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INTO A DEEP SKY

Title: Into A Deep Sky
Characters: Bill/Karen/Tony/Chloe/Jack/Morris/President Taylor
Rating: PG
Summary: Pre Day 7. Bill prepares for the last day of his life.
Disclaimer: 24 was the Property of Fox. Still is I guess.
A/N: As much as I loved Day 7, I always wondered why Bill and Chloe weren’t summoned to testify before the Senate Subcommittee. Also, early Day 7 Bill seemed, well different. So this is another one of those “fill in the blank” fics. This is final of three Bill-Centric Tag challenges, so thus endeth my Bill trilogy. Written for the 24n’more "Tag: You're it" Challenge. Thanks to leigh57 for the beta. For jessahme_wren.

VERMONT:

The end of autumn was marked by the arrival of the subpoena. Bill Buchanan had been summoned to appear before the Senate Subcommittee investigation into the actions of CTU.

Bill knew this day would come. The last three years had seemed like a dream.

“I’ll call Gordon, “ Karen said when Bill showed her the summons. “He’s the best lawyer I know.”

“He’s expensive,” Bill countered.

“That doesn’t matter. You’re not going to prison. Not while I’m you wife.”

••••

It really was like waking up from a dream. Because a week after Bill got the subpoena he got the call from Tony. A call on Bill’s unlisted cell phone. A CTU phone Bill had taken with him to Vermont, before the government had taken custody of CTU and all its.< equipment.

It hadn’t rung in almost four years. Bill kept it in a locked drawer of his desk, turned on and fully charged, just in case.

When it rang Bill almost didn’t recognize the ring tone.

“Who is this?”

“Bill, it’s me. It’s Tony.”

“You’re alive.” Bill said without surprise.

“Yeah.”

“How many times have you called this number?”

“A few. I couldn’t leave a message.”

“We need to talk.”

••••

He met Tony in an abandoned farmhouse near the Vermont border.

He looks so much older, Bill observed.

Tony looked more than just older. His face had some older and recently-healed scars, one of which was covered by a short beard. His eyes...they looked half dead.

For a moment Bill was reminded of Jack. Jack had returned from China more than a little worse for wear, but he was still himself. Tony was just...different.

What happened to him? Bill wondered.

Their conversation was long and businesslike, filled with facts and devoid of emotion. Tony gave a brief account of his resurrection and recruitment by David Emerson. The Government corruption already infected Taylor’s still new administration. Sangala. Colonel Dubaku and General Juma. A CIP devise forming the line that Tony apparently couldn’t cross.

“You have to help me, Bill. I don’t where else I can turn.”

“I’m going in front of the Subcommittee in two months. We don’t have a lot of time.”

“Can you bring Karen in?”

I don’t want Karen involved, Bill thought desperately to himself.

He needed to protect her.

“Maybe. And I can bring Chloe in.”

“And Jack?”

“I don’t think so. The last time I heard he was somewhere in East Africa. A warrant is out for him. That’s all I know.”

“We need to initiate Deep Sky,” Said Tony.

“CTU’s off-book protocol. Only CTU doesn't exist anymore.”

“We need to make it exist,” Said Tony.

••••

Bill only saw Jack via the television and internet.

The official reports indicated that Jack had been found in Sangala, living at some sort of school for orphaned boys.

Humanitarian work? Interesting. Bill hoped Jack had found what he was looking for in Sangala.

The image Bill saw on television was of a man who looked a few years older, but fit and in good health.

I’m older too, Bill thought. He had let his hair grow until it was full and white. He kept a short, neatly trimmed beard. Gordon had advised him to shave and get his hair cut before his hearing. A pity, Karen liked his new look.

Karen still enjoyed a certain rapport with certain employees of the State Department and looked into the conditions regarding Jack’s return. He hadn’t been officially charged-not yet. But he was under close watch in a Washington hotel.

Bill immediately abandoned the idea of contacting Jack, bringing him into Deep Sky. It would be too much of a risk, attract too much attention.

••••

There is a time for being in motion,
A time for being at rest.

A time for being safe,
A time for being in danger.*


So said Bill’s favorite translation of the Tao Te Ching. Bill had enjoyed over three years of rest and safety. Now it was time for motion and danger.

Bill still needed to contribute. He needed to serve his country. He could still do that now. Unofficially. Off-book. Jack had shown him how, four years ago.

Bill hadn’t worked as a field agent in years. He had been promoted to management early in his career once his leadership skills were deemed more useful than his marksmanship. But all his training was still there, patiently awaiting the day when they it might be needed again. His brain and body remembered what to do.

And so Bill embarked upon a self-imposed training regimen. He renewed his helicopter license. He went to the rifle range.

He broke his promise to Karen about not keeping secrets.

The day before he left for Washington, Bill met with his lawyer. Not about the sub-committee hearing, but about his will.

Bill wrote letters to Karen, Tony, Chloe and Jack. He encrypted each letter with a key that required someone with Chloe’s level of skill to unlock.

I might not be coming back.

••••

WASHINGTON:

It was Chloe who discovered the attic. As Bill had suspected, Chloe was in Washington, as she had been summoned before the sub-committee as well.

“It’s really stupid, my lawyer said I’m not really being charged with anything criminal. That if I say I was just following orders I should be okay,” Chloe explained.

The attic was at the top of an early 20th Century public library that had been shut down for extensive renovations. Disputes with the contractors had brought the work to a standstill, so for now the cavernous stone building sat empty.

From her perch in the library Chloe could hack into any surveillance system in the city.

With a few computers, routers, and an rented unmarked van a tiny version of the once and perhaps future CTU was born.

••••

It was okay.

I had a good life. I served my country. I found someone who loved me.

Bill could almost feel Jack reaching for him as he charged towards the lockdown room.

It’s my turn, Jack.

He had expected a bright white light followed by blackness.

Instead the lockdown room exploded into blue light. The deep blue light of a deep sky.

It was the deep blue sky of a Vermont summer. Bill stood on the deck of his house with Karen. Karen was preening over the success of her vegetable garden. They discussed what they should make for dinner, what wine to serve, who they should invite over. The lake was dappled with the late afternoon sun and there were still a few hours of light left.

It really was okay.

••••

First I went to the hospital. Then I came to this funeral. This is one of the most depressing days ever.

For Chloe O’Brian, that was saying something.

Chloe was embarrassed about how she could not stop crying. She had run out of Kleenex and now the sleeve of her blouse was covered in dried tears and snot. So she kept her coat on for the entire service.

Weird. How many CTU related funerals had she been to? Yet she always ended up blubbering. Even at Jack’s fake funeral. Soon she might be at Jack’s real funeral...

Don’t think about that. Jack could still live.

Chloe was doubly embarrassed, as Karen Hayes was the very embodiment of composure and stoicism.

At least the memorial was short. The highlight was a brief appearance from President Taylor herself, surrounded by her discreetly placed entourage of Secret Service agents. Chloe was impressed. Most presidents couldn't be bothered to show up at the funerals of the people who died protecting them.

Taylor spoke of the usual things: Duty, sacrifice, blah blah blah. Only when Taylor said those things Chloe found some new comfort and purpose.

Wow. Maybe I really am becoming less cynical.

Afterwards, Chloe couldn’t bring herself to talk to the President. But she was able to give Karen an awkward hug.

“I was looking at Bill’s laptop. There are some encrypted files...” Karen said.

“Okay. I’ll unlock them. I want to help out. I really do,” Chloe said quickly. She spoke fast as she worried she sounded stupid.

“Thank you,” Karen said graciously. “I know how much Bill relied on you. He trusted you. I trust you too.”

Shit. Don’t make me start crying again, Chloe thought desperately.

With Bill’s laptop under her arm, Chloe and Morris left the Capital Building.

“Love, when can we leave Washington?” asked Morris.

“I’m going back to the hospital.”

“Really, Chloe, I don’t think Jack is going to be any less comatose than he was an hour ago.”

“You’re so thick sometimes, Morris. You can leave if you want .I’m going back to the hospital. I’ll work on Bill’s files there.”

Chloe didn’t need to look at Morris to see his eyes roll.

It didn’t matter. Chloe was the only member of Deep Sky alive and (relatively) functional. She needed to do what she could.

THE END

*Stephan Mitchell Translation, 1988, Harper & Row.


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