Thank you to zazajb and cookielaura for beta-ing this and finding my many MANY errors and fixing them all. :) You ladies are awesome!
Stripes. “Note the stripes,” he mutters. It wasn’t that long ago that he spoke those words, but time is relative in his life.
Polished buttons do well with keeping out the cold, and keeping him dry from the rain. Really though, these buttons help keep people out, because his letting people in is when life seems to get messy. And he has had just about all the mess he can handle for a while. Some hero he is.
The belt is cinched tight, tight enough to help him hold himself together. He never used to do it up, but then again, this life had never broken him so badly before.
Stripes. Note the stripes, he thinks, but that life is long gone; now it’s nothing more than an echo in his memory.
The polished buttons on his coat are still good at keeping out the cold, and the rain. Those same buttons reflect her surprise at seeing him again, reflect the anger that is quickly replacing her surprise, but do nothing to deflect her impressive right hook as it cracks his jaw.
The belt, now loosened, does not mean he can keep himself together without help yet, but rather that he is a man defeated. His wish now is to do penance. He does not want absolution, but simply a chance to put things right.
His coat used to mark him as the big, bold, dashing hero who would swoop in to save the day. It marked him as the leader whom they’d all looked to because he’d been there the longest, because surely, Jack would have a plan to fix everything as the world collapsed around them. Now though, his coat is nothing more than dented armour, and the hero beneath it does not deserve praise; not yet, and in his own mind, he won’t deserve it for a long time.
I can’t do this, he thinks.
“Jack? Meet Rex. He needs our help.”