Sometimes, it's like a mantra. He repeats it over and over and over in his head, whenever he sees someone staring at him accusingly. This wasn't my fault . This wasn't my fault .
Sometimes, he almost believes himself. After all, he hadn't chosen the job Caine had given him. He had just been the only man for the job--
Not a man. Nobody in this stupid dome was a man.
He had never chosen the job, he tells himself. He had been tricked there. Diana had tricked him to Caine and Caine and Drake had threatened him into what he'd done. He isn't one of them. Not anymore.
And really, he’d always existed on the fringes of Caine’s gang of bullies. He’d just allowed himself to imagine that he wasn't.
No, I’m not a bully . I’ve never hurt anyone. I never wanted to hurt anyone. I’m just very useful.
Very useful. Very useful until he’d turned out the power. How useful had that been?
No power. No running water. No stoves or microwaves or TV or video games or streetlights and it was all his fault.
No. Not my fault. It wasn't my fault. He knows he’s kidding himself.
He knows what people have started saying about him behind his back. No longer that he was a freak and had lost his brains. He’d effectively proved that he was still good with computers.
But that he was Caine’s dog. Caine’s a lot of other less nice things. Caine's.
Jack doesn't like to think that he’s Caine's . He likes to think he’s his own person. But he’s kidding himself there, too. The truth of the matter was that Diana had asked and Jack had followed her. Obediently. Like a dog. Caine’s dog. Diana’s dog.
He tells himself that he wouldn't have done it if he’d known what Caine wanted. Diana hadn't said anything about destroying a power plant.
He tells himself that if he hadn't followed Diana, Caine would have sent Drake and that would have been so much worse. He has no doubt that Drake would have hurt him, hurt him worse than he actually had in the power plant. And that had been bad on its own, almost as bad as getting shot, which had also happened in the power plant.
He can't imagine how Sam had felt.
That was his fault too, what had happened to Sam. His fault for turning off the power and his fault for giving Drake all the information and all the tools he’d need to get Sam to go willingly.
But this wasn't all his fault, right? Or is Jack kidding himself?
He hadn't come up with the plan to turn off the lights. That had been Caine. But he'd gone along willingly. Had even enjoyed it a bit, a stupid little pleasure from figuring out that computer in the power plant. And truthfully, he’d liked the feeling that he was useful again.
Diana. He could blame Diana so easily for everything. She’d tricked him there in the first place.
Caine, too, because it was all Caine’s mad plan all along and Diana had just been going along with it.
Drake, even, because more than Caine’s anger and Caine’s threats it had been Drake that scared Jack into doing it.
But more than them, more than them he can blame himself, for being too weak to resist any of it. Too obsessed with his computers. Too stupid to see the costs of his own actions.
Well, there were always costs, and Jack knew that now. Costs like getting shot. Costs like getting beaten up. Costs like being so hungry that you would do anything for a stupid peppermint.
Costs like that kid Duck who had been dragged into the whole mess. Costs like Josh and Brittney and Mike and Mickey who had just been unlucky. Costs like Sam half dead and Brianna with radiation poisoning. Costs like no power and no water in the FAYZ.
He’s ruined himself. No power, no computers. No computers and he’s basically useless again. Just Jack, with no Computer in front.
He resents that he was Computer Jack. Being Computer Jack had made him useful, had gotten him into that situation in the first place. Gotten him shot and whipped and starved, made him responsible for so much pain and so much death.
Being Computer Jack had been so much of who he was, though. Being Computer Jack had made him useful. Had given him a chance to be more than a geek.
And maybe Jack had liked that. Had liked it so much that he'd gone back to it and ruined everything in the process.
He had liked it so much. Had liked how he was the smart one of Caine’s little posse and how everyone else knew it. Because if he has to be anything, he likes being Computer Jack. It’s better than being Geek Jack or Four Eyes Jack or Strong Jack. It makes him useful, being Computer Jack.
Here’s the thing, Jack. Here’s what you didn't think about. Being useful means you get used.