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12 September 2006 @ 10:44 pm
"24" Fanfic: A Sequence Of Hours  
Title: A Sequence Of Hours
Fandom: 24
Author: HalfshellVenus
Character: Jack Bauer, Audrey, others (Gen)
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Spoilers and/or Warnings: Most of Season 5.
Summary: Three stories based on the prompts of "Amnesia," "Evil Twin," and "No-one Ever Really Dies."
Author's Notes: *Sigh* I do not write in this fandom. I do not write in this fandom... *is it gone yet?* This all started out in the 60_minute_fics prompts for June 23. I was really torn—I wrote a Supernatural “Amnesia” fic (it became "Lost In The Sea Of Sky"), but a voice was calling almost as loudly for writing “24.” I wrote a single follow-up 24 story with all the prompts at once. This is the other dangling effort— three one-hour fics addressing each of the three triggers separately.

x-x-x-x-x

A Sequence Of Hours (Jack: Amnesia)
He woke up with his arms clasped behind him and rope burns across his neck and chest.

He was in some kind of storeroom, in shapeless, echoing darkness.

There was absolutely nothing he could fathom about where he was or why, except the words he still knew to describe it. It seemed wrong—for him or anyone else—and he was almost certain he didn’t belong here.

The door opened, letting in five unknown men and the light from the hallway. The men were dressed in camouflage clothing, probably a sign of something dangerous as much as he could recall.

They advanced on him, moving in with questions and names he didn’t know. None of it made any sense, all this talk about espionage and Black Ops and computer codes.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he repeated again and again as the hours wore on. They battered him until he was bruised and bloody, and still he found the strength from somewhere to keep on going.

A few rapid exchanges flew by, with words like “torture” and “later” in a language he felt he shouldn’t know.

And then he was left in the company of a single man, the click of the door breaking the bloodied silence as the others departed.

The man paced around him, muttering. He paused for the occasional, vicious kick.

Finally, he stopped and squatted down next to the prisoner, his eyes filled with frustration and the promise of greater pain.

Light from an overhead window slipped in, rising up behind the man’s head even as the sharp odor of gunpowder rolled off of his uniform. And just like that, everything stirred and coalesced inside the prisoner as he moved with instinct fed by skill. He pulled a pen from the man’s front pocket with his teeth, stabbing the man through the jugular and taking his gun and keys in almost a single, fluid movement.

Jack Bauer stood over the dying man, his hands uncuffed now and holding the guard’s Sig Sauer with confidence.

“I remembered, you son of a bitch,” he said hoarsely.

When the life left his captor’s eyes, Jack slid through the shadows and positioned himself by the door…



Torture By Degrees (Audrey: Evil Twin)
Audrey Raines was tied to a chair in a soundproof concrete bunker somewhere underground.

Her head was still woozy from days in a dark cell broken by fresh re-acquaintances with chloroform. But she was awake enough to process the scenes on the monitor in front of her now.

Her spitting image was onscreen, holed up at CTU with several other people she recognized. Except that this woman was utterly, horribly—

“Blond!” Audrey shrieked. After all those years of being labeled a Daddy’s Girl, and everyone saying she rode in on his coattails, why on Earth would she saddle herself with the extra burden of being blond?

“Someone is going to pay for this,” she muttered. And still, it made no sense. Why would anyone pass themselves off as her—what was the point? Her life wasn’t that interesting, and she didn’t have tons of power or privileges. And why was she brought here to watch this? Was it punishment? Payback? Purely hallucination?

She watched the scenes fade in and out during the day, broadcast into her holding room as if to torture her. The woman traipsed around CTU control (In my favorite suit, Audrey thought murderously, while I sit here in these stupid, ratty pajamas), mouthing official sounding words on the few occasions when she didn’t look pole-axed and stupid. And then—

“Jack!” Audrey cried out. It couldn’t, couldn’t be. Jack was dead—gone almost a year now, lost in a cause he cared more for than himself. She sat there in stunned silence, the images blurring and clearing through the glare of tears. She had missed him so terribly, and the sound of his voice through the tinny speakers was the clear-cut truth. He was alive, had somehow survived, only to return to the waiting arms of—

“That bitch!” The evil twin had kissed him, with all the longing Audrey had bolted down for far too long. It was torture watching the two of them, wondering what plans her doppelganger had in store for Jack, for CTU. Audrey mulled the question over and over, through a fog of heartbreak and frustration. She barely noticed the next few hours, falling asleep in a sudden weariness.

With a flash, the television came back on. Fake-Audrey was leaving the building with Curtis, looking far too interested in him. And it figured— he was handsome, Special Ops military, and he had the velvet voice with the steel hammer core. God knew, she was susceptible to that particular formula. Only she had no reason to be flirting, now that Jack was still alive.

She watched as the conversation continued. But finally, fake-Audrey left the building and the day continued on.

What did it mean? she thought numbly. What was that woman up to?

There were no answers, not to any of it. No hint of why she’d been sidelined so that an imposter could take her place during this particular, unexpected day.

Audrey was out of guesses, out of the ability to muster even the weakest of protests. This was stranger than any nightmare she’d ever had.

The irony was not lost on her as she wondered if the television would offer more. Her life had been spent in the limelight. But now… her future had moved off-camera.



In Passing (Jack: No-One Ever Really Dies)
The phone call came on Sunday morning. Sunday was a day things rarely happened—not professionally or in any other sense.

“Jack?” the voice said.

Jack Bauer froze. That could not be the voice it sounded like, couldn’t possibly ever—

“Whoever this is, that is not funny!” Jack retorted.

There was a chuckle in his ear, Of all the obscene…“I understand completely Jack, I really do. I’m sure I’d feel the same way if I were you. But this isn’t a joke. And you can imagine why it has to be this way.”

“But you’re dead!” Jack shouted. “Sir,” he added more quietly. “Your brother was with you when it happened, and I saw him that day. He was devastated. The whole country was in mourning…”

“You’ve been dead before too, Jack. And I seem to recall that it didn’t take in your case either.”

“But I’m just an agent—faking my death isn’t anything like faking an assassination of a former President.”

“There are reasons, my friend, that are bigger than both of us… Now, there’s a car coming down your street that will take you to me. Are you willing to trust me that far?”

“I always have, Sir. I always have.”

“Then I’ll see you shortly, Jack. It’s been a long time…”

Jack hung the phone up in a daze. If Palmer’s death had been faked, then he must somehow have been involved with Logan’s plan. But that was impossible—Palmer had tried to warn people of what Logan was up to, and they’d always approached things so differently. Palmer would never have agreed to Logan’s hair-brained scheme. It had been shockingly self-serving on the surface and treasonous to the core.

A black sedan approached the front of Jack’s house, shaking him out of his musings. Jack swiped a hand over his hair and dug a sports coat out of the closet, tucking a 9mm Glock inside the jacket it as he put it on.

There was a man on the porch then, about to ring the bell. Black suit and sunglasses—a typical Federal Agent or Secret Service type. Jack opened the door with caution, right hand free for the gun. The man turned sideways, gestured toward the car silently, and walked on ahead leading the way. He hadn’t searched Jack for weapons, and now he’d exposed his back. Only Palmer’s men—with instructions from Palmer himself—would ever do something that risky.

Jack followed, getting into the rear of the car as the man got in the front.

The ride was short—four miles through back streets and quiet parkways. Jack positioned and reconnoitered as the car moved on. Half-a-mile east of the highway, he estimated, into a warehouse district.

The car slowed and his senses pricked, taking in the deserted street and the industrial atmosphere. Two- and three-story buildings, upper windows with good vantage points for a sniper. He was surprised when the car pulled right over the curb and stopped with the rear door opposite an entranceway.

When the door to the entrance opened, Jack found himself looking at a ghost—a cipher. Or maybe even the impossible truth.

David Palmer was alive.

A man Jack had never dared hope to see again. One of several he’d been absolutely sure he never would.

Jack opened the car door, momentarily blinded as the sun streamed in from the side. But then he found warm hands holding his arms—huge, capable hands every bit as powerful as the man who owned them. Palmer’s smile was warm—always so genuine—and Jack’s throat was getting tighter by the moment.

“It’s good to see you, Sir,” he rasped out, as Palmer led him into the building.

“You too, Jack, you too. And please, call me David.”

Jack stumbled almost imperceptibly. He’d always had such admiration for Palmer, something that often bordered on hero-worship. This was an incredible man beside him—a leader, an inspiration, an embodiment of the American Dream. One cannot be on a first-name basis with an idol.

“Thank you,” Jack responded, sidestepping the issue with his usual skill.

“I thought you might like some coffee,” Palmer continued on. “Zurich has the good stuff, and I take it wherever I go.”

“You’re in Switzerland now?” Bauer asked, as they started up a staircase.

“Yes, still in hiding for the most part. My house is in a quiet corner of Bern, and I’m not easily recognized over there. I rarely travel, but when I do it’s in disguise.” Palmer looked back over his shoulder with sudden mischief. “Sometimes I’m a Rastafarian,” he said, his smile growing when Jack couldn’t hide a grin.

“I couldn’t have imagined it,” Jack laughed softly.

“There are more things, my friend, than are dreamt of in our philosophies,” Palmer answered.

At the top of the stairs was a living room, a stylish retreat in the middle of a partitioned loft.

“Not bad, is it? I never rent the same place twice,” Palmer said, walking over to the couch and sitting down.

A woman’s voice spoke from the kitchen doorway as she entered the room. “I brought the coffee.”

“Mrs. Palmer!” Jack stood there, stunned.

“Hello, Jack,” she said, taking the coffee to the low table in front of the couch.

“But—”

“Shari and I reconciled years ago,” Palmer said. “It seemed foolish to stand on pride when we’d been through so much together.”

It all clicked into place then, everything from the stilled, sterile streets to the walls wavering in a hazy glow around him.

“Come on and sit down,” Palmer said warmly, patting the sofa cushion next to himself. “We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

That we do, Jack thought, his eyes stinging again.

The pain that had lifted moments ago was back inside him. But this was still an opportunity he might otherwise not have had. Jack knew it would be gone—maybe forever—as soon as he woke up.

So he sat down and made himself comfortable, ready to laugh and reminisce for as long as he was given.

Jack politely ignored any unusual changes in his surroundings, keeping his mug on his knee when the coffee table melted. None of it mattered, so long as the two of them stayed where they were.

Jack intended to enjoy this moment for all it was worth, reality be damned. The real world had never been all that kind in his experience. And he might not be lucky enough to have this chance again.



-------- fin --------


 
 
 
The Grammarian about whom your mother warned you.acostilow on September 13th, 2006 05:57 am (UTC)
Oh, these are great. They make me want to watch the show. Almost. :D

But in all seriousness, they're fantastic.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Venushalfshellvenus on September 13th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Athena! The show is just the most amazing thrill ride. Definitely worth the DVD rentals, because you can go through the episodes like popcorn. Season 2 was my favorite, but this last Season 5 was also really, really good. So many twists and turns...

And the real-time part of it is a really good hook as well. :)
I'm for wine and the embrace of questionable women: lincmissyjack on September 13th, 2006 07:11 am (UTC)
Oh thank you so much for these stories. lvoely to get some really bitey, twist in the tail tales. And you know - I can imagine the first two happening next Season! The first one could easily be the season opener. And the twist of the second one is the type of sheer brilliance that means you should be on the writing staff for 24.

The third one has a great twist i didn't see coming, with a nice poignancy.

When does the clock start ticking again?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Venushalfshellvenus on September 13th, 2006 04:33 pm (UTC)
It's good to have at least one "24" fan on my f-list, since I can't seem to entirely get away from writing it!

The first one could easily be the season opener.
That actually was the setting I had in mind when I wrote it-- what happens after that ship carries Jack off. And Amnesia is a major plot twist they haven't covered...

#2 was so bizarre-- why that became about Audrey I just can't say. But hers was a good "Evil Twin" opportunity (that prompt is really hard to write).

And #3... that has been my holdup for months now-- how to make the "not really dead" work. I always knew the notDead would be Palmer. But what to do with it? Because again-- hard prompt! These are all soap-opera plots, these prompts, and the outrageousness of them makes it hard to write anything but CrackFic.

Really, the first one was written within the week of that prompt set. And Audrey's was most written, but held up for fact-checking (seriously. I booted an alternate ending because I didn't think I could support the "camera presence" that was needed for it. It originally went clear up to where Audrey gets shot).

At this point, I should probably find a 24 fic comm to post these too. I mean, I've got three of them now!

When does the clock start ticking again?
January. :D Seems like forever, but it's always worth the wait. :)
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Venushalfshellvenus on September 13th, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC)
Do you have the means for rentals of the DVDs? One of our video chains has this deal where you pay 14.99 a month and can take out up to three vids at a time, mostly for free (there's a charge for new releases). It's perfect for going through seasons of TV shows. We watched 24 Season 1 last summer (never saw it on TV), and made it through 4 seasons of "The Shield" within about 9 months. Whoo!

And there's Netflix, of course-- but I don't know if you have anything like that in Scotland.