Comment on Johnny-Boy

  1. Excused from Saving Universes

    Damn! Even just reading the premise of this was terrifying -- poor John! He's still so young and vulnerable here, and it breaks my heart. ;_; But I love the little moments that already show the steel underneath. That iron-clad belief in personal honour that makes him who he is.

    And the way you write Jack, not as an unfeeling monster, just a very broken person with no illusions about himself, is deeply compelling. We don't really get an inside look in the books, but I think if we did, this is exactly what his mental voice would be like: smart, ruthless and as fascinating as it is repulsive.

    //It had never seemed fair that most men could lead such simple, rewarding lives with no apparent need to struggle against inner demons.//

    I actually found that line deeply relatable. (Which is not a comfortable feeling at all, but kudos to you for managing to evoke it despite, well, Jack being Jack.)

    //He saw the opening . . . and for the first time in his life he let it pass. He stooped to pick up the boy's hair ribbon and turned him with a firm hand on his shoulder. Grey didn't react as Jack gently swept his hair back and secured it with the tie. "I've taken nothing," he told him quietly, "You'll go back to camp tonight and perhaps have yourself a good cry. And then you'll get up tomorrow and put on your uniform and I'll be a little further away. The next day, further. The next further still. And you'll get on with your life. Eventually you'll meet some sweet girl - or boy, I suppose - who gives you everything you need. And by then, I'll be nothing to you. Just a memory." He picked up the boy's uniform and shoved it to his chest. "So, don't pretend otherwise."//

    That part was... wow. Gave me chills! It's Jack accepting his fate. Letting one little rabbit go, because, in the end, what does it matter anymore? And as prophecies go, it's ironic, because in a way, it resonates with truth: John isn't broken by what Jack did to him. He retains his belief in honour and love. But in the light of the later story, and how John's love is forever doomed to be unfulfilled because of what Jack did to Jamie, it's jarringly, painfully false. And that's such a central canon theme when it comes to prophecies and the cause and effects of past and future.

    And I love that Jack makes this prophecy to John at all, because it seems structurally interwoven with the prophecy Claire made to him. The same partial truth, and the same sense of the inevitable. Beautiful. And maybe that's why he does it, too? Because he knows he will die, and giving John a life with both the memory of his cruelty and a future despite it, he gets to live on, in some twisted way? And very different from the way he lives on in Jamie's memory, because Jamie saw him at his worst, and Jamie was never meant to survive that knowledge.

    Well, er, I guess what I meant to say was: excellent story!

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    1. This review kind of made my week. I'm so glad you enjoyed this story! Jack's head remains a disturbing but oddly compelling place to explore. I'm enjoying John as a character. He's strong in a way that's not immediately obvious. "Voyager" seemed to set John up as a sort of light-side foil for Jack (both English officers, both with gentlemanly mannerisms, both hopelessly attracted to Jamie and pining after him in their own way). Here, I tried to contrast John with Jamie a little, in their different approaches to dealing with trauma, while keeping the focus on Jack.

      Jack's behavior at the end is definitely influenced by him thinking about his legacy and how he'll be remembered. Claire's words are obviously very much on his mind. He wants to leave his mark on John psychologically, but he's also okay with this kid remembering him as something other than a complete monster, for a change. I also see his "prophecy" as him projecting his frustrations over Jamie onto John, at least a little. Since, from Jack's perspective Jamie seems to be doing fine (and Jamie is careful to conceal any evidence to the contrary) and he is happy with Claire, leaving Jack (who considers a whipping an expression of love) to worry that he'll be forgotten. So, John and Jamie end up reflecting different parts of the prophecy: John is okay, but he'll never have a satisfying relationship; Jamie is definitely not okay, but he makes things work with Claire anyway.

      Anyway, I'm very glad that you enjoyed this fic and pulled a lot of nuance out of it (including some that I hadn't thought of, but love).

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      1. Excused from Saving Universes

        // I also see his "prophecy" as him projecting his frustrations over Jamie onto John, at least a little. Since, from Jack's perspective Jamie seems to be doing fine (and Jamie is careful to conceal any evidence to the contrary) and he is happy with Claire, leaving Jack (who considers a whipping an expression of love) to worry that he'll be forgotten. So, John and Jamie end up reflecting different parts of the prophecy: John is okay, but he'll never have a satisfying relationship; Jamie is definitely not okay, but he makes things work with Claire anyway.//

        Oh wow! I hadn't even considered that! But yes!!! <3

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