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AN ACCEPTABLE LOSS

Posted in 24_fanfic

Title: An Acceptable Loss
Author: marinw
Alternate Title: The Tale of the Toyota
Rating: R
Characters: The bogus “Rescuers” from the Day 6 prequel.
Summary: Based on the Day 6 prequel. This fic attempts to answer a question: What kind of idiots stage a nighttime rescue with a silver Toyota?
Warning: Swear words and mentions of torture. But no actual torture. Writing torture scenes makes me feel icky. I realize this rules out a career as a 24 scriptwriter!
Disclaimer: 24 isn’t mine. But I can still extrapolate.
A/N: Thank you for the feedback on my last post. This is fun!



The money was too good to turn down.

It had been hard for Emerson and O’Quinn since their dishonorable discharge from the U.S. army for their drug use. The two friends had relocated in China. They reasoned that a country with over a billion people would have had plenty of use for a couple of freelance soldiers. But the Chinese were generally distrustful of Caucasian guns-for-hire, so the contracts had been sporadic. Thier limited grasp of the Chinese language didn't help.

And then Cheng made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.



“We don’t even have to really rescue the target!” Emerson explained. Emerson and O’Quinn sat in a bar in downtown Shanghai. A topless teenage girl in a g-string gyrated on the stage in front of them, but the two men were too deep into their discussion to pay any attention. “We only have to pretend to rescue him! It will be easy!”

“Interesting. Who’s the target?” Asked O’Quinn.

“Oh, you are going to love this. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I’m just going to have to show you. Here, Cheng gave me this during our meeting.”

Emerson reached into his courier bag and produced a photograph. He handed it to O’Quinn. “Take a look.”

O’Quinn’s jaw hit the floor. He could hardly believe what he was seeing.

“Jack Bauer!!! I thought he was dead!

Emerson leaned back in his chair. “It turns out that he was only faking his death. He resurfaced the day David Palmer was assassinated. It didn’t take long for Cheng to find him. He’s had Bauer ever since.”

“Fucking unbelievable.”

“I know. Amazing, isn’t it? You almost have to admire the man.”

“What about the American government? Why haven’t they tried to get him released?”

Emerson shrugged. “You know how it is. Negotiations between China and the U.S. are pretty dicey right now. The raid on the Los Angeles Consulate may have happened over two years ago, but it’s still a sore spot. Releasing Bauer would ruffle too many feathers. I even heard that James Heller himself was trying to extradite Bauer for a while, but my source tells me he’s given up. There hasn’t even been a reward posted. Bauer has been labeled-what was the term they used? - ‘an acceptable loss.’ ”

“And now Cheng wants us to stage a false extraction. Why?”

Emerson leaned forward and lowered his voice. “Because certain key intel has been leaked to the U.S. government. Intel regarding Cheng’s operation.”

“So there’s a mole.”

“Yes. But Cheng doesn’t know who. He’s narrowed it down to two suspects.”

“I still don’t understand.” Said O’Quinn. “What does this have to do with us?”

“Because Cheng is convinced that Bauer knows the identity of the informant. He’s been interrogating Bauer for months. But Bauer isn’t talking.” Explained Emerson.

“So why not eliminate both suspects?”

Emerson laughed. “You’re really not getting into the spirit of things. Bauer really isn’t talking. Not just about the informant. About anything. Cheng tells me he hasn’t spoken a word in seven months.”

“Shit,” breathed O’Quinn.

“So now Cheng wants to change tactics. It’s not just about the informant anymore. Cheng wants to gain a psychological advantage. And you and I, my friend, are going to participate in a mind game. Here’s how it’s going to go down…”

Emerson explained how the ‘rescue mission’ would proceed.

“…So you can see that the whole thing is quite simple. And there would be absolutely no risk to us,” Emerson concluded

“Can we trust Cheng?” Asked O’Quinn.

“Why shouldn’t we?”

O’Quinn was still skeptical. “I don’t know about this, Mike. From what I’ve heard, Bauer is an extremely smart guy. He’s going to see right through us. He’s going to know he’s being played.”

“Under normal circumstances, maybe. But Cheng had had Bauer for months. He assures us that he has had plenty of time to soften Bauer up.”

“If he’s so soft, then why can’t Cheng make him talk?”

“With our help, Bauer doesn’t have to talk. That’s the beauty of it.”

“I don’t know, Mike. This just doesn’t feel right.”

“Don’t go soft on me now, Terry. This is the best job we’ve had for a long time. And we need the money.”

O’Quinn took another look at the photo. The handsome face in the picture stared back at him, as if daring him to try something stupid.

“Jack Bauer,” whispered O’Quinn. “Christ.”

Emerson grinned and raised his glass. “It’s an honor, isn’t it?”


•••

“A Toyota?” Exclaimed O’Quinn. “A fucking Toyota? You have got to be kidding.”

“It’s the only vehicle the rental agency had.” Said Emerson.

“If we’re going to pull this off, we’re going to need a Hummer. Or at least a Jeep.”

“Too big. We need to get the net over it.”

“But its’ not even black! Who does a nighttime extraction in a silver car!?”

“False extraction.”

“It still needs to look convincing. Try another dealership.”

“You worry to much, Terry. It will be fine. There isn’t time to find another rental agency. Cheng won’t pay us if we’re late. Let’s go. I’ll drive.”

•••

The silver Toyota gleamed in the light of the full moon. Emerson swerved down the narrow road, squealing with adrenaline and delight.

“Oh, man!” Emerson exclaimed. “Was that ever sweet. What a rush! I told you there was nothing to worry about!”

“We were lucky,” said O’Quinn solemnly.

“Lucky, hell, we were good! That was the most fun I’ve had in ages! And we got paid. Not a bad figure for two hours work, huh, Terry?”

“I suppose so.”

“Cheng seemed happy with our work. Maybe he’ll hire us again. He could become a regular client.”

“Yeah. That would be great.”

“Who-ho! I am on such a high right now. Did you see the look on his face when Cheng eliminated Hong? That was priceless! And…”

“Mike, shut up!” Exclaimed O’Quinn.

“Terry, what the hell’s wrong with you?”

“I’m just wondering. I’m wondering what’s going to happen to him now.”

“How the hell should I know? And why do you care?”

“Now that Cheng had eliminated the informant, do you think that he will back off on the interrogation?”

“I dunno. Maybe.”

“Or perhaps Cheng will just kill Bauer,” mused O’Quinn.

“That too is a possibility. It would put him out of his misery. So we actually did Bauer a favor. That’s the beauty of it.” Emerson declared proudly.

O’Quinn had no response to that.

“Oh fuck. Terry. Please don’t tell me you actually feel sorry for him.”

“I just wish that the operation wasn’t a false extraction. I wish it had been real.”

“Why? Nobody’s offered a reward. And even if someone did, we would never have gotten him across the border. Look, if it makes you feel any better, Cheng probably won’t kill Bauer. Governments exchange prisoners all the time. Bauer could still be useful.”

“So we haven’t put him out of his misery.”

“I think you need to gain some perspective: Bauer is guilty of raiding a Chinese Consulate. He is directly responsible for at least one death. He’s a criminal. He deserves whatever he gets.”

•••

The second contract from Cheng never arrived. Neither did any other work. After a year in China, Emerson and O’Quinn returned to American soil.

The false extraction had destroyed their friendship. Emerson was proud of the work they had done in China. O’Quinn wasn’t.

They split up. O’Quinn went to Baltimore. He rented a cheap room and started drinking. He was going through his money faster then he had anticipated.

He was haunted by what he had done. He wished he could go back and change how things had played out: In his imagination, he was the one who had been driving. He would outthink both Emerson and Cheng and he would change the false extraction into a real extraction. O’Quinn would have found a way to bring Bauer home. He would have been a hero.

“We’re Americans. We’re going to get you out of here,” O’Quinn remembered saying. It had been a lie. But it had felt true. For a few precious minutes, O’Quinn had been exactly the kind of man he has always wanted to be. A competent, fearless hero.

He remembered how the bloodshot blue eyes had looked at O’Quinn’s masked face and how those eyes had been filled with trust. And hope. And he remembered the complete devastation on the bearded, filthy face when Bauer realized that O’Quinn and Emerson had betrayed him.

That was the face that would enter O’Quinn’s nightmares. Every single night.

Emerson went east. He settled in the Los Angeles suburb of Valencia. He was passed out drunk on the couch of his bachelor apartment on the morning the nuclear warhead detonated.

A few days later, O’Quinn learned from his source-a mole inside the Los Angeles Branch of the Counter Terrorist Unit-that Emerson had been right about Bauer. Cheng had kept him alive in order to trade him. Bauer was alive. And he was back in the United States.

But that didn’t make O’Quinn feel any better. It made him terrified. He was terrified of what Bauer would do to him if they ever met.

O’Quinn had access to Emerson’s Swiss bank account. He transferred the funds to his own account. It would keep him in rent and alcohol for awhile longer.

O’Quinn didn’t miss Emerson at all.

He was an acceptable loss.

END

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
celestialjules
Jan. 8th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
:-) Hi... new fan. I just found your fanfiction and I LOVE it. Slowly reading it all lol.

This was fabulous! I loved that Emerson got was coming to him, and I'm very very very curious and hopeful that you show what Jack does to O'Quinn if and when he ever catches up with him.

~Jules
marinw
Jan. 8th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your intrest in my fanfic. In this fandom, I also recommend the work of xbedhead and cybertoothtiger

Never wrote a sequel to this. I am hoping to be inspired by Day 7.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )