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SURROGATE

posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Surrogate
Author: marinw
Characters: President Taylor/Ethan Kanin/ Ben Landry/ Sunny Macer/ Kim/ Jack
Rating: PG
Summary: Post Day 7. The President takes an interest in Jack.
Disclaimer: 24 is the Property of the Fox Production Company.
A/N: Minor Spoilers for Day 8 in the last section. Thanks to my beta, cybertoothtiger


8:30 AM

Even the President of the United States needed to sleep.

Just for a few hours. She would get up at noon at the latest. Then it was back to work.

Bleary-eyed, Alison Taylor stumbled towards the White House Residence. She was intercepted by her freshly reinstated Chief of Staff.

“Ethan, whatever it is, can it wait?” The President asked crankily.

“Ma’am, Ben Landry from CDC is on the line. You did request real-time updates on Buaer’s condition.”

She pinched the area between her nose. She braced herself for one more piece of bad news.

••••

She put Landry on Speaker phone and leaned her palms on the large mahogany desk. “Talk to me, doctor.”

“Bauer has been admitted to West Arlington hospital. Dr. Macer has induced a coma to spare him from suffering through the worst symptoms.”

Alison didn’t think her heart could sink any lower than it already had. Now she felt that particular organ travel from her knees to her shoes. “How long?”

“It’s hard to say. He’s being prepped for an experimental stem-cell treatment. His daughter has been identified as a compatible donor. She’s in surgery now. We expect to…”

“Back up. What can you tell me about this procedure?”

“It’s purely experimental, but the initial data from the animal trails looks promising.”

“And the human trails?”

“There hasn’t been any yet. Bauer is it.”

Jack could now add ‘medical guinea pig’ to his resume.

“Doctor, listen to me: I want Bauer and his daughter to receive the best possible care. I don’t care what it costs. If he doesn’t make it, I can’t be because we didn’t try hard enough. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Madam President. We’ll make every effort, but I can’t make any guarantees.”

“I understand, doctor. Keep me informed.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

The President turned off the phone and went up to the residence, to the bed that would remain half-empty for a long time to come.

ONE WEEK LATER:

Henry had quietly moved out of the residence. Olivia had been released on bail but remained under virtual house arrest in her apartment.

The American people, to their great credit, remained more interested in the President’s abilities then in the mess that was her family. (A lesson learned from the one-term Presidency of David Palmer.) Indeed, her approval ratings were remarkably high. With Motobo now firmly back in charge, the invasion of Sangla was being hailed as a great demonstration of American military prowess and moral authority. She was praised for her handling of all the day’s crises. Aside from the usual detractors, she was commended for her crackdown on corruption within her own government. With all the investigation and the criminal charges and trails that were sure to follow, the Senate’s hearings into the activities of CTU had been quietly dropped.

The President had earned a great deal of what was referred to as “Political Capital.” She already knew how she would spend part of it. CTU, or something like it, would need to be re-instated. And run by the government, not contracted out to a private outfit. They weren’t making that mistake again. Not on her watch.

Early every morning, before she did anything else and when her mind was a clear as it was going to get, Alison would write condolence letters. She insisted on writing each letter personally. At this rate, it was going to take weeks. She found the process strangely therapeutic.

She had written to Karen Hayes. To the families of Larry Moss and Blaine Mayer.

A letter to Kimberly Bauer hadn’t been necessary. So far.

Every morning, on her desk, discreetly tucked beneath a pile of other briefings and that day’s agenda, was a report by Ben Landy and Sunny Macer. Dr. Macer’s section of the report was all dry clinical language and test results. The woman was a master of detachment.

Today, a slightly optimistic observation had made it into her report: If the treatment wasn’t working, Bauer would already be dead. Not only that, but his vital signs had stabilized and he was still breathing on his own, albeit with the help of supplemental oxygen. Dr. Macer had stated that this was also good. If it had been necessary to put Jack on a ventilator, weaning him off would have proven very difficult.

The long-tem physical and neurological effects of the pathogen couldn’t be determined until he woke up. So it was time to bring him out of the coma. If they could.

Alison looked at the agenda Ethan had provided: Her day was very busy. As usual.

Even so, it was time to pay another visit to West Arlington Hospital.

••••

Alison looked at Jack and she saw Roger.

It was all kinds of wrong and inappropriate. Yet there it was.

She knew the comparison was ridiculous. Jack and Rodger were nothing alike: Roger had been almost twenty years younger and half a foot taller (He took after his dad that way). Through the lens of maternal love and grief, Alison remembered her son as happy, open, loving, and well-adjusted. Jack was…very different. At least the Jack she had met that day.

Yet the similarities were impossible to ignore. Before her was a handsome man with many admirable qualities whom she desperately wanted to take care of.

He looked so serene. As if he had dropped the weight of everything he had been carrying. He lay there sleeping, oblivious to all the equipment he was attached to and the rest of the world.

Alison envied him for that.

He wouldn’t remain that way for much longer. Dr. Macer had explained that bringing Jack out of the coma would be a gradual process, as waking up suddenly would cause him undue stress. If all went as planned, Jack would be semi-conscious, and then groggy, and then awake. That could take days.

Something was happening now.

Jack groaned slightly. His hands grabbed at the blanket and she could see his feet move. He reminded her of a baby waking up from a nap.

His eyelids fluttered and half opened. He turned his head slightly.

Alison knew right away that Jack was still ‘in there’. That the most important part of him was still intact. He looked confused and his eyes were dull. Dull but focused.

“It’s all right, Jack,” Alison whispered, “The debriefing can wait. Go back to sleep.”

Disoriented as he was, Jack knew a presidential order when he heard one. He mumbled something incompressible and closed his eyes.

ONE MONTH LATER:

Dr. Macer sat in the Oval Office Anteroom. Ethan was there as well.

“Jack has made remarkable progress in the past few weeks,” Macer reported. “I should be able to release him within the week.”

Alison had noted that Macer had started referring to her patient as ‘Jack’ instead of ‘Mr, Buaer.’ It had become safe for her to drop just a little of her professional detachment.

“What’s the next step?” Alison asked.

“His daughter wishes to take him back to her family in Los Angeles. I’ve explained to Kim that it is far too early for that.”

“Why?”

“He still rquires nursing care and careful monitoring. We have determined that Jack’s current limitations are due not to permanent neurological damage but rather muscular weakness and a severely compromised cardio-vascular system. The degree to which he recovers now depends on how he responds to a physical therapy regime.”

“Tell me what he needs.”

“A peaceful environment where he can focus on his physical recovery without distraction. Access to the outdoors. A fully equipped gymnasium. A swimming pool would be ideal. He will need to follow a special diet and continue to work with a psychologist on his short and long-tern memory loss. We are making arrangements with a veteran’s rehabilitation centre…”

“The Presidential retreat in Maryland,” Alison interrupted.

“Madam President?” Macer asked.

“It’s close by, and has everything you’ve described. Whatever support staff Jack requires can be brought in, and his daughter can visit whenever she wants.”

Macer stood up, “That would be an ideal arrangement. Thank you, Madam President.”

“Thank you, Dr. Macer.”

Ethan waited until the doctor had left until he voiced his objection. “Madam President, with all due respect, allowing a civilian to take up residence at one of your retreats is a complete breach of protocol.”

“I don’t care about protocol, and Jack Bauer is no ordinary civilian. Make it happen, Ethan. That’s on order.”

ONE YEAR LATER:

“Welcome to New York, Madam President.”

Jack stood up from behind the desk in his new office.

He walked towards the President with ease and grace. Here was a man completely in charge of his body. Alison had read the reports. She knew how hard he had worked to achieve that.

She also knew that Jack’s recovery was so remarkable that he had become the subject of a dozen journal articles, where he was identified as ‘Patient Zero.’ Still, those who knew him said that he was different.

He was happy.

Jack was wearing a pinstriped black suit, a white shirt, and a tie which brought out the blue in his eyes.

He looked delicious. The President wanted to ruffle his hair and pinch his cheeks. She settled for clasping him by his wide shoulders.

“Jack, you look well.”

He smiled. A real, unabashed smile which showed off a mouthful of surprisingly white and straight teeth. “Thanks to you, Madam President. I wouldn’t have gotten better without your help.”

“I was happy to do it. How is your family?”

Another smile. “They’re fine. Kim is visiting me now. My son-in-law and grand-daughter are in Manhattan too.”

“I know how important family is.”

Jack could sense that this conversation was headed into dangerous territory. Time to change the subject.

“Ma’am, congratulations on the Peace Treaty. It’s an impressive accomplishment.”

“Thank you. But don’t congratulate me until the treaty is signed.”

“CTU is co-coordinating with the UN security staff. Everything is in place, but there are a few details I would like to discuss with you personally.”

“I have a few minutes.”

Jack gestured towards the couch, and the President sat down.

“We should review the agenda, Madam President. It looks like it’s going to be a long day.”

“Yes. It’s going to be a very long day.”

“Then let’s get started.”

THE END

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