Here's chapter 7 of Fighting for Salvation. I'm actually quite proud of myself for how long it is and how quickly I wrote it. Hope you enjoy :D
Ava was a little disappointed in the Secret Service agents. These were men who were entrusted with the lives of some very important people and they hadn't even noticed her yet. Thinking about it, she had to admit that she had the advantage. They had no reason to suspect anyone would try to free Jack, nor that they would be silently crawling atop the pipes that lined the ceiling of the warehouse. She conceded that maybe they deserved the benefit of the doubt. She would reserve final judgment until she and Jack escaped.
They took Jack upstairs and away from the crowds. He was handcuffed and thrown into a chair while calls were made over their walkie-talkies. She watched in interest as her friend tried to explain everything that had been going on that day and his reasoning for his actions. Her heart hurt for him as he explained about his wife and daughter, how he'd been told that if he didn't go along with what the terrorists wanted, then they would be killed. He said that he had grabbed a Secret Service agent's gun as a last resort, a way to get the Senator out of the room before the real assassin managed to get a shot off.
Ava knew that he was telling the truth. She was generally a good judge of character, and even from her awkward angle, she could see the sincerity and pain in his eyes. But she also understood the other agent's response – he couldn't just let Jack go because he said he was acting under duress. He had no choice but to keep him under arrest.
She waited patiently while the agent in charge sent one his men back down to the floor – her odds of success bettered as the number of men below decreased. Grimacing, she decided that she was going to have to settle for four. The idea didn't really make her happy, but she was afraid that if she waited much longer, more men might come up or they would decide to move Jack to another location.
Taking a deep breath, Ava placed her hands on a nearby pipe after checking to see if it was hot. With a silent prayer she swung down, slamming her feet directly into the chest of the head agent. He fell back with a grunt, and she knocked him out with a roundhouse kick to the face. Ava picked up a chair that was nearby and threw it at the farthest agent, knocking the gun out of his hand and bringing him down. Without hesitation she ran at another agent, lowering her shoulders. They caught him right under the ribs and she stood up slightly, still moving forward. Pushing with all her strength, she threw him away from her and into the last agent standing.
It had all happened in a matter of seconds, and she didn't stop to see who was unconscious and who wasn't. She had only meant this as a diversionary tactic. Running over, she grabbed Jack by his handcuffs and dragged him along with her. They moved quickly, taking twists and turns wherever they could to lose pursuit. When she was sure that no one was around to see, Ava swung back up into the pipes above them. Jack stared after her.
"What are you, some weird kind of monkey?"
"We can debate my heritage later, Jack," she muttered.
Hooking her legs around one of the pipes, she hung down so that he could reach her hand.
"Hold on," she warned.
"You really think you can lift me?" he asked dubiously.
"Never doubt my ab muscles," she growled.
She grunted with the effort, straining to bring Jack up into the ceiling. He tried to help as much as he could, swinging a leg up when he could reach. As Ava sat up and he moved to bring his other leg up, shouts erupted below them.
"I think they found us," Jack observed.
"Why are you in such a bad mood?"
"Because I had to save your ass – AGAIN."
"I had to save Palmer. And Teri and Kim."
She sighed. "I know. I'm sorry. But if I don't make bitter sarcastic comments, I'll never get through today."
He nodded. "Let's go. Before they start shooting at us."
"Sounds good to me."
Running along the pipes was not an easy task, especially with Jack's hands cuffed in front of him. They moved as quickly as possible, the shouts of the Secret Service agents below them. Shots were fired occasionally, but by and large the men below were afraid of hitting a pipe and piercing it.
As they neared the far wall, Ava swung down from the ceiling and ran at a window, the sound of Jack hitting the floor behind her assuring her that he was keeping up. Jumping, she threw her body through the glass, causing it to shatter as she landed on the pavement outside. Jack landed beside her and she helped him up, dragging by the arm as they ran away from the warehouse and the Secret Service agents.
Ava pulled her gun as she ran, leading them into the middle of the busy street in front of the warehouse. Holding it up, she stood her ground and forced a young woman to stop her car. She walked purposefully over to the driver and opened the door.
"We need your car."
"Please don't hurt me," she begged.
"I won't. Just get out and wait for the nice agents who are running after us. They'll take care of you."
With a firm hand, Ava dragged the woman out of the car. Sliding behind the wheel, she opened the passenger's side for Jack and barely waited for him to close the door before slamming her foot onto the gas pedal and speeding away.
Ava wasn't sure exactly why she chose the construction site to hide in. But she knew that they had to get off the road – they had no real chance of losing the agents behind them in a full-out race, and the streets of L.A. in the morning were no place to be weaving in and out of traffic at top speeds. She parked the car among the others in the small dirt lot, and she and Jack moved quietly up into the manager's trailer, breathing a sigh of relief when they found it to be empty.
She closed the door behind them and secured it while Jack moved to the desk and pulled out his cell phone.
"Nina, it's me."
"Are you alright?"
"You mean after you shot me?"
"I am so sorry, Nina. I had to. They have Teri and Kim."
"I know, Jack."
"We found the mole at CTU."
"But…but she's the one that Walsh trusted the most."
"Well, he was wrong. We caught her in the act."
"Have you questioned her?"
"That's what we're doing right now."
"Has she told you anything?"
"No," Nina glared at Jamey. "She refuses to talk without immunity."
"Put her on the phone." He waited a moment. "Jamey?"
"Who are you giving information to?"
"I want immunity."
"Jamey, they have my wife and daughter. I need to know who's paying you."
He could practically hear her thinking. "His name is Gaines. But that's all I'll say until I have immunity."
"I'm sorry, Jack. No one was supposed to get hurt."
Nina got back on the phone. "Well, at least that's something."
"Jamey has a son. I want you to bring him in."
"Trust me. It'll get her to talk."
"Fine. What happened with you?"
"They used me to smuggle a weapon in to the warehouse where Palmer was speaking. I pulled an agent's gun so that they would be forced to move the Senator. They took me into custody."
"And they're letting you make a phone call?"
"I'm not exactly in custody anymore."
"What do you mean, not exactly?"
"Ava helped me escape."
Nina sighed. "So now you're both on the run."
"We need a car."
"Where are you?"
"A construction site. I need you to have someone park a car on Wilshire. Have them leave the keys under the seat and the car unlocked. We'll get there as soon as we can."
"Alright." She frowned. "Tony wants to talk to you."
"Put him on."
"What do you need, Tony?"
"Look, I wanted to apologize. For doubting you earlier. For calling Division. For calling the Secret Service. I didn't realize what you were going through."
"You did the right thing, Tony. Your call probably saved Palmer's life."
"So we're okay?"
"Yeah. We're good."
Tony looked furtively toward Nina as he walked to the door. "Is Ava there?"
"Can I talk to her?"
Nina's frown deepened as Tony left the room and shut the door behind him.
"Hey…look…your dad called."
He heard a silence on the other end that he could practically feel.
"Did he say what he wanted?"
"To talk to you. He sounded…"
Tony took a deep breath. "I think he was drunk, Ava. He was saying some pretty awful things."
"Oh, God. What did he say?"
"He called you a few names, mostly alluding to how worthless he thought you were-"
"No. I meant…what did he say to you? Did he…did he insult you at all?"
"Yeah. How did you know?"
She sighed. "I imagine when you answered the phone you said your last name. My dad…isn't fond of people who aren't Caucasian."
"Tony, I am so sorry. Please. My dad is just a racist ass. Don't take anything he says seriously. And please do not think I agree with him. He-"
"Ava, stop. I'm not mad at you. I'm mad for you. He's the one who called earlier, isn't he?"
"Yeah. He's not my biggest fan at the moment."
"For giving you a hard time. I've been giving you and Jack a lot of shit today, and neither of you needed that on top of everything else."
"It's okay, Tony. I haven't exactly been the soul of courtesy either."
"Can I ask you something?"
"You were only worried about what he said about me…don't you want to know what he said about you?"
"Believe me, it's nothing I haven't heard before. He hasn't liked me for a very long time. When he gets drunk he works himself into a tizzy and calls me. It's no big deal."
"I think it is."
"Well, we can talk about it later. For now, Jack and I need to focus on getting out of here safely and you guys have to get Jamey to talk."
Tony nodded and walked back into the room. Nina handed him a piece of paper. "The car is on it's way," he told her. "Silver Honda. License plate 55-LME. Should be there in about fifteen minutes or so."
"Okay. Sounds good. And Tony?"
Nina watched him as he hung up the phone.
"What was that all about?" she asked.
"Leaving the room to talk to Ava."
"I needed to tell her something."
"That you couldn't say in front of me?"
"It was personal. I don't think she'd want anybody else to know."
She continued to stare at him as he returned to interrogating Jamey.
When Ava hung up the phone, she walked over to Jack, who was sitting behind the manager's desk. Without a word, she kneeled in front of him and pulled a bobby pin from her hair. He held his hands out to her so she could work on his cuffs.
"Your dad called?"
She nodded. "Tony answered the phone. My dad wasn't very nice to him."
"He didn't go into details. But I know my father. I imagine it was something along the lines of 'dirty spic.'"
She shrugged. "Tony seems to have handled it fairly well. He was nice about it."
"How are you handling it."
Ava smiled in triumph as the cuffs fell to the ground with a clunk. Jack eagerly rubbed his wrists.
"No problem. You were slowing me down."
"Yeah, yeah." He looked out the window. "Ava?"
"We have another problem."
"I really don't know how many more problems I can handle today, Jack."
"Well, if Secret Service gets a hold of you, I imagine your problems are only going to get worse."
She stood up and followed his gaze. "Fuck."
Jack's eyes widened. "Ava."
"Oh, shut up, Bauer. I do know how to swear."
"It's just so refreshing to hear it."
"Are you ready to go? Or should I leave you here to distract them while I escape?"
Ava looked out the window again as Jack stood up and moved toward the door. The agents were talking to a construction worker, and he was pointing toward their car. Evidently their entrance had not gone unnoticed. As the agents ran toward them, she and Jack moved to the back of the office, opening one of the windows and shimmying out. Jack grunted with the effort – the opening was quiet big enough for him. With a loud clatter, he fell to the ground next to Ava.
Shots fired and they threw themselves to the ground. One of the agents had gone around the back in case they tried exactly what they were doing. Hissing in frustration, Ava pulled out her gun and took aim. She pulled the trigger, and the agent went down, clutching his foot and howling in pain. Jack grabbed her hand and dragged her away at a run.
They ducked and weaved through the construction site, heading toward the road. Jack led the way, setting a hard pace that Ava easily kept up with. By the time they reached Wilshire, all sounds of pursuit had disappeared behind them and they slowed their pace, attempting to look ordinary as they crossed the road and moved toward the CTU car that had been parked there. Jack got behind the wheel as Ava moved to the passenger's side.
"In the foot?" he asked as she buckled her seatbelt.
She shrugged. "You know I hate to shoot people."
"Yes, but sometimes it's necessary."
"He's one of the good guys. I didn't think he deserved a serious wound."
Jack shook his head. "Your logic and aim frighten me."
"As they should, Jack. As they should."
"You're mad at me," Tony stated as they left the room and moved back out onto the floor.
"Not at all. Why would I be mad at you?"
"You don't like that I had something private to tell Ava."
"What you do with Ava is none of my business."
"Come on, Nina, don't be like that," he pleaded as he laid a hand on her arm.
She snatched her arm back. "Leave me alone, Tony."
"You're jealous. You think there's something going on between me and Ava."
"I think she's a manipulative bitch who would do anything to get her hands on you."
"I think you just want me to hate her as much as you do."
"What are you saying?"
"That for whatever reason, you can't stand her. So you've been badmouthing her and telling me lies about her to get me on your side before she had a chance to."
"Are you accusing me of lying?"
"I know you haven't been entirely truthful, Nina."
"And what makes you think I want you on my side? What makes you think you're that important?"
He dismissed her barb and leaned in closely to whisper in her ear. "Because you hate to lose, Nina. No matter what. You hate to lose."
She jerked back from him. "I need to go check something in Tech 1."
Without another word, she stormed away from him.
"Jamey's son should be here soon," Nina said as she came up to Tony's station.
"Are you talking to me again?"
"Just because I don't like you personally at the moment doesn't mean I can't work with you."
"This is really bothering you, isn't it?"
"We're in the middle of a national crisis right now, Tony," she snapped. Then she paused and lowered her voice. "But by the end of the day…you're going to have to choose."
"What are you talking about?"
"Her or me."
"I can't be with you and be friends with her?"
"We should go back in to Jamey. See if we can get anything else out of her."
She walked away before Tony had a chance to respond. His mind was still reeling from the ultimatum she had just thrown at him, and he followed her silently. He could admit to himself that he and Ava were not great friends and that it seemed illogical to give up Nina over a relationship like that. But he found himself unwilling to make that choice. Anger started to pulse inside of him as he realized that Nina had no right to be making such demands, that he had never made her choose between him and Jack…
All of his thoughts ceased when they opened the door. Jamey was lying on the floor, one of her wrists bleeding profusely with her broken cup next to her. He and Nina rushed to her side, yelling for a paramedic and doing what they could to stop the bleeding. She was unresponsive as they attempted to revive her and they were both forced back as the medics burst into the room. Their voices were tense as they lifted her onto the gurney and moved her out, Nina and Tony both sensing from their tones that things weren't hopeful.
Nina opened her mouth to speak when a sudden vibrating caught their attention. She walked over and picked Jamey's PDA off the floor. Raising her eyes to Tony's, she held it out as though it were a bomb.
"It's Gaines," she whispered.
Nina bit her nail absently as recent events flitted through her mind. Because Jamey was unconscious and on her way to the hospital, the call from Gaines had gone unanswered. If Jamey didn't get in contact with him soon, he was going to realize that something had gone wrong. And there was no telling what he would do then.
She glanced over at Tony as he sat at his station, staring at his computer screen and trying vainly to focus on the task at hand. Things were not going well between them, and she was afraid that by the end of the day, that would come back to bite her in the ass. But she couldn't have him cavorting with Ava – too many things would be out of her control then, and she needed to be in control today.
Her thoughts were interrupted when the phone at her station suddenly rang. She stared at it for a moment before shaking herself out of her reverie and picking it up.
"Oh thank God."
"Teri, where are you?"
"I don't really know. But Kim is with me. I managed to get one of their phones."
Nina snapped her fingers to get Tony and Milo's attention and she mouthed to them that she needed a trace now.
"Okay, Teri. Let me see if I can connect you with Jack, okay?"
She switched over and dialed Jack's cell phone.
"Jack, it's Nina. I've got Teri on the other line."
"What? Is she okay? Where's Kim?"
"Slow down, Jack. She sounds okay. Kim is with her. We're running a trace to find out where she is now."
Pushing a couple buttons on her phone, she connected the two calls.
"Okay, Jack, you're on with Teri."
"Hi, sweetheart," he breathed, emotion thick in his throat. "Are you okay? Is Kim?"
"Yes, we're both okay. They're holding us somewhere. I'm not sure where."
"We're running a trace, Teri. We're going to find you and I'm going to bring you home, I promise."
"I know, Jack."
"I love you so much. Both of you. You know that, right?"
"Yes. We love you too, Jack." She heard a sound at the door. "Someone's coming, hang on."
They could hear muffled noises and Teri tried to hide the phone. Then someone was in the room with them.
"Where is it?" a male voice demanded.
"Where's what?" Teri asked.
"My phone. I know you stole it, you bitch!"
They could hear feet shuffling as Teri moved Kim behind her and tried to move out of the man's reach.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Yes you do you crazy whore-"
His voice cut off as something beeped. Jack strained to hear what was going on, but without anyone speaking, he couldn't figure out what was happening.
"Who did you call?" the voice demanded, much louder and closer this time.
"Don't lie to me."
The line went dead.
"He turned the phone off, Jack," Nina told him.
"Did Milo get the trace."
She looked at the tech, but he shook his head.
"No. It cut out too soon."
Nina looked up as Tony took another call. She frowned as she watched his shoulders slump. He hung up the phone and walked over to her.
"Let me talk to him," he said quietly.
She handed the phone over silently.
"Jamey Ferrell was just pronounced dead at the hospital. She never regained consciousness."
"But I did find an email on her computer. Milo's almost done decrypting it." He paused as the younger tech brought a printed version of the email over to him. "Here it is. There was a wire transfer of one million dollars to a Ted Cofell. Milo did a search and came up with his office address. Cofell is scheduled for a flight this morning. Milo's sending the info to your phone now."
"What are you going to do?"
"Follow the money."
As Tony hung up the phone, there was a commotion at the doors. He and Nina looked up to see a tall black woman in a business suit striding toward the middle of the floor. Her heels clicked loudly and she held her head high as everyone's eyes were riveted to her. She stopped and turned to face the room.
"Your attention, please," she called, her face cold. "My name is Alberta Green. I am now in charge of this CTU. Jack Bauer has been removed of his duties, as he has gone rogue. Finding him is our number-one priority right now."
Tony leaned over. "Did she miss the memo about the assassination attempt on a presidential candidate?"
"She probably thinks that Jack is the threat, so she's killing two birds with one stone," Nina whispered back.
Alberta fixed them with a steely glare. "Jack Bauer is to be considered a fugitive, and a highly dangerous one at that. And any agent or agents helping him should be considered the same. Thank you."
With that, she turned on her heel and mounted the steps toward Jack's office.
"What was that all about?" Milo asked as he came over to them.
"It means," Tony sighed. "that Ava and Jack are in a lot of trouble."
Ava watched Jack out of the corner of her eye as they sped toward Cofell's office. He kept his gaze forward, and she could see that his knuckles were white with the effort of reigning in his emotions.
"So…is there a plan this time?"
"I'm open to suggestions."
"Really? Usually you just wing it."
"As you so kindly pointed out earlier, that hasn't gotten me anything but trouble today."
"That's not true. You got results. They were just results that required a little extra help, that's all."
He gave her a tight smile. "Alright. So do you have a plan?"
"Well, I'm thinking that Cofell has a driver."
"Well, he needs to get to the airport. He has a driver. I say we go in, dispose of the driver, impersonate him and pretend to drive Cofell to the airport. Then you can have a private chat with him."
Jack thought for a minute. "That's actually a good plan."
"Just imagine if I used my cognitive powers for evil instead of good."
"The world wouldn't stand a chance."
"Lucky for you guys I think evil sucks."
The driver turned around to face Ava. She had a shy smile on her face and she was nervously wringing her hands in front of her stomach.
"I was just wondering if you knew how to get to Wilshire from here? I'm new in town, and…"
"Sorry, lady. Can't help you."
"But…you're a driver. You have to know your way around the city."
"You'd better get out of here. If security finds you, they won't be as kind as I am."
The façade fell from her face and her fist lashed out. The man slumped against the car and slid down to the pavement, unconscious. Ava stood over him, her hands on her hips.
"Is it too much to ask for a little kindness around here?" she demanded.
"You realize he can't hear you," Jack said as he came up behind her.
He hooked his arms under the mans armpits and dragged him behind some cars. He motioned for Ava to follow him.
"You need to put on his clothes."
"They are way too big."
"Cofell will never believe you're his driver in that outfit."
"Explain to me again why you're not driving?"
"You maneuver better. If we get into a jam, I don't know how well I can drive this boat."
"Men," she sighed. "What if I just put on his hat and jacket. Will that do?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"Then you got yourself a deal."
As she waited for Cofell, Ava made sure that the partition was up. She didn't want the guy to be able to get his hands around her neck. Looking in the mirror, she double checked to make sure that her hair was tucked up under the hat. Then she spared a glance at Jack, who was stuffed on the floor of the passenger's side.
"If he sees you talking to the floor, the plan is ruined."
She straightened up in her seat as the backdoor opened. From the corner of her eye, she watched a balding business man climb into the backseat.
Ava nodded and started the car, fighting the smirk that threatened to overtake her mouth.