Every once in a while, his hand goes to his right pocket, as though he's checking that something's still there.
Every once in a while, his hand goes to his right pocket, as though he's checking that something's still there.
The day after he and Chris had switched back, he'd headed back out of the bar, glad to have his usual body back, glad to be able to get home for a while. There are a few things he needs to think about, and it's hard to do them in the middle of the busy bar. Particularly while distracted by the fact that your body isn't the same one you're used to, and you're not sure when--or if--you'll be able to switch back.
Coming back wasn't entirely a relief, though. Not with the news still showing round-the-clock coverage on the nuclear bomb and the other attacks. With reminders of what had happened everywhere, it's not surprising that he hasn't been able to sleep, which is how he ended up down here, washing dishes in the middle of the night.
Chris had been fast asleep when he'd given up on trying to sleep and come downstairs. Lying next to her, listening to her breathe, he hadn't been able to stop thinking about his conversation with Ryan.
Why do you think Henderson went after Caiti?
Because of me.
He'd always tried to keep a distance between his work and his family; with Teri, he'd seen that there was no way to keep it that way. No way to keep the people close to him safe. Chris and her family would be safer if she wasn't with him, but selfishness is stopping him from doing it. He doesn't want to let her go, and he knows if he tried breaking up with her for that reason she'd just be pissed at him.
He wants to be with her, wants to wake up next to her for the rest of their lives. The thing that's worrying him, though, is the price that they'll have to pay for that happiness.
The best things in life are never free. Standing in Michelle's kitchen--the kitchen that used to be Tony's too--he's not about to forget that any time soon.
Jack rubs his forehead, wincing as he touches the bruise around the cut. He'd taken some Tylenol earlier, but that wasn't going to help much when he accidentally poked at it.
"So you were in holding at the Logan Ranch for how long?" Bill asks, leaning back in his chair.
"A little less than half an hour. Once Logan was officially in custody, the Attorney General approved my release as it was part of a sting operation, and Agent Pierce had been aware of the plan, so he decided I never actually posed a threat to the President. Not to mention that the President forfeited all privileges of the office when he committed treason," Jack replies, sipping his second cup of CTU's high-octane coffee. It's about the only thing that's kept him awake through the entire debriefing.
Glancing out the glass windows of Buchanan's office, Jack watches the CTU skeleton crew and the Division replacement scurry around, cleaning up the messes left by the last couple weeks. He'd been surprised when Buchanan had said he'd do the debriefing, but then maybe it shouldn't have been. Jack would have to tell about everything that happened with Logan, and as far as he knew, at CTU there was only a small group that was privy to knowledge of Logan's actions.
"And what did you do once you were out of holding?" Buchanan asked.
"I had to talk with the Attorney General and Agent Pierce about the whole plan--basically everything I've told you--and go over a few things, which took about an hour or so. I then came back here, to CTU."
Bill nods. "And you swear that everything that you've said in this debriefing is the truth?"
"I do," Jack says.
"Then that concludes the debriefing at...6:49pm, July 17, 2012." Leaning forward, Bill presses the stop button on the recorder. "I think that's all we need, Jack. Go get some sleep, you've earned it."
"What's going on with Michelle?" Jack asks, not moving.
"For the moment she's still in custody," Bill says, with a bit of a sigh. "Division's getting some pressure from higher up to charge her, but I don't think they'll be able to prosecute her. We've sent them the recordings, and once they hear them, they should back off." Bill looks over at Jack with complete conviction in his expression. "I'm not going to let this go, Jack. Go home, I'll make sure she's all right here, and do everything I can to get her out as soon as possible."
Jack hesitates for a moment, not wanting to leave while Michelle's still in holding, a bad sense of deja vu about the entire situation. Once upon a time, he'd been trying to get Tony out of custody; it seems even more wrong now to walk away from Tony's wife.
But then he doesn't have much of a choice. He's about ready to fall asleep sitting up, and there are a few things he needs to do before he finally lets himself rest. He's not going to be much use to Michelle if he's groggy and not thinking clearly from lake of sleep.
Pushing himself out of his chair, he steps forward, just as Bill gets out of his chair and holds out his hand. Jack takes it.
"Thank you for everything you've done, Jack. I just wish the government would let you stay on."
Jack gives Bill a momentary, wry smile. As much as it had sometimes felt like he was back in his element, he knows even more now that he could never come back to CTU, even if the government would let him. He can't do this work anymore. Considering everything he's seen of the people in power, he's not sure he would want to, but then that's something that hasn't completely sunken in yet.
"Yeah. I'll see you, Bill," he says, giving Bill's hand a firm shake. Walking down the steps from the director's office, he crosses the bullpen and grabs his bag from the locker room before heading out to his car.
Once he closes the driver's door, he sits there for a moment, rubbing his forehead. He needs to talk to Kim before he goes back to Michelle's, but he's not exactly looking forward to it. She might already know that her godfather was involved in some of the plan, but to know that he was plotting to send her father to be tortured by the Chinese while he was all comfort and support to her...
Jack sighs, then opens his eyes and turns his key in the ignition. Sitting here isn't going to make it any easier to tell her. Besides, he doesn't want to stay at CTU any longer.
Pulling out of the parking space, Jack drives to the exit, barely acknowledging the guard's wave as he drives out of the lot.
He doesn't look back.
It's over. The whole nightmare is over, except for the part where a different one--the living after the nuclear bomb and dealing with the aftermath of everything that has happened--has just begun, and will take a long time to pass.
Climbing out of the car, he walks up the path to the front door, practically counting the steps until he's unlocking the door and inside. Every step brings him closer to the few things he wants; mainly to see Chris and gets some sleep.
Unlocking the door, he steps inside, listening to the soft noises of the house for a moment. It doesn't sound like anyone's up; not that he can blame them.
Jack only briefly opens his eyes before closing them tightly again, his eyes hurting at the bright light. Even with the blinds closed it's too bright in the room for him, and he moves to roll over onto his back, let himself wake up and his eyes adjust to the light.
As soon as he starts to move, pain streaks through his ribcage, his shoulder, his head; every muscle feels stiff and sore. He makes it onto his back with a groan. Fuck, he's getting too old for this kind of thing.
He opens his eyes again, acclimating them to the light before looking around for a clock. There's one on the bedside table to his right, and he squints at the digital readout. 4:37. For a moment his sleep-fogged brain wonders why the streetlight outside is so bright and where Chris is, until it kicks in that that's 4:37 in the afternoon, not in the morning. Christ, he's slept for about 18 hours straight. No wonder his muscles have stiffened up.
Lying in bed isn't going to help that any, and so he moves to the edge of the bed, sitting up slowly. The pounding in his head only gets worse with the change in blood pressure, but it provides something of an incentive to get to his feet and head for the bathroom. Painkillers definitely sound like a welcome idea at the moment.
Jack feels a little more human after a long shower, the hot water easing some of the knots that had formed in his muscles as he'd slept, but as he walks downstairs, he's still feeling rather stiff and sore. He spots Caiti in the living room as soon as he reaches the foot of the stairs, and part of him wants to put this discussion off one more day but he knows it'll be better to get it over with. He's not sure how long Caiti will be staying, and it'll be all too easy to keep putting it off.
Grabbing a cup of coffee from the kitchen, he walks into the living room, taking a seat in an overstuffed armchair, his movements a little stiff and slow.
"Hi, Caiti. How're you doing?" he asks, taking a sip of his coffee. He's doing his best not to seem nervous.
Jack winces slightly as one of the medics dabs something on the cut on his forehead that makes it sting even more before applying a butterfly bandage. He hadn't noticed the cut until Bill had pointed it out to him, not that it was large enough to make itself known beyond a small dribble of blood to his temple.
"Here, hold this against that bump at the back of your head," the medic says, passing him a cold gelpack. Jack takes it gratefully, his head pounding front and back. Minor injuries, nothing to worry about, though he knows he might feel differently the next day.
Even though he's all right, there's still a phone call he has to make, though, and as the medic walks away, Jack grabs his cellphone from the desk, quickly finding Michelle's number.
There's still no answer at the house, so he goes over to Chris' cell; no answer there, either. Fuck, she's going to kill him for leaving these messages.
"Hey, sweetheart. I'm okay and CTU is safe. Most of the people here got through it all right. There's still a lot of stuff we have to do, but call me when you get this. Love you, and I'll see you when I get back," he says, flipping the phone shut.
Rubbing his eyes for a moment, Jack wishes he could just get up and leave right now. He's exhausted, not having slept for...fuck, 24 hours? 36 hours? He can't remember the last time he nodded off, even for a few minutes, and it's been days since he had decent sleep.
But there's no time for that; there are still things to be done, pieces of the puzzle that they don't have. He'll get to leave the cleanup to CTU soon enough.
For the moment, though, he has to keep going, or the unanswered questions won't let him sleep anyway.
Frustrated, he turns around, snapping the tape back into its case. Dammit, he wants to be moving, to have a clue where the hell these guys were, instead of just staying here, picking through the pieces. But it looks like they're stuck, at least until CTU comes through with sattelite or CalTrans footage showing where the hostiles are headed.
Dammit, what's taking them so long?
"I've got a location!"
Jack's head snaps up from Chris' computer station, looking over at where Nadia's leaning over one of the computer analysts' shoulders. Getting to his feet, Jack hurries over as Nadia points to something on the screen, Bill hurrying to her side.
"Ibrahim Usmani is renting a small warehouse about thirty minutes from here, sattelite from twenty minutes ago shows activity around the building," Nadia says, as the computer tech--Edgar Stiles--taps at the keys, zooming in on the still pictures from the sattelite feed.
Bill nods. "Okay, Mike, Jack, I want both of you on this; get as many field teams in on this as you can. Mike, you've got priority for any CTU resources you might need."
Doyle nods, "I'll get the teams rolling, and call back in. I'll be on comm," he says, turning and heading for the field equipment room.
Quickly closing down Chris' station, Jack heads in the same direction as Doyle to suit up. With any luck, this will be the end of it.
As the field teams surround the building, there's an eerie quiet in the area, and Jack's uneasy as they approach. Something feels wrong; it feels too quiet, and though he didn't count, it seems like there's fewer cars around the building. Maybe it's just their approach, knowing that there could be a suitcase nuke in that building and if they're spotted before they can take out the hostiles, they could share the same fate as the team in Valencia did a few days ago.
"Teams in position?" Doyle whispers over the comm unit in Jack's ear, and the leaders of the field teams give their assent, one by one. Jack takes a couple deep breaths, trying to put the mental image of the mushroom cloud out of his mind. They just have to move fast, and hope that that doesn't happen.
Crouching next to the wall, he waits for the order, ready to spring into action when Doyle gives the go-ahead.
"Okay, all teams move in!"
The agents in front of Jack ram the steel doors and they fly open, Jack running in behind them, weapon up, eyes scanning for targets. Behind him there's stomping feet and shouts in his ear as the agents flood the building and find...nothing.
Searching for hostiles, the only people Jack can see are the other field teams surging into the building. There are a few crates as well as a couple tables and chairs off to one side, but other than that, there's no evidence of anyone in the building. Quickly walking over to the crates, Jack looks inside; from the supports and packing materials it looks like the kind of crate used to ship weapons.
"Son of a bitch! Someone was here, and we missed them," Jack says, walking over to Doyle as he relays the news to CTU. "Those crates were carrying weapons, we've got to find these guys. Does CTU have more recent sattelite coverage yet or anything from CalTrans?"
Doyle shakes his head. "They're working on it. The sattelite servers are overloaded."
"Dammit," Jack says, walking away and looking around in frustration, trying to see if there's anything else they can find.
What's preoccupying him isn't the weapons or the lack of hostiles, however. It's the knowledge that if they're not in the building and the weapons are with them, they've likely moved on to their next target. And more importantly, he and the rest of CTU don't have a clue where to start looking.
Jack heads down the hallway to the interrogation rooms from the bullpen, where he'd left the memory stick in Chloe's hands. As soon as they'd arrived, he'd handed over Henderson to Security, let them handle putting him in an interrogation room. Meanwhile, he'd made a trip to Medical to check on Caiti and see Chris, and from there to the bullpen to hand over the memory stick. Despite how much he wants to know what's on it, there's not much he can do from here on in with it, though from the news she'd given him, there's a limited amount Chloe can do as well.
He can feel his stomach tightening as he nears the interrogation rooms, memories starting to come back to him that he pushes away forcefully. He needs to focus, needs to appear calm, if he's going to do convince Bill to let him interrogate Henderson. And he needs to be the one to do it. He can't take the backseat for this, despite the fact that he's not sure how much he can go through with.
Punching in the code to the observation room, he opens the door, taking a deep breath. He can do this. He just needs to focus.
Jack leans forward, rubbing tired, gritty eyes. He should try and take a nap on the staff room couch, or go back to Michelle's for an hour to try and grab some sleep. He'd given his contact at DoD--Scott Itzin--his cellphone number so it's not like he needs to be at CTU. But then that's assuming he'd be able to get to sleep in the first place, and considering the last few nights he'd lain awake for hours before finally drifting off, it hardly seems worth the trouble at the moment.
He's just about to go get himself another cup of coffee, or maybe see if he can find the door to Milliways again when his cellphone rings. He grabs it from the desktop, the adrenaline waking him as he recognises Scott's number.
"Bauer," he says, glancing around to see if there's anyone nearby to overhear.
"It's Scott, I've got what you asked for." He sounds nervous, his voice nearly a whisper.
"Can you email me the document?" Jack asks. The document itself is as valuable as the information on it; without it it'll be hard to get approval to search, or hell, to maybe even get anyone to believe him.
"Yeah, but if anyone asks...you didn't get it from me."
Jack tells him where to email the document, the passage of time before the email arrives seeming exasperatingly long. Within a couple minutes, it's there, though, Jack telling Scott that it arrived before snapping his phone shut.
Opening the attachment he skims the document, some parts of which have been blacked out, mainly to do with the source of the three suitcase nukes. But the destination of the bombs is still visible, and as he reads the name of the contractor and person in charge of disarming them, he suddenly feels cold all over.
Company: Omicron International
Project Manager: Henderson, Christopher
It goes on to list Henderson's position in the company, the arrival date, but Jack's not looking at that. He's looking at Christopher Henderson's signature, confirming receipt of the bombs. Even now, almost ten years since Henderson was fired from CTU, Jack still recongises that signature. Henderson had been his mentor, his partner, his father figure. He'd seen him sign things a hundred times, and at least from what his eye can see and remember, the signature is authentic.
Quickly he flips to the attached photos, bringing up photographs of the undetonated bomb from D.C. There's no doubt that the bombs are the same set.
Instantly, he can think of a number of different scenarios where Henderson wasn't involved with the terrorists getting the bombs, but none can dispel his doubts. Maybe it was someone underneath him who handed them over, maybe he thought he was sub-contracting the disarmament to someone trustworthy. But every scenario comes back to the same result: Henderson was the one who was responsible for the suitcase nukes. If they went missing he would have had to know, and should have reported it. If he didn't know, or didn't report it, then it's gross negligence at the very least. He doesn't want to think about what the worst case scenario is, despite his and Christopher's estrangement.
Carefully saving the document to a CD along with the document on Palmer's computer, he heads up to Bill Buchanan's office to share his findings and start the whole terrible string of events into motion.
Twenty minutes later, they have the search warrant and the field and forensics teams are suiting up to head out to the Hendersons' house. They should be leaving any minute, but there's one stop Jack has to make first. He knows that while his relationship with Christopher and Miriam has been nonexistant for the last ten years, Kim's still very close to them. He needs to tell her about Christopher's involvement, before she finds out in some other way.
Approaching her station, Jack leans over her shoulder, saying quietly, "Can we talk somewhere, sweetheart?"
Jack's waiting for the results of data-mining on a few people in the L.A. area that had contacts with the would-be bombers in D.C. Two bomb found or detonated, and the intel points to one more remaining. One more bomb, and they still don't know where it is.
Turning back to the computer station he's taken over, he clicks on a couple links, determined not to just sit there. The pathway to FEMA's Victim Identification Database is familiar, the search parameters already set.
Eyes: blue OR green
Sort by: Most Recent
Hundreds of matches come up, and one by one, he scrolls through the list, all victims of the bomb. He's learned not to look too closely at faces, to just look at one or two specific parts, judge them for their familiarity and move on if they don't fit. To mentally filter out the glassy eyes, the severe burns, the blistering skin, to try not to think about how young some of them look, to try not to see the devastation. To look for one face in particular.
It's easier to do now. When the database had first gone up, it had just been grouped by sex as one group of workers worked on getting photos into the database and another started slowly adding in other details. The first time he'd seen a child's photo, he'd had to run to the bathroom before he was sick. Now, at least, he can avoid the youngest victims, though the group he's looking through is still far, far too young.
Even now, it's not an easy task, not one he's been able to dissociate himself from. But better him than Chris.
He clicks through the records, flicking from one to the next, not taking much longer than a second or two at each though he knows that with the effects of the burns and radiation sickness on the human face he could be clicking right past Caiti without recognising her. But if he doesn't recognise a face in a second or two, he's pretty sure he won't recognise it on a longer look. Besides, these victims aren't from their condo. It's too close to ground zero; teams haven't gotten there yet. He can't even be sure that there'll be anything to find, that close to the blast.
Finally he's gone through all the records updated in the last hour, the process only having taken a few minutes. Still, no phone call with new information, nothing to distract him, help him focus his thoughts away from the one thing that keeps coming up in his train of thought.
I'm not sure I can do this anymore.
But he doesn't have a choice. He can't quit now, can't walk away. He has to see it through to the end.
Standing from his chair, he walks toward the bathroom. He'll splash some water on his face, try and push the images of the dead out of his head, and if he hasn't had a phone call by the time he's done that, he'll see what else needs to be done. He just needs a minute to breathe.
Jack's stuck in traffic heading back from Valencia, and a check on Coco, his mind drifting as he stares at the sea of bumpers in front of him. Chris' sister has been staying with them, and while he hasn't been back to the condo much, it's always awkward, wondering if or when Caiti's going to remember him from Morocco. There hadn't been time to talk to her about it either.
He's tapping his finger on the steering wheel when his cell rings. "Bauer," he says, glancing around at traffic, looking to see if anything's moving.
"Jack, it's Bill. We need you back here as soon as possible," Bill says. There's an urgency to his voice that belies the simple phrasing.
"I'm in heavy traffic, it's probably going to be a while. What is it?" Jack asks, his mind suddenly somewhere other than the road. A horn honks behind him and he creeps forward, resisting the urge to give the driver behind him the finger.
"I can't talk about it over the phone. Just get here as soon as you can." Bill hangs up, and Jack hits the hands-free 'off' button on his visor. Nothing about what Bill had said makes him feel any more comfortable.
It's forty-five minutes before he's back at CTU, hurrying in and looking for Bill. He's leaning over Chloe's desk, looking at something on her screen when he glances up and sees Jack, immediately walking over to him.
"We just got intel from Homeland Security that says the people responsible for the attacks might have some kind of weapon of mass destruction. We've managed to find evidence that there are Second Wave operatives likely operating here in L.A., but the intel says the heavy weapons are on the east coast. Homeland wants us to step up our search for Second Wave here, as they think someone from the cell here has been in contact with east coast cells; we're setting up search protocols now."
"You want me working on this?" Jack asks.
"I know you're here to work on the Palmer investigation--"
Jack cuts him off with a shake of his head. He might want those responsible for Palmer's death, but the living have to take priority. "Where do you need me?"
A couple hours later, Jack's leaning over the shoulder of one of the analysts, when there's a shout from Chloe. "I've got something!"
Jack runs over, joining the department heads in the cluster around Chloe's workstation. "Adil Hassan, born in France, moved to the US at age 23, degrees in Electrical Engineering and Chemistry. CIA flagged him last year as someone possibly high up in Second Wave, but had nothing to hold him on. I've got Union Station footage from yesterday, of him getting off the train from Las Vegas. I've also got a hit on an alias of his booking the ticket, as well as an address here in Granada Hills."
Nadia runs up to the group. "Santa Clarita PD just called and said they've had a report of 'suspicious activity' at a warehouse in Valencia."
Bill looks up. "Have an analyst run the address, see if anything comes up; we'll send out a field team. Mike," he continues as Nadia hurries off, "I want you to check out the house in Granada Hills. Donaldson can take the Valencia site."
Doyle's been glancing over in Jack's direction, obviously not liking that Jack's been privy to all this, or that he's working on this investigation. "If I'm going into Hassan's I'm going to need my second-in-command, someone with more experience than just members of the field team."
Bill nods, his eyes flickering over to Jack. "Jack can back you up."
Doyle looks over at Jack with open dislike before looking back at Bill. "Bauer isn't a CTU agent."
"I've dealt with these kinds of crises before," Jack replies, before Buchanan can defend him. It's not that he's entirely eager to get out in the field, and certainly not with Doyle. He'd still like to give Doyle a taste of his own medicine for what he did to Kim, and by the look of it, Doyle doesn't want him riding shotgun, much less as a second-in-command. Jack isn't entirely sure he wants to be second in command, either. Hadn't he given all this up? But he isn't about to stand there and let Doyle question his abilities--not when Doyle's got to be a good five years younger than he is.
Bill interjects before Doyle can come back with a protest. "We don't have time to argue, we need someone who can lead a field team to the site in Valencia and as Associate Director of Field Ops, Donaldson is it; Jack, how soon can you be ready to go?"
"Five minutes; I just need to get a couple things from field supply," Jack says, evenly.
"Good," Bill says calmly, though he looks back and forth between Jack and Doyle for a moment before going into the particulars of the mission.
Jack shifts in the passenger seat of Doyle's CTU SUV, tightening the velcro straps on his bulletproof vest and rechecking the amount of ammunition in his weapon, trying to psych himself up. It's been a long time since he did anything like this, but then there are some things that you just never forget.
"Let me make something clear, Jack; when we're onsite, I'm in charge. You obey my orders, understood?" Doyle says, his eyes fixed on the road ahead as he speeds around a corner.
"Don't worry, Doyle, I'm not in the mood for some kind of pissing contest. I'll do what has to be done," Jack says drily. Of course he's well aware that that technically wasn't an assent to Doyle's order. Not that he won't follow Doyle's orders; he will. Providing they're what he thinks is the right thing to do at the moment.
They pull to the curb just around the corner from the house in question, bailing out of the vehicles and grabbing any equipment they hadn't suited up with. "Arundel, Wilson, Molina, Levinsky, you're team two, go around the back; Bauer, Morelli, Perkins, you're in team one with me at the front," Doyle says, checking his own weapon. "Everyone else watch the perimeter in case anyone gets loose. At last check five minutes ago CTU reported five hostiles in the building using thermal sattelite, two in the front room and three near the back, but those positions may have changed. We'll go in fast and hard, but we want to take them alive if we can--especially Hassan. Everyone got their comm units working? All right, let's move."
Moving swiftly in formation like a pack of coyotes moving in for the kill, they cross the lawn of the neighbouring house, weapons at the ready. Jack takes a couple deep breaths, focussing on the target, pushing every other thought out of his mind. The adrenaline is starting to flow, and he moves with the others, swiftly and silently into position, careful to stay below the line of sight out of the heavily curtained windows.
"Team two in position," Molina's voice whispers through the comm unit in Jack's ear, as Doyle motions for Jack to go to the right once they're inside. Morelli and Perkins stand back a little, ready with the battering ram and waiting for their cue.
"On my mark. Three, two, one, now!" Doyle says, and Morelli and Perkins swing the ram, breaking down the door. Doyle is in first, heading to the left, Jack a second behind him, moving immediately to the right along the wall, just as he'd been taught twenty years before in Delta training. Two hostiles stare back at them with wide, surprised eyes as both down the hall and through the earpiece, Jack can hear the second team moving into the house from the back.
"Counter Terrorist Unit, down on the ground, hands where I can see them!" Jack yells, deafened in one ear as other members of the team give similar orders. The hostile closest to him looks too frightened to move, his eyes locked on Jack's, but the other hostile--the one standing in the doorway to the kitchen--reacts more qucikly, ducking behind the kitchen island and returning fire a moment later.
Jack scurries toward the closer hostile, staying low as he yanks the man out of his chair and drags him to the ground behind a couch. He can hear a yelp as someone's hit and he peeks over the back of the couch as he pulls a zip tie from his pocket. Morelli is down, but it looks like a hit to the arm; Doyle and Perkins are both behind the meager cover that the furniture provides.
Tightening the zip tie, Jack catches Doyle's eye, gesturing that he's going to move around to the other entrance to the kitchen, flanking the suspect. It's a risky move, as if the hostile gets out of the kitchen, it'll leave the right side of the room open for his escape. Doyle shakes his head, holding up two fingers to tell Jack to wait for the second team, but by the sound of things at the other end of the house they're in the same predicament. Doyle and Perkins are still close enough to the door to prevent the shooter from leaving, if he manages to get past Jack and over to the right side of the room, and with God knows what in that kitchen, Jack isn't about to wait.
He hears a hissed, "Dammit, Bauer, stay put!" in his ear as he quickly moves toward the hallway heading to the back of the house, but doesn't even glance toward Doyle. His back against the wall of the kitchen, he waits for another round of fire from the hostile before peeking around the corner. He has a clear shot and he takes it, firing a bullet into the hostile's shoulder. The man goes down with a yelp, weapon falling from his hand. Jack runs into the kitchen, as the hostile gropes to try and reach the pistol, slamming one foot down on the man's arm before bending to grab it.
"Second hostile down," he says, flipping the man over and pulling out another zip tie as Doyle and Perkins move past him to the back of the house. In seconds Jack's hurrying after them, but by the time he gets there the action is over; one hostile dead, two others down.
"Did you get Hassan?" Doyle asks, flipping the two captives over; Jack peering around Doyle to get a look.
"He's not at the front of the house?" Levinsky asks, wincing from a shot to the vest.
Jack mutters a "son of a bitch," under his breath as he turns away, looking around in frustration for any sign that someone might be hiding elsewhere in the house, even though CTU had said there were only five hostiles in the building.
"CTU, be advised that the target is not in the building, I repeat, Hassan is not in the building. Fuck." Jack looks up from papers scattered on a desk to see Doyle take a breath, as Buchanan replies that they've received the message. "What's the status of the field teams in Valencia?" Doyle asks, heading back toward the front of the house.
"They're arriving at the site now," Nadia's voice replies.
"Okay, keep me updated via comm on their progress, and we're going to need medical transport for two hostiles and one agent." Turning to the others from the hallway, Doyle barks orders for the house to be swept, and the prisoners to be taken to the van for transport back to CTU. Orders given, he turns on Jack, his expression hard "Dammit, Bauer, I told you to stay put!"
"And just wait until the second team came to our rescue, when they were under heavy fire? What if this place was rigged with explosives? What if they'd had some kind of weapon in the kitchen?" Jack snaps back.
"I told you that I was in char--"
"Agent Doyle!" Doyle's tirade is halted mid-sentence with a cry from one of the rooms off the hall, the nervousness in Arundel's voice making the hairs on the back of Jack's neck stand up in warning. "I'm getting low-level radation readings right here!"
"Everyone out of the building, now!" Doyle says, running to the front room, "Bauer, get the hostile in the kitchen, Arundel, get in here and get the hostile in the living room while I get Morelli! CTU, did you catch that?"
Jack runs into the kitchen, grabbing the hostile and propelling him out the front door, just behind Doyle and Morelli. No sooner are they out on the lawn than Nadia breaks in, barely-controlled agitation in her voice. "Mike, the teams in Valencia are coming under heavy fire, we need your team at that site as soon as possible."
Though he doesn't stop pushing his captive toward the cars, Jack can feel a wave of cold wash over him. Shit, their intel had been wrong, they'd sent their strongest force to the wrong fucking location--
"Patch the video feed through to the monitor in my SUV and the audio through comm. You're going to have to get another field team and send a chopper for me; we've got suspects and the only way I'm going to get there in under half an hour is by chopper."
At Doyle's order, Jack can hear a slight pop in his earpiece before shouts and gunfire fill his ear as he yanks the van door open. Listening carefully, he can make out the commands of the team leader. "Fall back! Everyone fall back to-- IED at two o'clock! Fire at the hostile, put him do--"
Before his brain can process the loss of sound in his earpiece, there's a blinding flash of light behind him, and he can hear the others cry out in shock. Turning, Jack expects to see the house behind them engulfed in a fireball, though even before he looks he knows it can't be that; that this light was white, not the yellow-orange of an ordinary explosive device. Blinking to clear the spots from his eyes, Jack's frozen to the spot as he stares in unbelieving horror at the sight before his eyes.
Off to the north, over Valencia, a grey-black cloud rises into an unnaturally blue sky, ballooning into the shape of a mushroom.
I feel loved when...
The Five Love Languages
My Primary Love Language is Physical Touch
|Acts of Service:||5|
|Words of Affirmation:||4|
About this quiz
Unhappiness in relationships is often due to the fact that we speak different love languages. It can be helpful to know what language you speak and what language those around you speak.
Tag 3 people so they can find out what their love language is.
It's a feeling that doesn't go away when they get to CTU, as they walk inside its familiar walls and for a moment it feels like the last couple years never happened, like he'd never been away. At least that's until he notices the stares of people working in the bullpen, the way everything seems to stop on sight of them.
He glances around for Kim, but doesn't spot her before he and Chris are led over to medical, where he finally lets go of Chris' hand and is led to a seat on one of the beds, where one of the doctors takes a look at his shoulder. Jack keeps his eyes firmly on the floor as he's given a local anasthetic and the wound is sewn up, glad that it's in his back so he doesn't have to watch.
He's just starting to pull a new shirt they'd given him over his head when a woman walks in--someone he doesn't recognise. He catches the look of surprise she gives his scars before he looks down, trying to put his left arm through the sleeve when his shoulder doesn't want to move. She stops and talks to Chris first for a few minutes, giving him a chance to pull on his shirt.
With no windows in the back of the van, it's hard to tell where they are, how long they've been on the road, exactly, but as the road gets rougher, Jack's stomach knots more and more. He's going over ideas of what they can do to get out of this, when the vans stop with a jolt, and the doors open, sunlight pouring in.
The lead "agent"--or at least the one that did most of the talking-- gestured to the doors with his gun, with a simple order of "Out", as another grabbed Jack's arm, pulling him out of the van. The rocky ground poked painfully into the soles of his bare feet, but then not surprisingly, the discomfort of walking on stones wasn't exactly his greatest worry at the moment.
Particularly when one of the "agents" shoved him to his right, and he saw a shallow pit and mound of dirt beside it. Fuck, they really weren't wasting their time; he and Chris would have to act fast, but it isn't like they can coordinate anything, verbally at least. This had better be one of those times when they seem to be able to read each other's mind.
He's up at the same time Chris is, as he had been every morning since the attacks started; some days, it was the only time he really got to spend with her, before she was exhausted by a long day at CTU.
A cup of coffee in his hands, he turns on the TV, almost dreading what he'll see on the news networks. Every day, there's something: another attack, increases in senseless violence against anyone who looks Arabic, destruction of mosques and businesses. Things just seem to be getting worse, spiralling rapidly out of control.
None of it prepares him for what he sees when he changes the channel to CNB, however. Nothing makes him suspect that it might become so personal.
PALMER ASSASSINATED IN L.A.
His eyes spots the banner at the bottom of the screen almost at the same time the rest of his brain saw the stock footage of Palmer, registering as something not quite right. For a moment, he stares at that word--assassinated--trying to make sure the word is really the one that he thinks it is.
"Chris, you should see this," he calls distantly. She needs to see the television report, if only to tell him that he's seeing what he thinks he's seeing.
David Palmer is dead. The thought echoes numbly through his brain, as the solemn platitudes of the anchor gradually fades into his consciousness.
"After two attempts on his life on the day of the Califormia primaries, President Palmer not only won the nomination as Democratic candidate, but went on to become the first African-American President in United States' history. Palmer was widely commended for bringing integrity and honesty back into the Oval Office--"
As it starts sinking in, Jack lowers his head, his shoulders sagging. Though he's never been entirely comfortable calling Palmer his friend--the man is the former President of the United States, after all--he had trusted Palmer, because Palmer had trusted him. Palmer had tried to give him time to find evidence the the Cyprus recording was faked, he had put his faith in Jack. Sometimes that had been a thought that was more frightening than heartening, true, but it had meant a lot to him. Even when he'd asked Jack to do things Jack hadn't wanted to contemplate. Following Saunders' orders and killing Ryan. Taking on the raid on the Chinese consulate, even though he knew that if they were caught the government couldn't be implicated. In both cases, the only person he could trust with those acts was Jack, and that meant something to him, even if they were more of a curse than a blessing. Even if Jack would have given anything to not have been the only one who could do the job in Palmer's eyes. They still meant he had the trust of someone he respected, greatly.
He lowers his head for a moment, the weight of it falling on him, rubbing his eyes as they started to water. Palmer is dead, and the country seemed somehow diminished by the loss. Palmer might have damaged his campaign with his stance on internment in the last few days, but he still had the power to do good; still some hope that somehow the country would come to his senses and start following his lead.
Now that power is gone, forever; a voice of sanity in the midst of chaos, now gone silent.
Jack stares at the screen of his laptop, little finger tapping gently at the enter key as he tries to think of the right word for what he's trying to describe in this proposal. It's hovering somewhere at the back of his mind, but he can't seem to catch it.
Frustrated, he hits the save icon and minimises the window. He's been working on reports and client files all day, and he's starting to feel like he's trying to find ten different ways to say the same thing. Technically he doesn't have to work today--he and Michelle had agreed that they'd take the day off, enjoy the holiday. But after the explosion in Chicago the night before, it hadn't felt much like a holiday. He and Chris had had plans to get together with Kim, Chase and Angie for a barbecue but they had all been called into CTU, not that any of them would have felt in much of a celebratory mood.
He clicks over to his email, checking for any new mail but there isn't any. He's about to turn off the laptop and get something to eat, when there's a soft ping! and a text box pops up near the toolbar. It's the program he downloaded from CNB, notifying him of important breaking news.
He reads the headline once, then again, not quite believing what he's seeing.
Explosion at Boston fireworks, suspected suicide bomber.
Clicking on the text button, an Internet Explorer page opens, but nothing loads; the bar that shows the progess of the page is still only halfway full.
"Come on, dammit..." Jack hisses, hitting F5, but still the page isn't loading, a "servers overloaded with heavy traffic" message coming up. Somehow that just makes his stomach sink even more. Shit, no, not today of all days... An explosion on Independence Day; there's no way that's a coincidence, no way it's an accident.
Pushing the laptop aside, he hops off the bed and hurries to the living room, turning the TV on, planning to change the channel to CNB.
He doesn't have to. The networks are covering it, live, a harried reporter standing in front of the camera, his eyes betraying his own fear as he tries to keep them on the camera.
"--ation. Apparently the bomb went off right in front of the stage in between songs; witnesses report hearing someone scream something before the explosion, similar to last night's explosion in Chicago which may mean that this explosion was also the work of a suicide bomber."
Slowly, Jack sinks onto the couch, knees feeling weak with shock. Two suicide bombings in two days; this doesn't feel like a coincidence.
It feels like the start of a pattern.
He's almost reaching for the phone when he stops himself. He can't call CTU, can't go in and see if they can use his help, even if that's his first instinct. He's persona non grata there now, barred from doing anything for the government. Even now, when they need everyone they can get; even if the bombing was all the way across the country, there would be threads to follow here, precautions that needed to be taken. Even now, when he's practically jumping out of his skin to do something instead of just sitting here and watching the footage unfold in front of him.
His next instinct is to call Chris, but then that doesn't last as long as his first instinct; she'll be busy, as will Kim. They don't need to hear from him, he'll just have to sit back and wait until Chris calls, or gets home. He has to admit, though, now he really does understand what it must have been like for Teri, whenever something big was happening.
Picking up the remote, he flips through the channels, looking at all the different stations covering the same thing, trying not to think of how much he doesn't want to be sitting on the couch doing fuck all when he knows there's got to be something he can do.
When he knows that this isn't over yet.