Summary: He doesn’t look like Jack. At all.
Disclaimer: I do not own Lost. At all. I wish but alas...
Author's Note: Based on the end of 'Through the Looking Glass', so fair warning and just in case, big spoilers for that.
He doesn’t look like Jack. At all. He looks like a completely different man than the man you used to know. It’s amazing, how so little time could change a person so much. You hardly even recognize him anymore.
It’s been about four months since you’ve seen him, since your ways parted. He calls, a lot, usually when he’s drunk or when he’s hung over. You don't answer most times anymore. You can't make yourself listen to him stumble over his words just to hear his voice. Not anymore. Not when he seems so determined to destroy himself and make you watch. You hang up on him those times that you do answer, usually when he’s in the middle of a ramble or a rant, when he starts talking about the island and he doesn't stop. You ask him to, but he won’t. Can’t.
The man that’s standing in front of you now looks nothing like the man you knew. His face is obscured, hiding the real Jack underneath. You think that’s probably the point. He has let it come to this, let himself fall apart to to hide that man from view, to destroy him. He wants to kill that man, the part of himself that he holds responsible. Alcohol isn’t working, and it’s clear to you that only copious amounts of it have brought him to you now. You don't know why you came, what force brought you here.
Maybe, in the back of your mind, you always wondered how he really was. Maybe you needed to see him like he needed to see you. It could be either of those things, but what matters is that you’re here and he’s here.
Anyway, you think he’s here. But the look in his eyes gives you the impression that he’s a thousand miles away. That would make sense, you think. That’s where he would be.
You tell him he looks terrible. He nods like he knows. He thanks you and for a second, you believe him, believe that he needs your acknowledgment of his current state, the state he’s placed himself in and the man he’s become.
You think of him the way he was, the man he had been, and wonder if it isn’t just wishful thinking that the man is still underneath there, that you can bring him back out. You wonder if you can even afford to try, if you could survive the way it would hurt if you failed.
Talking to him in person is like talking to him on the phone. He tries to make sense, but he doesn’t. He’s either still drunk or hung over and you want to run. Something keeps your feet firmly planted longer than you want them to. At least on the phone you can hang up, but here, here you have to watch and you have to listen.
You make it longer in person than you ever would have on the phone. Maybe it’s seeing him that does it. Maybe you still feel compelled to be near him. You know that he wants you to, or he wouldn’t have asked you to meet him. But the second you get close, you want to run even more.
So you lie. You tell him there’s someone waiting for you, when there’s just a microwave dinner and a remote control. You leave him because you can’t do this anymore, because you’re reminded of why you’ve stayed away. And you leave him like that, broken into pieces just like every phone call you’ve ended. You leave him because you can’t bear what he’s turned into, because you can no longer see the man that he was. The man that you loved. The man that you still love.
You try not to run anymore, but sometimes it's still the only way that you can protect yourself.