Title: Seattle Interlude
Category: General, friendship
Spoilers: Day 4.
Season/Sequel: Between Day 4 and Day 5.
Summary: In response to the Chlack Cliché Ficathon – “One of them getting soaking wet and the other must use body heat to keep them from getting hypothermia.”
Content Warning: Character Death
Authors’ Notes: There really is no plot to this, and...it is a cliché fic. But seriously, very little plot!
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.
Most normal people took their vacation on faraway beaches, or on the ski slopes, or even just a trip to the big city to do some shopping and see a show.
But then again, she wasn’t most normal people.
In all honesty, she’d planned on spending her vacation back home in Detroit. It had been months since she’d last really spoken to her family, let alone seen them. And in the end the guilt and responsibility had nagged at her conscience enough for her to book a week off and get a ticket back home.
But that was before a brief phone call twenty four hours ago. Hearing his voice had changed everything. Not only had she cancelled her ticket home, she’d taken her vacation two weeks earlier than planned. She’d left a message on Bill Buchanon’s answering machine and switched off her cell. She didn’t think he was going to be too pleased by the time she got back to LA.
But the urgency in his voice had sent alarm bells ringing in her head and she knew that he needed her.
Which went someway to explain what she was doing in a clean, but out the way motel room somewhere near Seattle. She pushed back the dark curtains and stared out of the window, glaring at the large drops of water that crashed against the glass pane. It reminded her of a scene from a cheesy horror movie. The setting was just right.
It was the middle of the night, the rain was thundering down and every now and again flashes of lightning would brighten the room thrown into darkness by the power cut a few hours before. She had been watching Conan O’Brien before the lights had flickered twice and plunged her into darkness. In fairness, the motel manager had knocked on her door not long afterward clad in a rainproof jacket and thrust four candles and a packet of matches into her hand, before shooting off to the next room.
Wrapping her dressing gown, more firmly around her, she squinted at the face of her watch in the dancing candle light. That was three hours ago, and Jack was twenty minutes late. She felt the pull of worry twist her gut.
She recalled how she’d snapped at him when she’d got the phone call yesterday evening. She hadn’t recognised the number and was in no humour to entertain telemarketing people. As soon as she’d heard the relieved sigh however, she knew it was him.
The phone call had been brief and unexpected, but it had been clear what he needed her to do. He needed to move on, needed a new identity. Something had happened, had gone wrong, but of course he wouldn’t tell her what it was and she wasn’t going to risk arguing with him over it.
She started pacing the room, angry at how useless and helpless she was to do anything. It would have been better in Tony were here, at least he and Jack were actual friends. She wasn’t sure what she’d describe her and Jack as. They were certainly more than just work colleagues, but the word ‘friend’ didn’t quite sit right with her either. They’d grown closer over the past ten months, she hadn’t realised how deep the emotional side of Jack Bauer went when she first started working with him.
After a few months she’d learned to see past his rugged good looks get to know the man beneath the macho image. She’d always found him attractive – what straight woman wouldn’t? And it had been her job to at CTU to look after him and take care of him. But these past few months seemed to have a formed a bond between them that went beyond even friendship. She wasn’t sure there was a word in the English language to describe their relationship.
Repeated banging on the door brought her pacing to an end and had her flying towards the door. Glancing through the peephole to confirm her suspicions, she threw open the door and quickly ushered him inside, taking a quick sweeping view of the horizon, noting nothing out of the ordinary.
She leaned against the closed door and took in his dripping persona.
“Yeah,” his voice was rough and hoarse. “Nobody followed you from the airport?”
“I wouldn’t be here if they had, Jack.”
Her eyes drifted towards the thick carpet. “I think you’re causing puddles. They could leave a water mark.”
“Sorry,” her eyes snapped to his face at the sound of his voice, and for the first time she met his haggard gaze, and drawn features. His clothes were streaked with rivulets of water, and the canvas travel case hanging over his shoulders looked almost too big for his frame.
Her face transformed into concern. “You look terrible.”
His mouth twisted wryly. “Thanks, Chloe.”
She coloured and taking his hand and one of the candles, she lead him towards the bathroom. “You can’t use the shower, it’s electric, but there are clean towels in there. There’s an extra dressing gown hanging on the back of the door, and-”
“Chloe,” he halted her tirade by gazing directly into her dark eyes. “It’s fine. Thank you. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
She nodded and moved back towards the bed, sitting down, a whole new kind of nervousness enveloping her. She chewed on her bottom lip wondering if she could really just leave him tomorrow now. He didn’t look good. His hair was a bit longer than the last time she’d seen him, and his clothes looked like they’d been well worn.
He appeared at the door a few moments later, and she winced as she felt the stinging pain of turning her head too quickly in his direction. She frowned as she noted that although his appearance wasn’t quite how she remembered it; the man still knew how to fill out a pair of jeans. She shook away her unwanted thoughts as he moved towards her and stood at the foot of the bed.
Despite the change of clothes, she could see the goose flesh along his arms, and the way he tried to stop the shivering that had overtaken his body.
“Have you got them?” he asked urgently, his eyes scouring the room, and apparently looking at anything but her.
“Yeah,” Chloe got up and lifted her suitcase from beside the wardrobe. Opening it, she produced a large brown envelope and passed it across to him.
“Thank you,” he said gratefully, actually looking at her. She shrugged as he emptied the contents across the bed.
“Yeah, it’s all there, Jack. Passport, driving licence, birth cert, and a new cell.”
Jack gathered up the final bits and put them back. Walking over to her, he smiled down at her, brightening up his face for a short while. “Chloe, thank you. I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”
She looked away, his intense gaze making her uncomfortable. “It’s what I do, Jack. What’s going on? Are you okay?”
“I’m going to be fine, Chloe. Don’t worry about me. the less you know the better. Trust me.”
She frowned but nodded, if he asked her to trust him that was good enough for her. Although, he still looked pale.
He sighed, and looked down at his watch. “I really should go.”
“What?” her eyebrows drew together in an angry line. “Jack, you’re not going anywhere. Have you seen what it’s like out there? They’re advising everyone not to drive unless it’s absolutely necessary. Besides, look at you. I’m not sending you back out in that. You’re staying here.”
“No arguments, Jack. I can tell you’re shivering. If you think we saved your ass just to have you die from hypothermia, you can think again!”
Jack looked sheepishly down at the ground. “If you’re sure?”
She rolled her eyes, “Jack, I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t mean it.”
“Thank you,” he said gratefully, sinking down unto a nearby chair.
“Will you quit saying that? It’s nothing.”
She sat heavily down on the couch and watched as he sat down on one of the nearby chairs, holding his head in his hands. He seemed tired and unhappy, and she didn’t know what to do to make it better. So they sat in uncomfortable silence, Chloe sending concerned glances his way, while the flickering of the candles only allowed her to see the shadows that covered his head. It unsettled her.
Within a few moments he raised his head and she could see the uncertainty and hope shining from his eyes in the dim light.
“Have you seen Kim?”
Chloe swallowed and looked away, suddenly grateful for the lack of clear light. His daughter was a subject Jack brought up on the rarest of occasions. She had always thought it was because it was too painful for him, and she didn’t relish the thought of telling him about her now. Chloe was an appallingly bad liar, and she didn’t think she could tell Jack that his daughter seemed to have turned into an alcoholic and had lost the man she loved and the child she grew to because of it.
“I haven’t seen her Jack,” she replied truthfully, “but I hear she’s doing as well as could be expected in the situation.”
She glanced at him, his head lowered and she saw his hand raise to rub across his forehead.
Chloe resisted the urge to roll her eyes, and merely frowned. “I haven’t seen or heard from her since she left for Washington after your funeral.”
She hesitated and immediately Jack picked up on it and focused his intense gaze on her warmly lit profile, her bottom lip caught between her teeth.
“Whatever it is Chloe, tell me.” He moved from the chair and sat beside her on the bed, urging her to look at him. “Did something happen to Audrey?”
“No,” Chloe scowled, crossing her arms.
“So…” Jack prompted her.
Uncertainly she met his gaze, “Mr Buchanon was in Washington on some state function and he said he saw her…and her new boyfriend. He works for the department of finance.”
Jack stared at her for a minute, and she began to wonder if she should just have kept her mouth shut. Eventually, he looked away, a wry smile forming on his lips. “I guess it had to happen sometime. I am dead after all.”
Chloe held back the urge to tell him it would take her longer than a few months to get over the man she loved, but in the end decided against it.
“That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t hurt,” she settled for instead.
Jack smiled sadly at her, “I guess.”
She reached out and touched the back of his hand, almost recoiling at the chilled skin. “Jack, you’re freezing!”
“I’ll be fine.” He insisted.
She reached out and placed her hand on his forehead and touched the end of his nose.
“Dammit, Bauer! Out of those clothes and into bed, now!”
He looked strangely at her, his face contorted into a wry smile. “My mom was never that mean.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not your mother, Jack.”
“No,” he agreed staring intently at her, “you’re not.”
She moved away uncomfortable and turned her back to him, hearing him lower the zip of his jeans and the soft thud of the material fall to the floor.
She turned around, finding him buried in bed clothes, and moved around the room blowing out the candles. Outside the rain still pounded heavily against the glass and she shivered as she took off her dressing gown, revealing her soft pink tank top and matching dark grey bottoms.
Jack raised an inquisitive eyebrow, as she moved around the bed and he held the covers back for her.
“Thanks,” she murmured, slipping beneath the covers and determined to stay as close to her side of the bed as possible. Until he reached across and pulled her firmly against his chest, entangling himself with her.
She resisted the urge to squeal or panic, and urged her body to give up its rigid stiffness. Already, she could feel the warmth of her body flowing from her and seeping through his muscles. And she had to admit, the coarse hair of his calves were a surprisingly pleasant contrast to the smoothness of her legs
His lips moved beneath her ear, and her heart rate immediately increased. “You’re right Chloe, it is cold. At least this way you can keep me warm. The last thing I need right now in hypothermia.”
She shivered and heard the rumble of his chuckle bounce off her shoulder. He relaxed and within minutes had drifted off to sleep. Chloe stayed wide awake for sometime later, trying to process this surreal situation. She was in bed with Jack Bauer. If she looked down she could see his large arm wrapped around her middle, and she felt the weight of his head against the curve of her neck. As her mind finally drifted off to sleep, she realised there were worse ways to spend a vacation.
Her mind was groggy when the morning came. She groaned and attempted to stretch, but found herself confined. Opening her eye a crack she found herself face to face with a warm chest, sprinkled with light hair. She frowned willing her mind to whirr a bit faster. Eventually, it all came back to her. Her and Jack in the same bed in a motel outside Seattle. Although the last thing she recalled was sleeping with her back to Jack’s chest. How she managed to turn around and become even more entangled with him she couldn’t say.
She shifted her legs experimentally and discovered that while Jack appeared to be asleep certain other parts of him certainly weren’t.
“I’m guessing you don’t keep your side arm down there,” she murmured to herself.
“Sorry,” the gravely reply came from above her as he buried his face in the softness of her hair.
She didn’t realise why she was surprised by the answering voice. This was Jack Bauer. The man was the definition of a light sleeper. Hell, he probably would waken with the sound of a cricket outside his door.
“Don’t worry about it,” she answered, trying to keep her voice steady. “Morris was much worse. Sometimes I’d wake in the morning and it was like having a pool cue stuck in my back.”
She scrunched her eyes shut, regretting the words almost immediately. “That was inappropriate.”
Jack pressed his lips against the top of her head and pushed back so that she could see the smile on his face. “Yeah it is. But it’s okay.”
They lay in silence for a few minutes, Jack apparently in no hurry to let her go. She soaked up the feeling of laying in his arms, cataloguing and memorising it for future use.
“So, do you think we should have sex now?”
“What?” his shocked face almost made her smile, but she quelled the urge and shrugged instead.
“Well, it’s quite clear at least one part of you wouldn’t object, and I haven’t had sex in a while.”
“Chloe,” he growled, “that’s not a good idea.”
“Why not? It’s not like either of us are married.”
“It’s just…it’s not a good idea, okay?”
“Oh,” she replied, lowering her eyes.
Immediately Jack stilled above her. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I didn’t say anything.”
“You didn’t have to. You did that thing you do.”
“What thing?” she demanded, her eyes flying to his again.
“That thing…the little ‘oh’ followed by the disappointed and hurt silence.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes you did. I recognise it. You did the same thing when I told you I was moving to Washington.”
“No I didn’t. Besides, that was a hurt ‘oh,’ it was an understanding ‘oh.’ There’s a difference.”
“Yeah,” she admitted quietly. “It’s okay, Jack. I get it. I know I’m not your type. I’m not like Audrey, or Kate. Glamorous isn’t really a word I’d associate with myself.” she smiled wryly to herself before finding herself rolled onto her back, with her arms pinned by her side and Jack Bauer hovering over her looking angry and annoyed. His blue eyes bored into hers and she couldn’t have looked away even if she wanted to.
Jack stared down at her shocked face, her eyes wide and dark, her mouth opened in a silent gasp. He leaned down and brushed his lips against her cheek, letting them travel to her left ear.
“You have no idea who you are to me,” he whispered gruffly in her ear, feeling her shivering beneath him.
He closed his eyes letting his forehead rest against hers, and loosening the grip on her arms. Carefully, she lifted her hand and ran it through his fine sandy hair.
Raising his head, he grabbed her wrist and pressed a quick kiss to the inside of her palm. “I have to go.”
She nodded quietly, and watched as he got up and donned the jeans and tee shirt he’d thrown onto the nearby chair the night before. She got out of the bed, busying herself with wrapping the dressing gown around her. She jumped when she felt his hands land on her shoulders and spin her around. He pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her petite frame and lifting her until she stood on her toes in a warm hug. Letting her go, she smiled up at him.
“You’re not as cold as you were last night.”
“Yeah, thanks for that.”
“All in a night’s work.” Her face grew worried again, her mouth twitching at the corners. “Will you be all right now?”
He nodded, slinging the canvas bag back over his shoulder. “Yeah, I’ll call you on the nineteenth.”
She nodded, and he reached out, rubbing his hand down her arm, a soft look in his eyes. “I’ll see you soon.”
“Yeah,” she answered, watching as he left the room, the door closing quietly behind him. “See you soon, Jack.”
Behind her the television flickered to life as the early morning news appeared on the screen.