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EXODUS 1/3

posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Exodus, Chapter 1
Author: marinw

Rating: PG
Characters: Jack/Frank Trammel/Desmond/
Summary: Immediately Post-Redemption. Trammel brings Jack to a another US Embassy.
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company. Etc.

A/N: Ah, some fresh Canon to play with. Thanks to my beta cybertoothtiger

Frank Trammel made a show of removing the handcuffs as soon as the chopper touched down at the US Embassy in Kenya.

“You have a history of commandeering aircraft, Mr. Bauer. I couldn’t take any chances.”

Jack rubbed his wrists, forcing circulation back into his hands. “Cut the crap. I surrendered to the supeona voluntarily, so technically I’m not under arrest. You’re just covering your own ass.”

Trammel shrugged. “Believe what you want. I don’t mistreat the individuals in my custody. Unlike some people. You will get everything you need. But I am compelled to tell you that you are forbidden from leaving this Embassy until your return to American soil. Try to escape and you will return to the States wearing an orange jumpsuit and leg irons.”

“You have what you want, Trammel. You don’t need to wave your dick around.”

“Eloquent as always.”

Jack saw Desmond being carried out of the chopper on a stretcher. He started after him, only to find his way blocked by a couple of soldiers.

“That child is my responsibility!” Jack protested

“He was Carl Benton’s responsibility. Now he’s a ward of his sponsors. He’s being taken to a hospital now. He’s under my jurisdiction, not yours.”

“Damn you.”

“You’re welcome. As I was saying: You won’t be mistreated. You look a little banged up.”

“I’m fine.”

“We’ll let the doctor make that determination.” Trammel gestured towards one of the guards. “This man will escort you to the clinic.”

****

The Embassy doctor was a tall, stately woman who looked as if she was Maasi or Ethiopian.

She gently probed the fresh gash above Jack’s eyebrow.

“Is this your own handiwork?”

“Yeah.”

“Sewing backwards. In a mirror. Impressive, Mr. Bauer.”

“Jack.” Something about the doctor’s manner was putting Jack at ease.

“As you say. Still, such a handsome face. A large scar would be a pity. I will fix this properly now.”

Jack held still as she injected the contents of a syringe into the space above his left eyebrow, numbing his forehead. Then, she used a pair of fine tweezers to pull out the coarse black thread. She spent the better part of the next half-hour cleaning the wound and sewing it back up using an invisible thread and superior handiwork. Then she covered the area with a large waterproof bandage.

She shaved off Jack’s week-old beard in order to tend to his other cuts. He flinched at the application of the disinfectant. Finally, she gestured for Jack to remove his shirt. He shyly complied.

At first, when he was in Eastern Europe, he covered himself always, keeping his back hidden from curious stares. He even wore a t-shirt as he swam in the warm Black Sea. By the time he reached India, the heat had forced him to be less modest. There came a time when he didn’t care who saw his scars or what conclusions they drew. Now, he rarely thought about the scars at all. The years had faded them.

This doctor has seen worse. Much worse.

“This did not happen today,” The doctor concluded as she ran her long fingers between Jack’s shoulder blades.

“No. Not today.”

She handed him two bottles of pills. “Antibiotics and codeine. The first you must take. The second you may take, if you need.”

“Thank you,” Jack mumbled as he buttoned his now rather dirty shirt.

The guard was already standing at the entrance of the clinic.

****

Jack had expected to be taken to a windowless cell. Instead, the guard led him to a neatly appointed bedroom on the top floor of the Embassy.

“We took the liberty of getting you a few things,” the guard said as he gestured to a tidily folded pile of clothing on the bed. “If you need anything else, just ask.”

Is this man a guard or a concierge?

“The kitchen is downstairs if you’re hungry.”

“I’m fine, thanks.”

“Suit yourself.” The man left, not bothering to close the door.

Jack spotted his courier bag and knapsack sitting on a table. He dumped the contents of the bag onto the bed. He was annoyed – but not surprised – to find that his wallet, passport, and knife were missing. A not-so-subtle reminder that he was a prisoner.

Looking out the window, Jack saw the guards patrolling the gate to the embassy. Another reminder. Even so, security didn’t seem to be particularly tight. He could escape if he wanted to, but that might jeopardize the safety of the children. He had to keep his end of the deal.

Eyeing the fresh clothes, Jack realized how filthy the last few hours had left him. He stripped and entered the bathroom. Not until he was under the lukewarm spray of the stand-up shower did he allow himself to cry. This pattern was so familiar: Keep it together, don’t process anything until there is time. Until he was in a (relatively) safe place. If he were locked in a cell with a closed circuit camera it would be different.

Just that morning, he had been sitting with Carl and the children, eating a good breakfast and discussing lesson plans and soccer games. That tiny, precious world was now gone.

Carl Benton was gone. Jack was envious: his death had been quick, heroic and _ Jack hoped _ relatively painless. It had been a good death. He respected Carl’s sacrifice. He didn’t have a choice.

The water ran over Jack’s compact, trembling form, washing away the dirt and blood.

Jack toweled himself off. From the pile of clothes on the bed, he chose a pair of khakis and a white safari-style shirt. The crisp new clothes fit him perfectly. There was even a pair of tennis shoes in his size.

He regarded himself in the mirror. Clean, shaven, and neatly dressed, he realized that, to a casual observer, he looked quite good. Even with his bandaged forehead.

Jack couldn’t take these gifts as acts of thoughtfulness or genuine concern for his well-being. Trammel was making a point. He wouldn’t abuse the prize now in his possession. He intended to deliver Jack to the US Congress healthy and presentable. Interesting.

(There had been small acts of kindness throughout the years: The Chinese prison guard who brought him extra rice, the young CTU agent who slipped him the keys to the handcuffs during Ramirez’s debriefing. Tiny pieces of mercy without an immediately apparent ulterior motive.)

By now, the local anesthetic was beginning to wear off, revealing a pounding headache forming behind his left eye. He dry-swallowed two of the codeine pills.

The throbbing of his psyche was not so easily mitigated. He sat down on the bed, resting his face in his hands. The sadness was there, at the perimeter of his consciousness and working its way inwards. He could not keep it at bay for much longer.

“Jack?” came a familiar female voice.

He looked up to see the kindly doctor who had treated him earlier.

“I have someone here to see you, Jack.”

TO BE CONTINUED…