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posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Exodus, Chapter 2
Author: marinw

Rating: PG
Characters: Jack/Willie/
Summary: Immediately Post-Redemption. Two friends go their separate ways.
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company. Etc.

A/N: Ah, some fresh Canon to play with. Thanks to my beta,cybertoothtiger

Willie ran into Jack’s arms and buried his small head on Jack’s shoulder. For the third time that day.

“Hey,” Jack whispered.

The doctor nodded and left.

“Desmond?” Jack asked.

“He will be okay. The doctor at the hospital said that.”

“That’s good. Mr. Benton would be glad.”

Shit. I shouldn’t have mentioned Carl.

That was all Willie needed to start crying again. Jack let the boy do his thing as he stroked his back.

Willie wore his emotions on his sleeve. He cried too easily. Jack was worried about that, it would make Willie an easy target for bullies. Either in Sangala or the US.

Jack knew that because he had also been fodder for bullies at that age: a small boy who cried. At least until Jack learned to fight back. The bullies left Jack alone after that.

Not the best piece of advice.

Today, the boy deserved a break. He had lost the only safe place he had known.

“Mr. Benton is with my parents and my sisters now. He is one of the ghosts who comes out at night.”

“Yes. Yes, he is.”

Willie reached into the small bag he had brought and produced the Indian silk scarf Jack had given him earlier. “I came to give this back.”

“It’s yours. Keep it.”

“I don’t want it anymore.”

“It’s just a thing, Willie. It’s not responsible for what happened to Mr. Benton. You’re not responsible.”

“I know that. But you are going back to America after all. You can give this to your daughter now.”

“I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”

“Why not?”

“It’s complicated. You ask a lot of questions.”

“We can go to America together now.”

Jack put his hands on Willie’s shoulders. “Mr. Benton made sure that you would be taken care of. He arranged a sponsor for you, and for Desmond, and for all the other children.”

“I want you to be my sponsor.”

“Willie, I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I can’t be your sponsor. I can’t give you the life you deserve.”

“Mr. Trammel said that you did some bad things. That you hurt people. Are you bad?”

“That depends on who you talk to.”

“I don’t think that you’re bad.”

“Thank you, Willie. That means a lot.”

“Will I see you again? After today?”

“I hope so. I don’t know. But I want you to do one more thing for me: I want you to have a good life. I want you to take advantage of every opportunity your new family gives you. Not because you owe anything to Mr. Benton. Or to me. But because you owe it to yourself. Can you do that?”

Willie nodded solemnly.

There was a gentle rap on the doorframe. The doctor had returned.

“You have to go.”

Willie gave Jack a final hug, and left. He left the scarf on the bed.

Jack folded the cloth carefully and placed it at the bottom of his backpack. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do with the damn thing.

By now, the codeine was beginning to take effect, replacing the pounding of his head with a not-unpleasant spaciness.

The sun was starting to set. Jack realized that if he was still back at the Onkovango school (if the school still existed) he would have already had dinner and he and Benton would be playing cards and enjoying a drink. Carl liked whisky and Jack had slowly been developing a tolerance for the local beer.

Juma had probably turned Carl’s haven into a training centre by now.

The guard had mentioned something about a kitchen, but Jack wasn’t even close to hungry. He lay down on the bed, toeing off his tennis shoes. He wondered where the security camera was hidden.

His half-conscious mind passed through all the places he had traveled: Washington, Los Angeles, Czechoslovakia, Kazakhstan, India and Sangala. He even visited a military prison in China, but he didn’t stay long. There was no need for his mind to linger in that place. Not anymore.