CEO, Air Perv (zoi_no_miko) wrote in 24slash,
CEO, Air Perv
zoi_no_miko
24slash

Months or Years - Day 4

Title: Months or Years (Sloth) - Day 4
Author: Zoi no miko
Characters/Pairing: Jack Bauer / Tony Almeida
Word Count: 3280
Rating: PG for homoerotic themes and angst.
Disclaimer: The people, characters and show do not belong to me and I do not make any money off of them/it.
Author's Notes:Things not shown during Day 4. Jack re-thinks his priorities on who he really loves.
(Spoilers for Seasons 1-4.)
Crossposted to jack_tony so my apologies to those of you who might get it twice...

Months or Years

I suppose I brought it on myself. Stupid to fall in love with a married woman, even a separated one. Separated still meant not sure, no matter how many times as I tried to tell myself otherwise. No matter how many times she came to me. It was far too easy to love Audrey, though. She had this unique mix of strength and vulnerability that awoke in me feelings that I hoped I wouldn't encounter toward another human being again. And she said she loved me. Loved me, but not enough to make it real. Not enough to tell her father. And not enough to end the complicated estrangement with her ex husband, who she said she didn't love.

I, the fool that I was, believed her. Or maybe I was just willing to take the risk, to love her anyway. At the time, I didn't have much else.

I hated Paul Raines, more passionately than I will ever admit. So much that my stomach would curdle any time we even got near the subject. I hated him for hurting her, for being in the way. For getting to her first. And most of all, I hated him for that tiny, dark corner of my heart that said, "if you were good enough, Jack, she would have divorced him long ago."

Then I had to face him, right after almost losing Audrey and her Father. Had to watch that smirky bastard talk to my Audrey, and even then, she wouldn't even tell him. Still kept hiding it, even after I'd saved her life. Women are so damn complicated sometimes.

When we ran into trouble, Tony wasn't far from my mind. Tony was never far from my mind, but after everything that had happened already in the day, after the stress of not knowing what would happen to Audrey, after dealing with Driscol, after watching Audrey and Paul, I needed the strength that he gave me just by being near. So I called him, for the first time in almost a year, and he didn't let me down, though I didn't realize how much it would hurt to see him like he was, a shell of his former self.

I'd heard about Michelle, heard about the drinking, but it still shocked me to see how he was. To think about him sitting around, doing nothing for months, to think of his talent and passion entirely wasted to drink and some shit relationship with a bar whore who had no respect for him. To hear him say that he didn't want to see me, wanted to forget about everything from that time. For a moment, I thought I'd lost him, a thought that left my mind reeling, left me entirely numb, even with Audrey there. Then he declared that he would go with me to stop Powell, and I found I could breathe again.

I tried to concentrate on driving, on what needed to be done, but it was difficult, with him sitting next to me after so long apart. Finally he spoke. "I didn't know you were with someone."

I watched him out of the corner of my eye, watched his hurt, his anger. After so long, Tony was an open book to me. "I didn't know you were with anyone, either."

Tony rolled his eyes. "Jen? She's nothing, you know that."

I snorted, not pulling any punches. "She's a complete shrew, Tony. You deserve better. I hope at least she's good in bed."

He looked at me silently for a long moment, keeping his face calm apart from a little twist of the mouth, and I knew he was about to test me. "Not as good as you."

I felt a shiver of desire at his words, and concentrated on marshaling every muscle into complete control, to avoid any kind of response, but found myself gripping the steering wheel tighter. Sometimes it was almost laughable, that I could withstand interrogation and torture, but not Tony. "Tony... I'm with Audrey."

"Yeah." He let out a long breath. "You've found your Michelle."

I narrowed my eyes slightly. Let him see that it angered me. "That is absolutely not fair of you to say."

He shrugged, non committally. "We're almost there."

We got out of the SUV, like a well-oiled machine, hardly even having to talk, and worked in perfect synchronization to have Powell pinned down in minutes. God, I'd missed him. I'd missed how well we worked together, how we spoke each other's body language and non-verbal queues as easy as breathing, like we'd learned it from birth. I'd missed the security of feeling like someone would have my back, no matter what. And I saw a bit of life come into his eyes as we worked, and knew I couldn't let that spark go out.

When it was, for the moment, done - Powell dead, the sniper gone, and shell shocked pilot in the back of the SUV, we stood in silence by the vehicle for a time - Tony playing lookout, me idly going through Powell's bag a second time, though I didn't think I'd find anything. Finally I turned to look at him, half leaning against the side of the truck. "You know... you never answered my question, back at your place."

He glanced over at me. "Didn't think you'd want me bringing up certain details in front of your girlfriend."

I found myself staring at the roof where the sniper had been, just to have someplace to focus on other than him. "So... why didn't you call, Tony?"

I could see him out of the corner of my eye, but he didn't turn look at me. "You could have contacted me just as easily."

I swallowed, biting my tongue for a moment, until I could speak without displaying my anger, or my hurt. "I did contact you."

For a moment, he didn't respond. Then he took a step closer to me. "I told you I couldn't meet you that day. I legitimately couldn't come, Jack. I wasn't blowing you off."

"But you also said you'd call. You didn't. You just can admit that you didn't want to see me, you know. Just tell me the truth."

"I wanted to see you, but... Jack, you weren't even in LA anymore."

I felt angrier now, and switched tactics, from calm discussion to irrational anger, turning to him. "Come on, Tony! Don't make excuses! You pushed me away just like you did Michelle!"

He flinched visibly, one hand clenching into a fist, pulling back. "You son of a - "

I tensed, waiting for the blow to land. I wanted it to land. At least it would be something, some reaction, some sign of my old Tony. But it didn't, and when I looked back to him, he had backed down, taken a step back, his jaw trembling ever so slightly.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, looking away.

I let out a long, slow breath, letting my head fall back against the van. "Look, did you...." I stopped, and clamped down on what I really wanted to ask. Things were complicated enough already, and even if I asked I wasn't sure if sure it wouldn't be a truthful answer, not now. I gave a little shake of my head and looked back at him. "Never mind. Sorry I even brought this up."

He was silent for a long moment, and brown eyes, sorrowful, searched mine. "Jack... I gotta know something. And maybe this isn't the time, but... with our track record maybe I won't get another chance."

I felt myself half smile with a little sigh of regret. It was true. "What is it, Tony?"

He stepped over Powel's body to stand in front of me, hands lightly resting on the van on either side, looking up at me silently for a long moment, his voice very low. "The day I got arrested... when you came to see me at Division...." His eyes flicked away, but only for a second before turning back to me, serious. At that moment I could read in him what it had done to him - prison, losing Michelle, losing CTU, and my heart ached for him, ached worse that he hadn't come to me for support. He swallowed. "Did you mean what you said?"

His question was hardly above a whisper, but there was no doubt as to what he referred to. I closed my eyes for a moment, clenching my jaw, trying to bite back everything that I wanted to say. "Yeah," I finally managed to whisper, hating myself for the admission. I couldn't afford to be vulnerable, not today, not with so much at stake.

Then I heard him speak. "Jack... me too."

I looked up at him, a thrill of surprise running down my spine as I did. "... yeah?"

Brown eyes watched me quietly, then lowered in admission. "Yeah."

I wanted so badly to kiss him then, to pull him to me, Audrey be damned. It took every inch of willpower to hold back, to remember the chopper pilot, and the fact that CTU would be here any minute. I drew a soft breath, questioning what I was saying, what I was feeling. Was it just because I was so angry, so disillusioned with Audrey? No... I'd always wanted Tony, even in the times when I couldn't admit it, and the times when I didn't have the courage to say it. "Tony... I don't want it to be months or years before I see you again."

He gave a soft sigh, expression betraying nothing more of a reaction to my words, and stepped away from me. "Don't know if there's much we can do about that."

"I'll figure something out," I found myself saying, though I didn't know what. "Just... help me with this for now. Stay with me. I really need your help."

Tony managed a little smile, but I thought I could see some hope in it. "Sure. I will." His fingers touched my arm, just barely a brush, but somehow it seared the sensation into my skin. "I should go question the pilot one more time before they get here."

I nodded. "I'll call CTU. Be careful."

~~~~

As the day went on, it became more and more apparent that my Audrey was not as much my Audrey as she pretended to be. As much as she tried to be. I don't think she did it purposefully, don't think she ever meant to lead me on. But Paul was right... she did have feelings for him, and I could hear it in her voice as well as he could. Take care of Paul, she said. She might as well have shot me in the gut.

I wondered then if I was making the right choice... sticking around in the hopes that she'd make the right decision, or any decision at all. It wasn't about love in the beginning, just two consenting adults with a mutual attraction. It was all I wanted, all I'd ever wanted from a woman since Teri's death. But she got under my skin, wormed her way in with her sweet vulnerability, telling me she loved me.... I didn't feel it, I reflected, not until she said it. I felt affection, friendship, yes, but not love. Not until I was faced with those words. Maybe I didn't love her so much after all.

When we returned, I could tell that what I'd feared was correct. She didn't mean to, but she pulled away from me, to go to his side, and I was alone again. I was stupid, to fall for a married woman. I didn't want to just be the next in line anymore.

I caught Tony's arm as CTU prepped for me to go undercover with Dina Araz, keeping my voice low. "I need a moment with you in private."

He glanced over at me. "We don't have a lot of time, Jack...."

"Just a moment," I repeated calmly, and punched into an empty holding room, tugging him inside with me to the monitoring station, out of sight of surveillance. "I know we don't have time, but I can't leave this undone," I said calmly, then took his face in my hands and leaned in to kiss him.

It had been so long, far too long since the last time I did this, but kissing him still brought the achingly familiar pulse of desire, of need. I'd almost forgotten how good it felt to be pressed close to him, to feel his arms around me, almost forgotten the scent of him. But all of that came flooding back with the warmth of his kisses, all the things that I never expected to have, to feel again. All the things that I wanted to cling to and never let go of, but had to. I forced myself to break from the kiss, fingers slipping into his hair, drawing back just enough to look at him.

"Tony... when this is all over...."

His eyes darted to mine with sudden shock. "Don't start this," he tried to say, but I shook my head.

"No. We've done this long enough. I want to be with you. For real."

Generous lips pressed together tightly, and he couldn't hide the shudder that went through his body, turning away. "Jack, please don't say this... you're all I have left, it's... I can't handle losing you if something goes wrong...."

"You won't."

"But Audrey - "

I caught his face again, pulled him to look back at me. "I'll take care of it. I want you, not her." I searched his eyes, understanding the fear, the vulnerability in the depths of them. A lot had happened today, for him too. "I promise I'll take care of it. Just think about it, ok?"

I watched him fight for control, swallowing hard, then finally nod. "Yeah." Then he reached for me, pulling me close to kiss me again, and I could feel his fingers quiver as they clenched in my jacket, words a harsh whisper against my mouth. "Jack, I am still in love with you."

"I am too," I murmured softly, and allowed myself one more indulgent kiss before I forced myself to pull back, and left my lover, left to return to the field.

~~~~~~~~


Seeing Audrey's constant vigil by Paul's bedside only reinforced my decision to end it, but it still hurt. And her reaction when he died... the way she lashed out at me, even though I did everything I could to save him without sacrificing innocent Americans.... I wouldn't have killed him, just to get to her. Not ever. If I'd wanted to, I would have had a lot easier opportunities to do so. For her to think, even in hurt and anger, that I was the kind of person to do such a thing, it was too much for me. Stupid of me to think that she'd still love me after she saw who I really was, what I was capable of doing, the sacrifices I was capable of making to save the country.

Guess I wasn't good enough, in the end. I didn't expect anything less from her than to call it off, though I tried to reason with her. It wouldn't have been right, to leave it undone, to leave things unfinished between us. It hurt, but it was liberating, in the end.

Then just when I thought everything was over and done with, I got the call from Palmer. That the government - the government I had served so faithfully for so many years - would rather me dead than run the risk of me betraying them under torture. After all that I'd done, it was a slap in the face.

I went back to Tony immediately, who was waiting for me inside the locker room as I took the call. "They're going to kill me."

He turned from the locker, hitting the door in his shock, and it crashed loudly against the locker beside it. "What?"

I gave a soft, mirthless laugh. "Too much or a risk to turn me over to the Chinese. Logan thinks I'll talk. Dammit." I let out a sigh, running a hand through my hair. "Look... I need your help. There's only one way out of this, and that's for them to believe I'm dead." Truthfully, I'd already started thinking about it, as soon as I'd heard that they wanted me to take the fall. The Chinese were not known for their fair treatment, but I'd hoped that somehow, someway Palmer would turn it around for me at the last minute. I didn't want it to come to this, I never did. Didn't want to leave Tony just when I'd found him again. But it seemed I had no choice.

Tony gave a slow nod, watching me evenly. "Tell me what you need me to do."

I outlined the plan quickly. It was dangerous, but with a little luck, it would work.

He shut his locker and gave a soft sigh, staring at the dial of the combination as he gave it a spin. "Jack... what if I can't bring you back?"

I stepped closer to him, resting a hand on his arm to draw his gaze to me. "Then you'll know that at least I won't be at the mercy of the Chinese."

"Jack..." his eyes closed for a moment. "Let me come with you," he whispered, and it made my heart ache.

"I can't. It would be too dangerous for us both, you know that. There's no way we could escape detection if we were together, and if you go missing, they won't believe that I'm dead." I raised a hand to cup his face gently, knowing the cameras didn't watch this place for legal issues of privacy, and leaned in closer. "Tony... what I said earlier... I'm really sorry things had to turn out this way."

He looked away, leaning into my hand just a little. "Don't worry about it."

I curled my fingers in his hair. "I know you've been working things out with Michelle... you promise me you'll keep on with that?"

"Jack..."

"I don't want you to be alone again. Please."

He looked back to me, brown eyes miserable. "I don't want it to be months or years before I see you again," he whispered, using my words from earlier.

I closed my eyes with a shudder, then gave in, leaning in to kiss him hungrily, free hand slipping around his waist, pressing close. "I know. I know, Tony. I don't want this either. I'm so sorry... there just isn't any other way."

His forehead pressed to mine, fingers coming up to stroke restlessly over my cheek. "It's not fair...."

"Not a lot of things are." I let my lips brush his, trailing soft kisses from one corner to the other, not wanting the moment to end, but knowing it had to. "Just tell me you'll keep yourself safe... please...."

He moved suddenly, pressing me up against the locker and claiming my mouth, hungry, trembling. I let him, fingers tight in his hair, in the back of his jacket. Drinking it in, trying to memorize the feel of him, take in all his emotion and sadness and need. "I'm sorry," I whispered again, and he broke from me with a soft sigh.

"I still love you, Jack."

I nodded, heart aching, patting his cheek gently. "I always will. I promise."

He gave a soft smile, grim, then leaned in to kiss me one last time, trembling, lingering. "Lets go get you killed."

~~fin~~
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