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Posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Mr. Bauer Goes to Washington
Author: marinw
Character(s): Jack
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Day 7 Trailer
Summary: Jack prepares for the congressional hearing
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company. I don’t belong to the WGA and I’m not being paid for this, so I am free write 24 fic without incurring (too much) wrath.
A/N: Based on my speculations on Day 7. Not that I’m going to be proven right or wrong anytime soon. Thank you, wordsthatfail, for lighting a much-needed fire under my butt.

It would be dawn soon. Jack had been up for hours. He never slept more then a few hours a night. If that.

The hotel room was nice enough. It had been well over a year since Jack had returned from China, yet there were still times when normal creature comforts seemed alien. A clean bed, hot showers and fresh clothes, indoor heat and air conditioning, all those things seemed like products of an impossibly advanced and decadent civilization. A civilization that Jack could protect and observe, but never fully participate in.

Jack went to the window and looked out onto the quiet Washington street. At this hour there were only a few cars on the road. Trees lined the sidewalks, their leaves rustling gently in the soft wind. In the distance Jack could see the dome of the Capital Building. He hadn’t been there in a very long time. It had been a lifetime since he had walked those ornate halls with Audrey and Secretary Heller. He would be back there today, and it wasn’t to receive a medal from the President.

He predicted that most of the day would involve sitting in one place. Jack compensated in advance by running a fast ten kilometers, deliberately choosing Washington’s toughest neighborhoods. The sound of gunshots, the fistfights, the drunks slouched on the sidewalks with their bottles of dubious whiskey, Jack found all the elements of this environment oddly comforting. But this wasn’t his world, either. He pulled up the hood of his sweatshirt. Jack compared his very temporary surroundings to the vast wealth displaying itself only a few blocks away. This is the country I’ve spent my life safeguarding.

He finished his workout with a trip to the hotel’s gym for some weight training, and didn’t return to his room until his muscles felt pleasantly sore. It was good to have control over exactly how much his body hurt. Jack took a leisurely shower and shaved carefully, as he was determined never to let his beard grow again. He instinctively reached for his favorite pair of jeans, then remembered what day it was, and reluctantly retrieved his new charcoal gray suit.

He stepped into his boxers and trousers and regarded himself in the bathroom mirror: His hair had grown long enough to actually require a comb. A year ago he had availed himself to the offer of plastic surgery, so now his hands appeared almost normal. He was grateful with the results, as the burns had made him more self-conscious that he had been willing to admit. The scars on his shoulders and back were still there, but time had made them less angry and Jack had invented some reasonably plausible explanations for anyone who might see them. His full shoulders and pectorals tapered down to his flat stomach and narrow hips. Jack regarded his body the same way he regarded his gun: a piece of machinery that needed regular maintenance in order to function properly. Becoming soft simply wasn’t an option.

At least he looked normal.

By the time he finished dressing the sun had risen. Jack put on his coat, slung his courier bag over his shoulder, left the hotel and walked into the pleasant autumn morning. More cars filled the road now. They were mostly black and sported American flags. Bio-diesel spouted from many of the tailpipes. Allison Taylor had succeeded in implementing the green energy programs that David Palmer had barely had the chance to begin. A competent President was proving a nice change of pace after so many years cursed with corrupt or ineffectual administrations.

After a few blocks, Jack came to a ubiquitous Starbucks, so he went in and purchased a large black coffee. As he was leaving he spotted a copy of the morning edition of The Washington Post that had been left on a table. Jack sat down, took a sip of coffee, and scanned the headline:

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012

Washington-The highly anticipated inquiry into the activities of the now-disbanded Counter Terrorist Agency (CTU) begin today in what is predicted to be an extensive hearing. One key witness, the former Special Agent Jack Bauer, will be questioned on allegations that he tortured suspected terrorist Abraham Haddad. Mr. Haddad currently stands accused of planning the bombing of a city bus, a potential tragedy narrowly averted by Mr. Bauer himself. The notorious agent also faces numerous other questions regarding his actions while under the employ of the Los Angeles branch of CTU. Other key witnesses who may be brought in front of the hearing include former CTU Special Agent in Charge Bill Buchanan, and Senior Analyst Chloe O’Brian, both of whom are currently employed at…

Jack stopped reading when he noticed the photo at the bottom of the page. It was a image of himself running towards the imperiled bus. A young girl stood at the bus’s doorway, her arms outstretched towards Jack, her mouth frozen in a scream. The photo was of amateur quality, and looked like it had been snapped with somebody’s cell phone.

Jack had always felt a very small amount of pity for famous actors and other celebrities, whose every foible made their way into the newspapers and onto the internet. But that wasn’t why he was angry now. His work required a certain amount of anonymity. Publishing this photo didn’t just violate his own privacy and that of the child, it compromised national security. Why couldn’t those stupid reporters understand that?

Jack left the paper where it was, picked up his coffee, and left the Starbucks franchise, depositing his change into the upturned hat of a homeless man huddled on the steps outside. He asked himself again exactly what it was that he had spent so much of himself protecting. Protecting innocent lives was one thing. But Jack knew that he had taken the fall for so much else.

By the time Jack arrived at the Capital Building the area was thick with media. Cameramen jostled with each other for the best angles. Black cameras sat mounted on monopods and tripods, their telephoto lenses all aimed in his direction, his face already appearing on dozens of LCD displays and being recorded upon dozens of compact flash cards. So much for quietly entering through a back entrance.

It wasn’t long before Jack found of number a microphones pointed at his chin.

“Mr. Bauer, do you think these allegations against you are justified?”

“How did you react to the news that CTU was to be disbanded?”

“Do you think this hearing is a good use of President Taylor’s attention?”

“Mr. Bauer, how did…”

Jack saw no point in avoiding all his new press. He raised his hands in a gesture of good will.

“I know all of you have many questions. I can tell you that I will answer every query the senator puts to me truthfully and to the best of my knowledge. I’m sure you will receive a full report as soon as it is deemed appropriate. Thank you.”

By this time, security had finally arrived and had begun their futile efforts to keep the media in check.

This was his life now. Jack held his head high and walked through the open door of the building and towards the fate that awaited him.