Characters: Jack Bauer (Gen)
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Summary (mid-Season 2): It was the worst day of Jack's life, until now.
Author's Notes: For tvnetwork1_las and the prompt of "Sometimes even to live is an act of courage."
Also for writers_choice ("Fight").
They said that when he'd saved Senator Palmer, Jack had also saved democracy.
Whether that was true or just political hype didn't matter. What Jack knew was that he'd lost his wife, and that how that had happened had been his fault.
His job had put his entire family in danger. When he'd hunted down conspirators and terrorists, he'd become a target. His family had too.
Because of his job, terrorists had kidnapped his wife and daughter, and that same job had made it nearly impossible for him to do anything about it. His country had needed him then, or so he'd been told, and no one else could've taken his place. Torn between his family and his country, Jack had violated regulations several times over. In the end, it still hadn't been enough. Teri had been murdered, and Jack had been powerless to stop it.
It had been the longest, fucking day of his entire life.
Afterwards, he had relived it again and again. If he hadn't been having an affair with Nina Myers, would he have spotted the signs of her treachery beforehand? Would it even have occurred to her to have Jack's family kidnapped?
Would she have come to hate Jack so much that she killed his wife right in front of him?
The stress and guilt had taken such a toll on Jack that he'd retired. The rumors afterwards had probably depicted him as drooling away his days in a straightjacket at some mental health asylum. God knew, there'd been times when he'd come close.
But when the government needed help again, they came back for him. They were willing to forget everything, as long as he dug them out of their current mess. He might have been a psycho, but he was their psycho, and President Palmer had asked for him by name.
That was hours ago, and the day was shaping up to be as fast-paced and overwhelming as that other day had been.
Jack was coming a little loose around the edges, and it showed. He was impatient, more willing to do the unthinkable, quicker to embrace expediency. He'd started the day by killing a federally-protected witness and then taking the man's head to use in trade for vital information. He'd survived a plane crash, been kidnapped and tortured, and then brought back to life after the two heart attacks that resulted.
Anyone else would have given up by then, but Jack Bauer was not like other people. Sometimes, that was less a strength than a curse.
Right now, the country was in danger from a nuclear threat, and the President had called on him to help prevent it. Millions of American lives were riding on Jack's shoulders.
Even if he was barely hanging on by a thread, that would have to be enough for the job still ahead.
It didn't matter how hard or how many times they knocked him down, as long as he got up again and kept on fighting.
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