Disclaimer: Nothing own I.
A/n: Just a fun/angsty what-if. It goes off simply the fact that Sarah Walker and Jack's Sarah are both blonde and named Sarah. This also has a vague, slight crossover to Alias but not enough to really make it count as anything. Anyways, enjoy! :)
She was still fairly new to the spy business when it first began - when she'd first met him. New enough to believe she could balance life easily, to think she could keep her double life a secret from anyone.
There was an arms dealer she'd been tracking, going on nine months. He was a slippery European who was very good at disappearing. Finally she'd collected enough intel and she knew exactly where he was going to be and when. Her handler at the time helped to set up the op, but it was her show.
At the hotel, someone tipped the dealer off to the CIA's presence. She wasted no time in swooping in as he tried to flee. She rounded the corner on the sixth floor, gun in hand and the dealer was already throwing open the door to the stairwell. She chased him down all six flights, never once able to get a clear shot. They tore across the lobby, she shouting for everyone to get out of the way and get down, him shoving bystanders into her path. They burst from the hotel's front doors, she hot on his heels. He already had a getaway car lined up, he dove into the backseat and she nearly got her hand taken off trying to stop the door from closing as the driver hit the acceleration.
Within seconds, she was tailing him in her own vehicle, luckily parked right nearby, but those few seconds were long enough that she feared losing her chance to bring the dealer in. She'd dogged him for months, she was not about to lose him now. She radioed for backup and then the dangerous high speed chase was on. It lasted almost fifteen minutes, full of close calls, before her luck ran out. There was a horrible noise and she immediately knew that her tire had just gone. She struggled to steer but she was going too fast. The dealer's black sedan sped up as she careened over the divider and smashed into oncoming traffic.
It was blurry after that for a long time. Flashes of pain, noise, light. She couldn't be sure of anything - could she move? What did she say? What did the doctor say? What was going on? - though she was told afterwards that a chunk of the car's steering column had been driven into her chest during impact. She was also told that her spinal column was crushed, the damage likely irreparable, with a slim to none chance she'd ever walk again. And the driver of the vehicle she'd slammed into on the other side of the highway had been killed.
She still remembers his bedside manner - or lack thereof - was exactly what she needed. She didn't want false hope, she didn't want sunshine and rainbows. She wanted to hear the truth and she felt grateful that he just said it like it was. It was completely devastating to hear, of course, but he made sure there was no gray area. That, and his deep brown eyes stick out in her memory for when they first met, though they'd truly met when she'd been brought into the OR, bleeding and broken, mumbling incoherently.
As the handsome doctor left the ICU after delivering the news about her likely paralysis, she'd tried not to cry, but that didn't last. He'd just told her the odds and she'd done enough training, gone on enough missions and experienced enough things in her lifetime thus far to know that she wasn't going to walk again. She cried silently for hours on end, all through the night it seemed, her tears making her pillow wet. She wouldn't be an agent any longer if she was paralyzed. No more missions, no more fighting for what she believed in and protecting her country. The best she could hope for was a desk job now - no walking or standing, running or martial arts required. The thought was a terrible blow, a painfully heavy weight on her chest that made it hard to breathe. The image of herself in a wheelchair at a desk, handling other agents' paperwork as they flew across the world and made it a safer place terrified and crushed her.
Worst of all, it was made ten times worse knowing her race to capture the arms dealer had killed an innocent civilian and the dealer had gotten away - again. It was almost too much to bear. And she had to bear it alone. With her father and mother long gone, and her only friends either fellow agents (who couldn't possibly understand how she felt at that moment) or civilians who thought she worked at a bank, she felt more alone and helpless than she'd ever felt in her entire life.
When it was time for surgery, the handsome doctor with the deep eyes, Jack, told her he was going to try and repair as much of the damage to her spine as possible.
"It's okay," she whispered. "I know I won't be dancing again." She tried to smile, but it was in fact the saddest look the doctor had ever seen as unbidden tears rolled down her face.
She thought that by saying "it's okay" she could make herself believe it. She'd been repeating it to herself all morning, trying to accept her new situation. So she'd have a desk job - it's okay. And the dealer got away - it's okay. She wouldn't walk again - it's okay. It hadn't worked yet. He, on the other hand, saw the defeat in her eyes - oh, it was very far from okay - and he wasn't about to let her give in. At her words and that sad, sad half-smile, a fire began to burn in those deep brown eyes.
"I'm going to fix you." he promised with intensity and she felt like she could believe him.
When she woke in her hospital bed and Jack emotionally apologized for not keeping his promise, she decided he had to be messing with her. It was a bad joke in very poor taste, she'd thought, as she very slowly wiggled her toes and experimentally rolled her ankle slowly from side to side, quelling the joy bursting in her chest (could this be real? Or was she still sleeping during the surgery, dreaming of being fixed?).
"It's not a joke," said Jack, his eyes glistening.
"Then why can I move my toes?" she replied quietly.
Jack admitted it was a miracle and they told the story of how it had all come to be, two years later at their wedding. The kiss after their homemade vows was long and beautiful and she pretended not to feel guilty for managing to keep up her lie that she worked at an international bank when she went on missions for the CIA. She kissed him back hard, thinking of how he'd given her life back after that car accident. She'd kept her double life separate, private and secret with difficulty. She still thought she could maintain the balance, hold on to Jack and the CIA without giving up either. She got good at playing the career-obsessed banker and Jack got good at making her feel normal, special and completely un-spy-like when they were together.
Looking back, she wonders if she fell in love with him because at the time, he was her hero. Strong, tall, dark and handsome, with eyes she could stare into forever, and a doctor. The perfect package. And he fixed her. He made her walk again. It was because of him she was able to go on to become a better agent, to move up in the ranks of the CIA's best field agents. If he hadn't have fixed her, she'd have been desk bound and to her, the thought represented the failing of her dreams and goals, bitter disappointment and imprisonment. So in a sense, he had protected her freedom too.
Loving the man who was once her hero wore thin too soon and they drifted farther and farther apart. They couldn't build a marriage on that, though they tried. They understood - much too late - that they weren't right for each other, that this hadn't been the right thing to do, that though they may have once truly loved one another and maybe always would in a certain way, they didn't fit and this couldn't work like it was supposed. He took on more and more hours at the hospital, became more and more involved in his patient's lives. She took on more missions and it became harder and harder to maintain her secret. She struggled to be a wife and an agent and to keep the two very separate. He started to think she was having an affair and while she never, ever would do such a thing, she had to let him think that because him knowing the truth was not an option. The arguing increased, too, as a result of all this.
Until she hit the breaking point.
Her breaking point.
She understood now why the rest of the top agents were single. She got why they warned her against getting involved, getting attached. She realized what they meant when she'd told them she was engaged and they'd said "be careful" instead of "congratulations". This - marriage, normalcy - was not something she could juggle with her duty to her country.
"I'm sorry, Jack," she said, twisting her hands in front of her. It'd taken all day to gather herself together enough to have this conversation with him.
He was reeling and crushed and the guilt, for her, was palpable. She should have never gotten herself into this, never have gotten him into this. She wished she'd never have let it get this far, never have let someone invade her heart only for her to have to break it - and his too.
Too many tears and too much hurt. She left him behind, a broken man.
You fixed me.
The words from his wedding vow hung in the air before her as she sped down the highway, leaving everything of her life as Sarah Shepherd behind.
So when she meets Chuck, she reminds herself of the very hard lesson she has learned. She promises that this time, this time, it won't go that far. This time she won't fall in love.
A/n: I didn't have a spot to smoothly add it in, but I needed to mention: when Sarah (Walker - going with this one-shot) comes to see Jack in the hospital in that one flash forward, she is married to Chuck and pregnant with their first child. :D Thanks for reading. Reviews are like oxygen!