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posted in 24_fanfic

Title: State Of Grace
Author: marinw
Rating: PG
Characters: Africa!Jack
Summary: Spoliers for Exile. Jack considers his new life. No real plot to speak of, just a vignette.
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company. Etc.

A/N: The idea of peaceful!Jack fills me with no end of wibble. Completely un’betad.

The rainstorm had forced the cancellation of the afternoon’s soccer game.

Jack had spent the morning in the schoolhouse, teaching his daily class on English composition, even though ‘English composition’ was a rather pretentious term for basic literacy.

Many years ago, he had been forced to abandon his dream of being an literature professor when he joined the army.

Funny how things worked out.

The ceiling of his cabin wasn’t completely waterproof, water dripped into a ceramic bowl on the other end of the room. He made a mental note to fix the roof once the sun came out.

There had been a time when rainstorms and dripping water held very unpleasant associations.

Now the sound of the rained had lulled Jack into taking a well-earned afternoon nap. He had stretched out on his cot and fallen asleep with a dog-eared paperback copy of Franz Kafka’s The Trial opened on his flat stomach, a book borrowed from the school’s small library. Carl Benton had curious taste in novels.

The rain was beginning to lift the stifling humidity that used to hamper all his construction work. Still, beads of sweat had formed on his upper lip and his cotton shirt stuck to his chest. The nylon fabric of the sleeping bag clung to his back. His bare toes curled towards each other.

When he first arrived in Sengala, before he adapted to this climate, the humidity had been opressive. His body had adapted to the heat just as it had adapted to the food and water. Jack had become ill a few times, but he could fight off almost any infection. The American doctors had told that his immune system was nothing short of astonishing. The burns and lacerations that should have killed him had only left scars, scars that had now faded (but not disappeared) with the help of sunlight and salt water.

He had an idea of what Sengala was like before he came here. He had chosen this country precisely because his expectations were so low. He didn’t want to be disappointed again. Then he had met his old friend, Carl Benton.

He was now a construction worker, teacher, security guard, soccer coach, mechanic (the Jeeps kept breaking down), and procurer of hard-to-find supplies. He had become, quite literally, Carl’s Jack-of-all-trades.

The students had made short work of the perimeter Jack had attempted to build around his heart. The former child soldiers were so vulnerable. Jack knew he was in perpetual danger of losing them. He loved the children anyway.

He had found happiness in the place he least expected it.

Jack fell into a deep, dream filled-sleep. His mind was filled with images of all the other places he had been in the past three and a half years: Australia. South America. India. He was a man without a country, an exile by choice. Early in his travels an Australian Aboriginal elder had told Jack that he was on a walkabout, a journey to find himself.

There were other memories beneath those recent ones. He remembered being the angry federal agent and the wretched Chinese prisoner. Jack now regarded his previous incarnations with a forgiveness and compassion he hadn’t thought possible.

Everything I’ve done, I’ve paid for. In full.

As far as Jack was concerned, his karma was now back in balance. Although he would never express it in those terms.

After a few hours Jack stirred when the rain stopped. It took him a moment to register his surroundings.

After another hour, Jack estimated that the sun had dried everything out enough in order to get back to work. He left his cabin and went to the shed to retrieve his wheelbarrow. He headed towards the wood pile, covered with a tarp.

If his own roof was leaking, other roofs in the village would probably be leaking as well. He had a lot of work to do. Jack studied the pile, determining which logs would make the best shingles.

One of the children appeared at Jack’s side. A small boy, eight or nine years old. It was hard to know his exact age, his parents were both dead and he had no birth records.

“Need any help, Mister?” The boy asked politely.

Jack regarded the wood pile, deciding what tools he needed.

“Yeah,” Jack said as he turned to the boy, “I’m gonna need a hacksaw.”



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 16th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
“I’m gonna need a hacksaw.”

Oh, you.

Too funny. I liked this Jack, all relaxed and happy and reading Kafka. Heh. (Not to mention sweaty and clingy-shirted. *G*)

Very nice.
Aug. 16th, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
Where did my comment go? I commented but it dissapeared.

I'll try again, but it looses it's freshness.

I love your Happy!Jack. All relaxed and sweaty and t-shirt-clingy, reading Kafka. Excellent.

The last line just killed, m'dear!
Aug. 16th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Two comments for the price of one. Sweet.

Glad you enjoyed the Kafka reference. What's a ficlet without a sence of foreboding?
Aug. 16th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC)
Arrgh. The first one re-appeared only after I'd posted the second. Oh well. You deserve the extra!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )