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ADVENTURES IN REAL TIME 2/3

Posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Adventures In Real Time, Chapter 2
Author: marinw
Rating: PG
Characters: Jack/A couple of OC nurses/Bill/Kim/Chase/Dr. Daniel Schreber (Jack’s Shrink)
Summary: My own post-Day 5/Day 6 AU (?) mindfrak.
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company. Etc.
A/N: I do love the idea of Post Day 6 Jack talking to a shrink. If Tony Soprano is man enough to get professional help, then so is our beloved federal agent. Much gratitude to my beta, the most awesome sardonicynic.


He could feel where the incision had been made.

Just below his rib cage. He remembered the surgeon saying that if they went in now, they could get the rib fragments out through a lacroscope.

Rib fragments? The last thing he remembered was being shot in the chest by one of Cheng’s men or some not-so-friendly fire.

He had been seeing his own death a lot lately. But that vision belonged to some near or far-off future that may or may not happen.

Whatever. He was still in the hospital. Bill had somehow managed to sequester him in a small clinic in Monterey, hidden from the agents at Division who were anxious to finish the debriefing.

“I’m going to get you the help you need,” Bill had told him. That statement alarmed Jack. If Audrey was any example, that brand of ‘help’ usually involved canvas restraints and a lot of drugs.

Being here wasn’t that bad, actually. Jack hadn’t liked the idea of the surgery but had cooperated anyway. He had survived twenty months of whatever Cheng had thrown at him, he wasn’t about to let a tumble down the stairs be his end. He deserved a better death than that.

He didn’t have a watch nearby, but it was night. It wasn’t pitch dark, light from the hallway spilled through the partially opened door into his private room. The bluish light from a full moon made its way through the window. The blinds had been left open.

None of this seemed entirely real, and that had him worried.

He was lying on his back. He shifted his weight, trying to adjust to the oversized pillows. He wasn’t used to this. For moment Jack thought about moving his base of operations to the hard floor, where he had grown used to sleeping. He immediately dismissed the idea.

If I want to be treated like a human being, I need to start acting like one. Go to sleep on the floor and I’ll wake up in the psych ward.

So Jack tried to relax, and he suddenly realized why he felt so strange. He felt somewhat stiff and sore, and everything ached. But the pain was gone. He had been in pain for so long he wasn’t able to interpret its absence. He looked skeptically at the IV bag. What were they putting in there besides saline and glucose? Turning his head in the other direction, he noted the jagged lines and the flashing red light. The sound had been turned off so the monitor wouldn’t make that infernal beeping sound.

Jack had noticed he had two male nurses. One was here during the day and one had the night shift. They helped him wash and shave. They made sure he used the bathroom, even though Jack had long ago trained himself to go extraordinary periods of time without relieving himself. They brought him cereal and soup and Jello-O and told him that he wasn’t going to lose the IV until the dietician was satisfied he was eating enough. They changed the dressings and applied ointment to his back, although he flinched when they touched him. They didn’t ask too many questions.

“We want you to be comfortable,” the day nurse had stated.

The last time anyone showed concern for his comfort was when Doyle took a moment to shift the handcuffs from behind Jack’s back to in front of him. Comfort was relative.

He was safe and clean. As long as he remained passive they wouldn’t put him in restraints. It was over. He should have been able to relax by now. They may have given him some sort of sedative, but his drug tolerance was so high it wasn’t doing much of anything. Ironic, considering the hell he had gone through when he quit heroin.

The night nurse entered the room with another bag of saline. Jack closed his eyes and pretended to sleep. By the time the nurse left, he was no longer pretending.

••••

Kim was wearing a white satin dress.

“Sweetheart, you look beautiful.”

She smiled. “I’m so lucky. I’m about to marry a great guy, and I have the world’s most handsome father.”

Jack could feel himself blush. He extended his arm.

“Let’s do this,” he said.

With one hand on Jack’s arm and the other around her bouquet, Kim followed her father out into the main chapel where they both proceeded to walk down the aisle. The chapel was small and pretty. Kim had wanted an intimate wedding.

Chase was waiting at the altar.

All eyes should have been on the radiant bride. Instead, everyone was looking out the narrow windows of the chapel.

In the distance, a mushroom cloud was forming over Valencia.

••••

“So I keep dreaming about the nuke that went off.”

“That was a traumatic day for everyone, Jack. I think we’re all seeing mushroom clouds in our sleep.”

“Well that’s a relief.”

Jack leaned back in the padded leather chair and took another visual inventory of Dr. Schreber’s tastefully appointed office.

“You’ve never mentioned Valencia before. Why now?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because it happened the day I got back. Just before the detonation, I was ready to quit. I didn’t know how to do my job anymore.”

Shit. Where did that come from?

“Considering the circumstances, I don’t think any reasonable person would expect you to be able to do your job.”

“They don’t tell you much, do they?”

“My security clearance has its limitations,” Schreber admitted. “But I do know that you have a unique ability to compartmentalize. To live completely in the present moment. There are people who spend years meditating to do what you do naturally.”

“What’s your point, Dan?”

I’m now on a first-name basis with my shrink. Is that good or bad?

Schreber touched the rim of his wire-framed glasses. “When you were in China, that particular skill was of no use. The present moment wasn’t a good place to be. So you developed a new skill: the ability to imagine. You fabricated alternate realties for yourself. Possible futures. It’s fortunate that you could still tell the fantasy from reality. Many people in similar situations don’t know when it’s safe to emerge from their imaginary worlds.”

Audrey.

“But it’s over,” Jack said. “I don’t need to do that anymore.”

“Not so fast. During our last session we discussed your repressed memories, and how there is no good way to forcibly recover them. You’re almost impossible to hypnotize, and you’ve made it very clear you won’t submit to drug therapy. You’re unwilling to give up any control.”

“So?”

“Your imagination is something you can control, so you can use that now. From the information I do have, I know that you were a political prisoner. That there were people in power who could have obtained your release, but didn’t.”

Jack blinked. He didn’t like where this session was going.

“Let’s try an exercise. I want you to imagine that you were the one in charge. That you were able to rescue yourself. Figuratively, of course.”

“What is that supposed to accomplish?”

“You spent twenty months locked in cell. Part of you is still there. You want to leave, but you don’t know how. This exercise may help you find a solution.”

Jack rolled his eyes. Schreber was usually more helpful than this. Jack liked it when the shrink gave him clear instructions: What to do when he woke up screaming. What to do when he found himself in a mall or a grocery store and was confronted by a million different choices. Jack glanced at his bandaged right hand: Schreber had even helped him decide to undergo the plastic surgery. All of that was useful. But today the psychiatrist seemed determined to indulge his love of metaphysics.

“So you want me to pretend to build a time machine and go back and rescue myself? That’s just stupid.”

“For an English major, you’re remarkably literal-minded.”

Jack looked at his watch. “We’re running out of time.”

“We have all the time we need. Lean back and close your eyes. Make yourself comfortable. Good. Now, I want you to picture yourself as someone in a position of power, and I want you to imagine what you would do.”

TO BE CONTINUED…