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BACK IN THE GAME

Posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Back in the Game
Author: marinw
Characters: Jack/Nadia/Abraham Haddad
Rating: R for violence and quasi-torture porn.
Summary: Based on that cruel tease of a Day 7 trailer we all saw. Jack must stop an attack on a bus.
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company. Come back, 24! We’re not done with you yet.
A/N: I think we’re all hungry for a little action!Jack. I know I am. A prequel of sorts to “Mr. Bauer Goes to Washington.” May the ever-elusive Day 7 prove my speculations wrong.


“Sooner or later you’re going to get back in the game.”
James Heller to Jack, 6:24



Abraham Haddad wasn’t cooperating.

A small knife thrust into the nerve cluster of the shoulder usually proved remarkably effective. Jack knew from personal experience exactly how painful that could be.

Now Haddad sat slumped in the chair where Jack had restrained him with a lamp cord. The rest of the room had grown quite messy. I have got to stop conducting interrogations in fancy hotels. The walls aren’t soundproof.

Jack glanced at his watch. They had been at this for almost ten minutes. He didn’t know exactly how much time he had left, but he knew it was running out.

Jack leaned down and literally got in Haddad’s face. They were so close that their noses were almost touching.

“I know that you’re planning an attack on a city bus. And I know the attack is today. You are going to tell me exactly what bus, and when. And you are going to tell me now,”

Haddad replied by spitting on Jack’s face. His spittle landed on Jack’s cheek and was mixed with blood.

“You want to do this the hard way? Fine.”

Jack left Haddad where he was and went into the bathroom. He returned a moment later with a small towel.

Exactly ninety seconds later, Jack had all the information he needed.

•••••

Jack ran his black Ford Escape through a red light with his cell phone glued to his ear.

“Where did you get this intel?” Nadia demanded.

“Nadia, I don’t have time to explain! I need a tac team to meet me at 18th and Almeida Avenues!”

“They can’t make it in time. I can send a few choppers. You’re going to have to coordinate with the LAPD. They’ve already set up a perimeter.” Nadia ansrewed

“Dammit!” Jack couldn’t remember the last time a perimeter had accomplished anything. “The LAPD cannot open fire.” It was just past the morning rush hour. The bus would be full.

“Jack, what are you…”

“You’re going to have to trust me.” Jack hung up the phone and switched it to the GPS/satellite mode which he had tied into the Los Angeles Transit System. The #24 bus was still on route. He could be there in five minutes.

He didn’t want to do any of this. He didn’t want to be dragged back into this life. Yet here he was.

••••

But by the time Jack had arrived at the location the #24 had stopped in the middle of the street, parked at on odd angle. The drivers of the cars trapped behind the bus angrily honked their horns, as their frantically choreographed morning schedules had been disrupted by the inconvenience of a terrorists bomb threat. The bus was surrounded by police cars and officers, threatening in their body amour and rifles. Only about fifty meters stood between the bus and the cars. A crowd of onlookers had stopped to observe, the attacks of a year ago still fresh in all of their minds.

Stupid! Jack’s plan had been to quietly board the bus at a bus stop and diffuse the bomb without creating too much of a panic. Now he needed a new plan. He formed one almost instantly.

Jack parked haphazardly and illegally, took his handgun out of his courier bag and jumped out of the SUV.

“Sir, you’ll have to step back and move your vehicle.” One of the officers said.

“I’m a federal agent. You need to listen to me.”

“And I need to see some ID.”

But Jack wasn’t part of CTU anymore. Not officially.

“There’s no time for that. That bus has been rigged with a bomb. I have less than six minuets to diffuse it.”

“We have a ballistics expert a few minutes out…”

“He can’t help. I’m getting on that bus. If you want to stop me, you’re going to have to shoot.”

Jack was wearing his Kevlar vest, but that still gave the officer plenty of available targets. Fortunately the officer didn’t call Jack’s bluff as he ran towards the stalled #24.

As he approached the door he could already see that the bus driver was either dead or unconscious, his head slumped against the oversized steering wheel, his hat titled at on odd angle.

In the doorway, a girl was standing. She looked to be no older than eight years old. She was screaming.

Jack tucked the gun into the waistband of his jeans and took the crying girl in his arms. “It’s going to be all right, sweetheart,” he whispered. “Go. Run towards the policemen. They’ll take care of you.”

“I’m scared!” She wailed.

“I know you are, sweetheart. But you have to do this for me. Okay?” Jack set the girl down. Her bottomless brown eyes looked up into Jack’s and were filled with trust. She ran towards the waiting squad cars

But the #24 was still packed with people. At least forty. And almost a dozen children. They were all huddled in shock or silence, or screaming or crying.

“What happened here!?” Jack demanded.

“A bomb threat was phoned in.” A young man seated at the front of the bus said in a shocked monotone. “The driver just panicked and stopped. I think he’s had a heart attack.”

“I need all of you to listen to me! Everyone has to leave this bus now. The side entrance seems to be blocked, so you need to go out the front.”

“But the police think the bomber is here!”

“I can guarantee you that he isn’t. I don’t have time to explain this.”

“If we go out they’ll shoot us!” Someone said.

“Keep your hands where the police can see them. If you aren’t armed they won’t shoot. Now!”

“I can’t go out there.” A middle aged-woman said, trembling. “The police don’t like me. They’ll shoot.”

Jack didn’t have time to argue with her. He took off his vest and handed it to her. “Put this on. It will protect you. “

The woman did as instructed. She was quite overweight and the therefore the vest was too small and wouldn’t offer much protection, but she didn’t need to know that.

Jack turned to the young man who had spoken a moment earlier, and the man sitting beside him. “You two. Take the driver. Go!”

The passengers took a full minute to exit the bus. Jack had four minutes. He counted the rows, remembering the exact details of what Haddad had told him.

Jack found the blue iPod at row ten, under the window seat. He retrieved it carefully. Retrieving the Swiss Army Knife from his back pocket, he cracked open the thin casing and saw the mechanism.

Dammit, Chloe. I need you. No one at CTU was familiar with the triggering device.

He had to trust what he knew. He had to trust Haddad.

He had to keep his hands from shaking. They hadn’t been the same since China.

Breathe. Concentrate.

He disabled the delicate contraption with under three minutes to spare. By his standards, that was an eternity. So he allowed himself to draw a huge breath of relief and slumped on the floor of the bus.

Something didn’t feel right. Something was off.

Jack stood up and examined the underside of the 11th row, on one side of the bus, and then the other. And then he checked the 12th row.

There were two more iPods.

He couldn’t diffuse both of them. And that was assuming Haddad hadn’t lied about the timing.

Jack ran to the front of the bus and jumped into the driver’s seat. He remembered a construction site he had passed on the way to Almeida Avenue. The city was currently in the gripes of a bitter labor dispute so no workers would be there. Maybe. The space in front of the bus was free of traffic, and the few police officers in the way had time to move as Jack lurched the large vehicle forward.

He soon reached the site and broke through the construction barrier. The foundation for the new building was deep. And it looked empty. Good.

Jack leaped out of the still-open door of the now-doomed #24 as it fell into the excavation. He rolled over one shoulder and was instantly on his feet. He ran.

“Stand back! The bus is about to explode! Get back now!”

Above him he could hear the pounding of propellers. The CTU choppers had arrived. But there wasn’t anything they could do. Not anymore. He continued running.

Then the bus exploded behind him. A full thirty seconds ahead of schedule. Even without looking, Jack knew that the flames were a dark orange turning black. The fire would be quick, and hot, and confined to the area of the construction pit. The fire wouldn’t spread. There would be some smoke inhalation, but nobody would be killed. He hadn’t been able to stop the explosion, but he had still stopped Haddad from succeeding. No one had died. He had done what was necessary.

The concussion from the blast sent Jack flying. He landed besides a squad car. He took a moment to compose himself, coughed a few times, and then propped himself up on his bleeding elbows. Squinting, he looked upwards to find himself regarding the face of the same officer that had tried to stop him earlier.

“All you alright?” The officer asked stupidly. Jack heard him through the ringing in his ears.

“I’m fine.” Jack’s definition of ‘fine’ was the most expansive in the universe. He was still conscious. That was usually enough.

The officer had another question. “Is your name Jack Bauer?”

“Yeah.”

He felt his hands being placed behind his back and the all-too-familiar sensation of handcuffs. “You’re under arrest.”

••••

Jack sat in the holding cell. So many of his adventures ended this way.

At least they had removed the cuffs. Jack buried his grimy face in his equally grimy hands. He took his rest where he could get it.

“Jack?”

He looked up to see Nadia.

“What are you doing here?”

She sat down beside him. “I came to post your bail. You’re welcome.”

“What am I being charged with?”

“Where do I even begin? Impersonating a federal agent, for starters. I straightened that one out. I told them your papers hadn’t been processed yet.”

She lied for me, Jack realized. “Thanks. What else?”

“Running a red light. Illegal parking…”

“Those charges are all misdemeanors….”

“…Interfering with a hostage situation.”

“Interfering?! Those forty-five people would be dead if I hadn’t intervened! The LAPD couldn’t handle the situation. The only thing they were doing was creating panic.”

“I know that, Jack.”

“Stop screwing around, Nadia. What’s really going on?”

Nadia sat down on the narrow bench. “There was a reason there why I couldn’t send you a tac team. I didn’t have any to spare. The DOD has cut my budget almost in half. They said CTU has become an unnecessary expense. They’re haven’t been any attacks in LA for quite some time.”

“Because CTU stopped them. Because I stopped them.”

“They’re looking for an excuse, Jack.”

“An excuse to do what?”

“The LAPD found Abraham Haddad in his hotel room tied to a chair. That was your work, wasn’t it?”

“Abraham Haddad planned the attack, Nadia. He arranged to have his men infiltrate the bus depot early this morning and plant the bombs. His organization has changed their tactics. He’s no longer willing to use suicide bombers. The bombs were timed to explode, and they couldn’t be deactivated remotely. The bomb he told me about was a decoy. I couldn’t disarm the other two, but I still prevented Haddad from achieving his objective. I still stopped the attack.”

“The Consulate doesn’t care about any of that. Haddad has full immunity. You can’t just…torture diplomats. The intel you gathered was obtained under duress. From a legal perspective it’s useless. All you did was violate his civil rights. That’s how they’re going to see it.”

“Then tell the Consulate I was working alone.”

“So that you can be extradited to a foreign prison? I’m not going to let that happen to you, Jack. Not again.”

For a moment Jack couldn’t speak. He had learned not to expect protection from anyone. Especially not Nadia.

“Thank you, Nadia.” He finally said “I know I haven’t told you this before, but…but I’m glad that you're in charge of CTU.”

“Not anymore.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Abraham Haddad was the excuse the DOD needed. As of fifteen minutes ago, there is no CTU. They’ve shut us down.”

Jack and Nadia sat on the bench in the holding cell. The door was open. They could both leave, but they were no longer sure where to go.

END