Pieces (4)

Aug. 20th, 2007 03:38 pm
failegaidin: (sayid awesome)
Two chapters in one day. I must be insane.

Chapter 4

            Jack and Kim moved quickly, looking for a car they could hotwire and drive to the next meeting place. They stayed low, using the vehicles as cover should Mandy be nearby. As Jack tried the handle of a red Mazda, his gaze drifted across the parking lot and came to rest on something happening out front.
            His blood ran cold as he watched Nina march Milo and Chloe out of the building and toward an SUV nearby. He struggled to breathe, the knowledge that for the second time that day Chloe's life was in danger because of him weighing heavily on him. All thoughts of escape fled as he struggled to think of a way to save her.
            Kim noticed his sudden preoccupation and her gaze followed his. She swallowed hard when she saw their friends being taken away.
            "Dad?"
            "I knew it."
            "Knew what?"
            "That I shouldn't have left her. Not with Milo. Not with anybody," he added quietly.
            She put her hand on his arm, making him focus on her.
            "Then we need to go get her back."
            He shook his head. "I need to get you out of here."
            "You can't let Nina have her, Dad. She's already taken Mom – you can't lose another woman you love to her."
            His eyes narrowed at her words. "You know?"
            Kim laughed. "Please. It's obvious. Well, to everyone but her."
            He hung his head. "I can't risk it."
            She grabbed his chin and forced his eyes back up to hers. "No, what you can't do is let that bitch get away with this. Let's follow her. Then you can end this. Once and for all."
            Jack marveled at the strength his daughter possessed, and her confidence snapped him out of his despair. He looked at the car they were standing next to and nodded quickly, tugging at the door and breathing a sigh of relief when it opened.
            "Let's go then."
 
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            He drove quickly, but made sure that he stayed far enough back that Nina wouldn't realize she had a tail. Constant worry flooded him as he followed her, his mind imagining what she would do to Chloe when they got to wherever they were going. Kim was right – he couldn't lose anyone else to that woman, especially not his best friend.
            Kim watched her father out of the corner of her eye. She could tell that this new development was weighing heavily on him, that it was threatening to pull him under. But she could also see his determination. He wasn't going to let Nina win this time – he would finish this no matter what.
            Her thoughts shifted as a car passed them on the right. Her eyes skimmed over the driver absently, her mind still focusing on the problem at hand. But her mouth dropped open as her gaze rested on someone in the backseat.
            "Dad?"
            "Yeah?"
            "I think we have another problem."
            She pointed and Jack turned to look at the car next to them. Staring back at them was Nadia, pleading with her eyes for them to see her, not wanting to draw Mandy's attention. Jack was momentarily stunned at the coincidence – and then he found himself wondering where Tony was.
            Before his thoughts could go much further, Mandy turned her head and stared at him in surprise. She quickly got her expression under control though, and promptly slammed her car into theirs. Jack gripped the wheel in an effort to keep control, but Mandy simply continued to ram them. Cursing, he decided that he'd had enough and turned the wheel sharply, pushing the other car back across the road.
            The two cars sped down the road, crashing into each other and then pulling apart again while they prepared for another hit. Jack clenched his jaw at the pain racing through his body – his left side was going to be one big bruise in a few hours. He knew they couldn’t keep this up much longer. Traffic had been sparse so far, but they couldn't count on that. And the cars weren't faring well - he had to put an end to this now.
            He slowed down slightly, letting Mandy gain a little bit of a lead. She turned to look at him with suspicious eyes, but for the moment she couldn't figure out what he was doing. Then Jack swung the car out to the right before turning the wheel sharply left and plowing his front end into the very back of the side of the other car. The vehicle went into a violent spin, its front end slamming into Kim's side before careening off the road and into a line of parked cars on the side of the street.
            Jack pulled over, immediately turning to Kim.
            "Are you alright?"
            She nodded, still in a daze from what had just happened.
            Jack got out of the car and pulled his gun, moving slowly toward the other vehicle. The back door opened and Tony clambered out, rubbing his head. Nadia followed him – neither looked seriously injured.
            "Are you two alright?"
            Tony nodded, and then winced.
            "She knocked me out. I woke up while you were slamming us across the road."
            "She started it."
            Kim moved closer as Nadia spoke up.
            "So what do we do now?"
            "Do you guys have any idea where Mandy was taking you?"
            "I was unconscious," Tony pointed out sadly.
            "She said something about mansions by the beach," Nadia told them. "I didn't really understand what she was talking about."
            Jack thought for a moment. "I think I know where it is. There's a place by the beach where there are a bunch of warehouses. Their known ironically as the Seaside Mansions – a lot of druggies hole up there."
            "Alright," Nadia nodded. "So what's the plan?"
            Jack looked at his friend. "Tony, I need you to get Nadia and Kim someplace safe."
            "What?"
            "I can't put Kim in any more danger, and Nadia isn't even a target. There's no reason for her to put her life on the line."
            "How about you stop talking about us as though we're not here?" Kim demanded, stepping in. "I'm not leaving you."
            "And neither am I," Nadia asserted. "You need help, Jack. I don't care who's after you guys. I can't just walk away. Chloe and Milo are my friends, and so are you two." She looked at Kim. "I don't actually know you very well, but you're Jack's daughter and that's all I need to know."
            Kim nodded her agreement.
            "I'm not letting you do this alone," Tony added. "You'll just get into more trouble. You're going to need someone to watch your back."
            Jack hung his head at the onslaught of argument. After a minute he looked up again, his eyes hard with determination.
            "Fine. Tony, you come with me. Nadia, I want you to take Kim away from here."
            "No!" Kim argued.
            Jack turned to face her. "Kim, I couldn't stand it if something happened to you because of me. Go with Nadia. Please."
            She opened her mouth to protest again, but Nadia caught her eye, nodding her head just a little to let her know that it was okay. Kim huffed and crossed her arms.
            "You'd better not get hurt," she warned. "Either of you."
            Jack breathed a sigh of relief when she relented. Leaning in, he gave her a kiss on the cheek.
            "We'll try our best," he murmured. "You two go back to CTU. See what you can find, okay?"
            Kim nodded and hugged her father as Nadia moved closer to Tony, brushing her hand against his.
            "Kim's right. You two better be careful. I want you both back in one piece."
            Tony stared at her for a moment, a smile teasing at his lips. He reached out and squeezed her hand gently.
            "Don't worry."
            They pulled back when Jack turned to talk to them again.
            "You two take the Mazda. Tony and I will find another car."
            "What about Mandy?" Kim asked.
            Jack stared at the crumpled car that was still on the side of the road. A crowd had gathered and there were sirens in the distance, but he couldn't leave Mandy as a loose end. Striding toward the car, he cocked his gun, deciding that a bullet in the head would put a stop to her coming after them.
            As he walked across the street, the car burst into flame. Jack was thrown back against the pavement as a fireball erupted and shot into the sky. He stared in shock at it, suddenly realizing that he must have punctured the gas tank while they were crashing into each other.
            Tony came over to help him up.
            "At least we don't have to shoot her in front of a bunch of witnesses," he murmured. "But we should get out of here. Before the police show up."
            Jack nodded, still in a daze from the explosion, his eyes fixated on the flames. Finally he shook his head and turned to the two women.
            "Call me when you get to CTU," he told them. "We'll see you soon."
            Nadia and Kim watched as the two men casually walked up to another car, opened the door and hotwired it before they drove off.
 
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            Nadia turned to look at the other woman.
            "You don't really want to go back to CTU, do you?"
            Kim shook her head. "I was hoping you had an alternate plan."
            "I say we follow them."
            Kim pondered that for a moment. "They'll probably need help. I doubt Nina's alone. It could even be a trap."
            Nadia nodded. "Exactly. So we're agreed?"
            Kim thought a moment longer and then nodded her assent. They walked over to their badly beaten car and got in, breathing a collective sigh of relief when it started back up. Ignoring the looks of the crowd, they drove off, following Jack and Tony.
           
           
           

Pieces (2)

Aug. 8th, 2007 03:51 pm
failegaidin: (Default)
            "You get more junk mail than anyone I know," Tony commented as he sifted through the stack of paper on the kitchen table.
            "I know. You would think that being dead and then taken by the Chinese would get me off their radar," Jack replied.
            They were quiet for a minute as Jack continued to make dinner and Tony rifled through the mail, checking to see if anything was worth keeping. It seemed Jack just piled it on the table every day and then forgot about it. There was at least two months worth there.
            "Dinner's almost ready," Jack said, his attention on the stove in front of him.
            When Tony didn't respond, he turned around to look at his friend. The other man stood stock still at the table, his back to him and an open letter in his hands. Jack walked around so he could see his face, and he was shocked to see how pale he was.
            "Tony?"
            "I think we have a problem," he said, handing him the letter.
            Jack took it and started to read. As the words began to sink in, his stomach tied in knots and he found it difficult to breathe.
 
 
            Agent Bauer,
 
                        A man who holds nothing close has nothing to lose. After all these years, you have lost much, and have very little left. But those three things that you hold closest to your heart leave you exposed to more pain. Unless you can save them in time.
 
 
I come when called
I never falter
I can be what you ask
What you want
What you need
But I never change
I never leave
 
 
I am a weapon
I am a shield.
I go in first
I follow behind.
I draw fire
I spew it forth.
My blood for yours
And yours for mine.
 
 
I am part of you
And of someone else.
I am never one thing
But always another.
I own your heart
Your soul
Your mind.
But then I leave
I go away.
I run to another
And possess them as well.
 
 
 
            "What the hell is this?" Jack demanded when he had read it through twice.
            "They're riddles. Somebody is coming after you."
            "Who?"
            "I don't know. But they want to hurt you, and it looks like they're going after where your heart lies instead of just killing you."
            Jack sighed in frustration. "But I don't get it. I don't do riddles. These make no sense!"
            Tony took the letter from him gently. "Actually, they do. Just give me a couple minutes. I can figure them out."
            "How?"
            "I used to do a lot of puzzles and cryptology stuff. Now be quiet."
            He sat down at the table, trying to ignore Jack's pacing as he scoured the letter again. His finger ran along the lines and his lips moved as he worked his way through the riddles as fast as he could.
            "The first one's easy," he finally declared. "Chloe."
            "Chloe?"
            "She's your net, Jack. She's always there, always ready to do whatever you need. She'll be an analyst, hacker, field agent…whatever you ask of her. But she never changes. She's always a loyal friend."
            "They're going after Chloe?"
            "Not just Chloe. There's two more riddles, and I'm pretty sure they're not about her."
            "Then who?"
            "Hang on. My blood for yours and yours for mine. That pretty much describes a partner. They sacrifice their lives for each other. I draw fire. Maybe that's not real fire, but bullets. A partner draws fire to keep the other safe and does this by shooting his own gun."
            "You. You're my partner."
            "I haven't been for years."
            "Curtis is dead and Chase is on the other side of the country with a brand new family. You three were the only partners I was ever close to, and you're my best friend. That one's about you."
            "In danger again. Lucky me," Tony muttered.
            "What about the last one?" Jack asked anxiously.
            They read over it again and again, both wracking their brains in an attempt to decipher who the riddle was about. Jack started pacing again, muttering under his breath. Finally, he turned back to Tony.
            "This is ridiculous! It sounds like a demon or something. I own your heart, your soul, your mind and then I run to another and possess them as well? It's like a parasite."
            Tony scratched his head. "What owns your heart? A spouse. You don't have one of those. A child…Kim."
            Jack stared at him. "Does the rest of the riddle fit?"
            "I am part of you and of someone else. She's you and Teri. I am never one thing but always another. That pretty much describes any child. And the last part – that reminded you of a parasite or demon? A daughter rules her dad's heart, soul and mind. And then she gets married and rules another man. It fits. It's Kim."
            "We need to go get them. Now."
            But Tony remained seated, staring at the envelope that the letter had come in.
            "Tony? Come on! We've got to move!"
            "Jack…this letter came two days ago."
            He froze. "What are you saying?"
            "That we have no idea how much time we have."
            Jack closed his eyes and nodded. "Okay. Well, you're here with me. So I know you're safe. Chloe lives nearby. Kim is a few towns over."
            "Is there anybody that can get to Kim faster than we can?"
            He was silent for a long time, his eyes glued to the floor as he tried to think.
            "There's only one person I can think of who lives there."
            "Who?"
            Jack looked up. "Milo."
            "Can we trust him?"
            "I think so. The important thing is that we get Kim out, right?"
            Tony nodded. "Call him. Tell him to get her and meet us at the safe house in Silverlake."
            "I'll call him on the way to Chloe's. Let's go."
 
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            Jack's heart stopped when they pulled up in front of Chloe's house – or what used to be Chloe's house. There was nothing left. Debris lay everywhere, charred, some of it still on fire. Firefighters were already there, digging through the wreckage, but it was clear that if anyone had been inside, they hadn't survived.
            Tony was out of the car immediately, but he stopped when he realized that Jack wasn't with him. Turning, he saw that his friend was still sitting behind the steering wheel, obviously in shock. He raced around to the driver's door and yanked it open.
            "Let's go, Jack."
            "We're too late."
            "You don't know that. You don't know that she was home."
            "I've lost her."
            Tony knelt down and grabbed Jack's chin, forcing him to look at him. "You would know, Jack. If Chloe were dead, you would know it. You would feel it in every nerve and tissue. Stop and feel for a second. Is she dead?"
            He took a few deep breaths, calming himself and letting his body relax just a little. Finally he lifted his eyes to Tony's again.
            "No. She's alive."
            "Good. That means we have to find her. So get your ass out of the car and help me look."
            He got up that time, and the two of them moved onto Chloe's property. Policemen tried to stop them, but backed off once they saw their badges. They moved slowly, picking their way through the debris, looking for any sign that Chloe was there or maybe that she hadn't been there when the bomb went off.
            Straightening from some wood he was examining, Jack stared into what would have been her backyard before the explosion. His eyes swept over it, pausing when he saw a dog pawing at something on the ground. Even from a distance, he could see that the dog's fur was singed and it was limping slightly. The animal whined, scratching against a large piece of wood that lay on the ground at an odd angle. He continued staring until everything finally clicked in his head.
            Jack surged forward, running across the property after yelling over his shoulder to get Tony's attention. As he neared it, the dog backed up slightly, still whining and staring at the wood. Jack reached forward and took hold of the debris, trying to move it, but it was too large for him. Tony joined him, and together they managed to lift it and throw it to the side.
            His heart stopped again as he found himself staring at an unmoving Chloe. Her face was covered in suit and the edges of her clothes were burned, but she looked as though she had missed the worst of it. Bending down, fear choking him, he reached out a hand and felt for a pulse. After a moment, he breathed a deep sigh of relief.
            "She's alive."
 
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            Kim sighed as her doorbell rang. She stood up from the box she was emptying and took a moment to survey the room. She had only moved in a couple weeks ago, and she was still unpacking her stuff. But slowly it was starting to look like a real home and she was really quite proud of herself. She was single, but she was making it on her own. She had her own house, she had a great job, and she was speaking to her father again. All in all, things were finally looking up.
            The person at the door grew impatient, and started pounding on the door with their fist. Kim bit back a rude comment and moved down her hallway, wondering who could be so anxious to see her. Her dad would have called first, and there really wasn't anyone else who would come visit her.
            She found herself staring with her mouth open when she opened the door and was faced with Milo Pressman. She hadn't seen him in years – not since the day her mother died. They had met before that of course. He worked at CTU sometimes, and whenever she was there to visit her father, she ended up talking to him because he was the closest to her in age. But she could think of no reason why he would be standing on her doorstep right now.
            "Milo?"
            "Hey, Kim. I need to come in."
            "Why?"
            "I'll explain once we're inside."
            "Why are you here?"
            "Kim, please. This is important. Just let me in."
            "How do you even know where I live?"
            He sighed, realizing that she required some explanation. "Jack sent me."
            Frowning as even deeper confusion set in, she stepped aside and let him in. Closing the door behind him, she led him into the living room, which was still full of boxes. Milo looked around curiously.
            "You just move in?"
            "Yeah. Couple weeks ago."
            He nodded. "Nice. I live a few blocks over. It's a good neighborhood."
            "That's what I heard. Milo, why are you here?"
            "Right. Your dad called me a little while ago. Said you were in danger and I need to get you out of town. We're supposed to meet him and Tony and Chloe at a CTU safe house."
            "Why didn't he come himself?"
            "He was afraid he wouldn't get here in time. I was a lot closer. And he had to go get Chloe. She's in danger too."
            "Anyone else?"
            "Tony."
            "Oh."
            "So we need to go. Now. My car-" He paused as his gaze drifted out the window. He could see his car from there, parked in the driveway. But further down the street, he could also see a blue Lancer. It had been there when he got onto the road, and now a woman was stepping out of it, one he was sure he had seen before in his work at CTU…
            He pulled her to the ground just in time, as bullets came flying through the large picture window. They crawled across the floor toward the kitchen, trying to move quickly without making themselves into targets. When they reached the safety of the other room, they stood, jumping when they heard someone kick down the front door.
            "Is there a back door?" Milo whispered, his gun out.
            "Yeah, but we'd have to jump. They're going to build a deck, but for now it just opens up onto thin air."
            "Shit! Okay, here's what we do. We're gonna move into the room with that door in it, and I want you to open it and then close it loudly. I want her to think we went out that way. If it works, we can sneak out the front."
            "And if it doesn't?"
            "Then we'll be finding out how rusty my aim is."
            Kim led him slowly through the kitchen, pausing when she had to cross the entrance into the hallway. She had no idea if the assassin was still there or if she had moved into one of the adjoining rooms or even up the stairs. If she got to the dining room before they did, they weren't going to be able to protect themselves.
            She peeked around the corner, breathing a little easier when she saw that the hall was empty. Motioning to Milo, she led him across the rest of the kitchen, moving into the dining room. When she saw that that room was empty as well, she picked up the pace, heading straight for the back door.
            She felt Milo grab her before her brain registered the pop. He pushed her to the ground, crying out in pain as the bullet grazed his side and lodged itself in the door. Sitting up, he fired back, forcing the assassin back into the kitchen. Kim opened the door and slammed it while Milo fired again, covering them as they moved out of the dining room through the other door. They walked quietly toward the hall again, listening closely to discern where the woman had gone.
            When they heard the back door open again, Milo grabbed Kim's hand and they slipped out the front door with as little noise as possible. Kim instantly ran for his car parked in the driveway, but Milo pulled her up short.
            "What are you doing?"
            "I want her car."
            "What?"
            "The bitch shot me. I want her car."
            Ignoring her protests, he pulled her down the street, keeping his gun at the ready. When they reached the car, Milo went for the driver's door, but Kim reached it first.
            "You're injured and you're the only one of us that really knows how to shoot. I'll drive."
            He nodded, running around to the passenger's side. As he sat down, he opened his mouth to explain how to hotwire the car, but ended up staring in astonishment as he watched her do it without any help. When the car roared to life, she gave him a small smile.
            "A friend taught me."
            "Thank God for that."
            As they sped down the road, neither noticed Milo's car pulling out of the driveway and following them.
 
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            She sat in the backseat of the SUV, staring out at the apartment building. It had been years since she had seen Tony, and part of her wished that she could show herself to him before finishing this. But her job was simple and the pay was good, and she knew that making herself known to him would only complicate things.
            Turning her attention back inside the car, she reached for the RPG-7 rocket launcher sitting on the seat next to her. She took careful aim, double checking that the other backseat window was already open so that it didn't shatter. With only the slightest second of hesitation, she pulled the trigger and watched as the rocket flew toward its target.
            As people on the street screamed and ran and pointed at the billowing smoke coming from the burning apartment building, Nina got out of the backseat and moved to the front, putting on her sunglasses and driving out of the city.
           
 
 
           
           

Pieces (1)

Jul. 23rd, 2007 04:50 pm
failegaidin: (Default)
Title: Pieces (1)
Rating: R
Prompt: Kitchen
Requested by: [profile] stefernie2
Written for: [profile] 100_situations

            Chloe just barely bit back her curse as she opened her front door and found herself staring at Spencer. His hands were in his pockets and he was giving her a hesitant smile that immediately faded as he was assaulted by her deep scowl. Shuffling his feet nervously, he cleared his throat.
            "Hey Chloe."
            "What the hell do you want?"
            "I, uh…" He saw her eyes narrow at him suspiciously, and he hurried to his point. "My car broke down a little ways back. You're the first person that actually answered their door."
            "What, your car just happened to break down on my street?"
            "Sadly, yes. You don't really think I was looking for you, do you? You're not exactly a part of my life that I'd like to remember." He would have missed the flash of hurt in her eyes if he hadn't been looking for it. "Look…can we just…can I please just use your phone to call AAA?"
            "Don't you have a cell?" she asked, making no move to let him in.
            He held up his phone and smiled ruefully. "Battery died."
            She continued to frown at him, but he could tell that she was mulling over his request. He could see the battle raging in her eyes, and he realized that she wasn't going to slam the door in his face.
            "Fine," she muttered, rolling her eyes and moving to the side so that he could come in.
            Shutting the door after him, she led him through the living room and into the kitchen. She pointed to the phone without looking at him, and then moved over to the opposite wall and turned o face him, her arms crossed. Spencer stared back.
            "You're just going to stand there?"
            "Yes."
            "Don’t you trust me?"
            "Not in the least."
            Shaking his head, he moved to lift the receiver from it's cradle. Before he could dial, a ringing came from upstairs. Chloe stood her ground for a moment before sighing and stomping out of the kitchen. As soon as she was out of sight, Spencer smiled and hung up the phone.
 
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By the time she came back downstairs, Spencer was waiting for her in the living room. He was holding one of her pictures that belonged on the mantel, and he put it back quickly when he saw her enter the room.
            "Well?" Chloe asked without preamble.
            "They're on the way." He paused, waiting for a reaction but getting none. "I should probably head back to my car."
            "Yes. Please."
            She moved toward the door, reaching out to turn the knob. Without a sound he was there, gripping her wrist and pushing the door close. Chloe tried to free herself from his grasp, but he twisted her arm and she cried out in pain.
            "You know, O'Brian," he said quietly. "Your attitude hasn't changed at all, but your appearance…" His eyes raked up and down her body "has definitely improved. What do you say you and I get together sometime? Just for fun?"
            Chloe spat in his face and finally managed to wrench her arm away.
            "Get out."
            Chuckling, he let his eyes run the length of her again. "You weren't really worth the trouble anyway," he murmured as he opened the door and walked out.
 
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            When the door had shut behind him, Chloe struggled to fight back her tears. She had never expected to see Spencer again, and his behavior had really thrown her off. He was just as cocky as ever, but there seemed to be…a certain malice underlying his words and actions. Her wrist still hurt from where he had grabbed her, and she was pretty sure that she was going to have a bruise by morning.
            Torn between wanting a shower and being starving, she finally decided that she would eat before scrubbing her skin until she couldn't feel his hand or eyes anymore. Heading into the kitchen, she walked over to the fridge, opening it and searching for something that resembled a meal.
            Her head was halfway in when a sound caught her attention. Closing the door, she moved to the kitchen window, looking out at her back yard. It took her a minute to find the source of the noise, as her eyes rested a large German Shepherd. She had seen the dog before in the neighborhood, and she wasn't a fan. Especially not now when it was terrorizing her cat. She flew out the back door, striding across the lawn and yelling at the animal to get away. It just stared at her cat, growling until the feline hissed one last time and bounded off across one of the neighbor's yards. When she reached the dog, she carefully took him by the collar and started to drag him off her property.
            The blast was so sudden, that Chloe had barely even registered the sound before she felt an intense heat on her back and she found herself flying through the air towards her shed.
failegaidin: (jack chloe sad)
Title: Not a Mistake
Rated: PG-13
Prompt: Return
Requested by: [profile] willow_fae_20
Written for: [profile] 100_situations
A/N: Big thanks to [profile] rorylieand [profile] sparky_girl82, since I was ready to just scrap the whole thing at the end.
Next prompt will be "Kitchen" for [profile] stefernie2

            Jack stretched as his body slowly came awake. He felt relaxed and refreshed, and he turned over to reach for the person next to him.
            But the other side of the bed was empty. Jack opened his eyes and looked around the room, stopping when his gaze fell on Chloe. She was zipping up her jeans, her bra already back on, and she seemed to be scouring the floor for something. Frowning, she eventually stooped down and picked up a piece of clothing.
            "Dammit!"
            "Something wrong?" Jack asked, a grin on his face.
            At the sound of his voice, Chloe nearly jumped out of her skin. But her scowl was back immediately and she rounded on him.
            "You ripped my shirt!"
            His smile broadened. "I was eager."
            "But now I have nothing to wear!"
            "Why do you need a shirt?"
            She sighed. "Because, Jack. I cannot drive all the way to my apartment half-naked."
            His smile faded. "You're leaving?"
            "Yes."
            "You don't have to," he said quietly.
            She gave him a small smile. "Thanks…but I should really get going."
            He nodded, moving his gaze to sweep the floor. Leaning off the bed, he picked up the dress shirt he had been wearing the night before and tossed it to her gently.
            "Here. You can wear that."
            She avoided his eyes as she put it on and did up the buttons.
            "Thanks," she mumbled. "I'll…see you later."
            When she had shut the door, Jack turned over and stared out the window numbly.
 
***
 
            Of all the household chores, Chloe hated folding laundry the most. She just found it boring and time consuming. As she continued to fold her underwear and t-shirts, she let her mind drift. Chase had called earlier, inviting her to have dinner with him and Kim later that night. But she had declined, telling him that she already had plans with Nadia. It was a lie, but…she just didn't feel like seeing people. Her mood had been especially low the past couple of days, and she knew that she didn't have the energy to pretend for anyone.
            As she folded the shirt in her hands, Chloe realized that it didn't smell like all the other clothes. Looking down, she stared at Jack's shirt, having forgotten that she had thrown it into the load. Tears immediately sprang to her eyes as she lifted it to her nose, breathing him in. His scent still lingered underneath the detergent, and she found herself remembering what it felt like to be held by him, to lie next to him in his bed.
            Jerking it away from her nose suddenly, she scolded herself for being so foolish. Staring at the rest of the laundry in frustration, she decided that she would finish it later. Right now, she needed to return Jack's shirt to him and get it out of her apartment.
 
***
 
            His feet were bare. She wasn't sure why that was the first thing that she noticed, but it struck her as odd, and kind of cute. Her eyes traveled up his body, taking in his ripped jeans and t-shirt, before finally settling on his face and frowning at the amused smile he wore.
            "You checking me out, O'Brian?"
            "No."
            His smile faltered and his eyes moved to the shirt in her hands. "Is that why you're here?"
            She looked at the shirt as though she had forgotten that she was holding it. "Umm. Yeah. I wanted to return it. It's been washed and everything."
            He took the shirt from her outstretched hand, staring at it for a moment. Chloe thought that he was debating something, and she saw the deep breath that he took before he lifted his gaze to hers again.
            "Why don't you come in?" he asked quietly. "I just ordered a pizza. We could…watch TV. Hang out."
            Her mouth betrayed her before she even had a chance to think.
            "Okay."
 
***
 
            They sat next to each other on his couch, quietly eating their pizza and drinking a couple of beers. The TV was on, but neither was really focused on the movie. Chloe tried to come up with an acceptable reason to leave, whereas Jack wracked his brain for excuses to keep her there. Finally the movie was over, and they realized that they had barely spoken a word to each other. Chloe moved to get up, but Jack's voice stopped her.
            "Chloe…about the other night…"
            "Don't worry about," she interrupted. "It was a mistake. We can just forget about it."
            Her words hit him squarely in the chest, and he drew in a shaky breath. He looked around the room wildly, half of his brain telling him to just shut up and let her go. But the other half needed to be sure.
            "Are you sure?" he asked quietly. "Are you sure that we made a mistake?"
            His question caught her off-guard, and Chloe found herself floundering for an answer. "I…well…I mean…don't you?"
            He turned to face her, moving his body closer until he was right next to her. One hand reached out, trembling, to let his fingers graze her cheek. His eyes bored into hers as he moved his face even closer. "Only if I lose you because of it."
            Before she had a chance to respond, his lips were lightly dancing over hers, teasing her. Sighing, she moved forward the tiniest bit, until their lips came together completely. She held the hand that rested against her cheek, moaning as his tongue slid into her mouth, tangling with her own.
            Eventually they had to pull back, air being a necessity. Chloe stared at Jack in surprise – this wasn't at all how she expected this to go. Seeing the nervous look on his face, she smiled at him gently.
            "Definitely not a mistake," she breathed, leaning in to kiss him again.
           

Thief

Jun. 25th, 2007 11:17 pm
failegaidin: (jack chloe hug frame)

  "I have better aim than you," Tony stated as he popped another grape into his mouth.

            "I'm stealthier than you," Jack retorted, glaring at him as he ate his lunch.
            "I can fight better than you."
            "That's not true!"
            "I kicked Mandy's ass while I was still bound and gagged."
            "I killed Fayed with a chain when I ran out of bullets," Jack countered.
            "What are you two doing?" Milo asked as he walked into the break room.
            "Nothing," Tony answered quickly.
            "It sounded like you were having a pissing contest."
            "Shut up, Pressman," Jack growled.
            Milo grinned at both of them. "You were, weren't you? You two were arguing about who's the better super secret agent?"
            The two older men shifted uncomfortably as Milo continued to grin at them. He could see the tips of their ears turn red as embarrassment came over both of them. Milo took a seat at the table with them and started to eat his lunch. When it seemed as though he would drop the subject, Jack and Tony turned back to their food as well.
            "There's a way to find out, you know," Milo said around his mouthful of food.
            "To find out what?" Jack asked suspiciously.
            "Who the better super secret agent is. You just need a test – a challenge. And then whoever wins gets the title."
            "What kind of challenge?"
            Milo shrugged. "We'll make it something small, since we're at work and we don't want you guys threatening national security just to win a title. So…how about this? You both have to pickpocket somebody without getting caught in the act."
            "That's it?" Tony asked. "Just pickpocket them?"
            He nodded. "You have to swipe something from their pocket or purse. And here's the difficult part – Jack, you have to steal something from Chloe, and Tony, you have to get something from Michelle. And it has to be on their person when you take it. Swiping things from their desk doesn't count."
            Jack and Tony let Milo 's suggestion sink in, eyeing each other carefully. Setting down his sandwich, Jack stuck out his hand.
            "You game?"
            Tony smiled and shook his hand. "You're on."
            Milo just sat back and grinned.
 
***
 
            Jack knew that Chloe didn't carry anything in her pockets. Most days she didn't even wear pants with pockets in them. This told him that he was going to have to go after her purse, and that he was going to have to find a way to get her to walk somewhere with her purse actually on her shoulder. He spent an hour sitting in his office before an idea finally came to him. Getting up, he left his office and walked down to Chloe's station.
            As usual, Chloe sat in front of her computer, her eyes completely focused on the screen as she tapped away at her keyboard. She didn't even look up when he perched himself on the edge of her desk, letting his arm brush against hers. He felt her jump a little at the contact.
            "Hey," he said quietly.
            "What do you want?" she snapped.
            "I thought we could go get a coffee."
            She looked up at him like he had three heads. "Jack, the coffee here is wretched."
            He shrugged. "I know. That's why I thought we could make a Starbucks run."
            "But-"
            "It's not like we have anything pressing here, Chloe. You can take a break. Come on," he pleaded, resting a hand gently on her arm.
            "Why do you want to have coffee with me?" she asked with a sigh.
            Jack saw the genuine confusion in her eyes, and he silently cursed himself for not being more attentive to her in the past few months. She was his best friend, and she couldn't believe that he wanted to spend some time with her. The challenge forgotten momentarily, he squeezed her arm.
            "Because you're my friend, Chloe. And I haven't gotten to spend any time with you lately. Please?"
            Pursing her lips, she looked back to the computer as though it would tell her what she should do. Looking back up at him, she rolled her eyes.
            "Fine."
            She stood up, leaning over to pick up her purse and hang it on her shoulder. Giving him a nervous smile, she turned to him, waiting for him to lead the way. Grinning broadly at her, he placed a hand on the small of her back and they walked out of the building.
 
***
 
            As they drove back into CTU's parking lot, Jack found himself reluctant to go back inside. He and Chloe had had a good time, laughing and joking as though they were normal people who had been friends for years, instead of coworkers who had forged a deep trust through heartache and sacrifice. They got out of the car and walked toward the door, both going slowly. As they neared the building, Jack suddenly remembered his challenge from Milo . Thinking quickly, he waited until they were inside the building before moving slightly ahead of Chloe so that he could open the door leading out onto the main floor for her.
            "Thank you," she said, smiling shyly.
            "You're welcome," he said quietly, slipping his hand into her purse and snatching out her wallet as she passed by him.
 
***
 
            When he got back up to his office, Jack was surprised to see Tony laying on his couch, one hand holding an ice pack next to his right eye. He closed the door behind as he struggled to keep a smirk from his lips.
            "Don’t even," Tony warned.
            "What the hell happened to you?" Jack asked, barely holding in his laughter.
            “It doesn’t matter.”
            “Oh but it does, Almeida. You might as well tell me now before I go around asking people.”
            Tony scowled at him, which only made it harder for Jack to keep from laughing. “I tried to steal something out of Michelle’s purse.”
            “Did the purse bite you?”
            “No. I walked up from behind her and went to reach my hand in. She felt someone behind her and she swung an elbow back and caught me right next to my eye.”
            That was enough to send Jack into gales of laughter as he fell into his chair. He held his stomach as he bent over his knees, his chuckles filling the room. Tony just continued to glare at him as the other man wiped at the tears that were starting to stream from his eyes. As his laughter died down, Tony cleared his throat loudly.
            “Are you finished?”
            Jack nodded, leaning back in his chair, a few stray laughs still escaping from his lips.
            “Did you manage to swipe something from Chloe?”
            Reaching into his back pocket, Jack pulled out a wallet and threw it over to the couch. Tony caught it with his free hand and opened it, whistling when he saw Chloe’s driver’s license.
            “And she doesn’t know yet?”
            Jack shrugged. “I don’t think so. I just got it from her ten minutes ago. I opened the door for her and reached into her purse. Thankfully, Chloe doesn’t get tense when I’m behind her, so she doesn’t start throwing elbows.”
            “Are you suggestion my wife was tense because I was behind her?”
            Jack shrugged and opened his mouth to answer when the door to his office burst open and Milo came rushing in.
            “Give it back,” he ordered.
            The other two men looked at him in surprise, not quite catching on. Jack took in Milo ’s serious expression and his laughter left him completely.
            “Give what back?” he asked.
            “Chloe’s wallet.”
            “How did she know-“
            “She doesn’t know you have it, but she knows that it’s gone. Give it back, Jack.”
            “What’s the big deal?” Tony asked, sitting up, still holding the ice pack to his face and the wallet in his other hand.
            “I don’t know. But she’s freaking out down there. I took her to Holding 2 so that people wouldn’t see her cry.”
            Jack stood up immediately, walking over and snatching the wallet from Tony’s hand. “She’s CRYING?”
            Milo shrugged. “I think it’s a little bigger than just the wallet, but she won’t tell me. Just give it back to her.”
            Jack was already through the door as Milo got the last of his sentence out.
 
***
 
            He opened the door to the holding room slowly, not wanting to scare her. When he saw her, his felt his breath catch in his throat. She was curled up on the floor in the corner of the room, weeping. Her body shook with her sobs and she pulled her knees tighter against her chest.
            “Chloe?”
            Her head snapped up at the sound of his voice, her tear-stained face looking pale and drawn – so different from how it was when they had been out together just a short while ago. When she saw him, she immediately pushed herself up from the floor, hurriedly wiping away her tears. Then her eyes fell on the wallet in his hands and her face lit up as she reached out a hand to take it from him.
            “You found it,” she breathed, quickly opening it and flipping through it.
            “Not exac-“
            He stopped when she pulled a picture out. It was folded and the edges were creased, as though it were pulled out often and held. He went to stand behind her and looked over her shoulder, suddenly understanding as he looked down at the picture of her and Edgar smiling at the camera.
            “That’s what this was all about?” Jack asked quietly as he turned her to face him and wiped away her tears.
            Chloe looked up at him sheepishly. “It’s the only picture I have of the two of us. When I thought I’d lost it…Where did you find it?”
            For a split second he considered lying to her. But he quickly discarded the idea – this was Chloe. He could never lie to Chloe.
            “I didn’t.”
            She frowned in confusion. “What do you mean? How did you end up with it then?”
            He took his hands from her face and looked down at the ground. “I took it,” he whispered.
            “But…why would you do that?” she asked, her eyes narrowing as she struggled to understand.
            “It was…this thing. Tony and I were joking around and then Milo came in…he challenged us to pickpocket somebody…I had to take something from you and Tony had to get something from Michelle…and it had to be on you when we took it…” his voice trailed off as he felt her eyes boring into him.
            She tried to blink away the tears that were pooling in her eyes. “That explains it then. I knew there had to be a reason.” Tucking the picture back into the wallet, she moved from the door.
            Jack reached out a hand to stop her, grabbing her arm. “Explains what?”
            She wouldn’t turn to look at him. “Why you insisted we go out for coffee. You needed to get me somewhere where I’d have my purse on me.” She heard his breath catch and she hurried to cut him off. “It’s okay, Jack. I get it. Just don’t give me any of that friend crap again, okay? I’m sure you can come up with some other excuse next time you need to pull a prank.”
            Chloe yanked her arm out of his grasp but then found herself spun around and pinned against the door. Jack’s face was inches from hers and the tears in her eyes finally overwhelmed her and streamed down her cheeks.
            “I’ll be honest, Chloe. I only thought about asking you to go get a coffee because of the pickpocket thing. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to go. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been looking for an excuse to hang out with you for months. I’ve just been too scared-“
            “Don’t,” she whispered. “Don’t say things just to be nice. It’s okay, Jack. I get it-“
            “Chloe,” he said firmly. “I wouldn’t lie to you. I never have. I don’t think I physically can.” He gentled his voice as he ran his fingers through her hair. “Who did this to you? Who made you think that it was impossible for someone to truly care about you?”
            He leaned in and kissed her cheek, right below her eye. Then he proceeded to kiss her all over her face, taking away each tear as it fell from her eyes. Her hands came up to grasp his forearms as he cradled her face. Jack stopped his rain of kisses as he paused in front of her lips, staring at her deeply.
            “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “If I was better at this…you would have known already.”
            “Known what?”
            “That I love you,” he answered as he brushed his lips against hers. When he went to pull back, Chloe followed him, kissing him harder and with more confidence. His mouth opened to let her tongue in as they explored each other and he pushed her up against the door.
            Finally Chloe pulled back and looked up at him. “If you’ve wanted to hang out for months, why didn’t you just say something?”
            “I didn’t know how to ask.”
            She rolled her eyes at him. “It’s me, Jack. All you have to do is say it. I’m certainly not going to hold it against you if it comes out wrong.”
            He smiled at her, placing a gentle kiss on her forehead. Then he looked at her again, his gaze intense. “I would never hurt you like that Chloe…I would never play a joke at the expense of your feelings.”
            “I know,” she whispered. “It’s just hard to make my brain shut up sometimes.”
            “Well what can we do about that?” Jack asked, holding her closer.
            “I think we can come up with something,” she murmured, her lips once again moving toward his.
failegaidin: (one kiss away)

Hmmm...not sure how I feel about this one. But I'm a posting whore, so....


            "They'll kill us," Chase pointed out.
            Kim huffed and crossed her arms. "I don't care. We're doing this for their own good. They're both insufferably miserable."
            Chase laughed. "Though neither of them will admit it."
            Reaching out and taking his hand, she looked up at him hopefully. "But you'll call her?"
            "Of course I will, sweetheart. And you call your dad. It's time we got this thing sorted out."
 
***
 
            "He's beautiful," Jack whispered as he held his grandson.
            "You say that every time," Kim laughed. She watched her father happily from the hospital bed. She was set to be released the next day, and she couldn't wait to be free. "So…how are you?" she asked, trying to sound casual and failing miserably.
            Jack gave her a rueful smile. "I'm fine, Kim. Stop asking."
            "I'm just worried about you, that's all."
            "Why?"
            Kim shrugged, keeping her eyes focused on her son. "You just seem so…sad lately. Whenever I look into your eyes…all I see is pain, Dad. And I can't figure it out. What is hurting you so much?"
            Jack ran his finger up and down the baby's nose, refusing to lift his eyes to hers. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you worry. It's just…" His words were cut off as Chase opened the door into the room and ushered Chloe in.
            "I thought you wanted to see the baby."
            Chloe scowled. "Of course I want to see the baby. But you practically manhandled me down here…"
She stopped talking as her eyes rested on Jack, the baby in his arms. He refused to meet her eyes, keeping his gaze locked instead on the little boy he was holding. Chloe just stood there staring at him, a range of emotions crossing her face until she finally settled on anger. Whirling around, she slammed a finger into Chase's chest.
"You did this on purpose!" she hissed.
"Damn right, I did," Chase replied, blocked the door. "I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you two, but you're going to work it out. Now."
"Who do you think you are, making demands like that? You wouldn't listen to me when I told you to fix things with Kim. So why should I listen to you?"
"I was wrong to ignore you about Kim. Just like you'd be wrong to ignore me. You two mean too much to each other to just walk from this. You're best friends."
"Just let her go," Jack said quietly. Chloe turned to look at him, but he still wouldn't lift his head. "If she wants to go, just let her."
"No," Kim's voice cut through the tension. "This is ridiculous. You two are so sad without each other it's pathetic. You two go work things out right now, or neither of you is holding the baby again. At all."
Jack's head shot up. "You wouldn't do that. He's my grandson."
"Try me," Kim said, her voice threatening.
Nodding slowly, Jack stood up and handed the baby back. For a second Kim thought he was going to give up his grandson just to avoid talking to Chloe. But then he looked over to Chloe, his eyes still not meeting hers.
"Let's get this over with."
Chloe bit her lip to keep it from trembling. "Where are we supposed to go talk? This is a hospital. People everywhere."
Chase cut in. "There's an empty room down the hall. Number 303.
Rolling her eyes, Chloe shoved Chase aside and opened the door, waiting for Jack to follow her. Quietly they stepped out of the room and headed down the hall.
 
***
 
            They entered the room silently, not even bothering to turn on a light. Sunlight was streaming through the windows, as though the sun were being overly cheery on purpose. Jack immediately walked toward a chair against the far wall, sitting down and leaning his forearms on his thighs, his head hanging down as he stared at the floor. Chloe stared at him, silently willing him to look at her. But he kept his eyes focused down and finally she couldn't stand the silence anymore.
            "So are we going to talk?"
            Jack shook his head. "There's no point." He paused. "I'm sorry, Chloe. I can't be friends with you anymore."
            The words were like a sharp slap in the face. Tears sprang to Chloe's eyes and she was suddenly having trouble breathing. She looked around the room wildly, searching for something – anything – to explain the words that she had just heard. Dropping her eyes to the ground, her pain slowly burned into anger and she looked up at Jack with a vicious snarl on her face.
            "So what? That's it? You get to abandon me again? You get to just walk away without an explanation? Without telling me what it is I've done to earn your hatred? Well, fuck you, Jack!!!" she yelled.
            He flinched at her words, but steadfastly kept his head down. He knew that if he allowed himself to look up, he would break at the pain on her face. Letting his own tears fall, he continued to ignore her.
            "God, you can't even look at me anymore! If I knew what I'd done…but you won't even give me that, will you? This isn't fair, Jack! I deserve to know. Look at me!" Jack just shook his head, trying to conceal the shaking of his shoulders as sobs threatened to overcome him. "LOOK AT ME!!!!" Chloe roared.
            And he did. The pain in his eyes took her breath away and she took a staggering step back. The tears were streaming down his face and Chloe suddenly realized how much hurt he was carrying around. Forgetting her anger, she rushed to kneel in front of him, resting one hand on his knee and using the other to stroke his face.
            "Oh, Jack," she whispered. Hand trembling, she wiped at his tears, searching his eyes for an explanation. He just continued to stare at her, his face contorted. Then he moved his gaze downward, taking in her hand on his knee. He looked at it for a moment before his eyes widened and he grabbed her hand, bringing it closer to his face.
            "Jack, what's wrong?" Chloe asked, confused by his actions.
            "No ring," he muttered.
            Chloe looked down at her hand and then back up at him. "No. Should I be wearing one?"
            He looked up at her, his brow furrowed. "You're not engaged?"
            She pulled back slightly, her hand still in his. "What are you talking about? Of course I'm not engaged. Who would I marry?"
            "Not engaged?" Jack repeated, some of the pain leaving his face.
            "Not engaged," Chloe confirmed, looking at him warily as she tried to figure out what was going on.
            Jack shut his eyes, more tears escaping as he tightened his grip on her hand. Slowly he opened them again and looked at her, his features more relaxed. "When I left…were you and Morris planning on getting married again?"
            Chloe frowned at him. "No. He dumped me that day, Jack. Which is a good thing seeing as how he and I getting remarried would have been an even bigger mistake than the first time we tried it."
            Jack smiled sadly, realization suddenly hitting him. He looked down at her, crouching in front of him, and then slowly stood, pulling her up with him. Walking until he was behind her, he turned Chloe around, ignoring the confused look on her phase. Slowly, he backed her up against the wall, where he leaned his head into the crook of her neck, his hands resting on her waist.
            "This is all my fault," he murmured.
            Reaching up, Chloe placed her hands gently on the back of his neck. She ran her fingers up and down, reveling in the feel of touch. "What is, Jack?"
            He lifted his face up, leaning his forehead against hers. "This. Us. This fighting. I can't believe I was so stupid."
            "Jack, talk to me. What is this all about? Why can't you be my friend?"
            He forced himself to look in her eyes. "When I got back that day…after dealing with Cheng and my father…Marilyn came to me. She told me…she told me Morris had proposed. That you said yes. That you two were happy."
            "What the hell were doing listening to Marilyn?"
            He laughed. "I don't know. It was stupid."
            "That's why you left?"
            Jack nodded.
            "But…but that doesn't make any sense. I don't get it, Jack. What would my being engaged have to do with you being my friend?"
            He gently brushed some stray strands of hair out of her face. "I couldn't do it, Chloe…I couldn't watch you be with another man. I couldn't…I wanted more. I wanted it all. And I couldn't pretend to be happy for you when I wanted you for myself. It wouldn't be fair to you. That's why I left."
            "I thought you hated me," she whispered, her brain struggling to comprehend his words.
            "I could never hate you, Chloe. I love you."
            "You're stupid."
            "I know."
            Chloe scowled. "No. I mean, you're really stupid. You did this all wrong. You were supposed to come find me and tell me I was making some horrible mistake. And then I wouldn't understand what you were talking about and finally it would come out that I wasn't really engaged. And then you were supposed to kiss me. You went about this the wrong way, Jack."
            He couldn't help but laugh. "What, do girls have some plan book for every possible boy scenario?"
            "Pretty much. They're called chick flicks."
            Jack smiled at her, moving a little closer. "I never would have pegged you for a romantic comedy girl."
            "Shows how much you know."
            "I'm sorry I did it wrong."
            "You have one more chance to make it right."
            "Oh?"
            "You can still kiss me," she whispered.
            Letting his eyes travel down to her lips, Jack slowly captured her mouth with his. He moved against her gently, pushing his body flush against hers. Chloe sighed into him, opening her mouth to let his tongue slide past her lips. One hand came up to tangle in her hair as they slowly explored each other, both taking joy in their contact.
            Suddenly the door opened and they were pulling apart, both scowling at a grinning Chase.
            "Oh good," he said. "I can tell Kim to stop worrying."
            "And remind her that we get to hold the baby," Chloe said.
            "Oh please," Chase replied. "She never would have gone through with that threat. We'd be screwed if we didn't have you guys for babysitters."
            He shut the door and left them alone once again. Jack hands came up to cradle Chloe's face, his thumbs brushing across her skin. "I'm so sorry," he said. "I should have just come to you."
            She shrugged. "I probably would have done the same thing if somebody told me you were engaged. I love you."
            "I love you too. I'm still sorry."
            "Well, stop being sorry and start kissing me again. We have a lot of catching up to do."
            Jack was smiling broadly as he captured her lips once more.
 
failegaidin: (Default)
Alrighty, this is the last chapter. The fluff continues. Hope you all enjoy. 


Nadia and Chloe put the finishing touches on the nursery as Jack and Milo carried down the last of the boxes. The younger woman waited until the men had left the room before she turned to very-pregnant Chloe with a mysterious smile on her face.
            "You never told me who you picked," she said.
            Chloe turned to look at her in confusion. "Picked for what?"
            "To be the donor. For your baby. You never told me who you ended up picking."
            Chloe shrugged, keeping her face turned away from Nadia's as she busied herself with folding a blanket that had already been folded. "Doesn't matter."
            Nadia laughed. "How can you say that, Chloe? He's the father of your baby! Of course it matters!"
            "Yeah, well…it doesn't matter anymore, because I already chose him and I'm pregnant and it's too late to change anything."
            "Come on, Chloe…tell me who it is."
            "It's none of your business," she snapped, desperate for any way to get the other woman off her back.
            A hurt look came over Nadia's face. "Chloe…you came to me because you wanted help making such an important decision. And I'm glad you made it…but…why are you so afraid to tell me?"
            Chloe turned around, pursing her lips and fidgeting nervously. "I don’t want you to laugh at me."
            Nadia walked over and placed her hands reassuringly on Chloe's shoulders. "I won't, Chloe. Whoever you chose is going to be fine."
            The older woman looked down at the ground, focusing on her feet. "Jack," she mumbled.
            "What?"
            Chloe looked up again, putting on a brave face. "It's Jack, okay?"
            "Jack Bauer?"
            She sighed. "Yes, Jack Bauer."
            Nadia smiled at her. "Good."
            Chloe did a double-take. "That's it? You're not surprised?"
            Nadia shrugged. "I already knew."
            She just stared at her. "How?" she managed to choke out.
            "I had Milo tap into the security feeds that day you told Jack about the baby. I just wanted to hear you say it."
            Chloe frowned, but her heart wasn't really in it. "Bitch," she muttered.
            Nadia smiled as she straightened some of the stuffed animals. "Jack's gonna make a great dad."
            "I know," Chloe said with a gentle smile.
 
***
 
           
            "Want a beer?" Jack asked as he and Milo came back in from dropping the boxes off at the curb for the garbage man.
            "Yeah, thanks," Milo said, taking a seat on the couch in the living room.
            Jack came back out to join him, and the two sat next to each other, enjoying the break from hauling things upstairs and putting together furniture. Over the past few months, the men had become friends – at first out of necessity because of how close Nadia and Chloe were, but then eventually they found out that they genuinely liked each other. When the women went out shopping for baby clothes or started in on wedding plans for Nadia, Jack and Milo would have a couple beers and watch TV, perfectly comfortable with not talking for hours at a time.
            "You're excited aren't you?" Milo finally asked.
            Jack took another sip of his beer. "About what?"
            "The baby."
            The older man looked over at him with a thoughtful gaze before nodding. "Yeah. Yeah I am," he said quietly with a grin.
            Milo looked around the room, trying to gather his thoughts and figure how to say what was on his mind. He thought now was the best time to bring it up, when Jack was busy thinking happy thoughts about the baby.
            "I think it's great that you moved in here to help Chloe out," he began slowly.
            Jack shrugged. "She needed a friend. And her place is much nicer than my tiny apartment."
            Milo nodded. "You guys seem to get along really well."
            "She's my best friend," the older man said quietly.
            Still struggling with what he really wanted to say, Milo sighed, throwing caution to the wind. "Look, Jack, I know."
            Jack looked at him in confusion. "You know what?"
            "That you're the father."
            He spluttered and started coughing as he choked on his beer. When his throat finally cleared, he looked at Milo in shock. "How?"
            Milo winced. "Nadia made me help her eavesdrop on you and Chloe that night she told you she wanted a baby."
            Jack's face grew hard. "You were listening?"
            "She made me, Jack. She said I owed her for kissing Chloe and helping you try to break into her desk. I didn't have a choice. She's my fiancé."
            Jack just glared at him.
            "Plus…you can just tell, Jack. The look on your face every time you see Chloe. You practically glow whenever the baby's even mentioned. That's the pride and love of a father."
            The grim look faded as a smile took over his face. Jack knew that Milo was right, and he couldn’t hide how excited he was for the baby to be born. Whenever he saw Chloe, he pictured her holding the baby – their son – and an irrepressible grin would just sprout on his face. Milo saw his features soften and he smiled back at him.
            "You guys are gonna be great parents together."
            "Thanks."
            "Now if only you two had gone about this the natural way…" Milo mused as he ducked to avoid the pillow thrown at his head.
 
***
 
            He stared down at Chloe in wonder as she held their baby boy in her arms. The labor had been long and painful, but finally it was over and the nurse handed their son to Chloe. Holding the baby close to her, she ran her fingers over his face as though trying to memorize his features. She smiled down at him, the tears falling from her eyes unabashedly. Jack leaned over and brushed her hair out of her eyes, planting a soft kiss on her brow. Chloe looked up at him with a smile.
            "Do you want to hold him?"
            He nodded and reached his arms out as Chloe gently handed him over. The baby was crying, but Jack just smiled at him, running his index finger along his tiny forehead and down the bridge of his nose. He could feel his own tears falling now, but he didn't care.
            "Hi Ian," he whispered, his smile growing. "We've been waiting for you."
            The sight of Jack holding their son in his arms was too much for Chloe. She laid back against her pillows, watching them, her heart nearly bursting with joy. The look of intense love on his face as he looked down at Ian made her tears flow even faster as she realized that she now had a family.
            Jack's right hand dropped down to the bed and he grabbed Chloe's hand, squeezing it. She looked up to see him smiling at her with no trace of worry or fear. He was finally happy.
 
***
 
 
            A month later, Chloe woke suddenly. She looked around, wondering what had shaken her out of her sleep. Deciding that it was nothing, she pulled herself out of bed, wanting to check on Ian. She tiptoed out of the room and headed down the hall, stopping at the door to the spare room, where Jack had been staying since he moved in. She pushed the door open slowly, wanting to check on him like she did every night. As the door opened, she frowned. Jack wasn't in bed. Looking around in confusion, she jumped at a noise coming from Ian's room. Her curiosity piqued, she continued down the hall and pushed open the door to the baby's room.
            She stopped short at the sight before her. Jack was sitting in the rocking chair, just watching Ian as he slept. The look of wonderment on his face made Chloe's breath catch. At the slight sound, Jack turned his head to look at her, a peaceful smile on his face.
            "Hi," he whispered.
            "Hey," she replied. "What are you doing?"
            He turned back to the crib. "Watching him sleep."
            Chloe walked over to him slowly, placing her hand on his head and running her fingers through his hair. Jack sighed and leaned his head against her stomach. "You need to sleep," she reminded him.
            "I will. I just…I never get tired of watching him."
            "I know."         
            Jack looked up at her as she watched Ian sleep. Wrapping his arm around her waist, he pulled her down gently to sit on his lap. She sighed and leaned against him, and they watched their son as he slept.
 
***
 
            "He's going to be fine, Chloe," Jack assured her as she packed up Ian's things. He could tell by the set of her shoulders that she was tense, that she thought she wasn't ready for her baby to spend his first night away from her.
            "I know," she snapped back, instantly sorry for her harsh tone.
            Jack took her by the shoulders and turned her to face him. One hand lifted to rest against her cheek, his thumb caressing her face. "He's going to be fine," he repeated.
            Chloe bit her lip and nodded, giving him a small smile. She turned back to the diaper bag, zipping it closed, and then went over to Ian's crib.
            "Hey sweetie," she whispered as she picked him up and held him close.
            Jack picked up the bag and they headed downstairs to where Milo and Nadia were waiting.
            "Hey Ian," Milo greeted him as soon as they cleared the last step. He looked at Chloe seriously. "Don't worry, Chloe. We're gonna take good care of him. It's just for the weekend. You two need a little vacation."
            Chloe took a deep breath and nodded. "I know." Looking back at Ian, she kissed his nose and then his forehead. "I love you," she whispered.
            Jack ran his hand over Ian's head and placed a gentle kiss on his temple. "You be good, buddy. We'll see you on Sunday."
            Chloe hugged Ian close one more time before handing him over to Milo. She smiled as he took the baby. He was such a natural with children, and she knew that he was ecstatic about Nadia finally being pregnant.
            "Call us if you need anything," Jack told them as they walked out to their car.
            Nadia looked over at him with a smile. "You know we will, Jack."
            He nodded. Walking over to stand next to Chloe, they waved goodbye as the car pulled out of the driveway and went down the street. Jack looked over at her, noticing the worry in her eyes. He reached his arm around her waist, tugging her into his side.
            "You okay?" he asked quietly.
            She pursed her lips, but nodded. "Yeah. It's just…I almost don't know what to do without him here, you know?"
            Jack nodded. "Let's go inside and make some dinner."
            Chloe smiled at him. "Okay."  
 
***
 
            Chloe hummed softly to herself as she put away the laundry. Jack was downstairs cooking, and the smells of dinner were slowly wafting up to her. Walking down the hall, she headed to Jack's room, a load of his laundry piled up in her arms. She rolled her eyes as she stepped into the room – it was so neat it made her want to gag. She never understood how the man could keep it constantly clean.
            Walking over to the dresser, she opened his sock drawer and began putting things away, her mind lost in thought. She frowned in consternation as the last pair of socks had trouble fitting in the drawer. She knew that everything should fit – it did every other time she put the laundry away. Taking a couple pairs back out, Chloe reached her hand into the back to see if there was anything taking up the extra room. Her hand closed around a small box, and she pulled it out to give it a closer look.
            As she opened the box slowly, her face fell and tears escaped her eyes.
 
***
 
           
            Jack turned his head at the sound of someone coming down the stairs. "Is that you, Chloe?" he called out from the kitchen. "I hope you're hungry. I think I cooked too much." When she didn’t answer, he turned the stove down a little and wiped his hands on a towel. "Chloe?" He moved toward the door going into the living room when Chloe walked in. He took in her pale face and shaking hands. "Chloe, what's wrong?" he asked, suddenly worried. He went to step closer to her, but she held out her left hand.
            "I found this," she mumbled.
            Jack looked down at her hand, taking in a sharp breath when he saw the little black box sitting in the middle of her palm. He mentally cursed himself for not thinking of it when she said she was going to put the laundry away. He fought back the tears that threatened to overtake him, upset at her pained reaction. "Chloe-"
            "I didn't know you were seeing anybody," she whispered, trying to give him a small smile. "Who is she?"
            Jack looked at her in confusion – her response wasn't what he had been expecting. His mind struggled to catch up, and then he suddenly realized it. "Chloe-"
            "It's okay, Jack. You don't have to explain. I won't try to keep you here. You've been a great help around here, and it was good that Ian got to know you. But I know you want a real life."
            "Chloe-"
            "Just…you know, it would be nice if you could stop by and see him once in a while. He'll miss you. But I'll help you pack and everything…"
            "Chloe, stop."
            She looked at him, her eyes wide and brimming with tears. Nodding, she took a step closer, still holding the box. "Here. Take it," she whispered.
            Sighing sadly, he took the box from her hand, staring down at it. Then he took a few steps, backing Chloe up against the wall. She looked at him in confusion, opening her mouth to speak. Before she could get any words out, Jack knelt down in front of her. He opened the box and held it out to her.
            "Chloe, will you marry me?"
            She looked at him in shock, the tears running down her face freely now. She glanced back and forth between his face and the box, her mind not fully comprehending.
            "It was for me?" she whispered.
            "It's for you," he confirmed, giving her a small smile.
            "You want to marry me?"
            Laughing quietly, Jack stood back up and placed the ring on the table next to them before cradling her face in his hands.
            "Of course I want to marry you, Chloe. How could you think I wanted to leave you? That I would want anything but our family?"
            Her lower lip trembled. "I know you just offered to be his father because you wanted to help me out…" She trailed off as she watched him slowly shake his head.
            "That's not the only reason I offered, Chloe."
            "It's not?"
            "No. When you told me you wanted a baby…Chloe, I didn't want you to have a family with anyone but me. That's why I offered. I wanted to be a part of your life. I wanted a baby with you. I thought…I hoped I'd be able to make you love me after a while."
            It was Chloe's turn to laugh. "I've always loved you, Jack."
            He smiled and leaned his forehead against hers. "Marry me."
            She nodded. "Yes."
            Reaching over, he pulled the ring out of the box and slipped it gently onto her left hand. Chloe smiled up at him, but then suddenly frowned.
            "You planned this whole thing, didn't you?"
            Jack laughed. "Yeah. I asked Milo if he would take Ian for the weekend. I was planning on proposing after dinner."
            "I'm sorry. I ruined your plans."
            "No, no, no. This is perfect, Chloe. Now I can actually eat dinner instead of my stomach being tied in knots like it has been all week."
            Swallowing hard, he leaned forward, lightly brushing his lips against hers. Chloe closed her eyes at the contact, the tension finally falling away. She turned her head to deepen the kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him up against her.
            Jack groaned as she ran her fingers through his hair and their tongues met for the first time. He tightened his grip on her, lifting her slightly off the ground and pushing her up against the wall.
            When they finally pulled back, both were breathing heavily. "I love you," Jack whispered, his breath tickling her skin.
            "I love you, too," Chloe replied
            He pulled back, taking her hand in his. "Come on, I promised you dinner."
            Chloe stood still, tugging his hand and forcing him to look back at her. "And then?" she asked with a small seductive smile.
            Jack pushed her up against the wall again, this time kissing her hard and fast, letting his hands wander over her body. As she moaned lustily into his mouth he pulled back, tapping her lightly on the nose. "Then I'm taking you upstairs," he answered, his voice so low that she shivered with anticipation.
            "I'll hold you to that," she said with a smile, letting him lead her to the table.
failegaidin: (Default)
            Jack picked up the phone on his desk as it rang. "Bauer."
            "I need to talk to you."
            He sat up and leaned his arms on the desk. "Chloe? Are you alright?"
            "Yeah. I just…I need to talk to you."
            "Okay…so go ahead."
            "Not on the phone."
            "Where then?"
            She was silent for a moment. "Tech 1."
            "Okay. I'll be down in five minutes."
            "Okay." And she hung up.
            Jack leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath. Chloe hadn't spoken to him much since they agreed that he would be the donor. In fact, the last non-work related conversation they had had was when he told her that he had gone to the clinic and done his part. She had mumbled thank you and looked…embarrassed. He was afraid that she was rethinking her decision – that she didn't want him to be the father after all. The butterflies fluttering full strength in his stomach, he got up and headed down to Tech 1.
 
***
 
            Chloe was already in the room when he got there, and she jumped at the sound of him opening the door. Giving her a gentle smile, he turned around and locked the door, making sure that they could talk privately. When he faced her again, she was looking down at the floor and biting her lip nervously.
            "Hey," he said quietly. "What's wrong?"
            She refused to look at him, keeping her eyes on the ground and her hands wringing each other in front of her stomach.
            "Chloe," he said, closing the distance between them and placing his hands on her shoulders. "It's okay. If you don’t want to go through with this, you can just tell me…"
            She looked up at him suddenly. "I'm pregnant," she blurted.
            Jack couldn't stop the large grin from taking over his face. "It worked?" he asked in wonder.
            Chloe nodded, some of the tension leaving her face at his reaction. "I'm going to have a baby," she whispered, her eyes welling up.
            "Yes you are," Jack replied, pulling her into a tight hug so that she couldn't see the tears in his own eyes.
 
***
 
            Five months later, Jack was in his office, packing up and getting ready to go home. It had been a long and tiring day, full of meetings with Division and little irksome tasks. As he shut down his computer, he looked up to find a nervous Chloe standing in his doorway. He smiled at her.
            "Hey."
            "Hey." She frowned and fidgeted under his gaze. "Stop staring at me," she snapped. "I already know I look like a beached whale."
            "Chloe," he laughed. "You look amazing."
            Her frown deepened. "I'm pregnant."
            "I know. And it looks good on you. You're glowing, even when you're scowling at me."
            His smile was infectious, and Chloe soon found the corners of her mouth turning up to match it. They stood there like that for a minute before Jack finally broke the silence.
            "Was there something you wanted?" he asked gently, not wanting her to think that he was pushing her out.
            The smile left her face and Chloe pursed her lips. "I…I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow," she began.
            Jack looked at her in worry. "Is everything okay?"
            She hurried to assure him. "Yeah…everything's fine. I just…ummm…"
            He came around his desk and perched on the edge, reaching out his hand to her. She looked at him nervously before taking it, letting him draw her close. "Just tell me, Chloe," he gently urged.
            She took a deep breath. "The appointment…it's to…umm…it's too find out the sex of the baby, and I was wondering if you wanted to come."
            Jack smiled and squeezed her hand. "I would love to," he told her quietly.
            Her face lit up. "Really?"
            "Really," he whispered. "What time is it?"
            "Huh?"
            "Your appointment, Chloe. What time is it?"
            "Oh, um, 3:30."
            "Then I'll come down to get you at your station at 3, okay?"
            Chloe nodded and turned to leave his office. At the door, she looked back at him. "Thank you, Jack."
            "You're welcome," he said with a smile.
 
***
 
            Chloe shifted uneasily on the bed in the doctor's office, Jack sitting on the stool next to her. She was nervous about finding out the sex of her baby, but she was also nervous about Jack. This was the first baby-related thing they had done together, and she worried that she was involving him too much. He had offered to be the father only to help her out, and she didn't want to burden him with anything else. But as she thought back to the previous day, she felt sure that she had seen sincere happiness on his face when she had asked him to come.
            The door opened and the doctor came in, interrupting Chloe's thoughts. She smiled in greeting and tried to keep from shifting nervously again.
            "Good afternoon, Chloe. How are you feeling today?" Dr. Madsen asked cheerily, pushing her glasses further up her nose as she sat down in front of Chloe's bent knees.
            "I'm okay," she replied. Looking at Jack, she realized that the doctor was probably wondering who this strange man was. "This is…this is Jack," she introduced, not sure how to explain Jack's role or presence.
            Dr. Madsen took it all in stride, extending her hand out to Jack in greeting. "It's nice to meet you, Jack. I'm Dr. Madsen." She turned back to Chloe. "Are you ready to find out?"
            Biting her lip, Chloe nodded. The doctor smiled reassuringly as she began the ultrasound. As the image of her baby came up on the screen, she felt Jack's hand suddenly grab hers. Looking over, she saw the wonder on his face as he saw his baby for the time. She found herself once again wishing that they were doing this for real – that they were starting a family together. Shaking her head, she focused once again on the image before her. Dr. Madsen turned to look at her and smiled.
            "Congratulations, Chloe. You're going to have a baby boy."
            Tears came streaming down her face as once again the realization that she was going to have a baby hit her full force. She felt Jack tighten his grip on her hand, and when she looked over at him, she saw the tears welling up in his eyes as well.
            Dr. Madsen wiped the gel from her stomach and put the machine away. "If you're not having any problems, I'll see you at your next appointment, okay Chloe?" Chloe nodded, unable to speak. "Congratulations again, dear," she said. Then she turned to Jack. "And it was nice to meet you, Jack." With that, she left the room.
           
***
 
           
            By the time they had gotten back into the car, Jack knew that something was bothering her. She had grown quiet and withdrawn, and the look of wonder had left her face. As he started the ignition, he reached over and took her hand gently in his.
            "Hey," he said quietly. "What's the matter?"
            She looked at him, and he was shocked at the fear in her eyes. "I don't think I can do this," she whispered.
            Jack smiled at her. "Yes you can, Chloe. You're going to make a great mother. You'll see."
            She looked down at their entwined fingers, her lips pursed. "But…I'm having a boy."
            "So?"
            Chloe looked up at him again. "I don't know what to do with a boy," she said, the worry evident in her voice.
            Jack laughed. "But you wouldn't be worrying if you were having a girl?"
            "Exactly. Girls are easy. I get girls. But little boys…"
            Seeing that she was serious, Jack steered the car towards the park near her house. He parked the car and got out, moving to open her door. Taking her hand gently he helped her out and they walked over to a bench warmed by the afternoon sun. He sat down and turned towards her, keeping her hand in his.
            "This is really worrying you, isn't it?" he asked gently.
            Chloe frowned and nodded. "I know you think I'm being ridiculous. But I really thought I would have a girl…I just don't know how to take care of a boy."
            "It's not that different, you know." He watched her sigh and a thought came to him. "If you want…if it's okay with you, I could help. I know a thing or two about boys, and then you wouldn't have to do it on your own."
            Chloe looked at him, searching his eyes to make sure that he wasn't just offering to make her feel better. "Jack," she said quietly. "I don't…I mean…"
            He laid a comforting hand against her cheek. "It's okay if you don't want me to, Chloe. I just need to make sure that you know I'm willing to."
            "I don't want to interrupt your life," she said, looking down once again at their hands. "I don't want to burden you. You've already helped me out a lot, and I know that you don't want to raise another kid…"
            "Whoa whoa whoa," he said gently, cupping her face in both his hands and making her look at him. "Who said I didn't want to raise this baby? I just didn't want you to feel forced into it…I wasn't sure if…if you wanted to raise a child with me, Chloe. If you want me to, I'll gladly be this baby's father…in every sense of the word."
            Chloe looked at him in shock. If wasn't for the fact that she could feel his hands on her face, she would've been sure that she was dreaming. Looking into his eyes, she could see the truth of his words, and they made her happier than she could've imagined. Smiling at him shyly, she took one of his hands in hers.
            "You really think we can do this?" she asked.
            He smiled back at her. "Yeah, Chloe. I really think we can."
            She stopped for a moment, she looked down, thinking everything through one last time. "I want to," she said when she raised her eyes to his again.
            "You're sure?"
            "Yeah. This baby deserves to have his father in his life…and I don't want to do this alone."
            Jack beamed at her, her words warming him. Then a thought struck him and he looked at her seriously again. "Chloe…if we're going to do this, I want to do it right. I don't want you to be alone. Something could go wrong. You could go into labor…"
            "What are you saying?"
            He took a deep breath. "Let me stay with you. At least for now. It doesn't have to be forever…you can kick me out after he's born, if it's not working. But let me stay with you for now so that I can take care of you."
            The sincerity in his voice left Chloe with no objections. Regardless of Jack's feelings or lack of feelings for her, he loved their baby and he wanted to be there for them. She couldn't deny him that.
            "Okay."
            He stared at her, taken back by the ease with which she accepted his proposal. "Okay? You'll really let me move in?"
            She nodded. "Yeah. At least now I'll have someone to cook for me."
            Jack laughed and pulled her closer, dropping a kiss to her temple. "I would be happy to cook for you whenever you want, Chloe."


Chapter 4
failegaidin: (Default)
So here is chapter 2. Hope you enjoy.


            "I have a problem."
            Nadia looked up from her computer to find a very agitated Chloe standing next to her.
            "I know. And we're still working on it, remember?"
            Chloe shook her head. "No. I have another problem."
            Nadia stood up slowly. "Another problem?"
            "A bigger problem."
            Nadia's eyes widened. "Okay…"
            "Jack knows," she blurted.
            "What do you mean?"
            "He knows. About the baby."
            "How did he find out?"
            Chloe looked down at the ground, her fidgeting more evident. "I told him."
            "You what?"
            "I didn't mean to."
            "Then why did you?"
            "He trapped me in Tech 1, and then he cornered me and backed me up against the door, and…" Chloe's blush crept up her neck.
            Nadia sighed. "Does he know how you're getting the baby?"
            "No."
            "So he doesn't know everything, then."
            "No, but he's going to."
            "Why?"
            Chloe took a deep breath. "Because I promised him that if he really wanted to know I would come up to his office after work and explain it."
            Nadia shook her head as a smile grew on her face. "You really got yourself in a jam, Chloe."
            The other woman looked at her in anguish. "What am I going to do?"
            "You could lie to him."
            Chloe shook her head. "I can't lie to Jack."
            "It's not like he really has the right to know-"
            "No, Nadia. I mean physically. I can't do it. He'll see right through me."
            She shrugged. "Then tell him the truth."
            "What if he thinks it's stupid? What if he thinks I'm desperate?"
            "Do you really think Jack would look down on you because you want a baby and because you're smart enough to realize that Morris would suck as a father?"
            "No," she muttered.
            "Then tell him. And besides," she added. "He might be able to help you pick a donor. He is a guy, after all. And he's a father."
 
***
 
            As Nadia watched Chloe getting her things together, she made her way over to Milo's station. Sitting on the edge of his desk, she bent down to whisper in his ear.
            "I need your help."
            "With what?" he asked warily, knowing that he was still in trouble for helping Jack.
            "I want to hear Jack and Chloe's conversation in his office."
            "How do you even know she's going up there?"
            "I just do. Open up the security feeds."
            "Nadia, I am not eavesdropping on Jack and Chloe!"
            "Why the hell not?"
            "Because they can both kick my ass, that's why!"
            Nadia glared at him. "You owe me."
            "What?"
            "You kissed another woman this week. You. Owe. Me."
            "It was Chloe!"
            "Milo…."
            Milo raised his hands in surrender. "Fine. But when they come to kill me, I'm using you as my human shield.
 
***
 
            Chloe's stomach was a jumbled mess of nerves as she realized that her shift was over. She took her time shutting down her station and gathering her things, trying desperately to find some way out of going to Jack's office. She entertained the thought of just making a run for it, but she knew that eventually Jack would track her down and make her keep her promise. Sighing, she knew that she had wasted enough time. He was expecting her, and the quicker she went up there, the sooner it would be over.
            The steps up to his office had never seemed so large. Her knees wobbled slightly, and she cursed her body for its weakness. She told herself that she shouldn't be nervous about telling Jack – that he was her friend and that he would understand. But for some reason, the thought of telling him that she was having a baby…unsettled her. Chloe took a deep breath when she reached the door, then raised her hand and knocked. She heard Jack's muffled voice invite her in, and she opened the door, willing the butterflies in her stomach to take a rest.
            She stopped in the doorway, her mouth dropping open at the sight before her. Jack had cleared off his desk and moved it to the middle of the office, covering it with a tablecloth. He had ordered Chinese, and he was in the process of putting it on their paper plates when he looked up and smiled at her.
            "Hey," he said softly.
            "Hi," she whispered, shock evident in her voice.
            Jack smiled shyly at the dinner setup. "I thought we could have dinner…I know it's not much, but…you and I never really get to do the friend thing, so I thought…"
            "Thank you," she said, her smile matching his.
            She set the files on the floor by the table and sat down, Jack taking his seat across from her. They looked at each other awkwardly for a few minutes before they started eating, each trying to figure out how to broach the subject.
            "Well?" Jack asked, finally breaking the silence.
            Chloe frowned. "You're really going to make me tell you, aren't you?"
            He looked down, suddenly absorbed in what was on his plate. "Chloe…you don't have to. I know I've been a pain in the ass for the past week. But if it's something…personal," he bit out the word, a look of pain on his face. "…then you don't have to tell me."
            Chloe sighed. "Jack, it's not that I don't want to tell you…I'm just…I'm afraid of what you'll think."
            Jack's head snapped back up. "Why?"
            She shrugged. "Your opinion matters to me…"
            His eyes fell back to his plate. "Chloe, if you and Morris want to start a family together, that's fine. I mean, it's great. It's your life and you should-"
            "Jack," she interrupted sharply.
            He looked up at her again. "What?"
            "I'm not having a baby with Morris."
            Confusion clouded his face. "But…I thought…you said…"
            "Just because I want a baby doesn't mean my scum ball of an ex-husband has to be the father."
            "Then…who?"
            Chloe frowned, her eyes locked on her food as she avoided the gaze. "That's the problem…I don't know."
            "I don't get it."
            She sighed, realizing that she couldn't put him off anymore. "I'm getting older. I want a baby. I don't have anybody in my life right now to be the father. So…" she bit her lip and then spat the words out as quickly as she could. "I'm going to use artificial insemination."
            When Jack didn't say anything after a few moments, Chloe slowly brought her eyes up to his. She was surprised to see a huge grin plastered on his face.
            "Chloe, that's great."
            She frowned. "Really?"
            "Yes. Were you really afraid of what I would think."
            Chloe nodded. "I was afraid you might think it was stupid. Or that I'm really really desperate. Which, I guess I am, but…"
            Jack reached over and took her hand. "Chloe, I think this is great. I'm happy for you," he smiled ruefully. "And I'm glad you're not having a baby with Morris."
            Distracted by his hand on hers, she asked, "Why?"
            Jack rubbed his thumb gently along her knuckles and watched their hands. "Because I don't think he's good for you. He's not good enough for you, either. And if you had a baby together…you'd be bound to him."
            Chloe felt a blush creep up her neck at his words and touch. "Thanks, Jack. For taking this so well."
            He smiled shyly at her and pulled his hand away, afraid that his touch was making her uncomfortable. "So that's what you and Nadia have been up to? Trying to pick a donor?"
            Chloe frowned, trying to hide her disappointment when he moved his hand. "Yes. Nobody really jumps out…"
            Jack looked at the files on the floor next to her. "Are those the profiles?" Chloe nodded. "You want some help going through them?"
            She looked up at him in surprise. "Are you sure?"
            Jack laughed. "Maybe a guy's perspective can help. I just don't want to make you uncomfortable."
            "Too late. The whole situation is uncomfortable." She paused a moment. "But I'd love the help."
             Jack stood up and walked over to her, bending down to pick up the files. Extending his hand to her, he led her over to the couch. They sat next to each other and began perusing the profiles.
 
***
 
            Two hours later they were no closer to finding a good match. Chloe threw another file into the "No way" pile on the floor, and slumped back into the couch. Jack watched her from the corner of his eye, while he put the file he was holding onto their very small "Maybe" pile.
            "They all suck," Chloe huffed as Jack leaned back next to her.
            "Not all of them…some might be okay."
            Chloe put a hand defensively on her stomach. "My baby deserves better than 'okay'."
            Jack turned to look at her. "You deserve better than okay, too."
            "Thanks," she said quietly.
            They sat there quietly for a few moments before Jack turned to her again. "So what are you looking for?"
            "Well…I don't really care what he does for a living. That's not that important. I don’t need him to be a genius either." She shrugged. "The problem with these profiles is that they don't tell me anything important. I want someone who's loyal, and kind. Someone gentle, but who can be strong enough to take care of the people he loves. I want someone I would get along with…someone I could trust."
            Jack looked down at his hands nervously. "So…a friend?"
            Chloe shrugged. "Yeah. But I guess I'm asking for too much."
            "No you're not. Chloe," he took a deep breath, still keeping his eyes downcast. "What about me?"
            She looked at him sharply, but he wouldn't meet her gaze. "What?" she squeaked.
            "Well…I mean…" Taking a deep breath he looked up at her suddenly. "Why the hell not, Chloe? I know I might not be your first choice, but…then you'd know exactly where your baby came from. I'd be around if you ever needed anything. You wouldn't have to tell the baby I was the father, but I could at least see them…check up on them. I could help you take care of them."
            Chloe stared at him in shock. She had never once expected Jack Bauer to offer to be the father of her baby. They just sat there, staring at each other, both trying to read the other.
            "You'd really want to do that?" she whispered.
            He took a moment to think before nodding. "I want to help you. And…I want to be a part of your baby's life, regardless. You're my best friend, Chloe. I'd only be involved as much as you want me too. It's all up to you."
            She frowned. "This isn't going to be weird, is it?"
            Jack laughed. "A little bit. But if you want to do this all on your own, you can. At least let me help out with this part.
            Looking down, Chloe nervously rubbed at her fingers. She had hated every one of the profiles, and the truth was, Jack was the only man she really wanted to have a baby with.
            "Okay," she whispered, looking up at him again with a small smile. "Okay."


Chapter 3
failegaidin: (Default)
            As Jack passed by the break room, he stopped to peer in the little window in the door. He saw Chloe and Nadia hunched over the table, multiple files spread out before them. Their faces were serious, and Jack was dying to know what they were talking about. But this wasn't the first time he had found them like this, and he had learned in the past week that it was best if he just minded his own business. Every time he approached them, the files were quickly shut and taken out of arm's reach, and he didn't even get a chance to ask what was going on.
            He had tried to steal one of the files from Chloe's desk. Convincing Milo to distract Chloe in Tech 1, Jack had taken his lock pick set and tried to break into her drawers. He found a locked box in the bottom of one of the drawers, and he was determinedly trying to bypass the lock when a very angry Chloe cleared her throat behind him. Abandoning the drawer, he stood up slowly, avoiding her wrathful gaze.
            "You sent Milo to distract me?"
            "I just wanted to see-"
            "Did you!?"
            Jack nodded, looking down at the ground.
            "So it's your fault he kissed me?"
            His head shot up. "He kissed you!?"
            Chloe turned her head to look behind him, and Jack's eyes followed hers. He saw Nadia grabbing Milo by the ear and dragging him off the floor, looking non too happy.
            "See what you did?" she snapped.
            "If you would just tell me what's in those files-"
            "None of your business, Jack."
            "But-"
            "Go."
            "Chloe-"
            "Leave it, Jack. And take your lock picks with you."
            But his curiosity was killing him, and it only got worse every time he saw the two women whispering conspiratorially. He tried eavesdropping too, but Bill had come looking for him and interrupted. The second time he tried, Chloe had opened a door right into his head, glaring at him when she realized what he was doing.
            "God, Jack, Grow up," she hissed.
            For the next two days, Jack had minded his business. When he saw Chloe and Nadia together, he simply turned around and walked the other way. He didn't ask them any questions, and in general he just avoided them. But inside, he was a wreck. Not knowing what they were talking about was eating at him every day. He wasn't sure why this was so important to him, but he knew that he didn't like Chloe keeping any secrets from him. Finally, he decided that he'd had enough.
            Jack watched her from his office, waiting for her to leave her station. He knew that he wouldn't get anything out of her if they were in front of other people, but maybe if they were alone…He grinned when he saw her get up early in the afternoon and head to Tech 1. He waited a couple minutes, giving her enough time to get down there and become engrossed in whatever she had to do. Then he rose from his desk and casually followed her.
            He slipped into the room quietly, locking the door behind him. Moving to a dark corner, he waited for her to complete her task. She was focused on the computer screen in front of her, and she hadn't noticed his entrance. Jack smiled as he watched her. It had been years since he'd gotten the chance to just…look at her. She was his best friend, but in the most unconventional way. He suddenly found himself wanting to know the little things about her…how she liked her coffee, what she was like when she woke up, what her favorite movie was. He was startled out of his thoughts as Chloe put the computer back and turned for the exit. Jack waited for her to get to the door and realize that it was locked. She frowned at it, knowing that she hadn't been the one to lock it. As she turned to look around the room suspiciously, Jack grabbed her by the hips and pushed her back up against the door.
            "Jack," she gasped, shocked at his sudden proximity. Gathering her thoughts, she glared up at him. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
            "Tell me, Chloe," he said, his voice low.
            "Tell you what?" she snapped back.
            "Those files. I want to know what's in those files. I want to know what you and Nadia have been whispering about for the past week."
            '"I told you. It's none of your business."
            "I want to know."
            "I don't care!"
            "You know I'll eventually find out, Chloe. I'll keep trying to break into your desk, and eavesdrop, and cornering you in small dark rooms." At that, Chloe blushed, reminded of how close his body was to hers. "So you might as well just tell me now and save us both the trouble."
            Chloe looked down, biting her lip. When she brought her eyes back to his, they were full of worry and her face was serious. "Why do you care so much?"
            Jack sighed, sobering his mood. "It's not just the curiosity, Chloe. You're my friend, and I get the feeling that this is important to you…and that makes me want to know. If it's important to you…that makes me care."
            "I want to have a baby," she blurted.
            Her statement caught Jack completely off-guard, and he stared at her in shock. "What?"
            "You wanted to know what this is all about. I want a baby."
            He shook his head. "I don't get it."
            Chloe rolled her eyes. "I knew you wouldn't."
            He smiled at her. "Then explain it to me."
            She looked at him seriously again. "You really want to know?"
            "Yes."
            "Then I'll come by your office when my shift is over, okay? I'll explain it then."
            "Promise?"
            She sighed. "Yes, Jack. I promise. I'll tell you everything."
            He nodded. "Good." Reaching over, he unlocked the door. Then he leaned down to whisper in her ear. "Thank you."
            Trying to control her body's responses, Chloe rolled her eyes at him and stalked back to her station. 


Chapter 2

Crush

May. 8th, 2007 11:12 pm
failegaidin: (Default)

            Chloe didn't even look up as Jack perched himself on the edge of her desk. He was always doing that – just sitting there. Sometimes he spoke, but she thought that more often than not, he was thinking. That maybe he needed to leave his office and sit with a friend to focus. This time he had brought a file with him, but she could tell from the stillness of his eyes that he wasn't reading it.

            "You doing anything tonight?" he asked suddenly.

            Chloe frowned. "No. Why?"

            Jack shrugged. "I was thinking maybe we could watch a movie."

            She dragged her eyes away from her screen to look up at him in confusion. "A movie?"

            "Yeah, you know, we could order out some dinner and watch a movie together."

            Chloe bit her lip as she tried to think. She and Jack had been spending more time together since his return from China, but they never made any real plans. They just grabbed dinner after work, or ordered out from work when they had to stay late. This was new territory, and she didn't quite know what to do.

            "Okay," she said slowly.

            Jack nodded. "Okay then. I'll pick up the food and the movie and meet you at your place around seven?"

            Chloe nodded, her voice suddenly not working.

            "Good." He smiled at her and walked back up to his office.

            As Chloe tried to refocus on her screen, Nadia walked over and sat just as Jack had. Chloe tried to ignore the other woman, but Nadia just kept staring at her with an amused look on her face.  

            "What?" she snapped, finally looking up at her.

            "Did Jack Bauer just ask you out on a date?"

            "No."

            "Sure sounded like it."

            "We're just watching a movie. Friends watch movies, Nadia."

            "Uh-huh. And who's place are you watching the movie at?"

            "Mine," Chloe answered, turning her attention back to her screen.

            "And where is the TV in your place, Chloe?" Nadia asked, struggling to contain her laughter.

            Chloe blushed suddenly as she realized what Nadia was getting at.

            "My bedroom," she whispered.

 

***

 

            Chloe decided that the Fates were plotting against her. She tried to get Jack alone, to tell him that they should go to his place, or go out to see a movie. But he had been sent out in the field for a mission almost immediately after they had set their plans. She tried to talk to him when he got back, but Nadia immediately pulled him in for his debrief. She waited in his office for him, but the minute he got in, he got a call from Bill because he wanted him in on a bigwig conference call that had taken the rest of the day.

            She packed up her things with trembling fingers, hoping that Jack would stop by her station before he left. Her stomach knotted as time went by and more and more people went home for the day. Finally, Milo walked up to her station on his way out the door.

            "Hey, Chloe."

            "Hi, Milo," she responded, her tension obvious in her voice.

            "Are you okay?"

            "I'm fine." She paused, softening her tone. "Have you seen Jack?"

            "Yeah, actually. He left a little while ago."

            "He did?" she squeaked.

            Milo gave her a curious look. "Yeah…but he asked me to tell you that he'd see you at seven."

            "Okay, thanks." She tried to smile at him as she grabbed her purse and started to head out. Milo fell into step beside her.

            "So you guys are having dinner tonight?"

            "Yeah, so?" she snapped.

            "Nothing. I'm glad you guys actually get to spend time together now. It's good for you both." He fell quiet, struggling with his thoughts. "Chloe?"

            "What?"

            "I know it's not of my business, but…"

            "What, Milo?"

            "I think Jack has a crush on you."

            Chloe stopped. "Excuse me?"

            Milo stopped too. "You heard me."

            She bit her tongue to keep in a sharp retort. Looking down at the ground and scuffing her foot against the floor, she asked quietly, "Really?"

            Milo's face lit up. "Yeah, I really do. And you know what else?" She looked up at him again. "I think you two are just right for each other." He kissed her on the cheek and continued walking out, leaving Chloe to stand there in confusion. "Have fun tonight, Chloe," he called over his shoulder.

 

***

 

            She had a dilemma. Jack was going to be there any minute, and Chloe had no idea what to wear. She couldn't wear her work clothes, because you didn't wear a skirt in your own house to watch a movie. She wanted to be comfortable – but she also wanted to be cute. But her cute bed clothes weren't appropriate for having a friend over. The doorbell rang, and she jumped to throw on a pair of shorts and t-shirt, the necessity to be clothed at all overcoming her other problems.

            Chloe opened the door, smiling at the sight of Jack laden down with pizza, beer and movies. He returned her smile, and they both stood there stupidly until Chloe shook herself out of her reverie and let him in. She closed the door behind them and they stood awkwardly in the living in the room, neither sure of what to do next.

            "Uh, Chloe?"

            "Yeah?"

            "Where's your TV?"

            Chloe blushed furiously. "In my room."

            Jack turned to look at her, his eyes wide in surprise. "You don't have a TV in your living room?"

            She looked down at the carpet, wishing it would open up and swallow her whole. "No. But we could move it out here if you want. It wouldn't be that hard…"

            "It's fine, Chloe. Bed's more comfortable anyway."

            Chloe snapped her head up, shocked at his answer and unable to speak. He took her silence as hesitancy to have him in her bedroom.

            "Is that okay with you?" he asked.

            She nodded.

            "It's okay if we eat in there too?"

            She nodded again, and led him down to her room when he motioned that he would follow. Opening the door, she thanks the powers that be that she had gotten home in time to make the bed and pick the clothes up off of the floor. Jack kicked off his shoes and put the pizza, beer and movies on top of her bureau. He eyed her shorts jealously before looking down at his own jeans.

            "Wish I had thought of that," he said.

            "Thought of what?"

            "Comfortable pants."

            Chloe giggled, her nervousness making her a little giddy. "I have a pair that would fit you, you know."

            Jack raised his eyebrows. "Really?"

            Chloe nodded. "Yup. Wanna try them?"

            Jack smiled at her shyly. "I'd love to, thanks."

            Try to hide her blush at the thought of Jack Bauer wearing her pants, Chloe dug through her drawers until she found the pair men’s large pants that she saved for when she needed comfort clothes. She handed them to him, and then left the room, going to the kitchen to get paper plates for the pizza.

            She found it difficult to breathe when she came back into her room. She froze in the doorway, staring in shock at the sight of Jack wearing her pants and lying in her bed. He had the pizza open in front of him, and he was looking intently at her DVD remote.

            “A little too sophisticated for you?” she asked.

            Jack looked up in surprise. “Maybe.”

            Chloe walked to the bed, handing him the plates and taking the remote gingerly from his grasp. “So what are we watching?”

            “A classic.”

            Chloe raised an eyebrow. “Which classic?”

            “The Exorcist.”

            She just stared at him, disbelief clear on her face. “Are you serious?”

            Jack’s look grew defensive. “What’s wrong with The Exorcist?”

            “Nothing. Except that it’s not scary.”

            He looked at her incredulously. “What? How can you say that? It’s the scariest movie ever made!”

            “It’s really not, Jack.”

            He pouted a little, and Chloe found herself wanting to kiss him right then and there. Shaking her head, she tried to dispel that image. “Did you get anything else?”

            His face brightened again. “Yep.”

            “What is it?”

            Jack got out of bed and went to the TV, putting a DVD in the machine. “Not telling.”

            “Come on, Jack.”

            “Nope. You’re just going to have to watch.”

            The red FBI Warning screen came up, and Jack crawled back into bed, settling next to Chloe. She sat tensely, not sure if she should sit close, keep her distance, get under the covers or simply go running from the room.

            She heard a deep chuckle from Jack’s side of the bed. “Relax, Chloe.”

 

***

 

            Thirty minutes later, Chloe was completely under the covers, the pizza and beer consumed and forgotten. She had the blanket pulled up to her chin, and she kept scooting closer to Jack.

            “I hate you,” she snapped.

            “Chloe,” he laughed. “It’s just a doll.”

            “A crazy homicidal evil doll.”

            Jack laughed, but then he noticed that Chloe was actually shaking. Frowning slightly, he slid over to her and wrapped his arm around her, tucking her into him. She curled against him, wrapping her arms around his torso. He leaned his head down to whisper in her ear.

            “Are you okay?”

            “I’m fine.”

            “Chloe, you’re shaking.”

            She snuggled closer, forgetting that she was supposed to be nervous and uncomfortable. “I don’t like dolls.”

            “Okay.”

            “No, I really don’t like dolls. As in, I’m scared to death of them and I have been since I was a kid.”

            Jack pulled back slightly to look at her. “What happened?’

            Keeping her eyes focused on the television, she answered in a quiet voice. “My cousin locked me in my closet once. We were having a huge family party, and nobody could hear me yelling. I was in there for hours. I had a lot of dolls. My mom had made me put them all in the closet before the party, so that my room was neat and clean. It was so dark in there, and they were all just staring at me…my mind kept playing tricks on me and…I made my mom get rid of them after that. Every single one.”

            Jack looked at her in surprise – he hadn’t been expecting her to open up to him so much. “Oh, Chlo…Why didn’t you tell me? We could have watched something else.”

            “I’m okay…as long as you’re here.”

            He pulled her even closer, bringing her body flush against his own and brought his mouth back to her ear. “Don’t worry, Chloe. I won’t let any crazy homicidal evil dolls get you.”

            At that, Chloe’s head jerked up, and she found herself nose-to-nose with Jack. His lips were right there, and their proximity prompted her to throw caution to the wind. She pressed her lips against his firmly, sighing at how good it felt. Jack’s hands came up to tangle in her hair, and he tilted his head to deepen the kiss. As their tongues began to move against each other, Jack kicked the empty pizza box off the bed and rolled on top of her. The movie completely forgotten, he kissed down her neck, reveling in the moans he was eliciting from her. He kissed down her chest, pausing at her stomach and taking his time as he inched her shirt up so that he could get at her skin. Running his tongue around her belly button, he moved up again, dragging his body hard across hers.

As he reached her lips again, Chloe pulled back suddenly, pushing him off of her and rummaging through the sheets. Jack was worried at first that she didn’t want this, that he had gone too far. But as he watched her dig through the bed, he found himself grinning like a fool.

            “Chloe, what are you doing?”

            “Looking for something,” she muttered.

            “What?”

            “The remote,” she said triumphantly as she finally found it.

            He laughed as she shut the TV off. “What was that all about?”

            She frowned at him. “I’m not having sex with Chucky watching us, Jack.”

            “So we’re having sex, huh?”

            Chloe’s face fell and she dropped her eyes from his. “Well…I mean…”

            Jack tackled her, pinning her body beneath his holding her face steady so that she had to look at him. “Don’t.”

            “Don’t what?”

            “Second guess yourself. I want this. I want you.”

            “Are you sure?”

            “Chloe, I’ve been pacing between my office and your station, and then perching on the edge of your station for six months, trying to work up the courage to ask you out.”

            A small smile spread across her face. “You want to ask me out?”

            “Yeah,” he whispered.

            She frowned again. “Well, you can do that later. I want to have sex now.”

            “You’re demanding.”

            Rolling him over onto his back and straddling him, she whispered, “You have no idea.”

           

           

 

 

failegaidin: (Default)
Okay. It's pointless fluff. I needed a pick-me-up after the last one where I killed Chloe three times. So yeah...fluff...enjoy :)


            Jack stopped breathing the second he heard gunfire over his comm unit. Chloe had been set up with her computer in one of the CTU vans, with only one of the rookies to protect her. But the mission had been a small one, and the risks had seemed almost negligible. That was the only reason Jack had let Bill send Chloe out with them…
            With the eruption of gunfire, Jack immediately ran for the van. As he rounded the corner and the scene came into focus, he stopped dead in his tracks. Chloe was lying on the ground, gun in hand, while her attacker was sprawled out nearby, blood spilling out of his three gaping chest wounds. Stirring from his stupor, Jack ran over to Chloe, eyes quickly scanning her body to make sure that she hadn't been shot.
            "Are you alright?" he asked worriedly, pulling her to her feet.
            Chloe rolled her eyes. "I'm fine, Jack. Here," she handed him the gun. "Take this."
            "Where did you get a gun?"
            She pointed behind him. "The new guy got knocked out. I took his gun. Figured it would come in handy."
            Jack didn't even spare the guy a look. "You're sure you're alright?"
            She sighed. "Yes. I'm fine. Can we go now?"
            He ran his eyes over her again. "You're bleeding."
            Chloe looked down and saw that her jeans were ripped and her knee was skinned. She turned her eyes back to Jack with an incredulous look. "Are you serious? It's a scratch."
            "You're bleeding."
            "I'll live."
            "Let me see."
            "No."
            "Chloe…"
            "Seriously, Jack. It's not life-threatening. And we need to get back to CTU."
            He sighed. "You're letting me check it out when we get back."
            "If I do, will you promise to leave it alone after?"
            "Yes."
            "Fine," she muttered, climbing into the van.
 
***
 
            She thought that he had forgotten about it. Not that it bothered her, but he had made such a fuss about checking on her knee before that she was a little surprised when he let her go back to work and have her debrief with Buchanan. Even though his concern had been annoying…she had found it touching as well. But he had disappeared somewhere as soon as they got back, and she supposed that he had found something else to do.
            Chloe sat down at her station, trying to clear her head and focus on work. She had a job to do, and thinking about Jack was only going to distract her. Scowling at her screen she began typing furiously.
            It wasn't long before she felt someone standing behind her. She tried to ignore it, hoping that the person would go away. Instead, she had to stifle a small yelp as someone leaned over her shoulder, their lips right against her ear.
            "Let's go."
            It took an enormous amount of self-control for Chloe to not pass out right then and there. She had never heard Jack Bauer's voice that low, and she was embarrassed at how much it turned her on.
            "Excuse me?" she managed to choke out, refusing to turn around.
            "I told you we were going to take a look at that cut when we got back. I let you get all your important work done. Now it's time for you to come with me."
            Chloe frowned. "Jack, you can't just order me around-"
            "Chloe," he somehow managed to lower his voice even more. "If you don't get up and come willingly, I will manhandle you in front of the entire floor."
            She fought to control her breathing as images of Jack touching her came unbidden. Willing them to go away, she stood up abruptly, forcing Jack to take a couple steps back.
            "You are so difficult," she muttered.
 
***
 
            He took her to one of the holding rooms, closing and locking the door behind him. She saw that a first aid kit was already on the table. Jack took her by the elbow and led her over to it, patting the tabletop and looking at her expectantly.
            "What?" she snapped.
            "Hop up."
            "Why?"
            He sighed. "Just do it, Chloe."
            She didn't know why she was arguing with him so much. His attitude at her station had really thrown her off and she was on unfamiliar ground. That always made her cranky. Giving him another hard glare, she sat on top of the table, her legs hanging down.
            Jack pulled the chair right in front of her left knee, sitting down and opening the first aid kit. He had noticed how tense she had gotten when he'd whispered in her ear, and now she was snapping more than usual. He hoped that wasn't a bad sign.
            Pulling out an antiseptic wipe, he gingerly applied it to the scrape on her knee. She was right – it was just a scratch, and there was hardly any blood, but he continued to clean it anyway.
            She hissed as soon as the antiseptic hit her cut. Jack looked up at her, amusement in his eyes. "Don't be such a baby."
            Chloe scowled at him. "A baby? I took down a bad guy all by myself!"
            Jack laughed as he continued cleaning the wound. "Yeah, but you're hissing at a tiny scrape now."
            "A tiny scrape that you insisted had to be checked out."
            "I didn't want it to get infected."
            She stuck her tongue out at him. Jack laughed again, drying the cut and placing a band-aid on it. He let his fingers linger, letting them run along the rip in her jeans, tracing her kneecap. Chloe watched him, wondering why he hadn't moved yet. The feeling of his fingers on her skin distracted her from forming any coherent sentences, until she saw that his hands were shaking. Frowning in worry, she took them in her own, forcing him to look up at her.
            "Jack, what's wrong?"
            He shook his head and tried to pull his hands away. "Nothing."
            Chloe grip tightened. "You're shaking," she whispered.
            "I was scared to death that I'd find you dead when I got back," he explained. "I heard the shots, and I came running, but I was afraid I wouldn't get there in time…"
            "But I'm okay. It's just a scratch, Jack."
            "I know," he whispered.
            Her breath hitched when Jack leaned over and placed his lips on her knee. He waited nervously for her to say something, to stop him, but she remained silent. Bringing both hands to hold her leg, he began to kiss up the top of her thigh slowly. His hands ran down her calf to her ankle and back up again, forcing Chloe to close her eyes in pleasure.
            She opened her eyes again when his hands left her leg, wondering why he had stopped. But she found that he had stood up and moved to stand between her legs, looking down at her. His hands moved up and down her arms, eventually coming to rest in her hair, his fingers combing through the brown tresses. His gaze was intense, and Chloe found herself drowning in it.
            "What are you doing?" she asked, her voice small.
            His fingers froze. "Do you want me to stop?"
            Chloe bit her lip. "That depends."
            His eyes widened in surprise. "On what?"
            She looked around the room nervously, trying to gather her thoughts. "On what happens after."
            Jack nodded in understanding. Leaning in, he brought his lips to her ear, his voice lowering and making her shiver. "After I make-out with you on this table, I'm going to take you home – I've already told Buchanan that you were done for the day," as he spoke, his hands came down to her hips, running just under her shirt along her sides. "When we get home, I'm going to kiss every inch of you, over and over and over again until you can't think straight, slowly pulling off every stitch of clothing you have on. Then I'm going to tease you until you're begging for me to come inside you. And then I will, again and again until you're screaming my name at the top of your lungs."
            "J-jack…" she stuttered, her body responding to his touch and his words. Unable to resist, she wrapped her legs around his waist, dragging him up against her. He groaned at the contact, and Chloe gasped at how hard he was. Her nails dug into his arms as he brought his lips tantalizingly close to hers.
            "And then," he continued, his voice husky with desire. "I'm going to spend every night showing you how much I love you." When she looked up at him in surprise, Jack chuckled. "I want to come home with you, Chloe. And I don't want to leave. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life making sure you never forget that."
            Before she could respond, his lips were on hers, coaxing them open slowly and gently. Chloe smiled to herself – it seemed that Jack was more nervous than he sounded. He kissed her with a slight hesitation, as though waiting for her to pull away. Wanting to quell his anxiety, Chloe cradled his face and tilted her head to deepen the kiss. As they're tongues moved together, Jack pulled her closer, losing himself in the feel of her.
           
***
 
            Ten minutes later, they left the holding room, Chloe furiously trying to fix her hair and straighten her clothing. Jack smiled at her, moving some stray hairs out of her face. Chloe scowled at him.
            "You mussed me," she hissed.
            "Isn't that what I was supposed to do?"
            "Not at work! You're lucky I love you."
            Jack stopped, looking down at her. "You love me?"
            "Okay, were you paying attention at all in there?"
            "You never said you loved me."
            "No, but I was practically dry-humping you."
            Jack nearly swallowed his tongue. "I thought…I thought I was going to have to persuade you."
            Chloe grabbed his face, pulling him to her. "Jack Bauer, I love you. I have loved you since…" she frowned. "Okay, well, I'm not going to admit that because it makes me sound really pathetic. But I love you."
            He smiled and kissed her, pulling her body close to his before someone cleared their throat behind them. They jumped and turned to see Bill Buchanan standing behind them.
            "I thought you two had left already."
            "On our way out now, Bill," Jack told him.
            "Jack, you told me you were leaving almost fifteen minutes ago," Bill replied, a twinkle in his eye.
            Jack blushed, but Chloe just grabbed his hand and started dragging him down the hallway.
            "It's about damn time, you two!" Bill yelled after them.
 
           
failegaidin: (Default)
Okay, so for this prompt, I had a really weird idea. It started out as a songfic, and grew into something odd from there. I really am proud of it, and it might be my favorite thing that I've written. So please read, and please give feedback. The song is "Your Guardian Angel" by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Thanks to [profile] abbylfor introducing me to the band, [profile] sparky_girl82for introducing me to the song, and to rory, holly and glory for reading and commenting (and making me laugh about killer plot bunnies in their batcave and stealth hares).

            Everyone was crying. Some were doing it silently, but Jack could hear strangled sobs scattered around the room as well. To his left sat Bill and Karen, clutching at each other's hands. Karen's face was splotchy and devoid of makeup, while Bill tried to remain stoic even as the tears streamed down his face. To his right he saw Nadia and Milo. Both were were struggling to keep their cries quiet, and Nadia rubbed comforting circles on his back while gripping his hand with hers. They seemed to be trying to give their strength to the other, and therefore managed to hold each other up.

            Jack watched as Milo took a shaky breath and stood up slowly. He walked to the nearby wall and picked up the guitar that was leaning against it. Then he sat on a stool next to the flowers and cleared his throat before speaking.

            "She'd yell at all of us, you know, if she were here. She hated when people made a big fuss over her." He paused, his bottom lip trembling as he tried to stem the sadness that threatened to overtake him. "This was her favorite song," he choked out.

            Jack listened closely as Milo began to play. He focused on the words, pushing out the cries around him.

 

            "When I see your smile

                Tears fun down my face I can't replace

                And now that I'm strong I have figured out

                How this world turns cold and it breaks through my soul

                And I know deep inside me I can be the one."

 

                It was then that Jack looked at the coffin sitting in front of him. His chest constricted and tears filled his eyes as he found himself staring at Chloe. She looked serene as she laid there, as Jack's world crashed all around him. The words that Milo sang filled his head and he started to drown in them.

               

                "I will never let you fall

                I'll stand up with you forever

                I'll be there for you through it all

                Even if saving you sends me to heaven

 

                It's okay. It's okay. It's okay.

                Seasons are changing

                And waves are crashing

                And stars are falling all for us

                Days grow longer and nights grow shorter

                I can show you I'll be the one

 

                I will never let you fall

                I'll stand up with you forever

                I'll be there for you through it all

                Even if saving you sends me to heaven

 

                'Cause you're my, you're my, my, my true love, my whole heart

                Please don't throw that away

                'Cause I'm here for you

                Please don't walk away and

                Please tell me you'll stay

 

                Use me as you will

                Pull my strings just for a thrill

                And I know I'll be okay

                Though my skies are turning gray

 

                I will never let you fall

                I'll stand up with you forever

                I'll be there for you through it all

                Even if saving you sends me to heaven."

 

            The last note faded away, but the other noises of the room didn't return. Jack looked around him, needing to find someone who could tell him how this had happened. But as his gaze rested on those in the room, he saw that they were no longer moving. Their faces looked as though they'd been chiseled in stone as they were mourning – he could still see the paths of Nadia's tears down her cheeks, and one tear was frozen in place.

            Jack stood up, moving towards the coffin. He paused to examine Milo, who had tears standing still all down his face. Turning away, he walked up to Chloe, letting his own tears fall as he stared at her.

            "Chloe," he said, his voice breaking.

            He reached out his hand, needing to touch her. But his fingers stopped abruptly mere centimeters from her skin as a voice swept through the room.

            "She died for you," it whispered.

 

***

 

            The street was terribly crowded, but Jack wasn't getting jostled around. There seemed to be a clear space around him that everyone else avoided. He tried to focus on some of the people walking nearby, but they went by in blurs of color, and Jack found himself getting dizzy. He desperately searched for something steady to look at, and his eyes fell on Milo. The younger man was standing on the street corner, playing a guitar.

 

            "I will never let you fall

                I'll stand up with you forever

                I'll be there for you through it all

                Even if saving you sends me to heaven."

 

            Jack frowned as the words of the song reached his ears. Hadn't he heard that somewhere before?

            "Jack!"

            He turned to see Chloe running toward him, a beautiful smile lighting up her face. He returned her smile, despite the nagging feeling that something was wrong. When she reached him, Chloe catapulted herself into his arms. Jack held her tightly, wishing he could hold her forever. He started slightly as scenes flashed before his eyes. He saw Chloe running toward him, fear in her eyes. She launched herself into his arms and he closed his eyes as he held her close. There was a gun in his hand and a helicopter behind him, and he felt relief wash over him as realized that he had gotten to her in time…

            Chloe pulled back when she felt him stiffen, worry in her eyes as she looked at him. Stroking his cheek with her hand, she asked, "Are you alright?"

            Jack nodded, the vision gone. He gave her a gentle smile. "Yeah. I am."

            She beamed at him before leaning in to kiss him. He immediately responded, his tongue sliding into her mouth. She groaned in pleasure, wrapping her arms around him and using her fingers to tease the hairs at the nape of his neck.

            Reluctantly Chloe dragged her lips away from his, but she kept their bodies close. "Well, you're eager," she commented.

            Jack laughed. "I feel like I haven't touched you in years," he whispered.

            Echoing his laugh, Chloe leaned in to kiss him again. As her face neared his, her expression changed suddenly. Her mouth froze in a little 'o' and her eyes glazed over in pain. Jack looked down in fear and saw the tip of a knife protruding from her stomach as Milo's voice broke through again.

 

            "Use me as you will

                Pull my strings just for a thrill

                And I know I'll be okay

                Though my skies are turning gray."

 

            Chloe's hands loosened their grip and fell from his neck. He watched in horror as she crumpled to the ground. As tears flooded his eyes, Jack realized that another figure was standing behind Chloe. He looked up to see Nina Myers standing there, holding a bloody knife. She smiled cruelly at him.

            "You're cursed, Jack," she whispered. "Everyone you touch winds up dead."

 

***

 

            The explosion knocked him off  his feet. He stared in shocked pain at the fireball that used to be a warehouse. He had been talking to Chloe on his cell phone, urging her to forget the encrypted files and to get out of there. They had gotten intel that the terrorist cell had learned of CTU's intentions to retrieve the files and that they were going to blow the place. But Chloe was insistent on getting what they came for, arguing with Jack over the phone even as she went about her job.

            Now he was left staring at the burning rubble that had buried her. He never should have let her go in there. But none of the men on his team knew enough about computers, and Milo had been injured earlier in the day. Chloe had just looked at him and said, "I'll do it," before he could even ask. He had insisted that she wear a vest, but Kevlar did nothing in the face of C4.

            He tried to move, but his body and mind had shut down. All he could hear were Chloe's screams as fire had burst through the building. Tears coursed down his face, but he couldn't' feel them. The other team members began to slowly pick themselves up off the ground as Jack let his face settle in the dirt, the echoes of Chloe's screams piercing his heart over and over.

            "Jack?"

            He heard her voice, but he refused to lift his eyes. Her voice would torture him for the rest of his life.

            "Jack?"

            This time his head snapped up when he heard the exclamations of hi team members. Far to the side of the burning building, Jack saw a shadowy figure slowly struggling to stand.

            "Chloe?" he croaked out. Pushing himself up, Jack stumbled forward. "Chloe?" he screamed, racing towards her.

            "Jack?"

            They collided into each other. Their hands slid over the body of the other, each making sure that they were really there. Jack rained kisses all over Chloe's face and neck while she desperately clung to him.

            "Oh God, Chloe. I thought you were dead," he wept as he cradled her face in his hands.

            Without another word, Chloe grabbed his face and kissed him, pouring every ounce of herself into it. Jack's arms came around her waist as he pulled her closer, wanting to touch every inch of her. Their kisses became desperate, frantic as they sunk into each other and forgot the world…

            Jack frowned in confusion as he found that he was watching himself. A few yards ahead, he could see himself kissing Chloe, desperately holding her as though she could disappear at any moment. But he looked down and realized that he was still lying on the ground, the warehouse burning nearby.

            The image of him and Chloe flickered and he shook his head in an attempt to clear it. Each time the image flickered, though, another appeared beside it. Squinting, he saw that the other was of someone lying face down in the dirt, not moving. Doyle was squatting beside them, checking for a  pulse.

            Jack turned his head as he realized that he could hear music. One of the CTU vehicles had it's driver door open, and he could hear a song floating through the night air.

 

            "It's okay. It's okay. It's okay.

                Seasons are changing

                And waves are crashing

                And stars are falling all for us

                Days grow longer and nights grow shorter

                I can show you I'll be the one."

 

                He returned his attention to the dueling images before him, but now the one of he and Chloe together was fading quickly. The sight of Doyle squatting over a body grew more solid, and soon it was the only one he could see. Doyle raised his head to look him, tears shining in his eyes.

            "Chloe's dead, Jack. You killed her," he whispered.

           

***

 

            His hands were held behind his back and a swift kick from behind brought him down to his knees. Jack watched in horror as two more men dragged her in. She was bloody and bruised, and her clothes were ripped in places. He knew that she was scared, but she worked hard to keep her face stoic, not letting them see how they affected her. When she saw him kneeling there, her lower lip trembled, threatening to let loose a torrent of emotion. But her eyes locked on his and she kept her head held high.

            Philip Bauer walked into the room, standing between Jack and Chloe. He looked from one to the other, a conceited smirk dancing across his face. “Well, now. Look at what we have here.” He looked at Jack. “My pathetic son,” He turned to look at Chloe. “And his guardian angel.”

            “You bastard,” Jack growled, earning him a swift kick in the ribs from one of the men standing next to him.

            Philip Bauer just looked at his son in utter contempt. “Kill him,” he said dismissively, turning his back on his child.

            “Noooo!” The scream ripped itself out of Chloe’s throat, stopping everyone in the room and making them stare at her.

            Philip turned back. “You object?”

            Tears now slid down her face as she stared at Jack. She smiled at him briefly and then turned to face his father.

            “Take me instead.”

            “Why would I want you, when I kill him?”

            Chloe took a deep breath and stood up straight, looking him right in the eye. “I won’t fight you this time.”

            Philip’s eyes twinkled. “You won’t? You give me your word?”

            “I promise.”

            He looked over at Jack, who was watching the whole exchange with a look of utter confusion on his face. Smiling grimly, Philip walked over to Chloe, shooing away the men who were holding her. She tried not to shiver in disgust as he caressed her face, and it took everything in her power to not lash out when she felt his other hand on her breast. Jack struggled against the men holding him, but there were too many. Tears escaped his eyes as he realized the deal that Chloe was making to save him.

            “No!” he yelled. “No, Chloe – don’t do this!”

            “You’ll let him go? You’ll leave him alone?” she asked, her eyes still on Philip.

            “You have my word.”

            Chloe scowled. “Good. Because if I find out anything happened to him, I will personally rip your balls off.”

            Philip let out a hollow laugh. Looking at his men he said, “Let him go. She’s bought his freedom,” He turned to Jack. “But if you try anything, Jack, I will kill her. Plain and simple.”

            They let go of his arms and Jack found himself just standing there, unable to do anything. He looked at Chloe with such pain that her heart broke. Pushing away from Philip, she ran up to him and grabbed his face in her hands, kissing him soundly. She pulled back, resting her forehead against his, the tears falling rapidly from her eyes.

            “Don’t do this,” Jack wept brokenly.

            She smiled at him sadly and sang in a whisper:

                    "I will never let you fall

                I'll stand up with you forever

                I'll be there for you through it all

                Even if saving you sends me to heaven

                She kissed him again before whispering, “I love you.”

            And then Philip Bauer was pulling her back, letting his hands roam over her body as he wanted. “Go Jack. Unless you want her to die for nothing.”

            The men behind him pushed him roughly and all but dragged him from the warehouse. He looked back at Chloe one last time, and she mouthed to him silently, “I love you.”

 

***

 

            “Jack? Jack! You need to wake up!”

            He had been thrashing for the past twenty minutes, and Chloe was starting to really worry. She was contemplating calling Milo or 911 or both, because he just wouldn’t wake up. Tears were streaming down his face and he kept whispering her name and the word “no” over and over again. She wanted to scream or cry or…something. Couldn’t the man even sleep in peace? Why did he have to dream that she was hurting him?

            She straddled him, using the leverage to shake him harder, calling his name louder. She nearly fell off the bed as he came shooting up, his breathing labored and his eyes wild. He looked around the room desperately, trying to figure out where he was. When his eyes rested on Chloe sitting on top of him, he thought he his heart would burst from sheer relief. She smiled shyly, grateful that he was finally awake.

            “Hey,” she whispered.

            Without a word, Jack grabbed her face and kissed her, plunging his tongue into her mouth. Chloe’s eyes widened in disbelief, and she started to struggle against him. He moved one arm to wrap around her waist, using it to pull her farther up his lap and closer to his chest, and Chloe sank into the kiss.

            Their tongues danced wildly as she brought her arms up around his neck, grinding her hips into his. Jack groaned in pleasure, holding her tighter and letting one hand drift up her back, under her shirt. Chloe yelped in surprise as Jack rolled her over onto her back, letting his hands wander as his mouth continued the assault on hers. She nearly died from the feeling of his hands everywhere – they crept up her legs and under her boxer shorts, they played with her quickly hardening nipples, and left a trail of fire wherever they touched. She let her own hand slide down his chest to his groin, resting there when she felt him hard against her. It wasn’t until his mouth moved down to her aching breasts that Chloe’s mind started working again.

            “Wait, Jack,” she protested breathlessly. “Stop.”

            He brought his face back up to hers, and she was shocked at the desperation and pain in them. “Please,” he pleaded. “Don’t make me stop.”

            She caressed his cheek gently and smiled at him. “We need to talk at least a little first, Jack. If you’re sure you still want to after…I won’t stop you.”

            Jack nodded, rolling off of her and laying on his side so that he could face her. He kept one hand on her hip, though, completely unwilling to break contact with her.

            “What were you dreaming about?” she asked.

            “I can’t,” he whispered, his voice breaking again.

            “Jack,” she said firmly, but gently. “You have to. I need to know.”

            He closed his eyes. “You.”

            Chloe sighed. “I got that much. You were moaning my name and saying “no” over and over again.” She paused. “What was I doing to you?” she asked in a small voice.

            Jack’s eyes snapped open and his hand flew to cradle her face. “Nothing. Oh God, Chloe, you weren’t do anything wrong. You just kept…dying. Every time I thought I had found you and we were going to be okay…you died. Or you…” his voice dropped until it was barely audible. “Or you sacrificed yourself for me.” He looked at her imploringly. “Please don’t make me go into detail.”

            Seeing the pain in his eyes and hearing it in his voice was like a knife in her heart. Chloe ran her fingers through his short hair, sliding herself closer to him. “You don’t have to, Jack. But I also don’t want you to do something you’ll regret just because you’re relieved that I’m alive.”

            “You think that’s why I kissed you?”

            “Isn’t it?”

            “No,” he said firmly. “Chloe, in all the dreams, I realized over and over again how much I love you. But every time we had a chance to be together, I lost you. When I woke up and saw you sitting there, I knew that I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t pretend that I wasn’t head over heels in love with you. Because if I lost you, and you didn’t know…After everything, Chloe, the very least you deserve is to know that I love you with every ounce of my being.”

            Jack was kept from saying anything more by Chloe’s lips on his. She quickly rolled on top him, straddling his hips again. This time she slid her tongue into his mouth, eliciting a lusty groan from him in the process. Grinding her hips down against him, she desperately ripped his shirt off, kissing her way down his chest as soon as his skin was exposed to her.

            Jack’s eyes nearly rolled in the back of his head at the feel of her lips on his bare flesh. She was driving him crazy, rolling her hips against his while they were still constricted by their clothing. As her hands began tugging at his pants and sliding under the waist band, he grabbed them and made her stop.

            “Wait,” he breathed, shocked that he had the strength to stop her.

            “What?” she asked.

            The fear in her eyes cut him to the quick, and he smoothed the hair out her eyes, rushing to reassure her. “What about you?” he asked.

            “What about me?” she replied, confusion clearly written on her face.

            “I need to hear it Chloe. I need to know.”

            Finally understand, Chloe once again took his face in her hands and rested her forehead against hers. “I love you,” she whispered, tears falling freely.

            The expression on her face was so like the one in his dream that Jack nearly broke. He reached for her again, and this time they moved slowly against each other, taking their time as they made sure that the other knew just how they felt. They sank bank onto the bed, completely enraptured and oblivious to the world.

 

 

failegaidin: (Default)

Title: Not Your Consolation Prize
Fandom: 24
Pairing: Jack/Chloe
Rating: R for language
Setting: Some time post Day 6
Word Count: 2093
Prompt: Argue
Requested by:

[profile] jessie611
Written for: [profile] 100_situations
A/N: Okay, this is both a prompt fic and a challenge fic. I took two of the challenges/prompts that Scoob posted, and then incorporated it into the Argue prompt that Jessie requested. Hope you enjoy! And thanks again to  [profile] sparky_girl82 for all the help! When Jack growls, that is totally her doing.

"I am not your consolation prize."

 

 

failegaidin: (Default)
New prompt fic! And the next one I'll work on is "Whisper" for [profile] kj_babygirl.


             He knew that he should be more surprised. He knew that he should be yelling and tearing them apart, rage spilling out uncontrollably. He knew that he should throw a punch and reclaim his territory. He knew that he should at least do something. He knew that he shouldn’t be just standing there, staring.
            But it was like a car wreck – tragic and mesmerizing, and he was unable to keep his eyes off of it. He watched as Morris pushed her harder against the wall, his hands roaming up and down her body. He watched as Audrey wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer, moaning as his tongue invaded her mouth.
            The two of them didn’t make any sense. As far as he knew, they had barely ever spoken to one another. But there they were…going at it desperately in a secluded corner.
            He idly wondered why he wasn’t upset. He wondered at the relief that flooded through him; the knowledge that it was finally over lifting a weight off his shoulders that had been pulling at him for more than four years.
            His relief was cut short though, as he remembered that there was one other person involved in this mess. He would have to tell her. She would be angry. She would yell. He expected those things. But he didn’t want to watch her heart break. He didn’t want to make her cry.
            With a deep breath, Jack turned his back and went in search of Chloe.
 
***
 
            Jack’s chest tightened painfully when he saw her standing at her station. She was talking with Milo, and he wished fervently that he didn’t have to do this. But they had always been honest with each other, and if she found this out from someone else…he shook his head and walked over to her.
            "Hey," she greeted him, a small smile on her lips.
            Jack nodded at Milo before turning to her. "I need to talk to you."
            She frowned. "Is everything okay?"
            "Can we talk?"
            Chloe nodded, and Jack took her by the elbow, leading her off of the floor. She kept glancing at him, trying to figure out what was going on. But he kept his face passive as he took her down a hallway and then gently pushed her into a holding room. She fidgeted nervously as Jack locked the door and turned back to face her.
            "What's going on, Jack?" she asked.
            Jack sighed, unable to look her in the eye. He cast his eyes to the ground, where he studied his feet as he thrust his hands into his pockets. "I have something to tell you…and you're not going to like it."
            Chloe closed her eyes and focused on keeping her breathing steady. She had known that this was going to happen, but that didn't make it hurt any less.
            "It's okay, Jack. I know."
            Jack raised his head and looked at her sharply. "You do?"
            Chloe avoided his gaze, still fidgeting. "Yeah, Jack. I expected it. I mean, it was only so long before you decided to leave…"
            "Leave?"
            Chloe brought her eyes back to his. "Yeah. That's what this is all about, isn't it? You're leaving again."
            Jack smiled at her gently and came up to her, placing his hands gently on her arms. "No, Chloe. I’m not leaving."
            "You're not?" she asked in surprise.
            "No. You're stuck with me."
            "Good," she mumbled. "Then what is it? What do you need to tell me?"
            He tightened his grip on her arms. "It's about Morris," he whispered.
            "What did he do this time?"
            Jack took a deep breath and then looked her straight in the eye. She deserved the truth, no matter how painful. "I saw him…with another woman."
            He watched the struggle on her face. Tears built up in her eyes and she stared down at the floor, but she kept her voice steady. "That's just him…he's always been a flirt. I've gotten used to it-"
            "Chloe, he was kissing her."
            Her lip trembled, but when she looked at him again, he was surprised to see anger in her eyes – anger directed at him. She pushed him away from her.
            "No."
            "Chloe, I saw it."
            "No! He wouldn't do that!"
            "Chloe-"
            "You're lying!"
            Jack looked at her in surprise. "I have never lied to you Chloe. We tell each other the truth – we always have." His head snapped to the side as she slapped him, his cheek burning in pain.
            "I don't believe you!"
            "Chloe…" he growled.
            "No! Just because you're miserable with D.C. Barbie doesn't mean you can try and sabotage my happiness. I know that misery loves company, but you don't get to pull me down with you, Jack!"  
            Jack stopped short, shock and pain on his face. He grabbed her arms again, dragging her face up to his. "Do you think I like telling you this? Do you think I like seeing you hurt and upset? That I enjoy hurting the one person I have left in this world to care about?"
            At that, Chloe broke. Her body shook in rasping sobs and went limp against him. Jack closed his eyes and gathered her to him, holding her close and whispering soothing things in her ear. He backed up to the wall behind him and slid down to the floor, dragging her into his lap as he began to rock her and rub circles on her back. She clung to him, his shirt scrunched up in her hands as she cried everything out. Even though he knew that he had to do it, Jack hated himself for telling her. The pain in her eyes had been a knife in his heart, and he contemplated killing Morris for what he had done to this beautiful woman.
            Eventually Chloe's sobs subsided, but she kept her face buried in his chest. She knew that she should let go and get off of him, but she couldn’t. She needed him. Taking a few deep breaths to steady herself, she relaxed into him.
            "Who?" she asked, her voice muffled in his shirt.
            "What?"
            She pulled her tear-stained face up and looked at him. "Who was he kissing?"
            "Chloe, that's not impor-"
            "Tell me, Jack."
            He swallowed hard before answering, trying to steel himself for her reaction. "Audrey," he whispered.
            Chloe pulled back, her eyes hard. "Excuse me?"
            Jack cleared his throat and tried again. "Audrey."
            And then Chloe was pushing herself away from him, struggling to get to her feet. She immediately rushed for the door, stumbling on her way there. Her hands shook and she was blinded by tears as she tried to punch in the pass code. Jack came up behind her and placed his hands on her own, pulling them gently away from the door. He pulled her back against his chest as new sobs wracked her body.
            "It's not fair, it's not fair," he heard her whisper over and over again.
            "Shh, Chloe," he whispered in her ear. "It's okay…"
            She turned around and shoved him away from her again. "No, Jack, it's not okay! That…that bitch has taken everything from me! She wasn't content with taking you…no, she had to take Morris too!" Jack tried to pull her close again, but she wouldn't have it. "And you know the funny thing? I'm not even that upset about Morris. I knew it wouldn't last. I knew that one of us would walk away. But for Audrey to...she had no right, Jack! Why does she hate me so much!?"
            Her tirade ended, and Chloe just stood there, breathing heavily and staring at Jack. He looked at her in surprise, caught off-guard by her words. When he thought she wouldn't push him away again, he went up to her, brushing the hair out of her eyes.
            "What do you mean, she took me?"
            Chloe bit her lip, realizing that in her anger she had gone too far. But it was out, and there was nothing she could do about that. She decided to bite the bullet.
            "I know that we wouldn't be anything, Jack. But you are my best friend. And she just paraded her relationship around, flaunting it in my face. Every time she saw me she would find a new way to torment me, to remind me that she was closer to you than I could ever be. And it hurt, Jack. It hurt."
            Jack's fingers trembled as they brushed across her cheek. He tried to steady his voice, but it still came out hoarse. "Why couldn't we ever be anything?"
            Chloe closed her eyes. "Don't, Jack. Don't do this," she pleaded.
            "Do what?"
            "I know you're upset. I know it must have killed you to have seen them together, but…" She opened her eyes and looked at him. "I’m not your consolation prize."
            Jack smiled gently at her. "I know that, Chloe. Do you want to know what I felt when I saw them?" She nodded. "Nothing more than relief. I've been searching and searching for a way to make Audrey and I work, and then I realized that there wasn't one. And instead of hurting, it just made it easier for me to breathe." He paused. "And then I realized that I would have to tell you. And that's what hurt me, Chloe. Knowing that I was going to have to hurt you."
            Chloe gave him a half-smile that didn't really reach her eyes. "I know, Jack," she said quietly. "It makes sense that you wouldn't want to put me through that. We're friends, and friends look out for each other-"
            She was cut off by the gentle pressure of his lips on hers. Before she could react, it was gone, and she just stared at up at him.
            "Jack, I already told you. I'm not-"
            "My consolation prize," he finished for her. "I know. And that's not what this is about. Chloe, I caught my girlfriend kissing another man and all I could think of was not wanting to hurt you. What do you think that means?"
            "I don't know," she whispered. "But I know what I want it to mean."
            Jack slid his fingers through her hair, relieved that she wasn't pushing him away again. "And what do you want it to mean?" he asked.
            Chloe leaned in and kissed him gently, mirroring his action a few moments earlier. She pulled back and looked up at him.
            "Yeah?"
            "Yeah," she whispered, the smile finally reaching her eyes.
            He leaned his forehead against hers. "Then let's go home."
            Panic flooded her eyes. "Home?" she asked, her voice breaking a little. "Are you sure?"
            "Chloe, it's okay. Breathe."
            "I'm sorry. I'm just…I'm nervous."
            Jack kissed her forehead. "I know baby. So am I."
            Chloe pressed her lips against his one more time. "Home," she said decisively.
            Jack smiled and typed in the correct code, letting them out of the holding room. As they walked out, Jack took her hand in his, reveling in how easy it was to be that comfortable with her. The door closed behind them and they found themselves face-to-face with Audrey. When the other woman saw the way their fingers were entwined, anger took over her face.
            "What's going on here?"
            "Chloe and I are going home, Audrey," Jack answered.
            "Excuse me? Jack, what are you talking about?"
            Jack lowered his voice, looking her straight in the eye. "I saw you, Audrey…you and Morris. We're done."
            She looked as though she was going to try and deny it, but her gaze took in Chloe again, and her lip curled in a sneer. "So…what? You're going to go home and fuck Chloe to make yourself feel better? You think slumming it will change anything?"
            Chloe let go of Jack's hand. She walked up to Audrey and, without a word, decked her with a strong right hook. The other woman went down, staring up at Chloe in shock.
            "Fuck you, Audrey. And tell Morris his stuff will be waiting for him in boxes outside the apartment. If he tries to come in, I'll shoot him."
            Ignoring the look of surprise and admiration on Jack's face, Chloe took his hand again pulled him into her side, walking out of the building. He wrapped his arm around her waist and placed a kiss to her temple, whispering, "Nice shot."
            "My hand hurts."
            Jack brought her hand up to his lips. "Guess I'd better spend the rest of the day taking care of you, then."
            "Among other things," she said coyly.
           
           
failegaidin: (Default)

At last, the final chapter of Anything For Love. I want to thank everyone for their encouraging comments, and especially sparky_girl82 for all of her help. 

            Chloe was incredibly nervous as she opened the door to her apartment. She and Jack hadn't really said anything during the drive home, but he had held her hand the entire time.
            Her head was still swimming from the events of the day. When she had asked Curtis for his help, her only goal had been to give Jack another chance at happiness. By the time she had found Audrey, she was fully expecting to not survive the mission. Finding herself completely alive at CTU, she had made the decision to walk away from Jack Bauer for good.
            But now Jack was standing in her living room, staring at her with a gentle smile on his face. She smiled back, remembering the feel of his lips against hers, his hands on her skin. She had never seen this coming.
            "Do you want to call Kim now?"
            Jack looked down at the floor nervously. "Yeah, thanks."
            Chloe walked to the kitchen, where she had Chase's number on the fridge. Taking the cordless phone from its cradle, she handed it to Jack.
            "There's the number," she said, pointing. "I'll just…umm…I'll just…"
            Jack smiled, resting a hand against her cheek. "You don't have to go."
            "But this is a private thing."
            Resting his forehead against hers, he whispered, "Please stay."
            Taking a deep breath, Chloe nodded and moved to make them some tea while Jack dialed the number with shaking hands. His stomach knotted painfully as he listened to the rings, and he suddenly wanted to hang up.
            "Hello?"
            The sound of her voice cut through him like a knife. Tears fell down his face and he found himself unable to speak.
            "Hello?"
            "Kim…" he whispered brokenly.
            There was silence on the other end of the line. The knot in Jack's stomach tightened as he tried to think of something suitable to say. Chloe saw the anguish on his face. Worried that Kim had once again rejected her father, she sat down next to him, taking his hand and caressing it gently. He looked up at her gratefully, but his eyes were still full of pain.
            "Daddy?"
            Jack found that he could breathe again as relief flooded through him. He squeezed Chloe's hand and gave her a smile.
            "Yeah, baby. It's me."
            He heard her start to cry, and he wanted nothing more than to wrap her in his arms and tell her that everything would be okay.
            "Shhhh…sweetheart, it's okay."
            "It's really you?" she asked.
            "Yes. Oh Kim, honey. I've missed you so much."
            "Where are you?"
            "Chloe's."
            "Chloe? Dad, I don't understand…"
            So Jack told her everything. He was done with lying, with hiding things to protect her. She was a grown woman now with a family of her own, and she deserved to know the truth. He told her about his release, the suitcase nukes, Audrey and Chloe. He told her their plans to move away from L.A., to start a new life far away from the pain that had plagued them for so many years. Chloe sat by him the whole time, holding his hand or rubbing her hands through his hair. He wasn't sure he would have been able to make the call if she hadn't been there.
            During her father's imprisonment in China, Kim had grown up considerably. She realized now that the things she blamed him for were not his fault, and that she'd give anything to have him back in her life. When she had heard his voice on the phone, she had nearly passed out. As the conversation continued, she knew that her decision was the right one – her father belonged in her life, and in the life of his grandchild.
            "You and Chloe, huh?" she asked after he had told his story.
            "Yeah," he said. She could practically hear the huge grin on his face.
            "Good."
            "Good?"
            "Yeah. You know, it's not that surprising."
            "I hear you have a couple surprises of your own."
            "Who told?"
            "Chloe."
            "Brat. I wanted to tell you."
            "I’m very happy for you, Kim."
            "Thank you, Dad." There was a pause. "So when are you two leaving?"
            Jack took a deep breath, trying to steady himself. "Well, that's the thing, honey. We don't want to leave you and Chase and the baby."
            "But you don't want to stay here either."
            "That's true. We want you to come with us."
            "You do?"
            "Yes."
            Kim placed the mouthpiece against her shoulder and turned to Chase. "He wants us to leave with him and Chloe," she told him quietly.
            "Do you want to?" he asked gently.
            Kim bit her lip in thought, but she didn't hesitate long before answering. "Yes."
            "Then tell him we'll start packing."
           
***
 
            Jack and Chloe stood in the kitchen after he hung up from Kim, with promises to meet up for dinner the following day. Neither knew what to do next. Jack had thought that the hard part was over, after telling her how he felt. But it seemed that now they had to figure out what the next step was.
            "Do you want to go to bed?" Chloe asked suddenly.
            Jack laughed softly. "Actually, I'd really like to take a shower first."
            She nodded, and then frowned as a thought struck her. "My shower doesn't work. You'll have to take a bath."
            "That works too."
            Taking him by the hand, Chloe led him down the hall and into her bathroom. She moved toward the tub, turning the dials and testing the water that came out of the spigots. She turned back to see Jack staring at the tub, an odd expression on his face.
            "Jack?"
            He shook his head. "I can't do it."
            "Do what?"
            "I can't," he repeated.
            Chloe took his face in her hands and forced him to look at her. "Jack? Jack! Look at me. What's wrong?"
            "They…while I was in China…they would…they…" Jack trailed off, his mind plunging into the nightmarish memory.
            "Jack, I'm right here. They can't hurt you anymore. You're safe here."
            He stared at her, and she realized that he was shaking. He was terrified, and it was the first time she had ever seen him break down in fear. An idea came to her.
            "What if I stay with you?"
            "What?"
            "I'll stay with you. We'll take a bath…together," she added, hoping that she wasn't pushing too hard.
            "You'll stay?" he asked, the fear still in his voice.
            She stroked his face. "I'll be right in there with you. I'm not going anywhere."
            As the water began to fill the tub, Chloe reached for the buttons of Jack's shirt. She slowly undid each one as he watched her with a measure of amazement. The look on her face was focused, but it lacked her usual scowl. She seemed calm as she reached the last button and released it from its hole. Reaching up, she slid the shirt off of his shoulders and let it flutter to the floor.
            Trailing her fingers down his chest, she looked sadly at the scars covering his torso. She knew that they were worse on his back, but she didn't want to make him feel like she was scrutinizing him. Leaning forward, she gently placed her lips on one of the scars. Jack closed his eyes at the unexpected contact, tears once again filling his eyes as she lovingly caressed every wound. When she finished, she looked up at him and wiped away the tears that had fallen onto his cheeks.
            "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I seem to be crying a lot today."
            Chloe smiled at him. "There's nothing to be sorry for, Jack."
            She let her fingers slide down his chest and stomach, resting them on his belt. Hesitating slightly, she began to undo it, slowly sliding the belt out of the buckle. She stopped suddenly when Jack's hands grabbed hers, forcing her to look up at him in confusion.
            "Chloe," he whispered. He looked at the floor nervously, and she could tell he was having a hard time finding the words. "I…I don't know if I can…I mean…it's been almost two years…"
            Suddenly understanding what he was saying, Chloe brought her body up against his, holding him close. He sank into her embrace, tightening his hold. After a few moments, she pulled away, looking up at him with a gentle smile.
            "It's okay, Jack. We don’t have to do anything tonight. I just want to hold you…touch you. We'll worry about the other stuff later."
            Returning her smile, Jack couldn’t help but wonder what he had done to deserve such an amazing woman. Then he thought back to his conversation with Bill earlier that day and realized that the older man was right. This wasn't about deserving – it was about love.
            He reached forward with shaking hands to undo the buttons of Chloe's shirt. Seeing his nervousness, she covered his hands with her own, guiding them as he undid each button. Her shirt joined his on the floor, and she turned her attention once again to his pants.
            Jack was torn between closing his eyes at the sensation of her hands at his waist, and wanting to stare at her body, taking in every beautiful aspect of her. Unable to stop himself, he reached out and touched her shoulders, rubbing his hands up and down her shoulders, reveling in the feel of her smooth skin. His eyes closed of their own accord and he gasped sharply as he felt Chloe slide his jeans and boxers off of him at the same time. He gingerly stepped out of them, kicking them across the floor and standing completely exposed to her.
            Chloe was having a hard time controlling herself. The sight of Jack Bauer standing in front of her drove her insane. She wanted to be touching and kissing every inch of him…but she also knew that that wasn't what he needed right then. They would get to that point eventually, but tonight was about comfort and trust. She smiled at him encouragingly as he moved to remove her pants and underwear as well, sighing at his touch on her bare flesh.
            They stood staring at each other, both naked. Taking him by the hand, Chloe went to step into the tub, intending to sit behind so that she could hold him. Jack pulled on her hand, though, stopping her. She looked back in confusion.
            Climbing into the tub and settling down against the back, he reached out his hand to help her in. "I want to take care of you," he whispered.
            Keeping her eyes locked on him, Chloe stepped in and sat between his legs, leaning back against his strong chest. His hands rested on her shoulders and began to knead the flesh, undoing the knots of stress that had grown there. She groaned in pleasure and closed her eyes, relaxing for the first time in almost four years.
 
***
 
            They had stayed until the water grew cold, neither wanting to move away from the other. But eventually they got out, wrapping themselves in Chloe's fluffy blue towels. This time Jack led her by the hand, walking them to her bedroom. Keeping his eyes locked on hers to make sure that this was okay, he removed his towel and slid into bed. Smiling anxiously, Chloe did the same, sighing happily as Jack pulled her to him. They fell asleep, tangled in each other.
 
***
 
            Chloe awoke early the next morning and headed out to the kitchen to make coffee, letting Jack sleep for a while longer. She tried to be quiet as she opened cupboards, smiling at how the day before had turned out.
            While the coffee was brewing, she thought back through everything that had happened. She still couldn't believe that Jack had chosen her, that he had told her he loved her…
            Chloe stopped suddenly on that thought. She quickly sifted through the memories, going back to when he had asked her to take him with her. Her dismay growing by the second, Chloe realized that Jack hadn't told her he loved her. He had only asked that she love him. And since they had gotten home last night, he hadn't kissed her, or given her any indication that he wanted to. He hadn't even wanted to make love to her when she was standing before him, completely naked.
            Chewing her nails, Chloe abandoned the coffee.
 
***
 
            When Jack awoke, he breathed in deeply, enjoying how relaxed and calm he felt. He had slept the entire night through, much to his surprise, and he smiled as he remembered the feel of Chloe sleeping in his arms. He frowned in consternation as he realized that she was no longer next to him, and then sat up as an unpleasant smell permeated the apartment. Rushing out of bed, he quickly got dressed and raced into the kitchen. The coffee machine was on, but it had been forgotten, and the smell of burnt coffee was everywhere. He shut the machine off and dumped it out, opening the kitchen window to let in some air. He wondered what could have possibly distracted Chloe from making the coffee, since he knew that she needed it to function properly in the morning.
            Walking into the living room, he stopped short at the sight before him. Chloe was wrapped in her bathrobe, sitting on the couch with her knees tucked under her chin. Tears were coming down her face, and she seemed to be staring into space. Jack went over to her quickly, taking her face in his hands and tucking her hair behind her ears.
            "Chloe, what's wrong?"
            Sniffing, she answered. "Nothing. I'm fine. Don't worry about it."
            "That's not gonna work with me, Chlo'. I know you too well."
            Chloe just shook her head, refusing to answer him. Jack decided to try another track. Bringing his lips to her ear, he whispered, "Last night…"
            She pulled away sharply. "You don't have to say anything."
            "What are you talking about?"
            "About last night. You don't have to say anything. It's okay. I get it."
            Jack looked at her sharply, worry creasing his face. "You get what?"
            Chloe took a deep breath, staring ahead and avoiding his eyes. "It's okay, Jack. I know that you don't want to be with me. You needed a friend, and I was there. I guess I just let it go to my head and I thought…but I get it now. It's okay."
            Jack stared at her in shock. This was the last thing he had been expecting from her. "Chloe…" he started, floundering for what he could say to convince her that she was wrong. "What would make you think that?"
            She gnawed at her bottom lip, not wanting to tell him. Jack dropped down on his knees in front of her, once again holding her head steady so that she was forced to look at him. "Chloe…" he nudged.
            Closing her eyes to block him out, Chloe tried to explain. "Last night…you…you didn't want to…" She couldn't finish the sentence, embarrassment causing her to blush.
            Jack inwardly groaned as he realized what his actions had done. Bringing his face up to hers, he desperately tried to make her understand. "Chloe-"
            But she cut him off. "And earlier. When you…asked me to love you…you never…you never…"
            "I never what?"
             A single tear slid down her cheek as she answered. "You never said that you loved me." She wiped away the tear and looked down at the ground. "But it's okay, Jack. I know…I know that you were just grateful that I saved Audrey. I know that this was just because you could trust me. It's okay-"
            "Chloe," he said sharply, causing her to stop. "I need you to turn your brain off. Now."
            She furrowed her brow and continued staring at the carpet, but she shut her mouth in an attempt to stem the tide of her thoughts. The struggle played out on her face, and the sight broke Jack's heart.
            "Oh Chloe," he said sadly, realizing how broken she was right then. He cursed himself for not having made himself more clear. He ran his hands through her hair, refusing to let her go. "I never meant…I never meant to make you doubt my feelings for you."
            Chloe's eyes snapped up, unable to believe what she was hearing.
            "Last night," he continued, swallowing his embarrassment, knowing that he had to make her understand. "I was afraid…it had been so long…since I'd been with anyone. I was afraid that I couldn't…that I wouldn't be able to. I didn't want to disappoint you." He paused, letting his words sink in. "And as for the other thing, Chloe…" He brought his lips up so that they were almost touching hers. "I love you. And I will say it as many times as you need to hear it."
            Jack closed the distance between them and kissed her, leaving no room for doubt as to how he felt. As his tongue slid into her mouth, he leaned her back so that she was lying down on the couch, his body on top of her. Their hands explored each other, and Jack groaned in frustration as her hips thrust against his. Feeling a familiar tightening in his groin, Jack pulled back slightly and smiled. Chloe felt it too, and she smiled up at him coyly.
            "Guess you can," she said.
            "Guess so," he replied as he leaned in to kiss her again.
            They were soon off the couch and down the hallway, both eager to find the bed. As Jack pushed her down onto the mattress, Chloe stopped, looking up at him with a frown.
            "What?" Jack asked, worried.
            "I'm sorry."
            "For what?"
            "For being so insecure. For making you have to prove it to me."
            "Chloe," he said gently. "I am just as scared as you are. I have no problem reminding you that I love you as many times as you need. In fact, I want to spend the rest of my life proving to you just how much I love you." He kissed her again and pulled back. "On one condition."
            "And what's that?" she asked warily.
            Resting his forehead on hers, he looked at her seriously. "That you'll do the same for me."
            Caressing his face, Chloe whispered, "I love you, Jack."
            "I love you too, Chloe," he said, leaning in to capture her mouth again. She pulled him closer and they blissfully sank into one another. 
           
failegaidin: (Default)
          Here's Chapter 6! This is not the last chapter - there's one more to go. Thanks to [profile] sparky_girl82for help with Bill's little outburst - it's about time somebody yelled at Jack! Enjoy :)  


            Jack walked down the corridor quickly, anxious to see Chloe. Ending things with Audrey had lifted a huge weight off of his shoulders, and he knew that now he had to figure things out with his best friend.
            He stopped dead in his tracks when he entered her room – she wasn't there. The bed was made and there was no sign that Chloe had ever been there. Panic began to set in, and he looked around wildly for someone who could tell him what had happened.
            "Jack."
            Jack whirled around and found himself face-to-face with Bill.
            "Where is she, Bill?" he asked, trying desperately to ignore the tight feeling in his chest.
            Bill saw the worry in the other man's eyes and moved quickly to reassure him. "She's okay, Jack. They got all the nails out and there wasn't any serious damage."
            Jack closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief before looking sharply at Bill again. "Then where is she?"
            Wordlessly, Bill handed him Chloe's letter of resignation. Jack looked at it in confusion, his expression becoming more pained as he read.
            "She's gone?" he whispered, his voice breaking.
            "Not yet." Bill paused. "Can I give you some advice?" Jack nodded. "Don't let her go. If she walks out that door, she's gone. For good. Tell her how you feel – she deserves that much."
            Jack was shaking his head. "But I don't deserve-"
            "Damnit, Jack!" Bill shouted. "Love isn't about what you deserve. It's about love. Plain and simple.  If it was about what we deserved, we'd all be miserable bastards wandering around without any hope. Love is about second and third chances – hell, it's about however many chances it takes for you to be happy. You love Chloe, and you screwed up. You let her believe that she meant nothing to you. You have to go fix that." Bill paused again, calming himself before he continued. "Before Karen, I…I thought it was over, Jack. I thought that I would be alone for the rest of my life. And when we started going out, I kept expecting it to end, because I couldn't possibly deserve someone as amazing as her. Now I know you've gone through a lot more than me, Jack, but that doesn't mean you can't be happy. Don't let her go."
            Jack reached out and shook the older man's hand. "Thank you, Bill," he whispered before leaving Medical and heading out onto the floor.
 
***
 
            She was standing at her station, packing her things into a box. Her clothes had had to be cut in order for the doctor to remove the nails, and her new ones covered the wounds. Her face was still drawn and pale though, and her eyes were downcast. His heart broke as he realized how much pain he had caused her. She had nearly sacrificed herself for what she believed would bring him happiness – and in the process he had almost lost the very thing that his happiness hinged upon. He walked up to her, trying to figure out just what he would say.
            "Chloe," he said quietly, causing her to jump in surprise.
            She turned to look at him, confusion etched on her face. "Jack? What are you doing here?"
            "I wanted to talk to you."
            "Shouldn't you be with Audrey?"
            "No."
            Chloe frowned, taken back by his answer. "Why not?"
            Jack smiled faintly. "Because I want to talk to you."
            Chloe sighed. "You're welcome, Jack."
            This time Jack frowned in confusion. "What?"
            "You're welcome. I know you're just here because you think you need to thank me for saving Audrey. But you don't. Just go be with her."
            "Chloe, I'm not here to thank you."
            Chloe looked down, trying to stop her bottom lip from quivering. "Oh. Are you…um…here to yell at me then?"
            Jack reached out and rested his hand gently on her arm. "No. Why would I yell at you?"
            "I don't know. For risking Curtis' life for a really dangerous mission. For not telling you where we were going. For making you have to save me…again."
            He took hold of both of Chloe's arms, pulling her closer to him and forcing her to look in his eyes. "Chloe," he whispered. I'm not here to yell at you either. I did that earlier, and actually, I need to apologize for that."
            "I yelled too. So I guess I should say sorry too."
            Jack smiled again. "No. I deserved it."
            Chloe looked down again, shuffling her feet. Jack watched her, trying to figure out what was going on inside her head. She spoke without looking back up. "Why are you here Jack?"
            He tried to get the words out – tried to tell her how much he loved her. But his brain refused to say it. "I wanted to make sure you were okay," he said lamely.
            Chloe pulled out of his grasp and turned her back on him. "I'm fine, Jack. Go."
            "Where do you want me to go?"
            "How about to the place you really want to be? Stop checking up on me and go sit with Audrey. You guys haven't seen each other in eighteen months. I'm sure there's some things that need to be said."
            "They've been said," he replied as he moved to behind her. He placed his hands gingerly on her shoulders. "I don't want to be anywhere that's not with you right now," he whispered.
            Chloe closed her eyes at the sound of his voice so close, the feel of his breath moving against her hair. She didn't want to move, but she knew that she needed to or she would never leave. She tried to order her body to walk away, but every muscle refused her, staying locked in place. She tried to get her mouth to tell him to go away, to leave her alone. But her tongue betrayed her as well, allowing her to only get out a breathy "What?"
            As he turned her around to face him, Jack once again tried to tell her that he loved her. But once again his brain rebelled. "Why are you leaving?" he asked instead.
            "Because it's time for me to go," Chloe mumbled, trying to avoid his intense gaze.
            "Why?"
            She sighed. "It's just something I need to do, Jack. I can't stay here anymore."
            Jack nodded, understanding.
            "Take me with you."
            "What?"
            "I want to go with you."
            "No you don't."
            "Yes I do."
            "No."
            "Yes."
            "No."
            Deciding that the argument was pointless, Jack leaned in and brushed his lips against hers. Chloe stopped immediately, staring at him in disbelief. Her surprise faded though, and was replaced with a look of hurt.
            "Why would you do that?" she whispered, her voice breaking.
            "Kiss you?"
            "Yes."
            "Because I wanted to. Because I've wanted to since before I left for Washington."
            Chloe backed away, pulling her arms out of his grasp. "No."
            "Chloe, it's the truth."
            "No," she repeated, shaking her head. "If that were true, you wouldn't have left. You wouldn't have stayed with Audrey. You wouldn't have chosen her over me time after time."
            Jack approached her again, this time taking her face in his hands. "It is the truth, Chloe. I never told you because…because after everything I'd asked of you…I didn't think…I couldn't ask you to love me too," he finished in a hoarse whisper.
            Chloe's gaze softened and she took Jack's right hand in both her own, bringing the scarred skin to her lips. She kissed it gently, never taking her eyes off of him. Jack's eyes immediately filled with tears at her gentleness.
            "Jack," she whispered. "You never had to ask." She reached up and brushed her lips against his. "I've always loved you."
            Jack smiled through the few tears that had escaped his eyes. He leaned in, capturing her lips with his and wrapping his arms around her waist to pull her closer. He teased her mouth open and slid his tongue into her mouth, holding her tighter as she moaned happily. Eventually they pulled away, Jack tucking her hair behind her ears and smiling.
            "Take me with you," he repeated.
            Chloe's brow furrowed. "But I'm leaving."
            "I know. Take me with you."
            "But you won't be happy."
            "Why not?"
            "Because…this is your life. You know, running around and shooting terrorists and stopping nukes from going off. I'm moving away from all this. Far away."
            Jack smiled at her concerned face. "How far away?"
            Chloe pursed her lips in thought. "New England," she said finally.
            "New England's nice."
            "But…you'll be…bored."
            Jack laughed, taking her face in his hands again. "Look, Chloe. I don't want to do this anymore. It's cost me too much. My wife, my daughter…and it almost cost me you. The president gave me a…generous retirement package. I say we buy a house in New England, maybe in Connecticut somewhere. A real fixer-upper. Then I can spend my days working on the house. That way I won't get bored."
            "A house?" Chloe asked, disbelief in her voice.
            "A house," he repeated. "And you wouldn't have to work either…unless you wanted to. You could help me with the house."
            "This is sounding awfully domestic, Jack."
            His smile faded a little. "Is that a problem?"
            "Not for me, but-"
            Jack pulled her closer. "Then it's not a problem. This is what I want, Chloe. A big house," he kissed her. "No more terrorists," he kissed her again. "And you."
            Chloe smiled up at him, still having trouble processing that Jack was saying those things to her. "So we'll leave?"
            "Yeah," he whispered.
            "When?"
            "As soon as we can. You need to sell your apartment, and…I'd like to see Kim before we go. Do you know where she is?"
            Chloe gave him a reassuring smile. "I do."
            "Where?"
            "Not far from me. She and Chase got back together a few months ago." Chloe paused, wondering if she should continue. "She pregnant," she finished, wary of Jack's response.
            She wasn't prepared for the blinding grin that erupted on Jack's face. He tried several times to speak, but each time his throat closed, the emotion threatening to overwhelm him.
            "Really?" he choked out.
            Chloe nodded. "Three months. And they're getting married."
            "I'm going to be a grandfather?"
            "Yep," Chloe responded, a sudden thought occurring to her. Jack saw the light fade from her eyes.
            "What is it?" he asked, concerned.
            "You won't want to leave now. Not with Kim pregnant."
            "Chloe…"
            She shook her head and smiled at him again. "No, it's okay. We can stay here."
            "You don't want to."
            "So? I want you, and you want to be near Kim. I can deal with that."
            An idea formed in Jack's head. "Do they like L.A.?"
            Chloe frowned. "No. Chase hates it and Kim doesn't want her baby growing up in a city…" she trailed off as she realized what Jack was asking.
            "Think maybe they'd like to move out east?"
            She smirked. "I'll tell Chase to start packing their stuff."
 
***
 
            Bill watched as his two best agents walked off the floor, hand in hand. He smiled as he realized that they were finally breaking free of the pain that had marked both their lives. Pulling out his cell phone, he called Karen to tell her the good news. 

Chapter 7
failegaidin: (Default)
I present you all with Chapter 5...thanks again to [profile] sparky_girl82, who helped despite being swamped by annoying people at work. And don't worry, this isn't over yet!       

                The ride back to CTU was awkward. Jack and Chloe sat in the backseat while Curtis drove, both avoiding the other's eyes. Curtis kept glancing at them through the rearview mirror. He had seen them talking on the beach, Jack laying on top of her. The scene had made him hopeful for his two friends, but the tension permeating the SUV made him question what had actually happened.
                "How did you find us?" Jack asked, pulling Curtis out of his thoughts. 
                "Chloe." Both stared at him in confusion, obviously not understanding. "Her vest. I had a tracker put in it."
"You what?" Chloe screeched.
Curtis chuckled. "Come on, Chloe. I knew you were going to get yourself into trouble on this one. I figured it would be a good idea to keep track of you in case you got lost. When Jack went after you, I realized that if there was any chance you were alive, he would find you."
At the mention of the rescue, Jack risked a glance at Chloe. He was still mad at her for almost getting killed – but only because he was so afraid of losing her. He'd almost kissed her on the beach, but Curtis had gotten there before he could. Now he wondered if he had scared her off. He had asked so much of her in the past; he wasn't sure he could ask her to love him as well.
As his eyes traveled down her body, he finally saw that she was bleeding from multiple wounds. Her face was pale and drawn, and he saw that her eyes were losing their focus.
"Chloe!" he yelled, reaching over to take her face in his hands. "Chloe, look at me! Baby, I need you to look at me. Please." A note of desperation seeped into his voice.
She didn't even register the term of endearment. The pain in her legs and shoulder was drowning out everything else. She tried to focus on Jack's face and the feel of his hands, but the world went black before she could.
 
***
 
Chloe was rushed to medical as soon as they reached CTU. Jack was just left staring in shock as they wheeled her inside. He couldn’t do anything for her now, and he found that he hated that fact. Standing next to the SUV, he looked around, unsure of what he was supposed to do next. Seeing his confusion, Curtis walked over and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"She'll be okay, Jack." The other man just nodded, not trusting his voice to speak. "Audrey's in Medical 3. She's probably awake by now. You should go see her." Nodding again, Jack walked toward Medical.
 
***
 
James Heller was standing outside his daughter's room, waiting for Jack Bauer. He knew that Jack would come eventually, especially since he had been in the field when Audrey had been brought in. He was not prepared, however, for the broken man that appeared before him.
"Mr. Secretary," Jack greeted, shaking the older man's hand.
"It's just Jim now, Jack. I left the political arena when they told me Audrey was dead."
Pain flashed in his eyes at the mention of her name. "How is she?" he asked shakily.
"She's actually going to be okay. It looks as though the Chinese didn't do too much to her. They were just…holding her until they could use her." Heller peered closely at Jack, noticing the worry in his eyes and the slight shake of his hands. "It's alright, Jack," he reassured him. "She's going to be alright."
Jack shook his head, trying to focus on what Heller was saying. "I'm sorry, sir. I was actually…one of my friends was just rushed in here. I'm worried about her."
"Oh?"
"Chloe O'Brian."
Heller frowned. "Isn't she a computer analyst?"
"Yes. But she's the one that rescued Audrey today."
His eyes widened in surprise. "I was under the impression that Agent Manning brought her in."
Jack closed his eyes, fighting back the image of Chloe tied to a chair, Cheng reaching for her. "He was with her, but…Chloe managed to get Audrey out with Curtis, but she was taken in the process."
Heller placed a hand on Jack's shoulder, sorry that that tragedy kept leaving a mark on this man's life. But what he needed to say to Bauer was important, and he didn't want it to wait.
"We need to talk, Jack."
The younger man walked over to a chair and sat down, his head in his hands. "If this is about me staying away from Audrey, you can save your breath."
"Look, Jack. I understand that you love her. But she just doesn't belong in your world. She can't handle it. And I can't handle her being hurt or kidnapped because some terrorist wants something from you. Please, Jack. You've got to let her go."
Heller was surprised by the deep chuckle that emanated from the man in front of him. "Did I say something funny?" he asked, anger evident in his voice.
Jack look up at him, quelling his laughter. "I'm sorry sir. It's just that I'd already made that decision. Audrey and I don't work. We can't."
"Really?"
Jack smiled. "Yes. That's why I'm here. I just wanted to say goodbye."
Heller nodded. "Thank you, Jack."
 
***
 
Audrey looked up as Jack entered the room, unable to stop the smile on her face. She still couldn't believe that he was alive and free. Despite continuing her search for him, she had started to believe that he had been killed. He walked over to the side of her bed and took her hand.
"Audrey," he whispered.
"Hi Jack." She paused, unsure of how to say the next part. Looking up at him nervously, she asked, "Did you talk to my father?"
Jack smiled gently, realizing what she was asking. "Yes. And don't worry – it's okay. I had made the same decision before I came."
Audrey breathed an audible sigh of relief. She loved Jack, but she knew that she couldn’t be with him. Her mind flashed back to the events of the day, and she suddenly remembered something.
"Oh, God. Chloe," she gasped. "What about Chloe? Is she alright?"
Jack's smile vanished and he fought to keep his voice from quaking. "She's…they're taking care of her now. I don't…I don’t know if she's okay."
Audrey tightened her grip on Jack's hand. "I couldn't believe it when I saw her there today. I never would have thought she'd rescue me. She even saved my life when the Chinese came in and shot at us. She pushed Curtis and I out the door…all these months that you've been gone, Jack…she's done nothing but look for you. I heard Morris yell at her for it on more than one occasion, telling her to accept the fact that you were dead. But she never gave up. She refused to believe that you were gone."
Jack's looked at her sharply. "She looked for me?"
"Of course she did, Jack. After everyone else gave up, she kept looking, disobeying direct orders from Division. I…I gave up too. But she just kept going, and eventually I asked her if I could help. I used my resources at DoD. But when I told her I was going to China, she told me not to. She said I would just get hurt or taken, and that you wouldn't want that. I went anyway. I should have listened to her. Then she wouldn't have had to come after me."
Jack bowed his heads, tears streaming down his face. "I thought…I thought she had given up on me. She didn't say anything about it when she told me what happened to you. I had no idea she kept looking."
Audrey smiled sadly. "Of all the people in this world, Jack, did you really think that Chloe would give up on you?"
"No," he whispered. "And that's why it hurt so much when I thought she had."
"Go, Jack. Go be with her. Make sure you're the first thing she sees when she wakes up. She deserves that much."
Jack nodded. "Goodbye, Audrey."
She squeezed his hand again. "Goodbye Jack."
 
***
 
Bill was surprised and a little perturbed to see Chloe at her station. She was going to be alright, but she hadn't been cleared by Medical to return to work. They wanted her to rest, seeing as how they had found nine nails embedded in her flesh from the Chinese. They hadn't been enough to seriously endanger her, but combined with the scare of torture and the stress of swimming to shore after the boat exploded, she had passed out and gone into shock.
Chloe stared at the paper in her hands. It was time. She fought back the tears, knowing that Buchanan wouldn't be happy with her. Not only had she seriously broken protocol, but she had almost gotten herself and Curtis killed.
Jack's actions had confused her. She hadn't expected him to come after her. He was supposed to just take Audrey home and be happy. And then the things he had said on the beach…she shook her head, refusing to let herself go down that road. He had just been relieved that she was alive. She knew that he was with Audrey now, and that they could finally be happy together. Things were the way they were supposed to be, even if they weren't the way she wanted them to be.
She looked up to see Bill walking over to her. Putting on her usual scowl, she crossed the distance to where he was.
"Look, Mr. Buchanan, I know you're mad at me, but-"
Bill raised a hand to cut her off. "Chloe, what are you doing out of Medical?"
She floundered, caught off-guard by his question. "I needed to print something."
"What could you possibly need to print right now?"
"This," she said, handing him the piece of paper. "I'll stick around for the debrief. You can just find me here when you're ready." Turning, she walked back to her station and sat down.
Bill frowned as he found himself looking at Chloe's letter of resignation. 

Chapter 6
failegaidin: (Default)
Chapter 4!!! The beach finally comes into play in this one. Oh, and don't think it's over. 'Cause it's not. We've got some stuff to deal with in the aftermath. Thanks again to [profile] sparky_girl82  for being the lovely slave-driver that she is. 

Title: Anything For Love (Chapter 4)
Rating: same as the other chapters
Part: 4/? (maybe 5 or 6???)
Prompt: Beach


            Jack watched in dismay as men set up camera equipment around Chloe. She was blinking her eyes against the harsh lights that surrounded her, trying to conceal her fear about what was going to happen next. Cables were set up and tripods assembled as Jack tried to think of something – anything – he could do to save her. All he knew was that he couldn’t stand there and let them torture her. He struggled to keep his emotions in check – she deserved so much better than this.
 
***
 
            When everything was in place, Cheng ordered everyone out of the room. His men all shuffled out, closing the heavy door behind them. Cheng secured the locks and then went to stand in front of Chloe.
            "Well, Miss O'Brian. Have you figured out what's going to happen? I'm sure you have – you're a smart girl."
            Chloe glared up at him with unconcealed hatred. She wouldn't give him the pleasure of seeing her fear.
            "It's all very simple," Cheng continued, ignoring the daggers in her eyes. "When my men come back in, they're going to turn all of this equipment on. Then, we're going to employ all of those interrogation techniques we used on Mr. Bauer on you." He leaned down, bringing his face level with hers. "The only difference is, we don't want any information from you. We're going to broadcast it, so that Bauer has to watch you die, painfully – and there will be no way for him to save you." He smiled cruelly. "Now, why don't we take off that vest you're wearing?"
 
***
 
            Jack snapped. The sight of Cheng's fingers touching Chloe enraged him past any coherent thought and he ran from his hiding place. Snatching up one of the tripods, he swung it at Cheng, taking out his knees. The man fell to the floor, his cry cut off as Jack was on top of him, hands around his throat. He squeezed tighter, as all the anger from the past two years came spilling out of him.
            "How dare you touch her?" he seethed between clenched teeth. "You want revenge? You take it out on me. You don’t go after the people I love. You don't go after the one person I have left in this world. Your biggest mistake, Cheng? Was going after Chloe."
 
***
 
            At first Chloe thought she was imagining things. She knew that Jack couldn't possibly be there. But then he had knocked Cheng down and started to choke him, and she knew that he was really there, that he was going to save her.
            His words shocked her, but she was even more stunned by the anger in them. She knew that he was furious about what they done to him, for taking Audrey to use against him. But when he mentioned her name, she heard a deeper rage. She watched as he slowly choked the life out of Cheng, his attention focused solely on the other man's face.
 
***
 
            Everything fell away as Jack watched Cheng's face turn purple. He channeled all the anger and pain into his hands as they squeezed tighter and tighter. He envisioned Cheng's hands once again reaching for Chloe, and his mouth twisted into a snarl, his fingers closing in even more.
            "Jack?" a small voice behind him tore his attention away. The red faded from his eyes as he remembered that Chloe was still there, still tied to a chair, still waiting for him. With one swift movement, he snapped Cheng's neck, putting an end to the man's power over him.
            Standing up, he looked over at Chloe with a reassuring smile on his face. "Let's get you out of here," he said gently.
 
***
 
            Chloe rubbed at her wrists, thankful that the ropes were finally gone. Jack starting opening the crates he had been hiding behind, looking for something that would help them escape. Finally he stopped, staring into one with a smile on his face.
            "What is it?" Chloe asked, walking over to him.
            He pulled something out of the crate and looked at her. "C4."
 
***
 
            This time Jack didn't care who knew he was on the boat. His only priority was getting Chloe to safety. The men they ran into didn't last long, Jack taking them out quickly with a few well-aimed bullets. They ran up to the main deck amidst shouts from the men that they passed. Jack led Chloe by the hand and they raced to the end of the boat. Taking out one more guard with his gun trained on them, the two jumped into the water.
 
***
 
            It wasn't long before Cheng was found. There was a flurry of activity as messages were relayed across the boat. When it was known by Cheng's top lieutenants that Bauer had escaped with their hostage, they immediately ordered for them to be chased and recaptured.
 
***
 
            Jack swam as fast as he could, with Chloe keeping pace as best she could. The salt water stung her wounds, and she was still bleeding, but she knew that their survival depended on them getting as far away as they could. She redoubled her efforts and surged ahead.
            The explosion caused a surge of waves that pulled them under, threatening to drown them despite their best efforts. But neither was willing to give up after their escape, and they fought the water until it acquiesced, accepting that there were two who refused to made victims that day.
            With the boat gone and the threat of chase eliminated, they swam to shore.
 
***
 
            Chloe had never been so happy to see a beach in her entire life. Generally she hated them. It was the sand – it got everywhere, and you could never really be rid of it. But as she fell onto the ground, caking her body with the offending sand, she suddenly thought that she could spend the rest of her life there.
            She saw Jack fall down next to her, and they both rolled onto their backs, trying desperately to catch their breath. The sun was out and strong, and they soon felt their clothes drying and hardening against their bodies. The sand dried onto their skin too, but both were past the point of caring.
            Chloe closed her eyes, just thankful to be alive. She had known all along that they wouldn't fail getting Audrey out, but she hadn't actually expected to survive the mission. She started thinking about what had to come next. It was time to leave CTU, she knew that much. She just couldn't be there anymore when Jack came back, needing her help. She knew that her feelings for him bordered on pathetic, and it was just time to move on. And she would have to do that somewhere outside of California.
            Her thoughts were suddenly swept aside as she felt a weight on her body and looked up to see a very angry Jack Bauer on top of her, his faces barely an inch away from hers.
            "What the hell were you thinking?" he growled at her.
            "Jack-"
            "You go in there, with only Curtis for backup. You don't tell anyone where you're going. They were going to torture you Chloe. How could you be so stupid?"
            This time it was Chloe's turn to be angry. Her eyes went cold and her voice lowered to match his. "How dare you?" she seethed. "I went in there for you. I went in there to save Audrey so that you could be happy. I didn't tell you because it would have killed you if I had been wrong. This was the only way. And she's safe now. So why don't you just go be with her and leave me the hell alone?"
            She hadn't meant to say all that. She hadn't meant to lose her temper with him. But his anger had been too much. She knew that she didn't deserve that.
            Shocked from her outburst, the anger slid out of Jack. He had been angry because he was scared. He had almost lost her today, and he couldn't forget the feeling in his chest when Curtis had told him that she wasn't coming back. His eyes softened as he looked down at her and the tears finally came, sliding silently down his cheeks.
            "I thought I had lost you," he whispered. The emotion in his voice brought her up short, and she lost all inclination to yell at him. "Curtis told me that you hadn't made it…and…oh God, Chloe…I couldn't breathe." He took her face in his hands, leaning his forehead against hers. "Don't ever do something like that ever again. I can live without Audrey. I can't live without you."
            Chloe's eyes widened in shock at his words, but before she could respond, three SUV's pulled up beside them. They looked up to see Curtis jump out of a vehicle before it completely stopped, rushing over to them. Jack got off of Chloe and helped her to her feet.
            "That's it," he said as he came up to them. "I'm not leaving either of you unsupervised ever again. You come up with hare-brained ideas like stealing people from the Chinese or sneaking onto their boats."
            "They stole Audrey first," Chloe pointed out.
            "Chloe…" Curtis sighed.
            "Besides, we blew it up," she continued absent-mindedly.
            "You what?"
            "Their boat. We blew it up, Curtis. Long story," Jack told him.
            Chloe scowled at him. "No it's not. Bad guys wanted to kill us. We set C4 and then ran. End of story."
            Jack rolled his eyes at her and was about to retort when Curtis cut them off. "Enough, you two. You can continue this later. Right now I have orders from Bill to get you back to CTU medical – and to strap you both to a hospital bed."
            Turning around, he led them to the waiting vehicle. 


Chapter 5
failegaidin: (Default)

Chapter 3 is finished! Thanks to all of you for your wonderful comments and encouragement. It made me want to start this chapter right away! Hopefully I won't lose my momentum and Chapter 4 will come together tomorrow - but don't expect anything over the weekend! It's my mommy's 50th bday party and it seems I can only really write while I'm at work. But I'll try not to leave you a cliffhanger for 2 days ;)

Many thanks again to

[profile] sparky_girl82, who's high demands make me actually focus and write the story instead of dilly-dallying with other things (you know, like my job). 

Title: Anything For Love (Chapter 3)
Rating: PG-13/R is probably appropriate for the rest of the story
Part 3/?


 

 

            It hurt. Her leg was throbbing, and she could feel blood running down into her shoe. She tried to reach down, to feel how bad the wound was, but her heart sank as she realized that her hands were restrained behind her. Her shoulder screamed in protest of her movements, and she remembered the nail gun, and the pain that had engulfed her just before she hit the ground.
            Her eyes fluttered open as a harsh light suddenly lit up her face. She scowled at the intrusion even as she tried to get a handle on her surroundings. There were other people in the room – that much she could tell. But their faces were beyond the reach of the light and their voices blended into a muffled undertone.
            A face broke away from the rest, coming closer to her. His features became clearer as he stopped mere inches from her, a leering smile plastered on his face. 
            "It's nice to finally meet you, Miss O'Brian."
 
***
 
            Curtis ran with Audrey all the way back to the car, his heart breaking the whole time. He hadn't wanted to leave Chloe. He would have stood there and gone down fighting with her. But the look in her eyes had stalled him. She was so desperate to ease Jack's pain, to finally give him some chance at happiness. He wanted to cry for her – for her selflessness. She was giving her life so that the man she loved could be with a woman she hated.
            As he reached the car he slowed, allowing himself to take some much-needed breaths. Leaning Audrey against the side, he opened the passenger side door and set her in the seat. She hadn't spoken since they'd left the warehouse, and now she just stared off into space, a confused and broken expression on her face.
            An SUV came to a sudden stop beside them, and Curtis saw Jack jump out, anger and worry clearly etched across his face. He strode over to them, but stopped suddenly when he saw Audrey in the car.
            They stared at each other for a moment before Jack crossed the rest of the distance. He gently laid a hand against her cheek, amazed that she was really there, really alive. They continued to hold the other's gaze, unable to think of anything to say or to even figure out what they were feeling beyond relief.
            Jack's eyes finally left Audrey as he swept the rest of the car and the area around him. He turned to his partner, confusion in his eyes.
            "Where's Chloe?"
            Curtis dropped his eyes to the ground, and Audrey shrank back slightly. Jack noted both reactions. He took his hand from Audrey and advanced on Curtis.
            "Where is she?" he asked, his tone forcing Curtis to look at him. Jack watched as he floundered for an answer, his anger growing with every second.
            "WHERE IS SHE!?" he thundered, taking Curtis by the collar of his shirt and shaking him.
            Curtis removed Jack's hands from his shirt, and then led him by the arm away from the SUV. He knew that Jack wasn't going to take the news lightly, and he didn't want Audrey having to deal with his anger just yet. When they were out of earshot, he stopped and faced Jack.
            "She's still down there, Jack. In the warehouse. I don’t think she…" he paused, his throat constricting with emotion. "I don't think she made it," he whispered.
            Jack's bottom lip began to tremble as confusion and disbelief marred his features. "What are you talking about?"
            "This was all her plan, Jack. She thought she knew where the Chinese were holding Audrey. She asked for my help. When we got here, they immediately opened fire on us. I held them off, gave Chloe time to get down to the warehouse. By the time I got down there, she had already found Audrey and was trying to get her out. But some of them found us before we made it. One of them had a nail gun…Chloe got hit…"
            Jack's hands were immediately around his neck, shaking him again. "And you just left her?" he screamed. "You left her there to die!?"
            Curtis fought to loosen Jack's grip, finally managing to push the enraged agent off of him. "I had to!"
            Jack's fist flew out and rammed into Curtis' face. "No! You didn't!" he roared back. "You should have saved her!"
            "She wouldn't let me!" Curtis yelled, pushing Jack away from him and trying to make him understand. "You think I wanted to leave her? You think I wanted to save your girlfriend while Chloe got hurt? I would have loved nothing better than to have dropped Audrey's sorry ass right there and rushed Chloe out!"
            "Then why didn't you?" Jack asked, his voice small and broken.
            "You should have seen the look in her eyes, Jack," Curtis explained, his voice lowering. "She was so desperate to save Audrey – to give you a chance to be happy. That's all she wanted, and she was willing to die for it." He paused, unsure that he should continue. "I know how you feel about her Jack."
            The change in his tone caused Jack to look at him sharply. "What are you talking about?"
            "I'm the only one left who knows, Jack. I remember how hard you fell for Chloe after that day with the Salazars. I know you've loved her since before you met Audrey. I know you still do. But I could never have convinced her of that. She thinks you can only be happy with Audrey, and she was going to do everything she could to let you two be together."
            Jack couldn't keep the tears in anymore. They flowed freely down his cheeks as he realized that everything had gone wrong, and that now Chloe was probably dead because of his inability to voice his feelings. He replayed the scene Curtis had explained to him, his mind latching on to something.
            "You said the guy had a nail gun?" he asked suddenly.
            "Yeah. Why?"
            "So she might still be alive."
            "Yeah, but Jack-"
            "No, Curtis," Jack said, effectively cutting him off. "They took Audrey to get to me. Why wouldn't they do the same to Chloe?" He paused, looking down on the docks. "I'm going after her."
            "There any way I can convince you to wait for backup?" Curtis asked, already knowing the answer.
            "No," he whispered, before turning to face his partner again. "Take care of Audrey. Get her back to CTU."
            Curtis nodded, extending his hand. Jack looked at it for a moment before taking it, and the two friends shook hands. Without another word, Jack slipped down to the docks.
 
***
 
 
            Chloe winced as she was roughly hauled onto someone's shoulder and taken from the warehouse. Her captors hadn't said much to her since taking her, and everything they had said to one another had been in Chinese. She worried about what they were going to do with her, fearing that they would try to use her to get something from Jack.
            She blinked against the sunlight as they carried her outside. She tried to see if Curtis and Audrey were close by, but she didn't want to draw attention to herself by swinging her head around too much. She just prayed that they had gotten away safely.
            The sound of footsteps on metal grabbed her attention, and she realized that she was being taken onto a boat. It seemed they weren't going to just kill her. She wasn't really afraid of the pain of torture, but she refused to be used as a bargaining chip. Falling deeper into her own thoughts, Chloe tried to formulate a plan to take herself out of the equation if they tried to use her against Jack.
 
***
 
            "Damnit!" Jack swore when he saw that the warehouse was empty. He knew that they couldn't have been gone long, and he was determined to find Chloe. The fact that her body wasn't there gave him hope – if they had killed her, they would have just left her on the floor.
            He did another sweep of the building, looking for anything that would tell him where they had gone. As he passed by one of the windows, he noticed a large freighter tied up to a nearby dock. Two young Chinese men guarded the ramp. An idea began to form in Jack's head. Slipping out the door furthest from the boat, he headed for the water.
 
***
 
            She was tied to another metal chair, another harsh light in her face. She could feel the boat rocking underneath her with the waves, and she idly wondered where they were taking her. Would they just head for international waters, or would they take her all the way to China?
            The man with the leering smile came into the room, smirking arrogantly. He carried a chair over and sat in front of her, as though they were old friends having a chat.
            "Hello, Miss O'Brian."
            "What do you want?" Chloe spat out, not caring whether she upset him or not.
            "Just to talk. My name is Cheng."
            "Talk all you want. But you're not going to get anything from me."
            "What makes you think we want anything?"
            "Why else would you have kept me alive?" she asked warily, suddenly unsure of the rules of the game.
            Cheng laughed. "Like I said, we just want to talk. All you have to do is listen."
 
***
 
            Jack was amazed at how easy it had been to get on the boat undetected. He completely avoided the guards, knowing that killing or rendering them unconscious would eventually raise an alarm that would be deadly for both he and Chloe. He kept to the shadows and quickly descended into the lower portions of the ship.
            Finding the main hold, Jack risked a glance in. He breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Chloe there, obviously alive. But his chest constricted with a burning rage as he saw Cheng talking to her. Unsure of what the best plan was, he slipped into the hold, hiding behind a stack of crates.
 
***
 
            "I need to thank you, Miss O'Brian," Cheng started.
            "Thank me? What the hell for?"
            "For taking Miss Raines off of our hands and providing us with a more…useful tool."
            "Useful? If you think I'm going to be more cooperative than Audrey, you obviously have no idea who you're talking to."
            "I already explained that we do not want information from you."
            "He won't do it, you know."
            "Who?"
            Chloe sighed. "Jack. He won't give you whatever it is you want. Not for me."
            "That is where you're wrong, Miss O'Brian. We know how much you mean to Bauer."
            She snorted. "Please. I'm just his go-to girl. He's not gonna do anything stupid to save me. So you're pretty much wasting your time. You might as well just kill me now."
            Cheng looked at her closely. "You really don't know, do you?" he asked, amusement lacing his voice.
            "Know what?" she snapped, frustrated with the conversation.
            "Bauer never broke during our…conversations with him. But we did learn some very interesting things…"
            "Like what?"
            "That Miss Raines does not hold the power over his heart that we thought she did."
            "You've obviously never seen them together," Chloe mumbled.
            "He held onto the memories of Miss Raines for a while…we heard him whisper her name in his sleep as he tried to cling to the last vestiges of his sanity."
            Tears stung the back of Chloe's eyes as she pictured Jack, broken and bleeding on the floor, desperately clinging to an image of his lover. She was suddenly filled with the most intense hatred for the man sitting before her.
            "But she eventually faded from his memory. As our interrogations increased, he began calling on another person. Every night when we would drop him back in his cell, he fell asleep in a little ball, crying and begging for this person to come save him. He'd call for her over and over again. Do you know who that person was, Miss O'Brian?"
            Chloe shook her head, the tears falling from her eyes. She didn't want to believe what Cheng was telling her, didn't want to entertain the thought that Jack had called for her. She watched warily as Cheng pulled a small tape recorder out of his pocket.
            "Let's listen then, shall we?"
 
***
 
            Jack couldn't move – he could hardly breathe. He remembered those nights, calling Chloe's name over and over. But he didn't want her to know. He didn't want her to be wracked with guilt. He contemplated rushing over and breaking Cheng's neck right then, but then he saw the tape recorder. He froze in shock.
 
***
 
            Cheng pressed 'play,' and Jack's agonized voice filled the room. It reverberated off of the metal walls, echoing and growing louder as the pain intensified. His screams filled Chloe's head, and she thought her heart would burst. She wanted to run to him, hold him, tell him that she was there, that she would save him. But she knew that it was too late. That all this had happened in the past and she hadn't saved him. She had failed him and left him to endure the pain alone.
            "Chloe…oh God, Chloe, where are you? I need you, Chloe…Please…Help me…save me…" Chloe began to sob as his screams resumed, the words no longer intelligible.
            "What do you want?" she begged.
            Cheng stopped the recording. "Now that we know who Bauer really loves," he said. "We want to make him suffer."
 
***
 
            It had taken all of Jack's self-control to not run screaming at Cheng, emptying his clip into him. The sound of his own screams filling the room had brought him back to those eighteen months of hell. Then he heard Chloe's sobs, and his heart broke for her. Tightening his grip on his gun, Jack prepared to move in on Cheng. But the boat shuddered beneath him as the engines roared to life, and Jack realized that they were setting sail.
           
***
 
            Curtis had waited a while, hoping against hope that he would see Jack coming back to the car, Chloe in his arms. But as the minutes slowly dragged by, he began to realize that both of his friends were probably dead. The only thing he could do now was to keep his promise to Jack and get Audrey back to CTU.
            As he started the car, he noticed one of the freighters leaving the dock. It moved slowly into more open waters, and Curtis wondered at the timing of the ship's departure. A sudden thought struck him.
            He dialed Bill's number as he sped back to CTU.
           
 
 
 
           
           
             Chapter 4




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failegaidin

December 2011

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