I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about coming to the end of this story. On the one hand, I'm really going to miss writing this, because I think it's been one of my favourite stories to write, but on the other hand I'm just thrilled I actually managed to finish it! It's my longest 24 fic, and there were a few moments when I wondered if it would ever get done.
Thank you to everyone who has commented and reviewed. I appreciated all your input and feedback, and I only hope the ending is what you were hoping for :)
Chloe yawned, the eyes closing in her head, but she was determined to get some work done. She settled down onto the mattress with her laptop and papers spread out in front of her on the duvet. Surveying it with a critical eye, she frowned as she tidied up some of the loose papers and pens.
Feeling the onset of a headache, she wondered once again if she’d made the right choice in deciding to pursue her PhD. The college had been quite content with her teaching with her current qualifications, but it had been her own insecurities and ambitions that had prompted the decision.
She’d always planned on doing her PhD one day, and she’d always felt a little different when all the other lecturers and Professors had theirs. So, she’d taken eighteen months off from her lecturing and got her head down to the books.
Eight months in, and she wished it was over. MIT had a job waiting for her when she qualified, or even before, but she refused to go back now with her tail between her legs. She had set her mind to doing this, and she was damn well going to make sure she achieved it.
It wasn’t easy having Jack on the other side of the country either, and in a different time zone. For the past ten months they’d been travelling back and forth every few weeks. And she cherished every minute they spent together, her only regret being when they had to say goodbye to each other at the airport.
Although, she wouldn’t change it for the world. Being with Jack had been completely different from anything she’d ever thought. Whatever her imagination may have dreamt up in the middle of the lonely nights in Boston, it was nothing compared to the reality. For a man who had brought such pain, blood and death to others, his gentleness and tenderness had at times amazed her. His attentiveness, thoughtfulness and sweetness were something she hadn’t thought of before.
She shook her head of her thoughts, frowning as she attempted to study the text in front of her. She rolled her eyes as the phone beside her rang, yet another distraction.
“What?” she snapped into the handset.
“Well, good evening to you too, darlin’,” came the amused response.
“Chase?” immediately her books were forgotten and she smiled.
“Hi Chloe, how are you?”
“Tired. I forgot how much I hate being a student. Probably why I didn’t do my PhD in the first place.”
She heard his laughter down the line and it reminded her of how long it had been since she’d last seen him.
“I miss you,” she said suddenly. “And Angela.”
“We miss you too. When are you heading back west?”
She gathered her papers away, finally admitting she wasn’t going to get any more work done that evening, and swung her legs out of the bed. “I’m flying out to Jack’s on Thursday night.”
“Meet you for lunch on Friday then? Assuming Jack doesn’t have some wild, romantic plans for you?”
She rolled her eyes, “you’re just jealous because you’re not as romantic as him.”
The doorbell rang, and she groaned.
“That the door?”
“Yeah,” she grumbled, “but if I ignore them, they’ll go away.”
A loud knocking started on the door and Chloe marched into the living room. “Go away!” she yelled at the door.
Her answer came in the form of an even louder banging on the wooden frame. “Oh for God… Chase hang on a second.”
She moved forward and wrenched the door open, eyes blazing. “What do-”
Her eyes widened and she pulled the phone back to her ear. “Chase, I’ll call you back.”
“Hey,” the smile spread across his face as his sharp, intense eyes took in her hair pulled back in a rough ponytail and the soft flannel pyjamas she was wearing.
“Jack,” her voice was breathy and stolen from her a moment later as he surged forward and kicked the door closed behind him, kissing her insistently. The phone forgotten, it clattered to the wooden floor and Chloe found herself being suddenly pressed back into the couch, eagerly returning Jack’s growing passion.
Already his hands were roaming beneath her top, eliciting small moans and mewls from her. Impatiently, he pulled at the buttons, but they refused to budge. Growling, he finally pulled his mouth from hers and his gaze narrowed at the small impediments to his goal. Finally, he ripped them off, small buttons falling around the floor and between the cushions.
She gasped as she watched them fall like confetti and felt him roughly push back the soft material.
“I’ll buy you a new set,” he muttered, already going to task of leaving a trail of kisses down her neck and across her breasts.
She pulled up his sweater, sighing in satisfaction as she finally felt the rough hair of his chest against her smooth skin.
She made light work of the belt buckle and quickly rid him of his pants and boxers. He groaned in pleasure, as her hot little hands trailed down his body and her nails dug almost painfully into the small of his back.
“I want you inside me now,” she demanded breathlessly.
He growled possessively and willingly complied with her command. He was hot, and hard, and fast. She came quickly, his name escaping in a high octane breath from her mouth. It was enough to send him over after her, kissing her collar bone as he came back down to earth.
He collapsed on top of her, and she practically purred in his ear.
“God, I missed you,” he whispered, pushing back her hair.
She grinned up at him, “really, I hadn’t noticed.”
He chuckled deeply, sending a shiver running through her and pressing a quick kiss to her lips.
“Come on,” he said, getting up, and pulling her up with him, “I’ll make you a coffee.”
He sauntered off towards the kitchen, unconcerned with his nakedness, and Chloe took full advantage to enjoy the view.
When he disappeared around the corner, she went into her bedroom and threw on one of the large overgrown MIT sweaters in her wardrobe.
“So,” she said, when she followed him through to the kitchen. “How did you end up at my doorstep at nine forty five on a Tuesday evening?”
She smacked him on the arm, before leaning on his shoulder and watching as he made the coffee, as if it were as fascinating as the matrix of the CTU computer server.
“Not that I don’t appreciate the visit, but what are you doing here? Don’t you have to work tomorrow?”
“Actually, I don’t.” he glanced down at the dark head resting on his shoulder, trying to gauge her reaction to his next words. “I no longer work for CTU, LA.”
Her head immediately flew from his shoulder and she stared at the side of his face unblinking. “Excuse me? Jack, what the hell happened?”
“Well,” he turned around and put him arms loosely around her waist, “I got offered a new job I couldn’t refuse.”
Chloe looked at him sceptically, trying to imagine him working for anyone other than CTU.
“A new job?”
“Yeah,” his mouth curved upwards at the corners and he looked at her through half lidded eyes. “They’re starting up a new facility for training new CTU agents, and they want me to be director of Field Ops training.”
She bit her lip, attempting not to let the smile crawl across her face, a mixture of relief and joy running through her. She loved Jack being an agent, but knowing he’d be safe, away from the front line just made her that much happier. “Are you sure this is what you want?”
He nodded, kissing her on the lips. “Definitely. I’m getting on, Chloe, I’m not the same man I was when I first joined up. The years and injuries are taking their toll.”
“You’re not exactly infirm, Jack,” she replied, rolling her eyes.
“Damn right,” he growled pulling her closing and pressing a kiss to her mouth. “But this way, I still get to use my field training and help train new recruits. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge.”
“Wow, an army of Jack Bauers. Be still my beating heart,” she smirked, poking him in the chest.
“You haven’t heard the best part yet.” He murmured close to her ear, feeling the shiver than ran down her spine.
“And that would be?”
“The loc….” Her eyes widened as she let her words drift off, staring at his beaming smile and refusing to believe he could possibly be implying what she thought.
“Acton,” he whispered in her ear.
She couldn’t have stopped the smile on her face even if she’d wanted to. The muscles around her mouth began hurting, but she didn’t care. “That’s, that’s just a few miles outside of Boston.”
“I always knew you had a good grasp of geography.”
“You’re moving to Boston?”
“That’s the best news I’ve had all week.” She threw herself into his arms, laughing and smiling, unable to believe it was possible to be this happy.
“I guess this means you’ll be looking for space in my sock drawer.” She drawled, pulling back to look at him.
“No,” he shook his head, tracing her cheek with his finger. “I’m not moving in here, Chloe.”
Her eyebrows immediately drew together into a frown, and she stepped away from him, a million different thoughts and emotions vying for her attention in her mind.
“Chloe,” he called to get her attention.
“No,” she replied, not looking at him, “it’s okay, Jack. I mean if you think it’s too soon for us to move in together. That’s okay.”
“No,” he moved forward and rubbed her shoulders lightly. “I shouldn’t have said it like that. It came out wrong.” He tipped her chin up so that he could look into her eyes. “You know I love you, don’t you?”
“Of course,” she replied without hesitation.
“Okay, just, hang on a minute,” he smiled reassuringly at her and disappeared into the living room.
“I wasn’t planning on doing it like this,” he said as he reappeared by her side, his boxers having made a reappearance, while Chloe tried not to dwell on her disappointment at that development.
“In boxers?” she questioned him confused.
“No,” he chuckled taking one of her hands in his. “I’m not going to move in here, Chloe, because I want us to move. Both of us. I want us to buy a house, outside the city, somewhere quiet, somewhere without nosy neighbours and noisy sirens. Just you and me.”
“Really?” she asked a sheen of moisture in his eyes.
“Yeah, in fact,” he uncurled his fist and she gasped when she saw the small black, velvet box in the palm of his hand, “there’s something I was going to ask you.”
Her hands magnetically went to the box, and her fingers hovered above it, looking up at him in a daze.
“Open it,” he urged her.
Carefully, she lifted the lid and gasped when she saw the platinum band inside with the small, but beautifully cut diamond sitting prominently in the centre.
“Jack,” she whispered, feeling the trail of a single tear run down her cheek, but unable to brush it away.
“Chloe,” he whispered quietly, and she raised her eyes to his, seeing the love and vulnerability shining back at her, “will you marry me?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” she punctuated her response raining kisses all over his face, and he laughed, burying his face in her hair.
He swung her around, causing her to squeal before placing back on her feet, and took out the shining ring, placing it on her finger. “Do you like it?”
“I love it,” she grinned up at him.
“Good. I wasn’t sure if you’d rather pick one yourself, but I was going by the jewellers the other day and I saw it. And I knew I had to get it for you Chloe.”
“Thank you,” she said staring at the ring on her finger, then turning to kiss him deeply. “I love you so much.”
“I love you too, baby.” He leaned his forehead against her, his bare arms wrapped tightly around her.
“Aren’t you cold?” she asked her eyebrow cocked.
“No,” he replied, kissing the corner of her mouth, “but if you want to warm me up, I have no objections.”