Title: Short #1
Author: thecrystalkey
Summary: First in a series of shorts covering some of the time not shown in episode 1 of Day 5. Jack/Chloe friendship.
Spoilers: Season 5 of 24

Disclaimer: Nothing in '24' is mine, especially not the characters that appear or are mentioned here. Also, none of the dialogue you actually recognize is mine. It all belongs to Twentieth Century Fox, Real Time Productions and its creators Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran.


Jack Bauer flew a stolen helicopter towards LA and found that, despite the crises developing all around, his thoughts were focusing mostly on one person. Chloe O'Brian, the only person that he trusted completely.He trusted other people; his best friend Tony Almeida, for one, but Tony could only be trusted as long as his wife Michelle was accounted for. There were no caveats to Jack's trust in Chloe.

She knew everything he'd done, right up to letting Paul Raines die to save the life of a man who'd been helping terrorists. She'd been a little tactless about it but, instead of saying any of the useless things the others had said, things he already knew in any case, she'd offered to listen. It had been the only thing anyone had said about it that had actually made him feel better.

She understood, but more than that; she accepted. She had no discernable social skills and knew it, preferring to keep her eyes on her computer screen and her mind on her work. She ran her department with a ruthless efficiency that left none of her people any time for socializing either. It was part of what Jack admired about her, though he knew it made her unpopular with her staff. That, and the sarcasm she put up like a wall around herself when she had to talk to anyone face-to-face.

Chloe used sarcasm the way Jack used silence and a blank expression. To cover the doubts and the pain and the regrets for what had to be done. To block the emotions that would only get in the way until the job was done and there was the luxury of time and space to react.

She'd gotten arrested for him, lost her job, and later had helped him fake his own death. She'd done most of the work covering it up; scrambling phone recordings, hacking into the coroner's office, setting him up with a new identity. She'd set up protocols for staying in touch and used them to pass him information on average of once a month. Most of it was about Kim and he hadn't even had to ask. She had just known. She had been his only link to his daughter, and quite possibly his sanity, for the last eighteen months.

Now, because of that, she was in trouble. Three of his friends were down, dead or dying, and Chloe was running for her life. His eyes scanned the ground compulsively as they came up to the oil refinery. Nothing. Be all right, Chloe, he thought. Please.

He landed the chopper and got out, eyes still scanning the ground, gun out; looking for assassins and Chloe. She wouldn't have betrayed him, but she might have been followed. She might even be dead. He checked his watch, then he heard something.His relief when she came barreling around the corner was immeasurable.

"Chloe," he heard himself call out.

"Jack." She sounded breathless and afraid and she didn't stop running.

"Are you okay?" he asked as she got closer.

She barely even slowed down until she threw her arms around him in a hug.

He was a little bit startled since she'd always kept a professional distance between them, and wasn't the kind of person much given to public displays of affection, even hugs. Being startled, however, didn't stop him from wrapping his arms around her and hugging her back as tightly as he could.

"I'm fine," she said into his shirt. Actually, she sounded close to tears but she didn't give him time to contradict her. "What's happening? Why would anyone wanna kill the people who know you're alive?"

Straight to business, same old Chloe. He pulled back, keeping his hands on her arms. She looked terrified and upset, and would have resented his bringing up either one. Focusing on the situation, getting to work on finding solutions, was the best thing for both of them to concentrate on right now.

"I don't know, but we're gonna find out. Right now we need to get access to CTU's archives from a secure location. Can you help me do that?"

"I can't do it from my laptop." Mind racing through the possibilities, she was already sounding calmer. "There's a research loft at CalTech. I can get us in." She looked over at the helicopter. "Who's that?"

Jack looked over to see Derek climbing out of the helicopter. He took a hold of her arm and began moving them both towards the kid. Now was not the time for complicated explanations. "I'll explain once we're in the car."