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THE COMFORT OF EACH OTHER 2/2

posted in 24_fanfic

Title: The Comfort of Each Other, Chapter 2
Author: marinw
Characters: Jack/President Taylor
Rating: PG for angst
Summary: Post Day 7 AU. Jack and the President have a chat. How I would LIKE Day 7 to end.
Spoliers for 7.13. If you haven’t seen that episode, you may want to skip this.
Disclaimer: 24 is the Property of the Fox Production Company.
A/N: This is pure, indulgent, wishful thinking, so thank you all for going along for the ride. Thanks to my beta, cybertoothtiger.


The view from the Oval Office Anteroom was spectacular.

There was still some debris on the ground outside where the two jetliners had crashed into each other. The White House itself was also somewhat worse for wear.

He stood by the window and waited. Jack was no longer cuffed or otherwise restrained. So he was able to drink the strong, excellent coffee that had been offered to him. The gesture of hospitality had taken him by surprise.

I’m considered too much of a risk to be escorted without cuffs, but they leave me alone with the President?

Jack could barely comprehend the shear incompetence of both the FBI and the Secret Service.

The FBI. Renee is too good for them.

Bill would never have allowed the operation of CTU to become so sloppy.

“Mr. Bauer.”

Jack turned around. President Taylor was wearing a fresh suit, but she still looked more than a little haggard. Jack was suddenly self-conscious of his own appearance. He was wearing the same suit he’d worn during last night’s siege. Minus the tie. Jack wished that he’d had the opportunity to shave, shower and change. Too late now.

“I hope you’ve made yourself comfortable. I was just at the hospital.” She gestured towards the sofa.

Jack obediently sat down. He felt intimidated. It was an unfamiliar sensation.

“The First Gentleman?”

“He made it through the surgery, but his condition is still very serious.”

“I’m sorry, Ma’am.”

“Don’t be. You saved his life.”

“Madam President, with all due respect, what is this about?”

“Are you that anxious to return to your holding cell?”

“No, Ma’am, but I know how valuable your time is.”

“Then I’ll get right to the point. Two hours before he died, Bill asked me to do something for him. A favor. He asked me to intervene with the Senate.”

“I know,” Jack answered flatly.

“I’m puzzled by your attitude. Mr. Bauer. Do you even care about your freedom?”

“Of course I do. But the people deserve to know the truth.”

“I agree. So here’s what I’m prepared to do. I’m going to offer you full immunity in recognition to your service to this country. And in exchange for your co-operation with the Senate hearings.”

“Madam President, I never asked for immunity.”

“Which is exactly why I’m giving it to you.”

“The Senate will never agree to that.”

“Let me worry about the Senate. And don’t think that you’re completely off the hook. The hearings will be rescheduled, but they will resume. You will testify. You will be judged in the court of public opinion. And that court can be harsh. Trust me, I know. And there’s more.”

“Ma’am?”

“You have done a lot of questionable things. But I am convinced that putting you in prison isn’t in the best interests of this country. You are an extremily useful person, Mr. Bauer. The nation may have need of you again. I may need you again. But I need to know one thing: look me in the eye and tell me that you will never torture another person. Ever again.”

Jack looked Taylor in the eye. But he didn’t answer the question.

“That’s what I thought. The offer still stands. Bill sacrificed his life to free me and the hostages. I spoke to his wife a few minutes ago. Karen Hayes made the same request as Bill. So I’m going to honor their wishes.”

“Madam President, I…I don’t know what to say.”

“You saved my life yesterday. You saved my husband’s life. You saved the lives of Americans. And Sangalans. I can’t ignore that. Two nations are in your debt. So I’m going to give you another chance.”

“Ma’am, if I may, there’s one more thing. Chloe O’Brian is still in FBI custody.”

“She tampered with evidence. That’s a serious offence.”

“She deleted Burnett from the file because I asked her to.”

“Ms. O’Brian knew what she was doing.”

“You can’t free me without freeing her. Please.”

“Have you ever thought about running for office?”

“Absolutely not.”

“I’m glad to hear it. I’ll authorize Ms. O’Brian’s release immediately. But you’re pushing your luck. And I won’t extend the same consideration towards your friend Mr. Almeida.”

“I understand.”

Taylor stood up. “My aide will see you out.” She extended her hand, “I wish you well, Jack. And thank you again for your help.”

“It’s been an honor, Madam President.”

As promised, an aide was waiting for Jack outside.

“Sir, I’ve been instructed to drive you wherever you want to go.”

“Thank you. I think I’ll walk.”

••••

Outside, it promised to be a mild spring day in Washington. Jack walked along the Mall, uncertain of his destination. It would be at least a week before the hearings resumed. He considered going back to his hotel and getting some much-needed sleep. Then he wanted to check out, rent a car, and start driving nowhere in particular. He had longed to do that ever since his reluctant return to American soil.

No. He had spent years traveling nowhere in particular.

As Jack continued his walk, he thought about the people he really should at least try to talk to: Renee. Chloe. Morris. Karen Hayes. Kim. And Tony, wherever the hell he was.

It was time to stop running. He wasn’t going to squander his freedom. Not this time.

END

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Apr. 24th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks
I really liked this story. You do a very good job making the characters come alive.
marinw
Apr. 24th, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks
Thank YOU for readingm, AU that this is by now.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )