Synopsis: Jack had never believed in anything but medicine
Spoilers: The End.
Note: This started off as a comment to elise_509, but then it evolved into a fic. For you, hon, and for all Jack fans.
Word count: 801
Jack knew what becoming a surgeon meant: Long hours and little time for a personal life, but there was never a question about what he was going to do with his life.
He wasn't sure anymore if it was his own idea or his father's, but it didn't really matter. He felt born to do this, born to save lives, to fix the unfixable. There was no high on earth like seeing a patient who'd been told they'd never walk again actually wiggle their toes for the first time.
With Sarah, he mistook that rush, the intensity of the moment, for love, and so did she. When he went back to saving other people's lives, she walked out on him. That she could walk at all was thanks to him, but the novelty of that miracle had long since faded.
Jack was great with tools, with charts and plans. He wasn't great with people. He couldn't make Sarah stay. He couldn't make his father stop drinking. He couldn't even make the man proud, so, in the end, he did what he thought was the right thing to do. Even if he was the only one who thought so.
He thought about giving up surgery, or at least transferring to another hospital, in another city, of just running away from everything.
And then his plane crashed, in the middle of nowhere and none of that mattered. There were lives to save, right here, right now. He didn't have the tools he needed, but he improvised. Those he saved were as much due to luck as to his own skills or decisions, but he counted those, because he lost so many more than he saved.
He fought as hard as he could to save Boone. He gave as much of his own blood as he could without killing himself, although, probably, he gave more than was safe. It didn't matter. Boone couldn't be saved, not here. Jack knew this, and yet he still told himself that if he'd given just one more drop of blood, if he'd tried just a little harder, Boone would still be alive.
The more time he spent on the island, the more Jack realized he didn't have what it took to save lives. He didn't have the tools, or the manpower, or the resources that he would back home. And without those, all his training meant nothing.
When, by a fluke, he got off the island, he went back to work at the hospital almost immediately. But saving lives didn't mean what it used to. Where he used to feel that rush of accomplishment, now he just felt empty. He couldn't stop thinking of all the people he hadn't saved on the island. And now, he felt, it was the tools that were doing all the work. He was just the man holding them. If he made a wrong call, someone else would step in and take over.
Without his pride in his work, in himself, he fell apart. He was sure that anyone else at the hospital, any intern, could do as good a job. He should have quit, then, like he'd planned to before the crash, but instead he followed his father's lead. He took pills on the job, to "numb the pain" and to "get through the day" and for a thousand other reasons. He let himself become a bad doctor, one who was going to kill someone soon.
He was still himself enough to realize what he needed to do: Kill himself before he killed a patient. But that didn't work out.
And then, somehow, he ended up back on the island. They didn't need him as a doctor. They didn't need him at all. He didn't know how he knew it, he just knew he was there for a reason.
He'd never been a believer in anything before, except medicine, but now, it seemed, medicine was done with him. Here, even with the most high-tech equipment they had to offer, he'd be limited. And they had other doctors, other ways of healing people.
He should have felt useless, but he didn't. When the moment came, he knew what it was they needed from him. It was just him. His body. His life. His hands. It didn't matter that they were skilled surgeon's hands, just that they were his.
He gave his last ounce of strength to right that rock, as the blood dripped out of him. The light grew stronger and he thought, "That's it..." but then he woke up on the rocks, still alive. Barely.
He was lightheaded, dizzy, and cold, like he had when he'd tried to give all his blood to Boone. Boone hadn't needed it, but now, the island did.
He'd had nothing worthwhile to give this whole time. Just himself.
But that was enough, he smiled, as he laid down on the ground, his eyes closing. This is what he was meant to do.