It happens for the first time, significantly, when he's four years old.
He doesn't remember the day, nor the way he felt, but he knows just how badly he's been bruised.
This absence has the greatest impact on him, this loss has the biggest influence on his future.
He wakes up on a regular day of the week, gets washed and dressed the way he usually does. He smiles, brushes his teeth, lets his nanny sort out his lunchbox for the day.
And then he sees his mother sat alone at the dining table, strong cup of black coffee sat in front of her and eyes downcast, focusing on the patterns of the wood beneath her fingertips.
His mother delicately runs her hand along the varnished oak, taps manicured fingernails to a steady rhythm, and then she grabs the sugar bowl. It's light, and full, and it blows against the kitchen door with a loud 'Pow!' when she tosses it.
Catherine Avery is not a gentle woman. She has stamina and determination, and she never lets herself become a victim. She won't allow herself a moment to suffer.
She's a brilliant surgeon, leader, tour de force. But her parenting skills lack none the less, though she tries her hardest to make up for her son's lack of receiving love by buying him whatever he wants, anything he points out and screams for.
She can give him anything, but she can't bring his father back.
"Jackson." She smiles faintly, smoothes a hand across her face, careful not to smudge her makeup. She can't lose face.
She straightens up in her seat, eyes him from across the room before pulling out the seat beside her at the table.
"Come here a minute."
He has to know now. He has to understand soon. He has responsibilities that no four year old should ever hold and he's had a legacy weighing on his shoulders since he was born, maybe even before.
He needs to learn, and adapt, and toughen it out. He needs to be independent, and rely only upon himself.
"Where's dad?" He asks, slight frown across his gentle skin and voice so innocent that she almost wants to lie.
"He-" Catherine sighs, shakes a deep breath before continuing, grasping her son's small hand and leaning down towards him, in the most motherly way she knows how. "He's gone, sweetheart."
The green-eyed toddler pouts out of utter confusion, reminds her of her absent husband, "Gone?"
"He left us, baby." She speaks softly, tries to ease the blow, hopes that maybe he won't understand the severity of the situation.
But one day he's going to have to, and he's going to have to deal with it.
It happens for the first time when he's four years old.
His father walks out, leaving behind a mess of a life and an inheritance to maintain, a legacy to protect.
He doesn't understand that this is his first loss.
It happens for the second time when he's seven years old.
One day, they're driving from Boston to New York for a conference (which Catherine plans to host while her son plays in a back-room).
He plays with his favourite toy, a grey bunny with gapped teeth and bug eyes, in the back of the car. He messes, laughs, asks his nanny to open his window to catch a little air because he was starting to feel a little sick.
She does, and the cool summer air blows, and that gapped tooth bunny with the bug eyes and the grey skin flies outside the window when he lets go for one second, two seconds if you count the way he does.
The driver doesn't pull over. It's a highway, and his mother refuses because she claims that they can just buy a new one.
The loss isn't that important, it won't scar him for life.
He gets a new bunny, a carbon copy of the toothy one he called Roger, two days later. It's not the same.
But the loss only stings for a few weeks at most.
The third time he loses something is when he's sixteen years old.
He's kind of an idiot, he hands around with the wrong people. He gets into minor trouble, he ends up in detention every other Friday.
His best friend convinces him that he needs to break away from his family's uptight rules.
He drinks, not too much but not too little neither. He parties, only when he wants to and never because he's forced into it.
Nature is good to him as he grows up. The glasses he wore to perfect his eyesight get thrown away when he reaches his sixteenth birthday. The braces he wore for a few months were removed a year ago.
He ages well, grows in height and build. He trains, plays on the football team and plans on keeping up with the sport. He doesn't have to be a surgeon. He could do this, play, live, for the rest of his life.
He waits until he's changed enough to finally take an extra leap. He has girlfriends, and girl friends, and he had his first kiss when he was twelve by the ice cream truck. It sucked. Bad.
He has his first time when he's sixteen, and this is his third loss.
It's odd, as first times go, and deciding that two girls would be better than one had to be one of the dumbest decisions of his entire life. He's not sure why it happens this way.
It's Junior Prom, and he's had a few drinks, and Boarding School can actually be fun sometimes.
The night is warm, even hotter when they get going, and he's not too sure which girl touches him or which one he kisses first. They're polar opposites.
Sarah is blonde, wide-eyed with thin lips and small hands. She's his age, maybe a few weeks younger. She wore a green dress to the dance, one he doesn't remember ever taking off.
Penny is older. She's seventeen and the stuff of 80's music. She has long brown hair. She's a inch shorter than him but her legs still somehow run for miles. She has blue eyes and a rich girl attitude that he enjoys back in the day.
It's awkward, and more of a fumble around in the dark than a passionate encounter. It's a mess, but he's glad to get it over and done with.
He proudly admits that he lost his virginity in a threesome when he was sixteen.
He's confidant, and he feels empowered.
But then he sits in on one of his mother's board meetings that she forces him into attending. He learns of his future. He's going to have responsibilities, and being a high school golden boy isn't going to cut it.
His grandfather, the Avery of all Avery's, doesn't expect much of him.
His mother doesn't hassle him. She only makes him attend the meetings.
He doesn't have to talk, participate. He just listens, takes it all in.
And then he changes.
The fourth loss is when he's in college.
Soon to be graduating, he plans of attending a prestigious medical school after he finishes the year.
He doesn't tell anyone. He just studies, works, pushes himself to an almost breaking point.
He develops a relationship with a girl named Susan. She's sweet but kind of exhausting to be around.
She wears short dresses no matter the weather and she makes a point of clinging on to his best friend a little too tightly. She's a floozy.
He knows that he's headed in a different direction than she is, but he stays with her. He's loyal, almost to a fault, and he tries his best to contain his frustrations with her.
But one day, she parties a little too much, drives a little too fast, crashes just a little too hard.
She dies the day after the accident from internal bleeding, haemorrhaging.
He doesn't cry, only feels, pities. He should have seen it coming. He knows how the world works.
Science is forever changing but medical advances and research can't help the unfortunate souls of the world, not even those who refuse to believe in medicine.
This loss impacts his future because he further refuses to let other people suffer the same fate.
He doesn't love her, doesn't like her as much in the end as he did in the beginning.
It's not the loss of her as herself that hurts, it's the fact that somebody around him has died.
She's only the first of few.
He doesn't suffer anymore pain until he's in his third year of surgical residency.
He's twenty-six at the time, and Charles Percy is his best friend.
The guy is tall, practically a lumberjack, but they get along. They laugh, drink, move in together to safe money on housing even though Jackson has the trust fund of a spoiled brat but the decency of a poor man.
They go through changes over the course of their short-lived residency together. Two hospitals, two apartments, two roommates.
When Mercy West, the first teaching hospital to have offered him a spot, merges with Seattle Grace, they find themselves thrown into a whole new pit.
The residents are different, the attendings kind of similar, the building unbroken territory.
They form closer friendships with two others from their group of interns.
Reed Adamson had been an average height, pixie-like girl with big eyes and a wide smile. She was sarcastic when she needed to be and she'd instantly bonded with Jackson. She doesn't fall for his charm, for his million-dollar grin, and he likes that.
Of course, Charles was head over heels in love with her but she'd never know.
The other, a petite brunette who claimed to actually be a natural redhead, was the quieter of the bunch.
She treats patients like family. Her hands are small, tender. She's a good doctor, Jackson notes. She's the kind of woman that would make a good mother, wife. She's the kind of person who cares too much without receiving enough love in return.
She carries around a small red notebook throughout the first three years of their residency. He wonders what happens to it after that, if she buried it in the back of a yard or threw it away in the trash, but he's always wondered what she wrote inside of it.
They don't get along at first. She's a slightly neurotic, kind of annoying little spitfire. She doesn't fall for his charm, nor his million-dollar grin. She doesn't agree with his every word, kiss the ground he walks on. He likes that.
April Kepner will be the most important person he's ever known.
But the loss happens one day when he hasn't seen any of them since the night before.
Charles is somewhere working with Doctor Bailey, April is off doing something he could care less about, and Reed is keeping busy in the ER.
He gets the news that afternoon.
Reed Adamson: deceased.
Charles Percy: deceased.
The second piece of news hits him the hardest, bruises his being the most.
Charles was his best friend, his shoulder, his drinking buddy. Charles was his Mercy Wester, his guy, his person at the time.
He attends Reed's funeral on a Wednesday. He doesn't speak, doesn't dare look at across at her parents because he feels they'd know that Charlie's life meant more to him.
He stands, searches and holds April's hand when she doesn't reach for his. She was her best friend, after all.
After that, they wait a week before they have to attend the young man's funeral.
He says a few words, pulls on his tie every so often as though he's being suffocated.
April grabs his hand this time around.
This loss hurts him the most, for awhile.
The seventh, perhaps most emotionally charged loss of all, happens two years after the sixth,
He's thirty years old, and on the brink of becoming a full-fledged plastic surgeon. (Cardio was never his calling, it seems.)
He's away from home, and she's there.
Her, who used to hold a little notebook and pen. Her, who has gone back to her natural red hair and whose freckles pop. Her, with the pale skin and the innocence of a saint and the hands of a sinner.
She's no longer April Kepner with the book and the neurosis and the adorable rambling. Adorable? Yes. Maybe? Yes. Adorable.
She's pulled him in, thrown him through a loop and captured his every nerve. She's infected him.
His romances in the past two years have been small, notably just one relationship with a co-worker, a friend more than anything.
His friendship with her, however, has played a vital part in who he is. She's helped him, been there for him. She's been his best friend, and he's been hers.
April Kepner is no longer the quiet girl from his intern group. She has grown, she has become someone he never expected.
The loss happens fast, maybe in the span of thirty seconds at most.
She gives him everything. Mind, body and soul. She gives him her, she gives him her treasured virginity, she gives him new belief.
April is like a curse, one he doesn't ask for but doesn't want to end because he enjoys the agony.
He likes the way she blushes, moves, pants heavy breaths as though she's run out of oxygen. He likes how she shivers under his dark touch, gives into his million-dollar Avery sparkle.
He likes owning her, because he's a primal man after all, and having her.
He likes that she chose him, that she wanted him to touch, kiss, trace.
He loses his heart that night, and he never gets it back.
Tiny pieces break and leave as he touches every inch of her, as he loves her in the way she wants to be loved, the way he wants to.
It's when she looks so fragile, face aglow of lost innocence and eyes sleepy. Her skin is flushed and she licks her lips, staring up at him through those goddamn long lashes of hers.
It's when he kisses her without permission. His thumb sweeps across her chin, wipes away a perfect blemish and he smiles, before and after the kiss.
It's when she gives him everything, and he gives her his heart.
It happens for the eight time all in one day.
The plane crash is over and done with, but the repercussions are still strong.
He learns that Lexie, that sweet friend he dated and dumped, had died before the search even began. He learns that there was nothing anybody could do.
He doesn't register the news until he sees his mentor back in the hospital, in one piece, physically at least.
The news of Lexie's death doesn't sink in until he loses Mark, too.
The older plastic surgeon surges, lives for awhile, tells him to fight, love April the way he wants to.
But he doesn't stay around long enough, he seems to have some sort of pact with Lexie that he had to join her.
He dies of a broken heart, quite literally, and the news cuts Jackson deeper than he'd like to admit.
The man had taught him, brought him up like a son over the past two years.
Mark Sloan had sculpted him, showed him everything he needed to know to follow in his footsteps. And he needed to do just that.
The loss of his mentor stings more than the loss of his former flame.
Lexie had been great, beautiful and smart, but she was never his. She didn't belong to him, not that anybody ever really belonged to anyone, but she had never been made for him.
He'd never believed in all of that 'meant to be' business before, and he refused to admit in the possible existence of soulmates. But he's not an idiot. He knows that Mark and Lexie were supposed to end up together, and that he had only been a ploy in their tragic game of life.
Mark's absence lingers with him until the day he finally listens to their last conversation, and probably until his own last breath.
The man has played a vital part in his development, and he owes him next to everything.
The loss only intensifies when April temporally leaves his life that evening, no matter how much he had hoped for a different outcome.
People always leave him.
The one loss that doesn't sting so bad in the end happens on a sunny afternoon at the end of the first year of his fellowship.
The redhead is there again, but there's a man in her arms and a ring on her finger.
She's smiling and gleeful, and clearly so in love with the moment and the man that he can't help but feel happy for her.
She deserves this, a little happiness amidst all of the suffering that goes on around this place.
April finds his gaze, does that I-hope-you're-happy-for-me smile she's perfected over the past few months.
He returns her grin, though he truly grits his teeth, clapping along with every other member of the hospital staff.
It pains him, burns his insides to imagine her with someone else for the rest of her life, the rest of his life. He has a girlfriend, one who is more of a fling to him than an actual commitment, but the idea of the girl in front of him loving someone else haunts him.
She belongs to him. And though he still refuses to admit in the possibility of soulmates, he's pretty sure that she is his.
He knows that he isn't good for her, probably isn't what she needs, has wanted since she was a lonely teenager.
He knows that he's selfish sometimes, that he should shut up and smile and pretend, but he can't help feeling like his insides have been set alight.
He can't handle this loss, he can't picture waking up every morning knowing that she was curled up with some other man beside her. He can't, doesn't want to, imagine a world where she can never be his again.
He can't picture never being in love with April Kepner, both the quiet girl with the notebook and the trauma surgeon with the key to his heart.
The loss doesn't hurt so bad when he finally comes to his senses, decides to be selfish.
"I want you with me."
She is his.
The latest loss is unexpected, a shock to his entire system, the breaking point.
It happens before he's even sure it's supposed to be happening, and he's not entirely certain of how he's supposed to feel.
His green eyes catch sight of his wife stood in the kitchen of their apartment, back turned to him as he shuts the front door.
The news has only halfway sunk in but he still has no idea what he's supposed to say to her.
This will be her loss, too.
April turns around then, holds his gaze with a smile, clasping her hands in front of her as she nears him.
She stops at his feet, rests her hands against his chest, moves her left hand down to grab his own, running her wedding ring along his band, creamy flesh to his tanned skin.
The redhead raises a brow, leans up on her tiptoes to kiss him on the lips, quickly and softly.
His hands grip her waist gently, resting his forehead against hers as she pulls away, closing her eyes and licking her damp lips.
Jackson clears his throat, lifts a hand from her side to trace it along her growing belly, holding back a gasp.
She notices the frown gracing his forehead and she moves her hands up his chest to grasp the collars of his shirt. "What's wrong?"
He continues to stare down at her belly, feeling their small baby kick beneath his touch, trying to prevent a small from forming on his lips. He can't.
He's ready for this, for parenthood, for raising a baby with her. He's ready to be a dad, to learn from his father's mistakes, to bring up a child into a loving family with a woman who was always meant to have a child.
He's ready for this, but he's used to people always leaving him.
"I need to tell you something."