Category: Angst, friendship, pre-season 3
Pairings: Morris/Chloe, Jack/Chloe pre-friendship.
Spoilers: Day 5 – only because Morris makes an appearance.
Season/Sequel: Before Day 3.
Summary: Chloe’s had a long day, but unfortunately it’s not over yet.
Content Warning: A bit of grabbing, but nothing I’d consider particularly violent :)
Her head ached, thrumming in time with each step she took further away from CTU and closer to her car. She’d stayed late…again, but then again she hadn’t much reason to rush home anyway.
She cursed silently to herself as her car keys fell from between her almost numb fingers, the sound echoing around the spacious car park. As she straightened up she felt herself grabbed from behind and pushed against the car door. Uncomfortably, the handle dug into her hip and she couldn’t help the gasp that fell from her lips, or the shock that shone from her eyes as she spun around, and came face to face with her assailant.
“Morris? What the hell…?” she struggled in his grip and he shushed her gently, easing his hands from her upper arms and glancing warily around the lot.
“What the hell are you doing here?” she hissed, equally nervous at being found talking to him.
He smiled at her, his eyes gleaming brightly. “You know me darling, I just can’t keep away from you.”
“Morris,” she intoned warningly, “whatever it is you think you’re achieving here, I can assure you it’s not working.”
“Well, what else am I meant to do when you won’t talk to me anymore?”
“We’re separated, Morris,” she rolled her eyes in exasperation. “That means we don’t talk to each other. We’re not married anymore!”
“We’re not divorced either, love.”
She sighed, rubbing her forehead tiredly. Sometimes it was like talking to a naughty five year old, only she honestly believed they’d have more sense than her soon to be ex-husband.
“How did you get in here anyway?” she asked suspiciously, only now realising he shouldn’t be anywhere near CTU since he left.
“Still have my pass card.”
“That wouldn’t work on the system,” she frowned.
“No,” Morris agreed, “but it will on our friendly security personnel.”
She clenched her teeth and glared menacingly at the security guard she could barely see in the distance. There were going to be a few personnel changes in the morning! So focused on her anger, it took her a minute to realise Morris was being unusually quiet. Glancing at him, she realised his eyes were travelling down her body, drinking everything about her. From the unkempt hairstyle to the dulled black shoes.
“Darling, what on earth have you done to yourself? Don’t get me wrong, you know I think you’d look great in a paper bag, but really, you can do much better than this! What happened to all those skirts and dresses you bought? It’s a crime not to show off those gorgeous legs of yours.” he grinned wolfishly at her, a hand resting on her hip.
Immediately she slapped him away. “Morris, just…just go home, okay? I’m tired, I’ve had a long day and I really don’t want to deal with you right now.”
“I’ve stopped drinking, Chloe,” he told her, suddenly serious, “I’ve changed, I promise.”
His desperation almost brought tears to her eyes. “It’s not enough, Morris. Not this time.”
She opened the door, but he slammed it shut again. “I need you.”
“Chloe,” he gripped her arm once again, and she winced at the strength of it, knowing she’d see a bruise in the morning. But she told herself he didn’t mean it. Just like he never meant it all those other times, whether he’d been drinking or not.
Not that her husband would ever intentionally harm her. She wasn’t a victim, her husband never physically abused her, there were just occasions when he might hold her too tightly, or stumble in a drunken haze, and grasp her too firmly. He never meant it, and he always regretted it.
“You’re hurting me,” she whispered, unable to look him in the eyes.
Immediately, his hand fell from her arm, and she heard the frustrated sigh escape from between his lips.
“We can’t end it like this, love. You know we can’t. You need me as much as I need you. Look at how much you’ve changed since we’ve been apart.”
She ground her teeth together, her jaw tightening. “I don’t care how you think I look Morris. I’m happy now. I believe you’ve changed, I know you want me to believe that. But we never work, Morris. Something always happens, always comes up.”
She took a deep breath, attempting to regain her bearings. “This isn’t easy for me either, Morris. But it’s time. Get over it. It’s what I’m doing, and you have to start doing it too.”
Desperately, his hands moved to frame her face. His long, chubby fingers felt warm and clammy against her cheeks and she attempted to shake her head, trying to loosen his grip.
“I love you, Chloe.”
“Morris! Let go of me.”
“Hey!” His head snapped to the side, seeing Jack Bauer, looking like a groused grisly, bearing down upon them. “Let go of her, O’Brian!”
“I am talking to my wife, Bauer. This is no concern of yours.”
“Harassing a member of my staff is my business. Especially when it’s on work premises. Now I suggest you back off and disappear before I decide to show you exactly what I think of men who harass their wives.”
Morris sneered at him, “Chloe doesn’t mind me being here, do you darling? Tell him.”
“I…I,” she looked between the two men, one looking menacingly, the other looking desperately pleading at her. She closed her eyes briefly and sighed. “It’s fine, Jack,” she told him in a tight, clipped voice.
Jack stared at them for a few seconds, with his steely, blue gaze. “Fine, but I’ll wait over at my car until he leaves. He shouldn’t even be on the premises, Chloe. You have five minutes O’Brian. And if you’re not gone by the time they’re up, it’ll be my pleasure to escort you away.”
Turning on his heel, Jack disappeared towards his own vehicle, while still remaining within visual range.
“Morris,” Chloe hissed, when Jack was far enough away. “You have to go now! I can’t believe you just embarrassed me in front of my boss like that! You know we’re not meant to bring our private lives to work!”
“Yes, heaven forbid the Great Jack Bauer should think you’ve actually got a life outside of this place.”
Chloe snorted impatiently, “I wouldn’t exactly say that at the minute.”
“But you can change that, love,” he smiled down at her, moving closer. “I’ve changed, Chloe, I swear it.”
The sincerity in his face made her want to believe him. It made her want to reach out and find the familiar place on his jaw where her palm seemed to fit so naturally, and pull his lips down to meet hers.
She wanted it so much she felt a physical pull somewhere in the pit of her stomach. Her eyes stung and she closed them, moving as far away from him as she could considering she was trapped between his body and the coolness of the car behind her. She couldn’t reach out to him, she knew she couldn’t. That would be the weak choice, the choice she’d made before, and she couldn’t make that decision. Not again.
She’d promised herself this time would be different. This time she wouldn’t let him worm his way back into her life, and into her heart. She refused to be one of those women who fell victim to the same lies every time, the same empty promises. She wouldn’t do it. Not this time, not ever.
Pushing him away, she stepped to the side and marched a few steps away. “I signed the divorce papers.” She finally said when she felt there was enough distance between them.
“What?” he stared, disbelievingly at her. “Divorce papers? Darling, surely you don’t… you don’t mean that.”
“I do, Morris. I signed them, and tomorrow they’ll be sitting on your lawyer’s desk.”
“No, I don’t believe it,” he moved quickly towards her and grabbed her roughly shaking her. “You can’t do that, Chloe. You can’t!”
“Morris!” she ripped herself from her grip, just before Jack grabbed his shoulders and pushed him up against a nearby Jeep.
“I warned you O’Brian,” he hissed at him, but Morris glazed eyes told him he hadn’t even heard him.
“Chloe, don’t….you don’t mean it.” His voice choked up and a tear escaped from his eye.
“You can’t do this Chloe! I love you, and you love me. Love, look at me.”
She shook her head, her small frame shaking as she stared defiantly at the cement ground.
“I think it’s time you left,” Jack told him, loosening his grip. “You’ve had your five minutes, and she doesn’t want to talk to you anymore.”
“Chloe,” the defeated tone to his voice, forced her to look at him, his pleading gaze staring back at her.
Silently, she shook her head, then cleared her throat. “It’s over, Morris. Go home.”
Whatever hope had been shining his eyes was extinguished and his shoulders slumped in defeat. Without another word he turned around and left the parking lot, Chloe following his every step with her gaze.
She was roused by a quiet, low voice at her side. “Are you okay?”
She jumped a little, but mustered a small, fake smile. “No, but I will be. I’m sorry you had to see that. It won’t happen again. I promise. I don’t bring my personal life to work.”
Cautiously, he rested a hand on her thin, stressed, shoulder. “It’s okay Chloe. I know you’d never bring outside influences into your work. But I’m worried about you. You look like you could use a drink.”
“Just one?” she quipped shakily.
He smiled, a quick chuckle escaping from between his lips. “I happen to know of a pretty good bar not far from here. Stocked with scotch.”
“And I happen to know you’re going out to dinner with Kate this evening,” she frowned at him, an eyebrow arched defiantly.
He shrugged easily. “I have time for one drink.”
Chloe blinked at him in surprise. Was her boss actually offering to buy her a drink? She couldn’t quite equate this man standing before her with the demanding, high strung, sometimes irrational man she had to pander to during working hours.
She frowned in confusion and took a few steps ahead of him. “That’s okay, I don’t want to be seen drinking with the boss anyhow. Might destroy my stellar reputation.”
“And I know how much you care about what other people think of you.”
She turned and glared at him, his lips twitching in amusement.
Rolling her eyes, she let him catch up to her, and crossed her arms. “I could do with a drink, but that’s what Chase is for.”
“Well, if you ever,” he looked away nervously, an embarrassed air coming over him, “if you ever need any help…with Morris, I mean. If he ever tries harassing you like that again, just… call me, Chloe. I mean it. Things could have gotten out of hand, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
She looked away awkwardly, until he added. “You’re the best analyst we have.”
“Morris would never harm me like that,” she snapped at him, her brow furrowed.
“I didn’t mean to…” he growled to himself, running his hand through his hair in frustration, “just promise me if you need me you’ll call me. I need you, Chloe. Please, promise me.”
In the space of a moment, she had moved from anger to confusion again. She didn’t understand it, but Jack was acting like he might actually care about her! Her stomach flitted unexpectedly at that thought.
When did that happen? And how the hell had she missed it?
She coloured, having forgotten he was waiting for an answer from her. Capturing her lip between her teeth, she looked up at him uncertainly. “I promise.”
A relieved smile shone back at her, and he immediately seemed to relax. “Good, good.”
They stood staring at each other for a moment before Jack pulled himself together. “Well, I uh, I have to go. But, I’ll see you in the morning, Chloe. Try not to drink too much. I don’t think I’d like to see you with a hangover.”
His eyes twinkled at her as he left and she moved back to her car, her thoughts whirling furiously in her head.
Turning on the ignition, she pulled out her cellphone and dialed a familiar number.
“Hey, Chase. You fancy a scotch, because I could sure go for one.”