Trust

Oct. 6th, 2008 02:56 pm
cybertoothtiger: (Default)
[personal profile] cybertoothtiger
Author: Cybertoothtiger
Rating: G
Summary: Jack gets a job post Season 3.
Characters: Jack, Kate, Heller, Audrey
A/N: Don't own it. Written for the prompt: Trust.

[Pre-Season 3, just before Jack goes undercover with the Salazars.]

“Jack, there’s someone I think you should meet.” Ted put his hand lightly on Jack’s shoulder, propelling him away from the bar and towards a thin woman with long brown hair.

“Audrey, this is Jack Bauer, with CTU. Jack, Audrey Raines.”

Just then, a man in a dark suit approached and spoke quickly and quietly into Ted’s ear. The silver-haired man nodded. “Excuse me, you two. There seems to be a problem with the kitchen.”

Ted melted away into the crowd of tuxedos and evening gowns, leaving Jack and Audrey to complete their introduction on their own.

Audrey extended her hand. “Agent Bauer. So nice to meet you. President Palmer speaks very highly of you.”

Jack took her hand and raised an eyebrow. “That surprises me, Ms. Raines.”

“That he should speak highly of you?” She tilted her head, her hair swinging forward to brush her bare shoulder. Her sleeveless gown outlined her athletic figure in a way that suggested she was used to this kind of crowd – not too tight, but definitely confident.

“That he should speak of me at all. It’s not exactly good for business.” Jack turned as a waiter walked by them with a tray. “Champagne?”

“Yes, please.” Audrey caught a flash of his cufflinks as he reached for two glasses and handed one to her. “Thank you. Cheers.”

“Cheers.”

They clinked glasses and she took a sip before speaking again. “I should explain. I’m with the American Defence Strategy Group.” When he didn’t seem to recognize the name, she continued. “We’re a bi-partisan defence policy think tank in Washington. President Palmer is close to the Director, James Heller.”

“I see.” Jack shifted the glass of champagne into his other hand without drinking any. He preferred scotch, but this wasn’t that kind of function. It was the opening reception for a defence policy conference, and Tony had convinced Jack that someone from CTU should attend. As Tony was going to Michelle’s grandmother’s 90th birthday, Jack had drawn the short straw. He looked across the room to where Kate was standing in a group of middle-aged men, representatives of various defence contractors. She was holding her own, but he should really get this drink to her.

“We’d be interested in talking to you, Agent Bauer. Unfortunately, my schedule is very full the next few days. Are you ever in Washington?”

“Rarely. I’m not sure how I could be of service. Most of what I know is highly classified.”

“I realize that, Agent Bauer.”

“Please, call me Jack.”

Audrey tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear. His smile… and those blue-green eyes… it was difficult to believe that this charming man who filled his tuxedo so well was the same fearless soldier she’d heard about.

“Alright, then, Jack. Director Heller believes very strongly that front-line practicalities should be taken into account when drafting policy. From what I know about you, I think you would have a lot to offer.”

“You’re very kind,” Jack gave her a modest half-smile. “I am always willing to serve my country. But I have my hands full at the moment with CTU.”

“Of course. I understand. If you change your mind…” She handed him her glass while she fished in her exquisitely beaded clutch for a card. Finding one, she traded it to him for her drink. “Here’s my card. Please, do give us a call if you find the time.”

Jack read it quickly and tucked it into his breast pocket. “I will. Thank you. It was very nice to meet you, but if you’ll excuse me…”

“Of course.” She extended her hand again. “It was lovely to finally meet you, Jack.”

Jack shook her hand again and made his way across the room. Kate turned and flashed him a smile, gratefully taking the champagne he proffered. “Thank you, Jack. You didn’t get anything for yourself?”

“I got sidetracked. It doesn’t matter. I think we can leave soon.”

Kate smiled again. “Good. I had other plans for this evening.”

“Other plans?”

She nodded and leaned in close, her breath tickling his ear. “There’s a certain defence worker I need to debrief.”

This time, Jack’s smile was full and genuine. “Drink up, then, Ms. Warner. I wouldn’t want to keep you from such an important task.”

xxxxx

[Post Season 3]

“I can find my own damn job.”

The words echoed in Jack’s head as he climbed the steps to his second-floor apartment, leafing through his mail. More bills, and it was getting increasingly difficult to pay them. It had been over a year since he’d denied Driscoll’s offer of help, and six months since his severance pay had run out. Turns out job openings for loose-canon recovering heroin addicts were surprisingly thin on the ground.

Jack reached his apartment and groaned inwardly when he saw the notice taped to his door. His building was being turned into condos. He had two months to buy in or move out. It would be difficult finding something he could afford that still had a decent address. He didn’t mind a rough neighbourhood, but it wouldn’t look good on his resume. Especially given his recent history.

Jack tossed the unopened bills on the small stack on the counter and sighed, running his hand through his neatly-trimmed blond hair. He was still spending money on haircuts, because he needed to look presentable at job interviews. Interviews that were becoming less frequent. He’d pretty much tapped out his contacts in Los Angeles. Home turf wasn’t much of an advantage in his case. Everyone knew too much about him.

Palmer had been better than his word and had somehow managed to get Jack’s stint in treatment recognized as time served for his role in the prison riot. Jack was grateful, and it was far more than he’d expected going into it, but he still faced the consequences every time a door slammed in his face. The law enforcement community was not very forgiving of that kind of thing.

What had really finished him was Chappelle. He wasn’t sure how that had leaked out, but no one wanted to hire a guy who could kill his supervisor in cold blood, even if it had been on orders from the President himself. True, he wasn’t sure how many people knew about Palmer’s involvement, and he wasn’t about to tell them.

Jack looked around his Spartan apartment. If he didn’t find work soon, he’d be down to hawking his furniture, and there wasn’t much of that. He went to his closet and started looking through his clothes. He could sell some of his suits, just keeping the best one for interviews.

He pulled out a couple of suits without hesitation, but paused when he reached his tux. It was good quality and a classic style. Teri had insisted on that. He hated to part with it. It held some good memories of functions he’d attended with her, exhibition openings and fund-raisers for various art museums. But the tux should fetch a couple hundred dollars on consignment if he got it dry cleaned first, and he just needed a few more weeks. He wasn’t ready to give up and start applying at video stores. Something would turn up soon.

Jack checked the pockets before adding it to the pile on the bed. His fingers touched something in the breast pocket of the jacket and he withdrew a small rectangle of cardboard.

Audrey Raines. Jack turned it over, trying to remember. Of course, the woman from that Washington think-tank at the conference. He’d completely forgotten about her.

Jack returned to the kitchen and checked through the envelopes on the counter. Sure enough, there was an unsolicited new credit card. It seemed lately the banks were falling over each other in their rush to get more people deeper into debt. Jack was sure that would come back to bite them in the ass sooner or later, but for the moment he was grateful their greed extended to people like him. He moved the bed and picked up the phone. If he activated the card, he’d probably have enough credit for a plane ticket to Washington. Maybe it was time to try greener pastures.

xxxxx

“Who?”

“Jack Bauer,” Audrey repeated. “He was in charge of Field Ops at CTU Los Angeles.”

“I know who he is, Audrey. What I want to know is, why is Jack Bauer here?”

Audrey shifted awkwardly and closed the door behind her. She put the file she was carrying on her father’s desk and sat at one of the chairs in front it. “I met him at the defence conference we went to in L.A. a couple of years ago when we were with ADSG,” she explained. “President Palmer had mentioned him a few times, and always spoke highly of him.”

Seated across the desk, Heller snorted. “Palmer was far too attached to that man. Bauer’s actions with the Salazars left David with a pretty big mess to clean up.”

“I told him if he was ever in Washington, we’d be interested in speaking with him.”

“Oh you did, did you?” Heller looked at her over his reading glasses.

“Yes.”

“I see. And now that I’m Secretary of Defence, he’s decided to take you up on it. Who’s he with now?”

“I don’t know. He didn’t say.”

Heller nodded thoughtfully. “I heard he left CTU because he had a drug problem. He’s probably looking for work.”

“Dad, with his experience, I really think he could have something to offer. I’d like to meet with him.”

Heller sat silently for a moment, considering. “Audie, I’m not sure about this. From what I know of the man, Jack Bauer is trouble.” He held up a hand to prevent his daughter from interrupting. “But I trust your judgement, Sweetheart. If you want to meet with him, go ahead. Just be careful.”

Audrey stood and picked up the file. “Thanks, Dad.”

“And don’t promise him anything, Audie,” he added as she opened the door. “I hear he’s very good at getting people to do what he wants.”

Audrey grinned. “So am I.”

xxxxx

Audrey looked at the short resume in front of her. Delta Force, LAPD, CTU. She had the feeling there was a lot he had left out. She noted that the last date was over a year ago, but she decided not to ask about it unless she absolutely had to. She wanted to preserve his dignity. If what she’d heard about him from Palmer was true, Jack deserved at least that much consideration.

“Why did you leave CTU, Mr. Bauer?”

“Listen, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t look good on paper. Some of the things I’ve done – sometimes I haven’t had very many choices. But everything I have done has been for the good of this country.”

He was leaning forward earnestly, the coffee on the table hardly touched. Once again, Audrey was struck by the intensity of his eyes. This time, they held a hint of desperation.

“That doesn’t answer the question.” She knew this would be difficult for him, but she had to know if he would be honest with her.

Jack stopped, his jaw muscles tensing. “You’re an intelligent woman, Ms. Raines. I’m sure you know why I left CTU.” When she didn’t respond, he drew a breath, lowering his voice so as not to be overheard.

“I developed a heroin addiction during my undercover operation with the Salazars. The new Director decided that was a liability for field work. I can’t say that I blame her,” he added truthfully.

“Is that why you want to get into policy? Do you have any experience with policy development?”

The way he looked away told her that he didn’t. The way he looked back told her he wasn’t about to let that stop him.

“No, but I have extensive experience with how policy decisions play out in the field, both domestically and abroad.” He fixed her gaze with determination. “Ms. Raines. The first time we met, you told me that Secretary Heller was interested in how front-line practicalities should influence policy. No one knows the front line better than I do.”

“Go on.” She could see what her father had meant. He was very persuasive. She was glad she’d chosen to meet him at Starbucks. The normalcy of the surroundings helped temper her desire to get drawn into his world.

“If this country is going to ask its men and woman to do what I did, to take the kinds of risks I have taken and pay the price I have paid – the people making those decisions had better be damned clear on why. The policy makers have to know the costs, and have to know what can be done to minimize them. I can help with that.”

“Mr. Bauer, I’m not sure…” She toyed with her latte.

“Please, I’m asking you to let me help with that.”

His voice was deep and even, but there it was again. That note of desperation. And yet, she felt it wasn’t just about him needing work. He was sincere. He truly believed that he could help. She felt she could trust him, somehow.

Audrey took a deep breath. She hoped her father would forgive her, that he would eventually see that Jack was an important asset.

“How soon can you relocate?”

Date: 2008-10-06 09:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xbedhead.livejournal.com
OMG - this was SO. EFFIN' good. I'm really impressed. Thoroughly.

I love the things you explored with this fic - his need for a new job, and why he had to relocate, how his actions affected his ability to find work - that normally get overlooked. Awesome.

I also love that you had his apartments turning into condos - just another added pressure that's always happening in real life. When it rains, it pours.

And then his interview with Audrey was perfect - the way he was able to persuade her, the way she was reading him both on the surface and with what was really going on underneath...loved.

Ya out-did yourself. :)

Date: 2008-10-06 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cybertoothtiger.livejournal.com
Why thank you, m'dear! I put him in Starbucks, just for you. *G*

I was thinking about how Heller had never really come across as a Jack fan, and wondered how Heller had hired him in the first place. Heller doesn't seem the type to over look a little prision-rioting and heroin use, frankly. At first I thought maybe Palmer had put in a good word for him, but then that didn't seem like something Jack would do, call in favours from Palmer. At least not for something personal like finding a job. (His "Mr. President, with all due respect, you owe me" notwithstanding.)

I had thought about making it an eviction notice, but I figured Jack would always find a way to pay his rent, wouldn't he?

That would be some resume, wouldn't it?

Date: 2009-02-17 11:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] agentrez.livejournal.com
I just found this fanfic and I really like it. There are not enough stories about Jack's life in DC between seasons 3 and 4 and how his relationship with Audrey developed. Please write more of this...I noticed you have not updated in a while, but I hope that does not mean it's been discontinued.

Date: 2009-02-19 12:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cybertoothtiger.livejournal.com
Aw, thanks! I didn't get much response over here, but I did post as much as I've written so far in my folder on armbell. I see you're over there as well. I really should get around to finishing this, but I have to watch the last few episodes again first.

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