I feel the need to warn that Chloe's a bit snipey in this one, but she wouldn't change, even when I asked her nicely ;)
Category: AU, Angst, Action, Romance
Spoilers: Season Five – ignoring the whole Chinese kidnap plot.
Season/Sequel: AU Season Five.
Content Warning: A bit of violence later on, but nothing too heavy.
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.
The fury radiated from her like a bad aura. The anger and frustration heard in every harsh tap and hit of the keyboard keys.
It hadn’t been her fault. Of that much she was certain.
The comms network had broken down during a joint mission between the CIA and CTU. A CIA agent had been killed and his partner seriously injured – he would probably be forced to retire from the field and left with an unappealing desk job. And they weren’t the only ones. Several men from both agencies had been injured.
But she wasn’t responsible for that.
She’d been gone for forty eight hours with a flu that hadn’t shifted after a week of trying to work through it. It turned out to be the worst forty eight hours to be gone for. They’d been having trouble with the comm system, and while she’d been gone the communications network had crashed completely.
It had been repaired within hours but by outside contractors. Having never worked with them before, Chloe had been reluctant to trust them without a thorough inspection of the network. But time had been of the essence and Jack, Bill and the CIA personnel had agreed that it was essential to go ahead with the mission on schedule.
The terrorist cell had been brought down, but with a lot more injuries and a lot sloppier than it would have been if she’d been able to check out the systems properly.
“Dammit, Chloe!” Jack had raged when she managed to reconnect with him, “what the hell are you doing over there?”
“Sorry, Jack. We’d a computer melt down here.”
He’d arrived back not long afterwards, sweaty, dirty, looking pissed as hell and hadn’t so much as glanced in her direction. There’d been no sign of the usual thank you she’d come to expect with a grateful smile. He hadn’t even bothered to send a cold glare in her direction, just walked on by and straight into Buchanon’s office. The debriefing had been tense and the air held an icy chill.
She’d been seething ever since.
“Chloe, I need to talk with you for a minute,” Jack announced as he walked passed her station, having obviously decided to ‘forgive’ her.
She sighed, but kept her gaze determinedly fixed at the computer screen in front of her. It drove her mad sometimes, how he expected her to come whenever he called. She jokingly told him once she was considering changing her name to Lassie.
“I don’t really have time for that now, Jack.”
He paused and swung around, staring at her, obviously surprised by her flat refusal. Slowly, he made his way back towards her and bent down until he was level with her, gazing intently at the side of her face, watching as she grew more annoyed and frowned at the flickering screen.
Eventually, just when she thought she was about to snap at him, he spoke.
“Your shift ended fifteen minutes ago, and I’m pretty hungry. Will you have dinner with me?”
“If you got down on all fours, kissed my feet and told me you couldn’t live the rest of your life without me, I wouldn’t go out to dinner with you.”
His fingers tapped a high tempo beat on the counter top. Clearing his throat, his chewed on his bottom lip. “We’re that bad?”
She finally turned and looked at him, her frown still evident in the corners of her lips. “We’re not good, Jack.”
They stared at each other intently.
He turned and found Audrey standing hesitantly nearby, “are you ready to go? If we’re lucky we’ll be able to catch a table at ‘Marseille’ before the evening rush.”
“Uh, I’m sorry Audrey, but I can’t right now. I’ll call you,” he smiled reassuringly and her forehead furrowed in confusion.
Audrey glanced between the two of them, her lips thinning dangerously. She looked ready to say something, but instead smiled tightly at them.
“Sure, I’ll talk to you later.”
He watched as she walked out of CTU and turned back to find the one person he trusted glaring at him. “So, is Audrey into threesomes or did you just forget to tell her you were going to invite me to your little romantic interlude?” She snapped as she rose from her chair gathering her stuff and heading out towards the parking lot.
She thought he’d remained behind until she reached her car and felt him grasp herarm in a firm grip as he jogged up behind her.
“Chloe, I didn’t realise…. I know I overreacted earlier, and I’m sorry. I didn’t realise it was this bad between us. I was going to go out with Audrey, but I’d much rather get this sorted out first.”
She snorted and wrangled out of his grasp. “It doesn’t matter anyway.”
“What do you mean?”
“What? I don’t…where are you going?”
“That doesn’t matter, Jack. I’m getting out of this place, it’s time. I can’t work like this anymore.” She looked away and her tongue slipped out to wet her lips, before she gathered the courage to look back at him. “Besides, what’s it to you? You’re leaving again, right? Going back to Washington with Audrey?”
He stood staring at her, like she was speaking a language he didn’t understand. She sighed and scuffed the dirt at her feet with a pointed shoe.
“I know the only reason you’ve stayed this long is to try and rebuild some sort of relationship with Kim. But that’s not working is it? So now you’re planning on going back with Defence Barbie to Washington,” he looked confused, but she’d hit a stride and didn’t seem able to stop herself. “It’s okay, Jack, I know. Audrey told me all about it,”
“Audrey?” Jack said dangerously.
“Yes, Jack, Audrey. You know that woman who sends me daggers looks every time she sees the two of us together? The woman whose bed your crawl into every night? That Audrey. She told me and to be quite frank, I’ll be glad.” She spun around on him, her eyes blazing as she poked him hard in the chest. “I’m sick of you sniping at me and blaming me for things I’ve no control over. It wasn’t my fault Logan’s tape got wiped and it wasn’t my fault you and Bill decided to go ahead with a mission when I specifically told you I didn’t think the Comm systems were ready for it. So….good riddance!” she yelled, yanking her car door open, but he stepped forward and stopped her from getting in, his heart stopping for a second.
“Chloe, you don’t mean that. Yes, Audrey’s missing Washington, but we haven’t made any decisions yet. I don’t plan on going anywhere. And I know what happened in there wasn’t your fault. I’m sorry I blamed you, I didn’t mean to.” He paused willing her to look at him, but she stubbornly refused. “You know how much I depend on you, need you.”
“No,” she interrupted, finally looking at him, “you don’t. You don’t need me Jack, you use me. And I’ve had enough. You don’t need me to keep tabs on your daughter this time. Kim knows you’re alive, I’m sure you can arrange to keep up some kind of contact with her.” With that she got into her car and drove off, leaving him watching her figure until she disappeared around the corner.
To be continued…..