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Posted in 24_fanfic

Title: A Good Patriot
Author: marinw
Rating: PG for mild angst
Characters: introspective!Jack, Tigh. (That’s a dog I named after a character on Battlestar Galactica)
Summary: Over a year has past since Day 6. Jack works through his Chinese Prison angst just in time for Senate Hearing angst.
Spoiler Warnings: Minor SW’s for Day 7.
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company, who have graciously given us an extra year to contemplate a two-minute trailer.
A/N: If I want to write Day 7 orientated fic, I have to stop worrying about following the canon. My personal canon places Day 7 about 18 months after Day Six. So there. Thanks to the editorial awesomeness of my beta, sardonicynic.

“It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.” ~ Voltaire

“Whatever happens at the hearing, Jack, you have our support.”

“I appreciate that,” Jack told his boss in response.

He didn’t really believe the older man’s reassurance. Competent, loyal people had lost their jobs over far less. Bill and Karen were proof of that.

Jack had only been the head of security for this military software corporation for a few months. Getting the job had been easy, he had simply told the hiring committee exactly what they wanted to hear. Job interviews were nothing compared to the interrogations he had endured.

So far, the most challenging part of his job had been trying to get the security guards to follow a physical fitness regime. Their union was fighting Jack on that one. Civilians.

As Jack left the low-lying office building he tried to push comparisons of his present employer to BXJ out of his mind. Corporate America was exactly the environment Jack had spent most of his life trying to avoid. He had been relieved when the FBI had seized BXJ’s assets. Now he was in no danger of becoming involved in his late father’s business. So he had rationalized that this would be a good time to try out the private sector.

He breathed in the warm, late summer air as he waited for the bus. Jack had a car, a black ’11 Ford Escape. But he liked taking the bus, it made him feel normal. He was even contemplating buying a bicycle: they were fun to ride and easy to maneuver, and he needed to set a good example for of those sedentary security guards.

Jack had chosen to live in Burlington, Vermont, because it was a nice, small city with plenty of high-tech industry. It wasn’t Los Angeles, and it wasn’t Washington.

After a short commute, the bus deposited Jack in an old, leafy, neighborhood that was filled with bungalows rather than one of the newer suburbs filled with McMansions. Signing the mortgage had felt strange. He hadn’t owned a house since Teri died. Since then he had rented apartments. But now he wanted a real home. Jack had chosen a modest, modernist 1970’s bungalow. A little run-down, but requiring no repairs that Jack couldn’t handle. Two bedrooms, just in case Kim decided to visit. So far she hadn’t.

The house currently had a minimum of furniture and all the basic appliances and home electronics. It had been years since Jack had the opportunity to even think about artwork and decorating, and he had no idea what his tastes were. Teri had taken care of all of that at the Los Angeles house, eleven years and several lifetimes ago.

He could already hear the scratching at the door. Tigh jumped on Jack before he had the chance to put down his messenger bag.

Jack scratched the mutt’s head. “Hey. You want to go out? We can do that.”

Jack had already gone for a run, very early that morning, but it was a lovely evening and Tigh was restless. A walk would be good. It only took a minute for Jack to change out of his suit and into his favorite jeans and a t-shirt, and soon both man and dog were out the door.

Jack tried to convince himself that he kept his pet because The German shephard-mastiff mutt made a good running buddy and an effective, low-tech home security system. Yet the dog had managed to infiltrate the perimeter around Jack’s heart. Tigh was a source of uncomplicated companionship. The dog was needy for attention and required a lot of exercise, but Jack was capable of providing both those things.

Jack took care of himself. He had never regained all of the weight he had lost in China, but his eating habits were okay and he even liked to cook. He exercised. He usually managed to get at least some sleep. He almost never drank and he limited his pharmacological intake to ibuprofen.

Ironic that it had taken almost two years of imprisonment, abuse and depravation to rid Jack and most of his self-destructive tendencies. Now that his body was back under his control he guarded it jealously.

After he finished walking the dog, Jack got some leftover chicken and potatoes out of the fridge, sat down on the new couch, and turned on Fox News. President Taylor had recently announced that she was going to ‘readdress’ the issue of military spending in the next federal budget. That could have a significant impact on Jack’s company.

Jack was annoyed when he intercepted a talk show instead. A man and a woman were debating something. So-called ‘experts’ mouthing off about whatever hot-button issue was prominent that week. Jack reached for the remote and was about to change the channel when he noticed the illustration on the screen behind the speakers: the CTU logo with a giant “X” drawn through it.

It’s started.

The upcoming Senate hearings. Jack had been vaguely reassured that it was a civil investigation, that no criminal charges were being laid. At least not yet.


“The now-disbanded Counter Terrorist Unit is currently under investigation for numerous violations of the civil liberties of both United States citizens and visiting diplomats. Since some of the CTU’s records have been made public, American citizens have been shocked by the methods used by its’ agents,” the woman said.

“Torture, Catherine. They used torture,” interrupted the man. “Torture. Right here, on US soil. Let’s not call it ‘rendition’ or ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’”

“Yes, well, that’s something that these hearing will determine, Tim. Do the ends justify the means? That is the question.”

“Nothing can justify torture!” Tim exclaimed. “The logs of CTU, even those that have now been made a matter of public record, are highly biased. They claimed to have had no choice. They claimed that these interrogation techniques were the only way to get the information they needed. But there were very few outside observers allowed into CTU. All the investigation is being done after the fact! Disgraceful!”

“Well, now it’s CTU‘s turn to be investigated,” said Catherine in an attempt to steer the interview away from pure opinion and back into a more reasonable debate. “Let’s discuss the hearing’s star witness: former CTU Special Agent Jack Bauer.”

The image of the crossed-out CTU logo was replaced by Jack’s face. It looked like his official ID, the same image Chloe had used to forge half-a dozen identification documents. It must have been at least six years old. In the photograph Jack looked rather impatient, annoyed that he had to give up a minute of his precious time being photographed.

“Mr. Bauer is the perfect symbol of everything that’s wrong with America’s war on terror!” Tim exclaimed. By now he was practically foaming at the mouth.

“But is it fair to single him out?” asked Catherine.

“It is when he disregarded even the…expansive ethics of his organization. He was quite literally given a license to kill.”

“Soldiers and law enforcement officers must sometimes kill in the line of duty. Federal agents have traditionally been given the same latitude…”

“Oh, please. Don’t give that old excuse. Brutality is brutality! I hope Jack Bauer and all those like him are hung out to dry. I hope they’re all drawn and quartered…”

“And we’re out of time. Thank you, Tim, for your always nuanced insights.”

“But…” Tim stammered.

Catherine now turned to address her TV audience.

“Well, there you have it. Jack Bauer: hero or criminal? A good patriot or an enemy of the people? What do you think? Log onto foxnewsopinons.com and…”

Jack tuned off the TV. He stared into the living room, now bathed in the fading evening light.

It was official. He had just become a public figure. A celebrity.

Jack thought about his new job and the tentative friendships he had begun to make with some of his colleagues. Including a pretty accountant he was thinking of asking out. He thought of his small, sparsely furnished, clean and comfortable house. He thought of his fragile yet promising relationship with his daughter. He even thought of Tigh, who was currently eating what was originally meant to be Jack’s dinner.

It had taken a lot of work for him to get to this point. Part of him was still in China. Part of him would always be in China. Jack did what he could with the part of himself that had made it back,

He was okay. More okay than he had been in a very long time.

He didn’t want his new life to be a temporary solution, or a compromise, or a cover for something else. He wanted his new life to mean something. He wanted it to be real.

He had wanted to slip unnoticed into middle age. That was no longer possible.

Jack thought of tomorrow morning’s commute, and considered driving instead of taking the bus.




( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for Jack! Nice story!!
Aug. 4th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks you for reading
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )