Hi all. I won't get to see the new eps of 24 currently being shown in the US for a few weeks, but I read somewhere someone saying something about Audrey being the only one bothering to look for Jack in China. And as soon as I read those words, this fic just insisted I write it. And it didn't stop bugging me until I did write it. :)
It's not strictly Jack/Chloe as such, but I hope you enjoy it all the same.
Category: Angst, friendship, Character Death
Pairings: None really. Jack/Chloe friendship maybe?
Spoilers: Day 6.
Season/Sequel: Before Day 6.
Summary: Chloe decides there’s something Bill Buchanon needs to know.
Content Warning: Character Death
Authors’ Notes: I haven’t seen the episode yet dealing with a certain person’s death, but I wrote this in response to hearing somebody say that Chloe hadn’t tried to find Jack in China. If you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this
Disclaimer: All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of 24 and The Fox Network. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Chloe took a few deep, cleansing breaths before taking the final step at the top of the stairs. She knocked on the door out of habit more than necessity, since her boss had already seen her through the glass that was his door.
Buchanon beckoned her in, noting her nervous posture and tightly clasped hands as he took off his glasses and placed them on the desk before him.
“Chloe, what can I do for you?”
She met his eyes briefly, before sitting down on the edge of the chair opposite him. “Sir, I’m here to report an abuse of power by a CTU employee.”
“Abuse? What sort of abuse?” Bill Buchanon sought out her gaze and forced her to look back at his intense blue gaze.
“Unauthorised use of CTU equipment, intelligence and databases. As well as accessing the mainframe of not only CTU LA, but also other agencies, including those of other nations.” She said it quickly, rapidly, before she could say something stupid or lose her nerve.
She felt her palms sweat as he got up and walked to the window overlooking the floor of CTU.
“These are serious allegations, Chloe. Did you discovered this yourself?”
She hesitated momentarily, “yes, sir.”
He turned instantly and walked back to stand in front of her, the bud of suspicion blossoming in his mind. “Who is it, Chloe?”
She steadfastly met his gaze, unwilling to look away, no matter how tempted she was to do so. “It’s me, sir.”
He turned away, nostrils flaring lightly. “Why does that not surprise me? Sit down.”
She did exactly as he asked while he settled back in the chair behind his desk. His left hand ran over his jaw as he considered her from across the desk, and she wrung her hands apprehensively beneath his gaze.
“Tell me exactly what’s going on,” he eventually said his contemplation at an end.
Chloe wet her dry lips and sat forward. “For the past fifteen months I’ve been covertly helping Audrey Raines search for Jack in China. I’ve been using CTU’s facilities and resources to do this, as well as hacking into other government agencies and manipulating satellite trajectories.”
“Jack.,” he closed his eyes at the inevitability of it. Was he really surprised? “It always comes back to Jack Bauer with you Chloe, doesn’t it?”
He hadn’t meant it in a hurtful way, but Chloe still felt the sting of his words deep inside. She remained silent, knowing both that he wasn’t finished, and she wasn’t sure what to say in reply anyway.
“And Audrey Raines, in China,” she could feel his anger rising, reaching out to her, even from across the desk. “But I’m guessing the best is yet to come, since Jack isn’t standing before me and I can’t imagine you’d be owning up to this unless you were forced to.”
Chloe looked away, a pained look on her face. “Audrey was meant to contact me this morning and 06:30 hours. That was nearly two hours ago, and I still haven’t heard from her. I think something is wrong.”
“Dammit, Chloe!” Buchanon banged his fists off the table, making Chloe jump in her seat. He jumped out of the chair and marched to the window.
“What the hell were you thinking?! Audrey Raines, in China? On her own?”
“She’s not on her own!” Chloe shot back, immediately wishing she’d kept her mouth shut.
“Well, please do inform me. Who else involved in this hair brained scheme of yours?”
She swallowed hard, and met his eyes, “Chase Edmunds.”
Buchanon laughed harshly, “Chase Edmunds, an ex-agent without full physical capabilities. This defies belief!”
He suddenly stilled. “Does Secretary Heller know anything about this?”
Chloe shook her head, “He thinks Audrey’s off on diplomatic envoys or visiting relatives. I don’t know what she told him, apart from the fact that at the moment he thinks she’s in Paris.”
“Does anybody else have any knowledge of this?” he demanded, leaning over her.
Buchanon stalked back to his desk and punched a key on his phone, “get me Secretary Heller on the phone, now. It’s an emergency.” All the while he kept his angry gaze on Chloe. He waited on the line and addressed Chloe. “Leave me for a few minutes, please. I need to make a few phone calls. While you’re waiting, get me the Chinese ambassador on the phone.”
“Yes sir,” she got up meekly at left his office, his voice drifting behind her. “Sir, this is Bill Buchanon at CTU, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”
Chloe sat timidly at her desk, her unusual silence making everyone around her a little skittish. Not one sarcastic comment or piece of technical information passed her lips. She merely sat in silence, typing a letter. One which she viewed to be her final task at CTU.
On the mezzanine level, she could see Morris directing concerned glances in her direction from the conference room. Thankfully, he was kept busy with Nadia and a conference call with Division.
Less than half an hour after she’d left Buchanon’s office, she found herself back in it. The anger that had been so apparent such a short time ago had drained from his features, his voice was quiet, his face ashen, “Sit down, Chloe.”
She felt her stomach drop to her feet, the dread and foreboding taking over her body. She trembled beneath his gaze, and he barely met her eyes.
“There’s no easy way to say this, Chloe. Audrey was involved in a car accident, while rendezvousing with Chase at a local hotel. She was killed instantly. It’s just been confirmed by the Chinese Ambassador.”
Chloe felt weak, her brain refusing to process what Buchanon had just told her. It wasn’t possible, it couldn’t be. Audrey was meant to make Jack happy, that was the plan. Get Jack back, help him and watch him go be happy with Audrey. Audrey dying was not part of the equation.
“Chloe?” Buchanon called her, “do you understand what I’m saying?”
She nodded dumbly and Buchanon sighed, leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes. It was barely nine thirty and already he felt like he’d worked thirty hours straight.
“What were you thinking, Chloe?” he asked her quietly, “What the hell were you thinking? Did you honestly believe they could just walk up to the Chinese and demand Jack back?”
She sat in silence, not quite able to make her mouth function as she wanted it to. Eventually, she managed to get one word out past her lips. “Chase?” she inquired quietly.
“Flying home today.” Buchanon sighed, regarding her with frustration shining from his eyes. “I’m disappointed in you, Chloe. Not only did you use this agency’s resources without authorisation, you lied to me. I thought we’d gone through this, Chloe. We agreed there was no way to get Jack back, we tried everything, and nothing worked. You told me you were okay with that.”
Chloe’s head snapped up, “I’d never be okay with that! I never said I was okay with it; I just didn’t have a choice. After everything he’s done for us…. Jack would never just forget about us! He’d never leave any of us in the hands of sick, twisted people. Even if they do purport to be the government of another nation.”
“So you send his untrained girlfriend and an incapacitated former agent to go after him?” he shot back sharply.
“I couldn’t just leave him there!” she stopped talking suddenly, clamming up and refusing to meet his eye.
“Jack wouldn’t want this, Chloe. Look at what’s happened. Do you think Jack would really want this?”
She stood up sharply, tears stinging at the corners of her eyes. But she wouldn’t cry, not now, not in front of him.
She produced an envelope and pushed it across the table towards him. “It’s my letter of resignation, effective immediately. I’ll be waiting at home until the official charges are ready and division decide to arrest me.”
Buchanon considered the envelope in front of him before staring at her as he ripped it in half. She stared in shock at him.
“What are you doing?”
“Nobody discovered your extra curricular use of our networks. So, that means only the two of us know of your little… project.”
“But Secretary Heller-”
“Knows we got an anonymous tip about his daughter being in China.”
Chloe stared at him, still not quite grasping what he was saying.
“You’re not running out on us just because you feel bad. We need you; do you have any idea how difficult it would be to find a suitable replacement?” he let the question hang in the air and she looked away guiltily.
“No, Chloe, I’m not letting you go home to play the martyr to Jack Bauer and wait to be arrested while living in the comfort that it was all for the sake of Jack.” His voice grew louder, deadlier and harsher. “You will stay here and work, and suffer with the knowledge that you had a hand in the death of Audrey Raines. Don’t think I’m foolish enough to believe that she would have gone without your help, or Chase’s. And no more searching for Jack. It’s too late Chloe, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be cruel, but you have to face facts and try to move on. Jack wouldn’t want you to become obsessed with this. It ends, here. And, nobody else will ever know of this, do you understand? I don’t want a word of this breathed to another living soul, Chloe. Not ever.”
She nodded quickly, in a daze.
“But mark my words, Chloe,” he added dangerously, “there will be no more lies between us. You will work your butt off for me from now on. I want nothing flying under the radar, I want to know exactly what you’re working on every day and if you ever try a stunt like this again I will have no problem in throwing your ass into the nearest holding cell. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”
“Good,” he replied already focusing on something else. “Now get out.”
She left his office, unsure how she managed to get back to her desk.
“Darling, what’s wrong?” Morris stood beside her, as tears blurred her vision.
“Audrey Raines is dead,” she whispered.
He gathered her to him, but she didn’t respond, just continued staring straight ahead, her vision blurred and eyes aching.
“I’m so sorry, Chloe,” Morris said soothingly, his chest rumbling against her cheek. “I know she was a friend of yours.”
Chloe nearly laughed. She’d never thought of Jack’s girlfriend as a friend. But she supposed that’s what they could have been considered. Friends.
In truth she hadn’t really been thinking of her, and she felt a twinge of guilt for that. Audrey was dead, and she couldn’t even say she was mourning her death. All she could think about was that she was responsible for Audrey Raines death and Jack Bauer would never forgive her when he came back. And he would come back, she knew that, as sure as she knew that she would carry her secret involvement in Audrey Raines’ demise with her until she went to her grave.
Copyright ©, 2007 held by the author