|One That Used to Believe
Author: DaVinci13 PM
Post Revelations. Jack reflects on what Father Sean said to him, and why he no longer believes.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst - Words: 1,934 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 07-19-04 - Status: Complete - id: 1970927
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Without A Trace isn't mine.
One That Used to Believe
'You have the disillusionment of someone that used to believe.' The words ricocheted around Jack Malone's brain, sometimes quietly, sometimes louder, but always there.
It had been a week since they had found Father Henry Stevens. A week since Father Sean had said those words to him. He didn't know why they bothered him so much. Maybe it was because Father Sean seemed to understand him, and could read the emotions and feelings hidden behind his eyes that no one else seemed to see. It scared Jack, but at the same time intrigued him. Never before had anyone seen past the mask he wore; never before had anyone seemed to even realize he wore a mask. But then, that was the way he wanted it.
'You have the disillusionment of someone that used to believe.' Maybe it bothered him because he didn't want to be reminded of why he no longer believed, and why he felt himself a fool for having ever believed in the first place. He remembered Father Sean's words as they sat in the church together. 'I see little slivers of what people are capable of. I hear things in there, what we do to one another. But you, you must see horrible things. And yet you get up every day, you put on your black suit, and you go to work, knowing that you will probably see a lot more.'
He remembered his own sarcastic response. 'What do you expect me to do, wait for God to find them?'
He knew the priest had heard the bitterness and the anger in his words, despite his effort to hide the emotions. He knew he shouldn't have said anything, but he had to say it. Had to make this man understand that while he might find some comfort in the quiet of the church, Jack Malone would never believe, and he would never see the Father as anything more than a fool for doing so.
He remembered so well the exact moment when he had stopped believing... when he had started hiding behind his mask.
He had been sixteen when his mother committed suicide. All too well he remembered how, a month before she had actually done it, he had found her attempting it for the first time. She had promised she wouldn't do it again and, like a fool, he had believed her. For a month afterwards, he had hugged her every day and told her he loved her. He'd done things for her – drawn her pictures like he had when he was a little kid, made her breakfast in bed... She had put the pictures up on the fridge, embarrassing him to no end when his friends came over, but he had grinned and taken the teasing they provoked. They were for her, and that was all that mattered. He had prayed to God, every night, to make her happy.
She had seemed to be happier. Her eyes were brighter, she laughed all the time, and he thought God had answered his prayers. And then one day, a month later, she was dead. She had hidden her pain well, and he had believed she would be fine... But then, he had believed a lot of things back then.
His father didn't speak of her after she was gone, and it seemed to Jack that life went on as always. But there was always that emptiness, that space that should have been filled but wasn't.
He had stopped believing in God the minute he saw her body slumped on the seat of the car. He had started hiding his real emotions soon after that, when it became apparent that that was what his father wished. If Jack's father wanted you to do something, you did it, no questions asked. Even if it meant forgetting that the hole you felt in yourself had once been filled with the love of a mother and the belief that there was a God who cared for you. He had lived by moving through the motions, pretending he was fine. Most of the time he still lived like that, yet nobody seemed to notice.
He had chosen his job because he had thought maybe, just maybe, he could fill that empty spot in himself if he saved enough people. If he helped enough families live again, complete and whole, maybe the pain would go away. It never did. Every day, he tried to help people. Sometimes with success, and at these moments, he would for a second feel whole again. But then they would lose someone. They would find the body of the missing person, and Jack would watch the families and friends fall apart before him as he told them the news. And he would feel the constant ache grow and sharpen into a stabbing pain. The good times were never enough to make him whole again, and the bad times were slowly ripping him apart.
Sometimes, when he looked at his daughters, or saw the reunion of a family that had been torn apart, he would think maybe there was a God. Maybe someone really was watching out for them. But the illusion always faded quickly, leaving him lost and bitter in his own world of cold silence. His mother had believed in God. It was her who had first taken him to church. Nearing the end, he realized, he should have noticed the little signs. Her bible no longer sat beside her bed. While she still went to church with him, she wouldn't pay attention to the sermon. She would stare at the wall, her thoughts obviously far away if he had cared to look.
Probably what hurt most of all was that he could have stopped her. If he had only realized sooner when he got home to an empty house that something was wrong. If he had only looked for her instead of assuming she was out; looked for her instead of sitting down to watch TV. He should have known. He should have saved her.
"Hey Danny, Viv," Martin Fitzgerald greeted his colleagues as they walked into the office carrying a bag of muffins and donuts and five cups of coffee. They had been the losers earlier when the team had decided who would go out and get some breakfast.
The case they were working on was a tough one, and they had all pulled a double shift and stayed the night at the office. Samantha Spade walked in just then, and gave a dry smile as she caught sight of the coffee. "Finally," she commented. Danny and Vivian just rolled their eyes at each other.
"Where's the boss?" Danny asked, glancing around. Normally Jack would have been there already for his coffee.
Martin nodded his head towards Jack's office. "Been in there since you guys left."
"Uh huh," Vivian said quietly to herself, glancing in the direction that Martin had indicated. She ignored the questioning glances of her colleagues at the tone of the words. She often worried about Jack. He was her boss, but he was her friend too, and she sometimes suspected there was a lot more to him than they imagined. There were little clues, little hints that she had picked up on. It was the way he was, she sometimes told herself, but she knew deep down it was more than just the way he was. Still, she was content to wait, and just be his friend until he saw fit to explain himself to her.
Realizing she wasn't about to explain, Danny shrugged and stood again. "I guess I'll go tell him breakfast's here."
The door to Jack's office was closed, and Danny knocked lightly before he pushed it open and entered. Jack was staring at the wall, and for a moment Danny thought he was studying one of the many certificates and degrees plastered around the room. Then he realized Jack's eyes were blank, as though he was somewhere far away, lost in his own little world. Danny remembered the last time someone had interrupted the boss from one of his little trances – Jack had been extremely irritated, and had been annoyed with the unlucky agent – Martin that time – for the rest of the day. Apparently he had been trying to piece together a case, and Martin had walked in right when he was pulling everything together. Well, I'm sure not going to get involved Danny thought as he began to retreat towards the door. He stopped suddenly though, and took a closer look at the man behind the desk. A tear was running slowly down Jack's face, and Danny stood uncomfortably, realizing that his boss wasn't just thinking about a case.
"Jack?" he said quietly, and the man before him jumped at his voice.
"What?" Jack asked as he swiped the tear away with his hand. Danny could hear the pain in Jack's voice, and it surprised him and worried him at the same time.
"You all right?" he asked hesitantly.
"I'm fine," Jack replied shortly, composing himself. "What is it?"
Danny looked at his boss closely for a minute, trying to find some evidence that what he had seen a moment ago was real. If it had been, there was no trace of it now. "Breakfast's here," he said.
"About time," Jack said dryly, obviously hoping to convince Danny everything was all right, and make him forget what he had seen. Danny didn't forget, though. For the rest of the day, he watched Jack closely, waiting for some sign of what was wrong. But it never came. He was his usual self – calm, collected, to the point, his eyes sometimes shining with hidden laughter at the antics of his team. It was only later, as he watched his boss walk out at the end of the day, that Danny realized how easily they had all been fooled by Jack's mask that wasn't really a mask. His emotions - his dry humour, his seriousness, even his not often seen anger – were all so real, yet when he thought about it Danny could sense the hollow emptiness of it all. And he began to wonder what was hidden underneath that shield, so intricately created and so perfectly displayed.