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Posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Caretaker
Author: marinw
Rating: PG for smarm and h/c
Characters: Bill/Moss/CTU Doctor/Heller/Karen/Ryan/Ramirez/Burke/Jack
Summary: Set immediately post Day 6. Bill intervenes. A prequel to Standard Procedure.
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company. Etc.
A/N: Bill’s “Let him go” statement near the end of 6:24 has always bothered me, so this fic is an attempt to rationalize. I also have this weird obsession with those pesky floating rib fragments. Finally, like xbedhead, I feel the need to ship Jack/Bill in all their platonic, completely non homo-erotic glory. Much thanks to the Queen of all beta readers, Her Royal Awesomeness sardonicynic.

The debriefing was suspiciously short.

Agent Moss closed the file and shut off the camera and the voice recorder. “That’s all the questions I have for now, Mr. Buchanan.”

Bill looked at his watch. They had only been at this for a half-hour.

“We may call you back in to question you in more thoroughly in a few days. But as you can imagine, we have a lot of mopping up to do.”

“You certainly do.”

“And Mr. Buchanan? I’m not clear on the details, but I heard that you resigned as director of CTU. I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Thank you. That means a lot.”

Bill left the interrogation room and headed down the dark hallway. He noted the ID badge pinned to his jacket. An ID badge that read “Visitor.” A reminder that he was now a civilian here at CTU.

Bill could feel the adrenaline of the past day wearing off. He still had much to do: He still had to officially hand in his resignation and call Karen. He decided to delay doing both of these things until he had a chance to get a few hours of sleep.

Bill had almost reached the bull pen when he heard light steps behind him. He turned to see the doctor on shift at the clinic.

“Doctor, if you have any concerns, you should direct them towards Agent Yassir. She’s in charge now.”

“I know that, sir. But we still need to talk. I’ve heard that Agent Bauer hasn’t reported in yet.”

“And he’s not going to. That’s all I can tell you.”

“Sir, that’s not good. Come with me, please.”

Bill followed the doctor to his office in medical.

“Last night, Bauer left medical before I had a chance to finish treating him.”

“I know. I let him go back into the field. What’s your point?”

“I did have the chance to take this x-ray.” The doctor held up a black and white image of a rib cage. “This image comfirms what the medics suspected: Bauer has a number of floating rib fragments. It’s possible that they may cause internal bleeding. Possibly even puncture on organ. We need to get him into surgery.”

“You said that that the fragments may cause damage. But you don’t know that for sure.”

“No, I don’t know that for sure. I also can’t give you a good timeline. The fragments could take days to do their damage. Or hours. His life is in danger.”

‘The only reason I fought so hard to stay alive in China was that I didn’t want to die for nothing’. That what Jack had told Bill and Curtis when Bill handcuffed him to the sewer grate.

If we don’t find him soon, that’s exactly what could happen, thought Bill.

“There’s more,” the doctor continued, “Mr. Buchanan, did you even see what they did to him?”

Bill thought back to the previous morning, when Jack had shuffled out of the belly of huge aircraft, his eyes on the ground and his features hidden by long, greasy hair and an unkempt beard. Bill had caught a glimpse of his back when Jack had taken off his grubby prison shirt in order to change into the clothes Curtis had provided, taking care to fasten every available button.

“Yes, I saw the condition he was in.”

“He’s covered in wounds. Some of them are recent, some of them have been there for a while. None of them have been treated properly. The infections alone could have killed him. And I don’t know how he was holding it together, but he's a lot more traumatized then he’s letting on. He would barely let me touch him.”

“Doctor, you’re new here. Things work a little differently in an agency like CTU.”

“I know that. But that doesn’t mean we can just let Bauer disappear. I may be out of line here, but he needs our help.”

“Doctor, I’m not in charge here anymore, so I can tell you this in confidence: I have every intention of finding Jack.”

“I don’t understand.”

“When Division finds Jack, the first thing they’ll want to know is whether or not he gave the Chinese any intel while under interrogation. They’ll try to get that information by any means necessary. Including medical interrogation.”

“Agent Bauer is no condition for any of that. I may be new here, but I do know this much: If an agent has been missing or captured for any period of time, it is standard procedure to have him checked out medically before you start subjecting him to questions. Injecting him with interrogation drugs could be dangerous. What the hell is wrong with you people?”

Bill ignored the question. “Which is exactly why Division can’t know where he is.”

“I know the chief of staff at a private clinic in Monterey. I can get him admitted there. Quietly. If he’s still labeled as active I can get it covered under our general policy. But we have to find him first. Do you know where he could be?”

“I have an idea.”


Bill could never break himself of the habit of driving and talking on his cell phone simultaneously. California had passed a law against that sort of thing, but federal agents were granted an exemption. The car Bill had borrowed had CTU plates.

“Mr. Heller, you said Jack was at your house? And you let him leave?”

“Jack broke into my house, pointed a gun at my head, and threatened to kidnap my daughter. I managed to talk him down, but it wasn’t easy. So yes, I let him leave”

Dammit, Jack, you’re not helping yourself.

“And then what happened?”

“He went to see Audrey, then he went outside and stood on the balcony for a few minutes. For a moment there I thought he was going to jump. Then he finally left my property. Thank God.”

“Do you know where he went?”

“How the hell should I know? Chasing after Jack Bauer is a full-time job.”

“Thank you, sir. You’ve been very helpful.” Bill hung up his phone.

I have got to get some sleep.

Bill made one more call first.


Bill was awoken from a dreamless sleep by his landline. His normally tidy house was a mess. The FBI had worked the place thoroughly.


“Sir, it’s Agent Ryan. Division just found Jack. They’re bringing him in now.”

“Where was he?”

“Ramirez found him in an apartment-hotel in east LA. That’s all I know. He’s cooperating with us for now. But everyone here is acting like they’re expecting a lot of resistance. They even have Rick Burke on standby.”

“Ryan, listen to me. You can’t let Burke use any of his usual methods on Jack. Not until I get there.”

“Mr. Buchanan, with all due respect, I’m pretty low on the food chain. I don’t know what you want me to do.”

“Whatever you have to. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”


“You want me to deliver a long-range Secret Service chopper to Division? Now?”

“That’s right, Karen. And I need a pilot who won’t ask any questions.” I’m tempted to fly the bird myself. “I know you still have connections. Can you do it?”

“Why don’t you ask CTU?”

Because you fired me, remember? “I’d rather not get CTU involved.”

“May I ask what this is about?”

“I’m looking out for a friend.”

“It’s Jack, isn’t it?”

“I helped arrange his return from China, Karen. I was the one who gave him to Fayed.”

“If your positions were reversed, Jack would have done exactly the same thing.”

“I know that. But I’m still responsible for what happens to him now.”

“Give me a few minutes. I can call in a favor. Where are you going?”

“Monterey. Karen, thank you.”

“Bill? We still need to talk.”

“I know. We will. Soon. I promise.” Bill ended the call and pocketed his cell phone.

Bill’s keycard still hadn’t been deactivated. Sloppy. He walked down the gloomy hallways of Division. He entered the stairwell that led to the basement interrogation rooms.

Jack was already at the bottom of the stairwell. Before Bill could call out to him, Jack pulled a dart away from his neck. As he sank to the floor he looked up at Bill, his eyes clouded and incredulous.

Ramirez and Rick Burke were close behind. Burke was holding a tranquilizer gun.

“What the hell was that for?” Bill demanded.

“Mr. Buchanan,” said Ramirez, “I’m glad you’re all right.”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Bauer has been acting violently. He just threatened to kill Ramirez. I didn’t want him to hurt you, sir,” said Burke.

“Your concern is noted,” said Bill, barely keeping the sarcasm from his voice.

Bill kneeled next to the now-supine Jack. He pulled up Jack’s shirt and gently probed his abdomen, noting that Jack’s belly was concave and soft rather then distended and hard.

“Good. I don’t think I’m too late,” Bill said.

“Too late for what?” asked Burke.

“Nothing you need to worry about. Are you done with the debriefing?”

Ramirez looked embarrassed. “It didn’t go too well, sir.”

“I’ll handle him from here.”

“Good luck with that,” said Ramirez.


Ryan and Bill carried Jack to the waiting chopper. Jack wasn’t heavy.

“Giving Jack the key to the cuffs was quick thinking,” Bill told Ryan as he buckled Jack into the back seat of the chopper. “You took a risk.”

“What Burke and Ramirez were doing wasn’t sitting too well with me, sir,” replied Ryan.

Everyone is still calling me ‘sir’, Bill noted.

“I don’t think my actions are going to be examined too closely,” Ryan continued. “The whole debrief isn’t going to stand up to close scrutiny.”

Ryan retrieved a flash drive from his pocket and handed it to Bill. “You need to see this for yourself.”


“I DIDN’T TALK!” Jack shouted desperately to the people he knew were listening.

Bill closed the laptop.

Maybe a career change wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I don’t have the stomach for this anymore.

What was Ramirez thinking?

Marcus Holt had been a respected agent. He deserved a thorough investigation into his death. But Division had far more urgent matters to deal with. There were times when invasive interrogation was necessary. Bill had ordered a few of those sessions himself. Tonight had not been one of those times.

If Jack had exposed Holt, he couldn’t be held legally responsible for intel he had obviously given up under duress. Ramirez knew that.

As for Burke, he should just know better.

‘What the hell is wrong with you people?’ The doctor had been out of line, but his question was still valid.

Bill regarded the passenger seated next to him in the large helicopter. Jack was still out cold. It had been almost an hour, the tranquilizer should have worn off by now. Burke may have been overzealous with the dosage, or perhaps Jack’s exhaustion had finally caught up with him.

Bill put two fingers to the jugular vein in Jack’s neck and was reassured by the strong, steady pulse.

Bill wondered how Jack was going to react to this latest abduction. He had grown used to being roughly treated.

Bill had met Jack years earlier, when Bill was still at Division and Jack was an advisor to James Heller.

Jack Bauer had once been a senior beuracrat for the Department of Defense. He had once been the Special Agent in Charge of CTU. He had once been a devoted husband and father. He had once been a lot of things.

Bill allowed himself to stare at Jack’s burned right hand, something he would never do if Jack was awake. Now it was impossible not to stare.

Looking at him now, Bill wondered if Jack could ever join the world again. If he could have a career, friends and loved ones, a normal, happy life. Maybe Jack didn’t even want that anymore.

But Jack deserved the opportunity to determine that for himself.

The helicopter flew through the night towards its destination.