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Oct. 23rd, 2011

Jack has a lot of scars

OOM: San Antonio, April 2014

It was a shitty day - rainy, cool. When Jack arrived at the usual hardware store parking lot where day labourers gathered, there was about the same crowd as there was any other day. A couple hours later, that crowd had thinned considerably. Few of the agricultural and landscaping employers showed up, and when no one had come looking for workers for 45 minutes, most of the crowd dispersed.

A black panel van pulled into the lot and stopped some distance away from the few workers that were left huddled under the overhang of the store’s roof. After a couple minutes--and just as Jack had decided he wasn’t going to have much luck that day--it turned out of the parking spot and drove over to where he stood.

“Hey, you want some work loading some boxes?” the man on the passenger side--blond hair, blue eyes, stocky build--asked, rolling down his window. “We’ll pay ten bucks an hour.”

Jack hesitated for a moment...Collapse )

May. 14th, 2011

Jack needs a default icon

OOM: March, 2014

Jack's voice is a low growl.  "Move it."

The first shove is a gentle nudge, a suggestion.  The second is much harder.  "Dammit, just move, will you?"

"Need help?"

Jack turns, peering over the large rump of the horse he's trying to move, spotting one of the other members of the cleanup crew.  Dale, about ten years his junior and way too chipper for two in the morning.  

"More like a cattle prod," Jack says with a grumble.

Dale laughs.  "That's Apollo.  Stubborn as all hell.  You gotta give him a stern look to let him know you mean business.  Eventually he'll get to know that you won't put up with his shit."
 
Jack just gives Dale a wry smile.   Apparently his well-honed intimidation techniques might work on potential terrorists and traitors to the U.S. government, but not on a fucking horse.
 
"I'll move him out to the paddock," Dale says, holding out his hand for the lead rope, which Jack's all too eager to toss over.  "Sure you don't want the light on in here?"
 
Jack shakes his head.  "Burnt out.  That's something else I gotta fix, once I shovel this place out.  The light from outside's fine."
 
It takes Dale an appallingly short amount of time to get Apollo moving, and Jack turns toward the corner where he'd propped his pitchfork. Then, behind him, the stall gate swings shut with a metallic ring.
 
Metal scraping on metal, footsteps on the concrete floor of the hallway, always dark inside, always light outside, the smell of sweat and blood and urine and feces close around how so he hardly even notices it anymore--
 
His hand touches concrete behind him as he pushes himself into the corner, pressing his back against the wall.  It takes a moment before he realizes it isn't concrete immediately under his feet, that the sounds outside aren't the voices of guards or the cries of prisoners.
 
Realizing just where he is--or more importantly, where he isn't--he steps away from the wall, his knees feeling watery.  Even though the stall is much larger than the cell he'd spent almost two years of his life in, it feels as though the walls are closing in; as though he can't breathe in here.
 
Jack pushes his way out of the stall, making a quick right and heading for the arena's exit door, barely noticing whether anyone sees him. He needs out, the larger space of the hallway not helping relieve the tightness in his chest or the creeping panic.
 
He's almost sprinting when he hits the bar on the door and it flies open.

Jan. 20th, 2011

Jack is feeling sleepy

(no subject)

It's the pounding in his head that wakes him the following morning, and for a moment he has that stomach-roiling panic of where am I why does my head hurt--

That is, until he realizes the real reason his head feels like someone's tried to bash it in and it's not just panic making him feel close to puking.  If there's one thing Jack's pretty familiar with, it's a hangover.

Even just the light coming through his eyelids gives him the sensation of an ice pick being stabbed into his brain, and so he slowly rolls away from the window, curling into a ball with a moan and wishing the rest of the world would just go away already.

Dec. 27th, 2010

Jack is thinking

OOM: Beckett's Room

 [After this.]

Jack makes a quick pit stop in his room to change into dry clothes, already feeling the burn on his skin as it warms up again.

Heading back out into the hall, he hesitates for a second outside Beckett's door.  After the awkwardness of him falling on top of her--and neither of them moving for a moment--this might not be the best idea.  But then he'd told her he'd be there in a moment, as as much as part of him has misgivings about it, there's part of him that wants to show that whatever that moment outside had been, it was just an aberration; nothing to see here, move along.

Taking a breath, he raps decisively on her door.

Nov. 6th, 2010

Jack is sure you must be kidding

Conversations With Dead People

 When Jack closes his eyes, he’s surrounded by the familiar environs of his room in Milliways, curled in his bed as a few rays of moonlight slant through chinks in the blinds.

When he opens them, it’s to a room which is nearly as dim, just as familiar, but nowhere near as comfortable. Concrete walls, blue lighting embedded in the walls, a one-way mirror dominating one wall.

It’s a room he’s seen so many times in his dreams--his nightmares--but this feels so much more real than it ever has before. The walls close in, the air feels oppressive, like a weight on his chest.

The dreams never go anywhere good from here.

Sep. 4th, 2010

Jack has an owie

OOM: December, 2013

Jack rubs his hands together, trying to get the blood flowing back into them before turning the key in the maintenance shed lock.Collapse )

Aug. 30th, 2010

Jack needs a default icon

OOM: July, 2013

Jack piles out of the back of the pickup along with the two other day labourers, wincing as his feet hit the ground and his right knee sends up a protest at the impact.Collapse )
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Aug. 20th, 2010

Jack is not thinking happy thoughts

OOM: April 14, 2013 (4 days after Day Six)

Leaving L.A. isn’t quite as easy as Jack had planned.

He steps out of the bar into a world that for him is almost a year behind him, one that in some ways he’d moved past and in some ways he hadn’t even started to. The Valencia bombing isn’t quite as fresh in his memory, though there’d still been times in the bar when a bright flash of light from somewhere out of the corner of his eye brought him back to that suburban yard, the sight of the mushroom cloud rising on the horizon momentarily filling his vision as though he was back there, watching it all over again.

But for the most part, the event feels distant, even if that distance hasn’t made it much easier to think about. The deaths of nearly 20,000 people and climbing never is.

The world he walks out to, however, isn’t even 48 hours beyond the blast, and so when he steps onto the sidewalk in front of his apartment building--the same sidewalk that had traded itself for the bar so many months ago--it’s a world still in the middle of trying to cope with it.

The first thing he should have realized back in the bar is that the train and inter-city bus service has only just resumed, and is still in chaos. None of the routes heading north are operating, whether they go through Valencia or very far to the east or west. So far the wind is blowing radiation to the west, toward the ocean, but no one seems to want to take the chance that the wind will change. Buses and trains are having to be re-routed around it, taking up space on highways and rails and at stations that don’t have enough tracks or platforms for the traffic.

Not only that, but there are throngs of people competing for every space available. People who’d been stranded when flights had been grounded, when all transportation in and out of the city had ground to a halt for two days. Then there are those that are just leaving, those that aren’t confident that the threat really is over, and are trying to get away from a city that’s been the target of so many attacks over the years.

This is the world that Jack walks out to, and finds himself trying to cope with. That morning he takes one step into Union Station and walks right back out, pressing his back against the station wall. The number of people heading inside as he’d approached should have been a clue, but the number of people packed inside had caught him by surprise, sending his instincts into overdrive.

The Greyhound terminal isn’t any better and Jack walks away with the certainty that he won’t be getting out of L.A. any time in the next couple days. Not when simply being in the stations with all their possible exits and hiding places threaten to send him into an anxiety attack.

Maybe it’s better this way, anyway. If the government’s looking for him, they’ll be expecting him to leave the city as soon as possible. Wait long enough and they might assume they missed him, or that he has no intention of leaving L.A.

It’s four days before he tries again, four days that make it amply clear that spending that time in the bar hasn’t acclimatized him to being free very much at all. While the bar allowed him more freedom than his cell, it still had boundaries, still had places where you could go no further and just ended up heading back where you came from. It also had its own strange kind of order. You were locked in or allowed out by the whim of the Landlord, Bar provided the food and sometimes chose for you. Strangely enough, for someone who’d spent the previous twenty months in a concrete box that was barely eight feet by eight feet, who had been severely punished when he’d disobeyed an order, this had been comforting. It had been just a little freedom, a little choice, giving him a chance to remember what both of those concepts were like.

Outside, though, the thought that he could go anywhere is a little frightening. The lack of boundaries, the abundance of choice is almost paralysing. Faced with so many decisions and no crisis or order pushing him toward one, he finds it difficult to decide, and he hates himself for it. Hates himself for letting his tormentors win, in the end, by creating a prison for him in his own head.

The plan he’d come up with in Milliways is his only guide, and he clings to it, not considering a deviation. It narrows his choices, gives him one step to focus on at a time; a technique he’d found was the only way to stay sane in China. Think only of this one moment, this one task. Don’t imagine what will happen after until you get there, or the thought of the unending scope of everything in front of you will break you. One step at a time.

His plan holds no place for finding Audrey again, for looking up Kim. Chloe had told him after he’d faked his death that Kim had moved away from Valencia after Chase had left her. He has to believe that going back would be too painful for her, and she wasn’t anywhere near the blast. As for Audrey...there’s no way he can help her. How can he be any use, when just getting through the day is a struggle, when he jumps at every unexpected movement, when he keep looking over his shoulder?

No, they’d both been hurt enough because of him. Better that he stay away, draw any danger that might follow him away from them.

So four days after leaving the bar, he's sitting in Union Station, pretending to read a newspaper as he waits for a train to take him east.  His ticket's for Tucson; after that, he's not sure where he'll go.  Just as long as it's not L.A.

Apr. 26th, 2010

Jack needs a default icon

Millirific42 Table

Millirific42 table for JackCollapse )

Apr. 19th, 2010

Jack needs a default icon

(no subject)

The next morning, Jack doesn't wake easily.  Mired in disturbing dreams, he tosses slightly as sleep eases its grip and as the dream fades and reality replaces it, he has a growing realization that he's not alone in the bed.

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