characters: Bill, Jack
category: drama, slash
theme: Bill’s point of view, spoilers for season6
warning: season6 spoilers until episode9
disclaimer: nothing belongs to me, no money made..
Written for the 7secrets challenge in Live Journal
Placed during Season6, past episode 4.
Follows prompt#6, separated
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* * * * *
* * * * *
There was no way to escape the radiation. The invisible poison would take its toll sooner or later.
Jack stared into the sky fascinated and disgusted at the same time by the unique sight. He had never really expected to see that, had hoped intensely that he would never have to watch it.
But it had happened and he was stunned about the feelings rushing through him again and again. Feelings he had considered dead only a few minutes ago when the death of one man killed by his own hands had filled his senses painfully.
The scaring beauty of the drama taking place in front of his eyes had pulled him on his feet without himself noticing it. Slowly he staggered forwards, his eyes banned by the gigantic play darkening the blue sky. These blue eyes which still burnt with the tears he’d shed for Curtis only a moment ago. For Curtis and for himself and what he had been forced to do. His eyelids sank down, but he still saw the blinding light inspite his attempts to calm his nerves by searching for darkness, tried to stand still, to feel the vibrations in the former solid earth, to listen to the unbearable noise caused by the detonation which still rang in his ears, mercilessly and inevitably, without the possibility to escape from it.
The radiation might be close, but not close enough to do any harm in this part of the town.
Yet people tried to get away, fought their way through the chaos as soon as the realization of what had happened hit them.
And the dreadful cloud still remained in the air frozen like a picture, like a reminder on the consequences human actions could cause everywhere, each day.
Jack fought the urge to approach it, strangely attracted by the sight, by the knowledge what would wait for him. It would be so easy to go there, to allow Fayed to finish his job. He would find nothing there what he hadn’t seen before, no cruelty, no horror he hadn’t gone through or created himself.
And the thought of the innocent people, women and children, facing their own painful death, remembered him that he still had feelings, that he still was human.
It would be easy to go there, to offer support and to wait for the end the way Mason had done ages ago.
He stumbled and searched for support on the nearby young tree. The sounds seemed to grow louder, shook him inside, brought him back to reality. Suddenly he was able to hear the voices around him, the screams and shouts which weren’t ending.
He opened his eyes again and shook his sight clear. He still was alive. The world around him had received a blow beyond anyones imagination but the sun still was shining not caring about the events taking place on a small, distant planet.
One person removed from the blurred background, a young man begging for help ignored by the people around him, who were captured in their own living nightmare.
There was no excuse for him anymore.
He had to finish what he had begun.
* * * * *
Bill functioned automatically. This was a case of emergency. He couldn’t afford to fail, couldn’t allow a single weakness. They had probed this case, from his first day in this work on he had known what to do. But he couldn’t prevent his thoughts to run around, to leave this place and his duties in order to search for the one person he cared for more than he could admit.
And for the first time in years he sent a prayer to the skies above, hoping, longing for a sign of life created by this man.
And it came. Bill suppressed the smile of relief trying to spread on his lips with the sound of the husky voice penetrating his ears. He still heard it when the car which should pick Jack up was on its way, when he was busy tracing connections, following leads in order to avoid further crimes.
It had sounded firmer now, more determined than before, closer to the familiar voice he remembered and he had missed. And the blood throbbed in his veins with the thought of seeing him again in here, in the middle of CTU where his picture had burnt itself into each corner where each shadow seemed to hide his shape, each room breathed his memory.
He had never been able to avoid turning around in a haste when his eyes had caught the glimpse of a short figure moving fast, vanishing through a door, rushing down a street. Only a moment of shining blond, a sparkle of blue... gone as soon as Bill had been able to look closely.
A simple delusion built up by his mind but sometimes real enough to drive him crazy. Though his mind had told him about the impossibility of his perception, his body had reacted with a mind of its own, raising his heartbeat, following each single illusion at least with his eyes wide open in an unusual glance.
Karen once had asked him when she had noticed his head spinning around, his gaze searching the crowd for a man who still held his attention in a tight grip.
His disappointment must have been too obvious while the blue-green eyes of a stranger asked unspoken questions.
“Do you know him?” she had asked taking his arm.
“No!” He had swallowed the gulp and shaken his head. “Just thought I would... .”
She had nodded understanding as always and added a phrase which shook him inside.
“From the distance he had looked like Jack Bauer,” she had mentioned and emitted a sigh.
“I wonder how he is now... wish we could do more... .”
She had silenced lost in her own thoughts while he had looked down, taken her hand into his and squeezed it assuringly.
“We will...,” he had mumbled low and more to himself than to her. “He will be back one day.”
But he hadn’t believed it.
Things usually weren’t working out so smoothly and deep inside he had accepted the possibility that his life would end without him ever learning the truth about Jack’s fate. That nobody would ever know which nameless grave contained the bones of a man who at least should have been allowed to rest in peace at the side of his wife as it had been his wish.
* * * * *
He walked inside the building like he’d never been away.
Seeing him between the field agents, appearing even smaller and thinner with the tall, heavy-armed men around him made Bill’s stomach flutter and he couldn’t tell if the reason was excitement or worry.
Jack had told him that he wasn ‘t up to the task and Bill could sense the truth behind these words though he seemed to slip naturally back into the role of a team-leader taking over command without any visible hesitation, giving short, husky orders, his innated authority leaving no doubt about the position he’d been thrown in without volunteering.
Bill wondered if he was the only one who noticed the fragility behind the rough shell, who was able to recognize how easy the hard wall he’d built up for self-protection could be shattered.
“Jack - good to see you!”
He smiled warmly and offered his hand. Jack took it reluctantly all too aware of the strange glances around them.
Bill had noticed him before dropping his gaze when people began to stare at him.
Few of them knew him from earlier. The staff usually changed quickly but there had been no way to prevent the rumours from spreading, the stories circling around for years topped by todays events.
Bill couldn’t deny the fact that most people gave an impression of awkwardness, were feeling clearly uncomfortable avoiding Jack’s eyes just as he avoided theirs.
It had never been a secret that Curtis was very popular among the agents and Bill prefered not to imagine how many of his co-workers who had shared his opinion wouldn’t be able to forgive Jack, at least not that soon.
He still held Jack’s hand in a tight grip when the confused eyes directed on him told him louder than the momentary silence that the instant threatened to extend in an unusual way.
Quickly he let go feeling almost painfully the sudden pulling back, the hurried hiding of the damaged fingers behind his back.
He tried to give an assuring smile but failed with the testing stare of this cool probing eyes. And yet he wasn’t able to retreat, not anymore.
As if to prove his realization he carefully laid a hand on Jack’s shoulder and pushed him to the nearby office. ‘Just a minute’ he signalled to Chloe and closed the door behind them.
His hand still prickled from the touch, the light fabric of the shirt not having been able to prevent the illusion of sensing hard muscles beneath bare skin.
“What is it, Bill?”
Jack took the seat to which Bill had pointed him, leant back immediately, closing his eyes for a moment. He looked tired and vulnerable, completely exhausted, but Bill knew from experience how fast he could return into action when needed.
He suddenly felt ashamed. Truth was that this wasn’t the time to talk about personal stuff, to deal with matters of conscience. Bill rubbed his forehead, sensed a headache approach and started to wonder if this could turn out to be the situation he had feared secretely, the situation he wouldn’t be able to handle.
Jack was still sitting in front of him without giving away a single emotion, without moving, his eyes still closed.
Obviously he used a technique allowing him to relax, to gather strength in the spare minutes offered to him unexpectedly.
Bill couldn’t help but admire the sight. His eyes followed the outlines of the body resting on the chair, the way the head had fallen back, the sunlight setting golden accents into the dark blond, the tender shadows created on the pale skin by the unusual length of the lashes, the delicious curves the expressive mouth showed when it wasn’t forced to react to the cruelties of life.
Bill felt like a voyeur taking advantage of the other man’s worked-out state, when he went on with his silent scrutiny of the limp body presenting to him unexpectedly.
One jeans-clad leg had come up, found a place supported by the other knee while his left hand lay on the thigh and his right seemed to protect the flat stomach.
Jack appeared so young to Bill, young and somehow innocent. He couldn’t remember having felt about him that way before and it startled him to wonder suddenly about the reasons why he once had chosen this path, what possibilities he might had given away in his youth. And he recognized how little he knew about the man’s past, how much his vision depended on the few hours they’d spent working together, how the picture of a self-assured field agent capable of making decisions concerning life and death in a split second had ruled his imagination during the past years.
But what did he really know about the lean shape relaxing in a complete defenceless posture in his office waiting patiently for the next task he would take into his responsibility.
Bill wished he could bring him away, could provide him with peace, could make his wounds heal, could simply take him into his arms and protect him like a father wished to protect his son from the brutalities of this world.
He shook his head confused about the kind of thoughts running through his mind, still strangely attracted by the way the chest moved under the bright shirt in a slow, regular way heaving and lowering like Jack might have fallen asleep. The unusual colour emphasizing the strangeness of the situation, giving him the impression of softness confused Bill more than he would admit.
His wandering gaze concentrated at last on the contours of the slender waist fascinated by the sight of the motionless fingers resting unconsciously near the groin.
Bill flushed when Jack stirred, when the blue eyes flew open in shock boring into his own as soon as he had managed to remove them from their former object of attention. Only moments could have past but Bill felt like having spent an eternity in this room together with this man from whom he knew he couldn’t hide his feelings much longer.
Wrinkling his brow Jack stared at him neither demanding an explanation nor giving away his own thoughts.
“Anything new about Fayed?” he asked finally his voice sounding rough again like it had been when he had spoken the first sentences to him after long months of silence.
Bill shook his head, ran his hand through the white strands in order to distract from the amounts of blood still heating his features.
“No, Jack. It’s something different I wanted to talk about.”
“Do you really think this is the time and the place for a conversation of this kind?”
Bill squirmed under the stare unable to read the other man’s thoughts, to get a grip on the intentions behind his words. He responded directly to the cool gaze and let out a deep breath.
“What do you think I want to talk about?” he asked straightening.
To his surprise Jack looked away immediately, seemed to become smaller, to lose height in less than a second.
The blond shrugged casually.
“Whatever you want to say or know about the past months, I guess it can wait.”
Bill’s eyes widened and shut in relief.
“No Jack.” He answered. “It’s not my business, you don’t have to tell me anything about it as long as we wouldn’t need it for the current situation. And I don’t think it would be necessary.”
“Well...” Jack’s eyes still studied the floor. “I’m not interested in any kind of declarations. Would you please come to the point so that I can do what has to be done as long as I’m still able to.”
Bill ached to touch him again, to pull him closer, embrace him tight enough to drive away the open pain emanating from the lonely figure he looked down on. He felt hurt by the way Jack talked, the coldness covering the fragments of his soul.
“That’s just what I’ve... .”
The door flew open and Morris rushed in. “Bill, we’ve found the connection. It’s... .”
He stopped noticing Jack, paused to regard him uncomfortably.
“We’re not sure what to make of this informations...,” he started to babble. “But seems to be the only lead we have and chances are... .”
“Talk, Morris... now!”
The agent threw another gaze to the quiet man in the chair.
“We have a lead to Phillip Bauer,” he added at last looking back to Bill who quickly searched for a change in Jack’s expression.
He wasn’t deceived. A shadow flew over the pale face and the lips were pressed together shortly before Jack regained control. He glanced back at him coldly.
“I’m handling this,” he decided. “We should use any chance.”
Bill nodded slowly. They both had chosen this life. Together, corresponding in their convictions, in their intentions they had agreed long times ago that sometimes the path offered to them allowed no choice.