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Rumbelle

24 fic: Stuck In A Moment

[mood| Melancholy]
[music| Everything You Want]

Firstly, thank you to everyone who took the time to review, I really appreciate it, and I tried to reply to all of you, but there were one or two I couldn’t get in contact with :-)

I don’t know how many of you will actually be in the mood for this since there seems to be a lot of tension in the fandom regarding the episode that aired in the US, but I remain blissfully unaware of it, and decided to post the next chapter anyway ;- )

Originally I had planned this as a two parter, but it’s gotten a little bit out of hand and will be a three parter, but that will be it. Three parts and then finito. Definitely.





Her fingers flew over the keyboard, typing out algorithms and subroutines. She focused solely on the task in front of her. The screen flickered with life, windows popping up with new data, new computations and new probability calculations.

She could finally relax here, and let her mind focus. Her computer was her sanctuary, not even Jack Bauer and his ever confusing mood swings could take that away from her. As long as she had her computer she had her sanity.

Around her, CTU was buzzing with life. It didn’t matter the day or the hour, there was always the danger of a terrorist threat, and as such, there was always staff available on hand. At the moment, she needed the comfort of being in a room full of people without having to interact with them.

“Chloe?”

The voice distracted her, and she turned to see her superior standing over her shoulder. The man never seemed to go home these days.

His tall, muscular frame was always an imposing figure in the office and warned off any outsiders that might think to take advantage of his staff.

“Mr Buchanon,” she greeted briefly, but not unpleasantly.

“What are you doing here, Chloe? It’s a Sunday.”

“I know, but I want to catch up on some of the monthlies, and I’m modifying the system crash simulator.”

“Couldn’t that wait until tomorrow?” he asked curiously.

She shook her head, “I’m meeting with one of the techies from the DoD tomorrow. They spent a fortune on their new security system, and don’t know how to use it,” she said disgust evident in her tone. “They’re saying it’s a glitch in the system, but it’s much more likely to be their incompetence.”

He smiled at her bluntness, “I think it would be best if you don’t tell them that.”

“Why not? How else are they going to learn?”

“Chloe, trust me, with the state your record’s in at the moment, the last thing you need is a complaint from the DoD regarding non co-operation and making unfounded allegations against their staff.”

“I guess,” she admitted quietly before adding, “but they are incompetent. That’s why I’m changing the computer drills. With these new additions to the crash system, we’ll be able to see if i we’re /i up to scratch.”

“When are you going to try it out?”

“Tomorrow.”

“When you’re not here?” he asked surprise evident in his tone.

She nodded, “How else am I going to see just i how /i badly they manage without me? I can yell at them about it later.”

“I see.”

She expected him to move on, but instead he remained by her station. She turned to him expectantly and found him watching her with a strange look on his face.

“Chloe, are you all right?”

“Yeah,” she replied uneasily, “why?”

“I just got off the phone with Jack.”

“What’s that got to do with me?” she snapped defensively.

“He was looking for you. I didn’t realise you were here at the time, otherwise I would have patched him through to you. He sounded worried. Maybe I should call him back.”

“Oh,” she said quickly, “don’t worry about it. It’s fine, I’ll call him later. He’s probably mad I finished the last of his coffee this morning. Don’t worry about it.”

She rolled her eyes at her own incapacity to lie. God forbid terrorists ever kidnapped her for interrogation.

Buchanon was wise enough not to comment, but nodded thoughtfully. She grew tetchy and testy; she hated people standing behind her, especially when it was her boss.

“Was there something else?” she asked tersely

“No, nothing.”

“Well, then, do you mind? I’d like to get this done before my Sunday’s over.”

He nodded and went on his way back up to his office. She followed his movements with her watchful gaze praying silently he wouldn’t get in contact with Agent Bauer. The last thing she needed was Jack showing up. Especially not when she hadn’t finished trying to figure out what the hell had happened in his kitchen that morning.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jack pulled up opposite the modern, four storey building and sat looking up at the darkened second floor windows.

He rested his head against the back of his seat and closed his eyes.

When he’d arrived back to an empty house with no Chloe and no way to apologise or make things right, he’d felt the guilt sweep in over him. He was torn, unsure what to do. Should he let her have her space and time, or should he try to find her and stop her obsessing over what had happened, as he knew she would?

Eventually, his own fear and need to see her again, overrode anything else and he rang her apartment and her cell phone. Every time, the phone rang out.

Thinking she was deliberately ignoring his calls, not that he could blame her, he decided to go over to her apartment. He banged on the door for a full fifteen minutes before finally admitting defeat. It was empty.

His attention was called by her neighbour across the hall, who had been helpful enough to tell him she’d been home for half an hour before disappearing again. Jack thanked him and promised not to make such a racket in future.

The most obvious place she could be was CTU, he rang Bill, on his way over, but was told she wasn’t there and hadn’t been seen. Irrational panic took hold of him, and he began to grow worried. He’d never forgive himself if something happened her because he’d upset her.

He rang the hospitals asking about any young women matching her description that might have been admitted, but came up with nothing. He even went as far as to ring Spencer and Chase, neither of which had seen or had any contact with her in months.

Running out of options, he did the only other thing he could think of. He drove back to her apartment building and decided to wait for her. She had to come back sometime.

He waited.

And waited

And waited.

Two hours later, her silver sedan pulled up and she got out, looking even less happy than usual.

He waited until she arrived at her apartment and had the lights on before he got out.

He jogged across the street, narrowly missing being hit by a pissed off cyclist and raced up the two flights of stairs to her apartment.

He stood outside, and his courage almost failed him. He paused with his hand held just above his head. Doubt plagued his mind, maybe it would be best if he did leave her some time to herself, but he didn’t want her thinking so much about it, that she’d write it off as nothing.

Determinedly he knocked on the wooden door.

Chloe rolled her eyes as she dragged herself up from the couch. She really didn’t feel like visitors right now. She was about to yank the door open and flash a sour look at whatever salesman or girl guide that stood on the other side, when she heard his voice.

“Chloe, it’s me.”

She froze, her mind racing. She didn’t need this right now. She contemplated pretending she wasn’t home, but he obviously knew she was. The lights, if nothing else, were a dead giveaway.

“Go away, Jack. I don’t want to talk to you!”

“Chloe,” he rapped louder on her door, “let me in.”

She stood stubbornly on the other side, her mouth twisting with indecision.

“Chloe?” he tried again, his voice taking on the softer, more vulnerable tone he used with her sometimes. The tone she couldn’t refuse. “Chloe, please. Five minutes to explain, and then I’ll leave if you want me to. I promise.”

She rolled her eyes at herself, and how easily he could talk her around, as she opened the door and finally met the gaze of the man she’d been trying to avoid all day.

“What do you want?” she huffed defensively.

“Just to talk, that’s all, I promise.”

“Fine,” she replied standing back to let him enter the apartment.

“Thank you.”

“Well, it’s not really fine, but if that’s the way to get rid of you, then do it. Start talking.”

He took in her defensive pose, the arms wrapped tightly across her chest, and the hard look on her face. But even thorough her anger and determination he could see the hurt reflecting in her dark eyes. He felt a pang in his chest knowing he was the cause of it.

“Look, I’m sorry about this morning. I should never have shouted at you, or…pushed you the way I did.”

“I don’t understand, Jack,” she burst out agitatedly, pulling at the hem of her sweater. “I don’t understand why you’d do that…why you’d kiss me, or why you’d shout at me. I don’t know what I did to make this wrong.”

He stepped forward, “Chloe, you didn’t do anything. This is all my fault. I went about this all the wrong way.”

“Went about what, Jack? You’re not making any sense!”

“Went about this.” He stepped forward quickly and cupped her face, she knew what was coming and her eyes widened a split second before his lips captured hers. She pulled back, shaking, and stepped away from him.

“Why are you doing this?” she asked her voice trembling.

“Because I care about you, Chloe. I care about you a lot.”

She shook her head, “You can’t.”

“Chloe, I know I haven’t always shown it, but to me, you and Kim are the two most important people in my life.”

“No, no, you’re lying.”

He grabbed her upper arm and forced her to look at him, a hint of anger in his voice.

“You think I’m lying to you? Do you think I’d lie about something like this?”

She shook her head upset, and he loosened his grip on her as she began pacing. “No, I believe you believe what you’re saying. But you can’t, there are too many reasons why you can’t.”

“Like what?” he asked confused.

“We work great together Jack, but we’re socially incompatible. I don’t do any of that stuff very well,” she frowned pausing for a moment.

“It may have escaped your notice Chloe, but I’m not exactly a social butterfly myself.”

She rolled her eyes, “you don’t need to be Jack. You’re…well, you. You can have any woman you want. You i have /i had any woman you wanted. Women who aren’t like me. Women who actually want to go out to social parties and know how to act in public without embarrassing themselves or you.” She paused chewing on her lower lip, her eyes lowered towards the floor. “Women whose lives don’t revolve around a computer and CTU.”

“Chloe, look at me,” he reached forward and tilted her face towards him, forcing her to look into his eyes, “I don’t want any other woman. I want you.”

She blinked away the moisture that was quickly building in her eyes and gave a ragged sigh.

“I want to believe you, but ….you love Audrey. It doesn’t make any sense,” her confusion was evident in the furrows in her forehead and the narrowing of her eyes, as she tried to assimilate what was happening, and tried to find a logical solution. She began pacing back and forth in front of him again, her brow furrowed and biting lightly on her thumb nail.

“It must be like that Stockholm syndrome thing,” she muttered more to herself than him.

“Stockholm Syndrome,” he repeated blankly. “Chloe, you didn’t kidnap me.”

She glared at him, “I know that, but it must be something similar. Some sort of…transference or something? “

He watched her as she tried came up with theories in her mind and discarded some while keeping track of them. It amazed him, even now, how she could work out different probabilities and outcomes.

“It makes sense, Jack. You killed your lover to save your friend, and your country. It just so happens I’m the only friend you have who can see through your barriers and the only one who really knows you. The only one you can really trust. You’ve ended up relying on me and then you end up believing you care about me as more than a friend.” She looked up at him, an almost smile gracing her face, as if she’d finally figured out a complicated equation. “I guess it’s to be expected.”

“Are you rationalising this to make because you don’t care about me like that, or because you’re scared that you do?”

The smile immediately dropped from her face, and she refused to answer him, looking away at some object beyond his shoulder.

“I want the truth, Chloe.”

She met his eyes, hesitation written clearly on her face.

“I’m doing what I can to stop myself from getting hurt,” she admitted quietly.

“Why do you think I’d hurt you?” his voice was a mixture of disbelief, hurt and betrayal.

“Chloe,” he stepped towards her again, reaching out to her, but with a look she stalled him.

“I’ve given you everything I have, Jack. Whenever you need me, I’m there. And I don’t resent that. I’m glad you can trust me. But what you’re asking now….it’s the one thing I haven’t given you. And I won’t give it to you. You know how I feel about you, I’m not that good at deception that I could have fooled you this long.”

His half nod was all the proof she needed that he had been well aware about her feelings for him for a long time. “But this is just…wrong. You loved Audrey Jack.” She looked at him as if willing him to get it. “You were like the couple from the Brady Bunch. Well, before the whole Turkish terrorism thing. Not to mention the fact you effectively killed her ex-husband.” She knew she was rambling, but she could stop herself, it was a habit she had never grown out of. She seemed to suffer from verbal dioria.

“Not that I saw it of course, but from what people said, and the way you were with each other after your ‘resurrection,’ I got a pretty good picture. Do you really expect me to believe you’ve gotten over her in less than a year, and that you want to start something with me? I saw you last night Jack.”

“Chloe,” he said quietly, stepping toward her again when she looked warily at him, “listen to me. I’m not in love with Audrey, and I haven’t been for a very long time. I cared about her, yes. And she cared about me, but our time had passed, we both knew that.” He took a breath, grateful when she didn’t interrupt and continued. “When I cam back, we fooled ourselves into thinking we could make it work, that we could somehow go back to the way things were when we were in DC. But we couldn’t. There were always those doubts, always that worry. She didn’t really trust me, Chloe, and I didn’t really trust her. Despite what the ‘gossip mill’ might have said, we never really started up again after I came back. We were better friends than lovers, it was less complicated.”

“I saw you last night, Jack. You were devastated. It was almost like those first few weeks all over again.”

“I killed her, Chloe,” he interrupted, his voice raising slightly as he tried to make her understand. “I killed her and I couldn’t even remember when her birthday was. I had to pretend to her father that I’d known all along, and that I’d spent the entire day remembering her instead of watching Sports Review. Do you have any idea what that’s like?”

“No, I never killed my boyfriend.”

She flushed at her faux pas, but Jack just shook his head, a lopsided smile on his face.

“For the first time in a long time, this feels right,” he put so much feeling into those few words, she wanted to let herself believe them. She wanted so badly for this to be real.

“I don’t know about this,” she whispered, her voice catching on the back of her throat.

“Chloe, trust me.”

“You know I do. But, I can’t believe this. I’m scared, Jack.”

“Scared of what?”

“That the only reason you’re doing this is because of that day. What happened in that warehouse. I know what you’re like, Jack. I know you keep living it over and over again. And when you look at me, or my scar, you’re constantly reminded of it.”

“I need you,” his voice was whispery but gruff.

She stood looking at him for a moment, just looking at him. Jack Bauer was standing in her apartment telling her he cared about her. That he wanted to start a relationship with her. How long had she dreamed of this? And yet, she couldn’t let herself do this. What if it didn’t work out? What if, in a few months, he grew tired of her and left? Or realised he really was only with her because of what happened, because he was scared of losing her? She couldn’t bare it if he left her life completely, and she angry with herself for not wanting to take the chance without some assurance from him. And angry with him for forcing them to this point.

“You don’t get it, do you? You’re stuck there, Jack, in that moment. Ever since that day all you think about is what happened. I see it in your eyes every time you look at me, at my scar. You blame yourself for it. I’m sick of it, Jack. If and when I decide to enter into some sort of relationship with you, I want it to be a real relationship. Not some weird thing because you feel guilty about what happened. Audrey did what she thought was right, and yeah, she was wrong, and what happened sucked, but it’s not your fault. But there are only so many times I can say that to you before it gets annoying. You have to get over this Jack, and jumping into bed with me isn’t going to achieve that.”

“I thought you wanted this.”

She shook her head, frowning in displeasure, “not like this, Jack.”

“Then what do you want?” he asked, frustration evident in his voice.

She snapped her gaze up to his, her eyes bright, “I want you to get over it. I want you to stop thinking the entire world revolves around you like you’re some sort of God, like you have some sort of supernatural control over what people can do. You’re not Superman, Jack! You don’t run around in a cape and wearing only tights and underwear! It’s about time you realised that. When you do that, and when you actually have gotten over Audrey, then you come back to me. Otherwise, I don’t want to know!”

He said nothing and she fidgeted in the silence wishing she’d kept her mouth shut instead of saying exactly what was on her mind. She could feel her face heating up with embarrassment and shifted her gaze away from him as he stepped forward, tilting her head up and forcing her to look into his eyes. Eyes that blazed with determination and another emotion she’d never seen there before.

“I promise,” he breathed softly, but strongly to her, “I care about you more than you know, and if you want proof. I’ll get it for you.”

He held her gaze for moment that lasted a lifetime, before he left, the door closing quietly behind him.

She blinked at the space he had occupied just seconds before and began worrying at her bottom lip, when realisation dawned.

She had just set Jack Bauer a mission, and if there was one thing she knew about Jack Bauer, it was that it didn’t like failing a mission.
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Comments

Jack on a mission. Heh. I'm really glad you wrote more. It was nice to see. Plus...I really don't understand the sudden freak out in the fandom. Maybe I'm in far more fandoms...or maybe I'm just used to things not going as I'd like to see them. But really...as long as a show continues to be what it is...and still manages to be entertaining. I stick around even if my chosen couple isn't getting together. That is obviously exactly what fanfic is for. Lovely job sweetie. And I do believe there is one part left? I'm looking forward to it.
Thanks for taking the time to comment :) Yes, there is one more part left, that I'm trying to get done for next Tuesday night, but I haven't had a chance to sit down and write it yet, so I'm not sure it'll be ready, but I'll do my best!

I'm not from the US so I don't know what's happening over there, but from the jist of what I'm hearing it's not looking good :( Still, I suppose that's what fanfiction is for!

Why the freak out?

The last episode aired in the US had Jack dropping of some data to be analyzed, and not even asking Chloe if she was okay. In fact, he snarls at her (my opinion). This is after she was out all night being hunted down by other CTU agents while helping him. Anyways, Jack dumps the data and runs off to get mushy with DoD girl, leaving Chloe alone with Miles (the coffee-jerk whose sorta working with the bad guys). Jack comes back and from his mushy moment and finds out somethings wrong and Chloe can't get the info because of something Miles did.

Re: Why the freak out?

Oh dear. So, Jack didn't ask if she was okay even though she was probably put in danger to help him, and instead went off to find the on-again off-again girlfriend? That doesn't sound good, and leaving Chloe alone with a guy who might be working with bad guys does not sound like Jack. Hmmm, I'll have to look for that in a few weeks. Doesn't sound very good.