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
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            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

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December 2011

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