A/N: First attempt at a Lost fic and strangely it had to be about Jack…probably one of my least favourite characters. But I heard a song the other night and I began thinking about Jack and his inability to let Boone's death go so easily. On another note, this basically takes place a little after The Greater Good.

Disclaimer: I don't own Lost, or the song "No Leaf Clover" by Metallica.

Scarlet Fever

I shuddered with a sense of dread. I had been here before, with no options left but to take the dangerous road. The blood stained my bare hands and slid down my clothes, saturating the top half of my shirt and mingling with the sweat that I was drowning in. I felt hot tears sting my face for the first time since his death. I suddenly had a wash of helplessness fall over me when I realised I could be making the same mistake that I had made with him. Boone. The one person I swore I would never let go of. And yet I did, because he had told me to. I shouldn't have listened to him; that's what this place wanted. It wanted us to give up on each other. Well that was the last time I would allow myself to be beaten.

I cut into the bleeding chest quickly with a scalpel I had recovered from the wreckage and I tried not to listen to the mounting screams of the man below me. I had to save this man's life, had to. It meant everything to me now. I saw the lodged piece of shrapnel and tugged on it unconventionally, grimacing when it would not move. It was deep, maybe even as far as his lungs, since he wasn't breathing properly. Rapid movement of the chest indicated discomfort in his internal organs, and possible internal haemorrhaging. I needed to stop it.

Can he feel it's bright this time?
On his crash course, we're the main time
He's admired to the distant thunder
Duty fills his head with wonder

I heard the waves crashing a fair distance away, back on the shore. The haunting smash of the dangerous water echoed eerily in the mouth of the caves, drowning out the voices around me. Sun stood a few feet away, ready for my orders. Just like when he had been hanging on by a thread, and waiting on my commands and prayers. But I had let him down and for that I will never forgive myself. Kate hung around in the back of the caves, holding a hand to her face as if she would start yelling for me stop. Hurley was looking away, afraid he'd lose consciousness like he always did. But, I remembered suddenly, he hadn't when I needed his help with Boone. He had held strong, like the others had, like I hadn't.

The blood soaked the ground beneath me now. The man, I didn't even know his name, was breathing erratically, his heart thumbing louder than ever. I could almost see it as I continued cutting along his mangled chest. I took a shaky breath and reached in, almost losing my own consciousness. I tugged on the shrapnel again, and this time it moved about an inch, but became stuck and refused to move. The man gave a shrill scream and I realised where the shrapnel was with a nauseous urge to faint. His heart.

There was no way I was going to let this man die, though I had no idea how to keep him alive. Back in the hospital, there would be equipment, anaesthetic and even respirators to help me. But here, there were just my bare hands and the bloodied scalpel to help. I motioned for Kate to find Sawyer, get his alcohol, or what was left of it. There wasn't much time.

Says it feels bright this time
Turned around and found the bright light
Good day to be alive, Sir
Good day to be alive he says

I sucked in another unsteady breath and brought myself down to the ground, whispering in the man's ear, "You are not going to die. I won't let that happen."

I saw Boone's helpless face, his resignation, and his peace with death. I blinked, and he was gone. I sniffed, wiping my nose clear of the spattered blood that was not my own. Whose blood was it? This man's, Boone's, every man, woman or child who had ever been given up on by my own hands.

The man before me flickered his eyes, barely conscious. "I-don't…"

I shook my head, breathing steadily and methodically. "Don't try to talk. Don't waste your energy."

Don't waste your life, more like it. He was dying, he was going to die. There was nothing more I could do for him now, but I knew I had to. For Boone, who I had let fall into a decline in the ground without any justice. All I could do was blame the island for the unfair death of a good man, until the time came for vengeance. And someone would pay the price for his death.

Sawyer came trudging up over the rocks and I watched as he slid, almost in slow motion, down the slopes and onto the uneven ground. "Well, Doc…got yourself in a little jam, now."

I held out my hand, with no tolerance for Sawyer's insensitive antics. He handed me the alcohol with just a little hesitation and I sent him an appreciative look before tipping the vile upside down and watching as the alcohol slid out into the man's chest. More screaming, more pain.

And it comes to be
That the soothing light at the end of your tunnel
Is just a freight train coming your way

There wasn't really a reason for the pouring of the alcohol. My mind was numb, I couldn't think. I just wanted this man's death to be as short as possible, so not only he wouldn't suffer as much, but also I wouldn't. The ground below me shook with fury. There were a number of screams as rocks and boulders fell slowly down the slopes of the cave. I could hear the thunder. People ran, screaming. The waves crashed ever more violently.

I saw Boone in the face of the dying man again. Agony, pain, anger, resignation…I couldn't discern which one was stronger. He faded into unconsciousness and suddenly the man was himself again, and I concentrated on dislodging the shrapnel. I looked and used my hand to move away skin, tissue and organs until I could see the heart and the protruding shrapnel knife. It was lodged deep in one of the left chambers and it pulsed up and down with each beat of the dying heart.

And it comes to be
That the soothing light at the end of your tunnel
Is just a freight train coming your way

Time stopped suddenly and I was aware of a change in the atmosphere. The air was still, warm and sticky around me. There wasn't a sound. No screaming, no waves crashing, no thunder, no rumbling of the earth…nothing. The man below me was still breathing, his chest heaving, but he wasn't in pain anymore. His face wasn't in agony. No pain. Just peace.

He became Boone again and began crying tears of scarlet blood. I knew this wasn't reality, but I so desperately wanted to be part of the illusion so I melted into it. There was no pain in his face, and no blood either, save the tears that stained his cheeks a deep scarlet. His blue eyes searched mine and I was soothed by the peace in them. He smiled up at me, and I saw his mouth move but no words came out.

Don't it feel all right like this?
All the things respond to his wish
Suffer for that great reward
Suffer for that great reward, he said

Then I heard them, clear and free of any pain or agony. "Let me go, Jack."

And it comes to be
That the soothing light at the end of your tunnel
Was just a freight train coming your way

And it comes to be
That the soothing light at the end of your tunnel
Was just a freight train coming your way

My eyes filled with fresh, hot tears. I had been looking for someone to blame, but there was no one. It was Boone's choice, to be given up on. To be let go of. I heard the thunder, felt the rumble of the ground beneath me, closed my eyes to the roar of the waves.

I looked down and the man was there again, his grey hair mattered with his own crimson blood. His eyes were looking into mine, pained but aware. He knew he would die.

Yeah, and it comes to be
That the soothing light at the end of your tunnel
Is just a freight train coming your way

I took a breath, readied myself and whispered low into the dead night, "This is for you, Boone."

And it comes to be…
And it comes to be…

I reached in, clasped my fingers over the shrapnel and waited before I pulled it out until I heard those words…

"Let me go, Jack…"