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posted in 24_fanfic

Title: End Of An Era
Author: marinw
Rating: PG
Characters: Bill/Nadia/Chloe
Summary: Spoliers for Day 7. Bill visits CTU for the last time.
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company. Etc.
A/N: Our latest intel puts Day 7 a whopping four years after Day 6, so I’m keeping the timeline a little ambiguous here. Thanks to my beta sardonicynic.

The FBI had given Bill exactly thirty minutes.

Bill appreciated the gesture even though he had cleaned out his desk and locker a few days after Karen had fired him.

Now, years later, Bill found himself back in CTU. He was in Los Angeles anyway as he and Karen had decided to put their LA house on the market. There was some paperwork. There would always be paperwork.

Bill should have felt like a visitor here. Yet he didn’t. Even after all this time, CTU felt like home that had just been foreclosed by an uncaring bank.

He stood at the stripped window of what had once been his office. He could see dozens of FBI agents disconnecting all the hard drives from the monitors and gathering up every flash drive and DVD, every video camera, every unclaimed cell phone. Elsewhere is the building, other agents were stripping the armory of every weapon. Medical was being cleared of all of its equipment. Anything useful would be donated to a clinic. The helicopters and cars were to be re-furbished and distributed to other agencies. Bill wasn’t sure what was going to happen to the fleet of Ford Expeditions: gas had become too expensive to justify their continued use.

Bill felt violated. It hurt to see CTU dismantled.

He had been the Special Agent in Charge of CTU for three years. Bill reviewed the names of the other people who had held the title: Jack Bauer, George Mason, Tony Almeida, Michelle Dessler( briefly), Erin Driscoll, Nadia Yassir. None of those people was perfect. They brought what they could to the job. They all had made difficult choices, and they all had paid for those choices — with their loved ones, their freedom, their lives.

Bill was no longer bitter about losing his job. He had built a new career that used his skills without forcing him to contend with (as much) bureaucracy. He had found a way to forgive Karen. CTU wasn’t part of his life anymore. It hadn’t been for some time.

Yet he couldn’t believe what was happening now.

“It doesn’t seem real, does it?” Nadia had just appeared at his side.

“No, it doesn’t. But don’t blame yourself, Nadia. This isn’t your fault.”

“There must have been something I could have done differently.”

“Disbanding CTU was a political decision. It had nothing to do with you. You should be proud of the work you’ve done here.”

“Why are they doing this, Bill? The official explanation is budget cuts. I’m not buying that.”

“There hasn’t been a major terrorist attack in over a year. We’re not needed.” You’re not needed. I don’t work here anymore.

“There hasn’t been an attack in LA because of the work that we’ve done.”

“President Taylor doesn’t see it that way. She sees CTU is an extravagance this country can no longer afford.”

“When the president won the election she said that she stood for change. I didn’t know that this was what she meant,” said Nadia bitterly.

“Karen thinks it has something to do with the Senate hearings. You saw what the media did when our methods were made public.”

“Civilians can’t possibly understand the pressure we were under. Maybe the hearings will give us a chance to tell our side of the story.”

“Or turn us into scapegoats.”

“Do you think we’ll be subpoenaed to testify?”

Bill was about to answer when Chloe appeared at the door.

“I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation. But since you were here I thought it would be polite to say hi. So hi.”

“I should go supervise,” Nadia said, gesturing toward the doorway. “Bill, it was good to see you.”

“You too, Nadia. We’ll talk later.”

“I’d like that,” Nadia said as she left the room.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to create an awkward situation,” said Chloe.

“You didn’t. This situation is awkward all by itself. Chloe, I’m sorry that you’re losing your job. You don’t deserve that.”

Bill did some quick math: Chloe had survived five CTU directors and countless analysts and field agents. Impressive. Chloe wasn’t as mal-adapted as she appeared.

“I was going to quit anyway. I’m a parent now. I need to focus on my nurturing.”

“When you’re ready to get back to work let me know. I might have something for you.”

“Thank you, Mr. Buchanan. I’m grateful for the offer. I’ll let you go back to being contemplative now. Bye.”

Chloe turned to leave.

“Chloe, wait.”

“Sir?” Chloe asked as she scrunched up her face.

“I was about to tell Nadia this, but I think you deserve to know. It’s about the upcoming Senate hearings. The committee is going to subpoena Jack.”

“They won’t find him. ‘They’ll never find Jack if he doesn’t want to be found.’ That’s what you said.”

“That was a long time ago. The situation has changed. Jack’s in East Africa. Sengala.”

“I know that.”

“They’re sending an agent to find him.”

“Doesn’t the government have anything better to do?”

It was a valid question.

“His actions at CTU are part of the investigation.”

“Is he being charged with anything criminal?”

“I’m not sure, but the president insists that he testifies. That’s all I know.”

“Well I hope that agent guy doesn’t find him.”

Me too. After everything that he’s done for country, Jack just wants to be left alone. And we can’t even do that for him.

Bill’s musings were interrupted by a burly FBI agent at the door. Was he the same agent who had almost ransacked Bill’s house the night Karen fired him? They were all starting to look the same.

“Mr. Buchanan, your time is up. I’m here to escort you from the building.”

“That won’t be necessary. I’m leaving.”

“I’ve been ordered to supervise your departure, sir. “

“Chloe, the offer is good anytime. Call me when you’re ready.”

“I’ll have child-care needs.”

“We can work something out.”

“Thank you, sir. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.”

Bill followed the agent down the stairs and out of the building. He didn’t look back.