In later years, Jack would often think of all the things that could have gone differently. His son, David, could have wanted to go to a different movie, to no movie, a different time. His phone could have stayed in his pocket, not slipped out, prompting David to offer to go back inside the theater to find it.
But the phone did slip out, and David did offer to go get it, leaving Jack standing alone outside at midnight. Suddenly there was a knife at his throat, and a hard alley wall at his back.
"Wallet," the mugger growled, nicking Jack's neck with the sharp blade, a thin trail of blood streaming onto the collar of Jack's black t-shirt.
"LAPD!" came a sudden shout, and the mugger was snatched by the shoulders and thrown into the opposite wall. Jack could see almost nothing, just hear sounds of a scuffle, shouts, and a sharp cry of pain.
"LAPD!" was shouted again, this time by a different voice, and the alley was suddenly lit up by flashlights and police sirens. All around Jack was noise and movement, and then a hand on his shoulder.
"You alright?" The man's hair was dirty blonde, face flushed, leather jacket sleeve sliced through and bloodied.
"I'm fine, but you're bleeding," Jack said urgently, quickly pulling off his jacket and pressing it against the wound.
"Hazard of the job," the man said with a soft laugh, wincing as Jack pressed the jacket tighter. "Been undercover trying to get the leader of this gang of muggers for months, wasn't gonna let a little knife stop me."
"Jesus!" Another man ran up to them, his badge around his neck. "How about you not get hurt for once?"
"C'mon Miles, you know safety was never one of my strong suits." With a grin, he nodded his head at Miles. "This is Detective Miles Straume, and I'm Detective James Ford."
"Doctor Jack Shephard," Jack said, returning James's smile. "You're going to need stitches on that cut. Let me get my son, and we'll get you to my office."
"Lead the way, Doc," James said flashing a grin.
"Sprained wrist," Jack said scooting back on his rolling chair. "Remind me how you got hurt this time."
"Chasing a nasty perp over a bridge," James said with a smirk. "Perp had the bright idea to try to push me over the side, I had the bright idea not to let that happen."
"Ever thought of a safer profession, James?" Jack asked with a laugh, standing up to put the roll of gauze away.
"Now what would be the fun in that?" James shrugged, a twinkle in his eyes.
"Concussion," Jack pronounced, shaking his head as he perched on the edge of James's hospital bed.
"Don't give me that look, Doc," James said, winking as he pointed his finger at Jack.
"What was it this time?" Jack asked. "Were you parachuting out of an airplane to catch a ring of airborne jewel thieves?"
"Can you keep a secret?" James asked, leaning into Jack conspiratorially. "Tripped while chasing a shoplifter. Off duty, wasn't my case, but saw it happening and had to help. Got the kid, but hit my head on a window ledge."
"Your secret's safe with me, Detective," Jack grinned, standing up. "But you've got to start being more careful. You're making friends in this place you're here so much. Claire was asking after you yesterday, and her husband Charlie is saying he's going to name you godfather for their child, you two have spent so much time together." With a laugh, Jack turned towards the door.
"Aw c'mon Doc, you're not leaving me here alone, are you?" James mock-whined, opening his eyes wide. "Aren't concussion patients supposed to stay awake? Leave me here by myself, I'm gonna get bored, fall asleep, and then that's gonna be on your hands."
"You're a very convincing man, James," Jack laughed, sitting back down on the side of the bed. "So, how do I keep you awake?"
"Oh, I've got some ideas, Doc." James smirked at the light blush that spread over Jack's cheeks. "But first, why don't you tell me about that pretty blonde doctor? I saw you two looking at each other."
"My ex-wife," Jack sighed, adjusting his position so he could lean back against the wall.
"Why'd you end it?"
Jack gazed at the ceiling, scrutinizing the tiles. "Probably had something to do with the fact that I realized I'm attracted to men."
"Huh." There was a moment of silence before James spoke again. "That was the part of me my ex-boyfriend had no trouble with. He didn't like the whole dangerous job thing too much, though."
James slowly opened his eyes, wincing as he attempted to shift his position. He heard someone stir beside him, ,and turned his head to find Jack curled up next to him, eyes open and fixed on him.
"Gunshot wound to the chest," Jack said softly, still in his scrubs, hospital sheets having pressed creases into his haggard face. "Took me seven hours in surgery to get the bullet out, stop the bleeding, and save your life."
"I-" James began, but Jack lay a finger against his lips.
"I'm thinking you might as well just have a live-in doctor, all the injuries you're accumulating," Jack said, reaching a gentle hand out to touch James's cheek.
"Thought you'd never figure that out, Doc," James said, a soft smile spreading across his face. "Started to think I would need to whip out my parachute and take a leap."
Jack laughed, before closing the space between them with a kiss.