Title: The Reason for Being

Rating: G

Pairing: Jack/Chloe

Spoilers: Up to and Including Season six Final Episode.


When she gets home, he's waiting for her. And she doesn't find herself surprised. She's known since Bill told her he wasn't coming back to CTU.

It's why she refused to let Morris drive her home. It's why she left against the doctors orders. He wanted to keep her for the day. To monitor her and the new life growing precariously inside of her.

She had spent the drive home contemplating this new development into her life. That she carried Morris' baby. She'd known of course. What new mother didn't, deep down in their hearts, no matter how much they ignored the changes. No matter what the denials.

She wants it to be a good thing. The thing that saves her marriage. So ready had Morris been willing to leave her, only hours ago, he has been instantly transformed into a doting father.

She wonders how long it will last.

She cares about him, because he, in turn, cares for her. She knows this, no matter how dark the years surrounding his drinking problem had been. He had changed for her. She thinks she owes it to him now to try for them again, for all the sacrifices she demanded of him.

But as Chloe pulls into her driveway to see Jack Bauer sitting with his back against her front door, she remembers why she has fallen so out of love with Morris.

Jack is standing by the time she reaches him, and she folds into his strong arms, knowing that after all this time it's impossible for him to still have strength left. But he does, and he holds her tightly against his chest, and she feels the relief flooding over her that he's alive and back and... dripping wet, she realises suddenly, pulling away from him. His clothes are a dark shade, his hair tousled from the waves. His eyes are tired, worn and haunted, but still so familiar to her. She recognises the ache inside of her at the sight of him. She's missed him.

She lets him into her cold house, directs him to the shower, and makes him coffee. She tries not to think too hard about what it means that he's here. It could mean anything. It could mean nothing.

She finds him some clothes: they used to belong to him, years ago now, and she lays them on the bed.

While she sits in her kitchen, her thoughts are back on her baby, on the sudden wild card fate has handed her. Her hand, by it's own accord, settles where she thinks the tiny egg is growing, and she looks for any indication of the life there.

Jack startles her, "When are you due?"

She isn't surprised he knows. She wonders sometimes if he isn't some sort of mind reader, the way he can get under peoples skin. She tells him, and his face relaxes, and for just a brief moment, real joy shines from his eyes, "Chloe... that's fantastic."

She can't help but smile, but watching him she sees the exact moment that the joy in his eyes turns to pain. Which memory has suddenly flared she can't being to imagine, but she thinks it might be to do with Kim. That his own child doesn't even know he's alive.

Jack sits across from her, thanks her for the clothes, for the shower, for putting him up. "I won't be staying long."

"Where will you go, Jack?"

He watches her, gauges how much to tell her, mulls it over, and answers her with his eyes at the bottom of his mug, "I don't know yet."

She knows he's lying. Hates him for it. But keeps silent because he is Jack Bauer and if he doesn't want to tell her, she's never going to know. "Stay here."

His eyes shoot up. They narrow, "I can't. Morris..."

Another strange revelation. Morris and her were barely talking when he was captured by the Chinese. She certainly hasn't had the time to tell him who the father is since he's returned. "He doesn't live here."

"Does he know about the baby?" Jack's eyes are flat, his words raspy.

Chloe's eyes dart back to her belly. Her hand is still sitting on the flat surface protectively, "Yes."

"Chloe." He says her name kindly, like he's doing her a favour, "I'm not going to come in between you and Morris and your child."

"This isn't about him." Her eyes bore into his, "You can't go out there alone."

"Why? Chloe..." suddenly Jack gets intense, "There's nothing here for me anymore. Audrey's gone, Kim's gone... they left me for dead and I don't want apart of that anymore."

His eyes go wide, and she wonders who it is he's actually blaming.

"I killed Curtis yesterday. I shot him."

She understands now he's blaming himself.

"They killed Tony, and they killed Michelle, and Palmer... all because of me. I lost my wife... I've lost my daughter..." He swallows hard, "Heller said I was a curse... you know I'm starting to think he's right." Jack closes his eyes, running his hand over his face, and Chloe see's the devastation in the set of his shoulders. And she sees the absent space where his will to fight used to be.

Her heart breaks for him. She knows, better now then any other living person, just how much he has given up. What he has sacrificed. The lengths he's gone too and the atrocities he's preformed. But it isn't him. She's more sure of this then she has been of anything in her life. He is not to blame for the hard card's he's been dealt.

She's never been good with words, and while she speaks, she wonders if she should have kept her mouth shut, "I'm still here, Jack. I haven't gone anywhere. I'm not going too."

He raises his eyes to her's, and she can tell he's confused.

"I know you feel like everyone's dying on you... and they have. But they've been dying on me as well. If you don't have anything left to fight for... fight for me."

"Chloe I..."

She cuts him off, "You can't keep doing this Jack. You can't keep running. And you can't..." suddenly she stops. Her brain has caught up with her and she stops before she says something she's never meant for him to hear.

But Jack knows her. His eyes are locked on her's, "I can't what, Chloe? Tell me."

She swallows, "You can't keep leaving me behind."

There is silence. Chloe presses her lips tightly together, tensing her shoulders...but she waits for his response. For all she's been keeping it hidden, the words are out there now, and she needs an answer.

"... I've lost every other thing in this world that's ever meant anything to me... except for you. How are you still here?" His voice is barely a whisper, and he sounds genuinely confused.

She thinks his sentence is odd, as if he considers her good fortune. She doesn't think he's that lucky. "I don't know, but you need me Jack." After everything, he might be alone, but he is all she has. She knows the words really should have been, 'I need you.', but she's pretty sure Jack can read the things she isn't saying, "I'm not letting you go. Not without me. Not alone."

"Chloe... you're pregnant. What ever life I could have, it couldn't even begin to be enough for that baby."

"This isn't about my baby. This isn't about Morris or CTU or any other excuse you want to give me Jack. This is about you, and how you are not going to survive without me." She seems impatient with him, "I'm trying to help."

"I don't need..."

"Yes you do. You've always needed my help." She looks desperate for him to understand. "I can't..." She frowns again, annoyed at herself, trying to find the words she needs him to hear. "You died, and it felt like I had nothing left."

Jack is silent for a long moment, watching her as she struggles with words and emotions she's never had much experience with. His eyes are studying her, "Why?" his voice is hoarse and barely above a whisper, but Chloe hears him.

When she responds, her tone makes him think he should have known it from the beginning, "Because I love you, Jack, what do you think?"

The words send a jolt of electricity through him. Emotion. Just a spark of what he thinks might be hope. He smiles, and shakes his head sadly, "I don't deserve that."

"Yeah, well, you don't get a choice." She looks him directly in the eye, "I don't want anything from you." She says this because she knows if he starts to think she wants to take him to bed, he will be out of her house faster then she could reposition a satellite to track him, "Let me help you."

Jack still doesn't understand. Doesn't understand her loyalty. Doesn't understand why she doesn't want to distance herself as far away from him as physically possible. He doesn't think he's done anything to her to warrant any of this. He has understood, before... he thinks of all the times she has helped him in the past, but he has always thought that it is because she isn't helping him, she is helping her county. That she alone got the fact that everything he'd done, he'd done for the million of innocent lives that were ignorant to the threats surrounding their world, and he'd done it with her.

But now... Chloe doesn't want to help him help the world. She just wants to help him.

He thinks of the people that have died, either by his hand or as a result of his life. He doesn't want to expose Chloe to that. She puts herself in danger by just talking to him.

And then he realises. She has put herself there. All by herself. She has been by his side for so many years now, she knows what it is like in the wake of Jack Bauer. And she isn't afraid.

She ignores what he represents; the danger, the death, the guns and the violence. Self sacrifices and the possibility of being left completely alone. She knows its there... but it doesn't concern her.

She is still here, caring about him, forcing him to care in turn.

He almost doesn't want to believe her. He wants her to make it easy for him to just disappear. To melt into the back ground and make the world go away. An old voice, echoing through time, suddenly comes to him.

"You want to be a real hero? Here's what you do. You go back there and you put the pieces together...That'd take some real guts."

He doesn't think he has it in him. But he understands now that if he doesn't try, he'll loose Chloe. And all of a sudden she's the most important thing in his entire life. He thought he was alone, but for the first time he understands that she's always been there for him. He still doesn't understand why, but it isn't really important to him. Life isn't even important to him anymore... but she is. Chloe O'Brian is his reason now... and he won't give that up.