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Posted in 24_fanfic

Title: August In New York
Characters: Jack
Rating: PG
Summary: Pre Day 8. Jack spends the Summer in NYC.
Disclaimer: 24 was the Property of Fox. Still is I guess.
A/N: Written for the 24n’more Summer Fic Challenge. Unbeta’d, so point and stare accordingly.

Jack’s morning routine had established itself. He awoke around 6.30 or 7 am and went straight to the Rehab Centre ten blocks from his apartment. There Jack submitted himself to an increasingly vigorous routine of weight training. Then it was time for some sort of cardiovascular work. Jack found the treadmill crushingly boring and was frustrated by his still-sluggish pace.

He preferred to swim. Especially in the morning when the overly chlorinated pool was almost empty.

At some point during the last few weeks, Jack’s daily visits to the John Keeler Rehabilitation Centre gymnasium had shifted from rehabilitation to plain old working out. Although Jack appreciated his newly achieved non-invalid status, he had by now ingrained the habit of visiting this particular gym. The other swimmers tended to be veterans of various branches of the military, firefighters, and all varieties of law enforcement. Maybe of these people had severe burns or amputations. Several had to be helped into the pool from wheelchairs.

The presence of these veterans had made Jack a whole lot less self-conscious about his own scars. Some of these scars had started to fade, a bizarre but not unwelcome side effect of the engineered stem cells.

This morning he swam over a kilometer. He getter stronger.

His workout complete, Jack showered and put on a newish pair of sneakers, light jeans and a long sleeved shirt. He had completely covered his limbs ever since he returned from China. A habit he was strangely unable to break. He needed to go clothes shopping.

Stuffing his damp gym clothes into his courier bag, Jack donned his sunglasses and emerged into the full blast of a New York City summer morning. He made a backwards glance at the edifice. He had arrived at this institution a few month earlier via ambulance and on a stretcher. He knew then that the only way he would be allowed to leave this building was to walk out.

The full, damp heat of the morning sun hit him all at once. Jack remembered the stifling clastraphobia of his prison cell in China and the muggy heat of Sangala. By comparison the city heat was quite tolerable.

He took note of the business men and woman wearing suits in defiance of the heat, the women wearing high heels in defiance of the urban topography. More casually dressed commuters were zipping down the bike lanes that had become a significant feature of the city in recent years. Still other people were climbing in and out of taxis, onto buses or down stairs to the subway.

Everyone here was going to work. Jack was…well, he was in no hurry. He had a doctor’s appointment, but not until later that afternoon.

Jack was anonymous among multitudes. He was surprised at how comfortable he felt. Even relaxed.

He bought a copy of The New York Times from a nearby kiosk. A block later, Jack was seduced by the smells emerging from a nearby dinner.

Jack was supposed to be following a diet with lots of protein, whole grains and vegetables, and nothing overly processed. Chloe had taken it upon herself to stock his fridge with abundance of certified organic foodstuffs from Whole Foods. The thought of the yogurt and flax bread that awaited him at home was far less appealing than the intoxicating aroma of bacon and eggs.

Over his meal he read the front section of the paper. Today’s morning edition was filled with editorials about Taylor’s negotiations with Russia and Kamistan. The overriding mood was one of cautious optimism.

That was Jack’s general state of mind as well. For both himself and America.

Could the World even repair itself? Could Jack even repair himself? Until recently Jack hadn’t considered either possibility.

He wasn’t sure what to do with his new found state of contentment. He was still wary, waiting for something to go wrong. Burrowing deeper into the morning paper, he was reassured by the usual bad new regarding the economy, job shortages, and minor civil wars in other parts of the globe.

Fortified by breakfast, Jack paid the bill and left the dinner, leaving the paper for the next patron to browse through.

Jack’s home was on the third floor of a modest but well appointed apartment-hotel. It had an elevator, but Jack made a point of taking the stairs when unburdened with groceries.

Upon entering his apartment, Jack dropped the bag. He turned on the air conditioner and was instantly felt the uneven blast of cool air, billowing the now-damp fabric of his cotton shirt.

He swallowed the pills he was suppose to have taken with breakfast.

Something was wrong. The sense of health and vigor he had enjoyed earlier was being replaced by a wave of fatigue and queasiness. His stomach protested the recent infusion of fat and grease.

He had been prescribed that diet for a reason.

Sometimes he was a terrible patient.

Jack went to the bathroom and splashed water on his face. He reluctantly glanced in the mirror.

He looked older. The lines around his eyes had deepened. The as yet-unshaven stubble about his jaw was grey and not blond.

What did he expect? He was well into his middle age by now.

I’m amazed I lived this long.

The fatigue was settling on him now, a heavy blanket that expanded in his mind. The two cups of coffee he had downed with his breakfast (black, with sugar) were having no effect whatsoever.

Jack had expended exactly as much energy as he had, and it was barely 10 am.

The only option now was to rest. He lay down on his neatly made up double bed. Turning on his side, he smelt the generic scent of laundry detergent. He was glad he had managed a load of laundry yesterday.

In the past few months he seemed to have spent more time asleep than awake. He was recuperating not only from the bioweapon and the highly invasive stem cell protocol, but from half a lifetime of stress and flight. Before he had been subpoenaed Jack had stolen pockets of space and time to rest. Croatia, India, Sangala. But he was always looking over his shoulder, waiting for the next crises to strike.

There was no crises. Not this morning. It was summer, he was in NYC. He still wasn’t completely well, but he was better. He was safe.

For Now.