoughts elsewhere. When he finally glanced up, it was with a guilty frown, as if indulging in private contemplation was something to be ashamed of.

“How are they? The others.”

“They're thirsty. Hungry. Waiting to be rescued.” Sayid looked meaningfully at him. "And they need someone to tell them what to do.”

Jack’s frown deepened. He looked defeated, hopeless. “I don't know how to help them. I'll fail, I'll... I don't have what it takes.”

“Of course you do,” Sayid insisted. Jack shook his head, unconvinced. Sayid marveled at how Jack had so quickly earned the survivors’ trust. They’d all begun to turn to Jack for answers that went far beyond any medical expertise. He was a natural leader, only he didn’t realize it.

Sayid was skilled at manipulation, at making men and tools bend to his will or break in the trying, but he couldn’t lead anyone. No one here would follow him, even if he had a mind to try.

He’d known men like Jack in the Republican Guard who burned bright and hot on zeal and self-sacrifice. Men like that never lasted long before burning out or getting themselves killed in some spectacularly foolish way, but Sayid couldn’t help but admire whatever drove Jack. The man was locked inside his head, helping everyone but confiding in no one. Clearly, he needed a friend, or at least an ally.

“It is easy to get lost out here,” Sayid began, not entirely sure what he was going to say, or if it was worth saying. “If you ever need a guide, someone who can help you find a path ...”

Jack smiled, that odd, forced grin that seemed to mask his nervousness. “I don’t think you can help me find what I’m looking for.”

Sayid looked at him quizzically. “What is that?”

Jack looked past him, out into the jungle. “I wish I knew.”

The silence stretched between them, until Jack offered to take the first watch. When Sayid awoke, Jack was gone. He considered going after him, sure that he’d have to save his life once more.

But he shook off the urge, convincing himself that Jack needed to find his own way.

When Jack returned to camp, the fear and uncertainty he hadn’t bothered to hide from Sayid were gone. The group gathered around Jack, greeting him like a returning hero.

Sayid crossed his arms, suppressing a smile. Jack didn’t need to be told that leaders have to maintain the illusion of control, even if they’re falling apart inside.

Maybe Jack was falling apart and maybe he wasn’t, but no one need ever know that.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 2nd, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
Very nice. I kinda like how you focus on Sayid's dark side, while at the sametime he saves Jack. It's interesting, putting him into Locke's place, maybe because it's hard for me to imagine Sayid being as at odds with Jack as Locke has been.
Oct. 2nd, 2007 05:05 am (UTC)
Thank you! I tried to rethink this with Sawyer instead of Locke and he and Jack had such an adversarial relationship at that point, I just didn't think it would go well! Not that you can't *completely* rewrite canon, I mean, we do it all the time, but then I became intrigued with the idea of Sayid being there instead and I wanted to explore that. Very glad you liked it!
Oct. 2nd, 2007 04:27 am (UTC)

I love it when others see that mask that Jack wears, that inside he's really not as strong as others think, or if they would take a closer look they'd know it definitely. But like Sayid says, if he's falling apart or not, no one really needs to know, they shouldn't know, people want their leaders to be in control or the need to have them give off the illusion of it, so they can feel safe and sound.

I promise next time my feedback will be much better, I'm dipping my toe in the reading pond again, it may take me a little time to get back into proper feedback mode as well.

But to sum it all up, I love it, I love it when Jack is shown to be how he really is, and that someone else notices.
Oct. 2nd, 2007 05:08 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, hon! And this is great feedback! :) I appreciate your taking the time to read it and comment. And yeah, Jack is a mess but he mostly manages to hold it together, doesn't he? I liked the idea of someone seeing that side of him and not judging him too harshly for it. Sayid doesn't put people up on pedastals, I don't think. He seems like quite the realist!
Oct. 2nd, 2007 05:41 am (UTC)
An interesting way to re-envision that scene and an enjoyable read! I can easily believe Sayid assessing Jack in just the way you describe. Unlike the rest of them, he doesn't really seem the sort to need to believe in a leader. I've always liked that about him, that he seems good at seeing people as they are.
Oct. 2nd, 2007 05:51 am (UTC)
Thank you! It was fun to tinker with canon. Of course, in the real scene, Locke was all magical-mystical and Sayid brings a much different note to the proceedings. It's true, there's very little B.S. where Sayid is involved! I think Jack tends to idealize people and people tend to idealize Jack but you're so right, Sayid doesn't do that. Very glad you approved! :)
Oct. 2nd, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
Oooh, nice rewrite. I like how Sayid sees himself, how he sees Jack, very nicely written :)
Oct. 2nd, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I got intrigued with the idea of Sayid being there for Jack at that moment and being his kind of silent support throughout. :)
Oct. 2nd, 2007 09:56 pm (UTC)
He’d known men like Jack in the Republican Guard who burned bright and hot on zeal and self-sacrifice. Men like that never lasted long

So true. And that's exactly how Sayid would see it, isn't it?

Jack looked past him, out into the jungle. “I wish I knew.”

Oh, Jack. And again with the not talking about it... it's not healthy! But this works quite well in this context - and while it's true that he doesn't exactly know, he could provide more insight than he is.

Brilliant re-working of this scene, and lovely insight into both of them.
Oct. 3rd, 2007 01:41 am (UTC)
Thank you! I know you're a big fan of Jack and Sayid, so I'm pleased you liked this. I love the idea of Sayid being his confidant, in a way, and that Sayid sees him more clearer than anyone else, but doesn't judge him.
Oct. 3rd, 2007 06:37 am (UTC)
I hope we'll see more of this on the edge of a breakdown Jack on season four. I'd forgotten just how fragile he was mentally, emotionally when he crashed on the island. It makes sense that he'd toughen up, but I don't think that underlying vulnerability ever went away from good.

I can see Sayid becoming Jack's protector and, by extension, the protector of the entire community. He's smart enough to see how he can ensure his and everybody else's survival.
Oct. 4th, 2007 04:18 am (UTC)
Thank you, hon. Jack really was on the verge of a collapse there, wasn't he? I still love that episode, but I also enjoyed tinkering with it and playing "what if" with Sayid. I like having Sayid in Jack's corner. :)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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