disclaimer: disclaims

teaser: I'd like to introduce you to my sister. Except I can't. Because she's dead.

author's notes: more angst from yours truly. This time it's all about Jack. In fact, a majority of LOST angsts originates fom Jack. He's very good at it, obviously. I don't imagine he was very pleased to find out Claire was his sister. Especially, everything considers. And it puts a real spin on post-island Jack and Kate.

/Camelot Burning/

("and her name was Claire.")

Jack's made a lot of mistakes in his life. A lot. And most of them are his fault. If you mapped out his mistakes into a pattern, it'd be in the shape of his body.

The you are here arrow is at this moment. This moment where Jack makes another mistake.

Her name is Claire.

And he killed her.

Did he mention that she was his sister, too? No? Well, there's the crux. Once upon a time Jack crashed landed on an island, and there was a pregnant girl named Claire, and she had her baby on the island, but then she disappeared and Jack gave Claire's baby to the woman he loved.

As if that didn't sound enough like a soap opera, it gets worse.

Turns out that that baby is his half-nephew, because his dear old (dead) father was an adulterer. That doesn't surprise Jack so much. There are only three things Shephards are good at. Drinking, fighting, and screwing up. Jack's lived up to the name, himself.

But that isn't the mistake Jack makes. That's Christian Shephard's, and Jack has no power over who his father does and doesn't sleep around with.

This is the problem.

He looks over at Kate, a shaft of light from the stained glass of the Church's windows illuminating her and the baby, and he doesn't tell her. He doesn't tell her that the baby she's clutching so tightly is more his than hers, that Aaron lost his mother, but not his uncle or his grandmother or his other grandmother. That Aaron isn't the orphan they take him for.

We are here. At the little dot on Jack's mistake-map chest. Right above his heart.

(here's a random fact about Jack.

He's always believed in God. You can believe in God without believing in miracles and destiny and fate.

Those things imply that God gives a damn. Jack just knows better.)

Kate always says that she knows why Jack doesn't want to see Aaron. She's always wrong, but she's right when one considers what limited information she has.

She thinks that looking at Aaron reminds Jack of all the people he left, all the people he said had to be dead. That he sees Jin's corpse in Aaron's smile, and Sawyer's dimples in the soft blonde head. Locke's eyes in the baby cries.

Jack lets her think that. But she's completely wrong.

He doesn't want to see Aaron because he's terrified he'll wake up and Christian Shephard's face will stare back at him.

(you wouldn't know it now, but Christian Shephard used to be a blonde-haired heartthrob.

Blonde hair is a recessive trait after all.)

When he starts seeing (sleeping) with Kate, it's as much about Aaron as it is about her. It's more like hey, Dad, you can't run my life anymore. Remember the part where you're dead?

He loves Kate, loves her with what parts of him are left to love with, and he thinks most of her loves him back, but Jack's secretly around to watch Aaron grow, to look for a hint of Christian in his eyes.

Kate thinks it's cute that he always keeps three books on Aaron's tiny nightstand. Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, and Gulliver's Travels. She likes to listen too, sometimes, at the threshold as his voice hesitates slightly over the words. Kate never comes in. Jack wonders if she knows this is Shephard time.

What Jack never tells Kate (again with the mistakes) is that he has to keep those books on hand. Kate spent a fortune on childcare books, and he read in one of the chapters that a parent making up the story is even better than reading a written one.

Jack's too afraid of what might come out of his mouth to ever do that. So he reads a story about a girl who doesn't want to go walking among the mad.

Too bad we're all mad here.

(Jack's story would have gone something like this:

Once upon a time, there was a doctor who was very sad, because his father had died in a land far, far away. So the doctor decided to bring his father home so he might be buried where those that loved him could mourn at his grave.

Except the plane that was taking the doctor and his poor, dead father home crashed onto a magical island where monsters roamed the land and mysterious creatures called "Others" hunted the plane crash survivors and they were very scared and they all turned to the doctor for advice, and the doctor didn't realize he was their leader until he was and by then the roles were set.

Now, there was a pretty, tiny blonde girl on this island. And she was very frightened, because she was going to have a baby and she was afraid of having it on the island. The doctor was concerned too, but there were a lot of hurt people on the island so he didn't spend a lot of time with her.

The girl had the baby and the strange creatures called Others thought the baby was special and tried to take it away. But the doctor and his friends always stopped them.

But then one day the blonde woman disappeared, and the doctor thought it was too dangerous to look for her. You see, the Others weren't the only dangerous folk on the island, and the doctor and his friends were finally given the chance to leave this terrifying place so the doctor gave the baby to another friend and they flew away from the island.

There was something the doctor didn't know. The tiny blonde girl whose baby he had taken was actually his sister, his long lost sister, and he had left her on the island, he had left her there to die.

The baby was called Aaron and the doctor was called Jack and the blonde girl was called Claire and they'll never, ever be one big happy family because Claire is dead and Aaron doesn't know Jack is his uncle and Jack hates father.

And they all lived happily ever after. Except that they didn't.

This is not the story you tell your children.)

Jack only ever heard Claire laugh once. It had been when she had been with Charlie, and Jack had been making his rounds.

She had a high laugh, like silver bells, that rang across the beach and relaxed everyone. Jack had even smiled at her, and had run his hand over her still pregnant belly and felt the baby kick. They both had been his and he hadn't even realized it.

The funny thing is that Jack's pretty sure he hears that silvery laugh in the echo of the door slamming when he leaves Kate.

When he starts seeing Christian Shephard, Jack wonders if he'll see Claire too, the figment of his imagination.

He never does.

If he's drunk enough he'll ask his father why, but Christian never answers. He always tries to talk about the island.

All Jack wants to talk about is Claire.

"But Claire is the island, Jack."

Every now and again people still ask him Oceanic Six questions.

(not Island questions, because they don't know and they will never know.)

He tells them what lies he can remember. Yes, it was terrible. Yes, he is still afraid to fly. No, he isn't in contact with any of the other survivors. And, no, he isn't involved with Kate Austin anymore. Can everyone stop bringing that up?

There's always such a strange urge, though, in the back of his throat, whenever he gets asked those questions. People always want to know what Kate Austin's like or what broke Hugo Reyes or where on earth is Sayid Jarrah?

He always wants to say, "You know, I'd like to introduce you to my sister. Except I can't. Because she's dead." He'd love to finish it off with a, "Did I mention I killed her?"

Jack's pretty much the king of self-loathing. I had a sister but I left her on an island to die sounds a lot better than I left a girl on the island, a stranger I didn't know.

Maybe he's been waiting to make that switch all along.

Once upon a time, Jack wanted a sister. A baby sister, something small and precious to take care off. Halfway across the ocean, he got one and didn't even know it.

But it was better that way. The next week he read the King Arthur stories, and Morgan le Fey had him shuddering about sisters (half or otherwise) for months to come.

(Jack conveniently forgets this part of the story:

Morgan le Fey was one the three queens to take the dying King Arthur away, to Avalon, to heal him and everyone was supposed to wait for him to return, the once and future king.

Everyone was supposed to wait. But no one did.)

Jack flies again, and when he does, he always pays attention to the people who sit down around him. He watches them subtly, and they avoid his eyes, this strange, disheveled man.

In the back of his head there is always this mocking voice with a kind, Australian lit, "You could have been sitting across from your sister, and didn't even know it."

Didn't even know it.

When Jack gets drunk enough, he calls Kate. He's not sure if it's just to hear her voice over the answering machine, or to try to steal the scent of her perfume across the telephone line, or to catch a hint of Aaron's (mine) voice in the background.

He's always careful about when he calls her. If he calls her after drinking too too much than he says the things he doesn't want to say. Not to her, not to her answering machine, and not to Aaron who might be listening.

But when you're having daily conversations with your controlling, manipulative (dead) father logic seems go out the window.

Jack shouldn't call Kate anymore, not with all the knowledge he's got spinning around and around in a topsy-turvy arch in his head, but he does anyway. Jack's a glutton for pain.

("I had a sister once," Jack tells Kate's answering machine, which never answers back, "and her name was Claire.")

Jack's never learned that you really can't fix mistakes. You can try, but you can't undo what's been done, once it's been done.

You can't change a map that's been printed. Crumple up it, give your two-year-old markers, stare at it cross-eyed. Point A will still lead to Point B.

All you can do is set it alight and watch it burn.

notes: see? Jack does angst so well. And he's got a real self-eestem problem. In fact, he's got a lot of problems. Maybe that's why I kinda love him best of all.