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IN MEMORY YET GREEN 1/2

posted in 24_fanfic 1/2

Title: In Memory Yet Green
Author: marinw
Characters: Renee/Roberts(OC)/Dr. Daniel Schreber (OC)/Jack
Rating: PG
Summary: Post Day 7. Renee calls upon an expert.
Disclaimer:24 is the Property of the Fox Production Company.
A/N: Post Day 7. Time for another visit by Dr. Schreber.
Thanks to my beta cybertoothtiger. Thanks as well to leigh57 for enduring an early draft.

It was the start of Renee’s third week of being relieved of active duty.

It was a polite word for being suspended.

Larry’s replacement was blunt.

“After what you did to Wilson, you’re lucky you aren’t facing criminal charges,” Roberts said.

“I didn’t do anything to him.”

“You were going to. Fortunately, Agent Gold was able to alert security. Look, we realize there were extenuating circumstances. You were traumatized. You still are. That’s not being patronizing. That’s the truth. Given your outstanding record, we are willing to take that into account. But you do need to take some more time off.”

“How much time?”

“A few more weeks. You will keep all your pay and benefits. Indeed, if you want to continue in this career I strongly encourage you to visit one of our psychologists. A lot has happened. You should talk to someone about it.”

Renee knew that Roberts was right. Like any FBI agent, she wasn’t prepared to admit it.

“Thank you. I appreciate your consideration. I do need to go back to my office so I can take care of some paperwork.”

“Of course. Take all the time you need. And Renee?”

“Sir?”

“Remember that this isn’t just about punishment. It’s an opportunity for you to get some rest. Enjoy your time off.”

Renee nodded and left the room.

Despite the weeks of enforced leisure, Renee was still exhausted. She was wearing a dark grey suit and a bright blue blouse, but her pulled-together appearance did little to hide the fact that she felt like a bedraggled mess. She was aware of the new, pink scar on her neck and how the pallor of her porcelain skin brought every one of her freckles into sharp relief.

Renee sat down at her desk and woke her desktop out of sleep mode. She was surprised that her password still worked.

Next to her monitor was a file.

The file.

The file half the people in Washington seemed to have looked through. It had been returned, quietly - probably by Janice - to Renee’s office. It was the same file Renee had subpoenaed three weeks and several lifetimes ago.

It was somewhat worse for wear. Just like the man himself.

She was compelled to review the same things she had looked over before. There were a few laughable psychological profiles compiled by so-called experts who had never even met him. Jack had been described as a loner, a maverick, a borderline sociopath. His official CTU photo didn’t help his case. His face had one of his unreadable expressions.

She had never met anyone with so many facial expressions.

One of the reports was different. It had been submitted to Nadia Yassir, the acting director of CTU four years ago, shortly after Jack had returned from China. Dr. Daniel Schreber had the distinction of actually talking to Jack. Or trying to. In his report Schreber had noted Jack’s fragility and isolation. But he also commented, with some unabashed admiration, on his great intelligence and resilience.

Schreber also referred to Jack as “Jack” and not as “The Patient” or “The Subject” or simply as “Bauer.”

His contact information showed that he had recently relocated to Boston.

••••

“Dr. Schreber, my name is Renee Walker. I’m with the FBI.”

“Is this another subpoena?” His voice betrayed hostility and fear.

“No. Not at all. I just want to talk to you about a former patient.”

“How many times do I have to tell you people? I am bound by doctor-patient confidentiality.”

“This person is not under investigation. Not anymore.”

“Then why am I being harassed by an FBI agent?”

“I’m not calling you as an agent. I’m calling as a friend.”

“I’ve heard that one before. Goodbye, Ms. Walker.”

“It’s Jack Bauer.”

Now there was silence.

“How much do you know about what’s happened in Washington?” Renee asked.

“I saw his testimony.”

“Then you deserve to know. Jack was exposed to a biological weapon. A prion variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.”

“Is he…”

“He’s alive. He received an experimental stem cell treatment. They only brought him out of a medically induced coma a few days ago. The CDC is cautiously optimistic that he will recover.”

“That’s good news. But I’m not sure what you want from me.”

“He’s admitted he has major lapses in his memory. His recent memory in particular. I was hoping you could talk to him. He seems different. As you treated him before, you can tell me how different.”

“Ms. Walker, memory loss and personality change due to neurological conditions are not my areas of expertise. And even they were, seeing Jack wouldn’t be appropriate.”

“Why?”

“The Senate subpoenaed my notes. They made me testify.”*

“You didn’t have a choice.”

“I did have a choice. I could have gone to prison. But I didn’t because I’m a coward.”

Great. Like all the other shrinks Renee had ever talked to, Schreber was at least as messed up as his patients.

“I betrayed Jack’s trust. He won’t forgive me for that. Nor should he.”

“I don’t think Jack even remembers that.”

“That doesn’t make it right.”

“Doctor, please, just see him. I…I would appreciate it.”

“I’m very expensive.”

“That won’t be a problem.”

“How generous of the FBI.”

“The President ordered that Jack was to receive the best possible care. You can help us with that.”

Name dropping and flattery. It usually worked.

“I’ll need to review his medical file.”

“I’ll have it send to you immediately.”

“All right then. I can be there tomorrow.”

“Good. I’ll pick you up at Palmer Airport.”

••••

As promised, Renee met Dr. Schreber at David Palmer International Airport. She used her own car - an inconspicuous Honda - instead of one of the FBI’s SUVs.

During the drive to West Arlington Hospital she briefed him as much as she could, given the classified nature of that day’s events.

“So how long have you known Jack?” he asked.

“I worked with him for exactly twenty-four hours.”

“And your impressions?”

“He was – is – the most focused person I have ever worked with. Nothing distracted him. It was as if he didn’t even feel. At one point we lost a woman who was working with us—”

“Lost?” Schreber interrupted

“Yes. She died in a car crash.”

“I see.”

“I was angry and frustrated,” Renee continued. “So I slapped him.”

Schreber raised his eyebrows

“I even asked him if he felt anything. A few hours later I saw him sitting next to the body of Bill Buchanan. I had my answer.”

“Bill was a good man.”

“You knew him?”

“He referred several agents to me when he was running CTU. What else can you tell me about Jack?”

“After he was exposed to the bio-weapon he changed. He became more volatile. More open. Almost too open. He still managed to stay focused. It was so hard for him, especially towards the end. But he stayed on task.”

“And now?”

“I’m not sure. He recognizes me, and Chloe, and Kim. But he seems different. He just seems…vague. I don’t know how else to describe it.”

“Hmmm. Interesting.”

Renee started to wonder if recruiting Schreber was such a good idea.

••••

“My name is Daniel Schreber. Do you remember me, Jack?”

Jack switched off the TV and looked at his new visitor. He was stretched out on his bed, wearing a bathrobe over his scrubs.

The man did look familiar.

“I think so,” Jack answered, “You’re a doctor. A shrink.”

“A psychiatrist. Yes.”

“I…think I met you after I was in prison.”

Daniel pulled up a chair. “Then you do remember.”

“Yeah. A little. I do know that I was in prison. Somewhere in Asia. I don’t know exactly where. Or what for. But it must have been bad if I needed to see you.”

“Let’s focus on something more recent. Do you know why you are here? In this hospital?”

“I was being questioned by the Senate.”

“And after that?”

“A woman came. Renee. She’s with the FBI. She wanted my help. There was a bio-weapon. I was exposed. I don’t remember how. Then…I’m not sure. Dr. Macer told me that I was in a coma. For over a week. Then I woke up. And I was here.”

“I took the liberty of consulting with Dr. Macer before visiting you. She is reasonably confident that, with time and physical therapy, you will achieve a full recovery.”

“So why are you here?”

“Your friend Renee asked me.”

“Really?” Jack seemed surprised and amused.

“I would like to know how you feel.”

“About what?”

“In general.”

Jack shrugged. “It’s hard to explain.”

“Try.”

“I know who I am. My name is Jack Bauer. I was born in February 1966. My father and my brother are dead. My Mom left when I was a child. I remember the day I got married. The day my daughter was born. My first day of basic training when I joined the army. I know how to de-assemble and re-assemble almost any machine gun. I know how to fly a helicopter. I can show you a dozen ways to inflict pain on a suspect without doing any permanent damage.”

“I believe you. No need to demonstrate.”

“I remember all of these things. But…it’s like something I saw in a movie or read in a book. Or something from a dream. I remember part of my life. Mostly the earlier part. But it is as if that life happened to somebody else.”

“You have sustained a fair amount of memory loss. You were also kept in isolation and comatose as part of your treatment regime. Any one of those things can leave a person feeling disoriented.”

“It’s more than that. The man named Jack Bauer. I have his face and his body. I look at myself and I have his scars and tattoos. But I’m not that person. Not anymore. And from what I do remember, I don’t want to be.”

“That person has many admirable qualities.”

“He broke the law. He hurt people. He was filled with regret. He lost just about everyone who mattered to him. And he was afraid. All the time.”

“You refer to yourself in the third person. Yet the feelings you describe are you own.”

“So what?”

“You said you felt alone. How do you feel now? Are you still afraid?”

“No, not anymore. I feel safe now.”

“For good reason. The President herself has expressed an interest in your care.”

“Yeah. They tell me that. I must have done something important.”

“Very much so.”

“I’m okay. Really, I am. Why is any of this important?”

“The sense of dissociation you are experiencing may well be an effect of the biotoxin. There is also another possibility. After you returned from China, you decided to leave the United States once more. You spent years traveling the world.”

“I think I was looking for something.”

“I suspect you were trying to unburden yourself of the past. You were carrying the weight of everything you had experienced. Everything you regretted. This illness may have provided you with the opportunity to jettison many of your more unpleasant memories.”

“So you think this is all in my head?”

“Where else would it be? The end result is the same.”

“Maybe being exposed was a good thing. Maybe that’s what needed to happen.”

“I’m wouldn’t say that. Your health has been seriously compromised. I can tell you this: You are confused due to your illness. But you are your more than just your memories. Whatever the reason for your dissociation, you are the same person I treated four years ago.”

Jack slammed his head against the pillow. “Dammit.”

“Not at all. I believe this to be a good thing. A personality is a very unique thing. Like your fingerprints or your DNA. If your personality had changed significantly, the loss would be incalculable.”

“So what do I do now?”

“It’s too early to tell how much of this memory loss may be permanent. You may recovery more of your memory. Or you may not. But it can’t be forced.”

Jack stared into space.

“You’re tired. I should leave.”

“No, please stay. I’m just thinking.”

“Are you afraid that you will remember? And that remembering will force you to acknowledge who you are?”

“That’s part of it. I just want to start over.”

“You can still do that. Right now the emphasis should be on recovering physically. There are people here who can help you with that. However, your memory loss is something you should discuss further. I will recommend a specialist in this area…”

“What if I want to talk to you?”

Schreber seemed surprised. “I was merely brought in for an initial assessment.”

“But we’ve met before.”

“Under very different circumstances.”

“Yeah. But I think I can trust you.”

“I would be remiss not to warn you that I can’t guarantee complete confidentiality. You have become Patient Zero. The only person known to have survived exposure to this particular virus. As such, your progress will be the subject of scrutiny.”

“Right now I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself. I can handle it.”

“If you want to talk more, we can. I’m just a little taken aback. Asking for help is new for you.”

Jack slammed his eyes shut. “I’m just…confused. I don’t know what to think.”

Schreber stood up. “You’re clearly exhausted. Further conversation right now would be pointless. Rest.”

“Thank you for coming,” Jack mumbled, already half asleep.

••••

They had brought him a pile of novels from his undergraduate reading list. The idea was that reading something familiar would be a good way to nudge his cognitive skills into action.

It was a good theory, but Jack couldn’t concentrate and reading more than a few pages gave him a headache.

Bored, Jack flipped through the channels. The news stations kept broadcasting slightly different versions of the same stories about government corruption and Olivia Taylor. The celebrity gossip shows were unwatchable. He finally chanced upon the SCi Fi Channel, where he recognized one of the Star Trek shows. A man with pointed ears was talking to a slender bald man.*

“Do you have any children, Captain Picard?” The pointy-eared man asked.

“No.”

“Then you have sacrificed too much for your career.”

“Yes, yes, yes, this is all very interesting…”

“There comes a time in a man’s life that you cannot know. When a man looks into the smiling face of his baby daughter and realizes that he must save the world for
her. For all children.”

Jack started to cry. He turned off the TV.

An actor in alien makeup from a twenty-year old TV show had spoken the truth. Jack could recall the day when he had looked at his own baby daughter and realized exactly the same thing.

He didn’t remember this through a filter of some previous incarnation. Those feelings were his own.

What if Dr. Schreber was right?

He needed to know more about the person he used to be, the person he still was. He glanced at the books on his bedside table. That wasn’t the reading material he needed.

Jack reached underneath the mattress and retrieved the cell phone from its hiding place. Cell phones weren’t allowed here, they could interfere with the monitoring equipment. Jack’s room came equipped with a land line, but Jack couldn’t remember the number and he didn’t want to ask the orderly to make the call for him.

The cell phone was better because Renee was on speed dial.

••••

Jack sat in his wheelchair and stared out the window.

The latest MRI and the other tests brought good news: the biotoxin had caused only minor neurological damage. His muscle tone was remarkable good considering the circumstances. His inability to walk more than a few steps was due to muscle weakness and the dizziness he experienced every time he stood up. The toxin has also weakened his cardio-vascular system

A team of physiotherapists were already designing a rehabilitation program. One therapist had been in earlier and had promised--with no small amount of glee--that the regime would be the most physically grueling thing Jack had endured since basic training. He would walk. But it would take time. Perhaps months.

Jack wasn’t in any particular hurry.

“May I come in?”

Jack maneuvered his chair around. Renee was standing at the entrance to his room.

“Yes, please. Thank you for coming.”

He immediately noticed the look of pity in Renee’s eyes when she saw the chair. She didn’t try to hide her discomfort.

He noticed how she had the appearance and manner of an adult tomboy. How her freckles prevented her from being conventionally beautiful.

Jack also noticed that she was always sad. She had been that way for as long as he had known her. Which hadn’t been that long.

Renee pulled up and chair and sat down. Now they were on the same level.

“I brought what you asked. Not the original. A copy.”

“I hope that won’t get you in any trouble.”

“I’m already in trouble.”

“Your career with the FBI? They still haven’t reinstated you?”

“I didn’t come here to talk about me.” Renee reached into a large shoulder bag. She pulled out a file and placed it on Jack’s lap.

“It’s not complete. It’s mostly official debriefings and statistics. There’s almost nothing about the last four years. Only that you were avoiding a subpoena.”

“It’s enough. It’s a place to start.”

“Ignore the psyche profiles. They’re bullshit. Jack, are you sure you want this file? You might not like what you read.”

“I can’t pretend that my life didn’t happen.”

“What about Dr. Schreber? Does he think this is a good idea?”

“I never asked him.” Jack pointed to the file. "My past is in here. The person I used to be deserves to be remembered.”

“Then talk to Kim and Chloe. And Dr. Schreber. Or even me. We can tell you more about yourself."

“I will. But not yet.”

Jack looked down at the file.

“Renee, I’m sorry, I think I need to be alone.”

“I understand. Would you like me to come back tomorrow?”

“Yes, I would like that. Very much.”

Renee stood up. Before leaving the room, her hand went to his cheek. For just a moment.

Jack took another look at the file bearing his name. Renee had taken a risk getting it to him. He was taking a risk by looking at it.

Jack opened the file to the first page.

His hands were shaking, and not because of the biotoxin.

END


* Hostile Witness. You know it’s getting bad when I start referencing my own fics.

* “The Defector” Star Trek: The Next Generation