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YEARS LATER

posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Years Later
Author: marinw
Characters: Jack/Audrey
Rating: PG for angst
Summary: Spoilers for Day 8. Jack and Audrey reunite
Disclaimer: 24 is the Property of the Fox Production Company.
A/N: This fic was inspired by the song “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” by The Stars. Thanks to my beta, cybertoothtiger

He saw her at the base of the New World Trade Centre.

She walked staring straight ahead, a cell phone in one hand and a briefcase in the other. She wore a dark overcoat, a minor variation of the same business uniform everyone else here was wearing.

Except for Jack. Kim had given him the brown leather jacket for his birthday, knowing that her father would never purchase such a luxurious and expensive garment for himself. It felt like part of his body the moment he put it on. Save for his boots, it had become his favorite item of clothing.

He wasn’t thinking about that now. He was looking at Audrey. She looked older. It had been five years.

What was she doing in Manhattan? Some sort of security detail for the UN conference? No, she wouldn’t have the clearance for that after what she had been through. Something else then. Policy analysis perhaps.

It wasn’t any of his business why Audrey was here. He turned his head, hoping to enter the pristine skyscraper unnoticed. He cast his eyes downwards with the pretence of withdrawing his ID card from his pocket.

“Jack.”

Dammit.

“Audrey,” he spoke her name softly, handling the two syllables like they were the most fragile items in the universe.

For a moment they stood there. Allowing each other to stare. The other people filed past while Jack and Audrey stood frozen to the ground and frozen in time.

••••

They spent ten excruciating minutes trying to start a conversation.

They sat at a corner table in a crowded Starbucks and played with the paper rims of their coffee cups.

There was so much he wanted to say to her. The words caught themselves midway in his throat and wouldn’t come out.

He had to start somewhere. Anywhere.

“So why are you in New York?”

“Foreign policy analysis. I’m looking over some of the finer points of Taylor’s peace treaty.”

“That’s great.”

“What about you?”

“I’m just, uh, visiting,” Jack answered vaguely.

He needed to do better than that.

“Kim and Teri are here too.”

“Teri?”

“She’s my granddaughter.”

“That’s wonderful.” Both Jack and Audrey were incredibly relieved that they had something normal to talk about. Everybody talked about work and family.

“Audrey…”

“Jack….”

“Okay. You go first.” He managed the semblance of a smile.

“I heard that you were sick.”

“Yeah. I’m better now.”

“That’s good.”

And they ran out of things to talk about.

During his travels, Jack had written her long letters whenever he had access to a laptop. Letters he never sent because he didn’t have an address or the nerve and he had promised to let her go. Where were those letters now? On a flash drive, with the similar letters he had written Kim. Where was the flash drive? In his knapsack? Which was where? It must have been in the pile of things Chloe had collected. She had taken it upon herself to clean out Jack’s Washington hotel room when Jack had been in the hospital.

He needed those letters now. He had forgotten what he had written.

Audrey was sitting here, now, across the metal and Formica table. He had to talk to her. There wasn’t any choice.

“Audrey, I’m actually glad we ran into each other. I never really had the chance to say thank you.”

“For what?”

“You came to save me.”

“It didn’t work.”

“But you tried. You’re my hero.”

Jack realized that almost all his heroes were women. It was the women who had always come to his rescue: His late wife, Audrey, Kim, Chloe, Renee, Dr. Macer and President Taylor. The men were gone: David Palmer, Carl, and Bill were dead. Tony was still alive, but he was dead to Jack.

“Do you still think about it? China?” Audrey asked.

“No.”

“How? How could you just not think about it?”

“The virus that made me sick. It caused some memory loss.”

“That’s lucky.”

“I guess. Before I was exposed it was different. I spent years traveling. I was looking for something. I didn’t come home until I had to.”

“Jack, I saw what they did to you. How did you just get over it?”

“I didn’t. Not really. I just sort of pushed it to one side.”

“I wanted to forget. I wasn’t given that choice. The doctors made me talk about it. Over and over again. I thought they would never leave me alone.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. I got the help I needed. I’ve moved on. I much as I can. I don’t blame you for anything. And I understand why you left. But I wish you stayed in LA. I wanted to take care of you.”

Jack looked into his black coffee. “I wanted to take care of you too.”

“We could have taken care of each other. It didn’t work out that way.”

“I don’t know what to say to you,” Jack admitted.

“You don’t have to say anything.”

With that Jack and Audrey fell silent. The short, honest conversation was as much as they were capable of.

Audrey glanced at her phone. “I should go. I’m meeting Jon. He’s my fiancé.”

“You’re engaged. Congratulations.”

“What about you? Is there anybody?”

“Sort of.” The situation with Renee was very complicated.

“Then I’m happy for you.” Audrey stood up. She touched Jack’s hand. “It was…good to see you.”

“Same here.” This time his smile was real.

END

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
alwaysashipper
Oct. 1st, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is great. I really wish it was canon because that's exactly how I'd want a "reunion" between them to happen. It would be nice for the two of them to get closure, when it's obvious they've moved on with their lives and are in a different place right now. As opposed to "they're soulmates and meant to be together forever" theories that some fans are promoting.

I really enjoyed it. The characterization is excellent. And I will now be thinking of Jack's leather jacket, thank you! :)
marinw
Oct. 1st, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC)
Someone on another forum I posted this to maintains that if Audrey recovered then of COURCE she would go after Jack. I disagree. They were a nice couple IMO but I wouldn’t call them Soul Mates.

Glad you enjoyed this. It was difficult to write, one of those conversations where what is left out is even more important then what is said.

This fic actually ended way more positively than I had originally planned. Dialogue often takes on a life of its own.
alwaysashipper
Oct. 1st, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
There are many Jack and Audrey sort of fanatic shippers on the FOX forum. I respect their opinions but don't really understand them. I never felt any "soul mate" vibe from these two. Nice couple, like you said, but nothing more.

I totally agree about the conversation having layers of meaning beyond what is said. It's very well written. :)
marinw
Oct. 1st, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
* blushes *

I am the same way about Teri-I wank that they married at a young age becuase Teri got pregnant, and they grew to love each other after the fact.
alwaysashipper
Oct. 1st, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
I agree. To be honest I wasn't a huge fan of Teri... But I wouldn't express that opinion in bigger forums. Fandom can be scary. :)
marinw
Oct. 1st, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
I found Teri to be very irritating. She is important as an idea: There are many, many stories in which the hero loses his wife.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )