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RUN

posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Run
Author: marinw
Characters: Jack/Renee
Rating: PG for optimistic semi-mush
Summary: A few months post Day 7. Jack hangs out at Camp David
Disclaimer: 24 is the Property of the Fox Production Company.
A/N: Thanks to my beta, cybertoothtiger



CAMP DAVID, MARYLAND

One and one-half miles. It was nothing. A distance that barely qualified as a jog around the block.

Jack had once been able to cover that distance in under eleven minutes.

This afternoon it was going to take a lot longer.

Jack waited until late afternoon, until his physiotherapist had left for the day. Andre was starting to grate on Jack’s nerves. The man fancied himself as a drill sergeant amongst physios, a persona Jack found ridiculous. No self-respecting drill sergeant would allow one of his men to sleep until nine every morning and take lengthy afternoon naps.

The services of the live-in nurse hadn’t been required for almost a week. The skeleton support staff were so well trained that they could do their jobs while still affording Jack his privacy.

All he had to do was slip through the perimeter. How hard could that be? It’s wasn’t as if he was a prisoner. He was a guest. He was here courtesy of the President herself.

Even so, this was something he wanted to keep to himself. He would leave and return before anyone missed him.

He was already dressed in a light pair of nylon track pants, a t-shirt and running shoes. His usual costume.

He went outside, put on his sunglasses, and slipped through the secret entrance in the perimeter wall. He felt strangely giddy, like a teenager playing hookey from school. He smirked as he emerged on the other side of the wall and saw the wide path before him.

For a moment he stood there stupidly. Running was the most basic of activities. How could he just forget how? Dr. Macer had explained that his nervous system was essentially re-wiring itself. He could lose a lot of muscle memory in the process.

There goes Tony’s Krav Maga classes.

Jack began a very, very slow jog. It was like trying to start an old car that had been sitting in the garage all winter.

For a few hundred yards, things felt good as his legs re-discovered their rhythm. Andre had him on the stationary bicycle in the air-conditioned gym as a means to build up his weakened cardio-vascular system and strengthen his legs.

Being outside was so much better.

Jack had come here in late spring and now it was summer. The Catoctin Mountains were in full splendor, the trees a million different shades of green and the warm wind gently blew through his hair. He allowed his mind to pleasantly wander, to focus on nothing in particular.

After about five hundred yards his legs started to feel like Jell-O. Cement Jell-O. Pain like jagged lightning bolts shot through his knees.

Keep going.

It was too warm. His cotton fabric of his t-shirt was already soaked through. The air was pleasantly dry, but the temperature was in the high 70’s or low 80’s. Jack hadn’t brought any water. What kind of pansy needed water for a mile-and-a-half jog?

He kept going. Slowly.

His stomach began to ache as his intestines seemed to contract into a hard ball. He resisted the instinct to hunch over

This was getting stupid

Then a bomb exploded in his head.

The migraines were a side effect of the stem cell treatment. They came less frequently now, but when they did come they brought with them debiltatating nausea and vertigo. They were best treated with a shot of codeine and a hour or two of rest in the darkness and cool of his room.

Jack stumbled off of the trail. He leaned against the trunk of a nearby tree and vomited. The action made his eyes water and his head pound even more. His head felt heavy and light at the same time and his eyes felt like they were about to pop out his head.

Dizzy, he carefully sat down with his back supported by the rough surface of the tree trunk scratching his skin through the damp fabric of his shirt. He took off his glasses and rested his head on his knees. He forced himself to take deep, slow breathes.
In. Out. In. Out.

Even with his eyes closed it still wasn’t dark, not with the fire works going on under his eyelids.

He stayed that way for a few minutes as he waited for the nausea and dizziness to pass.

Heat and vertigo were still problems, obviously. It was why Jack was now more successful at swimming then he was at walking. He would have been better off sneaking in a few extra laps in the pool.

After awhile Jack carefully opened his eyes. He gingerly craned his neck upwards, appreciating the abundant canopy of leaves and the shade they provided. He massaged a fresh cramp that had developed in his calf.

This place was beautiful. Jack could barely comprehend President Taylor’s generosity. She had extending the invitation a few days before he was discharged from the hospital: Jack could stay at Camp David for as long as he needed, until he was literally back on his feet.

Why was she doing this? Taylor seemed intent on conducting an experiment to determine exactly how Jack Bauer would respond to shameless pampering. An area of inquiry that had never occoured to any previous administration. The president’s interventions had made what could have been a very difficult recovery a hell of a lot easier.

Jack would have settled in at the veteran’s rehabilitation centre in Virginia without complaint. Yet the promise of the seclusion offered by Camp David had been impossible to resist. In addition to the regular staff, there was a whole team devoted almost solely to Jack’s health and well-being: There was a cook, the nurse, the physical therapist and a message therapist. Dr. Macer or someone else from the CDC made frequent house calls. Daniel Schreber was scheduled to visit. Kim, Teri, and Stephen had been flown in for an almost unbearably happy weekend. Jack knew better than to ask who was paying for all this.

Everything he needed was back at the compound.

But first he had to get there. He would have to walk back to the compound. Very slowly.

The perimeter wall was hidden by the trees. It was a thousand yards east. Or west. Which one? Jack had looked at the route before leaving, but his short-term memory still left something to be desired. The park had over twenty five-miles of trails.

Jack hadn’t brought a map. Or a cell phone.

The other option was to stay here until someone noticed he was missing and sent out a search party. If a cougar didn’t find him first. He had a couple of hours until dark.

Not a good option. Jack could already see the report: The neurological damage was worse then it had originally appeared. He had wandered off like a late-stage Alzheimer patient who got hopelessly lost less than a mile from home lost and therefore required constant supervision.

Walking it was. He would go west. He had a fifty percent chance of being right.

Jack was trying to figure out how to get to his feet when he heard a car approaching.

Dammit.

But the vehicle wasn’t one of the black SUVs favored by the Navy personal who patrolled the area. Jack recognized the small blue Honda and its’ owner.

The car came to a stop and Renee got out. She was dressed for the heat, wearing gray cargo capris and a dark green t-shirt. Her hair was in a ponytail and she wore no makeup. She seemed even thinner than usual.

Renee was an FBI agent.

Ex-FBI agent?

Camp David was at least an hour’s drive from Washington. It was the middle of the week. Renee could not have come here if she had been re-instated.

What was going on with her?

If she wants to talk, she will. She comes here because I don’t ask too many questions.

Renee walked up to Jack.

“I think I overdid it,” Jack said sheepishly.

Renee answered by handing Jack a bottle of water.

“Thank you.” Jack uncapped the bottle and took a few careful sips. He fought the urge to down the whole bottle in a gulp. If he did that when he was feeling this queasy he wouldn’t be able to keep any of it down. He would then need to be re-hydrated courtesy of a saline IV. It had happened several times already.

Renee moved to sit down next to Jack.

“You don’t want to sit there.” He nodded towards the expelled remains of his lunch.

“Come on,” Renee said, “I’ll take you back to the compound.”

She extended a slender hand. Jack took it and she pulled him to his feet.

“You okay?” She asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” It wasn’t a lie. The migraine had passed quickly this time. Some more water, a cool shower and he’d be good to go. Almost.

“Let’s go,” Renee said.

Jack climbed into the passenger seat and Renee took the wheel. Renee drove west. So his instincts had been correct.

“Renee, as long as you’re here, why don’t you stay for dinner?”

“What are they serving?”

“Something healthy,” Jack said apologetically.

“Next time I’ll sneak in a pizza.”

“I’d like that.”

END

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