Until now, only one day held the slot for the worst day in James Ford's life: that being the day that his father had shot his mother, then killed himself; leaving James orphaned at only nine years old. Yes, that was a bad day (to say the least, of course); not even nearly dying in a plane crash, left stranded on a deserted island out in the middle of nowhere, could even begin to compare with that day.
Then, there was today...the day that everything went to shit then hell and back, again. The day that he decided to agree, like an idiot, to let Jack drop the bomb into the shaft; stupidly thinking that this would make everything "okay". He must have been out of his mind to agree with such a thing, because now, nothing was okay-nor would it ever be again-because the love of his life, Juliet, was dead. Died, in his arms, at the bottom of the shaft, because he'd failed to hold onto her hand...(or, was it because she'd wanted to let go?). Really, it didn't matter anymore, because whatever the reason Juliet fell, she'd fallen, and then, she'd gone and done the most idiotic thing ever-she'd gone and hit the bomb. After he'd managed to claw his way down to her, and got her in his arms, this was their conversation: She told him why-because, in her words, if Jack's stupid plan actually worked, they'd go further back in time, to another place in time where they'd never met. He didn't understand it-was it because of what she'd said to him? In the jungle, where they'd painstakingly argued, like two children: "If I never found you," she'd told him tearfully, "then I'd never have to lose you."
Oh, he understood that one, all right: it was why, for so long, he'd never let anyone in. Why he'd been such a loner before ever setting eyes on fellow crash survivor Kate Austen, who had managed to somehow slowly stir his sleeping heart awake. If it wasn't for her, he'd never been able to fall in love with Juliet...and now, a part of him wished he'd never changed his ways-because, just like Juliet had said, if he'd never met and befriended Kate, he never would have known how to love Juliet, and if he hadn't met Juliet, he wouldn't feel what he felt now: a pain in his chest that couldn't be sadness, because it was too great; couldn't be hatred, because it was too strong.
No-not even for the man who he'd blamed for his parents' deaths, had he felt this much anger, this much hate: hate at the God who had let him down once again; hate at himself, for not being strong enough to save her. But, most of all, was his hatred for Jack Shepard: because it was because of Jack Shepard that they had been there in the first place. It was why there had been a bomb at the bottom of the now built, yet completely battered, Swan shaft. It was because of Jack that he held a lifeless body in his arms: a body that had once been alive and full of passion and love; a body whose heart no longer beat against his own.
As soon as he saw the unbelievably crumpled, pathetically wounded look on Jack's otherwise smooth face, the urge to get revenge had never felt so strong. It seized Sawyer with such urgency that his entire body shook with it, and he forced himself to level his eyes with the murderer of his love. "You," he hissed accusingly through trembling lips and wired teeth, as he tried not to stagger under the weight of Juliet's limp, swaying body, "you did this." It was all he could do not to drop her body to the ground and charge up the ravine and beat the man unconscious.
He could feel Kate's eyes on him, begging him not to fight. "Sawyer," she croaked out pleadingly, but a single look from him silenced her at once.
"You stay out of this," he barked violently at her from the side, without blinking or removing his gaze from Jack's. He didn't care that she was only trying to help; this was one time that she would mind her own damn business. (The irony that an escaped convict was playing mediator did not elude him.) "This is between me and Jack." The whole time he spoke, he did not lift his eyes, and he was even more disgusted when Jack refused to waver. (Did the bastard still think he was in the right somehow here?) Un-fucking-believable.
"Sawyer..." He couldn't believe his own ears: was Jack actually speaking to him? "I'm-"
"Don't you even dare say it, Doc." He was barely able to keep his hands on Juliet now; his fingers were trembling so badly he feared that he might drop her-and with that in mind, he gently, carefully, set her down on the cold hard ground, feeling a sickening, sinking sensation as he bent down with her. For a moment he stayed like that, hands on her waste, haunched over her immobile form. What was she now? A shell of a woman's soul that he loved. Had loved so true and strong, stronger than he'd ever thought was humanly possible, or that he himself was even capable of. Staring at her face, so beautiful and still, he somehow managed to fight back a hollow scream; it remained dormant somewhere in the pit of his soul. Somehow he gathered the strength to touch, with shaking fingers, her soft blond hair. For a moment all he could do was stroke those strands that he knew so well, all the while promising himself not to blink, because if he did, he might lose it altogether-might break down sobbing like a baby, or run around screaming like a lunatic.
"Sawyer...?" Kate was talking to him then, but he couldn't (wouldn't?) listen to her; he was in another world. "...I'll get a blanket and we'll hoist her up with the van."
He didn't respond, too involved with her familiar features to reply-those features that he'd woken up to, every day, for three long years-features that he now must memorize in the back of his brain so that they would be available to him forever.
Meanwhile, back in that unwanted world, Kate called up, "Jin-Go and get a blanket. Leave the chains attached. We'll have to haul her up with the stretcher. "
Leaving him wondering: Blanket...that's good. She looks so cold...
And touching her pale skin, he shivered.
Miles' voice out of nowhere, sounding shell-shocked: "Oh man, she...she's really dead, isn't she...?" Voice trailing meagerly off into silence; nothing like the smart-ass he usually was-and he wanted to shout back, "What's wrong with everybody-can't you see? The whole fucking goddamn world's gone and shot itself to hell!"
But he wouldn't-couldn't, not when Juliet was still beside him-when at least he could still trail the lines of her face with his eyes, and remember how she had cut herself just above the eyebrow (tree branch backfired; one day, running after each other happily through the jungle, on their way to have a picnic on the warf). Amazing, that he could still see it there, even under all the blood...still glistening in the pale moonlight.
Then Jack-that asshole, holier-than-thou King of the Pricks-having the absolute gall to speak suddenly from out of nowhere, "She must have bled to death internally...I can't see any major open wounds."
"You goddamn fucking sonofabitch!" It happened so fast no one knew what was coming-and suddenly he was on top of Jack, hitting him with both fists to the jaw, to the head, anywhere he could-punching, kicking, grabbing, using all of the moves he'd learned in wrestling during high school (before he'd unceremoniously dropped out, too stubborn to care anymore about schooling), and Jack was screaming like a girl, flailing about and screaming bloody murder for his life (good, good, that was the way he wanted it-let Jack be afraid for once) and both Kate and Miles were shouting at him to stop, trying to pull him away, but no, he couldn't let that happen (someone had to pay for this), and Jack was crying out and bleeding all over him, and his hands were bloody and getting bruised left and right, but it didn't matter-none of it mattered-because the bastard deserved this, to feel this pain-to feel what Juliet could no longer feel.
Finally, when his arms grew weary from punching and swinging, Miles (with a strength that surprised him) somehow managed to yank him away, and Kate ran to Jack's aid (like always) and he was on his back, the world still spinning, his voice hoarse from shouting and his heart hammering away like a jackhammer in his ears.
"Jesus fucking Christ, Jim!" Miles was shouting at him with a mixture of horror and rage, "what the hell is the matter with you?"
Our fearless leader's a fraud, Enos...nothing's the matter with me.
"Dammit, Sawyer! I think my arm is broken!" Jack, this time, whining like the little brat he was. (Good, it should be...better than a broken head.)
"Why'd you do that?" Kate was shouting at him now, her turn, lurching him up off the ground towards her and shaking his shoulders violently, "Why'd the hell did you go after him like that, Sawyer?"
"It's all that bastard's goddamn fault!" No use sugarcoating it. (If they didn't get it now, they never would.) It took all the strength he had to lunge for Jack again, but Miles was protecting Jack with his body like an umpire, and Kate had his arms locked with her own (surprisingly, frighteningly strong).
"How? How the hell it is it his fault, Sawyer?" Kate was beside herself as she struggled to hold him down, as he writhed about like a venomous snake in her arms, trying desperately to get himself freed.
"You don't fucking get it, do you, Doc," Sawyer snarled at the man who everyone saw as their leader-a title that he'd always known had been merely situational (after all, before the crash, Jack had been first only a savior by trade).
"So why don't you explain it to me, Sawyer?" To his disbelief Jack actually dared to look him in the eye, his own filled with a guilt that Sawyer knew he didn't yet understand.
It was the exasperation in Jack's voice however that, for Sawyer, was the last fucking straw. Seething, he somehow managed to tear away from Kate's arms with a strength he didn't know he possessed. "Sawyer, stop!" she screamed at him, but he wasn't going to let her talk him out of it-the Doc had to face the truth, once and for all.
Staggering to his feet, he veered like a drunk in Jack's direction and would have slugged him once again, this time with enough force to knock him out for good-if Kate hadn't stepped in between them immediately, sending him a sharp warning look with her eyes. "Stop," she choked out, and he halted at the look in her eyes, and knew that she was not going to let any harm come to Jack Shepard-and it made his head reel with confusion (whose side was she on?). "Son of a bitch," he spat, doubling over as he struggled to keep the nausea at bay. Taking a moment to spit bile at the ground, he stood arched precariously with hands on knees, fearing that if he moved one second he might vomit-and he would not let them see such weakness.
"Sawyer..." Dammit all to hell, but if the bastard wasn't still trying to plea for salvation. "Sawyer...I beg of you," Jack was pleading, his voice halting and weak and sounding small like a child's, "I don't know why you insist on blaming me for this, but...please...will you just give me a chance to-"
"NO!" he roared, whirling around to face Jack who stumbled back in sheer terror (oh, the glory of seeing that look in his eyes, that utter fear, that animal-like fear, yes, the man was human, the secret is out) "You don't get another chance, do you hear me?" he bellowed, "because a woman is dead-all because you decided to test fate with our lives! You didn't even stop to think once about what the consequences would be if it all went wrong, did you?" he yelled, his voice rising with each moment he spoke, narrowing the space between himself and Jack as Jack continued to back away (Kate backing away with him, not removing herself from the middle). "Now she's dead, Jack! Look at her!" he demanded at the top of his voice (in spite of the searing pain in his throat) and with all his might tried to shove past Kate, but it was useless; she was too strong for him, and it left him hungrier for blood more so than before. "Look at her!" he screamed, but Jack, yellow-bellied, gutless Jack, leader of all, refused to look.
"I..." A maddening, hopeless sob escaped from Jack's throat. "I can't..."
Before Kate could react, Sawyer darted around her and seized Jack's neck, threatening to pierce his throat with his fingertips, shoving his head in the direction of Juliet's body. "Look!" he shouted. "LOOK!"
"Stop it Sawyer!" Somewhere to his left, Kate was screaming, but it was all in vain.
"I said look, dammit!" He was going to hold Jack's head still until the end of time, if only the bastard would look-
-Then it happened, the impact of a pummeling fist from out of nowhere, and he was lying back down on the ground in a daze. Someone had punched him, made him lose his hold on Jack. "Who just punched me," he choked out, "who the hell just goddamn punched me!"
Somehow he managed to struggle to his feet and found himself staring wide eyed at Kate, arms still raised and prepared to fight back if need be. Kate? He couldn't believe it. She had punched him? Staring back at her speechless, he desperately tried to settle his breathing, not sure now what hurt the most-his broken heart or his wounded pride. "What the hell, Kate," he demanded hoarsely.
She said nothing, but her eyes shone with tears. (Good that she regretted it. She ought to feel bad. God it hurts. Now she hurts. Good...good.)
He was vaguely aware that somewhere to his right, Jack was crying uncontrollably like a pathetic, helpless little girl. For a moment he felt a sickening pang of pity, but quickly bit it back down and looked abruptly away. Screw you, Jack.
Never before in his life had he ever felt so betrayed. By the world, by God, by Kate... and, last but not least, by himself. They'd let him down, these people he trusted-and what was worse, he'd let himself down. He'd let go.
"Go to hell," he heard himself say then, not seeing Kate even as she stood with tears slipping silently down both cheeks, "Go to hell...all of you."
He didn't bother to dignify that with a response. Meanwhile, Jack continued to sob brokenly, and he tried not to listen to Kate desperately trying to shush and console him.
"Jim..." It was Miles who spoke next, haltingly, uncertainly. "Jim...he didn't mean to-"
Sawyer just stared at him in utter bafflement and amazement. "Et tu, Enos?" was all he could manage to say. (To his disgust, Miles merely hung his head in a mixture of confusion, guilt and shame.)
There was nothing left to do at that moment but to turn away and run.